February 5, 2011

[Dragon Age][Rule test] Character Generation

Some time ago I've brought a copy of the Dragon Age RPG everyone is talking about.
Geekcentricity talks about it here
This is my game point out the differences with D&D here
Level 30 yinzer talks about character generation here
Newbie DM had fun with it here
Daniel M. Perez opened a blog about it: Dragon Age Oracle
A couple of days ago I proposed to my players to test it and received an half-hearted response, divided between players unwilling to learn a new ruleset and players eager to try the setting.

This evening I thinked that making some nice pregenerated PCs may be a way to transform the skeptical into enthousiast, while learning the rules.

So, if you are with me, let's do this together

Part 0: The base mechanism
Every roll during the game is 3d6+BONUS against a TARGET NUMBER.

Part 1: The concept
Following the player's handbook, first of all I have to come up with a concept.
My hypotesis is that I will need 3 to 5 pregenerated PC so here comes some concept:
- a noble knight who wants to be famous
- a dog handler who loves more animals than people (and who wants to be alone)
- a young circle mage who wants to be respected
- an elf gigolo who wants to be king
- a mage who want(ed) to be a warrior
I was phrasing these in a different way, but the common area seems to be the "wants to be" part

Ok, 5 concepts are out in the wild. Let see what I can do with them.

Comment: Uh. The concept first? That's a nice roleplaying thing, if you are free anough to follow your concept. In this case the possibility to make different concepts allows me to do some math before chooosing which concept use, but if I was making my character that can be leading me to frustrating situations.

Part 2: Abilities
Dragon Age characters are based on 8 abilities that range from -2 to 4.
I have to roll 3d6 8 times and confront the result with a table. The average value is 1. The scores are assigned in order to the abilities.
Abilities are: Communication, Constitution, Cunning, Dexterity, Magic, Perception, Strenght, Willpower

My first 8 rolls are: 9, 9, 12, 14, 7, 16, 9, 15 that translates in the following values:
Communication: 1
Constitution: 1
Cunning: 2
Dexterity: 2
Magic: 0
Perception: 3
Strenght: 1
Willpower: 3

Nice rolls! 4 above the average and only one below.
Now I can swap 2 ability score, if I want, I decide to swap Dexterity with magic.
Communication: 1
Constitution: 1
Cunning: 2
Dexterity: 0
Magic: 2
Perception: 3
Strenght: 1
Willpower: 3
I think that this one will be the concept #5: the mage who wanted to be a warrior.
My boy (or girl) is not fit enough to become a powerful warrior and when he discovered to have magic powers inside him, decided to hide them.

Comment: This part is really quick. You have a limited choice option, switching two numbers, but besides that your character is pretty random. If I wanted a fighter that would be a lousy one (I suppose)

Part 3: Background
Given what I've said (the hidden magic powers and the unwillingness to become a Circle Mage) the Background is forcibly the Apostate one.
At this point some bonuses apply.
+1 to Willpower (Willpower 3 becomes 4) Isn't he stubborn?
I choose to get the ability FOCUS: Willpower (Self-discipline) Maybe because my apostate had military training?
I decided for the evergreen Human
The background tells me that I speak the Trade Tongue (read Common)
Obviously my class is the Mage

Ok. At this point I have to roll 2d6 2 more times on a table to get a couple of random bonuses depending on background and race. My first roll is a 5 that corresponds to FOCUS: Willpower (Self-discipline), but I already have that so I have to reroll.
Next roll: 7 (+1 Magic) (Magic 2 becomes 3) Gosh! This guy is kinda talented in something he doesen't want to do!
Next roll: 7 again. Reroll.
Next roll: 3 FOCUS: Consitution (Stamina). Probably working out paid a little.

Comment: More random attributes. I don't know if I like all this randomness. It's nice to lose some of the matemathical control over your PC, but if you are unlucky this can be frustrating soon. I know which ones of my players will definitely hate to make characters in this ruleset.

Part 4: The class
Fixed choice here. I've an apostate background, so I must be a mage. That gives me some additional values:
Health: 23 (20+Constitution+1d6)
Weapon groups: Brawling and staves.

To level up I will also know that for a mage abilities are split as follow
Primary abilities: Cunning, Magic, Willpower
Secondary abilities: the other ones

At first level a mage gets some powers
Mana Points: 17 (10+MAGIC+1d6) Casting spells (successfully or not) requires Mana points.
Arcane Lance is a ranged attack not requiring ammounitions or Mana points and dealing 1d6+3 damages (1d6+MAGIC). 
Magic Training that allows me to choose 3 spells to start with. (More later about that)
Starting talent: Chirurgy I can choose also Linguistics or Lore, but they seems fit less in my concept. I can justify Chirurgy serving with a mercenary group or an army. Given my poor physical abilities they removed me from the front lines to make me attend the wounded.

Comment: The class is pretty straightforward. All mages start with almost the same abilities and the other classes are the same. Mechanically there is no difference between a scout, a spy, a thief, a beggar, an assassin (all rogues). In a 6 player group you will have a lot of mechanically similar characters.

Part 5: The equipment!
For free i get:
- a backpack
- traveler's garb
- a waterskin
- a wand
- a weapon. I choose a morning star (1d6+3 damage). Even if requires strenght 1 feels more military then a staff and probably is some kind of souvenir of my past.
No armor for me, right now. I have to consider if I can buy and/or wear one.
I can start also with 66 silver pieces. My last paycheck?

Comment: Quick and easy the starting gear is again a lot standardized, but I don't think that bothers me.

Part 6: Derived numbers
After getting the equipment I need to calculate my defense value and speed value.
These stats tell me that I'm really easy to hit and I can't run very fast. Getting far from the fight can be a good idea.

Part 6: The name!
The player's handbook provides me with some common name.
If this is a man it will be Garrick of Deepwater, if it's a girl I'll go with Kelsie of Deepwater

Part 7: The spells
To chose the spells I have to understand the basic mechanisms first.
- every spell consumes a fixed points of mana, depending on the spell. If I wear armor this cost increases.
CASTING ROLL: 3d6+3 To cast a spell I have to do a check 3d6+MAGIC+FOCUS (but right now I can't have a focus) and compare it with the spell's target number, that goes from 10 to 13.
SPELLPOWER: 13 (10+MAGIC+FOCUS). My target, if I cast an harmful spell, gets a check to save himself from part of the spell's effects. That roll has as target number my spellpower 

Let's do some simple math, ok?
These are the odds of rolling numbers with 3d6
3 = .463%
4 = 1.39%
5 = 2.78%
6 = 4.63%
7 = 6.94%
8 = 9.72%
9 = 11.57%
10 = 12.5%
11 = 12.5% 
12 = 11.57% 
13 = 9.72% 
14 = 6.94% 
15 = 4.63%
16 = 2.78%
17 = 1.39% 
18 = .463% 

Casting the easiest spell requires Garrick/Kelsie to roll 7 or more (3d6+3 TN:10) 
If I have to roll 7 to succeed I have approximatively a 90.8% chance of doing it.
Chances are getthing thinner as difficulty rises.
It's time for a little table, don't you think?

-2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 MAGIC
10 37.5% 50% 62.5% 74% 84% 91% 95.5% 98%
11 26% 37.5% 50% 62.5% 74% 84% 91% 95.5%
12 16% 26% 37.5% 50% 62.5% 74% 84% 91%
13 9% 16% 26% 37.5% 50% 62.5% 74% 84%

Having Magic of 3 is good, but I don't think that, with only 3 spells in the arsenal, choosing a spell with a TN of 13 is a wise choice.

Besides that, if you substitute the TN in the table with the SPELLPOWER and the MAGIC with the appropriate attribute, you can easily calculate the chance an enemy creature have to resiste  my spells.

So, my first choice is Heal. If this is the only mage, it's better he knows how to keep everyone alive.
Second spell: Stonefist Although is one of the spells with less flavour, does penetrating damage and can knock prone an enemy.
Third spell: Flame Blast. An area spell.

Heal costs1 to 3 MP (Mana Points), while the other spells costs 3 MP. That means I can roughly cast 5 offesnsive spells and 2 small heals before running out of MP. Not a lot, but resting one hour will give me back 1d6+3 MP, so I think this is manageable.

Comments: Choosing spells was the hardest part, because involved some math and every spell has PROs and CONs. Spells looks useful, but not overpowered. Sadly spells have only combat purposes.

And with this the character is complete. Still missing a full story for him/her and still missing goals and ties, but htese will come after the others characters are complete.

Bonus Part: The picture
I want to hand my players some good artwork to picture their character and artwork means a little trip to deviantart.com

If I find something good, next time I will deliver the full character sheet complete with pictures!

Want to try it?
(UK) (USA) (IT) (DE) (FR)
NOTE: If you buy from here I will get a little income, with no extra cost for you. Just to be straight.

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