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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

LotFP Class: Apoptomancer (1.0)

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This is my first attempt to create an OSR class. It uses the LotFP magic-user class and spell-list as the base.

Note1: This has only just begun being playtested!

Note2: Given how reliant this class is on the LotFP Summon spell, I would encourage the use of Saker's Summon Hack, which streamlines the Summon spell, increases the chances of rolling fun appendages and powers, and "balances" it a little bit. The original spell, besides being a little cumbersome, is really awesome in its own right, but I think this hack makes a little more sense for the purpose of this class.

Note3: Even if you take nothing else from this class, I would encourage you to check out the Metaphysical Metamorphoses. I think they're pretty cool…

Note4: I would like to thank Saker Tarsos and Lungfungus for proofreading, editing, and providing various other comments and suggestions. Additionally, Saker is playtesting this class in my SHIELDBREAKER campaign which I greatly appreciate!

Apoptosis: The death of cells that occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism's growth or development. Apoptomancers hijack the immune system. They tickle the vagus nerve, they aggravate the gut microbiome, they command cells to commit ritual suicide so the organism may be reborn. While the metamorphs they create are often thralled to them for the sake of convenience, the goal of apoptomancy is to create uncanny, beautiful, and thriving new lifeforms, and to protect themselves and others from illness and the mental trauma of the neuro-immune response. Of course, not all doctors follow the Hippocratic Oath, and not all apoptomancers have such noble intentions...

Stat Progression: Use the LotFP magic-user class starting stats and stat progression, but rather than the starting spells and one new spell each level, follow the below class abilities progression.

Class Abilities: For each level, take all that apply (or any ability/spell from a lower tier).

Lvl. 1: Create Metamorph AND (Metamorph Companion OR Trans-Metamorphic)
Description: Everyone gets to temporarily metamorphosize creatures they encounter, but at level 1 you can decide to either have a permanent metamorph companion, or metamorphosize yourself (you can always take the other at a higher level!).

Lvl. 2: Metamorphic Template OR Apoptomancer Spell
Description: Templates allow you to recast metamorph effects you’ve used before. There is a short apoptomancer spell list, but any magic-user spell that can be reinterpreted as apoptomancy can be chosen as well. The spell list is just a set of examples.

Lvl. 3: Super Metamorph
Description: Give your metamorph companion (or yourself, if you’re trans-metamorphic) more mutations (temporarily)!

Lvl. 4: Re-Metamorphosis
Description: If you don’t like your companion’s metamorphosis (or your own, if you’re trans-metamorphic), re-roll!

Lvl. 5+: Any previous tier ability/spell

Lvl. 1 Class Abilities

Create Metamorph (class ability / spell level 1): As the Summon spell, with the following changes.
  • Must be cast on a willing or incapacitated organic creature with an immune system or comparable biological system.
  • HD is equal to creature HD. Cannot metamorph a creature with two times apoptomancer level or greater.
  • Default stats are equal to that of creature.
  • If creature default stats are greater than the Summon spell default stats, consider each increase as a power (e.g. AC 14 instead of 12 would be equivalent to the power AC +2d6). Any creature special abilities are also considered powers.
  • Roll base form, appendages, and powers as normal. 
    • The metamorphosed creature may still resemble its original form in some ways in addition to carried-over powers.
  • If the base form would be one of the abstract forms, roll for a Metaphysical Metamorphosis instead.
  • To customize the metamorph, before domination roll, caster can increase or decrease HD or another stat, add or remove appendages, add or remove powers, or reroll base form, appendages, or powers a number of times equal to apoptomancer level, so long as other spell requirements are still met (e.g. HD still cannot be more than two times greater than apoptomancer level). This can be useful either for personalization, to make the metamorph more powerful (at a higher risk of failing the domination roll), or to make the metamorph less powerful (and therefore less likely to fail the domination roll).
  • Domination Roll difficulty is automatically decreased by apoptomancer level to a minimum of 1 (or for Saker hack, add apoptomancer level to opposed roll).
  • Cast time = 1d6 minutes, or on failed domination roll, 2d6 minutes.
  • Duration = 1d6 hours (barring changes due to degree of success or failure on domination roll).
  • Thaumaturgic circles and sacrifices should be re-flavored as medical/apoptomantic/alchemical procedures, but otherwise may still be applied.
  • This spell cannot be cast on a metamorph (e.g. a creature created using this spell, a metamorph companion, or a trans-metamorphic character).
  • Only one metamorph created using this spell can be active at a time.

Metamorph Companion (class ability): As Create Metamorph, with the following differences.
  • Companion is permanent unless killed.
  • HD = Apoptomancer level or less. Default Summon stats prior to rolling base form, appendages, and powers.
    • Note that Metamorph Companions, although permanent, have a lower HD cap than the temporary metamorphs created using Create Metamorph.
  • Cannot have a Metaphysical Metamorphosis base form.
  • Disadvantageous powers lower the difficulty of the domination roll by 1.
  • Domination roll has a graded effect. On failed domination roll, add the respective Sympathetic Response trait (depending on degree of failure). 
    • At GM discretion, the base form, appendages, and powers can be chosen manually by the player or by the GM, but domination must still be rolled and normal limitations still apply.
  • HD increases by 1 and HP by 1HD for each increase in apoptomancer level after creation.
  • Taking this ability additional times allows rolling for additional powers. If the companion does not already have the Sympathetic Response trait, a new domination roll must be made accounting for current HD and all powers.
  • At GM discretion, taking this ability additional times can allow for additional companions instead, but total HD for companions cannot exceed apoptomancer level (although I would discourage that as it may get cumbersome...).
  • If a metamorph companion is killed, a new one can be created. If this ability was taken multiple times, create the new companion as default, then roll for the additional powers as many separate times as this class ability was taken after the first time.
Trans-Metamorphic (class ability): As Create Metamorph, with the following differences.
  • Base form, appendages, and powers are applied to self.
  • Metamorphosis is permanent unless altered through some other means.
  • Cannot have a Metaphysical Metamorphosis base form.
  • Gain one random power for free. This power does not add to the difficulty of the domination roll. If it is a disadvantageous power, ignore it and roll again.
  • When rolling for powers, if the power is disadvantageous, keep it, and either roll again for free, or lower the difficulty of the domination roll by 1.
  • Domination roll has a graded effect. On failed domination roll, add the respective Sympathetic Response trait.
  • Taking this ability additional times allows for rolling additional powers. Same rules apply for rolling new powers as in the first case.
  • Note that trans-Metamorphic characters keep their class abilities and spells.

Sympathetic Response (trait): Metamorph Companions or Trans-Metamorphic characters who fail their domination roll gain this trait. When bloodied (< Half total HP), depending on how much they failed their roll by, the following effect is activated for 1d6 turns:
  • Fail by 1-5: Sympathetic Response causes flight behavior.
  • Fail by 6-10: Sympathetic Response causes fight behavior (targets nearest creatures).
  • Fail by 11-20: Sympathetic Response immediately triggers upon creation (permanent, control of creature is taken away from player. If trans-metamorphic, roll a new character...).
  • Fail by 20+: METAPHYSICAL METAMORPHOSIS (permanent, control of creature is taken away from player. If trans-metamorphic, roll a new character...)
  • After the sympathetic response subsides (or if it never activated), if the metamorph is still bloodied, each time the metamorph takes additional damage, roll Sympathetic Response again.

Lvl. 2 Class Abilities

Metamorphic Template (class ability): After casting Create Metamorph, if the template is saved, you are always able to create this metamorph effect.
  • Template includes base form, additional appendages, and powers.
  • The decision to save the template must be made during the metamorph's duration.
  • Cannot save metamorph template if the domination roll was failed.
  • Cannot save metamorph template with a Metaphysical Metamorphosis base form. 
  • Must still roll for domination when re-casting a template. 
  • If the creature the template is being applied to is different than the creature the template was saved from, add creature HD minus apoptomancer level to the domination difficulty roll (minimum 1). 
  • Can only use a template when the difference between the template creature HD and the target creature HD is less than or equal to apoptomancer level.
  • Can save half apoptomancer level rounded down templates. If attempting to save a new template while already at capacity, one template must be permanently forgotten.
  • Taking this class ability additional times increases the template capacity by 2 each time.

Lvl. 3 Class Abilities

Super Metamorph (class ability): Create Metamorph can be used to temporarily change the base form of, and add appendages and powers to, creatures that are already metamorphs.
  • Roll for a change in base form, additional appendages, and additional powers. 
  • If the metamorph does not already have the Sympathetic Response trait, re-roll domination, adding pre-existing features and new features to the difficulty. On a failed roll, the Sympathetic Response trait is added to the metamorph, but only for the duration of the spell.

Lvl. 4 Class Abilities

Re-Metamorphosis (class ability): Reroll a Metamorph Companion or Trans-Metamorphic character's metamorphoses. The old metamorphoses are permanently replaced.
  • Cast time is metamorph HD/level minus half apoptomancer level rounding down number of days (minimum 1 day)

Apoptomancy Spells 

  • Apoptomancy spells or class abilities do not need to be prepared
    • However, there must be an available spell slot for that spell level (i.e. at full rest and no spells prepared, they can cast as many apoptomancy spells as they have available slots for each spell level).
  • Apoptomancers cannot write or acquire spells from scrolls or spellbooks 
    • They also cannot create wands or other non-apoptomantic magical devices, although they can still use magical devices as per the magic device saving throw.
  • Apoptomancers can take any spell from the magic-user list 
    • However, the spell must be interpretable as a result of apoptomancy.
    • This re-flavoring of the spell may limit the scope of the spell (e.g. ways or circumstances it can be used), but it cannot enhance the scope of the spell.
    • The apoptomancer spell list below is a mix of actually new spells and spells re-flavored from the magic-user or cleric spell list, as a point of reference.

Apoptomancy Spell List (1d6)

Microbiotic Compatibility: Apoptomancy alternative to the charm series of spells. It can be taken as a lvl. 1 spell (as Charm Person), lvl. 4 spell (as Charm Monster), or as a lvl. 8 spell (as Charm Mass). Alters the microbiome of the creature, inducing a neuroimmune response making them open to suggestion from the apoptomancer.
  • A similar logic could be applied to other manipulation/compulsion magic-user spells.
Super-Inflammation: Apoptomancy alternative to the Cleric Cure spells (e.g. as lvl 1 = Cure Light Wounds, as Lvl. 4 spell = Cure Serious Wounds). The apoptomancer hyper-activates the immune system of the target, leading to rapid healing (i.e. as Cure). However, after 1d6 turns, the target must save against paralyze or become fatigued and depressed as a result of neuro-inflammation. The duration lasts as many minutes as turns it took before feeling the fatigue. During this time, they have -1 to all rolls (as LotFP Sleep Deprivation). 
  • A similar logic could be applied to other buff spells such as haste (an immune-effect of cortisol).
Detect Pathogens: Level 2, 10'/level, 5 rounds/level. The apoptomancer can detect dangerous particles in the environment by consciously focusing on their vagus nerve and immuno-sensory system.

Immuno-Sensory Perception: Level 2, 1 turn, 60'. The apoptomancer enhances their vagus nerve and immuno-sensory system to the point that they can detect and interpret the microbiomes of creatures in range. They can use ISP to read thoughts and emotions, not unlike ESP. While less precise than ESP, it is more useful for detecting tonic states and unconscious motivations than ESP.

Inflammasome: Level 4, 0 range, 1 round/level. The apoptomancer secretes symbiotic fungal and bacterial organisms and other cells and particles from their microbiome in a 10' diameter sphere around themself. Within the inflammasome, both pathogens and physical threats can be detected, and immuno-sensory signals are cascaded back to the apoptomancer, pre-activating a defensive inflammatory response. All pathogens are ignored, and damage activates super-inflammation (as Cure Light Wounds). However, after 1d6 turns, the target must save against paralyze or become fatigued and depressed as a result of neuro-inflammation. The duration lasts as many minutes as turns it took before feeling the fatigue. During this time, they have -1 to all rolls (as LotFP Sleep Deprivation).

Pyroptosis: Level 2, 20', 1 round/level. Same effects as ray of enfeeblement, in addition to the following. For the duration, the target receives +2 AC of natural super-inflammation armor and damage reduction 2. However, at the end of the duration, the target must save against paralyze or become fatigued and depressed as a result of neuro-inflammation. The duration lasts as many minutes as turns it took before feeling the fatigue. During this time, they have -1 to all rolls (as LotFP Sleep Deprivation).

Metaphysical Metamorphoses (1d4)

Anti-Cancer: The metamorphosis sets off an apoptotic genetic cascade of anti-cancer. Over 1d4 days, the metamorph undergoes teleological anti-mutation, transforming into an harbinger of the anti-mutants. The harbinger finds a suitable location full of life, and begins terraforming it with noxium fumes and prasium. Over 1d4 weeks, as the atmosphere and geological composition of the region is transformed, the harbinger will build structures resembling those found on the Green Moon. At the end of the terraforming project, as many hordes of anti-mutants as the duration of weeks it took to terraform the region will arrive from a noxium-tear in the paraverse and colonize the region. They will continue to spread until they have terraformed the entire world. If they succeed at terraforming the entire world, they will spread into every moment of the world in the paraverse. If they do so, the world will become like an egg, birthing the anti-mutant teleological end-state (essentially the anti-mutant god), and will continue to spread across the rest of the paraverse, and then the multiverse, and then the omniverse, and then...

The Gate: A dormant psilosymbiote germ, something like a fungal, bacterial, or viral pathogen from another universe, is apoptotically activated. Over 1d4 days, the metamorph undergoes psilosymbiosis. The apoptotically-enhanced super-strain provides it +2 HD and one new beneficial mutation/power each day for the duration of the transformation, and on a successful attack it has a 1 in 6 chance of spreading the infection. If it is still alive 1d4 weeks after full psilosymbiosis and has created as many super-psilosymbiotes as it has HD in that time (or any of its spawn have done so), all of the super-psilosymbiotes merge into a spire beaming impossible light into the sky, a beacon which opens The Gate to another universe: Yog-Sothoth. Impossible light orbs fill the skies, and all sorts of eldritch, impossible creatures and a-logical principles seep into the universe.

The Fourth Wall: The metamorphosis activates a neural pattern, a mental representation, like a meme, connecting it to the Real World (the world of the players). The consciousness is merged with that of the real-world person (player/GM), and they can bring any meta-game knowledge with them. The real-world person should stay in contact with the rest of the party even when they are not in a game session, informing them of what the metamorph is doing in the game world. Real world emotions, cognitions, sickness, etc., should apply to the metamorph. If the real-world person fudges a roll or secretly changes their or an NPC's character sheet, it is now Truth within the game universe. Most other characters in the game world, even paraterrestrials, are fundamentally incapable of or unwilling to acknowledge this, and will engage in whatever cognitive dissonance necessary to deny the obvious truth.

Narra-ativistic Organism: The apoptotic cascade has atavistically activated a metaphysical state in the organism from a time when the rules of the universe were narrativistic rather than mathematical, like fey wood. Decide on a narrative arc for this metamorph, and choose any story-game system and character build to best facilitate this arc. OSR or not, the metamorph is now playing by a different set of rules.


  1. There's a lot of gold to be mined here for Biopunk settings, especially the anti-cancer concept.


    1. Awesome, thanks! I made a post recently called The Whitemare which is conceptually somewhat related to the concept of anti-cancer, which was something I had always intended to develop further but had kind of fallen by the wayside. The Whitemare takes a different approach, but I think creatively and intellectually was coming from the same place.