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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Curious... but read to the end.

Apparently I shouldn't lead with my dad's birthday and Dawn Patrol, very few hits and a follower left. Yesterday I wrote a pretty lengthy blog post with four distinct topics covering everything I did or thought about and talked with people about over the weekend, but I buried the D&D stories at the end. Now, I don't mean to sound like I am bitching or anything, but where's the attention span? Plus, Dawn Patrol is inarguably old school, as a matter of fact, when I was at Big Darryl's house I answered the phone because I was closest and he asked me to, he was stirring the marinara sauce, it was his other son Keith. Keith was surprised that I was there and asked what we were doing. I said "We're playing some Dawn Patrol.", he said"Wow, that's old school!", and was immediately transported back to about 1985. I don't think I have seen Keith since his wedding, which was maybe 1995? He moved down south for college and never came home, a sad thing that happens to all too many sons and daughters of northern New York when they get to the south and realize that they are away from the bad weather, are better educated than everyone around them and there are greater economic opportunities.

Anyway, I have to start making up the Viking PCs for the new campaign since we are starting on Sunday, so I thought I'd put them out here. I won't be using the, as yet unfinished, new PC/NPC country of origin table, because I have decided that this is a Norwegian colony. I will randomize the physical traits of the characters based on several arcane formulae I have designed over the years for NPCs. Today's lot will be strait B/X Fighters because I haven't had time to redesign the non-human classes into human variant classes or decide whether or not to create new Norse classes in the B/X style, and I haven't yet decided how to handle the traditional Cleric and Magic-User classes. I have also extensively rewritten the equipment table and switched to a silver standard. I am making half of the characters female because over half of my players are female*. I'll start with the males and alternate, giving them random names so I don't use all the cool ones up and buying them equipment off my altered B/X Norse equipment list.

1st Character-
Aran Fighter/1

Str-11+2=13+1=14 AC:9
Int- 14-4=10 HP:6+1=7
Wis- 12-2=10 Alignment: Lawful
Dex- 12
Con- 14
Chr- 9
Starting Coin- 60 SP

Shield, Fighting Spear, Knife, 8 Silver Pieces.

Aran is a tall (6'3"), skinny (172 lbs) blond haired kid (16 years old), from one of the poor families in the new settlement. He desperately wants to prove himself as a warrior and a man so he can be seen as a worthy member of society and change the luck of his family.

Pretty darned good in the raw scores department, but I used the B/X Ability Score Adjustment rule to make his Strength much better, I didn't have to raise it all the way to 14, and it wasn't the best min/max way to do it, but I thought it made for a more attractive Fighter. The low starting money is a downer, it's pretty much guaranteed he's going to not want to fight in the front rank until he scores some loot to buy armor. I assume that all starting characters start with one full set of clothes appropriate to the milieu, including belt and pouch, shoes, etcetera; so he didn't have to buy any of that stuff, lucky for him, eh?

2nd Character-
Snofrid Fighter/1
(the O in this name should have a line through it, but I am not interested in figuring out how to to that on the character map right now)

Str-14+2=16+2=18 AC:4
Int-14-4=10 HP:7
Wis-13-4=9 Alignment:Lawful
Starting Coin- 140SP

Leather Armor, Shield, Helmet**, Axe, 10 Silver Pieces.

Snofrid is a rather beefy, blond, 21 year old woman of average height (5'7", 160 lbs) for her people. She comes from a respectable family but is an uncommon only child. She stands to inherit her parent's small farmstead, but she wants more than that out of life and her parents have pretty much always indulged her.

Now we're talking, Strength raised to 18 and a natural 17 Dexterity, plus the coin to start with some armor or good weapons. She's a front line Fighter.

3rd Character-

Yngvar*** Fighter/1

Str-13+1=14 AC:6
Int-12-2=10 HP:3
Wis-6 Alignment: Lawful
Starting Coin-120SP

Chainmail, Spear, 15 Silver Pieces

Yngvar is the short (5'6"), chubby (190lbs), blond haired, 20 year old son of a local merchant who grew up on Skald's tales of war and adventure, Dragons, Dwarves and Gods. Now his head is full of these tales and he wants to be a hero of the Sagas too, and he's sure he's got what it takes. The boy's got heart, but is a little lacking in coordination and common sense.

OK, poor Yngvar, these are starting to look more like B/X character stats. I am guessing he will be one of the guys passed over in the initial picks. He only gets to burn Intelligence once and Wisdom not at all and has a crappy Dexterity. I even rolled bad for Hit Points. Decent starting money isn't going to save the day for him. I spent most of his money on the best available armor and he'll hope somebody dies without losing their shield or he survives the first dungeon foray, poor foolish, clumsy bastard.

4th Character-
Sunniva Fighter/1

Str-15 AC:7
Int-10 HP:6
Wis-9 Alignment-Lawful
Starting Coin-140SP

Leather Armor, Shield, Helmet, Axe, Spear.

Sunniva is the younger daughter of a wealthy household on the island. She has convinced her parents to let her have a go at adventuring and they have given her a year and a day to make something of her self before they step in and find her a suitable husband. Unlike everyone else so far, she has red hair and is tall and pretty fit (5'10", 160lbs).

OK, she's the only one whose stats I could not adjust according to the B/X rules. Not a bad character, brutally bad Dexterity score though. I can see her getting passed over in the first round of picks too. Good starting money though, I went all out and spent it all on gear, hopefully the first expedition will pay off for her. She's pretty well equipped.

For the characters I made a crude random table for hair color, since they were all of Norwegian extraction I skewed the results towards typical Norwegian hair colors, but almost everyone was blond. I did not differentiate between shades of blond, because I am not a woman, but I suppose it runs from the white-blond to the brownish-blond, and probably includes the reddish-blond, unless that counts as red. I was going to add a random eye color too, but since that's linked to hair color (kind of), I figured it'd be easier to let the players pick what they wanted if it came up, unless they want to break my realism immersion by suggesting something really unlikely or impossible, then I'll just probably say blue.

I also was going to explode 18s on the money roll, so some characters could start out, unlikely as it might be, with some real money. Maybe they are the favored kids of the wealthy or a Jarl's son or they stumbled across a hoard to finance themselves, whatever, but it never came up because I didn't roll an 18 anywhere, much less on the money roll. If it happens tomorrow or the next day we'll see, eh? Roll an 18, get another 3d6, roll another 18, get another 3d6. Theoretically it could keep going. Part of the consequences of my altered equipment cost chart is that I got people more realistically armed for a Viking Age game, but it also means that most people are going to at least start their adventuring careers wearing their normal clothes, even if they are Fighters.

That said, I have been thinking through some house rules for combat, since this is a Fighter heavy game and will probably be a little combat intensive and I have access to, and have read a lot of Saga literature, I am thinking of adding a little bit of Viking flavor through the use of Saga inspired combat maneuvers. I also will definitely be using "Shields Shall Be Splintered" and I am going to print it out and hand it around to the players before the game starts. The D30 will still be there. I am toying with the idea of adding in the old house rule that Steve S. used to use, where you could choose to alter your combat "stance", to Aggressive, Defensive or Balanced. Balanced was your normal stance, and didn't make any changes. Aggressive added to your attack at the cost of AC, Defensive was the opposite of that, you took a penalty to hit, but got a bonus to your AC. The good thing about those were that you could Aggressively attack weak stuff that posed little threat to you, or go all out on really tough opponents and try to kill them quick; conversely, you didn't lose all attacking ability like a parry rule when you went Defensive, it was more like a tank "Buttoning-Up", you could still attack, just not as well, but were better protected. I'll have more on House Rules tomorrow, and I'll have some more characters tomorrow too, unless I get a lot of feedback that says that you all hate seeing my pre-generated character process.

I found my missing Wedding Ring in my D&D dice today. It had been missing for weeks, I have no idea why I would have taken it off and put it in there, but if my regular Sunday game hadn't been canceled three times in a row I would have found it sooner.

*More like 3/4, but since I am making them in groups I figure we'll either get a better rounded party or people will play different from their own gender.

**The Helmet is costly, but worth it, given the 0 Hit Point rule I plan on using, Helmets save lives, if she'd been born wealthier, she'd have gotten a better helmet that offered more protection via nasal, oculars and aventail, but she got the best she could reasonably afford.

***(I almost didn't use this random name because I know a guy named Yngvar in the SCA, but then I thought if I don't use the randomly generated names just because they might also be associated with people I know in the SCA I am going to lose a lot of Viking names, especially the cool ones and the ones that are easy to pronounce.)