Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fantasy Hack v1.4 Part II: Characters

The first thing you need to do when playing is build your character.  My preference is to do this all together with the entire group.  It only takes a few minutes really, and it's a great way to set the mood before starting; plus that way you can be sure you understand what it is that the GM will expect of your character and make him accordingly, as well as plan the party together with the other players.  However, some groups prefer to make their characters ahead of time and arrive already ready to hit the ground running.  In reality, both are just fine.

The following section of the rulebook will walk you through creating a character step by step.  This is probably the only time you need to refer to the rulebook during actual play (again; unless you're the GM) but it's easiest done if you have this rule-book and a character sheet ready to go and follow along as you read.

Header.  First off, spell out some of the very basic details of your character at the top of the sheet. What's his name? What does he look like? How old is he? At this early stage of character creation, you probably also want to think about the concept of who your character is, much as an author coming up with a quick and dirty profile of a character he will use in a novel or screenplay. You don't have to come up with a long or detailed backstory (I certainly don't necessarily encourage it, although if you like to do that kind of thing, knock yourself out.  Just don't throw a fit if you spend all that time on a character backstory only to have him killed in the first half hour of play) but these kinds of early thoughts should also lead you towards what the race and class choices you will make are likely to be, as well as getting you to think about how you will assign your stats.

Generate Stats.  "Stats" is a shorthand term for three scores that your character will have. These basic scores give a quick, simple and abstract number that quantifies some of your innate traits and capabilities. The three stats are Strength (abbreviated STR), Dexterity (DEX) and Mind (MND.) Your STR score describes how tough and strong you are physically, while your DEX score describes your reflexes, hand-eye coordination, agility and speed. Your MND score speaks to your intelligence, wisdom, personal magnetism, and other traits that have less to do with your physical body and more to do with your presence or wits.

Stats are, by design, quite generic and abstract, and describe innate traits. Skills, on the other hand, while also fairly generic and abstract, will describe abilities that you have learned, practiced and developed. If the GM decides that there is some inherent risk in a task you have elected to do, he will have you make a "check" to see if you are successful. Most of the time, these checks will consist of rolling a d20, taking the result of that roll, adding to it your Stat bonus and your Skill bonus, and comparing the result to a target number, which by tradition is called a Difficulty Class (DC.) There will be a few exceptions, but that is basically the significance of stats in the game as you play it.
Generating the score of a stat is a little bit convoluted, but the range of numbers is traditional, and I have elected not to buck tradition here very much. Roll a d8 four times. Ignore the lowest roll on the four dice.  Subtract 4 from each of the three remaining numbers, which will turn them into three scores with a range of -3 to +4.  The average should be about +1 or so, although of course it may vary.  If you are quite a bit lower than this your GM may allow you to reroll these scores, if you're not whiny about it. Some GMs, on the other hand, feel that playing with the hand the dice deal you is part of the fun.

For these scores, higher is better. Assign the scores to your stats as you see fit, to best fit the concept of your character (for example, if you envision your character as a scholarly or quick-witted fellow, put your highest score in MND—if you picture instead a big, athletic bruiser, you probably want to put your highest score in STR.) If your STR score ever falls to -5, your character dies. If your DEX score ever falls to -5, your character is completely immobile and cannot move at all. If your MND score ever falls to -5, then your character is brain dead and effectively removed permanently from play.

Pick Race.  Pick a race for your character. FANTASY HACK has a fairly standard array of fantasy races, as you are probably used to seeing in many other fantasy products.
  • Human: +1 to all skills.  Humans are, of course, the baseline.  All of us know what a human is.  Humans in this setting may belong to one of several ethnicities, but the mechanics for using them remain the same regardless. Due to their variability and flexibility compared to the other races, all humans gain a +1 bonus to all skills.
  • Halfling: +1 to DEX and Stealth affinity.  Halflings are small humanoids, familiar from many products, including some big, successful books and movies.  In general, they tend to be a little more quick and nimble than humans, and have a penchant for being able to quietly avoid attention when desired. Halflings look like very small people, about 3½-4 feet tall, with wide, bright faces.
  • Orc: +2 to STR.  Orcs are similar to humans, but with a greenish-gray skin, prominent tusks, and a more robust, muscular build; orcs are famously stereotyped (correctly, to be fair) as savage and barbaric and not particularly intelligent.  They are sometimes prized as neighbors for their ability to outdo others in manual labor, however.
  • Elf: +2 to MND. Elfs often appear beautiful and ethereal to non-elfin races.  They are long-lived, and have an odd, inhuman perception of reality because of it.  Their long, albeit fey way of life means that they accumulate more memories than races with shorter lives,  increasing their MND stat.
  • Dwarf: +1 to STR and +1 to natural AC.  Tough, hardy, but shorter and thicker than most, dwarfs consider themselves the children of the mountains and prefer to live in, or even under, the world's mountain ranges.  Many tend to live in underground warrens constructed of stone.  Dwarfs are rarely more than 5 feet tall, but are very strong and hardy, and are famous for their long beards.
  • Cursed: Racial affinity for Stealth, +1 to Athletics and +1 to Knowledge.  These characters are exiles from a shadowy alternate dimension which have become stranded here in our world.  They have exotically pale skin, hair and eyes, and are altogether almost completely colorless.  They tend to speak in a voice that sounds like a rasping whisper.  They are rare, but more well-known in darker places (like Timischburg, the sample setting here) than elsewhere.
Pick Class. There are four classes available to choose from. Classes represent a character's profession, if you will. They are adventuring archetypes that are iconic, yet flexible enough to enable a wide variety of interpretations. In some games, you can "multi-class"—that is, take abilities from more than one class per character. In FANTASY HACK, on the other hand, the class benefits are not so great that that is necessary, and any character can be competent across multiple activities, making the need for multi-classing obsolete. Class benefits are relatively modest, and apply immediately at character creation, but do not lock your character into an archetypal strait-jacket from which they cannot evolve or develop as the game unfolds. The four classes are Fighter, Rogue, Outdoorsman and Expert.
  • Fighter: Fighters add +3 to their Athletics skill, and +1 to all Attack and Damage rolls. This increases to +2 at 4th level, +3 at 8th level.
  • Rogue: Rogues add +3 to their Subterfuge skill, and can (usually) make a Sneak Attack to add their Subterfuge bonus to their attack and damage roll in an attack. This can usually only be done when the opponent is unaware of the location of the rogue, as when the rogue sneaks up on his victim, or when he attacks someone who's already engaged in combat with someone else. If the rogue is clearly seen before a combat starts, this will obviously be problematic, and the rogue will have to attempt to hide or something and then sneak up again on the combat to use this ability.  Sneaking is usually done by making a Subterfuge + DEX check opposed by his opponent's own Subterfuge + MND check.
  • Outdoorsman: Many folks make their living in the wilderness. An outdoorsman gains +3 to his Survival skill, and gains a +1 to hit with ranged weapons. They can also gain an animal companion of HD 1 or less. At 4th level, they can upgrade this to an animal companion of HD 2 or less, at 8th level to HD 3. (For an explanation of HD, see below in the Monsters section of this document.) This animal is not just an extension of the character, and although you can usually tell it to do what you want, occasionally the GM will intercede if you're attempting to have the animal do something unreasonable. Note that this doesn't mean that animals can't display loyalty, including risking their lives for their master.
  • Expert: Experts get one Affinity and +3 to their Knowledge skill. An affinity is a broad area of expertise, and any task (subject to GM approval) that falls under the heading of this affinity can be re-rolled if it fails the first time. A number of sample Affinities is listed here: Healing, Craftsmanship, Ride, Investigation, Nobility, Deception, Stealth, Sorcery, Wilderness Survival, Acrobatics. Others could be devised too, but this list already runs the risk of being a bit too specialized—I wouldn't recommend it. At 3rd level, Experts gain another Affinity, and then again at 6th and 9th. Normally, an Expert would take a new Affinity, but if for some reason a player wants to take the same Affinity again (thus giving himself a second chance to re-roll it) then there's no reason not to let him. He's sacrificing the ability to be more flexible to increase his chance of being successful on something that's obviously very important to him. You will notice that there is no Combat Affinity. You can never use an Affinity to re-roll an attack or damage roll. This is true even for spell attack and damage rolls and the Sorcery Affinity. It can, however be used to re-roll the checks to save against Sanity loss (MND damage), or any number of other rolls, but not magical attack or damage rolls. Affinities also can only be used to re-roll rolls that the Expert character with the Affinity makes. They cannot be used to force re-rolls that another character or the GM makes that affect the character with the affinity.
Note that there is no requirement that all characters be from different classes, or that the group of characters overall form a "balanced party" with at least one of each type of character. It is the GM's responsibility to provide a game that is appropriate for the characters he gets, not one that passive-aggressively penalizes the players for using their inviolable right to control their own characters, or define them (within the constraints of the setting and theme of the game) as they wish.

Calculate Hit Points. Your maximum hit point score for all characters, regardless of class, is generated by using the STR score plus 10 plus 2 for every level (excluding first.) Hit points indicate how much damage a character can take before being too injured to continue. Your maximum hit points, when uninjured, can never be surpassed, except possibly under the influence of a magical effect (which will usually be temporary.) However, when injured, you will lose hit points. If, for example, your character is hit by a duelist against whom he is fighting and takes 7 points of damage, your current hit points will be reduced to 7 below maximum.  It won't stay that way; characters do heal lost hit points, but even so, it never will go above his maximum hit point total.

Characters who, for whatever reason, reach 0 hit points or lower, collapse into unconsciousness and shock, and are at risk of dying. Every round, the character must succeed on a check of his STR + character level, DC 20 every round or die. Naturally, it behooves the rest of the group to "stabilize" the character before he dies, while he is still unconscious and in shock. Another character can attempt to administer quick and dirty first aid by taking a round, while adjacent to wounded character, and making a MND + Knowledge check, DC 15. This represents very minimal bandaging or other first aid, and the character will be stabilized, and will no longer be at risk of near-term death (unless, of course, he takes more damage while unconscious and starts the process over again) but the character will not at this point regain any lost hit points, and he remains unconscious.

Skills.  Skills are trained or learned specialties, less broad than stats, but still fairly generic. As stated earlier, most tasks that a character will undertake are done by combining the stat bonus that is most applicable and the skill bonus that is most applicable, adding that total to the result of a d20 roll, and comparing it to a target difficulty class (DC). If you match or beat the DC, you are successful, if you do not, you fail the check and the results are determined by the GM. (Note: an exception to this is that a "natural 1"; i.e., an actual roll of 1 on the d20, is always a failure no matter what your bonuses and the DC are.)  A standard difficulty task has a target of 15, while an extra challenging task can be 20, 25 or even higher. There is no "system" for determining DCs, the GM makes one up that he feels is appropriate for the task at hand, accounting for any conditions or factors that might make it easier or more difficult (for example, poor visibility, poor footing, etc.)

In some situations, rather than applying a skill, a level check might be made. In this case, the bonus that you apply is simply your character level. This is done in somewhat unusual situations in which none of the five skills really apply, but generic experience should provide some kind of bonus (a good example is resisting the effects of a magic spell, which is usually a MND + level check.)

Which skill applies in all given situations is impossible to determine in so brief a rulebook (nor is it desirable to do so), so GM interpretation will feature heavily. The five skills are as follows:
  • Athletics – the ability of the character to perform physical feats, such as running, throwing something, maintaining balance, etc. Most often combined with either STR or DEX in task resolution, depending on which is more applicable.
  • Communication – the ability of the character to interact with other non-player characters (NPCs) successfully. This could involve giving a rousing speech or debate, the use of diplomacy to convince someone to give you what you want, or the ability to write a revolutionary pamphlet that will inflame the passion of the populace. Usually combined with MND in task resolution, but there could be exceptions.
  • Knowledge – the ability of a character to demonstrate esoteric knowledge. This isn't necessarily conferred via formal education, but it does represent how well the character has accumulated facts, techniques and details about the world around him, and how well the character is able to retain this information and access it when needed. Usually combined with MND to accomplish a variety of non-physical tasks.
  • Subterfuge – the ability of the character to operate without another NPC or monster being aware of them and their intentions. While this includes sneaking around quietly (Subterfuge + DEX) it can also include a variety of Subterfuge + MND checks to do things like create a forgery or disguise, or deliver a convincing lie. A Subterfuge + MND check can also indicate how aware a character is, and if they are able to spot hidden details, or someone else trying to sneak up on them!
  • Survival – the ability of the character to fend for himself in the environment. This is especially applicable in the wild, where a character may want to do things like track the spoor of something he is hunting, forage for berries and nuts (or other edible plants), build shelter and fires, cover the tracks of his own group so that they're not easily followed, avoid getting lost, or even interact successfully with potentially dangerous wildlife (i.e., intimidate a lion into not attacking, etc.) This wide variety of tasks means that Survival can be paired with any of the three stats, depending on the situation. Many of these outdoorsy tasks can also be adapted to life in urban environments, of course, as needed, in which case this same skill would still be used.
The character's skill bonus for every skill is equal to his character level + any skill bonus granted by class or race. For example, a 4th level Human fighter would have an Athletics skill of 4 (because he's 4th level) + 1 to all skills as a human racial trait, and +3 as a Fighter class trait, for a +8 total.

To Hit Scores.  There are three To Hit scores.  These are used mostly in combat situations.  They operate very similar to Skills; they could perhaps be called specialized combat skills.  The first is Melee To Hit, and represents the ability you have to successfully hit (and damage) an opponent with or without a weapon in hand to hand combat.  It is calculated by added your STR modifier to your character level, plus any class based bonus you may have (such as the Fighter's bonus.)  When added to a d20 roll, this is the modifier you will use to attack an opponent in hand to hand combat.  The Ranged To Hit represents your ability to throw or shoot a weapon.  It is calculated the same way, except that instead of using your STR modifier, you will use your DEX modifier.  Do the same for the Magic To Hit, using MND.  Keep in mind that characters may not always have the means to make a certain kind of attack (this is especially applicable to Magic attacks, where characters most likely do not have any access to magic at the beginning of the game.)  But make a note of it anyway; you never know what may happen in the course of the game!

Sanity.  Sanity is a special application of the MND stat that gives the game almost as much of a horror setting tone on occasion as an adventuring fantasy setting. Sanity checks come into play when your characters are faced by intrusions into your mind or particularly horrible sights or revelations. This is particularly applicable when casting spells, since doing so is a perversion of natural law, and the human mind is ill-equipped to use magic.

If your GM requests a Sanity check, roll 1d20 and add your character level and MND score.  If you are below the target DC for the roll, roll an additional 1d6 and consult the table below:

Going to be OK, but noticeably shaken up.  No mechanical effect.
Affected by a -2 penalty to all d20 rolls of any kind for 1d6 rounds.
Affected as if by a Seeping of Kadath on the Mind spell for 1d6 rounds.
Afflicted with hysterical laughing and/or crying.  Unable to attack or cast spells for 2d4 rounds.
Faints of shock for 2d6 rounds.
Catatonic with despair. Cannot attack, speak, or cast spells, and must be led around by allies for 1d4 hours.

The main reason that a character would make a Sanity check involves the use of magic, although some extremely unearthly monsters or other unusual circumstances can spark a Sanity check as well.

Equipment.  Adventurers live and die by their equipment. Equipment comes in three categories: weapons, armor and other. Weapons and armor have specific qualities that impact the character’s performance in combat. Other equipment can be used mostly in ways that are self-explanatory.

All equipment has a cost. The basic unit of currency is the gold piece (or gp.) Some of the equipment on the Other section is really cheap; in those cases you can use silver pieces (sp) or even copper pieces (cp). Each gold piece is worth ten silver pieces, and each silver piece is worth 10 copper pieces. In terms of current US currency, that makes copper pieces equivalent to pennies, silver pieces equivalent to dimes, and gold pieces equivalent to dollars.

Weapons also have a damage type, which indicates which dice you would roll when determining damage if you hit an opponent with that weapon. Armor has a bonus to Armor Class that it confers. Other equipment has only a cost and occasionally any specific comments on its use that may be necessary to clarify how it works.

Both weapons and armor are simplified into categories, and all armor of a given category behaves identically in terms of game rules. This may be more streamlined than you are used to in other games, but I don't see the value of bogging down what is meant to be a brief document with simple rules with long equipment lists. Some examples of typical varieties of armor or weapons in each category is given, but by and large, you can use any type of weapon you can imagine, and with the buy-in of your GM, you can categorize it as you see fit. All of the game information related to it (cost, damage, etc.) will be unchanged. Some few weapons (such as daggers) can be light weapons or thrown weapons, but the cost and damage should be the same. Any thrown weapons can no longer be used in any given combat unless the character has a chance to retrieve it.

Ranged weapons also have a range listed in their description. Any distance beyond this range is considered long range, and any To Hit rolls will be assessed with a penalty of at least -2 by your GM, depending on how far away it is. Some targets are simply too far away for there to be any chance at hitting them, in which case, all attempts to attack automatically fail.

Although characters may find equipment, or be given equipment by patrons or friends, throughout the course of the game, mostly they have to buy what they want. Most of the items listed here are reasonably common and can be assumed that any type of town or city larger than a small farming or fishing hamlet will accommodate the entire list of equipment in some shop or specialist vendor's stall somewhere (although it may be "on back order" for smaller towns whose dry goods stores don't necessarily keep everything in stock all of the time.) As always, the GM may rule otherwise as he interprets the setting of your game.

In addition to whatever money a character finds throughout his career as an adventurer, all characters start with 120 + (3d6 x 5) gp with which to equip the character before the game begins. Take a moment as part of creating your character to equip him with whatever gear you feel you need to start.

Some games also feature weight and encumbrance rules. I've elected to ignore that, and assume that you are able to utilize some common sense in terms of what you are able to carry on your person at any given time. There are also no wealth per level guidelines, or anything else like that. It is not a feature of any game that I'll ever run that the acquisition of vast amounts of wealth is likely to be a major goal or activity anyway.

Weapon Type 
Unarmed - cost is free, damage is 1d4
Light (daggers, rapiers, etc.) - cost is 5 gp, damage is 1d6
Medium (swords, axes, etc.) - cost is 12 gp, damage is 1d8
Heavy (two-handed swords, two-handed ax, etc.) - cost is 20 gp, damage is 1d10. Cannot use shields with this size weapon, as they typically take both hands to use properly.
Thrown (daggers, tomahawks, etc.) - cost is 5 gp, damage is 1d6. Range is 50 feet (no increments; it's either in range or not.)
Ranged (Bow and arrows, crossbow, etc.) - cost is 40 gp, damage is 1d8. Range is 500 ft. Assume unlimited ammunition (as per most action movies! It won't break the game because combats never last more than a few rounds anyway.)

Armor Type 
Light (padded cloth, leather, etc.) - cost is 10 gp, Armor bonus to AC is +2.
Medium (chainmail or breastplate) - cost is 50 gp, Armor bonus to AC is +4
Heavy (full suit of plate armor) - cost is 250 gp, Armor bonus to AC is +6
Light shield (buckler or wooden shield) - cost is 10 gp, Armor bonus to AC is +1
Heavy shield (kite shield or fully metal shield) - cost is 15 gp, Armor bonus to AC is +2

Backpack—20 sp
Basket—15 sp
Barrel—2 gp
Bedroll—1 sp
Bell—1 gp
Winter blanket—5 sp
Block and tackle—5 gp
Glass bottle—2 gp
Bucket—20 sp
Caltrops—1 gp
Candle—1 cp
Canvas (per square yard)—1 sp
Chain (10 ft.)—30 gp
Chalk—1 cp
Chest—2 gp
Clothing, artisans—1 gp
Clothing, priest’s vestments—5 gp
Clothing, cold weather outfit—8 gp
Clothing, courtier’s outfit—30 gp
Clothing, entertainer’s outfit—3 gp
Clothing, explorer’s outfit—10 gp
Clothing, noble’s outfit—75 gp
Clothing, peasant’s outfit—1 sp
Clothing, royal outfit—200 gp
Clothing, scholar’s outfit—5 gp
Clothing, traveler’s outfit—1 gp
Crowbar—2 gp
Fishhook—1 sp
Fishing net, 25 square feet—4 gp
Flask—3 sp
Flint and steel—1 gp
Grappling hook—1 gp
Hammer—50 sp
Ink (1 ounce vial)—8 gp
Inkpen—1 sp
Ladder, 10 foot—5 gp
Lamp—10 sp
Hooded lantern—12 gp
Lock—40 gp
Manacles—15 gp
Mirror, steel hand-held—10 gp
Parchment (sheet)—2 sp
Miner’s pick—3 gp
Pole, 10-foot—2 sp
Iron pot—5 sp
Rope, 50-foot—10 gp
Sealing wax—1 gp
Signet ring—5 gp
Spade or shovel—25 sp
Spyglass—100 gp
Tent—5 gp
Torch—1 cp
Waterskin—50 cp

Characters may also buy other goods and services, such as mounts, animals, hirelings, meals, stays at inns, etc. In general, these costs are either relatively ephemeral transactions (drinks, meals, stays at inns) in which case they should be fairly cheap—very rarely even as much as a single gp—or they are unusual and unique (a horse to ride, legal services, a porter to carry your stuff, etc.) in which case they should be "quoted" to you uniquely by the GM rather than spelled out here.

Heroism Points.  Heroism points represent a character's determination and their importance to the plans of the gods or the forces of fate (i.e., the game and the GM.) A character gets three heroism points per session to start with. Heroism points can be used to add a +10 to any d20 roll that the character makes. It can also be used as a "healing surge;" to instantly heal 2d6+2 hit points as needed.

When your Heroism points are completely spent, they are gone for the rest of game session. A character's Heroism points are restored to their starting amount at the beginning of a game session. However, the GM may (and should!) decide to give extra "reward" Heroism points to characters who do something particularly exciting, interesting, harrowing, or entertaining. These points can be saved to be used later during the session, or spent immediately. Heroism points do not carry over from session to session; they must be used in the session in which they are granted, or they are lost (although the next session will give you a new evening's worth of Heroism points to spend again.)

Heroism points can be noted any way that works for you, but my preference is with counters that are returned to the GM when spent. Any type of counter will work—small paper chits, poker chips, potato chips, pennies, etc. My favorite are plastic pirate coins which I bought at a party favor store for a buck or two. They're cheap, utilitarian and yet evocative at the same time.

Character Links.  As soon as your character is finished mechanically, write a small blurb; no more than a paragraph or so, about an adventure of some kind that happened to him in the past. Every character will do this. Make three copies; one for yourself, and two that you fold up and put in a cup or hat or other container.   Every player will draw two character's backstories out of the cup (or hat or whatever.) If you get your own character, or the same character twice, but them back until you have two other characters. Read their past adventure blurbs to yourself.

Then, write a sentence or two about how your character was involved in these other characters' adventures.  Every player shares the adventures he has with the entire group. The purpose of this is to create a web of interconnectedness, past history, and relationships between the various characters, and you've got a strong footing right off the bat to start a campaign and explain why your group is all in this together. It also gives a lot of roleplaying opportunities that have proven out as great fun in playtests.
Mike sits down to create a character with his friends to start a game.  Looking over the header section of the character sheet, he decides that he wants to make a Viking-like adventurer named Ottvar; rough, tough, and good with a sword.  He fills in some descriptive details, and then rolls up his three stats: a +1, a +4 (w00t!) and a 0.  Given what he imagines Ottvar to be like, he clearly needs to put the +4 in STR, and he assigns the +1 to MND and the 0 to DEX.  Not a bad set of rolls; Ottvar has no penalties, and although two of his stats have either no bonus or only a modest one, his STR score is as good as it can be for a human character.
Although Mike flirts momentarily with the notion of using the Outdoorsman class to represent Ottvar, he ultimately decides that he's more of a warrior than a hunter, so he chooses Fighter.  At this point, Mike can go further down the character sheet filling in more detail as he goes.  His Hit Points are equal to his STR + 10 score, so he writes in 14.  He skips Armor Class for now, since he hasn't yet equipped Ottvar, but he fills in all of his skills.  Because he's first level, his base skill bonus for all skills is +1, but he gets an additional +1 to all skills because he's a human, and another additional +3 to Athletics because he's a Fighter.  For Athletics, his skill bonus is +5, where for all of the other skills, it will be +2.  His Melee To Hit is going to be his STR modifier (+4) plus his level (+1) plus an additional +1 as a Fighter bonus, so it will be +6—a rather fearsome score for a first level character!  His Ranged to Hit is the same, except that it uses his DEX modifier (0) instead of his STR modifier, so the total is only +2.  His Magic To Hit score is +3.  Mike is now ready to equip his character for adventure!  He rolls a total of 5 on his 3d6 wealth roll; a low score, but he still multiples that by 5 and adds it to 120 for a total equipment budget of 145; probably sufficient to get what he needs.  Keeping in mind his notion of creating a fantasy analog of the Germanic warrior, he decides on a nice pattern-welded sword (a medium weapon) and a francisca, or throwing ax (serves as both a light and a thrown weapon) as well as a angon, or javelin (another weapon that counts as both light and thrown.)  A shirt of mail and a buckler complete the ensemble; medium armor and a light shield.  He has spent 85 gold pieces of his 145 total, so more than half, but he can now go in and fill out his Armor Class—starting with 10, and getting no bonus for either his DEX modifier or half his level rounded down, but adding +4 for his mail shirt and an additional +1 for his buckler.  His AC is 15 for now.
He can also fill in his weapons table at the bottom of the first column, writing in his sword, his throwing ax and his javelin.  The damage is 1d8 for the sword and 1d6 for both of the other weapons, but he needs to remember to add his STR modifier (+4) plus his fighter bonus (+1) to all damage, making the entries read 1d8+5 and 1d6+5.
Thrown weapons have a range of 50 ft., but the sword has no range, as it’s meant to be used only in hand-to-hand combat.
He spends some more of his money on equipment that he figures will be crucial for an adventuring career: a backpack, a fish-hook (so he can feed himself while traveling!), a bedroll and winter blanket, flint and steel, a cold weather outfit of clothing as well as a traveler's outfit (he won't look nice when presented to important company, but he has to make do on a budget for now) as well as a hooded lantern, a small iron pot to cook in, a rope, a small shovel, a tent and two waterskins.  He writes all of these down, calculates how much money he's spent, and writes the remainder in his wealth boxes—a little bit for a rainy day, and to make sure he doesn't starve as the game starts!  He'd like to have some nicer clothes to make himself presentable to various functionaries over time, and he'd like to have a pack horse to carry his stuff, and maybe another horse to ride, but he'll have to wait until he's earned or found some more money before he attempts to buy any of those things.
Finally, Mike doesn't have any spells yet (neither do any of the other players, but in Mike's case, he doesn't intend to pursue that option anyway) and he writes down his Fighter class bonus and Human race bonus in the Notes section.  They're already figured into the numbers, but he wants to make sure that he remembers them in the future.  He decides for his Character Link story that he wants to focus on something that just happened earlier in the day; "Ottvar arrived in town as a caravan guard with the train of the merchant  Marvolo the Fat yesterday.  While he was supposed to continue south with them today, while in town he got rip-roaring drunk at the Slippery Eel tavern and got in a friendly fight with several other patrons.  He woke up, dirty and hung over, in an alley late in the morning to find that the caravan had already moved on without him.  Lucky to have escaped being robbed, he brushes himself off and heads back to the tavern, hoping to find rumors of further work."  After putting Ottvar’s story into the pot, he draws out two other characters from the group; Manoel Vaz do Camões, a nobleman who's down on his luck and penniless whose story involves attempting to seduce a rich merchant's wife to fund his lifestyle, and Folduin Krislar, an elf wanderer who, after helping a passing traveler  escape from a trap set by a band of orc brigands, decides to see more of the world.  Mike decides that Ottvar was briefly Manoel’s partner, and that he was meant to rob the merchant's treasure while Manoel distracted her in her boudoir, but it all went wrong, and the two of them had to flee town hidden in a haywain.  He also decides that he was the traveler Folduin saved, after clumsily falling into a snare set by orcs because he wasn't paying attention.  Ottvar now already knows two of the other characters and has a past with them, so when they all find themselves sitting in the same tavern later, they'll have more of a reason to get together as an adventuring party than "just because."

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