Friday, October 18, 2013

Alternative Zero-level Character Generator for DCC: Updated and updated again

I have updated the Alternative Zero-level Character Generator. I had a chance, last night, to test it out with the Metal Gods crew (Adam, Gabriel, Jason, Phil, and Wayne), and we discovered that it needed a bit of tweaking and just a little more explanation of some parts of the process. This is the result.

To begin character generation:
  • Start with by rolling your character attributes, using 3d6, in order.
  • Your starting age is 13.
  • You may be of either sex.
  • Roll on the Occupation Table of your choice, or use Purple Sorcerer's excellent character generator. This roll represents your parent's (mother's or father's) profession.

 After that, you're going to go through a process of determining what has happened so far in your life, before you decided to become an adventurer. Much of this material is left to your discretion. It's there to give you some ideas about what you might have been or might have done in your life, going beyond the notion of "occupation" and getting into "biography." The idea here is that you are shaped by your past, and not merely by whatever single occupation you might have pursued before becoming an adventurer.

Along the way, you will have a change to change your attributes (by rolling for them according to the circumstances you encounter). Sometimes the results might seem counter-intuitive. For example, you might find that your character has had formal schooling, but the resulting roll against the Intelligence attribute gives you a negative modifier. How can going to school make you dumber? Think about it: How many young people go off to college only to spend their first year (or more) carousing and more or less going crazy once they are out of their parents' supervision? As a professor myself, I can only say that the answer is "not a few." It's your job as a player to determine what the results of your rolls actually mean, as they are not elaborated in the tables. They are intentionally left vague so that you have that ability.

Here is the table you'll use later, when you are told to make a roll against one or more attributes. Roll 1d7-4 for swingy rolls) or 3d6 (for stronger central tendency) each time you are asked to make a roll. The resulting modifiers should be added or subtracted from your relevant current attribute scores. None of your attributes can go below 3 or above 18. Ignore any rolls that would achieve either of those results.

Modifiers for 3d6 Roll
3 (-3)
4-5 (-2)
6-8 (-1)
9-12 (+0)
13-15 (+1)
16-17 (+2)
18 (+3)

You will roll on the following tables, using the results as inspiration for your life's story prior to becoming an adventurer. Note that some results will ask you to enter the zero-level funnel or become an adventurer. This means that your character generation process is complete:

First, you should determine your origins. From what sort of place do you come?

Where are you from? (d16)

1-5 A farm
6-8 A village
9-10 A town
11-12 A city
13-14 A wilderness area
15 A war zone
16 Nomadic (land or sea)

Then, figure out what shaped your early development.

What did you do for the first part of your life? (roll a d24)

1-8 Just like Mom/Dad: You carry on the family tradition, following in the footsteps of your mother/father. Keep your original occupation and roll once against each attribute. Hereafter, ignore any result that makes you change your occupation. Add 1d10 years to your age.
9-10 A soldier shall ye be: You are press-ganged by a high noble for a war. Change your occupation to "person-at-arms." Make rolls against Strength, Agility, Stamina. Add 1d5 years to your age.
11-12 Runaway: You run away from your home to pursue a personal ambition (pick an occupation associated with that ambition). Make rolls against Stamina, Personality, and Luck. Add 1d5 years to your age.
13-14 Black Sheep: You are driven in shame from your home because of something terrible that you did (or are reputed to have done). Make rolls against Stamina and Intelligence. Add 1d5 years to your age.
15-16 Fall in with a Bad Crowd: You become a juvenile delinquent. Choose an appropriate occupation (e.g., Urchin, Pickpocket, Burglar). Make rolls against Agility and Luck. Add 1d5 years to your age.
17-18 Student: You receive formal schooling. Make rolls against Intelligence and Luck. Add 1d5 years to your age.
19-20 Acolyte: You get religion, becoming an acolyte in a temple. Make rolls against Intelligence and Personality. Add 1d5 years to your age.
21-22 Apprentice: You are apprenticed to a master. Change your occupation to reflect your apprenticeship (e.g., blacksmith, jeweler, apothecary, etc.). Make rolls against either Intelligence and Personality/Strength and Agility/Stamina and Luck, depending on the apprenticeship. Add 1d5 years to your age.
23 Brush with destiny: You are blessed or corrupted in some manner. Roll against all attributes, modifying each as warranted, and using the results to determine what might have happened. Add 1d5 years to your age.
24 Roll twice on this table.

Then, you determine what happened after the developmental years of your life.

What happened next? (roll a d24)

1-12 Adventure awaits! You decided to become an adventurer. Make a roll against one Attribute (as determined by 1d6: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Personality, Intelligence, or Luck). Character generation is done, and you enter the zero-level funnel.
13-16 Continue on: You carry on what you were doing last time. Make the same rolls as before and add 1d10 to your age. Character generation is done, and you enter the zero-level funnel.
17-18 Curveball: You encounter a crisis event. Make rolls against Luck and one other attribute (as determined by 1d6: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Personality, Intelligence, or Luck). Add 1d5 years to your age.
19-20 A new path: You change the course of your life. Roll on the previous table, ignoring repeated results, and add 1d10 to your age.
21 Marriage: You are wed to another. Make rolls against two of Personality, Intelligence, or Luck. Add 1d10 to your age.
22 Advanced learning: You study with a master. Roll twice against two attributes of your choice. Take the higher result of each roll. Add 1d20 to your age.
23 Junkie: You become an addict. Roll twice against two attributes (as determined by 1d6). Take the less lower result of each roll. Add 1d20 to your age.
24 Turbulent life: Roll d12+12 twice on this table.

Finally, provided that you haven't already become an adventurer and entered the zero-level funnel, you should roll on this table to determine what sort of precipitating event caused you to leave your old life behind to seek a life of adventuring. Some choose it and some are forced into it by circumstance. Use your life story so far, and the result of your roll to determine the particulars. For example, prior results may have told you that your character had married. Perhaps you roll 4 on this table—Death. In that case, your spouse might have died. Alternately, you might have had a brush with death that somehow changed you and made you want to leave your comfortable life behind.

What caused you to become an adventurer? (roll a d10)

1 Famine: Make a roll against either Intelligence or Stamina. Add 1d5 to your age.
2 War: Make a roll against either Strength or Agility. Add 1d5 to your age.
3 Pestilence: Make a roll against either Stamina or Luck. Add 1d5 to your age.
4 Death: Make a roll against either Strength or Luck. Add 1d5 to your age.
5 Epiphany: Make a roll against either Intelligence or Personality. Add 1d5 to your age.
6 Dream: Make a roll against either Stamina or Personality. Add 1d5 to your age.
7 Avarice: Make a roll against either Personality or Agility. Add 1d5 to your age.
8 Boredom: Make a roll against either Intelligence or Luck. Add 1d5 to your age.
9 Serendipity: Make a roll against two attributes of your choice. Add 1d5 to your age.
10 Roll twice on this table.


Now it's time to do some adventuring. Take these characters out into the world. Most of them will die, certainly, but those who survive may make names for themselves, or get stinking rich, or become insanely powerful. But that's another story. It's up to you to tell that story.