Sunday, November 20, 2016

Character Creation: Tales of WynD'mere

Once more into the breach, dear friends. If I can get one character a week done, assuming I don't buy any more RPGs (ha), I'll be done with this project in just shy of five years. (That's actually less than I'd have thought, though of course I've only done 21 characters this year, which is pretty pathetic. Maybe I can make up the difference over Xmas break. LOL.)

The Game: Tales of WynD'mere
The Publisher: Shield of Faith Studios
Degree of Familiarity: None. I'm reading it as I go, but it's not showing me anything new.
Books Required: Just the one.

Tales of WynD'mere is a high fantasy game, but it suffers from the same problem a lot of fantasy games do: It doesn't have a reason to exist beyond "D&D doesn't quite scratch the designer's itch anymore."

The game talks about...well, have a look (I can't c/p because they fucking disabled that in the PDF):'s an RPG? Like, none of that speaks to theme or interesting setting or anything. It's just "you've got options, man!" Well, yeah, this is true of literally every other RPG ever.

Anyway, this game came out in 2001, which was the same year I got hired by White Wolf, so I guess I can't be upset that it reads like an old game. I have this weird blind spot where if a game's on PDF I keep thinking it's current. Obviously this is not the case.

So, character creation proceeds in six steps. What I find interesting, though, is this:

Basically instead of defining a starting character by level, we're defining the character by heritage or formative events. I mean, sure, this is how Fate works, so it's not exactly groundbreaking now, but again, 2001 game. Plus I like lifepaths, so maybe this won't be terrible.

Well, Step One is primary stats. There are (good lord) 12 of them, and I get (holy cats) 200 points to divvy up. Of note: This is a percentile system, which means that anything below 50 is going to suck in play, no matter what the book says is "average."

But on we go! And since we're putting stats before lifepaths (Life Aspects, I guess), it's hard to do concept. I really like playing magic users in fantasy settings, so probably that's what I'll wind up doing.

Will Power (why two words? Dunno!)

A lot of overlap there, I think. Reflexes is "instinctive reaction speed" while Coordination is "hand-eye coordination." I dunno. Seems redundant. Anyway, I've been watching Voltron of late and I enjoy how Hunk is big and beefy but isn't dumb, he's actually very technically adept. I'm interested to know if I can make a slow, strong, steady magic-user. Dividing my points evenly puts them at 16 each with 8 left over, just for reference.

So let's say:
Strength 20, Reflexes 10, Coordination 10, Endurance 18, Health 17, Judgement 19, Perception 15, Empathy 21 (it includes supernatural perception), Will Power 20, Memory 12, Presence 18, Grace 20. Sounds good.

Now Life Aspects. I get one Background, two Major, and three Minor, but they're drawn from some of the same pools (it's not well presented, so this may take me a minute).

OK, so the aspects have different benefits depending on whether you take them as major or minor, and Background (which is where you spent your youth/adolescence) counts a major. Got it. I see my dude as being a man of the land, so I'll take Rural Upbringing as his Background aspect. That means I get 100 Skills Points to the Domestic, Rural skill list (I am already dreading Skills), 15 to the Huntsman skill list, and 80 to any mix of Domestic, Rural, Laborer, Smithing, and Woodworking. Okies.

Now for the Majors. Feels like I should do magic here. Oh, actually, before I do that I'll take Guild Training as a Major Aspect. I think it makes sense that my dude did some work with his hands back on the farm, and then got into an apprenticeship to better his fortunes. So that gives me 150 skill points to one of: Apothecary, Artisan, Laborer, Performance, Physician, Smithing, or Woodworking. And then 30 more points in one of those lists, and then 15 points in General Education.

Magical Studies has several sub-paths to choose from. I think Enchantment makes the most sense, though I'm also intrigued by Summoning (maybe for a Minor Aspect). I get 30 Skill Points to Mana Gathering, 10 to Magical Conflict Reaction, 25 to Read/Write Magical Glyphs, 130 to Animation, Boons, Curses or Ensorcellment, and then 65 to spend on any of those or Alchemy, Artificer, or Sage. I'll say one thing, you can't say this game doesn't give you options.

Right, now three Minor Paths. I think I do want Summoning. That gives me 15 to Mana Gathering, 25 to Read/Write Magical Glyphs, 50 to Object, Creature, or Demonic, and 30 to those or Artificer, Alchemy, or Sage.

I feel like I should have something combat-related, here. I'll take Hunter/Gatherer as a Minor Aspect. That gives me 15 to Melee Conflict Reaction, 50 to Huntsman, and 30 to Huntsman, Scout, Weapons (Commoner) or Wilderness Survival.

Last one. How about Combat Sorcery? That gives me 15 to Mana Gathering, 25 to Read/Write Magical Glyphs, 50 to Elemental Combat, Warcraft, or Psychic Combat, and 30 to those or Artificer, Alchemy, or Sage.

Oof. OK, now what? Secondary Stats. I assume there's nothing in other traits that'll change these (ha). I do all the math (and holy shit, there is no consistency to these formulae), and the only one I'm missing is base damage because it's a class, not a number, and I have to look it up. Blearhg.

OK, now Skills & Spells! I am really hoping this is going to be easier than I think. LOL NOPE. We've got this stupid "spend X to buy the base skill, then spend Y to raise it" going on. WHY WHY WHY ok let's do this. Some of the things I get from Life Aspects are Skills (like Read/Write Magic Glyphs) and some are Skill lists (most of them). So I'll fill in the skills first and then figure out the paths.

Not as many as I'd have liked. Let's figure out one Skill, then I've gotta go shopping. Right now I've got 75 in Read/Write Magical Glyphs. Assuming I won't put any more points into it (I won't), I spend 30 to buy it at the base level (Memory x 3, or 36) and then it's 6 more per 1 point I raise it. JESUS CHRIST. I can raise it another 7.5 points; assuming fractions fall away, that puts my score at 37. That's pathetic.

Anyway. I've been gone for a few hours shopping, but you didn't notice because that's how text works. Why do I always seem to pick these long-ass chargen systems when I have other things to do? Probably because I always have other things to do. Ah, well.

So Mana Gathering. I have 60 points right now to dump in. I get base for 25 (which is 20) plus another 7. 27. Ugh. Well, I have a shitload of other points I could dump in there. Or I could just say fuck it and speed this up. Yeah, that one.

Melee Conflict Reaction: Same drill. Ha! I can't even buy it, the base cost is 20 and I only have 15. Nice going, guys. Moving on. Domestic, Rural. I have 100 points and then possibly 80 more that I could use.

THERE IS A SKILL FOR WELL-DIGGING. WHAT. IS. NO. Fuck it, I'm taking it. I take Butchery, Cooking, Agriculture, and Animal Handling, too. I bump my skill in Animal Handing up to 59 because I think it'll be what I'd actually roll, but really who the fuck knows.

You know what? Let's list what I have left to do:

Huntsman 65
Domestic, Rural, Laborer, Smithing, or Woodworking: 80
Apothecary, Artisan, Laborer, Performance, Physician, Smithing, or Woodworking: 180
Gen Ed: 15
30 to Huntsman, Scout, Weapons (Commoner) or Wilderness Survival

JFC. OK. I seriously need to finish this and do my game prep for tomorrow.

So, Huntsman: Skinning Lore costs 10, Tracking costs 20 and I'll dump the rest of my points into that, plus one from the other thing, and put it up to 32. Let's check Woodworking. The only one that makes sense is Carpentry, so I'll just put all my points there, which puts me to 55, making me a fairly skilled carpenter.

I regret ever doing this character. I regret buying this game. It came with the Haiti bundle. Next time, may the earthquake strike WynD'mere instead.

Ahem. Moving on. I have OH FUCK ME 180 points in various things. Fine, let's get this over with. I know there's nothing else in Woodworking I want, so how about Laborer? No, not really. Apothecary? Eh. Artisan? Oh, here we go. Tanner fits in with my other skills, as does Tailor. I'll take those two and split the other 150 points among them. I'm a pretty skilled tanner, too.

Gen Ed: I only have 15, which is enough to buy a base but not increase the score. Fine, I speak a language. I'll leave it blank; if I had a group, I'd pick whatever language was most useful but then, if I had a group that wanted to play this I'd kill them out of mercy and put their bodies in my crawl space.

Finally, I have 29 more points for that last group. I'll take Bola because I need a weapon, and up it by 5 whole points with the remainder. Yay.

Oh, fuck me, I need to do magic. OMG I hate everything. 130 to Animation, Boons, Curses or Ensorcellment, and then 65 to spend on any of those or Alchemy, Artificer, or Sage. 50 to Object, Creature, or Demonic, and 30 to those or Artificer, Alchemy, or Sage. 50 to Elemental Combat, Warcraft, or Psychic Combat, and 30 to those or Artificer, Alchemy, or Sage. Let's see how this works!

Spoiler: Same way as for skills, basically. I think I want Animation to be my main focus for magic. I'll take Chaotic Movement (a 20-lb thing flies about randomly) and Directed Movement (a 20-lb thing flies where I tell it). The bases cost me 35 from my 130, giving me a base score of 27, which sucks. Let's see. 47 points into Chaotic ups my score by 15, and 48 into Directed ups the score by 12. FINE. Oh, wait, got 50 more. I'll take Autonomous Movement, just because the math is easy. That's Enchantment, then.

Summoning! I can't decide if it makes more sense for him to conjure objects or animals. I'm good with both. I think I'll go with objects; I think he feels weird about summoning animals and then skinning them. So Conjure Crafted Materials costs 25 for the base, and then 55 more points translates to a score of 38.

Finally, Combat Sorcery. Elemental Combat seems like my jam, here. I'll take Elemental Blast and Elemental Wall (and say it's Stone for both of them). 50 buys me the bases, and then 15 each buys me up to an even 30 for each score.

Now I do Fortes and Failings. I get 5 Goody Points to buy Fortes. I am not making this up and I hate everything about it. Normally I take flaws for more points, but I am not doing that here. I'll take Robust Physique (more Body Points and a higher Wound Threshold) and Minimalist (I get by with minimal sleep and food).

Last step is a history and a name. Normally at this point I would read a bit about the setting and tie my character in, but I just don't care. Seriously, I have made characters for some shitty games, but very few suck the fun out of chargen like this one.

OK, but I approach chargen as earnestly as I can. So. This guy's name is Hrundle. Hrundle was the son of a farmer - his family raised cattle and sold meat, hide, and milk. But Hrundle had a clever mind for carpentry, too, and after he redesigned the barns to fit more cows during milking season, a nearby family suggested he go and become an apprentice carpenter. Hrundle learned how to build things and got an offer to join a caravan traveling to a city, and figuring he could send money home to his family, he joined up.

One of the other folks traveling with him was a very powerful mage, and recognized some potential in Hrundle. He started teaching Hrundle how to infuse magic into the world, and Hrundle feels pretty good about his learning so far; eventually he wants to learn how to make magical items, but so far his infusing is pretty basic (just making things move or appear).

Sounds good. Fun character to play in a better game.