Hello all! I almost didn’t make this month’s post in time, but I finally got around to it. Life has been a little crazy here, and I’m sure its been just as crazy for all of you around the world. Hopefully, you are staying safe, fed, and healthy. Due to being considered higher risk (I’m a youngin’ at 34 but I do have Asthma) I am now working from home for the foreseeable future. I thank God everyday that I am able to still have a steady paycheck when so many others in the United States and around the globe are having to file for unemployment. Hopefully, due to social distancing, new breakthroughs with medication, and maybe the summer heat, we can pull through this and get the world back on track. But enough of that, I am sure you have heard all about it in whatever form of news you take in. This is a blog about DnD and tabletop games, so let the games begin!
This post has quite a bit in it, so bear with me!
First of, character creation. There is a fine line to walk here I believe. First, character creation needs to be a relatively smooth process. I don’t want to spend hours flipping through a whole bunch of abilities to try and make sure I have a character that will “work”. I also don’t believe in party balance. Yup, I said it… In every game I have ran so far, I try to instill it into my players that balance doesn’t matter. “You all want to be rogues? Sweet! All clerics? Awesome!” It is through an “unbalanced” party that creative solutions come into play. If you don’t have a cleric, that means that healing is going to be harder, so maybe you want to be a little more tactical about your decisions. No fighters mean you definitely can’t go head to head with most enemies. Also, if you have a “balanced” party, that usually means at least on player has to play a class that they don’t really like, and that is never fun.
Second, and kind of an opposite view of the first statement, a character needs to have something at least slightly unique that makes them stand out from the rest of the party, if only in the narrative sense. The more I delve into OSR gaming, the more I love how simple and compatible everything is. At the same time though, I can see why more abilities and feats were given. Not only do they make a character more mechanically better at something, but it also makes that character stand out a little more.
So… I am trying to walk that fine middle line…
For character creation, not only do I separate race and class (Ancestries & Archetypes in Goan), but you also choose a background, as well as a perk at 1st level. For those that haven’t looked at 5e, backgrounds are neat little way that gives you an idea of who your character was before they became an adventurer. Not only is there a narrative aspect, but you gain a few proficiencies as well. Perks are basically feats, such as in 3.5 and 5e, but I have tried to pull back the power level a bit. There are no perk tries either.
So these ideas come from a more “modern” approach to RPGS… but you say, “Fateweaver, I thought you enjoyed your time in the OSR so far? Don’t you have any of those sensibilities in Goan?” And the answer is yes!
One thing I really liked about Warhammer 4e, which to be honest I was looking at before I really knew what the OSR was, was random character generation. Throw some dice, that is you, get playing. So I tried to do something like that with Goan, assuming that the campaign will start in a certain area of the world, Káletaria. If you and your GM choose, you can roll on a list to generate your Ancestry (race), and then roll on another table to generate your background, which influenced by which race you rolled. Not only does this take some time out of trying to choose certain things about your character, but it also subtly hints at the setting. For instance, you have to roll a 99-100 on a d100 to become a Tahrot Knight. Obviously they are very rare. Not only that, but certain backgrounds, due to lore, are not available to the Tahrot Knight. Now of course, this is DnD and you can say “screw this” and do whatever you want, but at least the idea is there.
Other things I have kept from the OSR is 3d6 down the line and how saving throws work. Well… I say its how OSR saving throws work… but I pulled a flip-flop and have made them roll under like ability and skill checks. Makes WAY more sense to my players when I tell them to add modifiers. anyway, the following is the current character creation rules for Goan. Go ahead and try to roll some up and see what you get! And if you have any ideas or questions, feel free to let me know in the comments, or contact me on twitter at @GoanRPG, on the OSR discord at @Randoulph GoanRPG, or on reddit at rancas141. Check it out!
1. Choose Ancestry
Each ancestry has its own set of traits and features. Roll 1d100 to randomly determine your ancestry on the Ancestry table, or you may choose your own ancestry. Ancestry are described in more detail in a later section. Record your race on your character sheet.
If your ancestry is Human, Drekling, or Yanren, you may roll 1d100 on the Origin table or choose your own origin. Your origin describes your specific ethnic characteristics. Record your origin on your character sheet.
2. Choose Background
Every character has a background. A background determines your livelihood, your lifestyle, and your starting wealth. You may roll 1d100 on the Background table on the next page, or choose your own. Backgrounds are described in more detail in a later section. Record your background and lifestyle on your character sheet along with your background’s proficiencies, languages, characteristics and starting equipment.
3. Roll Ability Scores
Roll 3d6, and record the total in the Strength section of your character sheet. Next roll for Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and Sanity in that order. Record these values on your character sheet. You may switch two ability scores of your choice. An alternative method is to put each score where you wish. The method of ability score generation is up to your GM. If your total modifiers equal 0 or less, you may choose to reroll.
Each ability score has a corresponding modifier which is listed in the Ability Scores and Modifiers table.
|Ability Score Modifier|
Strength is the measure of sheer physical force. It is used to determine the outcome of melee attack rolls and damage, as well as skills such as Athletics.
Dexterity helps determine a character’s agility and reflexes. It also helps with the aiming of a ranged weapon, and with attack and damage rolls with certain melee weapons. The skills Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth are related to Dexterity.
Constitution measures the overall health and well being of a character. It determines both Endurance and Vitality.
Intelligence is the measure of a character’s knowledge in lore and various topics. It can also help a character search for clues or figure out a puzzle. The skills associated with it are Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, and Religion.
Wisdom determines a character’s knowledge of common sense and common tasks. It also helps the character take in the world around them. Skills associated with Wisdom are Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Perception, Survival.
Charisma measures how a character is able to interact and influence others. Skills that are based on Charisma are Deception, Intimidation, Performance, and Persuasion.
Sanity measures a character’s mental acuity when faced with insane circumstances, their level-headedness, and how they are affected by situations completely out of the norm. Stress is also determined by Sanity.
Fate is a special ability that typically represents both good and bad fortune. This special ability increases as you gain experience.
The main uses for fate are when attempting Greater and Rescue Gambits (detailed later). Fate can also be used to grant one reroll on a die. This is called Tempting Fate. You roll a Fate check. If you succeed, then you may reroll your chosen die, but you must use the new total. If you fail, then you must use the original result. A fate check may be modified by an ability modifier.
Your character starts with Fate equal to 10 + half your level rounded up. Record your starting fate on your character sheet.
Every time a character succeeds on a fate check, their total fate decreases by 1 to a minimum of one half your character level rounded up. You regain fate at the rate of 1 per extended rest.
A GM might compare adventurers’ fate to determine who is attacked first by a monster. He might have an adventurer make a fate check to see if there are any arrows left in a found quiver. If the GM asks you to make a fate check, your fate does not decrease, no matter the outcome.
Adventurer’s are welcome to come up with their own reasons for fate checks as well. For example, if your medical kit is empty, you may roll a fate check to try and find one last bandage somewhere in the kit. You must always go over your intent with your GM before attempting a fate check.
Your proficiency bonus is based on your total character level. A starting character at level 1 has a +1 proficiency bonus. Your proficiency bonus will increase as your character levels up. Record your proficiency bonus on your character sheet.
Saving throws are generally only used when the GM calls for them. Each archetype lists its base saving throws on a table. The saving throws are as follows:
Paralyze. Covers anything that paralyzes or may otherwise impede movement of your character. Add your Constitution modifier.
Poison. Used when poisons and toxins are at play. May also be used against unconsciousness or death. Add your Constitution modifier.
Area. Used for any area of effect attack from a wizards blast to a dragon’s breath. Add your Dexterity modifier.
Device. Covers situations dealing with magical devices, as well as old or new technology.
Magic. Used versus any magical effect from a spell or spell-like ability.
Record your saving throws on your character sheet.
Vitality, Stamina, Stress, & Initiative Bonus
Vitality, stamina, and stress are all indicators of the general well being of your character both physically and mentally. Initiative determines how fast your character reacts in combat.
Vitality determines how much real physical damage a character can take before they go unconscious and potentially die. Vitality is equal to half your Constitution score, rounded down. Record your vitality on your character sheet.
Stamina refers to your ability to put extra power in your attacks and defense. It is calculated by the following:
Stamina = Strength modifier + Dexterity modifier + Constitution modifier
The minimum amount of stamina you can have is 1. Record your stamina on your character sheet.
Stress measures the amount of mental fatigue your character can take before developing an Affliction. Your stress score starts at 0, but increases whenever you see something horrific happen. Your Maximum Stress is equal to your Sanity score multiplied by 5. When you reach your maximum stress, you gain an Affliction (detailed in a later booklet).
Your Initiative Bonus indicates how quick and alert you are during combat. It is calculated as follows:
Initiative Bonus = Dexterity Modifier + Wisdom Modifier
Record your Initiative Bonus on your character sheet.
4. Choose Archetype
Your character’s archetype grants them various features and proficiencies identified in the archetype section. These abilities and specialties help to see how your character fits into the world of Goan. An archetype in no way defines exactly who your character is. One warrior can be vastly different from another. An occultist may be revered and called a prophet in one culture, while burned as a stake as a witch in another.
Endurance measures how tough a character is. How much pain can they shrug off before taking real damage. Your endurance at level 1 is indicated by your archetype. Record your character’s endurance at level 1 on your character sheet.
Proficiencies indicate what your character is skilled in. These can be various tactile or mental skills, such as lockpicking or working with animals, or ability with different weapons and armor. Your archetype lists your various proficiencies. Record these on your character sheet.
Features are what truly sets your character apart from others. Each archetype has three features that make them distinct. These range from different combat abilities and tactics, to working with eldritch magic and brewing various tonics. Record your features on your character sheet.
Perks allow you to customize your character in unique ways. As a level 1 character, you may choose one Perk to differentiate yourself from others. You may choose another Perk at higher levels, or increase your ability scores. Perks are described in the Customization booklet.
5. Alignment & Character Details
Alignment helps determine how a character feels about the world and their place in it. It does not determine if a character is necessarily good or evil. Good and evil are a spectrum in Goan and characters generally tend to fall someone where in the grey. A character’s alignme