Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Risus Dungeon Crawl: Character Generation

So, I'm picking and chopping rules from different sources here, which I'll post up in the final post:
Characters are created using a spread of 10 dice, in three categories: Race, Class, Other.

Note that no starting cliche may go above 5 dice!

Race represents your character's ethnic, genetic, or spiritual background. So, you could be a Dwarf, Human, Half-Elf Minotaur, Carceri-Touched Half-Celestial Tiefling-Halfling, whatever you want. The default assumption is "if you read it in a D&D book, you can play it" - but, some GMs may wish to limit or veto certain choices, whether its due to the game world ("Dwarves are extinct") or being too silly for the game they wish to run ("How the Hell can you be Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Half-Drow? Two of those are already Elves!"). You may also add things like temperament, personality, or geographical location (a Hill Dwarf is might be markedly different from a Deep Dwarf, as a Grim and Stout Northerner might be different from a Well-Mannered Southern Kystathi).

Class represents what your character does - whether it's inbuilt (like magical talent), picked up through training (like martial skills), or just their day job (like accountancy or trade). For inspiration, crack open any fantasy RPG book, and take a look at the classes/archetypes/careers within - from the classic D&D Thief, Fighter and Magic-User to WFRP's Rat Catcher, Barber-Surgeon and Jailer, there's something for everyone. I would heartily recommend D&D 3.5 for an exhaustive amount of base, alternate, and Prestige Classes for inspiration for more "traditional" games, and for either gritty or ridiculous games, you can't go wrong with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay's Careers. If you can't find something specific, make it up!

This is also a good place to put in specialisations or personality - again, a Charismatic Swashbuckling Rogue will be far different to a Mute Professional Assassin, even though they will overlap somewhat in skills.

Remember, you should establish the Tools of the Trade for your class - much as a Fighter needs his sword and shield, a Wizard needs his dried bat testicles and funny-looking phallic wands, a Rat catcher needs his Small But Surprisingly Vicious Dog, and a cartographer needs his parchment and inks. While you can operate without them (at half-dice), it's always worth knowing what you need, and how you can replace them. For classes without Tools of the Trade, or ones which are part of you (like a Martial Artist's whole body, or a Dragon-Touched Sorcerer's bloodline), GMs will need to be creative ("Yep, he punched out your blood. All of it.")

Other represents what sets you apart from the crowd - are you just a Dwarf Fighter, or are you:

Thorin Groinson Olafsonson
Full-Bearded Dwarf Alcoholic (4)
Seasoned Warrior of Undermountain (3)
Part-Time Fashion Designer (3)

These little things can make your character feel more real, and also add a good amount of extra utility to your skill set. This can also represent organisations, say Second-Level Initiate of The School of The Five Veils, or Fully-Paid Member of The Adventurer's Guild.

You might notice a fair bit of overlap - like personality fitting into any of the three categories. Just pick how prominent you want that feature to be - for example, if your Dwarf Fighter is very proud of his heritage, then your primary cliche might be Stoic Dwarf of The Khazad-Furm, and if it's not too important, pop it onto one of the other Cliches.

Hooks and Tales are fun little ways to get some extra dice when creating your character. A Hook is some great flaw, whether it's a crippling addiction, deep, dark secret, or anything at all the GM can use to make you r life a misery. GMs are encouraged to veto any Hooks which just won't come up ("I can't swim" in a desert campaign, for example), and to try and work as much out of a particular Hook as they can ("What's that, Mystery Enemy? BWAHAHAHAHAHA").
A Tale is a backstory - explaining where your character came from, and what he did before action-filled graverobbing and race-specific genocide became his hobbies. At least a page, maybe two or three, is normally sufficient. Players with either a Hook or a Tale gain an extra dice at character creation, and you can take both (for a total of 12 starting dice - though remember, no starting Cliche can go above 5)!

Pumping Cliches can be used when everything seems to be out of our Hero's league. Any character can add an extra number of dice to one of their Cliches (up to the number they already have), for a single combat round or significant roll, to enhance their chances of success. However, once the roll is made, the players takes damage to that cliche equal to the number of dice they Pumped.

So, Thorin may add up to 4 dice to his Full-Bearded Dwarf Alcoholic Cliche, up to 8 dice (!), to tackle a particularly hard drink - specifically, Moradrin's Moonshine (9), brewed by the Dwarven Creator himself! If he loses the roll, then he suffers Cliche damage as usual, and loses 4 dice from that Cliche, leaving him utterly defeated. If he succeeds, he still loses the 4 dice he pumped the Cliche by - perhaps this is not a drink meant to pass mortal lips!

Sample Characters
Some sample characters I've put up elsewhere, redone following these rules...

"Rose" Sharri Vass
Fun-Loving Competitive Goliath (5)
Master Warrior of Stick and Fist (4)
Barmaid and Proprietor of the Laughing Paladin Inn (2)

Hook: Rose is incredibly competitive. She cannot let a challenge lie, and will always seek to outdo the achievements of others.

Saman Longbaugh
A Very, Very Lost Prime (4)
Bemused Ranger of the Kurathi Hill Tribes (5)
On at Least Speaking Terms With The Animals (2)
Tale: Saman was on his way to the privvy, one drunken night, and when he stepped foot through the door, his next feeling was that of falling... and after that, a sudden bump. When he stood up, he found himself in a strange place, filled with weird and wonderful "people", who consistently called him "Clueless"...

After waking up in Sigil, he decided that, while he tried to find a way home, he would need to make some cash, quick - so he signed up for caravan duties out in the Outlands, acting as a scout for a Djinn caravan heading from the City of Brass... now he just needs to find a way to not catch fire...

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