Thursday 7 June 2012

Archetypes for Hammerstein!

Hammerstein!, is my OpenQuest/Renaissance/Legend work-in-very-early-progress hack that attempts to build a simple(ish) OGL d100 game that evokes WFRP1e with the 'adventuresome' turned up and the 'grimdark' turned down (but not off). Basically, WFRP1e in Fighting Fantasy's Titan... hmm, perhaps I should just do that rather than write my own game... No, I need my own 'heartbreaker'.

Anyhow, when I think about running WFRP1e in Titan, I think about stripping out all the non-adventuring professions, to ensure everyone has combat, magic, or other specialist skills that would help them adventure rather than scrabble in the mud, pushing their own guts back inside. WFRP1e does adventuring well, if everyone rolls a combat profession (which tend to come well equipped and highly skilled) and someone rolls a wizard's apprentice. If, as has happened when we've played, everyone rolls characters whose chief skill is the ability to dance, you have a troupe of poor, ill-equipped buskers*, and any dungeoneering will get grimdark indeed. However, I play RPGs with people who have no intention of poring over lists of skills or equipment. Even OpenQuest character generation turns my players off the game, as they take a long time to assign skill points and buy equipment, have little fun doing so, but then have invested so much time into the character that killing them off early would be a real enthusiasm drainer. WFRP character generation was easy. Players chose three things; their race, their career category, and their name. Everything else was settled by random rolls, but nevertheless produced interestingly shaped bones on which to build a character. The oracular power of the dice demonstrated right at the outset.

With Hammerstein!, one thing that I've been doing is building archetypes that assign all the skill points and select the equipment of starting characters in order to make d100 character generation a quick, easy process. It's one step up from using pre-generated characters, as the players still get a feel of the system in character creation, and get to roll dice even if they don't make too many choices. Here's part of the work-in-progress, from the chapter on character creation. Why the bombardier archetype? Because it is alphabetically the first of the fighter archetypes.     

1.4     Archetypes
Though their earlier, mundane lives might have been dangerous, player characters now delve deep into the undercities, the faerie forests, and the Chaos wastelands of the world of Hammerstein! Every adventurer in Hammerstein! begins the game with an ‘archetype’. Players should choose whether their starting character is a fighter, a scoundrel, or a thinker. Characters need a STR of 9 to be a fighter, a DEX of 9 to be a scoundrel, and an INT of 13 to be a thinker. A generous GM may allow a player to re-roll a character who does not meet the requirement for any of these backgrounds, ruling that the player has rolled a normal person, not an adventurer[1]. For the hardcore Hammerstein! experience, however, players may add points to STR, DEX, or INT to transform these mediocre characters into adventurers, but each point increase deducts two points from another characteristic.

Players may choose their archetype within these broad classes, but should be encouraged to roll 1d100 and consult Table 1.4. Adventurers in the world of Hammerstein! rarely reach middle age, and so players should be encouraged to roll up and get playing.

These archetypes grant characters bonuses to aptitudes, specific languages, lores, and crafts, and advanced techniques. In cases in which the archetype grants the character a knowledge or craft skill the character already possesses by virtue of their culture and class background, the character gains a +10% bonus to the skill. In cases where the archetype grants the character an advanced technique that he already possesses, the character should add +10% a plausibly related skill. For example, in the Hammerstein! basic game, the Literate advanced technique can be granted by an educated class background or by several of the archetypes. In these cases, add +10% to a Lore, Language, or appropriate Craft skill, or to a common skill such as Evaluate.

Table 1.4 the Archetypes
1d100 Roll
Confidence Trickster
Bounty Hunter
Witch Hunter

1.4.1 The Fighters – The Bloody Handed
The fighters are the brawn of an adventuring party. They brawl, fight, kill, and are often the first to be killed. Fighters, whatever their profession, specialise in putting bits of metal into the bodies of other people. There are a surprising number of ways of doing this.

All fighters, regardless of profession, start with some basic skills that have helped them to survive so far in the bloody world of Hammerstein!

Fighter Aptitudes
Combat Skills
Unarmed Combat +10%
Close Combat +10%

Dodge +10%
Resilience +10%

Common Skills
Athletics +10%
First Aid +10%             Bombardier              
The bombardier is a military specialist skilled in the use of explosives. In Hammerstein!, cannons and bombs are unreliable weapons, capable of inflicting devastating carnage on even the best armoured and fortified opponents, as well as tearing great rents in the bombardier’s own lines. Bombardier careers often end in ways that are viscerally messy even by the standards of the brutal and cruel world of Hammerstein!

Ianto Hoppenhouse is the most famous bombardier in the world of Hammerstein! A mercenary who styles himself the Professor of Saltpeter, Hoppenhouse was responsible for the explosive undermining of the walls of the Citadel of Heroes. The explosion not only brought down the walls, but scattered the ensorcelled masonry across several square miles, leaving a wasteland blighted by creatures of Chaos.  

Bombardier Aptitudes
Combat Skills
Close Combat +10
Ranged Combat +30

Dodge +30
Persistence +20
Resilience +20

Common Skills
Athletics +10
Influence +10
Perception +30

Bombardier Languages, Lores, and Crafts
Craft (Bombardier) +20
Craft (Engineer) +20

Bombardier Advanced Techniques
Combat Proficiency – Blackpowder
Combat Proficiency – Bombs

Bombardier Cantrips
Extinguish 2
Heal 2
Ignite 2

Bombardier Equipment
Armour: Hard Leather Apron and Gauntlets (2pts)
Weapons: War Sword, Dagger, Musket, Pistol, 2 Grenados
Powder and Shot (20)
Good Quality Clothes and Boots
Hoppenhouse’s Tome of Demolition
Purse (XZ silver shillings) [Average Wealth]

[1] In the world of Hammerstein!, there are soldiers with a STR of less than 9 (though they tend to end up crippled or dead), pickpockets with a DEX of less than 9 (though they tend to rot in dungeons or hang), and doctors with an INT of less than 13 (though the Gods must protect their patients). Only player characters, as adventurers, are bound by these minimum scores. 

I've pretty much finished my first draft rewrites of the character creation, skills, and combat chapters, taking the best bits from OpenQuest, Renaissance, and Legend. There won't be many changes for the examples set in these (related) rulesets. Some skills have been merged or rationalised, I've adopted large parts of the Renaissance Serious/Grave Wound system, there'll be some changes to the magic systems, but not much. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But I do believe in tweaking what ain't broke, so bits here and bits there have minor changes. Hammerstein! will be using the OpenQuest/Renaissance combat system rather than Legend's beautiful system simply, because that much complexity is wrong for our group. Rather than have specialist combat skills, as Renaissance does, unusual weapons or advanced styles are dealt with by 'combat proficiencies' - the core skill remains Unarmed Combat, Close Combat or Ranged Combat, but the combat proficiency allows them to use the weapon without penalty and/or use it in mechanically distinct ways. There will be madness rules, and while I always want to add in Pendragon-esque personality traits and passions, I think I might be able to stay my hand this time.

*Actually, by the rules, busking is one of the best ways to make money in the cities of the Old World. It's certainly better than much low-skilled labouring, which barely pays well enough to keep a character fed and housed. 42 shillings to support a character for an 8 day week. That's just over 5/- per day. It's 2/- per night to sleep on the floor in a common room of an inn, and 3/- is the minimum a character can spend on (pre-prepared) food and remain healthy. Okay, so you might be able to live even more cheaply than that, of you are not renting a patch of floor and have the space and equipment to prepare your own food. But still, it is realistically (for a grimdark game) hand to mouth. Buskers, however, so long as they make a Fel test, make 1d4+1 GOLD CROWNS every hour. If they fail, they still make 1d6 pennies. Why, in the name of Sigmar, would our characters even think of battling Chaos when they could prance in the street and live like dancing kings?  

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