Friday, November 15, 2013

The Characters

I just finished building the last of the PCs for the group.  Character generation was a 50/50 split.  Half of the players built their own characters, the other half had me do it for them.  Those that had me do it are pretty new to GURPS, and were not able to be there the night we worked on the characters.  They told me what they wanted, race, template, etc and I just plugged it into GURPS GCA. I try to make choices that the player can live with, and always give them the option of changing out after a couple of sessions if the character isn't meeting expectations. Whenever I can, I give each player three characters to choose from. Each one will have a different main weapon choice, and there will be some slight variations in the disadvantages and skills.

For this game I gave the players 300 points, -50 in disadvantages and -5 for quirks.  This is more than standard starting points for a Dungeon Fantasy game. I wanted the players to have room to choose a second lens if they wanted, or one of the more expensive races templates. Plus, it is pretty easy to just add more Orcs to the encounters to make up for the extra points.

Race choices for the game were limited a bit.  The players could choose from the following

  • Dragon-blooded
  • Dwarf
  • Elves (Half Elf, High Elf, Shadow Elf, and Wood Elf)
  • Gnome
  • Halfling
  • Half Orc
  • Human
I had originally planned to allow Goblin PCs, but took them off the list.  For the Old School feel of the game, goblins need to be monsters.

Template choices were
  • Artificer
  • Assassin
  • Barbarian
  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Druid
  • Holy Warrior
  • Knight
  • Martial Artist
  • Ninja
  • Scholar
  • Scout
  • Swashbuckler
  • Thief
  • Wizard
I also allowed for characters made without a template, but they would be limited in the power ups and improvements they could make after game play started. (no one took this option)

The Starting roster for Spiderweb in the Corner will be
  • A Dwarf Cleric (not sure which of the spell lists he will choose)
  • A Dwarf Knight with ST 20 and +2 Striking St (I was asked to make a super strong dwarf fighter)
  • A Half Orc Barbarian spear wielder
  • A Human Wizard with most, if not all, of the fire spells
  • A Human Thief
  • A Human Knight, or maybe he was dragon blood, the player went back and forth and I don't remember what he settled on.
I usually don't allow that much overlap in the characters (2 knights and a barbarian) but really, you can never have too many fighter types.  Like I said, there are always more Orcs in the dungeon.  The only thing they are really missing is a Scout, they may be a bit weak in the ranged attack department.  I will probably have a hireling or two for filling the gap. Of course the will need to be paid, may be of questionable quality and loyalty, but if they can keep the pointy end aimed in the right direction its better than nothing.

None of the characters chose a second lens, for which I am grateful, At least at the start of the game I want to keep an eye on niche protection (fighters being the exception).  Also, I don't think anyone chose from the template's power up options.  A lot of stats and skills were increased above the template starting level. To be honest, I if I were a player, that is what I would have done too.

Overall I think this is a good mix. I am looking forward to the PCs getting names and personalities. A couple of the players made character choices that they don't normally pick. The guy who usually plays a fighter chose a thief, and the guy who usually plays a more timid type of character chose a knight. It will be interesting to see how they adapt their play style to fit the different role in the party.

Prep work update: The characters and one hireling are stated out and ready to go. I finished re-reading Dungeon Fantasy Monsters I. Next I want to get a couple more rooms ready and put together a couple more monsters.


  1. I was refered to this blog from both No School Grogard and Dungeon Fantastic, so I decided to come and give it a look. It's certainly nice being able to catch this things from the beggining, as I didn't have a huge backlog of posts to read ;)

    Let me introduce myself though, I'm the writer of both The Mystic Knight and Dungeon Saints, among other things (, and have been running a DF campaign for years (we started at 300/-75 including the 5 quirks and we're at over 600 points right now)

    Now back on topic, I do have some comments on your characters, and the potential pitfalls you might face (I'll be using a generic "you" to refer to each character's player, because I do not know which ones you made and which ones your players made):

    [continued next post, damn 4096 character limit]

    1. On your dwarf cleric, I really recommend the standard list. The others, while flavorful, are sometimes missing some key spells. A good alternate would be messengers and rogues, for Haste, Great haste, and Blink. Consider the New Realm powerup. Not only it gives you access to some nice spells to round up the spell list, but it also lets you double up on healing spells (meaning that you can get Major Healing (holy) and Major Healing (whatever), thus giving you two penalty tracks, and effectively doubling the amount of healing available per day before repeated use penalties become crippling). You might also consider making him a Saint, if you have both the Divine Favor book, and Pyramids #3/36 and #3/50. It's a very diferent flavor of miracle worker, and one that might be easier on new players.
      On your super-strong dwarf knight, I hope you added weapon master. The damage bonus will do far more than the added ST. Given that he's a dwarf, I hope that he's using a dwarven axe and a shield, or dual axes, and have maxed up pickaxe penchant. Dwarves are awesome.
      That barbarian is going to be a disappointment. Despite the appearances, barbarians are second string fighters. That huge ST is unsupported by weapon master, and the spear only deals thrust damage. He will be hard to buff and heal too. Consider taking the barbarian-swashbuckler lens for weapon master, and use a sword, axe or flail instead. Also, the "I do things that require high strength" nice is also filled by that dwarf knight, so the barbarian's role will be limited to picking things on high shelves. a good race for barbarians is paradoxically, the gnome, that gets to be SM+0 due to it's racial -1 SM and yet can use barbarian oversized weapons, on top of comming with no racial ST penalty. Given that I play in the Knights of the Dinner Table "World of Aldrazar", gnome barbarians (AKA gnome titans) fit the setting perfectly!
      On that wizard, I know that fire is nice, cool and iconic, but it's a trap. The wizard should leave dealing damage to the melee fighters, and focus on buffs/utility/save or suck spells. You can easily find them in every college, but body control, communication and empathy, and air are good solid choices. Invest in the area that is wizard only too, metamagic spells, and make sure you pick link, delay, hang spell and maintain spell. Given that you don't have a scout, invest in a single missile spell and take Psychic Guidance. Invest in some area effect capabilities for diffuse foes (not necessarily explosive spells). If you're dead set on fire, remember to (ab)use fast fire, specially with body of fire.
      The thief will have to understand that he's not a combat character, specially with 3 good melee fighters. His role will be to scout ahead, to deal with traps, and to be the general skill monkey, with an occasional backstab. Very old school fhief, mind you, not like the light combatant rogues from MMOs and recent versions of D&D.
      On the other knight, why don't you consider a Mystic Knight (Power Ups 1: Imbuements, Pyramid #3/13 and #3/60) for a character who mixes sword and sorcery with each strike, a holy warrior, or a warrior saint, for those who kick undead coccyx in the name of the lord? That will provide more variety.

  2. Thanks for all of your feed back. The Dwarf cleric was a character I made, not that it matters. I made three versions of the cleric, one of each of the sub types that GCA gives. I don't know which one he will choose. For the strong guy, I'm pretty sure I did add WM, I sure meant to. I will have to double check. The barbarian isn't married to the spear, in fact it is one of the options for the player, I think I made a greatsword and a flail version guess is that the player will take the spear and fight second rank over the dwarf. The wizard did take some out of college spells, a few move spells and a couple of meta spells for sure. The thief is just a role playing challenge for the player. His characters in the last couple of game have been combat monsters. I am excited to see how he does with it. Holy warrior may make an appearance. Even before you commented I was worried about the barbarian. The player was really sold on the Half Orc. So maybe a Half Orc Paladin is in order.

    Thanks again for the ideas and reminders

    1. Been a while since I used GCA, I prefer to make my characters by hand (then again, I can almost do so without referring to the books) so I do not remember what those options were, for the cleric.

      On the barbarian, the big thing is deciding between weapon and shield or two handed weapons. The two handed flail has reach 2, allowing him to be second rank behind the knight and still attack. I would go morning star and shield though, unless you're building a berserker (and berserk is almost akin to terminally ill in lethality, so if you do, it's because you like the flavor). Let me recommend again dipping into swashbuckler for weapon master, it's not that weird of a combination, and it works if you want a big hulking yet nimble unarmored fighter. If you go two handed, the Mr Smash power-up is a good option. Great Rage is excellent too, but it requires berserk. Take it at self control 15 and use it as a mostly flavor trait. Heroic Lifts is plenty cheap, and will make those mighty thews show up outside of combat.

      Again on the wizard, be careful to avoid mismatches expectations. Magic is not a good way to do damage. Biceps and triceps are, and weapon master helps a lot. It will be much more rewarding if the character does try to leave damage dealing to the professionals, and instead takes another route. Fire is ill suited for that, being a very straightforward college, but I've been surprised by player ingenuity more than once.

      Make it perfectly clear that the thief is not a combat character. Sure, he can do things in combat, but it requires a lot of work and a lot of points. One house rule I use, is that the surprise ST works when the target can not even attempt a defense, that is, against no only unaware foes in the first round of combat, but also when the thief manages to get behind a foe (and does so without it being a runaround attack).

      On the paladin, head over to Doug's blog, gaming ballistic, and see how much fun he had with Cadmus. Seriously, the warrior saint is a much more interesting character than the holy warrior, and it's not complex to play, making it very suitable for newbies to GURPS. Of course, that depends on you having one non-DF supplement and at least one issue of Pyramid (#3/36, though they gain a lot more depth and refinement if you also have #3/50). Otherwise, for the holy warrior, I really recommend taking all 6 levels of blessed (heroic feats) to get his moment (3d seconds) of glory (warrior saints should take righteous fury for the same effect)

  3. Some thoughts ...

    The Barbarian and Strong Dwarf Knight are going to have some overlap. Anything ST related the Barbarian can do, the Strong Dwarf Knight can probably do better. The only Barbarian edge will be wilderness related, and that doesn't seem like a focus for your game. As GM, I would strongly suggest your Half-Orc consider Scout as a main or lens profession.

    The other problem character will be the Thief. Strongly suggest using the extra 50 points to take the Swashbuckler lens to give him/her some better combat skills. Most players coming from D&D or Pathfinder still expect a Thief to have some utility in combat. A GURPS DF Thief needs to avoid combat, and should only tackle individual goblins and low threat level mooks in emergencies, They get creamed in any real fight. "Someone heal the Thief so gthat he can check for traps." becomes a stock phrase until the Thief's player learns that.

  4. I agree that there will be a lot of cross over with the Barbarian and the dwarf knight. I am going to offer the Barbarian player three choices. 1. Straight up barbarian, and explain the overlap. 2. A Barbarian/Scout. Less overlap. and 3. A Scout Barbarian. Least overlap, still fits the players vision etc. My guess is he will play the Scout version, but that is up to him.