Alternative LotFP bonus regime

In by the book LotFP, only fighters get an increasing attack bonus. While this is appropriate for some games, others may wish to grant non-fighter classes some greater degree of combat effectiveness.

Gus L. suggested on G+ that maybe specialists could gain an increasing bonus to missile attacks and that clerics could gain an increasing bonus to melee attacks. I like that division, and it inspired the slightly more nuanced structure below.

  • Cleric: as fighter against unholy foes (undead, demons, etc)
  • Dwarf: as fighter, but only for melee attacks
  • Elf: as fighter but only with elven weapons (see * below)
  • Fighter: unchanged (increasing attack bonus for everything)
  • Halfling: as fighter for small thrown missiles
  • Magic-user: unchanged (no increasing attack bonus)
  • Specialist: +1 melee or missile attack each level (pick), trap-making (see ** below)
LotFP Rules & Magic cover (source)

LotFP Rules & Magic cover (source)

Each of these rules alludes to mythological or thematic inspirations for the class in question. The halfing, for example, is reminiscent of David and Goliath. The specialist rule plays on the idea of discretionary focus (this allows you to make, for example, a thug specialist that is just as competent as a fighter, but only in melee). And so forth. They are also less boring than the more common approach of just giving smaller bonuses to the non-fighter classes (most commonly, I have seen +1 every other level proposed for the semi-martial classes). They also stay within the niche design of LotFP, allowing most classes to be competent combatants, but only in specific ways.

* Elven weapons. This goes to the otherworldly nature of elves (and also, perhaps, their comedy value if you want to play up the snobbishness aspect). Exactly how you operationalize what it means to be an elf weapon will drastically affect the power of this rule. I would suggest not iron and not steel are clear criteria, and probably quality. For a simple rule of thumb, you could make elven weapons cost ten times as much and only be available in Elven strongholds.

** Trap-making. This allows specialists to create makeshift traps given basic supplies and a turn of prep time. The trap attacks as a fighter of the specialist’s level (or in the context of the above discussion, the specialist’s attack bonus is that of a fighter when expressed in prepared traps).

6 thoughts on “Alternative LotFP bonus regime

  1. Mark

    Logical but part of Lotfp’s charm is the drastic alteration to the “to-hit” tables. If you keep the much lower melee attack bonus of non-fighters in mind when allocating monster AC then it is not an issue in combats. Using Lotfp I have never handled very high level encounters (the most powerful character was level 6, due to a high mortality rate) but even at mid levels 4-5, specialists sneak attack seems powerful enough, and the clerics never felt useless. Specialists could also make ranged attacks with their usual above average Dex in addition to their scouting, trap finding and tinkering.

    The Lotfp forums had the idea of reskinning the halfling as a ranger type with an extra aiming bonus, and reskinning the dwarf as a barbarian with climb and a better press attack to reflect “berserk” rage. That seemed kind of neat and left the attack matrix unchanged. Elves don’t really need any help.

    1. Brendan Post author


      Agree completely. I’m not presenting this as an improvement so much as a variation. If you are going to increase the attack bonus of other classes though, I do think it is more interesting to make that bonus related to the class niche rather than just make it “like the fighter, but less.”

      I wonder though, in the original design, if the game is served well by giving the fighter such a dramatic attack bonus compared to other classes. Something like +10 compared to +1 feels a bit strange, especially for the semi-martial classes. I’ve only played midlevel LotFP once though, and it was a one-shot, so I don’t really know how it feels in an ongoing campaign.

  2. Gus L.

    I like this of course, but I do think even the more fighty classes should be less effective/advance more slowly then fighters. The other issue that this raise s is a rapid increase in party combat prowess. If almost every party member quickly becomes skilled at combat the whole party will be much more dangerous. In LOTFP fighters become rapidly more dangerous in melee (especially in a system that discourages magical weapons and armor) just as monsters do, but it strikes me as a huge change in the game if everyone becomes rapidly more dangerous.

    Parties of adventurers that can all hit well armored opponents wreck havoc on monsters they outnumber – and LOTFP seems very much about lone scary monsters, not swarms of humanoids.

    1. Brendan Post author


      I tried to avoid the dynamic of everyone getting better. Clerics only are good against undead, halflings only from afar (and with likely low-damage or special-effect weapons), specialists only in what they have specialized in, and so forth. I may not have succeeded!

      But you’re right that monster power or quantity would probably have to increase a bit to maintain the same level of threat. I would only expect this to work well if the desire was to use the LotFP chassis to run more traditional D&D-style scenarios (with more emphasis on combat).

      1. Gus L.

        Absolutely you’ve got some good limits – I like the one on Clerics. Personally I like the idea of clerics starting out as crusader types and as they become more ‘holy’ (or whatever) becoming less fighters and more casters. It appeals to me for some reason. Still the only change I’d really make is for Elves – elves are scary powerful already. I’d limit their weapon skill advancement on that ground. I feel like LOTFP may have general problems in the mid and high levels (like when fighters have +8 to hit but no one else does), which I don’t think the game is designed for. You’re absolutely right about the applicability of this system to a more vanilla setting.

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