Talking D&D: Game Design is a Bitch

Despite the fact I write about it “a lot” in my blog, and now have a video series dedicated to it, my knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons is very abysmal. I’ve only played the game with approximately twenty other people through the years, the most prominent being friends and family round the area where I live rather than a diverse number of folk who have had a grander appreciation and vision of the game and what it can provide. I give myself credit where credit is due, but in truth I am just a man who has only tapped the potential creativity the game can provide, let alone the countless other games that are established along with with those still to be written.

Plain and simple, designing games for the masses to play and enjoy is a pain in the ass. What’s more, its doesn’t pay well in the long run. So many DMs put work into making a proper game occur, and not only does it not seem to work out during the game with friends but the with business world as well. Making a buck is so difficult if we were to pay heed to Robert J. Schwalb’s words. It makes the need to make something new and interesting rather pointless, doesn’t it? But hey! We do what we do because of passion, rather than a need of survival. Getting lucky with our ideas is merely a side effect, and should at least a single person smile and pat one of us on the back, we are validated in our efforts. More often than not at least.

But ever the same, designing something appropriate, balanced, etc. is difficult, and I can’t fully claim anything original out of myself through the entirety of my first D&D campaign. I certainly attempted ideas, but anyone with sense can note I certainly borrowed from others who did the work to make things right in the end. Not a bad thing, because you’re supposed to make a game work more than anything else, but the supposed artist in me feels dwindled when I admit such things to myself. As such, let us go back to an old promise and see if we can make something amazing, shall we?

It’s been well over a year since I’ve talked about the Vampire Class created by We Xogo which I gave a wretched critique of. Someone’s attempt to make the Vampire into a PC Class…shot down by me of all folk, and not updated since. I promised in the post/comments I would eventually make my own class to make up for the fact, but I’ve otherwise let the man down…till now. I now present to you not only a long intended promise, but something Kick-Ass inspired by one of my favored filmmakers and animators today: M dot Strange, creator of BADASSERY (and other things, but BADASSERY for the purposes of this post). Today I have the honor of sharing with you the PC Class known simply as Badass.


Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Badasses are proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with all armor (heavy, medium, and light) and shields (including tower shields).

Trapfinding (Ex)

Badasses can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20. Finding a nonmagical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. Badasses can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. A Badass who beats a trap’s DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with their party) without disarming it.

Unarmed Strike (Ex)

At 1st level, a Badass gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A Badasses attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a Badass may even make unarmed strikes with their hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a Badass striking unarmed. A Badass may thus apply their full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all their unarmed strikes.

Usually a Badasses unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but they can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on their attack roll. They has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling. A Badasses unarmed strike is treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons. A Badass also deals more damage with their unarmed strikes than a normal person would (shown above for Badasses of Medium size).

Evasion (Ex)

At 2nd level and higher, a Badass can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If they make a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, they instead take no damage. Evasion can be used only if the Badass is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless Badass does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Trap Sense (Ex)

At 3rd level, a Badass gains an intuitive sense that alerts them to danger from traps, giving a +1 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to AC against attacks made by traps.  These bonuses rise by +1 every three Badass levels thereafter (6th, 9th, 12th, 15th, and 18th level). Trap sense bonuses gained from multiple classes stack.

Hella Jumping (Ex)

Through special training, a Badass of 4th level is capable of jumping great heights. This amounts to a Jump Bonus equal to four times its level (+16 Jump bonus at 4th level). This training also allows a Badass to lower the damage he takes from falling, starting at 20 ft, with an additional 10 ft every two levels after 4th. At 20th level, a Badass takes no falling damage no matter the distance.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

Starting at 5th level, a Badass retains their Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if they are caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, they still loses their Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. If a Badass already has Uncanny Dodge from a different class, they automatically gain Improved Uncanny Dodge instead.

Leadership (Ex)

The adventures of a Badass spread faster and wider than normal adventurers, and at 6th level they receive Leadership as a bonus feat. Unlike normal Leadership, however, a Badass must follow a Code of Conduct (see below) in regards to their cohort and followers.

Photographic Memory (Ex)

At 7th level, the Badass has gained a photographic memory through special mental training. This allows them to see through all mundane disguises and illusions of the Glamer subschool.

Master Polyglot (Ex)

Through special training, a Badass of 8th level or higher gains the ability to speak with any living creature, including nonliving matter, as if under the effects of Tongues.

Slippery Mind (Ex)

At 9th level, the Badasses mind becomes more difficult to control. If a Badass fails its save against an enchantment spell or effect, they can attempt the save again 1 round later at the same DC (assuming they are still alive). They get only this one extra chance to succeed at a certain saving throw.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

A Badass of 10th level or higher can no longer be flanked. This defense denies a Rogue the ability to Sneak Attack the Badass by flanking them, unless the attacker has at least four more Rogue levels than the target has Badass levels. If a character already has Uncanny Dodge from a second class, the character automatically gains Improved Uncanny Dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant Uncanny Dodge stack to determine the minimum level a Rogue must be to flank the character.

Improved Evasion (Ex)

At 11th level, a Badasses Evasion ability improves. They still take no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth they take only half damage on a failed save. A helpless Badass does not gain the benefit of Improved Evasion.

Water Breathing (Su)

At 13th level, a Badass is able to speak and breath underwater through special training, as if under a continuous Water Breathing effect.

Epic Roar (Ex)

At 14th level, a Badass can express their might through a giant roar with a standard action. All opponents within 30 ft must succeed a Will save (DC = 10 + half Badass level + Charisma modifier). The effect is similar to Fear with a caster level of 10. This ability can be used once a day.

Dragon Blooded (Ex)

At 16th level, the Badasses special training causes a transformation which gives them dragon blood, allowing them to mate and have offspring with any living creature or nonliving matter.

Superior Invisibility (Su)

At 17th level, the Badass has become a master of stealth, to the point that almost nothing can detect or even feel them when they pass through. Capable of being activated with a full round action once per day, this ability functions as the spell, except the sensations of touch and smell are concealed as well, and it lasts for 1 hour.

Epic Speed (Su)

At 19th level, a Badass is able to call upon a superhuman burst of speed, the effects of which are similar to Time Stop. This ability can be used once per day.

Epic Transformation (Su)

At 20th level, a Badasses training is fully realized, and they can transform into a being which displays their epicness in physical form. With a full-round action, a Badass changes into a creature of colossal size, and gains the following abilities…

  • Damage reduction 30/epic.
  • Spell resistance equal to 21 + Badasses level.
  • Acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic resistance 50.
  • Immunity to ability damage, disease, energy drain, poison, and death effects.
  • +10 enhancement bonus on all saving throws.
  • Does not need to eat, drink, or breathe.

In addition, a Badass can make a single ray attack during the transformation, the effect of which is similar to a Disintegrate. The caster level for this effect equals the Badasses level, while the save is 10 + half Badass level + Charisma modifier. This transformation lasts for 1 minute, after which a Badass returns to normal.

Code of Conduct

A Badass must be of Lawful alignment and loses all class abilities if they ever willingly commit an act that makes them less of a Badass. Morality is for Haters. As long as you are a Badass, nothing else matters.


A Badass who ceases to be Lawful or who grossly violates the Code of Conduct loses all Badass abilities (but not weapon, armor, and shield proficiencies). They may not progress any farther in levels as a Badass. They regain their abilities and advancement potential if they atone for their violations (see the atonement spell description), as appropriate. Like a member of any other class, a Badass may be a multiclass character, but multiclass Badasses face a special restriction. A Badass who gains a level in any class other than Badass may never again raise their Badass level, though they retain all their Badass abilities.


…If you didn’t get it, the Badass Class is a little bit of a joke. However, I do see merit in trying to play a Badass, and the special rules they follow could make a game very interesting. I’m certain it can use some tweaking, especially if I hope to make an Epic Level progression, and an NPC for the Badasses Badass, Agent 69. Hopefully my limited knowledge of D&D with this somewhat serious Level Progression is appealing to you and the rest of the gaming world. Should you decide to playtest it, give suggestions, or know of a better means to make the Badass a reality, I’m all ears, and will update the class as the suggestions come in. Become a Badass today, and fear no one! Also, show much love to M dot Strange and his film Heart String Marionette, which you can get for just $5, movie soundtrack included. What’s not to love about that?


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One thought on “Talking D&D: Game Design is a Bitch

  1. […] I would make good on a promise to create a class for another Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast. I made good on that promise, experiencing full well the troubles of making something balanced, and still making something that […]

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