Sunday, January 10, 2016

Goblins & Greatswords: Characters, part 1

Characters are pretty important.  The first thing you do when you're playing a new RPG, after you read the books, is make some characters.  What do characters look like in my fantasy heartbreaker?

There are only four ability scores: Might, Wit, Agility, and Presence, rolled 3d6 in order.

I mentioned in the above-linked post that Might affects rolls for hit points, but exactly how was still hazy in my mind at the time.  I'd really like to avoid both hit point inflation and abysmally low hp.  The solution I came up with is to (mostly) divorce hit points from class.  Instead of class-based Hit Dice, the default is a d6.  Might of 13 or more kicks this up to a d8, while Might 8 or lower knocks it down to a d4.

Characters gain new Hit Dice only at even-numbered levels, including level 0.  At every new level, all of the character's HD are rolled.  If the new total is greater than the previous total, the new total is used.  If the old total is greater, the character still gains +1 hp, except at 1st level.  Hit Dice top out at six, at level 10, with one more roll at level 11. Thereafter, 1 hp per level is gained.

So, a character with an average Might score, starting her adventuring career at level 1, rolls 1d6 for her 0-level hp, and then rolls again for 1st level, keeping the better roll of the two, and reducing the odds of starting with a miserable 1 or 2 hp.  Let's say she ends up with 4 hp.  At level 2, she gets another Hit Die, and rolls 2d6.  If the total is higher than her previous 4 hp, she takes that as her new hp total.  It's mathematically possible, though unlikely, that she could roll 4 or less; if so, she starts level 2 with +1 hp, for a total of 5.  At level 3, she rolls her 2d6 Hit Dice again, and once again takes the new total or her previous hp +1, whichever is greater.  At level 4, she'll roll 3d6, and so on.

Now that's out of the way, here are the human character classes.  I've changed the names to give them a little different feel from their D&D counterparts.


Men and women who train for physical combat.  They are skilled in the use of all weapons, allowing them to deal damage most effectively, and their training and toughness allow them to survive where others would fall.

Best Combat Rating improvement rate
+1 hit point per level
+2 to maximum damage with all weapons
May divide Combat Rating between offense and defense starting at level 2


Individuals who study the mysteries and theory of magic and learn to cast spells. 

Slowest Combat Rating improvement
Learn and cast spells from any two (of four) spell lists
Read magical writings
Sense magic at will within 10'


People who are skilled in the arts of stealth, deception, and getting into and out of difficult places.  Some are proper thieves; others are simply adventurous rogues and misfits who survive by their wits.

Medium Combat Rating improvement
Skills: Stealth, Tinker, Alertness, Climb, Cipher, and Sleight-of-hand at Good proficiency
May improve any skill to Elite proficiency by reducing another to Basic, and may apply their elective skill choice to improving class skills instead of choosing a new skill, if desired


As in dedicated to the service of a religion, deity, or spiritual ideal.  Either by the strength of their faith or the intervention of divine beings, the dedicated gain the ability to work miracles in the form of spells while still sparing some attention for martial training.

Medium Combat Rating improvement
Learn and cast spells from either Divine or Nature list
Reduced penalty for spell-casting while armored
Sense holy/unholy creatures, objects, and enchantments within 10'

A character of any class can use any weapon and wear any armor, but activities such as stealth and spell-casting are more difficult in armor, and the benefits of weapons are limited in the hands of those not skilled in combat.  So, for instance, knaves would probably find it to their advantage not to wear metal armor, and mages to avoid armor altogether and carry light weapons, but they aren't outright prohibited from donning plate and mail and swinging halberds.

All human characters may choose one additional talent, which they may practice at Good proficiency, or two at Basic proficiency.

 Demihuman classes are similar to the human ones, but with their own special quirks.  Those will come soon in a post of their own.


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    1. I jump back and forth on my example characters, depending on the mental image in my mind at the time. Most of my players these days are female, so it comes naturally to think of both. It never occurred to me to make any political/social statements; it's literally whatever my imagination conjures up in the moment.

      When I'm writing generically, instead if providing an example, I do tend to default to the "he or she"/"his or her" model.

  2. " (mostly) divorce hit points from class."

    I really like this idea for some reason. Something about it suggests to me various things being less a matter of systemic fiat and more a matter of player control, where it's totally possible to get a wizard with piles of HP if you want (albeit at the expense of some other aspect of their wizardliness).

    The one potential issue I see is essentially the amplification of the "Str is king" problem from 3.x (and probably other versions of) D&D. With few stats, piling benefits onto any given stat makes it feel more essential to getting the right score in that stat in order to play a given class, which can lead to issues both for random rolling (players dissatisfied with their characters) and point-buy (min-maxing) creation methods. The problems can be nonexistent with the right DM and players, and can be ameliorated by using other aspects of the system to spread out the benefits (e.g. in this case making sure Agility and Wit can both offer combat benefits good enough to make a low Might score acceptable) or by downplaying the importance of combat for general problem-solving.

    1. That's definitely something to watch out for. I probably do need to make the other scores applicable to more things. Wit and Presence are definitely going to be mainly non-combat, with Agility sort of sitting the fence between combat and non-combat uses. I'm thinking of having it adjust movement. De-emphasizing combat is an excellent goal, as well.