Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Character creation in (wait for it ...) Lost Songs of the Nibelungs (concept)

What makes a good character creation? Fast and simple or vast and complex, opinions vary a lot on this. As it is a decision I have to make at some point, I might as well share it here: I want a fast and easy set up, with a continuous character development of meaningful choices. Random where possible, but with enough room for individual customization. This is what I got so far for LSotN.

It just needs 9 rolls and some interpretation ...

To set up a level 0 character for Lost Songs of the Nibelungs, a player rolls his characters family tree (with 3d6), a sub-table for the family tree indication his skills (1d6), his 6 qualities (each 3d6) and his hit points (1d6). That's it. Now for the interpretation part.

A character's family tree

A roll with 3d6 will decide how important a character's family is in his clan and how he is related to the other characters. The lower the result, the more important is the family, so rolling lots of ones is good (a result of 1, 1, 1 would make him a son of the clan's chief), while sixes always indicate some foreign/magical element (a result of 6, 6, 6 could mean a character was raised by dwarves, etc.).

A group will most likely come from the same clan. The roll for a family tree will also show which characters are related by comparing the results of their rolls. If two characters share one die number, they might be distant cousins, while sharing a complete set would mean they are brothers. The interpretation of those connections will not only help bonding the characters, but also produce some hints how this posse is perceived by their clan (son of the chief has to proof his worth, etc.).

Finally this roll decides how well a character is equipped and what skills he will have learned.
Players should have an active part in creating a clan structure and I believe that finding out what's what as part of the character creation helps with the immersion into the setting and should form a group that will be ready-to-go from the beginning.

Qualities

I've talked a lot about those in the last few days. there's one aspect that got somewhat neglected, though. The way LSotN is shaping up right now, the value of a quality is of secondary importance. Other than in D&D a low result with the 3d6 is not per se a bad thing, as the values are not used to give a character any benefits other than the one a player decides to be important.

In D&D a high ability score will give a character a bonus and a low ability score will come with a penalty. Some bad rolls during character generation will result in a weak character (not judging here, just saying). The qualities in LSotN, on the other hand, are more like a character's reserve, while player choices during character advancement will decide which development is best for his character. The bonuses are placed, so to say.

So a character won't be dumb or strong. It's a change of perspective. Characters can achieve anything, but have different limits. A character with low Wits (compare to Int in D&D) might very well become a wizard and dabble in the dark arts if the player decides to make Wits the character's primary core quality. Wits being connected to sanity would make that character a bit more vulnerable in that regard (much higher risk to go insane), but the strength of a primary core ability is not in the value itself, but in the traits and benefits that come with that choice (better healing rates to regenerate lost wits, higher chance to improve the value, etc.).

What I'm trying to say, is, that disconnecting the benefits of an ability score/quality from it's value, allows a player to make more meaningful decisions throughout.

Roll Hit Points and off you go ...

With some background for the characters, a few skills and some gear the group is ready for their first quests as soon as the hit points are rolled. They got all they need.



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