The Seeker Character Class
An OD&D Variant
Griffith M. Morgan III
Although we who play the original version of D&D do love it for its simplicity, most referees will grow tired of the standard dungeon dive game and want to add other elements to their world.
My own campaign has turned into a medieval cold war spy game as players go on missions to root out spies working for the dread Egg of Coot. But I also have much deeper stories that are drawn from ideas I’ve seen in such films as, The Sixth Sense, Donnie Darko, Black Orpheus, and most of all Tarkovsky’s epic masterpiece, Stalker.
Each of these films deals with the subject of having an alternate, yet parallel realm. A boy who see’s the ghosts of the dead, a boy who figures out how to alter time, a man who travels down to hell in search of his lost love, a man who guides people into a place known only as The Zone.
Consider that although these films may not be fantasy films, the characters in them lend themselves to being added into a fantasy world, especially one like Blackmoor that is an amalgamation of Tolkien style fantasy with post apocalyptic sci fi on a future planet.
All of the characters I described have similar properties in that they are sensitives with unique powers of feeling based knowing. On top of that, they are heroes who do not choose to be what they are - they are the unwilling victims of fate.
Here is an ideal subject for a character class for expanding story ideas that you can use in your OD&D campaign, The Seeker.
The Seeker Class
The Seeker is here described as an OD&D Character Class. You may feel free to re-arrange adapt and alter the class for your particular game system. Or, even because you may feel I am “Doing It Wrong!”
Seekers have the power to perceive, influence, and even travel the unseen parallel realms of being. The three realms are the realm of the un-living such as purgatory or hell, the non present realm of time both future and past, and the realm of planes of existence or dimensions. This also covers places where these realms intersect with the physical realm or reality, thus creating anomalies. In fact, the Seeker class is ideally suited as a guide for adventuring in places where these rifts have occurred either by accident or through great magical power.
The Seeker must have a 17 or higher in both Intelligence and Wisdom. These values can only be attained through natural unmodified aptitude rolls on 3d6. This is an extremely rare player class. Seekers will more often be encountered as NPCs than as PCs due to how rare they are.
Optional: suggested by Hayde Rice - A point buy from other stats during character creation. I would suggest something like this: A player can trade 2 points from Constitution for every extra point of Wisdom and 2 points from Strength for every additional point of Intelligence.
Seekers always fight as 1st level fighters regardless of experience level. They gain hit points just as Fighters do. Yet, their hit dice do not represent fighting ability so much as ability to perceive threats and thus avoid them. If you are using Greyhawk Supplement, Holmes Basic, or AD&D the hit dice for seekers are a d6 just as clerics.
Seekers may never be dual class. Yet, they can be any species you feel works with the style of character you want to present.
Generally speaking a seeker will not enter a melee willingly, it is not their area of expertise, though they may do so in order to sacrifice themselves to protect others. They do not generally wear armor either, but some do wear odds and ends they have scrounged up. They may use any weapon they choose, but usually only have one weapon of choice and it is not always chosen due to how powerful it is, but rather because it has some personal symbolism for the seeker themselves. Consider a staff, or a sling and dagger as being appropriate. Yet, this Class should be somewhat free form so as to allow a player to really get into their character. Perhaps a Seeker armed with a Heavy Crossbow?
Magical Abilities by Level
Seeker Experience Hit Dice 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Chosen One 0 1+1 1
Apprentice 2000 2 2
Soothe Sayer 4000 3 3 1
Divinator 8000 4 4 2
Witch, or Medicine Man 16000 5+1 4 2 1
Guide 32000 6 4 2 2 1
Visionary 64000 7 4 3 2 1
Enlightened One 120000 8 4 3 3 2
Stalker 240000 9 4 4 3 3
With each additional level of experience after 10th the seeker also gains a +1 in Intelligence or Wisdom (roll for which attribute is affected. This can lead to the acquisition of understanding in additional unseen realms.)
Seekers generally appear as frail and wasted due the intense inner struggle they constantly suffer from as they battle with inner conflict because of their keen intellect and intuition. I like to think of them as a cross between a seer and a philosopher.
They are faultless guides and trackers. They are keenly attuned to their environment.
Often they will also have some knowledge of herbs and tinctures.
They will be sensitive to the presence of one or more of these kinds of situations: The Un-living World, Temporal Anomaly, Magical and Planar Anomaly.
A simple guide to the kind of creatures which dominate each realm with a small set of examples follows. It is up to each Referee to refine the exact details on which creature pertains to each realm.
For the Un-living, this refers to any of the undead with consciousness, unlike skeletons and zombies, and most specifically anything non corporeal such as ghosts which travel along the edges of both reality and the land of the dead.
The temporal realm creatures are those which use temporal displacement such as displacer beasts.
For planar creatures a good example are the invisible stalkers, perhaps shadows may fall within this group as well.
This area of sensitivity can be either assigned, chosen, or rolled randomly. It is up the the referee to adjust this as required.
Total of intelligence and Wisdom:
Int + Wis = 34 one area
Int + Wis = 35 Two areas
Int + Wis = 36 or higher means all three areas are known
For random area determination roll 1d6.
1-2 The Un-living Realm
3-4 The Temporal Realm
5-6 The Planar Realm
(Re-roll duplicate rolls.)
Seekers always get a +10% to experience points while adventuring, not that it matters much in the long run.
Seekers live an ascetic existence in terms of personal property and treasure. Some are known to be hoarders of objects they find personally pleasing though these will be simple objects and not of great value. Often these objects are all similar and appear as collections of the same thing. i.e. when approaching the home of a seeker one might notice many hand made stick dolls hanging from the tree branches. Or, carefully arranged groups of pebbles.
Seekers are mystics. They spend a great deal of time pondering reality and even greater things of wonder. When meeting one the experience will be uncanny and disorienting. You are accosted by a street urchin who tells you that your presence is requested. No answers are given as you are led into a strange place in the forest. As you enter a small hut your eyes adjust to the darkness. A single crack in the ceiling allows a beam of light to shine down on the open eye of a person who stares back into the sunbeam without blinking. The figure sits in silence then utters your name before saying, “Unseen forces gather in darkness. You are the light. You are the chosen one.”
A seeker NPC gains Experience Points from treasure, but they tend to either give it away or simply misplace it. No material gain can help a Seeker overcome their own personal torment.
Because seekers use experience points to cast the more powerful spells, it is rare to find one of very high level. They simply cannot stay at a high level if they use their special spells because the really powerful abilities are so taxing they consume experience points and reduce their level.
Seekers do not have to go on adventures to gain in knowledge and experience. Time isolated and meditating will gain them 6d6 x 10 points of experience per week.
Seekers both shun and are shunned by society. If living in a town or city they will try to blend in by looking like a common beggar. Many malicious rumors abound regarding Seekers and thus they are often harassed and even attacked for who they are. It is said that their offspring are malformed or born with strange magical powers, if not both.
All seekers have some kind of power of divination as an intuitive extension of their natural ability. Some cast stones or bones, others will use runes, and some use decks of cards. Their ability always produces a correct reading, yet the result is often cryptic; the real truth lies in how their divination is understood by the subject. This may be in part why Seekers are so vilified as it is not uncommon for people to blame the messenger instead of the message.
Seekers have sensing ability that is so acute as to seem supernatural to the uninitiated. Yet, some of their ability comes from them always being hyper alert to everything around them. In normal everyday life this constant sensing can be detrimental and very draining to a seeker which is why they often live in remote places with few people, yet while adventuring they are excellent as guides.
In order to use these sensing abilities Seekers will often use simple implements such as carrying a candle and watching how the flame dances. Some will use a plumb bob or divining rods, or as in the movie Stalker, they can detect anomalies by tying old pieces of metal to rags and throwing them to see if they are being pulled or pushed by unseen forces.
Seekers can track with great accuracy in the wilderness. Assume a 25% chance + 5% per level for success if their quarry is not intentionally trying to mask their passage.
Like the other classes they sense secret doors and trap doors, but they can do it as they travel the underworld like elves and dwarves. With every 3 levels of experience they add a +1 to this ability of sensing. A trap does not necessarily have to be man made. A natural pitfall, or an impending rock fall may also be noticed. They also have ability with more complex traps such as trapped chests and other items.
Seekers can sense and search for hidden mechanical traps. Their ability is 50% +/- any difficulty rating that may apply. Knowing there is a trap gives the seeker the option to guide others in avoiding triggering a trap. Yet, in the case of a trapped chest or other such item, it does not mean they have diffused the trap.
Seekers are very hard to surprise during encounters, requiring a roll of two dice with both showing a surprise result for a seeker to be surprised. Roll to see if the party is surprised first then roll again to see if the seeker is surprised. The seeker can almost always get out of the way before serious trouble is upon them.
Additionally, the presence of an anomaly being caused by the presence of a pool of energy, a creature, or a rift from one of the other realms is often revealed by even the most benign of signs. In the presence of an anomaly a seeker may notice a clue on a 2 in 6 chance such a stack of pebbles that could not hold its form without some unseen otherworldly force, or a pattern in how the dust is blown on the ground that others would never take note of. It is up to the referee to invent these signs for the seeker to examine.
Seekers may have animal followers, but these will be very wild and will not approach visitors. Seekers do not generally have human followers or henchmen.
Due to a Seeker’s gifts they are highly visible to creatures from the other realms. Perhaps contact with the other realms stains them somehow. Some of these creatures may fly into a rage and attack a seeker without any regard for others who may be present.
Young Seekers are loners and outcasts. It is not uncommon for an older Seeker to recognize and mentor a young Seeker. Without a mentor it is entirely possible that a young Seeker will not be able to maintain their sanity due to their heightened sensing ability making them think they are going crazy.
Seekers also have magical powers that are like spells. Seekers do not consider what they do to be spell casting and sarcastically refer to it as part of their ‘gift’ as many seekers see their power as also being a curse.
Their spells are more like a kind of skill or aptitude, thus they do not use magic books and scrolls as magic users do. Instead they choose an ability when they gain a level.
When using their ability they will appear to go into a sort of trance and their eyes will focus out into the distance. With spells that require long periods of time any kind of disturbance could distract them and pull them out of their trance state causing the spell to fail. If your seeker is leading you, it is best to follow silently and trust in their gift.
What is more, their magical power drains them. They are the only magical class that loses experience points when they cast really powerful spells.
Spell Types by Level:
1st Level 2nd Level 3rd Level
Touch Sense Locate Anomaly Freeze Anomaly
Awareness Commune with Object Seek Object
Sense Motive Deactivate Trap Realm Shift
Detect Anomaly Analyze Potion Realm Speak
Track Realm Creature Reveal Path Projection
Hold Portal Knock Mask Presence
Speak with Animals Detect illusion Realm Shift
Brew Potion/Poison Detect Invisible Guardian Ward
Protection from Realm
Explanation of Spells
A seeker can touch an object or surface and gather information about the objects history or who or what has passed near the object. The information comes to them in a series of flashback images in their mind. ! full turn to cast.
This allows the seeker to enter a hyper aware state making it so they can perceive everything in their surroundings with 100% accuracy. All secret information about the location will be revealed to the Seeker: secret doors; traps; and nearby monsters. 1-2 turns of trance like meditation is required. The hidden elements should be described vaguely rather in specific language. There is an air current from over here. You sense a malevolence in this direction. Etc. The range is 120” but is blocked by barriers such as wells or other impassable features. A seeker could sense something down a passage and behind a door though.
A seeker can focus on a person they are interacting with and get a feeling about their true nature and intentions. Thus, they can detect if a person’s underlying agenda does not match up with how they are presenting themselves. The seeker will know if someone is lying but they may also have a much deeper understanding about the person and their goals. This ability is more than simple lie detection. It is not easy to trick a seeker.
The Seeker can sense if a lingering pool of realm matter, or a creature from a realm, or a rift is near. They sense the presence, but cannot precisely locate it. 120’ range 1 turn duration.
Track Realm Creature
A seeker may attempt to track a creature that comes from one of the realms. Treat it as normal tracking except the Seeker is able to do so in regard to otherworldly beings.
Same as M.u. spell.
Speak with Animals
Same as Clerical spell
The Seeker can brew potions for any spell they know at a cost of 1 week of work per dose times the level of the spell. There is no expense in gold as the Seeker uses plants and other materials they find in their surroundings to brew these potions. Additionally they can brew poisons as well as healing potions. A Seeker can make poison antidotes as well.
Protection from Realm
Works as a protection from evil spell except the affected creatures are those which come from the specific realm the seeker has knowledge in. In the case of a seeker knowing several realms they must declare which realm is affected when casting the spell.
Similar to Locate Object this allows the seeker to locate the nearest emanation of otherworldly energy.
Commune with Object
This is a more powerful version of Touch Sense. The seeker can converse with inanimate objects about anything that object could know.
A seeker can easily find traps, and should be allowed an either or attempt to deactivate a trap with a 50% chance of success. Yet with the use of this gift the seeker can do so with 100% success.
A seeker can open a flask and sniff the contents in order to know what a potion does. This includes being able to detect poisons.
This spell allows a Seeker to find a safe passage through an area such as a thick bramble, or marshy wetland. In the case of underworld settings it could be applied to finding a path through an area with an unsafe roof that is likely to collapse, or other similar obstacles.
Similar to the standard Knock spell.
The Seeker can tell if something is unreal or illusory. Once detected, the Seeker can attempt to dispel the illusion. 50% chance + 5% per additional level of experience.
Same as M.u. Spell.
A seeker can use this pell to temporarily deactivate any powers emanating from an anomaly. In the case of creatures the spell works like hold person. A large rift may require some kind of challenge roll created by the referee. Duration is 1-12 turns.
Similar to Locate Object with the one difference being that the object may or may not be located in one of the realms.
A seeker can briefly dip into another realm in order to bypass obstacles located in the mundane world such as walls or rivers. Duration is up to the Referee.
The Seeker can speak with a creature that is located in a realm. This is similar to an E.S.P. Spell except both parties are reading each other’s minds.
The Seeker can enter a trance and project their awareness out of their body and into a realm. They are able to sense everything within the realm as if they were there, but cannot touch or speak while there. As they explore there are certain creatures that can detect them and may be able to cause their projected self harm, or entrap them.
A seeker can become invisible, or make someone else invisible to creatures from a particular realm. Creatures of higher level than the Seeker are allowed a saving throw in this regard based on the difference in levels on the saving throw chart.
This spell creates an unseen barrier that blocks creatures from a particular realm. It can take any number of forms. A chalk line drawn around a door frame, or a candle that magically never burns out.
An intelligent creature can attempt to erase or remove the activating element via mundane or magical means. The same occurs if a normal being comes along and tampers with the ward.
Intentionally passing through thus shattering the ward by realm creatures will cause damage equivalent to the casting seeker’s level.
The seeker can dip their arm into one of the realms and bring back any object they can grasp in their hand. Of course this is also fraught with danger as something on the other side can grab them and pull them in. The seeker must enter a trance of from 1-12 turns. Casting the spell reduces a Seeker’s Experience Points by 10,000.
The Seeker can send another being into one of the realms. At the end of the spells duration, which is entirely subject to the Referee’s whims, the subject returns to reality whether alive or dead. Cost to cast 12,000 Experience Points.
This is the same as above, except it pertains to the Seeker themselves. Cost to cast 15,000 Experience Points.
The seeker can attempt to destroy any kind of anomaly related to the realms. Treat the spell as a fireball of equivalent damage to the caster. It is like an energy blast emanating from the Seeker. The Blast does no damage to mundane creatures. In terms of anomalous creatures the attack is against their hit points. Other anomalies and rifts should be assigned a hit point value for how much damage can be caused before it is entirely destroyed. Cost to cast 15,000 Experience Points.
This class is merely a template. It can be used to model a variety of sensitive personas. The spells they cast, or gifts, should be fairly flexible and a player can argue for choosing different unlisted spells, or even creating their own. (I'm struggling with adding in spells like telekinesis, yet I think that may be too powerful for this class.) The primary limitation being that they should not get too many active combat spells.
The Seeker’s power lies in their passivity and sensing ability.
Regarding adventures for seekers. Try to avoid creating the dull and over used BBEG scenario, particularly one where the Referee makes sure to give the Seeker powers that guarantee a wipe out for the BBEG in the final show down. Focus on creating possibility, but leave the solutions to the problems you create up to the players, or even allow for mission failure. The most important aspect of entering and exploring The Realms is that the in game immersive experience should be paramount and whether or not the players succeed should be irrelevant!
If you do create an adventure either to an area near a rift, or even into the realms, make sure to get weird. Things will not be normal here. Gravity may not work. Your vision may be distorted as if seeing through a prism. Adventures to realms should not in any way feel normal. Try to day dream when creating an adventure, or even take something from an actual dream you’ve had where reality is beyond real. How close can you get to making your players enter this dream reality?
In a sense, the inclusion of the Seeker Class into your adventures is also a challenge to you as a Referee. It will be up to you to produce a game experience that goes beyond anything you’ve ever created before in your fantasy campaign.
Please, let me know how this class works for you. Tell me of the changes and additions you try. And also tell me about the adventures you’ve created.
As always, you can still watch Secrets of Blackoor on Vimeo.
If you rent or buy on Vimeo, most of the fee goes directly to The Fellowship of the Thing.
Yet, if dealing with signing up for a new service is too much trouble, the film is again available on Amazon.
Regardless of where you choose to watch, please take the time to leave a review.
Thanks, Chris and Griff
3/29/2022 03:17:34 am
Curious fact: The Swedish RPG 'Ut Mot Skären' published by Pelle Nilsson (of later 'Mörk Borg' fame) in 2018 was heavily influenced by Stalker, and traced its mechanics back to OD&D roots.
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