Tuesday, 21 March 2017

All Things Under Heaven House Rules: Character Creation

So, my Twitch campaign has finally launched! The first session and first GM Prep session are up, and I'm feeling pretty good about it. The players are keen, the characters are really cool, and I feel like we're set to dive into some cool content and world-exploration. 

Ironically, it's at this time that it's looking like the home game is going to take a step back for the next month or so, but I guess that's the way of things. 

Things diminish, things increase: such is the will of Heaven.

Today's post is the first of a number in which I am going to share homebrew content I've created for All Things Under Heaven.

That will eventually include the races, the journeying mechanics, the fortunelling mechanic, the revised death and dying rules the campaign uses, the town development rules, etc - everything that may help people to follow along with the campaign or to run their own All Things Under Heaven game. 

For today, like the campaign itself, I think I'm going to start at the very beginning.

Character Creation:

(I'd like to acknowledge Steven Lumpkin and the phenomenal West Marches campaign he ran for Rollplay some years back. It represents a major inspiration for this game, and the mechanics presented here owe a great debt to him for inspiration and occasional wholesale borrowing).

Rule Zero
You are an adventurer because you feel a strong call in your bones to action. The boredom of a calm life doesn't appeal to you – you are driven to leave behind the safety of civilization and explore the wilds: to make your name, to make your fortune, to accomplish some passion or goal. Regardless of what drives you, you are driven. You choose where to go and what to do. There will be a handful of obvious choices, but you don't by any means need to take them. The adventure is in your hands.

Adventuring Motivation (replaces Alignment, )
Why are you adventuring? Choose a motivation, or tell the GM your own. At the end of each session, if you did something clearly in support of your motivation, tell the group. If everyone agrees, you gain XP equivalent to your share from a Moderate encounter of the group's CR.
  • Personal glory
  • Protect the weak
  • Seek the truth
  • Challenge the strong
  • Study the arcane
  • Tame the Wastes
  • Increase your wealth/fame
In place of the Arcana and Religion skills presented in the Players Handbook, All Things Under Heaven uses the following Skills:
  • Cosmology measures your ability to recall lore about the workings of Chi, the cycle of the elements, the arrangement and nature of the universe, the categories into which magical and unusual things fall, and the details of magical practice.
  • Folklore measures your ability to recall lore about superstition, beliefs and ritual practices among the common folk, legends from the local oral history, and your capacity to recall information about similar entities or situations when encountering the strange and unusual.
  • Theology measures your ability to recall lore about the gods of your people, the gods of others, Celestial beings, religious history and the history of the gods, and your ability to participate in and perform religious ceremonies.
Additionally, it adds the following Skills:
  • Etiquette determines how well you remember the manners, customs, and values of different peoples, and how well-versed you are in important cultural practices like poetry, calligraphy, tea-ceremony, etc.
  • Geography measures your ability to recall lore about the geopolitical borders of kingdoms past and present, various routes for trade and travel around the world, and the processes by which local weather and geology give rise to regional biomes.
History (replaces Backgrounds)
Each one of us comes from somewhere. We have a past that has shaped us; people who have helped or hindered us, raised or abandoned us, loved or hated us; lessons we have learned or mysteries we still puzzle over.

The characters are no different.

Every character has a History made up of the following: a one-or-two-word description of their previous life (Acolyte, Criminal, Soldier, Wanderer, etc.), three skill proficiencies they have previously acquired, any combination of tool proficiencies and language proficiencies that adds up to two, and a Speciality Knowledge.

Speciality Knowledges make a character a source of information for the group in relation to a subject related to their past. They give the player a direct means of interrogating the fiction, and also allow players to signal to the GM what kind of content they are interested in.

Mechanically, they work as follows:

The player, in consultation with the GM, identifies a subject related to the character’s History. The player can, spread out as they like across sessions, ask the GM a number of freeform questions about the subject (as if they had access to a Book or Library) equal to their Intelligence modifier.

The GM will also identify a form of research (studying local folklore, getting to know the local terrain, reading holy scriptures) that allows the player to replenish one question while visiting town.  

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