Here's the second part of my presentation of the (much abbreviated here) Tankards and Broadswords RPG core rules. Today's post covers creating player characters.
Characters in the Tankards and Broadswords RPG come in three archetypes; Warrior, Rogue, and Scholar. By and large, most "adventure story" characters can be fitted into one of these three archetypes. Mechanically, there is little difference between the three; however, a character's archetype does affect which skills list they have preferred access to, as well as (if the campaign setting involves magic) the costs involved in learning magic. Aside from this, it is entirely possible for you to have a Scholar character who is a master swordsman, or a Warrior who is fluent in every campaign language - it just won't be as easy to get the character to that degree of proficiency.
(As an aside, the core rules do contain two different suggestions for creating archetype-less characters, if the GM doesn't want to use the three default character archetypes).
Each archetype has a set of associated skills.
Athletics - running, jumping, climbing, lifting, etc..
Command - battlefield tactics and strategy, leadership, and charisma.
Defense - warding off melee, or in some cases ranged, attacks.
Melee - combat unarmed or with hand-to-hand weapons.
Ranged - combat with missile weapons, either fired or thrown.Reflexes - speed, timing, and coordination.
Carousing - gambling, drinking, rumor-mongering, and other recreations.
Detection - powers of observation, analytical thinking, and using one's senses.
Persuasion - etiquette, oratory, intimidation, fast-talking, and other methods.
Stealth - moving quietly and unseen, hiding, ambush, the art of camouflage.
Survival - staying alive without the comforts and support of civilization.
Thievery - picking pockets, opening locks, fencing goods, the art of deception.
Arcana - knowledge of secret societies, practices, arts, and histories.
Crafting - skill at creating art objects, tools, weapons, or other devices.
Healing - tending to injuries, using herbs, curing diseases, understanding poisons.
History - knowledge of people, places, and things, both past and present.
Languages - fluency in languages and a general understanding of linguistics.
Naturalism - the science of the natural world; flora, fauna, geography, weather, etc..
(Note: it's recommended that in modern-day or sci-fi campaign settings, "Naturalism" can be replaced with a more appropriate skill name such as "Science". The same may be said for any skill the GM wishes to tweak to better fit the nature of the campaign.)
Every skill has the following rating structure:
0 = Unskilled
1 = Novice
2 = Amateur
3 = Professional4 = Veteran
5 = Expert
6 = Master
Characters can distribute twelve skill ranks into their Archetype's skills list, and six skill ranks into each of the other two skills lists. It is recommended that starting characters are limited to a rating of 4 or less in any one skill.
If a skill is given a rating of 3 or higher, the character may take a Skill Focus (the Focus costs nothing). A Focus is a +1 bonus to the skill roll whenever the skill is used in a certain fashion. For example, a character's Melee skill might have a Focus in Unarmed Combat, or Broadswords, while a character's Stealth skill might have a Focus in Stalking or Camouflage. A character with a skill rating of 6 can take a second Focus in that skill, but cannot "stack" the bonus on the first Focus.
Characters are often faced with perilous hazards or challenges that aren't associated with any given skill. For example, a character may have to leap out of the way of an explosion, or suffer through the effects of a crippling toxin, or withstand the mind-bending powers of an enchantment. These situations are known as Perils, and every character has three Peril attributes: Avoid, Endure, and Resist. Perils are rated from 0 to 6 just like skills, and starting characters have six points they can distribute amongst the three Peril attributes. Like skills, it is recommended that starting characters put no more than four points into any one Peril attribute.
As a character goes on adventures and interacts with the world around them, they will (one hopes) gain a reputation for themselves and (again, one hopes) accumulate a degree of wealth and other resources. This is represented by a character's three Status values: Infamy, Renown, and Wealth. Infamy represents the character's negative reputation, Renown represents their positive reputation, and Wealth represents the resources and holdings, financial and otherwise, that the character has access to, either as part of their own personal fortunes or as favors and alliances they can call upon. Starting characters have three points they can distribute between the three Status values.
After the above steps have been completed, each character has twelve Character Tokens they can spend to customize their character:
- Skills (1 Token per +1 increase)
- Perils (2 Tokens per +1 increase)
- Status (3 Tokens per +1 increase)
It is still recommended that, even with the use of Character Tokens, a starting character's Skills, Perils, and Status remain at a rating of four or less.
The T&B RPG is designed to be episodic, with no continuous, rolling session-by-session timeline. Because of this, there may be days, weeks, months, or even years in between adventures. Character equipment may change over time, but as with many "adventure story" characters, a few pieces of equipment will probably always be in the character's possession, such as a favored type of weapon or armor, a set of lock-picks, or a certain magical charm.
If the player doesn't spend all their Character Tokens adjusting character attributes, the remaining Tokens can be used to purchase equipment at character creation time, and this equipment will become part of the character's Signature Gear. This is equipment the character automatically starts with at the beginning of each adventure, regardless of anything else they wish to purchase. The cost, in Character Tokens, for each piece of equipment is given in the campaign setting's equipment list.
That pretty much sums up character creation. You pick your archetype, dole out points to Skills, Perils, and Status values, and then divvy up your starting Character Tokens to raise various attributes or buy Signature Gear. After a little practice, a character can probably be written up within 10 minutes.
Edit: I thought I'd post an image of what the draft character sheet currently looks like. Nothing fancy, but actually, that's how I like character sheets - nice and simple.