Monday, August 8, 2011

Building a Better Beorning: Chargen in The One Ring, Part Two

The first step in hero customization is the determination of the hero's Calling, his or her particular motivation for adventure.  Like Background, the choice of Calling initiates a cascade of sub-choices.  There are currently five Callings available: Scholar (the acquisition of knowledge drives you forth into the Wild), Slayer (someone did you or yours wrong, and you're seeking the means of vengeance), Treasure-hunter (the ruins created by the long, tragic history of Middle-earth = PROFIT), Wanderer (the experience of new things is its own reward), and Warden (someone must protect the weak against the onset of the Shadow).  Each Calling allows a hero to determine two more favored skills (taken from Calling-specific skill groups), pick up one unique Trait, and (unfortunately) acquire a Shadow Weakness as well (i.e., the path you're like to follow if you're overwhelmed by the Shadow).  It's worth noting here that each heroic culture write-up lists suggested and unusual Callings; the latter are not forbidden to player heroes from that culture, but the game suggests that Loremasters generate stories from the character's willingness to flout his home culture's expectations.

The suggested Callings for Beornings are Slayer (haughty Beornings make enemies easily) and Warden (in the end, though, they stand up against the Shadow); the unusual Calling is Treasure-hunter (what is a Beorning going to spend his treasure on in the Vales of Anduin?).  There's a bit of the caretaker in Botild, so Warden could work.  But I think her sense of hard-won freedom from familial duty and strife inclines her more toward the path of the Wanderer, so that's my pick.  The Wanderer's favored skill groups are Custom (Craft, Battle, and Lore) and Survival (Explore, Healing, and Hunting).  In Botild's case, Healing seems like an obvious choice for a favored skill: she did spend all that time tending to her flocks, after all.  So Healing gets underlined.  The second favored skill can come from the same skill group or from the other one; I don't see Botild as being particular inclined to fixing things, skilled at warfare, or eager for facts (her curiosity is directed at experiences, not information).  I'll therefore underline Explore and boost it from 0 in a few steps.  The Wanderer's unique trait is Folk-lore, an aptitude for picking up the sort of social knowledge that interests Botild most.  Her Shadow Weakness is Wandering-madness, the temptation to completely break free of all ties that bind and lose herself in the moment.  Botild is going to have to work to establish an equilibrium between the responsibilities she's escaped for the moment and the freedom that could potentially lead her astray.

The next step of customization is the determination of favored attributes.  These are boosted Body, Heart, and Wits values representing a hero's particular inclinations; when a player spends a Hope point to augment a Common skill roll, he adds his regular attribute score to a regular skill and his favored score to a favored skill.  Each hero adds three points to one attribute, two to a second, and one to a third.

Looking at the character sheet, I see that all of Botild's favored skills are clustered under Body (Athletics, Awareness, Explore) and Heart (Healing).  Since her base Heart of 4 is lower than her base Body of 6, I'm going to add the three points to Heart for a favored total of 7 and the two points to Body for a favored total of 8.  Poor old Wits will have to make do with a favored total of 5 (up one from 4).

I now get ten points to spend on raising my skills (both Common and Weapon).  I have to be careful here: skills cost their new level in points, and each level must be paid for (e.g., going from 0 to 3 is going to cost six of the ten points).  Worse: weapon skills cost two per level and are also cumulative in cost.

Some tough choices here.  I established that Explore was one of Botild's favored skills, so I want to put enough points there to make that decision worthwhile.  A score of 2 (average) eats up three of my ten points.  Now I have seven left.  I'm going to bring Healing up to 2 as well; since it was already at a 1, I'm out just two points (total of five left).  Botild has seen a bit of Wilderland before play begins, so Travel goes from 0 to 2 (three points, two left), and she's learned to overcome some of her Beorning brusqueness, raising Courtesy from 0 to 1 as well (one point, one left).  I don't have enough points left to raise any of her existing Weapon skills, but then I never pictured her as a front-line fighter: she's more like to fight from a defensive stance, protecting her allies and herself.  I do think she's picked up some woodcraft by now, though, so I drop the last point into Stealth, making it a 1 (one point, zero left).

I'm getting close to finished here.  Time to start calculating some key secondary stats, Endurance and Hope.  For a Beorning, Endurance equals 24 + Heart; Hope, 8 + Heart.

Botild's Endurance is 28; her Hope is 12.

Gear is based on a character's choices.  Each hero gets a free weapon for each of the Weapon skills he has at 1 or greater.  Heroes also start with one suit of armor and may choose one piece of headgear and one shield.  Traveling gear (season-appropriate clothing, water, food, blankets, etc.) is also provided free of charge.  Any other starting gear is a result of negotiation with the Loremaster (with the hero's cultural Standard of Living as a touchstone).  Equipment is encumbering of course, and a character's total encumbrance from gear equals his Fatigue score.

Botild's Weapon skills mean that she owns a great spear (encumbrance 4), an axe (encumbrance 2), and a dagger (encumbrance 0).  She's a wanderer, not a warrior, so I don't get her any headgear or shield.  (Not that she could use a shield while wielding her great spear!)  At the same time, Wilderland is a dangerous place, so I opt for a leather corslet (encumbrance 8).  Her total encumbrance gives her a Fatigue score of 14, half her Endurance score (giving her a lot of wiggle room before she becomes Weary).  In spring and summer, her traveling gear raises her Fatigue to 15; in autumn and winter, it's 16 instead.

Some more calculations now: a hero's Damage score equals their basic Body rating, while their Parry score is identical to their basic Wits rating.  (Weapons and shields respectively modify these scores.)

Botild hits hard: on a great success, she adds her Damage score of 6 to her spear's Damage rating of 9 for a total damage of 15; on an extraordinary success, she adds double her score of 6, generating a total damage of 21—enough to drop all but the toughest Orcs in a single blow.  That said, she's not the best at getting out of harm's way, what with no shield and a Parry score of 4.  But then that fits her generally defensive approach to combat.

The last major choice to be made involves ranking the hero's Valor and Wisdom scores.  These function as reputation indicators, and they also represent opportunities for heroes to acquire power-ups.  These bonuses begin piling up at rank 2 (and every rank thereafter, all the way up to the maximum rank of 6 in each score).  A new TOR character begins with a rank of 2 in one score and a rank of 1 in the other, giving the hero a power-up before play begins.  If the hero opts for Valor 2 and Wisdom 1, she gains a Reward (a new piece of culturally-specific equipment or an upgrade to an existing bit of normal gear).  If she opts instead for Wisdom 2 and Valor 1, she can choose one of several culture-specific Virtues—or select one of several generic stat boosts instead.

I decide to prioritize Valor over Wisdom and give Botild Valor 2 and Wisdom 1.  She's now entitled to a Reward.  I look over the three Beorning Cultural Rewards—the Giant-slaying Spear, the Noble Armor, and the Splitting Axe—and don't feel the love.  So it's a generic upgrade instead.  Botild's leather armor is already light enough, so there's no real reason to classify it as of Cunning Make (-2 to Encumbrance).  But it might also be Close-fitting (+1 to Protection, raising the corslet from 2d to 2d+1).  Alternately, I could make her spear Grievous (+2 damage for a total of 11), Keen (the weapon's Edge rating—the number the attacker must equal or beat on his Feat die roll to cause a Wound—drops by 1 to a value of 8), or Fell (the weapon's Injury rating—the number the target must equal or beat on his Protection roll to avoid taking a Wound—goes up by 2 to a value of 18).  In the end, I opt to make the leather corslet Close-fitting: the bonus to Protection fits Botild's general defensive posture, and it might even allow her to risk more aggressive combat stances (she'll get hit more often, but will be able to avoid Wounds more easily).

That's it for individual customization.  In my final post in this series, I'll present Botild's complete write-up and offer some general reflections on chargen in TOR.

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