Friday, October 16, 2015

Retro-clone Read-through: Character Creation Part IIb

Hey, it's been a bit since we had one of these - continued from Part IIa. Overall, I think the tweaks that each rule-set gives to the characters it generates - some have more choices for equipment, some have more combat options - reflects my impression of the overall game thus far. Only time will tell if this continues to be the case, however . . .


Fantastic Heroes & Witchery: A quick housekeeping note before I get into the creation process for FH&W- some time ago the free version of the rules I'm using were upgraded from version 1.2 to 2.0. This does not, however, seem to have changed anything I've worked with thus far. There's also a fully indexed and bookmarked version available on Drive-Thru.

So, on to the stats. For HP, FH&W uses an unusual system that uses two different measures, called Wound and Vitality HP. each rolled with a different dice (although they might have the same value), with wound points determined by the character's race and vitality points by class - for this example it's d8 for humans and d6 for thieves. The purpose of the split appears to be to increase the gradient of wound effect - the loss of vitality points has no effect, but each wound point loss includes a -1 to each subsequent die roll. Vitality points, of course, are used first. Rolling for these. I get a 3 and 2, consecutively.

Saving Throws are done against attribute scores, with each class given a bonus - in this case, +4 to DEX saves, which according to a handy chart is the equivalent of Reflex saves and saves Vs. Wands or Breath. Skill checks are d20 based, with bonuses provided in some cases by class - thieves, for example, have a list of thiefy activities that they get to add their level+2 to, which seems about standard. Bonuses are also given at the GM's discretion for tasks related to the character's Background, chosen from a short list I'm just now noticing because it was in the back of the Weird Fantasy races section (I'm picking the Scholar, because scholar-thief has a nice ring to it). This is also where the paragraph on alignment is - FH&W has an interesting twist on this in that all characters begin Neutral, and can - but don't have to - align with Law or Chaos over the course of the game.

Finally, equipment. The familiar 3d6(10) GP starting cash is in force here, as is the restriction of thieves to leather armor - even studded, a bargain at GP16. Weapon-wise, for possibly the first time damage is differentiated between bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. Weapon Proficiencies are also in effect, so thieves will be -4 when they try to use a weapon outside their initial three choices - here the Hand Axe, the Spiked Gauntlet, and the Darts. It's nice, in addition to the main weapon lists, to see a couple charts for generic weapons, so if the GM wants to add in something exotic, stats can be easily generated based on general category. General equipment costs leave about GP24, which would be about enough for a donkey or a couple weeks of lodging. The most interesting point is that clothing comes in complete sets instead of by piece - many, including the Explorer's, including a hat.

Heroes Against DarknessUnusually, Heroes Against Darkness doesn't use dice for HP generation at all, instead assigning a static number which is added to the CON score for the initial HP and the CON modifier for each increase. Now, for Rogues this number is 5, so with a CON of nine the initial HP is 14 points, with each additional level gaining four additional points.

Yeah, not five - it turns out that I made a huge error when I said that, "There seems to be no bonuses as such" - in fact, there are stat modifiers structured similarly to the other rulesets, with one big difference: average (+0) is set at 10 -11, not 9, so all those nines in my ability score roll have a -1 modifier. Ouch.

Still, the highest score (DEX) still has a bonus of +2, which is good for generating things like the Ranged Attack Bonus and the Armor and Evasion Defenses. Also, each race in HAD gets to increase to ability scores by one - for Orcs, it's STR and CON, which I'm sure is a surprise to nobody.

As I mentioned, once adjusted the ability scores become the basis of the Attack Bonus and Defense numbers - the latter of these functioning as saves, although AC is folded in with them. Besides Armor, there are only three of them, for Evasion, Magic, and Resilience defenses.

Starting funds, according to the rules, are at the GM's discretion but should be between 5 and 15 GP. Reading that as 5 + d10, I roll a 4 for a total of GP9. Luckily the economy seems to run on a silver standard, so the total outfitting budget comes in at GP8.

Finally, there's the Character Name and Background. Heroes Against Darkness dispenses with alignment as such, replacing it with a number of questions about the character's background, vices and virtues, that sort of thing. It is noted that most of this is optional based on the campaign emphasis, so I'm going to limit myself to picking a single Trait from the example list. Hmm . . . perfect.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Getting back to the more conventional styles of HP generation, Dwarfs - not Dwarves, I note - in LotFP roll a d10, for which I roll a 10, which is nice. The rules do mention the concept of "Minimum Hit Points", which range by class from 4 - 8 (Dwarfs have 6) and represent, at least to me, a creative middle road between static starting HP and the possibility of 1 HP characters. The saving throws are more or less the standard array, with a variety of score that get better with advancement. LotFP Dwarfs also get a +1 CON bonus and a free +2 to the Architecture skill. In another traditional move, LotFP uses the three-part alignment system and, given the game's descriptions of Law, Chaos, and Neutrality, I'm going with the latter.

Interestingly, when it comes to economics, while LotFP uses a system based on silver rather than gold, it still uses the same 3d6(10) formula for starting funds. This has some interesting effects on equipment purchases - chain armor, as an example, is SP100 - clearly out of the range of all but the wealthiest starting adventurers, and yet that translates to only GP2 (10 in other systems, as in LotFP GP1 = SP50, rather than the usual 10. Copper-silver is still 10-1). Other equipment, however, is relatively inexpensive, leaving a relatively large amount (32SP) of "petty cash", although this does not include any kind of hat. Add an appropriately Dwarfy name, and we have another adventurer ready to go.

OSRIC: Much like Astonishing Swordsman & Sorcerers of Hyperboria, OSRIC assigns thieves a d6 for HP, and in a happy coincidence I also roll a 6 for it. OSRIC Elves also get a couple of ability score adjustments - the +1 to DEX bumps that up high enough for a bonus, but the hit to CON skirts the edge of disqualifying the character. Saving Throws appear to be the usual spread of five, and alignment is the full nine-fold variety, although thieves are limited to five of them, "any neutral or evil" - I think the former of these would be best.

Economically, OSRIC uses the same gold-piece standard as most of the other games I've looked at, but has an interesting twist wherein different classes have different starting rolls. Thieves, unfortunately, only begin with GP 2d6(10), which I rolled out to GP 70. While this still lets me pick up the same load-out I've been using with a few GP left over, it does not leave enough to purchase Thieves' Tools, which I note are a whopping 30 GP. This sort of makes me wonder if the intention is to steer thieves away from the more expensive armor, weapons, and other gadgets, but for the sake of the experiment I'm going to ignore it.

In another convergence with AS&SH, the character creation rules ends with an optional table to roll physical stats on. As it turns out, this elf - gaining the name Silmaldor from my favorite generator - is five-foot eight and 99 pounds.

Swords & Wizardry: OK, with yet another d8 for initial HP, this time I'm going to go ahead and roll a fresh number - 7, that's more like it. As for other secondary stats, one of S&W's innovations is streamlining all saves down to one roll, although there can be class- or race-based modifiers, such as the halfling's +4 against magic. Besides this, all the character still needs is a name, alignment (choice of three, in keeping with S&W's general tendency towards simplification), and equipment. As the character is a slightly unusual Halfling Fighter, I envision a sort of formality in manner, using the last name (again taken from fiction, and it's an attested Hobbit name, too!) only and obviously being quite Lawful. For starting funds we return again to GP3d6(10), which gives a big enough budget for a classic sword-and-shield combo, plus equipment, and leaves enough left over to play around with, if need be.

And finally, once again we get to make some rolls on the B/X Blackrazor Headgear Chart:
  • Brudus gets a hat with his Explorer's Outfit, rolls a 2 - "Animal Based". Rolling for the type of animal gets a 6 - "Raccoon Skin and Tail".
  • Cark rolls a 2 - "Bare", rolls a 13 - "Long Flowing Hair, Loose".
  • Banar Mignarson rolls a 2 - "Hat", rolls an 18 - "Wide Brim, Floppy".
  • Silmaldor rolls a 3 - "Bare", rolls a 14 - "Long Flowing Hair, Tied".
  • Mr. Hornblower rolls a 5 - "Helm", rolls a 15 -  "Plated Band".

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