Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Character creation (mostly) complete

I have a confession to make.

Those after-play reports people have on other blogs? The ones they say that no one ever reads, that are the least popular posts?

They're my favorite part of this whole blog thing. In fact, reading through Peter D's campaign log is what convinced me to start on this project originally. It's what made me aware that the OSR exists.

So, with that out of the way, what follows is a play report, of sorts. Okay, not really, but it's the first player-side progress toward actually playing through what I've been working on. Last night, people made characters. (I brought my notes to continue my conversion work, but that didn't happen; instead I helped people with various questions, as expected.)

We have a fairly large table, but not absurdly so, at seven players plus GM. This means that players can cover all the bases, and they gladly did so - we have a knight, a wizard, a thief, and a cleric. We also have a druid, scout, and barbarian, meaning we have representatives of every acceptable class except bards and holy warriors. The lack of bards didn't surprise me - all of the players are sunk into the mindset that bards are useless - but the lack of a paladin analogue was curious. I'd think that, going into someplace named a Temple of Elemental Evil, a holy warrior would be a good person to bring along.

The interesting thing here is that the whole party, save the knight, consists of elves. (The knight is a dwarf.) This was at first unintentional, though of course once we became aware of what had happened it was heartily approved as the party's identifying 'thing'. There's even talk that the next round of characters is to be all dwarves; we'll see. In any case, the bias against bards amuses me even further because everyone now has Musical Ability 1 and Voice

I'm curious to see how this works out in Hommlet. On the one hand, it's a fairly exclusively human town. On the other, there is an elven enclave a few days north that does come into the area for occasional trade and patrols, and which is politically allied with the Duchy. On the gripping hand, there's a current low-level struggle in Hommlet between the Old Faith (firmly entrenched) and the Church of St. Cuthbert, which is a newcomer but influential due to the Archbishop of Veluna's actions the last time the Temple rose to prominence. I imagine it will boil down to how they behave and to whom they talk, as it always does.

In particular, the wizard is a bit eccentric:

One of the things that was driven home to me again is that GURPS character creation takes a longer time and has many more options than pre-3rd edition D&D. This is especially marked with the pre-1st edition D&Ds, where you can roll up a new character in five minutes, including gear. By contrast, it can take hours to shape GURPS characters into being.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. The more I read, the more I come to appreciate the minimalist approach that was taken in the roots of the hobby. The thing GURPS has going for it, though, is that that extra time isn't for 'optimizing' or, to put it another way, navigating through a forest of options looking for the best fit to drive what Courtney over at Hack & Slash calls wish fulfillment. Instead, the extra time is taken to provide mechanical incentives for assuming a role. D&D is not a role-playing game, though role-playing can often happen through it. GURPS is.

That said, reliance on the templates and familiarity with the process can very much quicken that process. I can bang out a DF Knight I might want to play in half an hour. A wizard might take me a whole hour, depending on how much I dithered over the spell list. That's still not five minutes, but it's close enough to work. I don't have to be too afraid of killing characters because they're replaceable without the sacrifice of too much blood and tears on the part of the players.


  1. I'm curious -- how did you select the list of acceptable templates? I notice that martial artists and swashbucklers didn't make the cut.

    1. It was a fairly simple process of gut-checking. I don't much like monks in D&D, and swashbucklers never really seem to fit an old dungeon-crawl style, though I'm sure others would disagree. As for the other non-DF1 templates, it was easier to cut them off than include them.

      Specifically, in my mind there has always been a sharper distinction between explorative medieval fantasy, martial arts fantasy, and swashbuckling fantasy, and when they mix I can't give the resultant much gravity.

    2. I suppose I could justify it by pointing out that martial artist and swashbuckler both suffer the most by not having the full 250 point budget, but that's a back-rationalisation rather than the true cause.

  2. Have to agree that the after action reports are some of my favorite readings and why I started blogging too. I've been particularly enjoying the Dark City game reports over at Dreams in the Lich House