A (Draft) Warlord Class for Lords & Wizards (and Other Old School Games)

The Warlord is a popular class with D&D 4e players. Due to many requests, I include an “old school” version of the class as an optional class in Microlite74 Extended. It’s not that popular with 4e fans because it does not have the warlord ability to heal by shouting at his allies. There are two reasons why my Microlite74 Extended version of the Warlord does not heal hit points.

First, when you talk to fans of the 4e Warlord and say that the idea of someone shouting encouragement (even if the “encouragement” like that given by a drill instructor in army boot camp) actually healing wounds is unbelievable, one of the standard replies is that the warlord isn’t really healing actual wounds but is restoring morale/the will to fight which is represented by hit points. In old school TSR D&D, morale is a separate thing from hit points. Therefore, in an old school game the Warlord should affect the morale rules directly as there is no need to fake it via hit points.

Second, Microlite74 Extended has hit points representing fatigue and body points representing actual debilitating injuries. Even clerics can’t “heal” hit points in combat so there is no need for Warlords to be able to do so (to allow play without clerics in the party).

In Microlite74 Extended, Warlords are natural leaders. Their class ability allows them to lead hired men-at-arms, raising their morale and allowing them to fight better (as first and second level fighters for high level warlords. Here is the Warlord class from Microlite74 Extended:

Warlords (Fighting Class) can wear any kind of armor, can use all weapons and may use shields. Physical Combat Bonus is level/2, rounded up. Magical Combat Bonus is level/4, rounded up. Experience Base is 25. Class Saving Throw Bonus is +2. They add +1 to FORT and PRE saves. They add +1 to all attack and damage rolls. This increases by +1 at 5th level and every five levels thereafter. When leading a group of hirelings under their command, the hirelings subtract the Warlord’s fighter bonus in any morale checks and add one-half the Warlord’s fighter bonus (round up) to their attack and damage rolls. Warlords are expert at riding and at small unit tactics.

A Lords & Wizards version of the Warlord class with need more specific class abilities, however. Here’s what I have come up with so far:

Lords & Wizards Warlord

Hit Dice: d8 to Level 9, +2 per level thereafter
Attacks: As Fighter
Saves: As Fighter
Weapons and Armor: As Fighter
Stronghold: As Fighter
Fighter Bonus: +1 at first level, increases by +1 at 5th level and every five levels thereafter
Expertise: Expert at Riding, Expert at Small Unit Tactics

Natural Leader: May have one more henchman than normal for their Charisma. Their henchmen (and any Man-at-Arms hirelings personally lead by the Warlord) subtract the Warlord’s fighter bonus in any morale checks, add the Warlord’s fighter bonus to any reaction checks his commands might cause, and add one-half the Warlord’s fighter bonus (round up) to their attack and damage rolls.

Inspire Courage: Grants all allies able to hear and understand the Warlord within 50 feet +1 to attack, damage, morale and saves vs fear if the Warlord takes one round to give an appropriately inspiring speech right before a battle. If the Warlord extends the speech to five rounds and expends 3 HP (+1 HP per ally he wishes to affect), those affected also gain 1d6 (per point of Fighter Bonus) temporary hit points. All damage taken is first taken from temporary hit points. Temporary hit points may NOT be used to power magic spells or items. All effects Inspire Courage last 10 minutes, any remaining temporary hit points at lost at that time. Usable once per day per point of Fighter Bonus.

Rally the Troops: Instead of attacking during a round, a Warlord may shout encouragement during a battle. Any allies who have failed their morale checks who hear the Warlord make a new morale check, if they succeed they rally and may return to the fight. Any ally who has failed a save against fear who can hear the Warlord also gains another save vs fear.

As morale is separate from hit points in Lords & Wizards and hit points and body points work like they do in Microlite74 Extended, the Lords & Wizards Warlord lacks the “healing ability” of the 4e Warlord; for the same reasons the Microlite74 Extended version of the class did. I know this will annoy fans of the 4e version of the class, but the healing abilities of the 4e version of the class simply do not make any sense in what is basically a very heavily house-ruled version of “old school D&D”. Lords & Wizards Warlords who can take five minutes just before a battle to inspire their allies with a rousing speech (and are willing to spend some hit points on the effort) can grant some or all of their allies extra temporary hit points for the battle — representing their ability to inspire their allies to “give their all” in the upcoming battle.

Comments on this draft Lords & Wizards Warlord are welcome (as are ideas for other class abilities). Note, however, that complaints that this version of the Warlord class can’t heal will be ignored. I understand this lack of healing ability upsets and annoys fans of the 4e version of the class, but Lords & Wizards is not D&D 4e and is not trying to be.

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9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    In the old school editions I'm familiar with, the morale rules explicitly don't apply to PCs, and morale is explicitly one of the factors that make up hit points.

    This might be a nice pet class though.

  2. Randall says:

    @Fullerena: You're right, morale rules in TSR editions do not apply to player characters (just to npcs, henchmen, and hirelings — and monsters, of course). However, in an old school game, chances are there will be more henchmen and hirelings than player characters on an average expedition, so the "old school" Warlord's morale-raising abilities are still likely to see lots of use. Not to mention that the combat abilities of men-at-arms led by a Warlord increase dramatically.

    I do not know where the idea that old school editions of D&D include morale in hit points came from — as you will not find "morale" listed as part of definition/description of hit points in OD&D, Holmes Basic, B/X. BECMI/RC, or the 1e/2e Players Handbooks.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My mistake – it's only "skill & luck" I'm thinking of, in AD&D 1e at least, along with undefined magical factors.

    Maybe I'm just allergic to the meat points interpretation.

  4. As an aside, the 4e players who try to provide a non-magical explanation for Warlords are fooling themselves.

    If one takes the rules in 4e then, much like real world myths and legends, ALL heroes are explicitly supernatural. This is why a 1st level rogue could potentially fire a crossbow 9 times in a 10 second round, or why a high level fighter could make a standing jump of 30 feet and then hit a guy so hard HE flies another 30 feet.

    The Warlord shouting closed a sucking chest wound is no more incredulous than those feats.

  5. Randall says:

    @Archaeopteryx: That's one of the many minor reasons 4e just did not work for me — after the main "combat takes far longer than I could possibly stay interested in it" reason, of course.

  6. Perfectly understandable! 🙂

    The power level didn't really bother me as I did enjoy just cutting loose occasionally as the next Heracles or Sigurd, but the combat length killed it for me too.

  7. Jeremy says:

    The 1e DMG explicitly says that hit points aren't just physical damage. I don't understand why people seem to insist it is.

    Is it necessarily morale? No, but I don't see why that couldn't be a factor in the intangible aspect of hit points.

  8. Randall says:

    @Jeremy: Perhaps because morale is already covered elsewhere in 1e and other TSR editions of D&D?

    However, how TSR D&D defines hit points really does not matter here as Hit Points are defined as energy/fatigue/ and minor scratches/cuts/pulled muscles/etc. that will effectively recover with a full night's rest in Microlite74 Extended and Lords & Wizards. Morale and the like are not included. Only rest restores HP. Body Points represent actual injuries and heal very slowly naturally (bonus if under the care of a healer), or can be magically healed by clerics, potions, and the like.

    Shouting at people doesn't decrease fatigue in real life (or in M74 or L&W), but a really good leader can encourage people to draw on their deep reserves for a short period of time even when fatigued. L&W simulates this by allowing its Warlord class to give a pre-battle "pep talk" that gives temporary extra energy — temporary hit points.

  9. Rachel Ghoul says:

    The irony is that I understand that even in 4e the optimal way to play a Warlord is offensively– that is to help end the fight before HP attrition can occur. The temporary hit points thing, by the way is most inspired.