Friday Reviews: The Leprechaun, by Appendix N Entertainment
I was meant to do a review of a longer piece that a reader sent me, but I've had a hell of a week and haven't had the time to sit down and do it justice. Looking through my library of pdfs, I came across a short class that I purchased last year. Written for Old School Essentials by Ryan Thompson of Appendix N, The Leprechaun was released last year just in time for St. Patrick's Day.
This is a 13-page pdf, including cover, title page, forward, and OGL, leaving six pages of content. We're warned in the introduction that we'll need the Advanced Fantasy Druid and Illusionist spell book, as some of the spells included are drawn from that source. Additionally, one of the leprechaun class options is given in the Advanced race and class format, so the Advanced Genre book would be handy as well.
The first page explains that leprechauns are short, magical demi-humans that lead long lives. They are industrious and great crafters, excelling especially in cobbling; a pair of shoes crafted by a leprechaun is a true treasure. They often live apart from humans due to the misguided notion that they can grant wishes or treasure to captors. The rest of the page is devoted to the leprechaun as an advanced race (using the rules in the OSE Advanced Genre book). They have minimum scores in INT, DEX, and CHA and a maximum STR, speak a *bunch* of languages, and can qualify for a number of classes: bard, druid, fighter, illusionist, magic-user, thief. The highest level is thief (12) and the lowest are fighter and magic-user (both 8).
Leprechaun characters are only surprised on a roll of 1 in 6, must wear armor and use weapons suited to their small size, and have the following racial characteristics:
Illusion. Once per day can create minor illusions, the details of which are at the discretion of the Referee.
Invisibility. Can become invisible three times per day, but only if no one is looking at them.
May reroll one roll per day. If the leprechaun is ever bested (being caught, beaten at a game, etc.) they must give the other person a coin that allow them to use that ability. There are a couple of limits here.
They're also magically resistant, gaining a bonus to saves against spells, wands, etc. determined by their CON.
Once per day at every even level they can polymorph normal objects into another object of similar size, with no effect if the object is magical.
The next page describes the leprechaun as a race-as-class. These characters have 1d4 hp per HD< a max level of 8, and the same requirements and requisites. The race-as-class has the same abilities as above, plus a +2 defensive bonus and the ability to cast arcane magic spontaneously (they cannot perform spell research). They can also use any magical items, as long as they're not specifically for the use of divine spellcasters, and can pick pocket others with a 1-4 in 6 chance. At 8th level the leprechaun can establish an underground or woodland stronghold that can only be found by other leprechauns, fey creatures, or magical means. Any soldiers or mercenaries they hire must be leprechauns.
The race-as-class leprechaun requires 3,000 XP to reach 2nd level, has the dwarven saving throw progression with slightly worse advancement, and a magic-user attack progression.
The leprechaun spell list is a mixture of magic-user, illusionist, and druid spells. It's . . . a pretty great spell list, actually. I was never super sold on the AD&D version of the illusionist, but Necrotic Gnome's illusionist class is amazing. The leprechaun doesn't have any major offensive spells -- charm person, charm monster, and confusion are probably the most offensive -- but it is a solid list of spells.
The penultimate page of contents provides a magic item -- shoes of the leprechaun -- that grant some pretty solid bonuses to both magic-users and thieves. There's also a monster stat block for leprechauns that simplifies the class to make it easy to use without having to much through a complete spell list. The final page is an "Appendix N", providing a short list of inspirational writings, movies, and music.
Overall, this is a fantastic class. The three leprechaun options (Advanced, Basic, monster stat block) are solid. The Advanced version may be a little on the powerful size -- I would probably lower the max class levels by two each (to 6 for fighter and magic-user, and 10 for thief) -- and just eyeballing the Basic XP progression I could see bumping it up by 500 XP to 3,500 to reach 2nd. There are a few typos, and I think most of the art is stock art, but those are minor quibbles. The shoes of the leprechaun are a solid magical item, and there are a lot of nice little touches -- I especially like the detail of the leprechaun woodlands stronghold only findable by fey or magic. It reminds me of the scene in Zelazny's The Courts of Chaos where Corwin stumbles across the faery mound. I strongly recommend buying this product, especially if you're running a fey-themed or woodlands campaign.