Saturday, June 10, 2023

Quasi-Prestige Classes for BFRPG

So I've recently gotten into something I never thought I'd like; the BX D&D retro-clone, BFRPG. Calling it just a Basic emulator is incorrect, though. It actually combines elements of Basic and Advanced D&D, and even dispenses with parts that existed in both, like alignment and descending AC. Those changes are probably what spiced it up enough for me to check it out so soon after a binge of Blueholme and Old School Essentials products.

What I like about BFRPG (besides how free it is) is the active community and all the official support there is for the supplements they create. The downloads page has the core rules, some adventures, house rules from the creator's personal campaign, and then just a buttload of additional material forever stamped with the "PLAYTEST EDITION" label. Those are by far my favorite documents, because they include options like extra species, classes, and the inspiration for this post: quasi-classes.

Quasi-classes are inspired by something from BECMI that I haven't seen emulated before now. Back in the benighted era of race-as-class, TSR eventually wanted to give more options to certain species that they couldn't according to the default rules that they had been using ever since Holmes developed the first Basic set to succeed OD&D. The answer was to make optional "add-on" classes that totally aren't multiclassing for realsies guys this is different.

The way it works is you start with whatever class as normal, but then at some later point in your character's adventuring career they get enough XP to be initiated into a new class that layers new abilities on top of what they already get. As an example, the shadow elf shaman from Gazetteer 13 starts off as a regular shadow elf which is mechanically almost identical to a standard surface elf, i.e. they are a fighter/magic-user. But later on they can be inducted into the shadow elf shamans to gain access to limited clerical spellcasting. In return for those added abilities, it takes much more XP to level: an extra ~50% per level in the case of the elves above.

BFRPG's quasi-classes are more modest and forgiving, by comparison. They can be taken at character creation because 1st level requires 0 XP, and in fact it is encouraged that you work them into your PC to begin with rather than playing catchup later on. The XP requirements also vary depending on what the quasi-class offers; simple ones like Barbarian start at +500 and end at +425,000 XP at 20th level, while the significantly crunchier Bard starts at +1,000 and climbs up to +850,000 XP, which is almost as much as a 20th level Thief.

Wisely, quasi-classes are a fairly small and entirely optional aspect of BFRPG.

Naturally, I want to take the concept and make it slightly worse by awkwardly introducing an unwelcome later innovation into it that I think will be interesting.

Introducing the Quasi-Prestige Class!

Quasi-prestige classes operate on the same basic principles as quasi-classes, except they are condensed into smaller flavor packages that don't need a full 20 levels devoted to them. My hunch is that 3-5 levels work best, and definitely no more than 10. They are designed to be accessible later on in a character's career, like the PrCs of 3rd edition that inspired this.

All of the rules that apply to quasi-classes also apply to quasi-PrCs (qPrC from this point on; pronounced like "cue-perk"), with the exception of the following: 

  • PCs must adventure for a time before deciding to take on a qPrC.
  • Each qPrC has unique requirements, including but not limited to minimum level or special deeds performed.
  • After reaching the final level listed under a qPrC, it is considered complete and the PC is free to move on, spending no more XP on it.
  • A character may pick up multiple qPrCs over the course of their career, but they may only advance in one qPrC at a time; they must either finish or abandon the one they are currently in before moving on to a different qPrC, or alternatively returning to advancing their base class(es).
  • You may use qPrCs alongside normal quasi-classes and/or combination classes if you really, really want to but that seems like more numbers than fun.

Example qPrC:

Spirit-Speaker (quasi-prestige class)






Speak with...



















The world is suffused with spirits. Some are of the plants and animals, or mortal ancestors. Others are older and more primal. All have power and influence over the world. Many cultures know of and venerate the spirit world, but few individuals ever directly touch it. Those who do are known to gain the favor of the spirits, as well as a curious outlook on the waking world. Life, death, and the passage of time are different when you have friends on the other side.

To become a Spirit-Speaker, a character must reach 4th level. They must then journey to a place of great natural power and beseech an audience with the spirits of that place, possibly requiring the guidance of a priest or shaman. Once they have contacted the spirits, the prospective Spirit-Speaker must undergo physical and psychological trials to test their resolve.

In addition to any requirements of their base-class, Spirit-Speaker characters must have a minimum Wisdom score of 13.

Spirit-Speaker characters must also continue to show respect and due deference to the spirits of the world after entering the qPrC, in order to benefit from their abilities. This can be accomplished through actions such as making regular ritual offerings to the spirits, or observing cultural taboos similar to a Barbarian (quasi-class). Sufficiently angering the spirits may require the character to undertake a special task for ritual purification and atonement.

Those gifted with the ability to communicate with the spirits often find that they are surrounded by the incessant noise of Whispering Spirits that voice their thoughts on every little thing. These spirits will also speak up in warning or even give the Spirit-Speaker a little shove when they are in in imminent danger, granting them certain benefits according to the Whispering Spirits rating (see table).

  • The Whispering Spirits rating is applied as a bonus to saves versus Death Ray, Dragon Breath, Magic Wands, or other hazards able to be dodged (such as a pit trap or falling rocks).
  • The Whispering Spirits rating is applied as a bonus to Armor Class against attacks by invisible creatures and ghosts.
There are many spirits in the world that govern all life, land, and the long-dead. By listening to these spirits long enough, Spirit-Speakers learn their languages too. Spirit-Speakers are able to cast the Speak with Animals, Dead, and Plants spells at will, starting at the indicated levels. They also apply their Whispering Spirits rating as a bonus to any reaction rolls made while speaking to the targets of these abilities.


  1. It's nice to see the B/X-y design ethos of the four pillar classes merge with the 3.X-y or perhaps perhaps GLoG-y design ethos of creating very specific classes that sit in a unique niche in the world. I'd love to see more about where this experiment takes you.

    1. Hey, thanks! It definitely does feel like a gloggy thing to do, now that you mention it. I'll take that as encouragement to come up with a few more of these sometime- and also figure out what (if anything) happens when you want to take a qPrC you've already "out-leveled".