Saturday, November 28, 2009

Generation Gap: Savage Worlds

A friend of mine has started a series of articles on random character generation with running commentary so I felt I'd follow suit. I'm therefore inspired to dig out my old Fantasy Character Generator PDF, which has just arrived in my Wayback Machine from 2004.

The rules are simple:
Let the dice fall where they may.
Where there is the option to roll on a chart, do it.
Where there is a choice to make, make it for purely mechanical reasons.

Shall we begin?

We start strong. A roll of 100 means I'm playing a Half-Folk. Great, nice Spirit bonus, the Benny comes in handy. Low Toughness, no biggie. The Half-Folk Fortune table tells me I'm unusually light on my feet for some extra Stealth dice - nice - and a couple rolls later, we learn I'm playing a woman with black hair and deep blue eyes. Great! I'm an Unusually Quiet Roman Half-Folk lady.

Next up, I can roll up to twice on the Features table. For the lulz, I do...okay, two Minor Flaws, no biggie...I'm missing my middle finger on the left hand and I have a stick out belly button. Interesting, and she'll never be a top archer with that defect. One more more roll lets me know that Llana (as I'm calling her) is extremely obese. Okay. At least it offsets that Toughness penalty. Now that we've completed the circumstances of her birth, we can determine how the rest of her life went.

Llana is a young adult, which makes her something like 15 in Half-Folk years. I make note of this for later.

Looks like Llana was born in wedlock to farrier parents. Did you know "farriers" make horseshoes? I didn't. I'm just going to call that Knowledge (blacksmithing), plus 2 steps. I'll let my GM know that I should get a bonus to The horseshoe trade must be important in the area, because Llana's related to the founders of the community. Unfortunately, while her father is alive and well, Mom has taken ill recently. Worse still, her mother is fond of her, while her father treats her an embarrassment to all the family stands for - Dad evidently wanted a son to take over the farriering business, because Llana's an only child.

Mom and Pop live in a smallish town near some farmland, so Llana's not the most streetsmart of children, nor is she totally ignorant. We've picked up a d4 in Streetwise, which is sure to wow the menfolk.

Now we get to some childhood events. Here's where we'll pick up those skills. Llana apparently liked to pick things apart and put them together as a child (d4 Repair), and sometime in her childhood, a mysterious old man promised her that she would have a glorious future...perhaps driving her to success, and perhaps a blessing. Llana's parents were friendly with a Dwarven clan in the area, and a few more rolls tell me they still remember Llana, they treat her as family, and they have more or less friendly relatives (GM, take note, I sense adventure hooks).

Llana did well in school growing up (+1 Smarts), but had bad luck for one of the Half-Folk and wasn't terribly motivated (maybe due to her father's constant criticism, and almost definitely the reason for her weight issues).

Finally, Llana set off on her own (but likely not too far from home - unmotivated, remember) and took up a series of odd medium-term jobs. Her starting package gives her +1 of each Attribute except Smarts and a smattering of skills (which include a craft skill - I'll say Blacksmithing, mechanically). For a time, she worked as a woodcutter (+1 Strength), where he strength and spirit attracted the attention of a passing mercenary unit, whose captain convinced her to sign on for a while (+1 Fighting and Guts). Unfortunately, when she left, she was forced to work as a laborer, where she formed a frienship with another former mercenary, a half-orc named Grum; the two supported each other and shared everything. The foreman for their job never paid either of them (leaving here with a Major Vengeful Hindrance - Llana's tired of being screwed over by now); they decided to escape and eventually parted ways amicably, but occasionally call upon each other for aid. Llana returned to her roots and honed her skills at smithing (+2 die types in a craft skill...).

If you're keeping track, Llana has a d12 in blacksmithing by this point. She is actually one of the greatest smiths in the world, but doesn't know it. I am guessing Llana wound up adventuring as a way to make ends meet, and probably feeling directionless after her friendship (romance?) with Grum broke up.


Ag d6
Sm d6
Sp d8
St d8
Vg d6

Fighting d6
Gambling d4
Guts d6
Knowledge (blacksmithing) d12
Notice d4
Persuasion d4
Stealth d6
Streetwise d6

Lucky, Spirited

Bad Luck
Vengeful (major)

Well, we've got a fat 15 year old halfling with a bad attitude and a good right hook. Girl can also swing a hammer. Let's get her some armor and a maul to round her out, and there we have it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Introducing: The Metagame

I've been gaming on Google Wave, recently, and having a fairly good time. I have also thought about gaming as a social activity more than an escapist exercise; Google Wave is good for telling a story but not so good for having fun with your buddies.

But is there a way to turn that to your advantage? I can conceive of a world where face-to-face communication within the party is impossible, intimidating, or (better yet) dangerous. Games like Hunter: The Reckoning spring to mind, where party members might be unwilling or unable to connect to each other due to physical, moral, and emotional difficulties.

But I have an even better idea: The Metagame.

RPG historians seem to agree that Eight Kingdoms was penned sometime in the late 70s. Some are of the opinion that with better business sense, it might have quickly replaced Dungeons and Dragons, but nobody actually knows who the author was - when copies show up, their covers are missing and any mention of an author is illegible or just gone. No existing publisher claims the book, no author has stepped forward, and only an uninteresting series of legal loopholes prevent the work from simply entering the public domain. Eight Kingdoms has become a legend in the tabletop RPG community in the way of all urban legends - nobody's played, but everyone claims an uncle who went to DragonCon in 1989 and played EK in a hotel room after a bar crawl with a vendor whose name he can't remember.

Eight Kingdoms does exist. Unfortunately, Eight Kingdoms is much more than a game. Eight Kingdoms wasn't even written by anyone in this world. Eight Kingdoms is the bridge linking our real world to the world of Eight Kingdoms. Characters in Metagame are PCs who have played EK. Maybe it was a copy they picked up at a garage sale when they were twelve, or maybe they had an older brother who came home one weekend, ran a game, and then then lost interest.

The problem is, the fantasy world of Eight Kingdoms started to spill into our reality 30 years ago, and vice versa. Our world can't contain concepts like goblins and witchcraft any more than the world of the Kingdoms can contain firearms or democracy. The two worlds will tear each other apart if nobody does anything about it.

PCs will create the character of a gamer who is part of a gaming group that communicates (at least a little) via Google Wave. They will also determine who their Eight Kingdoms character is. Characters in Metagame can channel abilities from their Eight Kingdoms character to help them fight the darkness spilling into the real world. An IT technician playing a Spellweaver can use magic to his advantage, while a college student playing a Troubadour may find he can make himself irresistible to those of his gender preference.

That's the basic idea - it's pretty much World of Darkness but built around a gaming framework. It'll be more "white collar" than WOD, but who knows, it might send gamers to a darker place.