Since I'm about to start running the Yggdrasill RPG from Cubicle 7, on my Friday night and Sunday afternoon gaming groups, I thought I would post up here a detailed example of character creation for the Yggdrasill Roleplaying Game.
Game: Yggdrasill Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7
Degree of Familiarity: Somewhat familiar. I've read the game rulebook twice now, and have been a fan of all things Norse for some time. Looking forward to running the game.
Books Required: Yggdrasill RPG rulebook.
Please note that this post is extremely (and I really mean that!) long, as I've gone into the game mechanics in somewhat major detail in terms of character creation, and have provided background on the character and the choices. Hence the majority of this post is behind the cut. That said, there is some of the game mechanics and descriptions of game world elements that I've skimped on in this write-up, so if you want to know more, just drop me a line in the Comments.
For those who don't know, Yggdrasill is a roleplaying game of heroic fantasy set against the legendary realm of Scandia, the land of the Norsemen. What more need be said about that? :)
So, let's get into the Character Creation process for the game...
Step 1: Come up with a Character Concept for the player character that you want to play.
The first step that I always include in my games is to have the player come up with a Character Concept for the character they want to play. This is basically a one- or two-sentence bit that gives you all the essentials about what the character in question is. Fortunately, this is actually the first step in the process for Yggdrasill.
Given the nature of the game and the fact that it's a game about heroic Norsemen living in a brutal time with lots of violence, I decide to go with the flow and create the stereotype of this fiction - a berserker! This may change, depending on what I end up with for his Fate (see Step 2), but for now he's going to be Berserker. I decide to make the character male, and I'll call him Haldor.
Step 2: Determine the character's Fate.
We first determine the Fate of the character. Specifically, we randomly determine the three (3) runes that control the character's destiny. This is done by roll 1d8 three times, each time determining one rune from each of the aetts (see the separate post about this earlier from the week). Each rune that is chosen is cast in either a positive or negative aspect. There are only two possible combinations - two negative and one positive, or two positive and one negative.
So let's take care of this. However, rather than rolling the d8s and determining the Fate runes, I have a nice set of wooden runes that I can use to do this. After splitting the runes into the three aetts (Frey, Heimdall, and Tyr), I randomly draw one rune from each aett, and get the following
From left to right, I get Fehu (Frey), Algiz (Heimdall), and Ehwaz (Tyr). Here's what these indicate in the aspect that I choose for each of them.
Fehu - Negative Aspect: Loss of goods, poverty, social rejection. The character might be born in a poor family and find it hard to survive, or he will suffer a reversal of fortune and never regain his social status.
Algiz - Positive Aspect Only: Algiz is the most powerful protective rune against malevolent energies, traps, and supernatural creatures. The character is protected from harmful influences, attempts to manipulate him, and curses of any kind. This may be due to the character’s own magical skill, divine protection, or just an innate talent that draws on this protection. If the character commits an act of betrayal, breaks an oath or refuses to assume his Fate (refuses vengeance, to help a parent or blood brother, a duel, shows cowardice in the battlefield, etc.) or uses the seidr, galdr, or runes to cast a curse, this rune’s power is broken forever.
Ehwaz - Positive Aspect Only: This rune is that of the horse, Frey’s animal. For the character it represents a favourable progression or a successful voyage without incident. It also supports other positive runes (Positive Aspect, or Positive Aspect Only) by maximizing their positive effects.
Hmm, that's interesting. I can see a sort of Conan-like monster hunter or sorcerer or some such. We'll see where the rest of the process takes us, but the Berserker is starting to make more sense to me right now.
Step 3: Determine the character Archetype.
One the Fate runes have been decided and the player has an idea of what the Character Concept (see Step 1) is, the player determines the character Archetype.
The game details six Archetypes, corresponding to specific types of characters in the world of Scandia and the Yggdrasill game. These Archetypes are then divided down into sub-archetypes. The six Archetypes (and their sub-types) are Noble (Jarl, War Chief, Counsellor), Warriors (Hirdman, Berserker, Mercenary), Sages (Volva, Thulr, Skald, Healer), Workers (Craftsmen, Farmer, Forester, Miner), and Travellers (Merchant, Emissary, Wandering Blacksmith, Spy). Each Archetype provides a short list of privileged skills. The character will also start between 16 and 20 years of age, barely into adulthood.
As noted in Step 1, I want to play a berserker. This fits quite nicely, as the Warrior Archetype includes the Berserker.
The preferred skills for the Berserker are Athletics, Dodge, Intimidation, Survival, and a Combat skill of my choice. I note these down for future reference. In addition, I must take the Savage Warrior Gift.
Step 3: Determine the character's Characteristics.
The player next determines the character's Characteristics, nine innate and essential traits divided into three categories.
Body: Strength, Vigour, Agility
Mind: Intellect, Perception, Tenacity
Soul: Charisma, Instinct, Communication
Each player character begins with 19 points in Characteristics, to be distributed as the player sees fit. Each Characteristic must start at the minimum of 1, but cannot be raised in character creation to higher than 4.
After giving the matter a bit of thought, I decide on my Characteristics. I put 3 points each into Strength, Vigour, and Tenacity, 2 points each into Agility, Perception, Instinct, and Communication, and 1 point into each of Intellect and Charisma.
Thus my Characteristics look like this when I'm done:
Body: Strength 3, Vigour 3, Agility 2
Mind: Intellect 1, Perception 2, Tenacity 3
Soul: Charisma 1, Instinct 2, Communication 2
Overall, I'm quite happy with this. :)
Step 4: Determine the character's Gifts and Weaknesses.
The player determines the character's starting Gifts and Weaknesses. Gifts and Weaknesses further define the character, and are basically what other systems call Advantages and Disadvantages. Gifts generally allow the character to roll an extra die in any test where the Gift applies, but the player still keeps only the two highest dice. Weaknesses occur only once per session, and force the player to keep the highest and lowest die in a particular test.
A player may start by picking one Gift for their character. If they wish to take an additional Gift, they must also choose one Weakness.
Since my character is a Berserker, I must take the Savage Warrior Gift, as per the Archetype (Step 3 above). That's my first Gift. Looking through the list of Gifts, I decided that the Iron Body Gift is quite useful, allowing me to add an extra die whenever my character has to stand up to a blow.
However, now I need to take a Weakness. I decide that because of his nature as a Berserker, Haldor doesn't interact well with others, and so I take the Cold Weakness, which makes my capacity for seduction and sympathy greatly reduced, though I may feel emotion deeply.
Again, quite happy with the character so far.
Step 5: Determine the Secondary Characteristics of the character.
I next determine the Secondary Characteristics of the character - Hit Points, Reaction (Initiative), Physical Defence, Mental Defence, Movement, Encumbrance, and Furor Pool. We'll come back to the Furor Pool a bit later.
Hit Points (HPs) are my resistance to wounds, sickness, physical damage, and fatigue. They are determined by calculating (Body x 3) + (Mind x2) + (Soul x 1).
In the case of Haldor, my Hit Points (HPs) are equal to (8x3)=24 + (6x2)=12 + (5x1)=5, for a total of 41 Hit Points. Nice total. Using the Wound system, I am Bloodied at less than 41, Wounded at less than 20, and Severely Wounded at less than 10. Eek!
Reaction (REA) corresponds to the speed of my reflexes and reactions, and determines my base Initiative. It's also modified by my base Encumbrance. It is calculated by adding my Intellect, Perception, and Instinct.
Haldor has a Reaction (REA) of 1 + 2 + 2 = 5. Hmm...
Physical Defence (PD) is my character's natural ability to avoid enemy attacks. It is used as my basic defence to increase the Success Threshold of the target attacking me. Physical Defence is calculated by taking the sum of my Agility, Vigour, and Instinct.
Haldor has a Physical Defence (PD) of 2 + 3 + 2 = 7. Not bad.
Mental Defence (MD) determines my will and psychic resistance. It's commonly used when I try to resist the effects of spells or overcome my fear. Mental Defence is calculated as the sum of my Tenacity, Intellect, and Instinct.
Haldor has a Mental Defence (MD) of 3 + 1 + 2 = 6. Not bad, not great.
Movement (Move) determines how far and how fast I can go. Movement is determined as the sum of Agility and Vigour.
Haldor has a Movement of 2 + 3 = 5. Not shabby. :)
Encumbrance (ENC) indicates how much my character can carry and still move about easily. Encumbrance is determined by taking (Strength x 2) and adding Vigour.
Haldor's Encumbrance (ENC) is equal to (3 x 2) + 3 = 9. A very good Encumbrance value! :)
Step 6: Determine the character's Skills.
Each player determines the Skills their character has. Each player receives 35 points to assign to Skills. Privileged Skills (remember those?) cost 1 point for each level you buy. All other Skills cost 2 points per level. No character may start the game with a level higher than 7 in any Skill, and Skills have a maximum level of 20. Players are expected to put 1 point minimum into each Privileged Skill.
Haldor chose the Berserker Archetype, which gave him five Privileged Skills: Athletics , Dodge , Intimidation, Survival, and a weapon Skill of choice. I choose the Long Weapons Skill, covering long swords, axes, and the like.
Since I want to be decent as a Berserker, I start assigning my 35 points. 7 points into Long Weapons right away, 4 into Athletics, 3 into Dodge, Intimidation gets 4, and Survival gets 3 as well. That's 21 of my points right off the bat.
I decide that I also want a couple of other Skills as well. The Ride, Sagas (knowledge of Scandian myths and legends), Stealth, and some Tactics might also come in useful. I assign 3 points to Stealth (costing me 6, for a total so far of 27), 2 points into Tactics (at a cost of 4 points, for a total cost of 31 points), and 2 points into Vigilance (at a cost of 4 points, giving me my 35 points. Pretty much done. :)
Step 7: Determine the character's Actions.
Each character in Yggdrasill is allowed a certain number of actions in combat. These are split between Primary Actions and Secondary Actions. Without going into too much detail, a character can take a total number of Actions equal to Agility + 1. One of these actions is the Primary action, and the rest of these are the Secondary actions.
With Haldor having an Agility of 2, he can take 3 Actions per round, 1 Primary action and 2 Secondary actions per round.
Step 8: Determine the character's Furor Pool.
Each player determines the number of d10s that the character has in their Furor Pool. Furor is an emotional state, internal energy, natural rage, and mystical resource all rolled up into one. It allows characters to surpass themselves when a situation - or Fate - opposes their will. Each character receives a Furor Pool of 10-sided dice, calculated differently for the various character types. For the Berserkers and Children of Odin, Furor is calculated as the sum of Vigour, Instinct, and Tenacity.
In my opinion, Furor is the mechanic that pushes the flavour of Yggdrasill up to a 10, and makes the game very special. It brings to life the Norseman Berserker and those who fight for the glory of and at the best of the Gods. I'm not going into how Furor helps characters, or in this case my Berserker, as that would add an extra paragraph. That said, there are also a few down elements to it, so...
Haldor's Furor Pool is 3 + 2 + 3 = 8. Haldor has 8d10 in his Furor Pool. Nice!
Step 9: Determine the character's Combat Feats and Spells.
Each character receives several Combat Feats and/or Spells at the start of the game. Combat Feats are manoeuvres, special attacks, and combat techniques that enable a character's combat prowess. Magic is wielded by those who are marked by Fate and often hail from a family known for its magical ability, though most wielders of magic are normal people with a family life, profession, and place in society. Magic is not considered a profession, but rather an ability which allows those who work it to master the stuff the world is made of and to change it to their will. There are three types of magic - Seidr (Sorcery), Galdr (Enchantment), and Runes (self-explanatory).
Each player character receives 12 points with which to purchase both Combat Feats and Magic (if they are capable of wielding it). Each Combat Feats costs a number of points equal to its level times 3 (level x 3). The cost for Magic works in a similar way, but I won't go into that here, as playing a Berserker, I don't have access to magic. Combat Feats, as a general rule, provide a penalty to the attack when being performed (a pretty good trade off, I think), but in most cases, the character in question will use Furor points on some of the more difficult ones.
I look over the various Combat Feats in the three categories, Attack, Defence, and Utility, and make my decisions as follows.
I decide to start with one Attack Feat.
Impetous Charge (Level 1): This adds my Move value to damage when I charge.
I take one Defence Feat.
Leap of the Lynx (Level 1): This feat allows my Berserker to close the distance between himself and someone using a ranged weapon. It fits with how I've come to envision the character.
Finally, I take two Utility Feats.
Bloodthirsty Howl (Level 1): An insane, intimidating howel that can scare an opponent and doesn't cost an Action. Works for me. :)
Quick as Lightning (Level 1): This Feat allows the character to shift up the Initiative order ahead of my opponents.
Not shabby, if I say so myself. I'm quite happy with this, as my Berserker character looks to be a nicely mobile, shifty type of fighter. I like the character a lot.
Step 10: Determine the character's Equipment and Money
Each player character is assumed to own each weapon they are skilled with. The GM may allow players a choice of armour, or will issue it themselves to the player characters. Characters can buy additional items and equipment with their starting wealth, which is d10 x d10 in Silver.
I determine that Haldor starts out with (9 x 7) = 63 Silver. I don't do equipment here, because what he'd be using for weapons and armour would depend on which of the three types of berserkers he is based on - wolf, bear, or boar. I can certainly see him with a long sword or 2-handed sword and/or a war axe. <g>
Step 11: Final Touches and Renown.
The player should decide on a first name and surname for the character, and should make a few notes about the character's history.
Well, I've already decided on the character's first name, Haldor. For the last name, I decide that Haldor's father was Olav Mergivsson, so as with Norse tradition, Halvor's last name is Olavsson.
I won't go into detail on the background that I envision for the character. No point in that here, and folks can make their own assumptions on that part. :)
The player determines the starting Renown of the player character. Renown measures a character's reputation in the Scandian kingdoms, and sometimes even beyond. Without going into more detail on this, a player character begins the game with an amount of Renown equal to his highest Skill value.
Haldor's highest Skill level is in Long Weapons at 7. Therefore, Halvor starts with a Renown of 7.
So, let's do Haldor up stat-wise on the equivalent of a character sheet. Here's what we get.
Height: 1.90 metres
Weight: 104.3 kilos
Fate Runes: Fehu (-), Algiz (+), Ehwaz (+)
BODY: Strength 3, Vigour 3, Agility 2
MIND: Intellect 1, Perception 2, Tenacity 3
SOUL: Charisma 1, Instinct 2, Communication 2
Gifts: Iron Body, Savage Warrior
Actions: 1 Primary, 2 Secondary
Weight Capacity: 9
Physical Defence: 7
Mental Defence: 6
Hit Points: 41 (20/10/0)
Furor Pool: 8
Athletics 4, Dodge 3, Intimidation 4, Long Weapons 7, Stealth 3, Survival 3, Tactics 2, Vigilance 2
Level 1: Impetuous Charge, Leap of the Lynx, Bloodthirsty Howl, Quick as Lightning
To be decided
And there you have it, character generation for the Yggdrasill RPG.
While the Character Generation process may seem long and arduous at first, it really is quite elegant and pretty easy to go through once you get a good idea of what each step involves and how things connect the dots overall. It can take a couple of hours or so to create a character the first time, but with practice the process will be much faster. This was the second character that I created for the game, and it took me a little under an hour to do so.
As usual, any comments, questions, and so forth are welcome in the Comments on the blog. :)