Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Races for DCC RPG!

After removing the “demihuman-ness” of the Elf, Dwarf and Halfling classes from the DCC Corebook (check it here), I tried to create - forgive me for 3rd Edition jargon - small templates with races. Although of late I much prefer personalized classes (like it is done in the excellent Adventurer Conqueror King RPG), I’m not against using races. In particular, I quite like how older versions of D&D did it. In the LBBs, it can be argued that Dwarf, Elf and Hobbits/Halflings are presented as a group of modifications for the Fighting Man class (and for the Magic User if we’re talking of Elves). Holmes explains it a lot better in his D&D.

That said, here’s another “dirty and cheap” hack for those times you want an Elven Prince (Elf Warrior), a Dwarven Dungeoncrawler (Dwarf Thief) or maybe a Feral-cannibal Halfling from the Wastes (Halfling Warrior).

These races should - theoretically - work for the Cleric, Thief, Warrior and Wizard classes of the Corebook (and you can try to mix them with the Scout, Defender, Rogue and Warlock). Finally, remember: instead of choosing race separately you can still play with a normal Elf, Dwarf or Halfling class.

You gain the following traits:
Infravision: A dwarf can see in the dark up to 60’.
Slow: A dwarf has a base movement speed of 20’, as opposed to 30’ for humans.
Underground Skills: Long life beneath the ground trains dwarves to detect certain kinds of construction. When underground, dwarves receive a bonus to detect traps, slanting passages, shifting walls, and other new construction equal to their class level. Additionally, a dwarf can smell gold and gems. A dwarf can tell the direction of a strong concentration of gold or gems within 100’. Smaller concentrations, down to a single coin, can still be smelled but require concentration and have scent ranges as low as 40’ (for a single coin or gem). Instead of smelling gold, you can pick one of these alternate supernatural traits for your Dwarf.

Languages: At 1st level, you automatically knows Common and a dwarven racial language.

You gain the following traits:
Infravision: An elf can see in the dark up to 60’.
Immunities: Elves are immune to magical sleep and paralysis.
Vulnerabilities: Elves are extremely sensitive to the touch of iron. Direct contact over prolonged periods causes a burning sensation, and exposure at close distances makes them uncomfortable. An elf may not wear iron armor or bear the touch of iron weapons for extended periods. Prolonged contact with iron causes 1 hp of damage per day of direct contact.
Heightened Senses: Elves are astute and observant. All elf characters receive a +4 bonus to detect secret doors. Moreover, when simply passing within 10 feet of a secret door, elves are entitled to a check to detect it.

Languages: At 1st level, you automatically knows Common and an elven racial language.

You gain the following traits:
Infravision: A halfling can see in the dark up to 30’.
Small size: Halflings are 2 to 4 feet tall, and the stoutest among them weights no more than 70 pounds. This small size allows them to crawl into narrow passages and through tiny holes. Because of his size, a Halfling can suffer limitation with weapons granted by some classes, like Warrior.
Breakfast before elevenses: If a Halfling eats double rations before elevenses, let him roll a d4. He recover that much in Luck. This ability can only be used once per day, obviously.
Stealth: Halflings are quite good at sneaking around. They receive a bonus to sneaking silently and hiding in shadows depending on their class level, as shown on table 1-18 of the Halfling class. This can be used in the same manner as a thief’s abilities. If you gain the ability to move silently from your class (like the Thief or the Rogue), use the best bonus.
Languages: At 1st level, you automatically knows Common and a halfling racial language.

Where is the Good Luck Charm trait?
I removed this trait because I think it doesn't mesh well with other classes - especially the Thief and the Rogue. Besides, there are plenty of potential for abuse in min/maxing Good Luck Charm with other classes, so let’s leave it as a “niche” trait of the Halfling class (but not the Halfling Race). Instead of that, those halflings that don’t follow the Halfling class (confusing… I know) gain a new trait - Breakfast before elevenses - inspired by the awesome Heroic Fantasy.

You gain the following traits:
Beloved of the gods: a human can reroll one of his check, before the Judge announces the result, once per day.

Why are the humans beloved of the gods?
To give them a little boost now that Elves, Dwarves and Halflings can carry some of their racial advantages to other classes.

According to the LBBs that is also an Elf...take that Tolkien!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Getting ideas from Birth Augurs (Part III)

The final part! (Sorry, I’m late, I know…). You can read Part I and Part II if you like.

- Struck by lightning: for this Augur I’m going to avoid the Positive/Negative descriptions because the main idea here is the same - you survived an impossible situation. Call it a lightning, a meteor strike, a dragon attack etc. You survived something that should have killed your PC. Get creative. Extrapolate. If your Luck is a positive modifier, the Judge is encouraged to flavor the description, saying how your PC, of the entire party, is the one that usually get out of a situation unscatched. If you have a neutral or negative Luck modifier, then Death is still trying to even the score.
- Lived through famine: Another “Grim & Perilous” Augur! (Positive) You survived the Plague! Or the Great Famine (and the following “Ghoul Spring”). Or a nuclear winter! Actually, maybe you were raised by orcs/goblins/insert-here-unsanitary-humanoids. Either way, you survived in a place where civilized folk usually die. How you managed that? A dark pact or divine blessing? A mysterious MacGuffin? Some weird birthmark? (Negative) OK, maybe you didn’t literally survived through the famine. Not whole, at least. Maybe you and Death are now tavern buddies (you have a bone white complexion and hardly seems to breath). Or maybe you actually died and was brought back… changed. Do you require any special medicine or weird ritual to be kept alive? Perhaps you’re now Death-touched, doomed to return as one of the Damned or Un-Dead (a vampire?).
- Resisted temptation: (Positive) You’re a pious soul… if there were paladins in DCC you would be one (actually, it’s a great idea if you KNOW that you could have been a paladin but they don’t exist). Maybe you were touched by an angel or blessed by a Champion of Law with iron will. Another interesting option is that you’re (constantly) tempted by a devil. So far you’ve resisted, but the infernal is still following you around for some reason. (Negative) You sold your soul! (You were young and stupid, and at the time it was so edgy). Maybe your PC is addicted to some dark narcotic from the fallen East (purple lotus, that weird worm-spice or maybe demonblood - literally demonblood!). If you like a comedic approach your PC can have a simpler vice - you’re lecherous (human), gluttonous (halfling), greedy (dwarf) or just ridiculously vain (elf).
- Charmed house: (Positive) You have a guardian angel (not necessarily a celestial… could be a faire, an ancestor, a living spell, a very headstrong familiar). You have a phylactery and part of your soul is stored in it. You’re not completely human (if a Warrior, Cleric, Wizard or Thief) or demihuman (perhaps a dwarf with a clockwork heart or an elf with demon-blood). In Brazil we’ve the expression “corpo fechado” (closed body), which is used to describe people with supernatural protection who can’t be hurt in ordinary conditions (if you saw Unbreakable you know what I mean). If you go for a literal approach, maybe you were born in a very special or holy place, and bit of that magic is still carried by you (Rivendell, Myth Drannor, Mount Olympus, the Deadhouse etc.). (Negative) You are as fragile as glass (Unbreakable!). Maybe you’re too small or too big for your race. If you’re an Elf maybe you’re plant-like and more fragile; if you’re a Dwarf you could literally have crystalline bones. Or you could be just an elderly adventurer. Perhaps you belong to an elder race that is slowing fading from the world (a degenerated atlantean, valyrian or eldar… who knows). Perhaps the Gods hate you and want you dead or a demon lord cursed your bloodline to DOOM! (it is really very easy to come up with some weird reason for a low AC).
- Speed of the Cobra: (Positive) You do EVERYTHING fast… talk, eat, sleep (!), etc. Never stay silent or in the same place for long. If you drive your party mad, congratulations! You could be a Cleric of Mercurius, a Thief-acrobat, an amazon/rider/maratonist Warrior, a changeling (Wizard with fey blood), a fox or squirrel polymorphed in a Halfling, a Dark Sun Elf! (If you like these suggestions, allows Speed of the Cobra to also increase Speed). (Negative) If your Judge allows play an Ent (use Warrior stats)! You’re really slow, either because you always plan and ponder an action before doing it, or because you’re too big. You could play a half-earth elemental Dwarf (or just a big/old dwarf), a half-giant (Warrior), a Halfling fugitive with an adamantine ball and chain in his legs or maybe a Elf from an alternate reality who experiences problems acting in our three dimensional world. Or you could just play a REALLY stupid and slow thinking barbarian...
- Bountiful harvest: (Positive) You had to flee your home village because the locals thought you were the avatar of the spring goddess. If you’re a Cleric or an Elf, maybe life springs around you… with flowers blowing, small animals passing by etc. Maybe your excessive life force is the result a pact made by your parents with the King of Elfland or other supernatural power. If you’re a Dwarf you could be Half-Troll (and very ugly). (Negative) You look like a corpse (perhaps minus the smell). You were born in the Underworld. One of your parents was an un-dead. Maybe your bloodline was cursed by the forces of Law or Chaos. Also, read the Negative aspects of the augur Charmed House.
- Warrrior’s arm: (Positive) You’re the kind of adventurer that enjoys gore and bloodlust too much for your own good. Maybe you’re a failed apprentice of the assassin guild (that’s a cool new occupation by the way), a fugitive torturer (idem) or the unsonged son/daughter of a famous barbarian warlord (that was cast aside because you disappointed Dad-Conan). (Negative) You’re not a pacifist, but you hate killing. Or perhaps you can’t stand the sight of blood (perfect for a Cleric). You could also be a lousy fighter. [Warrior’s arm and Spellcasters: in my games I let this augur also affect spellcasting. So, if your spellcaster rolled a natural 20, you get to add the Luck modifier to the final result.]
- Unholy house: (Positive) Your resistance to Corruption could derive from celestial blood (aasimar anyone?) or more probably because you swallowed the Finger of St. Cuthbert some years ago when the plague hit you (run from the Law churches). Maybe you have a guardian angel (literally) that constantly preaches the “benefits” of a righteous and caste life. A very wicked background is that you have a perfect twin… all your Corruption is actually passed to him (a campaign villain). (Negative) The perfect augur for Wizards! If you’re a Wizard please play the cliché evil necromancer (don’t forget the maniacal laughter). If you’re a Cleric consider playing a Chaotic PC. If you’re an Elf, consider actually that you’re an evil outsider banished from the Overworld (the mutations provoked by Corruption are actually revealing your true form!). If you’re a Halfling, play Gollum! [Variant Unholy House: why let only Wizards and Elves have all the fun? If a non-arcane spellcaster rolled this augur I would give him a special ability - he can burn Stamina to gain bonuses, like Luck. Burned Stamina would return like Spellburning damage. However, every time you burn Stamina roll a d20 plus your Luck modifier against a DC of 15. If you fail, you gain a (roll 1d6) - 1-3 minor corruption, 4-5 major corruption, 6 greater corruption.]
- The Broken Star: (Positive) You escape from perils that kill or maim most persons. Why? Maybe you hid your true name or entrusted it to a supernatural patron. Or maybe you’re obsessed with your own death, so you carry an absurd amount of luck charms (and somehow all that junk works). You could be a polymorphed white rabbit. You could have four-leaf clovers on your head instead of hair (?!). Maybe you’re the only cheerful and optimistic Dwarf in the world. Or you could play a dark Elf who stole the luck of your clan through a magic mishap. (Negative) When you fail you do it epically. Maybe you’re really DOOOMED! And you know it (you did something terrible in your past). If you’re a Wizard, a Cleric of the Old Ones or an Elf, maybe Reality itself hates you and wants you dead (you’re an unnatural being after all). Because Fumbles are rolled usually only in combat, maybe you’re just craven, so check the Negative aspect of Warrior’s arm. [Variant Broken Star for Halflings: Halflings have a Good Luck Charm ability, so lets tinker with that. Maybe there are some Halflings that aren’t born lucky. They’re born wrong and are usually exiled from their boring pastoral villages. They’re cursed and called names like Redcap, Boggart or Pooka and have the Evil Eye (they’re usually also bastards). Maybe Goblins are just that… wrong Halflings. Anyway, these Halflings can only burn Luck to penalize other’s rolls.]
- Birdsong: (Positive) You have an innate knack with languages. Maybe you’re a sage, a foreign from some weird and exotic empire, or maybe a wizard did something to your head. I like to let players with this augur pick their languages during play. It’s awesome (if you saw the Antonio Bandera’s scene around the fire from the great The 13th Warrior movie you know what I’m talking about). Another cool way to personalize PCs with this augur is to pick weird languages. DCC Core Rulebook gives great ideas, like knowing to talk with horses, wolves or spiders. Go crazy from there! What if you PC could talk to rivers, trees or doors? (OK, the last one is a bit overpowered, unless the Judge rightfully determines that dungeon door are sneaky and evils liars, besides dungeon door also talk with dungeon monsters so you PC is in trouble… doors hate eavesdropping). (Negative) This one is really weird because, except for Wizards, it is difficult for most PCs to talk lots of languages. The Judge could instead declare that PCs with this augur are illiterates. But let’s make things interesting: what if your PC is cursed to only speak one language? What if that language is Demonic? If you want to make things funnier (and the PC is of particular low Intelligence), establish that he starts game knowing only 1d6+2 words. The good news? He gain +1 word per level! (Perfect for your neanderthal Warrior!).
- Wild Child: If you liked my suggestion for the Speed of the Cobra entry, which extends the Luck modifier to Speed, so please also boost Wild Child - now it increases Speed and also grants a bonus to climbing, jumping and vine swinging. (Positive) You were raised in the jungle or among a culture that considers riding to be unmanly (or a sin, because animals are sacred). You could be a Halfling Shire postman, a Dwarf tunnel runner (messengers used to run through the long and dark passages of the Underworld) or an Elf from the Sea of Grass. Play a Cleric of the Olympiad! If you’re a Wizard, play Rincewind. (Negative) OK, you’re slow. Check the Speed of the Cobra entry for ideas. Let’s take another approach here. If the “Wild Child” theme implies that someone who lives in the Wilds is fast, then play the most urbane, “sophisticated” (I mean dandy) and gregarious fellow possible (a british accent is encouraged). Criticize your “frontier” friends for their lack of manners and never forget the hour of the tea (curiously, this is the perfect augur for a “Tolkienian” Halfling).

Monday, January 8, 2018

DCC Human Classes for Sword & Sorcery

This is a “dirty and cheap” hack for playing DCC RPG in a “pure” Sword & Sorcery setting. No fuss. It all started with the idea of using races as a templates instead of classes. During my hacks for “racial templates” I came up with some “substitutes” for old demihuman classes. Yes, by “pure” S&S I mean a human setting. Here is how I would do it.

Keep the core 4 classes: Cleric, Thief, Warrior and Wizard. DCC RPG’s Cleric is so ‘hardcore’ that I don’t mind keeping it in a S&S setting (the Disapproval rule is perfect for that and if you need fluff ideas for S&S deities, please check this).

The Defender/Guardian/Protector: this is your not-Dwarf. Remove all racial stuff like Infravision, Slow and Underground Skill (specially smelling gold). Instead of that you can use your shield bash also to protect adjacent allies. When an adjacent ally is attacked, you can use your shield bash dice (a d14 at 1st) to block the enemy’s attack. If your roll is equal to or higher than the enemy’s, then your ally (our yourself!) is protected. I’m also thinking about allowing you to block attacks against your character.

The Rogue/Scoundrel: this is your not-Halfling. You’re Grey Mouser, basically. Un urbane trickster, able to fight with two weapons and how knows a little bit of magic. Remove racial stuff (Infravision and Small). You can use your Sneak & Hide bonus to cast spells from scrolls (use a d10 instead of a d20), disguise and to gathering rumors and informations while on cities. Finally, you know about curses and minor magics - this is a “reskinned” version of the Halfling’s Good Luck Charm. They’re used here to represent cantrips and minor hexes (yes, you can use Good Luck Charm to inflict penalties on your enemies’ rolls). However, every time you use this knacks you must roll a d10 - if a ‘1’ comes up you suffer some kind of misfire or backlash (as decided by the Judge). Personally, if the character was casting a hex (i.e. inflicting penalties on adversaries), I would roll a minor corruption if a ‘1’ came up. (Actually, during my first drafts with a not-Halfling class I was trying to come up with a Ranger… I couldn’t make it work. However, if you’re happy with a Scout, here is one).

The Warlock/Sorcerer: the not-Elf. As usual, remove the racial traits of Immunities, Heightened Senses and Vulnerabilities. But please, do keep Infrasion (let’s call it “Darkborn”) and add the Hide in Shadows skill from a Lawful Thief (call it “Cloak of Darkness”). You start with one Patron Taint. This class is for those that sold their souls in exchange of eldritch power, but works perfectly for heretics and “Left-Hand” adepts in general. Those that took the “easy” way. They can only use magic through a Patron.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Getting ideas from Birth Augurs (Part II)

Here are more Birth Augurs ideas and variants for DCC Corebook. You can read the first post here. I try to give ideas for PCs under the influence of each Augur, either for positive/neutral Luck modifiers or negative modifiers.

- Born under the loom: (Positive) The quintessential Jack-of-All-Trades. While this Augur is great for thieves (free skill bonus!), I find it excellent for mixing with other classes. You could be an enlightened duelist from exotic lands (a Warrior using his skill bonus for wuxia and social skills), a Cleric of the God of Thieves or Knowledge, a true Sage! (Wizard), an old rascal of a Halfling who lived a lot and did a lot, a truly ancient Elf or Dwarf. (Negative) You’re clumsy like Goofy. Maybe your “unluckiness” is legendary and small accidents happen around you all the time. Offering help is practically your way of intimidating someone! [Variant Born in the trade: I find the original Augur a little overpowered… after all, you gain a bonus to all skills! In my table that is a huge boon. So I usually allow my player, when rolling this Augur, to choose between 2 versions (or throw a coin and late Fate decide). Born in the trade is variant Augur that grant either a bonus or a penalty only to “thievery stuff” (Thief skills if you must). A positive Luck mod gives bonus to Thief skills, a negative Luck mod gives penalties. The original Born under the loom grant a bonus/penalties to all other kind of skill checks. If choose to use this variant, there are a few interesting concepts to use: you could play a holier-than-thou Cleric (Born in the trade, negative Luck) that refuses to do thieving/skulking (and sucks at it); or go for the opposite, building a paladin-like PC (Born in the trade, positive Luck) that is GREAT at thieving, but hates to do it.]
- Fox’s cunning: (Positive) You can play a PC known for his preternatural “danger sense”. Maybe your PC is touched by the Weird and suffers visions of terrible things that will happen. If you go by the “fox” part of the Augur, maybe your PC had a shapechanging fox as a parent. A simpler option is that your PC is just cunning or clever. (Negative) Traps love you! That could mean simply bad kharma. Traps could mean lots of other things besides pits and mechanical terrors. Your PC always fall for all kind of traps, with mean he/she could be gullible (a Halfling), have a way of thinking as slow as rocks (a Dwarf) or just don’t ever get how “mortals”/humans act (an Elf). Maybe your PC is one member of the party always picked by snake oil salesmen. [Variant Fox’s cunning: I like to extend this Augur’s theme to ambushes and surprise attacks.]
- Four-leafed clover: (Positive) “Good” stuff always reach your hands. You’re, in other words, Bilbo, who manages to find a ring of invisibility lying in the ground of a cave. Maybe your PC is lucky with small (non-mechanical) stuff. Your room at the Lord’s castle is the only one with a bath. While crossing a town during heavy rain you, alone in the party, reaches the mayor’s house without been full of mud. (Negative) “Bud” stuff always reach your hands. You’re, in other words, Bilbo, who manages to find the cursed One Ring of the Dark Lord lying in the ground of a cave! Please, let use this PC’s negative Luck modifier as bonus when rolling for cursed items! [Variant Four-leafed clover: I like to extend this Augur’s effects to any roll on treasure tables, if applicable.]
- Seventh Son: (a Variant) A quick research tells that the 7th son of a 7th son could be a gifted healer, a natural diviner, a person resistant or immune to poisons, or even a werewolf (a common folklore here in Brazil). These are all good ideas if your PC isn’t a spellcaster (I hate mechanical traits that are useless). If you want, roll a 1d4 for non spellcasters PCs that rolled this Augur: healing rolls (1), perception (2), saves against poisons (3) and saves against curses (4). Another option, is simply let PCs with this Birth Augur cast spells from scrolls like a Thief (using a d10). Another option for “spell-less” 7th Sons is that they’re “luck/unlucky amulets” for spellcasters. If the PC has a positive Luck modifier he can choose on spellcaster ally each game session to gain that bonus. This must be roleplayed somehow in the table (the chosen spellcaster maybe paid him a beer at the tavern, or maybe the PC and the spellcasters had a tryst). If the PC has a negative Luck modifier, all beneficial spells cast on him suffer a penalty. Finally, don’t forget that the “7th Son” bit is just an idea: maybe the PC was born with a caul over his head, maybe he/she has the Evil Eye, an extra thumb, was a lycanthrope in the past, have a pentagram or the symbol of Chaos on his left hand etc.
- The raging storm: (Positive) Your magic seems more potent than it really is. The Judge is encouraged to add an extral cool manifestation or “special effects” on your magical strikes. Maybe your potent magic allows the PC to do small “cantraps”, like lighting his pipe. (Negative) I like two options here. The classic is that your magic is puny. Maybe your Cleric follows a pacifist or dying god. Your Wizard or Elf may be cursed. You could be a “gutter mage”, someone who learned magic alone and never “got it right”. [Variant Raging storm: Another - more unorthodox - option is that your magic is actually VERY destructive, even when beneficial. Here’s how I would do it: everytime you cast a spell there’s collateral damage. Your fireball will hit innocent bystanders and property. If there isn’t victims around, roll a Luck check. If you fail deal your negative Luck modifier to a random ally or even yourself. A cruel Judge could require a Luck check even when your Cleric heals, reducing the total hit points healed by your negative modifier (and to boost your healing hurts… maybe you’re a Chaotic Cleric or a follower of some bloodthirsty deity). (Positive or Negative) OK, what if you’re a “spell-less” PC (Warrior, Thief, Halfling or Dwarf)? You could be magic resistant (or vulnerable), adding your Luck modifier to a spellcaster’s DC (if Positive) or to the spellcaster roll (if Negative)].
- The righteous heart: Here the best idea is to check your PC’s alignment before setting any ideas. Un-dead, monsters, devils and demons are anathema to both Law and Neutral. Chaotic dragons, extraplanars and humanoids are the other enemies of Lawful PCs, while Neutral PCs face lycanthropes and “perversions of nature” (aberrations from previous d20?). Chaotic PCs face lawful dragons, extraplanars and humanoids, besides angels and paladins. (Positive) You may belong to an ancient bloodline or order that hunt the Unholy. Maybe something in your blood hurt those creatures. You could also be the reincarnation of some powerful hunter of the Unholy. (Negative) You’re “half-Unholy” (demon-blooded or perhaps a half-vampire, a dhampir).  [Variant Righteous heart: Turn unholy is very specific and quite useless if you aren’t a Cleric. So, for non-Cleric PCs let this Augur affect another stat. Options (roll a 1d4 if you like): saves against Unholy (1), attack rolls (2), damage rolls (3), skill checks (4)].
- Survived the plague: Let’s go the most Warhammerian Augur of all! This is the peerfect Augur for Gongfarmers, Rat-catchers, Gravediggers, Cutters/Barbers etc. (Positive) Congratulations, you literally survived a deadly plague! The fact that magic healing works better on you may suggest you were touched by the Divine in some fashion; maybe you were a prophesied child-avatar (a failed one if you became a Warrior, but the fame still carries on). You PC may be a pious followers of the Gods (again, a perfect option for non-Clerics). If you’re a Wizard, this could mean perhaps some pact in your family. If you’re an Elf - a traditional Chaotic and arcane race - this could mean you’re actually Half-Elven! (Negative) Congratulations, you survived the plague but was crippled, marked or disfigured by it! Icon magic healing may not work on you because you’re an Elf (blood of Chaos), a Dwarf (resistant to magic?), a heretic or excommunicated fellow or maybe even demonblooded. Another option is that you almost died once and since then Death has been following your PC.
- Lucky sign: (Positive) You’re the Chosen One (or so says the local clergy). You may be a (self-declared) saint or prophet, whose resistance to magic and other events is seen as a sign of divine protection. Maybe you were born under the Twin-Tailed Comet (good luck forging your Empire). You could have a special amulet or token (Warrior or Thief) or relic (Cleric). You could have forged a pact with some hidden patron, like a warlock (Wizard); or you could be one of the patron’s spawns (bastard son of the King of Elfland!). You could also have hidden your soul inside a lesser phylactery (Wizard) or given (literally) your heart to a fey (Elf). (Negative) Something is seeking your death. Maybe you survived your Funnel (or childhood) because you (or your parents) sold your soul. You could be the sole survivor of some deadly catastrophe; your presence is seen as a terrible omen. You carry some clear sign of unlucky. You could be a beardless Dwarf, a weird and albino Halfling (Gollum?), an Elf with ebony skin and white hair (???), or a Human with cloven feet or little horns.
once and since then Death has been following your PC.
- Guardian angel: read my entry on Fox’s Cunning for ideas about traps. (Positive) Let’s focus on the “guardian angel” part. You could have a more powerful familiar (Wizard or Elf), a small and annoying but useful animal companion (a hamster named Boo!) or maybe a spirit literally guards you against traps and similar “accidents”. (Negative) Take those positive ideas and turn they around. Your familiar wants to kill you! He’s useful most of the time, but from time to time the damn critter seems to plot your doom (please Judge, don’t forget to roleplay the evil familiar laughing every time the spellcaster suffers a critical hit). If you aren’t an arcane spellcaster, you could be haunted by some poltergeist (an ancestor you betrayed, a patron from whose pact you escaped etc.). You PC could actually be mad! You could see an evil twin or creepy demon stalking you and trying to push you in pits and traps, but ONLY YOU see the damn clown! (I hate clowns…).
- Survived a spider bite: (Positive) You have an unhealthy dose of  entomophilia (maybe you’re like Reinfield and actually likes to eat bugs). You could come from a far land where the peasants use giant bugs instead of cattle or horses. If you’re a Dwarf, you could have survived a massive war against giant spiders (if you’re a Halfling, you could have survived a trek through Mirkwood!). If you’re an Elf, you were banished because of your religious believes. (Negative) You’re obviously entomophobic. If you also have a low Stamina, this could mean you were poisoned and almost died (you’re weak and probably requires alchemy or recorrent divine magic to be kept alive… you maybe you require a supernatural patron or you will die).

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Getting ideas from Birth Augurs

One of the elements that my original table liked most about DCC RPG is the Birth Augur (they were also fans of Warhammer Fantasy’s Doomings, which are familiar). We liked to give wide interpretations to a PC’s Birth Augur. If a PC rolled the augur “The Bull”, for example, then we would like to picture that character as a brute, not only in physical strength but also on his approach to everything. That could either mean that the PC believed that a forceful approach was the best, or simply a character that was blunt and direct.

Here are examples using the Birth Augurs from DCC Core Book. With “Positive” examples I tried to consider situations where a positive or neutral Luck modifier would work; for “Negative” examples I thinking on PCs with negative Luck.
- Harsh winter: (Positive) Either a “Winter is coming!” background (a grim and fatalist PC) or a PC that comes from war-ravaged or brutal homelands (Cimmeria, Mordor, Frozen North etc). (Negative) This is a PC that is probably traumatized by combat, maybe crippled or cursed (by a winter deity? A Crom-like god?). Perhaps - may the gods help us - you’re a pacifist!
- The Bull: (Positive) a violent PC that solves all his problems through battle. (Negative) You suck in melee combat. If you by the bull aspect, but inverted, then this PC might be a mutant or pariah, too weak to fight, who is seeking a cure for his debility (maybe through a Patron or arcane magic).
- Fortunate date: (Positive) the talented archer (Bard, the Dragonslayer-wannabe), sniper (an assassin?), blessed by some god of the hunt or maybe a daredevil spellslinger. If you go for the name of the Augur, then this is that irritable fellow that seems to always get the best girl, the best spot, and also the one that always leaves a battle without a single drop of blood on his mail. (Negative) No one trusts you with a bow or even a crossbow. Maybe your PC hates archers (and elves?). Going by an inverted Fortunate Date, maybe your PC was born on the day of some terrible catastrophe (like a battle that killed thousands). Most people know this and avoid you like the plague.
- Raised by wolves: (Positive) You was orphaned while crossing a jungle and was raised by beasts (not original enough, but what if you’re dwarf? This happened at my table and made me create a “Beastmaster” class). The bonus to unarmed attacks suggests that your PC learned to live by himself, without much, so maybe the orphan background is the best (or maybe you trained with Shaolin monks). (Negative) You can’t get yourself to do dirty works. Maybe you’re a pampered third or fourth son of a noble housed. Without any inheritance, you were forced to the perilous path of dungeon delver.
- Conceived on horseback: (Positive) You’re the true Mongol (or Dothraki, or Rohirrim etc) rider! You could came from a culture that worship horses (Warrior, Elf or Cleric), or maybe you started your career stealing horses (Thief, Halfling), or you could be that one apprentice who learned magic with a unicorn (Elf or Wizard? Obviously a virgin). (Negative) The perfect Augur for dwarves - you hate horses and they HATE you back (every horse on the world has Favored Enemy: You). Perhaps you actually was a horse shapechanged to humanoid (or a humanoid cursed by a nemesis to be donkey for 7 years… now it is revenge time!).
- Born on the battlefield: (Positive) The obvious one here is that you literally could have been born in a battlefield (your mom is probably a bit mad, I guess). This Augur can also represent a certain degree of bloodlust or even psychopathy on your “heroic” PC. (Negative) If you’re playing a wizard or halfling then please try a character who can’t stand the mere sight of blood. If you’re a Warrior or Dwarf, then I guess that you enjoy a good challenge. In that case, try to play a pacifist. You won’t kill most enemies (but you do love to use lots of Mighty Deed of Arms).
- Path of the bear: (Positive) The “bear” part is the secret. You can be a Beorn-like character: big, furred and cranky. This is actually the type of Augur that I enjoy most for non-Warrior (non-Dwarf) PCs - imagine an ogre-like brute who studied wizardcraft, or a really cranky and foul-mouthed halfling. Maybe your PC has a bear’s appetite or enjoys the company of animals. You probably break things by accident, a lot. Collateral damage is your surname! (Negative) OK, you punch like a pixie (if you’re an Elf or Halfling that’s perfect). Let’s think on the opposite of a bear - maybe a fox, a rat or anything small and cowardly. You’re the kind of PC that hates when the battles gets close. You like to stay away (far far away), duly protected by a cover. If you’re a Warrior then you’re (obviously) an archer.
- Hawkeye: (Positive) Play Green Arrow or Hawkeye. Really. Both are awesome PCs in terms of personality and charisma (and if your Personality is high, then you’re a natural candidate for the role). This is the adventurer that always note that one small detail that can save the party. You’re probably perceptive and keen-eyed. (Negative) Play a Mr. Magoo PC! And use glasses. And complain about goblin blood falling on your glasses every time.
- Pack hunter: (Positive) This is a really bizarre Augur for me, at least mechanically. You’re basically good with “peasant” weapons. This could mean that you never forget your lowly origins. You may be a big fuckinh hero now, but your dream is still to retire to a good and nice farm, to plant cabbages or turnips (if you can bore the hell out of your party by talking about turnips and cabbages you should deserve a +1 Luck point). Or we could go by the name - you’re a pack creature. You work better when in a team and you’re everyone’s second best friend. (Negative) You’re a lone wolf in a adventure party - which basically means you’re a diva or a hypocrite. Roleplay Wolverine/Logan; complain a lot about how everyone around hinders you (especially while been healed by the Cleric). If you go by the mechanical aspect, then your PC was probably a highborn fallen on harder times (or a bastard). You still keep your noble perks - you enjoy fine food, clothes and weapons. You would NEVER touch “dishonorable” weapons like a pitchfork or knife. [Variant Pack Hunter: actually, given the name of this Augur, I believe it would be nice if you gained your luck bonus on attack and damage rolls if you followed another PC’s action. For example, if a Warrior attacked a goblin, you would gain the Luck bonus by attacked that same goblin with your next action. If you have a negative Luck modifier, you have to be “original” every round or suffer a penalty to attack and damage rolls - yes, you really hate battles against only one adversary]

If like this approach I’ll post the other Birth Augurs later.

See ya!