Game: Zorro: The Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Gallant Knight Games
Degree of Familiarity: Pretty familiar. I’ve been a fan of the the source material since I can remember, but have only had the game for a few months though I've not run it yet.
Books Required: Zorro: The Roleplaying Game Rulebook.
Please note that this post is extremely long, as I've gone into the game mechanics a bit 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, the Zorro: The Roleplaying Game RPG is a swashbuckling, dramatic, and cinematic roleplaying game set against the legends and stories of Zorro, first introduced in The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley in 1919. The players can take on roles in Zorro's Legion or even take on the role of the legendary hero himself. Anyway, here's the character creation process. Bear in mind that this material is quite long, due to the way the background section is written up.
Step One: Character Concept
In the Zorro: The Roleplaying Game, there are two methods to use to create a player character. The first of these is to choose one of the templates (there are 15 in the game) and just add 7 dice (7D) to the character's Skills and voila! The second method for creating the character is to Customize. This means the player creates a character for the game from scratch, but it's not as though it's a difficult process in this game to begin with.
I look over the various Templates for the game, and decide that none of them are really what I want to portray in the game. I decide that I will Customize a player character for myself.
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.
Since I'm creating a character from scratch for the game using the Customization method, this step is a pretty good idea. I decide that I want to create a librarian character, someone who's bookworm nature belies the fact that they're tough in other ways. Never underestimate a librarian in Zorro's period! I also decide that I will make the character female.
Step Two: Establish Some Core Ideas About the Character
The Zorro: The Roleplaying Game rpg is about life in 19th Century Alta California, albeit one that will be somewhat customized by the GM according to their desires and needs. That said, the player should answer a few key questions to get at the core about the character and how they feel about Alta California and the world around them. So let's get started...
What is the character's physical appearance?
Age, height, weight, hair colour, style of dress.
The character is an attractive woman, around 28 years old, and stands 5'5" tall and weighs 120 lbs.. She has coal black hair, down to her mid-back, but wears it in a braided ponytail or a bun under a hat, and dark brown eyes. While at home or in a library, she dresses casually but with taste, usually in beiges, browns, blues, and blacks. When engaged in other activities, she tends to wear plain clothes, with a blue or brown bandana, wishing to draw the least attention to herself.
What is your opinion on the Spanish oppression of California?
Having been born to a Native woman and a Spanish Don, the character has a deeply rooted hatred for the Spanish, with the exception of her father and some of the friends she's made in various circles. She works at controlling her darker urges around them, as she has a strong desire for vengeance on the man who killed her mother, Beatriz. In recent years and due to her studies, her hatred for the Spanish has changed to a desire, nay a need, to *educate* them. Whether that be with a scroll/book and a quill or a sword doesn't matter to her.
How do you take the fight to those tyrants who inflict poverty and cruelty upon those who live here?
Before living with her father at his hacienda and pueblo dwelling, the character tried to inspire the Natives around her through the education provided by Padre Melchor de Amansa, the curator of the library in Monterey. She used what she learned in the books she read to do so, but was somewhat ineffective due to her youth and her seeming to be a mere "half-breed". After moving to her father's hacienda outside Monterey, working at the library there, and then gaining access to her father's collection of varied works, she began to have a bit more success with outlying villagers. Now, having been approached by Zorro's Legion, she has a more effective means of doing so, especially using her knowledge of the sword and feminine wiles to deal with those who engage in cruelty.
What jobs have you held in the past?
The character has been a seller of trinkets, working with her mother; a serving girl in the local cantina; an assistant librarian at the Monterey mission's library; and finally, a lady-in-waiting and book procurer for her father.
Step Three: Determine the Character's Attributes
The player has five (5) Attributes among which to distribute their points. The Attributes are Agility, Brawn, Knowledge, Perception and Charm. The player receives 12 dice (12D) to spend on the Attributes, with the limitations that no Attribute can be less than 1D and that no Attribute may exceed 4D.
Looking at the character background and what I've already established about the character, I start by assigning 1D to each of the five Attributes. This leaves me 7D to play around with. I decide to put 3D into Knowledge, bringing it up to 4D, since the librarian is very bright from her book learning and research. I also decide that she's quite the charmer when she wants to be, and add 2D to Charm, raising it to 3D. The character's Agility and Perception need to be increased by 1D each, raising both to 2D. That totals 12D added to the Attributes, so that wraps the process up. When the dice finally settle, the character has the following Attributes:
She's not physically strong or high in the stamina areas, with her below-average Brawn, as she relies more on her knowledge and her wit to survive, but there's room for her to grow as she learns more physical abilities during her time with Zorro's Legion.
Step Four: Determine the Character's Skills
Now that the Attributes have been assigned, it's time to get into the Skills the character possesses. Skills are grouped under each Attribute, with four Skills covered under each Attribute. The player receives 7D worth of Skills to assign, with the limitation that no Skill may exceed 2D.
Looking again at how I envision the player character in the earlier steps of this process, there are certain Skills that I deem the character should have. I start with the Knowledge Skills, and assign 1D to Languages, 2D to Scholar, and 1D to Science. This uses 4 of my 7D total. I assign 1D to the Melee Skill under Agility, and 1D to the Persuasion Skill under Charm. Finally, I add 1D to the Investigation Skill under Perception. That covers my 7D worth of Skills.
Nice and simple. :)
This means that my Attributes along with the Skills covered under each Attribute look like this:
Note that the player character lacks certain Skills, such as Athletics, Stealth, Survival, Deceive and Willpower. These are Skills that the character will pick up in time, but it is good to see that the characters has plenty of room to grow and improve what she already has.
Step Five: Hero Points
Player characters have Hero Points. These are acquired from Complications when undertaking tasks in the game. They are used to double the number of dice rolled in a given situation, to re-roll a failed roll without Doubling Down, and to avoid being Stunned in combat. The player begins the game with one (1) Hero Point.
I dutifully write down that the player character begins with 1 Hero Point.
Step Six: Determine the Character's Defense Numbers
Each player character has two Defense Numbers, which represent how difficult it is to hit the character in combat (either Ranged or Melee). The two defenses are Dodge (usually used to avoid Ranged Combat) and Parry (usually used to block attacks in Melee). The two are calculated as follows:
Dodge = Perception x 5
Parry = Agility x 5
Looking at the character's Attributes, I see that she has a Perception of 5, which gives her a Dodge of (5x2) = 10. The character's Agility is also 2, giving her a Parry of (5x2) = 10.
Step 6: Starting Equipment
Each player characters begins with some equipment that fits their background and narrative. The GM has the final say, but should work with the player to ensure that everything makes sense.
I think over the manner in which I envision the character, and decide (with the aid of the fictitious GM) that I will start with a set of fancy clothes (she is living in a Don's house now and is his daughter after all!), a journal, some personal books, writing supplies, and 50 dinero.
And that wraps the character up!
Consulting some sources on Spanish and Native names, I decide to call the character Lorena Batanero. Her friends, of which there are few, call her Rena.
And she takes the secret identity name of El Aprendido (the Learned). :)
And here is what the final version of the character looks like...
LORENA BATANERO aka EL APPRENDIDO
Character Name: Lorena Batanero
Secret Name: El Apprendido ("The Learned")
Height: 5'5" tall
Weight: 120 lbs.
An attractive woman, around 28 years old, and stands 5'5" tall and weighs 120 lbs.. She has coal black hair, down to her mid-back, but wears it in a braided ponytail or a bun under a hat, and dark brown eyes. While at home or in a library, she dresses casually but with taste, usually in beiges, browns, blues, and blacks. When engaged in other activities, she tends to wear plain clothes, with a blue or brown bandana, wishing to draw the least attention to herself.
Hero Points: 1
A set of fancy clothes; a journal; some personal books; writing supplies; 50 dinero.
Lorena was born the illegitimate daughter of Beatriz, a Native woman who worked as a merchant's assistant, and Don Carlos de la Parilla, a wealthy Don who took an interest in her. Living with her mother took a strain on the girl, as she felt she was not loved by her father, but she was the dutiful daughter and worked with her mother, her beauty (even as a child) increasing their sales somewhat. As she grew older, she went to work as a serving girl at the local cantina, where she learned a bit more about the ways of the world and the cruelty of the Spanish towards the Natives. It was while she was working one night that her mother was attacked at her stall and killed by one of the Spanish caballeros. She controlled her darker urges, and with the stall and all its contents burned to the ground, Lorena sought refuge at the mission. There, she received an education at the hands of Padre Melchor de Amansa, the curator of the library in Monterey, who saw her potential and thirst for knowledge. He gave her an education, and her knowledge grew from what she learned in books, using some of that knowledge to take on those who inflicted poverty and cruelty on those who lived in the area, largely the Natives. After several years there, Don Carlos tracked her down and convinced the young woman to come and live with him and his family at the hacienda and their pueblo dwelling. Sensing that "just call me" Carlos really had loved her mother and that she loved him very much, she acquiesced. She continued to work at the library, but was pleasantly surprised to find that Don Carlos had started amassing his own collection of books. Given her bookwormish predilictons, not only has he set her the task of being his eldest daughter, Yanira's, lady-in-waiting, he has assigned her to work as his librarian, and refers to her sometimes as his "learned one". Lorena knows there is something adventurous around the corner for her, but knows not what it is; however, she's determined to embrace it, and to use it for her cause.
Lorena has a deeply rooted hatred for the Spanish, due to the death of her mother at the hands of a caballero, though her father and some of the Spanish friends she's made in various circles are exceptions to the rule. She actually has protective feeling for her father's eldest daughter, Yanira, though the latter tends to look down on her half-breed sister somewhat. She has a strong desire to avenge her mother's death, but an even stronger desire to inspire the Natives around her in the face of the poverty and cruelty inflicted on them by the Spanish. She uses her knowledge from books to help her in this cause, and since moving into the Don's hacienda, her new status has led her to have some success with Natives living in the outlying villages as well as those in Monterey proper. She has also taken the approach to educate the Spanish about their relations with the natives, and feels that whether it is with a scroll/book and a quill or a sword, she will succeed.
"My cause is just, and I will succeed at educating these Spanish and their children. I am determined that the Natives will see better times. Whether that is with a quill in hand or a rapier, remains to be seen!"
And there you have the character that I created for the Zorro: The Roleplaying Game RPG. This character took me about 35 minutes to create, with about 10 minutes of leafing through the Core Rulebook and the like. Character generation in the Zorro: The Roleplaying Game can definitely take a while, if one doesn’t know what one is trying to do, answering the questions (see Step Two) taking the longest part of it potentially. If one has an idea of what one wants in the player character, the process will definitely take no more than about 15 minutes or so, less than that if one is choosing a Template, but this is a game system that's a lot of fun to work with even if it doesn't seem to present a wide variation of characters.
Comments and feedback are welcome. :)