Gypsies were a fixture of historic Gothic literature, and it would be impossible to have a proper Gothic campaign without them. Unfortunately, the portrayal of Gypsies in Gothic literature was usually insensitive at best. The term “Gypsy” itself is somewhat uncertain, since it has been used to designate not only ethnicities like the Romani, but also cultural groups like the Travelers of Ireland and the British Isles. The Gypsy class presented below is inspired by a combination of lore related to the various groups called “Gypsies”. It is NOT intended to be taken as a serious work of scholarship, but is simply an attempt to create a fun and playable class for gaming in the Gothic genre. While designed for use in Gothic campaigns, the Gypsy class would certainly work in high fantasy ones as well.
A restless wanderer who lives by his wits.
Gypsies are nomads who live amidst settled populations. Often, they are the descendants of people originally forced from their land by war, or other disasters. Wandering from town to town, Gypsies survive by telling fortunes, staging animal shows, holding boxing matches, and presenting performances of music and dance. Often, they will advertise themselves as a traveling circus. Sometimes, they will sell items they may have acquired in their travels, generally at cheaper prices than other merchants. Also, bands of Gypsies are known to encamp just outside of a town, and provide entertainments that are discouraged by the civil authorities. Such practices tend to make Gypsies targets for persecution by the wealthy and powerful.
Gypsies typically travel in bands of 4-100 people, with at least as many domestic animals. Rarely, a Gypsy will travel with only his animal companions. Usually, a band of Gypsies is divided into families of 2-12 people, each family riding in their own horse-drawn wagon. Other times, the whole band may be mounted on horses, with pack mules carrying tents and personal possessions. Some Gypsies even walk, with their possessions carried on their own backs.
The Gypsy class represents the typical individual in a traveling Gypsy band. Since bands of Gypsies are essentially mobile villages, the community may include other character classes. Typically, there will also be Rangers, Fighters, Rogues, Magicians, and Illusionists traveling with a large group of Gypsies. Most members of the band, however, will be represented by the Gypsy class. Since the nomadic life is not conducive to extended childhoods, members of the band as young as 13 years of age may have all the abilities of a 1st Level Gypsy.
Gypsies are divided into many different nations that share bonds of race, culture, and language. Sometimes, Gypsies can be recognized by their foreign looks and strange ways. Other times, Gypsies are practically identical to the people of the towns and villages they traverse, except for their refusal to settle down in one place. Gypsies of one nation do not generally recognize any kinship with Gypsies of another nation. Gypsy nations have little relationship with the boundaries of settled countries, and Gypsies of different nations will often coexist within the borders of a single kingdom. Some Gypsy nations have elaborate social hierarchies, which may be headed by Kings and Queens. Others Gypsy nations accept no higher authorities than the leaders of the separate bands.
Many Gypsies dress in an exotic manner, either on account of actually having their origin in a foreign land, or else just to distinguish themselves from settled people. There is often an element of showmanship to a Gypsy’s dress, particularly if the Gypsy’s band makes their living entertaining outsiders.
Because they refuse to participate in settled life, and regard themselves as their own nations, Gypsies are hated by many governments. It is common for Gypsies to be completely banned from entering a town, or legally restricted to traveling only on certain roads. Likewise, the common people of settled societies tend to harbor many prejudices against Gypsies, although they will also seek out Gypsies for fortune telling and entertainment. A Gypsy character may find himself stereotyped as tricky and thieving, sensual and superstitious, possessed of strange abilities, and likely to consort with evil spirits. To some, Gypsies are the subject of romantic fantasies, although the same people who may secretly yearn for a Gypsy lover are just as likely to discriminate against any real Gypsies they meet.
Gypsies tend to adopt the religion of the region where they spend the most time, but they are also apt to absorb and mix together disparate spiritual practices encountered in their travels. Their cavalier attitude towards orthodoxy also tends to make Gypsies as unpopular with religious authorities as with civil ones. It is usual for clergy who otherwise advocate for the downtrodden to look the other way while Gypsies are persecuted.
Gypsies are known to treat members of their own nation with great respect, politeness, and camaraderie, but may have no such scruples towards outsiders. Many Gypsy nations are bound by elaborate and strict social customs, which are easily transgressed. Even those Gypsy nations with looser societies place a premium on family and personal loyalty. Any Gypsy who defrauds, harms, or steals from his own kind can expect to be subjected to extremely harsh punishments. Very few outsiders are ever recognized as an “honorary Gypsy”, and then only for such things as placing oneself in extreme danger to save the life of a Gypsy.
All Gypsies have an Neutral element to their Alignment, although an individual may be Good, Evil, Lawful, or Chaotic. Although common stereotypes about Gypsies portray them as generally Chaotic Neutral, Gypsy elders tend to be Lawful Neutral. True Neutral is actually the most common Alignment of all for Gypsies, since their varied experiences tend to convince them that moral inflexibility is foolish.
Gypsies have a troubling relationship with the abominations of the night. Long travels, often under cover of darkness, have made the Gypsies familiar with the various monsters that infest the hidden corners of the earth. The restless dead have a dangerous attraction to Gypsies, and Gypsies fear such monsters like no others. Vampyres seem to be particularly obsessed with Gypsies, and many Gypsies tell stories of visits from the lustful and hungry dead. Likewise, their nocturnal movements and rural encampments frequently expose Gypsies to attacks from lycanthropes.
Many Cambions, Moon-calves, and Nephilim are born into Gypsy bands. Likewise, Gypsies are often targeted by the Fairy Folk, causing many Changelings to be raised as Gypsies. The strange relationship between Gypsies and Vampyres means that Dhampirs frequently have Gypsy mothers. Among the Demi-humans, Elves, Gnomes, and Halflings are often Gypsies, while the lifestyle is completely unknown to Dwarves. Unfortunately, the dangers of the road sometimes result in the birth of Gypsy Half-Orcs.
GYPSY CANT: Each nation of Gypsies possesses a language that is incomprehensible to outsiders. Different nations of Gypsies will not understand each others’ Cant. Unlike the Cants used by common thieves, Gypsy Cants are complete languages that can handle conversation on any topic.
GIFT FOR LANGUAGES: A Gypsy can learn twice as many additional languages as is usual for a character of her Intelligence, and in half the usual time.
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY (Wisdom): Gypsies are well-known for their ability to train, handle and ride animals.
- A Gypsy can train an appropriate animal to be a guard, mount, or pack animal. The Challenge Level is equal to the animal’s Hit Dice. Such training requires a week’s time.
- Likewise, a Gypsy can use a Wisdom Check to discern the hit points of a potential mount, guard dog, or pack animal.
- Gypsies can teach animals to perform tricks, in a manner similar to an Animal Friendship spell. Each trick taught requires a week’s time, and a successful Wisdom Check. Animals who have been taught tricks will often be used to make money, by entertaining outsiders.
- A Gypsy can also attempt to calm frightened domestic animals, drive reluctant or stubborn animals, and otherwise make domestic animals behave in desired ways.
- A domestic animal under a Gypsy’s care is entitled to a re-roll of any failed Saving Throw to resist or overcome a disease.
- Starting at 7th Level, a Gypsy is able to apply their Animal Husbandry to fantastic Beasts, such as Griffons.
SLEIGHT OF HAND (Dexterity): Gypsies master the arts of misdirection, and pilfering small objects.
- A Gypsy’s Sleight of Hand is similar in most respects to the Pick Pockets Ability of Rogues
- Gypsies most commonly use their Sleight of Hand for shows of legerdemain.
BOXING (Strength): Often deprived of weapons under the law, Gypsies have learned to fight effectively with their bare hands.
- Gypsies receive a +1 to-hit bonus when fighting with their fists against unarmored opponents.
- A Gypsy can also use Brass Knuckles, or a Cestus, and still receive the bonus.
- A Gypsy’s unarmed pummeling attack does 1-2 points of actual damage, unless the Gypsy wants to do only subdual damage.
- At 6th Level, the Gypsy may attack twice a round, if punching with their bare hands, Brass Knuckles, or Cestus.
APPRAISE (Intelligence): With a successful Intelligence check, a Gypsy can accurately appraise gems, jewelry, trade goods, and other mundane treasures, or estimate the amount of coins in a treasure hoard without needing to actually count them.
SENSE MOTIVE (Wisdom): Gypsies develop a strong ability to sense people’s inner motivations. Such an ability comes in handy for protecting the Gypsies from danger, and gives them an advantage in trade.
- A successful Wisdom check means a Gypsy can sense a person or creature’s primary desire with regards to the Gypsy.
- At 4th Level, a Gypsy can perform a Wisdom check to determine the Alignment of someone they are speaking with. A Gypsy can only attempt to ascertain a given being’s Alignment once.
- At 9th Level, a Gypsy’s Sense Motive can pierce spells and effects which hide or obscure motives or Alignments.
DIVINATION (Wisdom): Living by their wits, Gypsies develop an uncanny sense for danger and opportunity. Certain Gypsy nations also have extensive traditions of reading oracles from animals and natural events.
- Once a day, a Gypsy can make a Wisdom check to ascertain whether a course of action will be ultimately beneficial or harmful to themselves.
- Alternately, the CK may make the check in secret, and allow the player of a Gypsy character to always believe they have successfully divined, even when they haven’t.
ENTERTAIN (Charisma): Entertainment is one of the many methods Gypsies use to support themselves. The typical Gypsy learns at least one skill that can be used to entertain outsiders. Typical Gypsy entertainments include fortune telling, animal trick shows, music, singing, and dancing.
- For each hour spent entertaining with an audience, a Gypsy can make a Charisma check, with the challenge Level equal to the average Level of the audience.
- Upon a successful check, the Gypsy will collect 1d4 copper pieces per Level for that hour’s entertainment. Thus, a 6th Level Gypsy can get 6-24 copper pieces for a successful hour’s show.
- If many Gypsies cooperate on a performance, they can add their Levels together, and make the Charisma check as if they were one character. If they fail, however, none of them get paid!
OCCULT LORE (Intelligence): Gypsies possess much occult lore, picked up in their travels. While not equal in knowledge to a sage or true Magician, a Gypsy will often know some fascinating tidbit.
- A successful intelligence check means that a Gypsy can remember some interesting information regarding a noteworthy person, place, or thing of a supernatural nature.
- The information possessed by Gypsies is notoriously unreliable, however. There is only a 50% chance that any Occult Lore is factual. The rest of the time it is simply rumor, hearsay, confabulation, or an outright lie.
- A Gypsy can only attempt to remember Occult Lore once with regard to a particular person, place, or thing.
CURSE (Charisma): Gypsies are feared for their legendary ability to inflict Curses.
- Once a season, a Gypsy can Bestow Curse, as the spell.
- At 4th Level, A Gypsy can Curse once a month.
- At 8th Level, a Gypsy can Curse once a week.
- At 12th Level, a Gypsy can Curse once a day.
- A Gypsy Curse can only be inflicted upon someone who has materially harmed the Gypsy.
- A Gypsy Curse can be removed by the Gypsy who inflicted it, by any Gypsy of a higher Level, or with the Remove Curse, Limited Wish, or Wish spells.
SURVIVAL (Wisdom): Gypsies spend much time on the road, and are usually forced to camp well outside town. Consequentially, they have learned to live off the land.
- Gypsies have the Survival Ability of a Ranger of equivalent Level.
SOCIAL DISCRIMINATION: Gypsies are often subject to severe social discrimination in settled societies. A Gypsy character should expect to be singled out for abuse by town guards, to face unfair and discriminatory laws, and to have everyone assume that she is going to cheat them at every opportunity. The Gypsy will continue to face such discrimination, even if she is an obvious paragon of virtue.
ATTRACTIVE TO THE UNDEAD: For reasons unknown, Gypsies attract the attention of the Undead, especially Vampyres.
- Any undead encountered will direct their attention to the Gypsy character first, for good or ill.
- A Gypsy encampment, or even a mixed camp where a Gypsy is present, will inevitably attract any undead in the vicinity. A CK should assume that 25% of all monsters that wander into a Gypsy camp in the night will be Undead, if such are present in the environment.
- Vampyres have a particular obsession with Gypsies, as food, servants, and lovers. There are stories of powerful Vampyres who have enslaved entire bands of Gypsies.
PRIME ATTRIBUTE: Wisdom (A Gypsy needs to be cunning, intuitive, and open to omens)
HIT DICE: d6
ALIGNMENT: Any Neutral
WEAPONS: Hand Axe, Bola, Brass Knuckles, Cestus, Cleaver, Club, Cutlass, Dagger, Dirk, Falchion, Heavy Crossbow, Godentag, Hatchet, Katar, Knife, Lasso, Light Crossbow, Long Sword, Main Gauche, Musket (if used), Net, Pistol (if used), Poniard, Rapier, Saber, Sap, Scimitar, Short Bow, Short Sword, Sling, Spear, Staff, Throwing Axe, Tulwar, Whip
ARMOR: Padded, Leather Coat, Leather, Hide, Studded Leather, Leather Laminar, Mail Shirt, Breastplate (any), Brigandine, Buckler, Small Shield
ABILITIES: Gypsy Cant, Gift For Languages, Animal Husbandry, Sleight of Hand, Boxing, Appraise, Sense Motive, Divination, Entertain, Occult Lore, Curse, Survival
WEAKNESSES: Social Discrimination, Attractive To The Undead
|Level||Hit Dice||Basic To-Hit Bonus||Experience Points|
|13+||+125,000 per Level|