A New Class – The Vexillologist

I posted this morning on G+ that I awoke with the word vexillologist stuck in my head. +Eric Fabiaschi suggested that I make a new OSR class out of it. I liked the idea, so below is my rough draft of the class.

This is the first class I have built and I had a lot of fun with it. It needs more polish before it is ready for prime time. I will publish a PDF once I get it cleaned up. Most likely it will be my first offering on RPGNow.

The image I found, is supposed to be free according to the site I got it from, but it is just for illustrative purposes. I’ll pay an RPG illustrator for a basic image once this is ready for sharing.

I’m interested in constructive comments, as long as you understand this is a rough draft and not the final form.

Vexillologist Class

The run of the mill vexillologist is just one who specializes in flags and banners, but the mage specialist is one who has mastered magical signs, sigils, glyphs, writing, and flags and banners.

Their specialty is in flags, banners, and other such devices, from a carved stick or other “simple” symbol to heraldry. In addition to their spell books, they compile over the course of their life a notebook on symbols and their meanings to different groups. This notebook is the same size as the spell book and requires a new one for every two levels. Losing these notebooks is nearly as disastrous as losing a spell book. Any written information about symbols, writing, or heraldry found during adventuring is as valuable to a Vexillologist as finding new spells. There is a chance that any sages the party encounters with an interest in Vexillology is a Vexillologist, or knows the spells of that class if the sage knows any spells.

With their advanced training, vexillologists can garner the intent of regular magic user user spells, and even those of illusionists, without the use of read magic. That is, they will know the name of the spell. Much of their craft crosses the boundaries between these two disciplines.

The vexillologist has made a study of various symbols, banners, totems, and heraldry of the region and known world. They have a 15% chance, plus 5% per level above 1st, to know the significance/identity of those with a certain symbol. For example, tribal groups, such as goblins and orcs, or nomadic human tribes.

They specialize in spells that enhance, reveal, or obscure the symbols they encounter. For example, they can obscure, or even damage the banner of an opposing force to affect its morale, and even make the banner appear smaller to enhance morale of friendly forces. For friendly forces, they can cause a banner to be more visible, appear larger and more imposing to an enemy.

They are also known to target bearers of banners and totems with interesting effects.

Their greatest magical specialty is the creation of magical banners, totems, and other signs. Such enchantments range from boosting morale of units, increasing the fighting capability of the unit (making them harder to hit, or easier for them to hit others.), special protections for the banner bearer, to even special attacks using the banner. The greatest vexillologists of yore even mastered creating banners that were intelligent, and some even grew in power based on the success of the unit. I wrote about magical banners here with my way to complex entry in the OSR Superstar Contest. Too complex for a contest, but something I have in my AD&D campaign, but so far, they have not come into play.

New Spells

1st Level Burning Hands – Cause all who touch an enemy banner to have their hands burned for 1hp/caster level. If the bearer takes double their HP or more in damage, they burst into flames consuming the banner.)
2nd level Splinter – The pole for a banner will shatter in the hands of the bearer doing 1d4/level to the bearer and 1hp/level to all within 10’/level.

1st level Tear – The banner is ripped at 1″/caster level, strong winds have a chance to lengthen the tears. 1% reduction in unit morale per inch of tear.
2nd level Rend – Higher level spell that does 3 tears that are 6″ long per level. 1% reduction in unit moral per inch of tear.
4th level Shred – The banner is shredded as if by the claws of a wild beast, and an audible growl is heard. 20% reduction in unit morale if not other morale rules apply, or at discretion of GM.

1st level Enhance – Banner/device appears to be more obvious, and any significance it carries is enhanced. For example, the banner of a well-known and feared band of mercenaries would seem to be even more imposing. 1% reduction in morale/level to units that fail teir saves.
The reverse, Obscure, causes the banner of an opposing force to appear less imposing and gives friendly units a 1% boost to alignment/level.

1st level Shield Bearer – Cast a magical shield on the banner bearer, as the 1st level spell shield.

1st level Comprehend – In addition to reading regular magic, this spell allows the caster a 15% chance, plus 2% per level to discern the meaning or intent of new, hidden, or subtle designs in banners and other symbols.
The reverse, Incomprehensible, will hide new and subtle images from casual view and requires a caster of higher level to cast comprehend to counter it, or of course, Dispel Magic.
When cast on an enemy banner it has a 5% chance per level of caster to cause confusion as the spell if the affected unit fails its save.

3rd level Route – This is a high level spell that causes the targeted unit, with a banner or other carrie symbol, that fails its save to be routed and flee as if their morale broke for 1d6 rounds. If they make their save and make their standard morale check, they stand. If they fail their morale check, they move back in good order. Even breaking and fleeing for a single round is enough to prevent a unit from regaining its cohesion. Any units that witness this unit break must make a morale check with all the normal modifiers caused by seeing a unit break and flee. If this unit has any special renown that boosts the morale of surrounding units, that effect is removed. If the targeted unit is under the effect of a Brace spell, that spell is negated.

3rd level Brace – This spell causes the targeted unit with a banner or other symbol to have a 5% morale bonus, plus 1% per caster level beyond 1st. They get a +1 on all saving throws for the duration of the spell. Brace cannot restore the morale of a unit that has fled. Units that fall back in order

False Flag – Appears to be the correct & proper flag for a unit or vessel unless a saving throw is made.

Swap Image – The caster causes the banners of two enemy units to swap. Ideally this is used to swap the general or leader’s banner with that of a unit that has been routed or annihilated to affect the morale of the entire enemy force.

Confuse Signal – If an enemy force is using flags or other means of communication, i.e. semaphore, the receiver of the message will think they are being told the opposite or least favorable option of what the sender is trying to communicate, if the receiver fails their save.

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