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Character Creation (5th Edition)
Generating Ability Scores
I am a fan of chaos and fate, and 5th Edition allows far too much freedom in what you get to play, so I offer a few restrictions and modifications from the standard number generation method. First, you must roll the 6 stats in order, you do not get to place them wherever you want. Second, I offer 3 different methods for rolling your character. The intent behind these rolling methods is to push the average number back down by 2 points, which allows for lower numbers and greater roleplay opportunity. What’s the fun if every character is average at the lowest, and their typical ability score is high compared to everyone else in the world? The clumsy mage, the stupid cleric, the foolish fighter, this improves the game so much more.
Simplest method, results are very random with a very subtle increase in mid-level scores, risks and rewards are both high. Roll 1d20 for each stat. If the number is 10 or less, add 2. If the number is 11 or more, subtract 2.
Most complicated method, results are very random with a seemingly even spread across all possible results, risks and rewards are both very high. Roll 5d6. Each roll is considered High, Mid, or Low, based upon the number of 1 and 6 rolls in the set. More 1s = Low. More 6s = High. Equal (or no) 1s and 6s = Mid. For Low rolls, drop the two highest. For High rolls, drop the two lowest. For Mid rolls, drop the highest and the lowest.
An old classic, and a simple method, results are somewhat random with a strong bell curve favoring middle numbers, risks and rewards are both very low. Roll 3d6. WYSIWYG.
Character Creation (2nd Edition AD&D)
Generating Ability Scores
Roll 4d6 six times, dropping the lowest number for each. If you roll a 1 you can reroll it, but if you get another 1 on the reroll, you’re keeping it, and must use it as one of your 3 numbers. Fate has spoken. Place the final scores onto any stat you wish. If all of your stats are high, you have the option of rerolling. This game is more about role-playing than anything else, and all high stats tends to make less interesting role-play. You cannot reassign stats once placed, you cannot trade points from one stat to another.
However, I allow the ability score splitting option from Skills & Powers. Strength is divided into Muscle and Stamina, Dexterity is divided into Balance and Aim, Constitution is divided into Health and Fitness, Intelligence is divided into Knowledge and Reasoning, Wisdom is divided into Intuition and Will, and Charisma is divided into Appearance and Leadership. You’re sub-ability scores start identical to your base ability score, but you have the option of moving 1 or 2 points from one sub-ability to the other. For example, if you roll a 12 Strength, then you can have a Mus/Sta of 10/14, 11/13, 12/12, 13/11, or 14/10. This allows a character to potentially raise a score to 21 or more. Example: you roll an 18 for Dex, your Bal/Aim starts at 18/18. You choose to play an elf with a +1 to Dex, providing a Dex 19 and Bal/Aim 19/19. You decide to move 2 points from Bal to Aim so now you have Dex 19 and Bal/Aim 17/21. Understand that 21 is on the level of the gods, and people will notice and respond accordingly. For example, a character with an appearance of over 21 will be swarmed by zealous masses when simply walking through the streets. If you don’t want that kind of attention, you shouldn’t have an ability score that high, but that is your choice.
Str Mus —> Hit probability, Damage adjustment, Max Press, Open Doors, Bend Bars/Lift Gates
Str Sta —> Weight Allowance
Dex Bal —> Reaction Adjustment, Def Adjustment
Dex Aim —> Missile Attack Adjustment
Con Hea —> System Shock, Poison Save
Con Fit —> HP Adjustment, Resurrection Survival
Int Kno —> Number of Languages, Chance to Learn Spell
Int Rea —> Max Spell Level, Max Spells per Level, Spell Immunity
Wis Int —> Chance Spell Fail, Bonus Spells
Wis Wil —> Magic Defense Adjustment, Spell Immunity
Cha Lea —> Max Henchman, Loyalty Base
Cha App —> Reaction Adjustment
I interpret Good-Evil as a continuum between selfless and selfish. Thus, a Neutral Evil character could simply be self-serving at the cost of others around him, and does not necessarily have to be a villain or a wanted criminal. Likewise, Good does not mean you are automatically a hero type. Lawful-Chaotic is an adherence to a code of conduct, which does not necessarily have to be the law of the land. In general, Lawful characters are trustworthy to their word (even if not to the law), and Chaotic is not.
Breaking the law when it gets in the way of the greater good is not Chaotic Good, it is Neutral Good, a great example of this would be Robin Hood. As soon as King Richard returned and all was well again, he stopped breaking the law! Therefore, Robin Hood as an archetype is Neutral Good. Chaotic Good would be someone motivated to bring down any recognized establishment because they feel it causes more harm to the public than good. A true Anarchist who believes that having no government at all is the best for everyone, and therefore can be quite dangerous.
In general, Chaotic Evil is not conducive to progression of story or working well with the party, and is highly discouraged. If you want to play CE, then you will need a damn good reason to work with the party or follow the story. DM must approve before you can select this alignment.
Chaotic Neutral is not carte blanche to do whatever you want. CN is devoted to the cause of chaos, this means that they are motivated to cause mischief and discord in any established system they encounter. They delight in upsetting order. If told that they can’t do something, they will do it out of spite. This restricts role-playing nearly as much as Lawful Good. Keep this in mind if you choose this alignment. I do this because there truly is no person out there who changes their morals and code of conduct randomly. There is always some consistent pattern to their behavior. Even the worst of psychotic individuals have an underlying pattern that motivates them that can be understood and predicted by psychologists and behavior analysts. Like it or not, we are creatures of order. True Neutral also is not carte blanche to change your mind whenever you want either. True Neutral adheres to a strict philosophy of maintaining a balance in the universe. They would help the town guard fight off invading orcs, but would turn on the guard and aid the orcs the moment the guards decide to track down and destroy the orcish village and all of it’s inhabitants.
In this campaign, opposed alignments can work side-by-side together very well. The environment of the world politically tends to blur the lines a little, and the town guard often works with the thieves. Politics make for strange bedfellows, after all.
Number of Languages from intelligence/knowledge does provide bonus nonweapon proficiency slots in addition to number of languages known beyond initial. If you choose to spend extra slots on a proficiency, you can improve your proficiency check by +1. Languages known must be chosen at the time of character creation and they must make sense for your character. A human from Ferrousshire could learn Galeb Duhr and Dwarven, but it makes less sense for a human from Port Yafford who instead is more likely to have learned Gnomish and Couatl. You do not have to learn all of your languages at first, you can leave open slots for future learning opportunities.
One slot in a weapon provides proficiency, which negates the weapon proficiency penalty to hit. If using a weapon that is similar to a proficient weapon in a tight group, then you suffer only half of the weapon proficiency penalty (round up to worse). Two weapon proficiency slots can buy a proficiency in a tight group. Three weapon proficiency slots can buy a proficiency in a broad group.
Two slots in a martial art provides Expert, which is halfway between proficient and specialized, please see the martial arts section for more details.
Two slots in a weapon provides specialization which adds an additional attack every other round and +1 to hit and +2 to damage. Fighters and Gladiators can specialize in multiple weapons. Samurai can specialize three times and only in Katana, Wakizashi or Tanto (but not both), Daikyu, Unarmed, Martial Arts, or Yari. Monks can specialize in Unarmed or Martial Arts. Other warriors can only ever specialize in one weapon. Specialization can only occur on specific weapons, and not on tight or broad groups. Martial arts require three slots to be specialized in.
Three slots in a weapon provides double specialization (a.k.a. mastery) which instead adds an additional attack every single round, and +2 to hit and +3 to damage. Only Fighters can double specialize in a weapon, and they can only do this once. Samurai can double specialize in the Katana, and nothing else. Monks can double specialize only in Martial Arts.
Elven characters (Gray, Sylvan, or High Elves) can choose to spend two proficiency slots in addition to slots already spent on their chosen weapon to use their weapon in the Bladesong martial art. Bladesingers look like they are dancing when they fight, the blade whistles as it slices through the air, and many practitioners sing a haunting, wordless tune as they fight. The movements seem misleading slow and elegant, deflecting opponents’ blades while lazily drifting back to score hits. Bladesong requires subtlety and misdirection, guides opponents to anticipate a different attack entirely, overbalancing them and making them seem clumsy. Practiononers of Bladesong can have any of the three following benefits in any given round, but can only have one at a time:
- May gain a -1 bonus to AC
- May gain +1 bonus to hit
- May attack and parry in the same round without using additional attacks
If you choose to spend a third slot on Bladesong, the bonuses increase to +2. Bladesong can only be done with small or medium sized melee weapons, and is not available to wizards.
Characters may spend a weapon proficiency slot on a Two-Weapon Fighting Style to reduce the two weapon penalty to -1 on the main weapon and -2 on the offhand weapon, instead of the standard -2 and -4. Characters may also spend a weapon proficiency slot on Ambidexterous Fighting Style, which will make the weapon penalty of the offhand weapon the same as the main weapon. These abilities can stack together to allow a warrior to fight two-handed with only a -1 penalty to each weapon. The Ranger class does not have these abilities automatically, rather he suffers no penalties at all two weapon fighting when wearing studded leather or lighter. If he wishes to fight with heavier armor, he suffers the same penalties and must spend slots on the same fighting style proficiencies to reduce the penalties in the same manner.
Samurai Characters who are at least specialized in the Katana may spend a weapon proficiency slot on Iajutsu. Iajutsu is the art of unsheathing the Katana in a single powerful strike and returning the Katana to the sheath in the same motion. This technique is lightning fast and is observed as a sudden blur of movement. Iajutsu practitioners can have any of the following effects, but only one at a time:
- Can draw, attack, and resheath the Katana in a single motion, or any combination of the three
- May attack in the surprise round, even if caught by surprise
- If attacking from sheathed, may gain a +2 to damage if suffering a -2 to hit, this attack leaves the katana unsheathed at the end of the round
Everyone is naturally proficient with Unarmed Combat at no cost and suffers no penalty for use. Unarmed strikes of any kind deal 1d2 damage and generally lead to a knockout rather than dying status. If you use both hands for two attacks per round then you suffer the normal penalty for two-handed fighting, -2 and -4, unless you modify this with ambidexterity or two-weapon fighting as explained in Florentine.
Any race or class all over the world can become an expert in unarmed fighting. To specialize in unarmed fighting costs only one weapon proficiency slot, and they gain a +1 to hit and +2 to damage. You can either specialize in punching or wrestling. Punching specialists also gain an additional attack every round without the two-handed fighting penalties. Wrestling specialists gain a +2 bonus to Strength Checks for the purposes of maintaining and breaking holds. It is possible for a character to learn both with two slots, but the to hit and damage bonuses are not cumulative.
Unarmed strikes, including martial arts strikes, against an armed opponent provokes an attack of opportunity with a +4 to hit, unless it is a two-handed weapon which has a +8 to hit. This rule is ignored for monks.
- Note that specialization in unarmed combat and martial arts are not cumulative, double specialization in unarmed as well as martial arts still yields only an extra attack every round, +2 to hit, and +4 to damage when fighting with empty hands. Martial Arts and Unarmed Combat Specialization are meant to be respectable alternatives to each other with the advantage going to the martial arts training (the trained Martial Artist versus the talented Street Brawler). Please keep in mind the spirit of this system before attempting to rulemonger and twink to overpower characters.
Characters from the Far West have access to any Martial Art style. Humans from Gat only have access to Style C: Grappling, the chosen form of training for the Clergy of Dorn Kilrani.
- Style A: Handwork, 1d3 damage when striking with hands, gain an extra attack every round with no penalties if unarmed and unarmored.
- Style B: Kicking, 1d6 damage, gain an extra attack every round with a free hand (normal damage) if unarmed and unarmored.
- Style C: Grappling, If successfully hits then can use either Str or Dex score as oppose check for opponent, successful opposed attack roll allows escape from holds or pins.
- Style D: Dodging and Blocking, -2 bonus to AC if unarmed and unarmored.
If learning multiple styles, all benefits are cumulative. Each Martial Art costs one Proficiency slot to become proficient. Each additional level of skill costs another proficiency slot. Specialization or Mastery can only be done in one style, other styles may only advance to Expert level. Specialization in unarmed combat is not a requirement.
- Proficient (1 slot): Normal Number of Attacks per round per class for Martial Strikes.
- Expert (2 slots): All classes can make a number of Martial Strikes equal to the number of melee attacks available to a non-specialized warrior of the same level.
- Specialized (3 slots): Only available to classes allowed to specialize. +1 to hit, +2 to damage, and an extra attack every other round, just like a weapon specialization. May also Block or Disarm an armed opponent without the -4 penalty. May Block or Disarm a two-handed weapon with a -4 penalty instead of the -8.
- Master (4 slots): Only available to classes allowed to double Specialize. +2 to hit, +4 to damage, and an extra attack every round, just like a weapon double specialization. Can knockout opponent on a critical hit, lethal or non-lethal.
Benefits of Proficient and Expert do not stack. For example, if a character is Expert in Style B but only Proficient in A, and they are allowed to have 2 martial attacks every round, then they may make two kicks, or one kick and one punch, but cannot make two punches. After this, then they may take one bonus attack from a free hand.