Sunday, March 2, 2014

System-Neutral Character Rankings

Intended to be adaptable to leading fantasy role-playing games, Calidar does not feature a specific set of mechanics. Storytelling, flavor, and background information are the main goals. Guidelines presented here should nonetheless help referees make decisions on how best to render heroes and monsters in their game systems. Though a rating system is provided below, the intended game system’s mechanics should take precedence. Game masters should use their best judgement as regards style vs. accuracy.

This preview is posted here ostensibly to garner important feedback as to what you feel is missing, impractical, or unclear from a gaming standpoint. As promised in Calidar’s Kickstarter, a section in the final product will provide actual stats and mechanics for Pathfinder to better translate NPCs, monsters, equipment, and spells.

Ranks and Toughness: There are four general career paths in the World of Calidar which are independent from races—warriors (W), priors (P), mages (M), and rogues (R). Though uncommon, heroes with multiple professions are allowable. How far heroes progress along their career paths is measured in Ranks ranging from 1 to 100—one being a novice and 100 the highest that can be achieved. For example: for a Rank 50 hero of Calidar (Rk50) in a game where 30 is considered the top end, 15 would be the resulting career experience. Monsters unique to Calidar are treated in the same manner. Profession and rank abbreviations can be combined; for example W10 designates a rank 10 warrior.

Creatures and objects (such as ships and structures) have an innate capacity to sustain damage, which is labeled here as Toughness (Tn). Since they are often connected with heroes’ or monsters’ Ranks, Tn scores only address any randomness involved in the intended game’s mechanics. For example: Tn50 refers to an average score.

Basic Aptitudes: All other scores are based on a 1-20 scale, (20 being best, excluding superhuman or godly scores). Basic aptitudes define heroes and monsters, as appropriate: Physical Strength (Ps), Body Agility (Ba), Manual Dexterity (Md), Stamina (St), Mental Acuity (Ma), Intuition (In), and Charm (Ch). Ignore aptitudes that aren’t available in the intended game, or adapt as appropriate. Body Agility is relevant to dancers, acrobats, and fencers, while Manual Dexterity concerns pick-pockets, magicians, and clockmakers. A Morale rating (Mo) is also included.

Defense (De): Combat involves the ability to avoid sustaining damage, expressed as Defense, on a 1-20 scale (20 being best, excluding superhuman or godly scores). Though scores are given here as guidelines, those more appropriate to the intended game’s mechanics take precedence based on a hero’s equipment, a monster type, or adjustments resulting from basic aptitudes. Damage (Dmg) is generally not listed here, as it depends on a hero’s equipment or a monster’s type and rank. Exceptions include creatures unique to this setting, in which case damage is rated on a 1-20 scale, as above, based on the top range of damage monsters can inflict in the intended game.

Adjustments: If mentioned in this book, they are listed as plus or minus modifiers (+1 defense vs. poison, +2 magical sword, -1 penalty to agility checks, etc), as appropriate to the intended game. Unless scales are very different, adjustments listed here (on a 1-20 range) are likely to be identical to those for the intended game. Referees should use their best judgement in this regard.

Personality (Pr): Heroes and monsters behave in ways that best correspond to their natures. As a shorthand approach to defining personality, creatures reflect two aspects: ideology (Rational vs. Sentimental) and ethos (Good vs. Evil). A rational creature follows its head and favors logic, materialism, and structure. A sentimental one follows its heart and prefers feelings, hunches, personal relations, and ad hoc behavior. Heroes and monsters can be defined using any combination of the two aspects, such as RG, RE, SG, or SE, with any neutral attitudes mitigating either ethos or ideology. For example, an RN hero would be neither good nor evil, but have rational ideology.

Sample Character: Melchia

This Alorean gnome was a servant at the Tòrr-Gàrraidh palace in Tarkeen, the capital city of Alorea. She also worked as an agent of a secret brotherhood of Sherandol elves seeking to overthrow the Sòldor hold on power. After a failed attempt to spy on the Tòrr-Gàrraidh, she fled Alorea and was subsequently captured by Kragdûras dwarves. Using blackmail to threaten a kin of hers on Kragdûr, the dwarves forced her to work for them. Her mission now is to infiltrate northwestern Alfdaín on Calidar, to identify elves capturing Belledor gnomes and sell them to Alorean slavers. The purpose of the mission is to put other gnomish agents on the slavers’ path so they may be taken to Alorea.

Melchia, daughter of Siffa Bloodstone, is a resourceful and determined adventurer. Her brown and green hair and wood-hued skin blend in well with a sylvan background. She wears a natural-colored blouse, long skirt, and house boots. She has an eight-legged Alorean cat as a companion and scout named Khalis.

Melchia: Gnome M15, Tn 50, Ps 9, Ba 17, Md 18, St 16, Ma 19, In 14, Ch 13, Mo 13, Pr RG. Abilities: casts illusion spells as a Rk 15 mage. Equipment: messenger scroll (the other half lies in the hands of a Kragdûras master spy on Kragdûr). Note: apparent age equivalent to a young adult human.

Khalis: eight-legged tabby cat, Tn 100, Ps 3, Ba 20, Md n/a, St 16, Ma 6, In 10, Ch n/a, Mo 7, Pr SN. Abilities: can sense her master’s emotions through empathy; can walk on vertical or inverted surfaces without difficulty regardless of gravity or lack thereof; in combat, can claw four times and bite once.