For my Dungeon World supplement Binding World I have been changing up the old version of the Helltamer compendium class and working on a new one. The old version had you roll+CON to get points of inferno which you could later spend to cast spells. Additionally you could choose to roll for the move to cast the spell with its bonus infernal ability.
I’ve got a new version of the class that works with a new currency: corruption. Corruption serves two major purposes for the Helltamer: it increases the power of their hellspells and it increases their susceptibility to the whims of hell.
With corruption affecting the power of spells, I’ve replaced and rewritten most of the spells to scale with it. Here’s a new hellspell:
Curse of Reckoning
Name a target you can see and a simple action you want them not to do – attack, run, lie, etc. Whenever your target attempts that action their mind is seared with pain and they take 1d6 damage. This effect can happen a number of times equal to your corruption.
Other spells give you hold equal to your corruption, let you describe effects with a number of words up to your corruption, or just deal your corruption in bonus damage.
An increase in corruption also comes with risks. Certain events – such as learning a new hellspell or rolling poorly – will have you roll the move Fight the Taint.
Fight the Taint
When you fight the swirl of hell energy within you as it attemps to erupt, roll+corruption.
- On a 6- you quell the storm, but do not mark XP.
- On a 7-9 describe how the powers of hell change your form slightly – changed eyes, scaled or pale skin, reptilian tongue, blasphemous tattoos or scarring, fangs, etc.
- On a 10-13 take your corruption in damage ignoring armor.
- On a 14+ a portal to hell tears into existence before you, just long enough for something to escape.
The first thing to note about this move is that you want to roll low. You are adding your corruption to the roll so as you get more corrupt your rolls will be higher. My first few versions had you subtracting your corruption but that lead to strange ranges like 6- and 4- and I didn’t like the way the result list ended up.
This move will need a lot of playtesting. The ranges are outside the norm of 6-, 7-9 and 10+. The worst outcome for this move used to have you immediately roll Last Breath, but that was too harsh. I then had it transform you into a demon, but that was essentially death as well.
I like the idea that a Helltamer can suddenly lose control and really complicate things for the party, instead of just themselves. I’ve left the 14+ option open to the GM so they are free to let loose the dangers of hell as they see fit. This could be a single demon lord, a gout of hellfire, a swarm of imps, a damned soul, or even a cursed item. I’ll have some suggestions for the GM in the final product.
There are three instances in which a player might roll Fight the Taint:
- When they learn a new hellspell – which can happen once per level
- When they cast a hellspell
- When the GM tells them to as a hard move, likely on a 6- result
The current max corruption is 5, and the minimum is 1. Players can reduce corruption one way in the rules as written, with the move Cleanse the Soul.
Cleanse the Soul
At the end of the session, if you believe you acted in a selfless and virtuous manner, you may ask the table if they agree. If they agree remove one corruption and physical manifestation. You may not have less than 1 corruption.
The point of this move is to encourage roleplay opportunities, and to make unmanageable corruption not an inevitability. I’ve been toying with a version that requires you to complete the Good alignment of one or more character sheets at the table. I’m hesitant because I don’t particularly like alignments in DW—I much prefer drives—and smaller parties would limit the number of options.
That’s it for the changes to the Helltamer. I’ll be looking to try these out with my playtesters soon, so stay tuned or subscribe for updates.