Even more than class or race, a power source is the defining choice of a K20 character. Your race determines your inborn physical characteristics, and your class determines your skills and abilities, but your power source, that determines what classes you are allowed to choose from.
A power source is, put simply, the source of your characters power. Arcane characters have learned how to tap into raw magic and force it to their will. Primal characters pull from their connection to the natural. Characters with Ki have tapped into a level of self-mastery others can only dream of. In game terms, these power sources determine which classes a character is eligible for, and the general theme of their mechanics. Divine characters rely on the blessings of their gods to come at the right time, while a master of Ki relies on setting themselves up for expert strikes.
At first level a character chooses their power source. This is the single most impactful choice that can be made during a game, and it cannot be changed without rebuilding the entire character. Once chosen, the power source provides four Heroic classes to choose from at first level. Each of these classes is five levels long, and once completed, a Prestige class is chosen from the same power source. This means a Cleric can never become an archmage, so if that is your true goal, it may be best reconsider. Once Prestige classes have been completed, at level 11, a Paragon class is chosen from the power source class list, and finally at level 16, an Epic class. Each power source offers at least four classes at each tier for characters to choose from, and none of them have prerequisites. This means that if your character is the Big Sword Guy, or the Defender, or the Tank, or what have you, and you are tired of that architype, you can change it up at your next tier. You will always have that flavor of the previous tier in your character, but the new tiers abilities mean you generally won’t feel a need to use the old ones, except as fun asides.
In the release book of K20 (playtested, written, pending release), we include the following power sources. Arcane, Primal, Ki, Divine, Pact, and Simple. We also include drafts for Psionic, Runic, Death, Gadget, Martial. You may ask why its important to include the drafts and the answer is pretty straight forward. There was no way to ensure we got everyone’s favorite class in, and a couple big ones (Monk and Bard) didn’t make it into the main book. The drafts let people know 1, we are aware, and 2, what it could look like so they can write their own. They also give DMs hooks when writing new monsters. A mummy would surely use the death power source, and so it should probably have powers similar to the classes.
Each power source has its its own recharge mechanic for its abilities shared among all classes at all tiers for that same power source. This is what lets a heroic wizard and spellsword both turn into a prestige spellthief. The core mechanic is the same, the only difference is what they do with it.
Power Sources and their notes
- Gemstones: Rubies
- Base Classes: Spellsword, soulblade, wizard, abjurer
- Recharge: Pick spells each morning that you then cast from as a 3e sorcerer.
- Gemstones: Amber
- Base Classes: Barbarian, ranger, transmuter, druid
- Recharge: Thematic totem selection provides prebuilt passive buffs and can be expended for a big burst effect. Can rotate as needed.
- Gemstones: Emerald
- Base Classes: Samurai, ninja, elementalist, wu jen.
- Recharge: Generates points based on conditions. Powers expend points, and it slowly decreases if not fueled.
- Gemstones: Diamond
- Base Classes: Paladin, templar, cleric, mystic
- Recharge: A collection of domains, or power sets, that are randomly chosen each morning and provide thematic abilities
- Gemstones: Pearls
- Base Classes: binder, summoner, warlock, bokor
- Recharge: Has a pet who can use abilities for the class at the expense of the classes actions.
Simple – A note about simple classes. These only go through the heroic tier. They are designed to help folks learn to play, or to give that old school hack and slash feel. They don’t have many “out there” abilities, but that’s what some folks want.
- Gemstones: none.
- Base Classes: fighter, rogue, magic-user, healer
- Recharge: at will
- Gemstones: Turquoise
- Base Classes: monk, assassin, telepath, scholar
- Recharge: Give up actions for scaling passive buffs.
- Gemstones: Obsidian
- Base Classes: berserker, bard, truenamer, ritualist
- Recharge: picks a specific power list each morning. Gives small passive buffs, until expended. Once expended done.
- Gemstones: Onyx
- Base Classes: blackguard, witch, necromancer, leech
- Recharge: When something dies, an effect triggers.
- Gemstones: Jade
- Base Classes: knight, swashbuckler, engineer, scout
- Recharge: Per encounter abilities
- Gemstones: sapphire
- Base Classes: duskblade, beguiler, illusionist, enchanter
- Recharge: Start fight and then expended. Powers don’t turn back on if enemy knows you are there.