Character Mush

I had to come up with a background for my character to send to the DM.  I don’t know anything about the setting, the character we’re in service of, or anything really, so I had to keep things vague.  This isn’t what I sent.  It’s Character Mush.  Not polished, not paced, not very good.  Just mush.  But from it, I was able to get enough of the basic facts to send as bullets.  Anyway, even though I didn’t feel like spending enough effort on this to make it “good”, it seemed like a waste to just delete it.  And yeah, he’s a weaver-turned-warlord.
Bregar’s long and unlikely career began same as many children in the city: as an orphan scouring the streets for food an coin. Originally, Bregar had been the son of a weaver and a carpenter, though heavy taxes stole too much bread from their mouths, leaving them weak and succeptible to the seasonal plagues which afflicted the city. He was 10 when the cough took his parents. The city’s taxmen took everything else.

Larger than the other children, Bregar often found himself in the roll of footpad; his friends would set them up and he would knock them down. Usually the fat bureaucrats; the men working for the city were generally the only ones who had anything to take. He might have made a name for himself in the underworld, had not one of his victims been both a capable fighter and person of some importance in the city. At the age of 15, he was given a death sentence: to be sent to the frontier as part of the slave, debtor and prisoner auxilia for five years. He spent those years on the frontier, defying all odds time and again, surviving battles that few walked away from. Bregar proved his worth as an ambusher and skirmisher, and was soon given a small command of his own; some were fellow scoundrels, debtors and petty criminals who were fighting for their freedom, but others were volunteers and career military men.

Near the end of his fifth year, the auxillia faced a foe led by powerful magicians. Fire rained down and the army was decimated. The regulars retreated toward their supply line while the auxilia scattered, fleeing through the countryside. Though his sentence was almost up, Bregar was faced with a choice: return to the land that had took from him his parents and his freedom or live for himself, a free man? He rallied what he could of his companions and fled into the hills.

For a few years, the group hired out as mercenaries, guards or freelance adventurers, but many of the group still had dreams of returning home, paying off their debts, settling down. The massive defeat their homeland had suffered presented enough cover for them to eventually return, and those who could did. Bregar continued to hire himself out, usually as either a guard captain or scout leaders to powerful men who could afford someone with his skill and experience. Several years left him wealthy as a noble, and exploits in the name of a prince had earned him a title and an accompanying pension.

Bregar spent the days in opulent repose and the nights in drunken revelry. One night, on his way to his apartments, Bregar found himself confronted by a few dirty looking children. He was about to tell them to get out of his way when a loud, wet crack presaged his failing vision.

Bregar woke up in a strange bed, his head throbbing. He did not even bother to check his valuables. He knew they were gone. He had become what he had once hated. A fat pensioned nobleman, drawing his wealth from the purses of others rather than the labor of his hands. He’d gotten what he deserved.

“You are awake.”
“I am.”
“City life does not agree with you.”
“Doesn’t it, though?”
“You were once one of the most brilliant commanders, cunning scouts, and foremost warriors, I have heard. The Hero of Amun Hill. Leader of the Silent Slingers. A mercenary force to be feared and admired! And look at you now. Laid low by a child!”
Bregar sat up and touched the back of his head. It was bandaged, though wet with blood. “It would seem that I owe you my life.”
“I hope that the life you owe is not the one you lead now.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, look at you? You’re a mess! You were taken down by a mere boy with a stick! No, if you wish to thank me, I choose only to be thanked by the man who led a thousand ambushes. You see, my name is Palantir, and I am a travelling merchant. I have need of one who was skilled as he. You. You will not do the trick. Not yet.”

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More 3.5e Gestalt Character Creation

So, there is some worry that my character will not be powerful enough! :O

Rolling up characters was a pretty interesting experience. So far, we have a Bedouin mystic holy knight*, a ninja of sorts, someone who’s going to be an archer/skirmisher, myself who’s going to be a skirmisher and one other person, whose class combo I forget. Since I had most of my guy already rolled up, a lot of my character creation involved defending my build choice as a ‘proof-of-concept’ character, warily going over some splat-book classes to pick over rogue (scout, for instance, but that was the one I was most likely to choose; I can’t really remember some of the others) before opting not to play as something that I’d need to constantly refer to a book that I don’t own to use my various combat abilities. With some help, I DID swap out some feats, partly because we were using a compressed Skill List from 4e and partly because my understanding of the finer points of 3e combat at high levels is nonexistent (I’ve never played at so high a level that ANYONE got more than one attack per round without a class ability), so I have a guy who can run, shoot, run some more or shoot a lot and still move. So yay for that.

I was happy that I wasn’t the only person who was put-off by some of the fiddly elements. One of the older guys was kind of shocked at the complexity of some of the options available to him and ultimately opted for something that he knew he could play. I can relate. It’s not that I want to play as something that isn’t optimized; as a player who isn’t particularly experienced with splatbook classes, I want to play as something that won’t slow the game down. I feel like doing otherwise would be rude to my fellow players.

*:This is more the concept, I have no idea what the actual classes were; it was a gestalt of some kind of cleric with sorcerer style casting and a spell-less Paladin-type. His holy mount is a camel, which is pretty awesome, IMHO.

A Gestalt Character

Well, I finally got my “gestalt” character rolled up. I think. The DM gave everyone the base stats to get a head start, so i’m assuming that showing up with an “almost” complete character is somewhat expected (one of my pet peeves as a DM is, aftere leaving both books and character creation software in the hands of players, folks showing up game night without having even started on character creation.) Depending on what was rolled up, I’m still wary of the use of 4 full hours. “Oh, man, the DM is gonna tear up my little spiral notebook hero and tell me to start again!” Nah, that probably won’t happen. Besides, everything my character has is out of the books.

So, uh. A 12th Level Gestalt Fighter/Thief:

Stats*
Str:16
Dex:18(19)
Con:14
Int:10
Wis: 8(10)
Cha:12

HD12d10**

Saves:
Fortitude:10
Reflex: 12
Willpower: 4

Feats & Abilities:
Standard Fighter (armor, shields & weapons)
Weapon Focus (Staffsling)
Greater Weapon Focus (Staffsling)
Weapon Specialization (Staffsling)
Greater Weapon Specialization (Staffsling)
Improved Critical (Staffsling)
Stealth***
Skill Focus (Move Silently)***
Point Blank Shot
Precise Shot
Rapid Shot
Far Shot
Rapid Reload****
Trap Sense +4
Sneak Attack 6d6
Improved Uncanny Dodge
Uncanny Dodge
Evasion
Trap Finding
Improved Evasion

Combat Package
Ranged
21*****/21/16(14)/11(9)
11+1d4 (normal)
12+1d4 (close)

Melee
21/16/11
11+1d6

If the Staffslinger thing doesn’t work out, I’ll probably just make my guy a boring heavy archer or light swordsman or something.

*Interesting that in a game billed as overpowered, players were handed relatively low numbers to build a character from. There’s normally a lot of resistance in 3e to having characters with ANY negative stats. Since we’re starting at a high level, we can afford to pick a dump stat and buy it up. Wisdom seemed a relatively safe dump in this case. I wanted to have high fighter/thief stats, so with all of the Thief Skillcheese, I can afford to sacrifice Int a little bit, but not to where I’d have a negative.

**I haven’t rolled HP yet; I’ll either use what Redblade gave me or roll in person for the benefit of the DM.

***I figure a staffslinger should, as a skirmisher, have some sneaking ability.

****Normally, this feat allows for the reloading of a Crossbow to be a free action. According to the SRD, loading a Sling counts as a “Move Action”, which would throw a wrench in the awesomeness of making 4 sling attacks in a single round. I’m going to pretend that this feat can apply to other ranged weapons that take a move action to reload.

*****Rapid shot attack uses the best base attack for the bonus attack, but gives a -2 penalty to the other attacks)

“Character Creation Will Take How Long?!”

There’s quite a wide range, depending on your game, of how long Character creation can take. Certain rules-lite games can have your group up and playing in minutes while other systems, like a lot of d20 variants, can take the better part of a half an hour or so.

I bring this up because the first meet up of the new group I’ve joined is going to be devoting the entirety of the first 4 hour session to character creation. With 6 or so players, that will be around 40 to 45 minutes per person if we do things sequentially. Why so long? Well, as i may have mentioned, we’re running a ‘gestalt’ 3.5 variant campaign. Now “Gestalt” in German means form or shape, and in English has come to mean the concept of ‘wholeness’ and in D&D, “powergaming”. In 3.5’s Unearthed Arcana, this “Wholeness” is referring to getting the “wholeness” of abilities from multiple classes: your fighter switches to rogue, she keeps getting her fighter dice, fighter feats while she gets her rogue skillpoints and sneak, then switches to sorcer, getting to keep her fighter dice, fighter feats, rogue skills, rogue feats, sneak, while now she gets a familiar and sorcerer spells, and so on and so forth. We’re starting at level 12, so I’m guessing everyone is going to be playing some kind of Barbarian/Fighter/Rogue/Mage/Cleric variant. So yeah, rolling up characters is going to be something of an ordeal. Because it’s so complex, it’s probably going to need some serious guidance and supervision so that everyone can be optimally twinked out so as to be extra disappointed when the DM fulfills his promise that there will be character death.

I’ve never had any real problem with or hate-on for 3e, but it’s the only edition I’ve played where character creation has seemed like a chore. Maybe because character creation and optimization is such a focal point of the game? Really, Character creation in 3e is not so bad on the fly, so long as you’re playing vanilla. Roll some stats, pick a race, pick a class, roll your hit dice, choose your feats, count your skill points, allocate. It’s also easier to roll up lower level characters than higher level characters; this is because you have smaller numbers of skill points to allocate, less modifiers from feats to track, and a relatively small pool of starting money to pick your starting equipment from. From there, it’s easier to add each level on top of the next. Sure, you may have some sort of ‘plan’ for your character, but it’s nice to watch them ‘grow up’ so to speak. Personally, I like RedBlade for 3e/3.5, because it creates any basic character or class combination in a few minutes with all of the feats and spells and skills to choose from. If everyone in the group has this tool, character creation can take about 10 minutes tops.

So, compare this full-on marathon session of character creation to a game like B/X, 1st or 2nd ed. Typically, one can roll up a character for one of those in about 5 to 20 minutes. And the 20 minutes only comes into play for Magic Users, who are rolling to see which level 1 spells they know and writing them down. At most, you’re looking at 1 full hours for character creation (give new players fighters; they’re easy for beginners, since they only have to learn the basic mechanics of armor, to hit, and saves, without a lot of the fiddly magic and skills bits. Plus they can be lots of fun!)

Personally, I think that being able to get people right into the game is key for getting people interested in your game, your campaign and your group. It’s nice to say “I had an adventure tonight!” rather than say “I rolled up a character tonight!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m still really looking forward to playing again. It’s just that the sooner I’m in a dungeon the better! My ultimate hope is that I can find some folks interested in running either some old school or retro modules, just dive right in and go. I just know I’d rather play as a player than as a DM for a bit.

My First MYFAROG character: Krokar the Barbarian Swordsinger

In my first serious attempt to roll up a character for MYFAROG, I probably made some mistakes, some due to laziness (mostly in the form of omissions), others due to difficulties in finding the appropriate tables.

Once Varg hammers out power levels a bit better, it might be easier to create NPCs, but if you want a fleshed out, equipped individual, you’ve gotta get your hands dirty. Very dirty. Especially since things like birthdays actually have significant gameplay effects in terms of abilities and divine favor.

The result of a little over an hour’s work, I give you Krokar the Barbarian Swordsinger.

Name: Krokar (I didn’t give him a full name; he should be ‘Krokar af (tribe) auk (homeland)’. While you wouldn’t think this would be a big deal, it kind of is. Because I didn’t give him a full name, he cannot properly and formally introduce himself to strangers, and will thus provoke a hostile reaction for bringing dishonor upon both himself and the other party.)

Species: Jarlaaett (the default)
Race: Jarnmaðr (Iron Man, again the default)
Gender: Male
Weight: 146 lbs (this involved some rolling dice, comparing against strength, gender, etc)
Size: Average
DV (Defense Value) ME (Melee): 0 (I think I made a mistake here. Probably because I equipped him, but never got around to crunching the number on what his furs and swordsdudeship meant to his real defense)
DV (Defense Value) MI (Missile): 0 (Again, I think I was too lazy to crunch the numbers. Pulling out Krokar’s sheet, I’m pretty sure I never finished him. Stuff at the top of the sheet can’t be fully calculated until you get all of your equipment values and skills calculated first.)
Height: 70″ (again, there was some dice rolling involved)

I think I should’ve checked a table somewhere to figure out what my Skin, Hair and Eyes are, but I figure that regardless of the dice or tables Krokar is gonna look like one of the guys from Vore .

Again, I didn’t get far enough to calculate Daily Needs, in terms of hours of Sleep, lbs of Food, justas of Beverages, number of Hugs, etc.

Social Class: Noble (default; think ‘Honorable Bloodskaal’ rather than lord of the manor house)

Life Stance: Asatru (religion & gods rather than spirits and animism; also, he can’t be a wizard)
Cultural Background: Byggjandi (sedentary rather than hunter gatherer)
Alignment: Ecstatic Harmonic Spiritual Sympathetic (Just go look for yourself)
Birthday: Summer (aspect of fire), month of Pulkawangis (“folk meadow” sacred to Prio), and the 18th day (no cool bonuses, but born under the Full Moon and cycle of Life)

Age: 19, but with a maximum calculated age of 57.

Krokar is “marked” by the Gods and has +1 to fortitude.

Krokar is pretty middle of the road, healthier than normal, but a little slow-witted.
Chr 11
Con 14 +1
Dex 10
INT 8 -1 (This is a huge problem, because skills are skewed heavily in favor of INT mods)
STR 10
WIL 9

He’s got 13 stamina points (I think) based on the base of 12 + whatever I pour into the skill and modifiers…

I haven’t calculated his Melee or missile values on attack or defense, again, cuz lazy.

He wears fur and leather armor, an Iron Cap helmet, Leather arm guards and leather greaves and wields a short sword.

As new character, he has 12 skill points to distribute, so I gave him
Acrobatics: 1 (so only a -1 penalty)
Foraging: 1 (-1 penalty)
Singing: 4 (+2, he’s gonna sing a song while he kicks your ass!)
Social Skills: 2 (0)
World Lore: 1 (-4)
Melee: 2 (0)
Swords: 3 (+1)

There are 2 dozen or so extra skills that he doesn’t have points in, so he really sucks at all of those, like his -5 when attempting to do Arts & Crafts.

He only has his starting role, which is “Buandi” or “Peasant”, though presumably, as a sworddude, he would quickly pick up the “Striðsmaðr” or “Warrior” role not long after his story began.

He may or may not have divine favor based on god knows what, but I haven’t bothered to fill out the half page of character sheet devoted to that.

Again, I find myself loving the setting more than the system, though the system is like a precious ore: there may be something of great value once it has been smelted down.

The thing that will be most beneficial to the future of MYFAROG at gaming tables would be if someone came up with character Generation software. I know this goes against the spirit of playing tabletop RPGs in the woods after civilization has collapsed, which Varg puts forth as a great selling point of his and other tabletop games, but the rules, as currently organized, pose a fairly high wall into entry of the world of MYFAROG. Then again, if Varg’s apocalypse comes about, we’ll all be LARPing as Hunter/Gatherers, like it or not, which may be preferrable, at the end of the day, to learning a new core rule system.

Note that I’m not doing a ‘necropsy’ on this, by any means, and I fully intend to get the finished product when it’s available, because the world is great (I cannot state this enough), but whether or not it ends up on my shelf or on a gaming table is highly dependent on the changes Varg makes to the core rules, both in content and presentation. Maybe someday down the line, someone can Holmes Basic it for him?

Next MYFAROG post will be taking a look at the adventure Demise of Watchman Isle and some of the Monsters and Ettins in the world of MYFAROG.