Character Classes for Old-School D&D, Generated by ChatGPT, with Art by MidJourney
They're Both Surprisingly Good At This
Last weekend I finally shelled out for the paid subscriptions to both ChatGPT and MidJourney.
Thew new GPT-4 is incredible– I’ve used it to write articles, short stories, project proposals, quickly educate myself on subjects I’m unfamiliar with, and generate creative ideas.
As I also found, it’s surprisingly good at generating content for old-school Dungeons & Dragons, including character classes.
The new version of MidJourney, which came out a week or two ago, is also a huge improvement. You can now get good images with simple prompts like “An alchemist, envisioned as a character class for Dungeons and Dragons,” without needing to add twenty caveats to strong-arm it into making something that doesn’t look weird.
Well, mostly. I’ll mention a few caveats at the end.
Here are five character classes I generated with ChatGPT, compatible with B/X Dungeons and Dragons and similar Old School Renaissance games, along with character art by MidJourney.
Title: The Automaton
Description: The Automaton is an ancient creation of advanced technology or arcane magics, designed to serve, protect, or fulfill a specific purpose. Through the passage of time, the Automaton has gained self-awareness, breaking free of its original constraints. Now, it roams the world, driven by curiosity, seeking purpose and adapting to its new life. The Automaton's mechanical body is strong and durable, and its clockwork mind is capable of rapid calculations and feats of logic.
Immunity to Disease and Poison: The Automaton is immune to all natural diseases and poisons due to its mechanical nature.
Construct Resilience: The Automaton is resistant to mind-affecting spells, charms, and illusions. It also does not need to eat, sleep, or breathe, making it immune to effects that require these biological functions.
Advanced Strength: The Automaton's body is made of strong materials, granting it a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls for melee weapons.
Adaptable: The Automaton can allocate one ability score increase each time it levels up, either in its current form or after undergoing a significant transformation. It can also learn and adapt to the use of weapons and armor normally restricted to other classes, with the GM's permission.
Repair and Maintenance: The Automaton can spend one hour performing self-repair to regain hit points equal to 1d6 + its level. It can do this once per day, and it does not require sleep.
Self-Modification: The Automaton can upgrade its body, choosing one modification from the list below every two levels (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.). These modifications are permanent and cannot be changed once chosen.
a. Reinforced Armor: The Automaton increases its Armor Class by 1.
b. Advanced Optics: The Automaton gains darkvision, allowing it to see in complete darkness up to a range of 60 feet.
c. Hydraulic Joints: The Automaton's movement speed increases by 10 feet.
d. Integrated Weapon: The Automaton can choose one weapon to integrate into its body, allowing it to use that weapon without needing to carry it separately.
e. Improved Repair: The Automaton's Repair and Maintenance ability heals an additional 1d6 hit points.
f. Adaptive Programming: The Automaton can learn one skill or language of its choice.
Hit Dice: 1d8 per level
Armor: The Automaton can wear any armor, but its unique construction requires that any armor worn be specially crafted for its form, doubling the cost of the armor.
Weapons: The Automaton can use any weapon, but like armor, its unique construction requires that any weapon be specially crafted for its form, doubling the cost of the weapon.
My thoughts: All of the responses I got did this weird title/class thing; I don’t know where that comes from. This is pretty good as a starting point. Needs to have some kind of general mechanical skill beyond just repairing itself, and more options for modifications, or better yet guidelines for making your own. Right now it’s cool but lacks a clear role in the party.
Title: The Skinwalker
Description: The Skinwalker is a mysterious individual who possesses the ability to change their form, taking on the appearance and characteristics of various creatures. They walk the line between man and beast, using their shapeshifting powers to blend in with society or to navigate the wilds. While Skinwalkers are not inherently evil, they often find themselves misunderstood and feared by others. As adventurers, they use their abilities to adapt to different situations and overcome obstacles in their path.
Prime Requisite: Wisdom
Shapeshifting: The Skinwalker can assume the form of any humanoid or natural beast of their choice up to their own size or one size smaller. They can use this ability a number of times per day equal to their level. Each transformation lasts for 1 hour, and they regain their true form when the duration ends or when they choose to do so.
Nature Affinity: The Skinwalker gains a +2 bonus to any rolls related to tracking, foraging, or navigating in natural environments due to their connection with the wilds.
Empathy: The Skinwalker can communicate on a basic level with animals and magical beasts, understanding their emotions and intentions.
Form Mastery: At 5th level, the Skinwalker gains a deeper understanding of the forms they assume, allowing them to gain the special abilities of the creature they emulate, such as a wolf's keen senses or a bear's strength. These abilities are subject to the GM's discretion.
Hit Dice: 1d8 per level
Armor: The Skinwalker can wear light armor without hindering their shapeshifting abilities. Wearing medium or heavy armor prevents them from shapeshifting.
Weapons: The Skinwalker can use simple weapons, as well as bows and slings.
Saves: The Skinwalker uses the saves table for Thieves.
Attack Matrix: The Skinwalker uses the attack matrix for Thieves.
My thoughts: The abilities need more explanation. I think the shapeshifting ability lets it imitate species but not specific people, and that should be more clear. I’d add a stealth skill similar to thieves; as with all skills, this would need to be adapted to the specific ruleset you’re playing.
Title: The Griot
Description: The Griot is a skilled storyteller, historian, and keeper of lore who uses their vast knowledge to guide, inspire, and entertain others. They have a deep connection to the histories and myths of the world and can draw upon this knowledge to weave powerful stories that influence their surroundings. As adventurers, Griots use their words to shape the outcome of events, bolster their allies, and confound their enemies. Through their performances, they can create temporary magical effects that reflect the stories they tell.
Prime Requisite: Charisma
Storytelling: The Griot can share stories to inspire and aid their allies. They can perform for a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + their Charisma modifier. Allies within 30 feet who can hear the Griot gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws. This bonus increases to +2 at 5th level and +3 at 9th level.
Lorekeeper: The Griot has an encyclopedic knowledge of history, legends, and folklore. They gain a +2 bonus to any rolls related to recalling information about these subjects.
Magical Tales: At 3rd level, the Griot can use their storytelling to create temporary magical effects that last for the duration of their performance. They can choose one effect from the list below, and they can learn an additional effect every three levels thereafter (6, 9, etc.). The range of these effects is 30 feet, and they require the target(s) to be able to hear the Griot.
a. Courageous Tale: Allies affected by this story gain advantage on saving throws against fear and charm effects.
b. Enthralling Tale: The Griot can attempt to fascinate a number of creatures up to their Charisma modifier. Targets must make a saving throw or be captivated by the story, remaining motionless and unable to take any actions. The effect ends if the target is attacked or otherwise disturbed.
c. Wearying Tale: The Griot can attempt to lull a number of creatures up to their Charisma modifier into a state of drowsiness. Targets must make a saving throw or be affected by a magical sleep. This effect lasts for 1 minute or until the target is attacked or otherwise disturbed.
d. Tale of Swiftness: Allies affected by this story have their movement speed increased by 10 feet. e. Tale of Heroes: Allies affected by this story gain temporary hit points equal to the Griot's level + their Charisma modifier.
f. Disorienting Tale: The Griot can attempt to confuse a number of creatures up to their Charisma modifier. Targets must make a saving throw or be unable to take any actions other than moving at half speed in a random direction. This effect lasts for 1 minute or until the target is attacked or otherwise disturbed.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per level
Armor: The Griot can wear light armor without hindering their storytelling abilities. Wearing medium or heavy armor prevents them from performing.
Weapons: The Griot can use simple weapons, as well as light crossbows and shortbows.
This came out as text rather than a table and doesn’t copy well, but the Griot has d6 HP per level and needs 1500 XP for level 2.
Saves: The Griot uses the saves table for Magic-Users.
Attack Matrix: The Griot uses the attack matrix for Magic-Users.
My thoughts: I don’t like the idea of someone playing music in battle and wish those abilities were something used outside of combat. That’s not ChatGPT’s fault though; I just think bards are kind of silly. I would also beef up the lore ability, maybe let them roll for lore that other people don’t even get to roll for, and add some kind of social ability related to finding wealthy patrons. Again, needs more options for magical tales– it would have been easy to generate more though, I just didn’t bother. Finally, I think they should save and attack as thieves, which they’re closer to in concept than magic-users.
Title: The Ninja
Class: Stealth Assassin
Description: The Ninja is a secretive and deadly warrior, trained in the arts of assassination, espionage, and subterfuge. Skilled in stealth and deception, they are masters of blending into the shadows and striking from the darkness. As adventurers, Ninjas excel in infiltrating enemy strongholds, gathering intelligence, and eliminating high-value targets. They are adept at using various weapons, and their unique abilities make them formidable foes on and off the battlefield.
Prime Requisite: Dexterity
Stealth: The Ninja is exceptionally skilled at moving silently and hiding in shadows. They gain a +4 bonus to rolls related to hiding and moving silently.
Evasion: The Ninja is adept at evading traps, spells, and attacks. They gain a +2 bonus to saving throws against area effects, such as breath weapons and spells.
Assassination: When attacking an enemy who is unaware of the Ninja's presence, the Ninja can deliver a deadly strike. If the attack hits, it deals double damage. This ability does not work with ranged weapons.
Poison Use: The Ninja is proficient in the use of poisons and can apply them to their weapons without risk of poisoning themselves.
Ki Powers: At 5th level, the Ninja gains access to Ki powers, a form of internal energy that allows them to perform extraordinary feats. They can use these powers a number of times per day equal to their level divided by 2 (rounded down). Ki powers can be used for the following effects:
a. Ki Step: The Ninja can move up to their movement speed without provoking attacks of opportunity.
b. Ki Strike: The Ninja can make an additional attack during their turn.
c. Ki Defense: The Ninja gains a +4 bonus to Armor Class for 1 round.
d. Ki Jump: The Ninja can jump up to three times their normal jump distance.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per level
Armor: The Ninja can wear light armor without hindering their stealth abilities. Wearing medium or heavy armor prevents them from using their stealth, evasion, and Ki powers.
Weapons: The Ninja can use simple weapons, as well as short swords, katanas, and shuriken.
Saves: The Ninja uses the saves table for Thieves.
Attack Matrix: The Ninja uses the attack matrix for Thieves.
My thoughts: Pretty good overall. I would add a bonus to hit on sneak attacks and something related to climbing, along with proficiency with ninja-like exotic weapons like kusarigama. Could use more ki powers, but again that would have been easy to generate more of.
The Alchemist is an expert in the arcane arts of chemistry, medicine, and potion-making. Skilled in both mundane and magical concoctions, the Alchemist can create powerful elixirs, explosives, and remedies to aid in their adventures.
Prime Requisite: Intelligence
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 14
Armor: Leather armor only
Weapons: Dagger, staff, sling, light crossbow
Potion Crafting: The Alchemist can create various magical potions, given enough time, materials, and a suitable laboratory. The process takes 1 day per 100 gp of the potion's market value, and the Alchemist must spend half of that value in raw materials. They can only create potions of spells they have access to, as detailed in the Spellcasting ability below.
Alchemical Devices: The Alchemist can create alchemical items, such as alchemist's fire, smokesticks, or tanglefoot bags. Creating these items requires raw materials worth 50% of their market value and 1 day of work per item. At the DM's discretion, more advanced alchemical items may become available as the Alchemist gains levels.
Herbalism and Poisoncraft: The Alchemist is skilled in the art of herbalism and poisoncraft. They can identify and create antidotes for various poisons, given the necessary ingredients and time. Additionally, they can craft poisons for their weapons, though the potency and effect depend on their level and the ingredients used.
Spellcasting: Starting at 2nd level, the Alchemist gains the ability to cast spells. They have access to a limited selection of spells, primarily focusing on transmutation, enchantment, and elemental magic. They learn and prepare spells in a manner similar to the Magic-User class, though they don't require a spellbook. Instead, they maintain a collection of formulae and recipes in their laboratory.
Transmutation Mastery: At 9th level, the Alchemist gains the ability to transmute one substance into another, once per day. The process takes 1 turn per pound of material and requires a successful Intelligence check. The DM determines the specifics and limitations of this ability.
Level | XP | Hit Dice | Spells Per Day (by spell level)
1 | 0 | 1d6 | --
2 | 2500 | 2d6 | 1
3 | 5000 | 3d6 | 2
It bugged out here but you get the idea. I’d assume they save and attack as magic-users.
My thoughts: Pretty good overall. The crafting rules need to be adjusted to that the gold value you can create per day scales with your level, and apply that or something like it to things that aren’t potions. Also, this image shows that MidJourney still has trouble with hands, and I had to generate a lot of different images just to get the hands looking even this good.
Overall, I’m very impressed. These could all use a little adjustment and rules clarification but they’re pretty much there, and very usable at the table. I’m not sure where that weird distinction between title and class comes from.
A couple things that jump out at me are that ChatGPT seems to have a good grasp of which “standard” classes each of this is most similar too, in terms of saves, HP, attacks and XP progression. The XP progressions are all well-chosen and suggest that ChatGPT has a good understanding of how powerful each one is; it knows that alchemists are stronger than ninjas for instance.
MidJourney still has trouble doing hands right and understanding how many people should be in a group; I got a lot of parties of four our six for that header image. Overall though, it’s finally good enough to easily generate good art that can be used in articles, RPG products, or what have you. Also doesn’t get all the members of the group right; I assume the woman on the right is the ninja but she doesn’t look much like one, and the skinwalker looks more like an alien than a monstrous animal-person.
I’m going to be generating a lot more RPG stuff with ChatGPT; it’s clearly a good way to produce lots of “library content.” I suspect it wouldn’t do so well making stuff for other games, but old-school D&D offers it a lot of public-domain data to draw upon, which is great for OSR gamers like me.