Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Against the Giants Characters


I got a super-nice compliment on the pre-generated characters I use for my "Against the Giants" games (from Paul, over here), so I figured I might present them here in their entirety if anyone else is interested in investigating them. I am using the same characters throughout my multi-year convention run of the G1-3 series (which is particularly great when the same player uses the same PC consistently, as does Paul).

Click here to download the PDF document (124KB).

When I drafted the PCs last year, part of my motivation was to show all the possibilities allowed under my OED house rules (which I feel is really just the closest interpretation I could make of what's actually written in Original D&D, Vol-1). There are 3 straight fighters, 2 wizards, and 1 thief (all humans); 1 halfling thief, 1 dwarf fighter/thief, 1 elf thief/wizard, 1 elf fighter/wizard, and 1 human fighter/wizard.

All of the characters are made with 250,000 XP, assuming that multi-class characters can just split XP between classes pretty much at will (which is my best reading of the Vol-1, p. 8 language for elves; really on a per-adventure basis), with the normal level caps and 16+ ability score requirement for non-elf multi-classers in force (suggested on OD&D Vol-1, p. 10, under "Changing Character Class"). Because of the level caps, you'll notice that it's advantageous for most of the high-level demi-humans to add the Thief class, because that will be unlimited in level even when other classes are capped (so as not to waste any of the 250K experience points). The elven fighter/wizard is included because that's a standard expectation, even though both classes are maxed out (at levels 4/8), and thus may not be an optimal choice. The human fighter/wizard is included to show that's allowed just the same, too (reminiscent of AD&D's dual-classing); and in fact, he's an excellent choice since neither class is capped (generating levels 8/9), and he also has really nice ability scores.

The ability scores and magic items were all rolled randomly, with some minor tune-ups on my part (for example, ability scores for these high-level characters were rolled 4d6-drop-low in order; reroll one score; and swap two as desired for the class). The names were picked from a random online generator that Paul & I are both really fond of (even though the creator himself is pretty disparaging of his own work: here). The spellbooks for the wizards were also rolled randomly, with some slight tuning on my parts after identifying a theme to the character's name and magic items (usually at most 1-2 spell substitutions per level).

Note that the fighters also get some Feats (1 per 4 levels; i.e., 2 feats each at levels 8-11 here), as indicated in my OED house rules (and first seen in Fight On! #9). They're mostly explained on the character sheets, and in general they represent the sum of 2 individual feats each from standard 3E style rules (with emphasis as a way to generalize Gygaxianisms such as: exceptional strength from OD&D Sup-I; extra attacks from the AD&D PHB; or weapon specialization from the AD&D UA).

Keep in mind that as play starts, I also give the players the opportunity to add any other mundane item from the basic equipment list to their characters (no ships!), and the whole party also gets 3 jugs of 6 healing potions each (previously 2; I increased it for this adventure). Note that with clerics removed from the picture, there's no debate about how heavily the cleric player needs to stock up on healing spells; and there's no chance of the cleric character getting knocked out and having all of the party's healing resource lost. As DM, I can gauge how much magical healing the party should have, and provide them with that amount directly.

For the G2 adventure in particular, all of the PCs had "cold weather outfit" (1 stone) added to their equipment, and in several cases this slowed down certain PCs (switching from 12" move to 9"). I also converted all the potions of fire resistance to potions of cold resistance (which is technically a new item, just working like fire resistance in reverse).

Until very recently, I kept all of my D&D PC records on index cards, which I felt was very convenient. However, of late I realized there were some limitations to those: (1) They're hard to digitize into a document that can be easily printed or distributed online (like here), (2) Since I was filling them in by hand, if anyone wrote on them in a game I'd have to redo the whole thing by hand, (3) Since the back was used for equipment, the sum resources of the character were not visible to the player at any one time (necessitating flipping front & back repeatedly in play; making it easy to forget about certain magic items). So instead I now put each character on one side of a 5.5x8" sheet. The spellbook rosters are designed so players can just circle the spells the memorize for the adventure (simplified by my no-duplicate-spells rule), and erase as they get used. The whole collection is kept in a black, 3-ring binder of the same size.

There was actually one other very interesting character that got cut between last year & this year: Kari the Saber, a lawful elven fighter/thief (level 4/10) with gauntlets of ogre power and an intelligent +2 sword with detect evil (named "Heartseeker" by my player last year). Low intelligence and wisdom, but high everything else (strength 20 with the magic gauntlets). She made quite an impact last year, but got wiped out this year after I made a poll on how to generalize elven multi-classing, and the result was to run with "wizard, plus one other class". Since Kari had no wizard level, she would be in violation of this new ruling. (Potentially an elven character like this could exist, if she left the starting wizard class fallow at 1st-level, had a 16+ in either Str or Dex, and then added the fighter or thief class later on -- neither of which Kari would qualify for. But perhaps a modified version of her will show up later as powerful, driven-mad villain!)

5 comments:

  1. Ah against the Giants, such a classic module!

    I always think thats something missing from gaming in the modern era, back in the day these big modules formed a sort of collective experiance for players around the world, and meeting up with other players to share tales of past exploits was always an enlightening experience, there were so many ways to go about completing an adventure!

    Last time I ran some players through an old school module was 'Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh', the players managed to sneak into the mansion round the back and completely missed the first half of the adventure, running straight to the end so fast I had to rework the entire adventure in my head! Really reminded me what was missing from gaming nowadays, and it certainly kept me on my toes :D Dragons in Dungeons

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  2. I understand some of the reasons you cut clerics from your game and that's certainly your prerogative. But I have to chuckle that your solution to replace their healing abilities is to provide players with jugs of healing potion.

    I can see how it leads to a more predictable and easier to design for resource management game. But it seems like something is lost without that uncertainty-- the players having to decide "should we turn back now, rest up and come back, or press on?"

    I suppose that's less of an issue in a tournament game, where the points system/time limit may encourage players to push on at any cost.

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  3. dungeonmaster: I definitely agree with that, the shared experience of the classic modules is a bit of a loss. Probably unavoidable after the point when there were only a dozen or so on the market (and the same can be said for lots of other media, too).

    Telecanter: The leave-and-rest issue is still on the table, both in regards to (a) wizard spells, and (b) natural healing after potions are used up.

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  4. I'm curious (and maybe I just didn't see it), but where are the saving throws?

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  5. Hey mntnjeff -- Good question. I actually don't need those on the sheet because I use a formula that I can just tell the players at game time. Equivalently, it's like I'm actually consulting the D&D chart instead of documenting it on the sheet. (The formula which models the chart is d20+level+mod >= 20, where "mod" is a +0 to +4 bonus depending on save type: see here.)

    I find it really helpful, actually, because PC saves come up rarely for me (once every other hour?), there usually aren't any modifiers to it (unlike attacks), and it really saves clutter on the sheet (especially important for parsing by new players, and in one-off games).

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