Thursday, June 8, 2017

Just the Right Investment

When you start up a new guy in modern editions, there's a lot of work to do to get him just right. Lots of choices.  It makes it so the moment you put him in the world, you already have a strong attachment to him. You've lived with him for hours and you probably also have a hand cramp from writing our the character sheet!  You don't want him to die fast, and your Ref knows it.  The game has evolved to favor those characters over the monsters and make sure they have very little chance of dying.

But here's a funny conundrum: if your guy probably won't/can't die, then where's the danger?

On the other hand an old style guy, you can roll him up in ten minutes. With some programs online, it can literally take under 1 second to make him up.  (This is my favorite one by the way, but you can find one you like best here.) So you can roll him out into the world have no idea who or what he is other than what's on the sheet- and what's on the sheet is minimal.  No investment; it matters not a lot if he lives or dies!

So there has to be a sweet spot in your emotional and time investment, but neither kind of chargen really hits it on the nose.

The solution I found, and this comes from Zenopus originally is to give your man a super-fast background.  There's 18 kinds of Men in ODD&D and Holmes, and I added two more kinds for a nice 1d20 table.

You can see the table at the end of this document and fiddle around with it on your own.  It's not perfect and it's certainly not authoritative - it's just for fun!

Backgrounds for Men and Others

Roll 1d20 to see what your character’s background is, or select it from the list.

1. Alchemist: Beginner's Alchemy (make a Healing Potion in 1 week for 50 GP.)
Equipment: 1 Healing Potion, Mortar & Pestle
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

2. Amazon: Ability: Invoke Goddess (reroll one die roll per day, but only if wearing bronze)
Equipment: Bronze Breastplate (AC 5) & Shield, Bronze Sword (Arming or Backsword), Long Bow, 2 Flasks Military Oil
Starting Money: 1d6 x 10 GP.

3. Animal Trainer: Abilities: Animal Handling (+4 Reaction rolls for normal animals)
Equipment: Mule, Guard Dog (1+1 HD, AC 7, 1d6 bite)
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

4. Royal Archer: Abilities: Rapid Fire (Fire arrows twice per round if not moving or in melee)
Equipment: Long Bow, Quiver, 1 bundle of arrows, 5 silver tipped arrows
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

5. Bandit (or Brigand, if Chaotic): Abilities: Evasion (Flee melee without being hit, but only if wearing Leather Armor)
Equipment: Cloak, Leather Armor, Shield, Short Bow, Quiver, 20 arrows, Treasure Map (ruin)
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

6. Barkeep: Abilities: Ear for Listening (Knows 1d12 local rumors, hears faint noises 1-2 on 1d6)
Equipment: Fine Spirits (50 GP value, +2 Reaction roll if a shot is offered, 10 shots total)
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

7. Berserker: Abilities: Rage (+2 to attack & AC 7 if no body Armor in combat, will not flee/surrender), +1 hp at 1st level.
Equipment: Bearskin Cloak (AC 7), Tooth-bitten Shield
Starting Money: 1d6 x 10 GP.

8. Buccaneer (or Pirate, or Sailor): Abilities: Swimming (Only drown on 1-in-6 per Turn in rough seas), Ship-craft, Rope Use
Equipment: Cutlass (Arming sword), Spyglass, Treasure Map (island), Pet Monkey (3 hp), 50’ Rope with Grappling Hook
Starting Money: 3d6 x 10 GP.

9. Engineer: Abilities: Eye for Construction (detect dungeon traps as a Dwarf & secret doors as an Elf)
Equipment: Lantern, Steel Mirror, Chalk Stick, Level, Measuring Stick (6’, ruled)
Starting Money: 3d6 x 10GP.

10. Farmer: Abilities: Weather Sense (can tell the weather 24-48 hours in advance with his throbbing bunion).  Animal Husbandry: Can tell what illness has befallen common barnyard animals; calf the same. Equipment: Pole Arm (pitchfork), Lantern,
2 pints oil, dagger, sling, 20 sling stones, a good Tom cat.
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

11. Flying Animal Pilot: Abilities: Aerial skirmish Training, Tumbling (-1 point per die falling damage)
Equipment: Potion of Flying, Leather Armor, 1 bundle of Javelins (1d6 damage, throw 3/6/9”)
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

12. Gem-Cutter: Abilities: Appraise (gems & jewelry), Cut Gems (Increase value of a gem 10%, 4 in 6)
Equipment: Magnifying Lens, Diamond Dust (50 GP value, use 10GP worth to cut a gem)
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

13. Man-At-Arms: Abilities: Years of Guard Duty (surprised only on 1 in 6; sleep standing up)
Equipment: Chain Armor, Shield, Arming Sword, Dagger, Crossbow, bundle of quarrels in case
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

14. Merchant: Abilities: haggling (buy items for 80% cost; sell them for full price)
Equipment: Dray’s horse and cart, 1 indentured porter (human, teen-ager, serves for 1 year, you pay for food and lodging).
Starting Money: 5d6 x 10 GP.

15. Nomad (or Dervish): Abilities: Surprise Outdoors (1-4 on 1d6, if wearing only Leather), Archery (no penalty to attack roll) from horseback.
Equipment: Courser, Lance, Short Bow, Leather Armor
Starting Money: 1d6 x 10 GP

16. Orcish: Abilities: Brawling (+1 on attack rolls at night, 1d4 damage without a weapon)
Equipment: Leather Armor, Shield, Hand Axe Starting Money: 1d6 x 10 GP.

17. Pilgrim: Abilities: Traveling (Add 1 hex to daily movement); Hold Undead At-Bay (can Turn Undead as Cleric but the Undead will only stay still while he watched them, not run away, and can’t dissolve undead)
Equipment: Sturdy Staff, Holy Relic
Starting Money: 1d6 x 10 GP.

18. Sage: Abilities: Identify Magic Item (Takes 1 week and uses 100 GP of material components) Equipment: Reference Books, Blank Vellum Book, and Ink & Quill
Starting Money: 3d6 x 10 GP.

19. Smith (or Armorer): Abilities: Fire-tough (-1 point per dice fire damage), Forging (Weapons/Armor at 1/2 cost, full time)
Equipment: Chain armor, Shield, Hammer, Tongs, 12 Iron Spikes, Crowbar
Starting Money: 2d6 x 10 GP.

20. Spy: Abilities: Double Talk (+1 on all reaction rolls with non-Spies), Disguise, Languages (Double normal number)
Equipment: 2 Daggers (1 hidden in boot)
Starting Money: 4d6 x 10 GP.

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