Monday, June 3, 2013

Beyond the Wall Blogtest: My Dwarven Adventurer's Raw Numbers

Everyone in the Beyond the Wall blogtest has agreed to first present the results of our playbook dice rolls and then to discuss those results before generating final character descriptions. Handling the process this way will also help us to collaborate on the village map and NPC list (rather than having to back away from decisions made in isolation).

Brett has already posted his dice rolls for his Would-Be Knight; Henry has done the same for his Self-Taught Mage. What follows are my results for my Dwarven Adventurer.

According to the playbook, my character has the following stats before any dice are rolled: STR 10, CON 12, DEX 8, INT 8, WIS 8, CHA 6.

The first set of tables answer the question "How did you come to the lands of men?"

In this section, the first subquestion is "What is the history of your clan?" I rolled an 8: "They have always worked the deepest mines, mining the richest veins of precious metals and gems." The mechanical bonuses for this result are +2 STR, +2 CON, and Skill: Mining. This subquestion comes with a map icon, indicating that I get to add a location to the village map. Since my character is from out of town, this decision is a bit tougher than the ones the human characters' players have to make. Perhaps there is a jeweler in town or a goldsmith who purchased the minerals dug up by my character's clan?

The second subquestion is "What drove you from the lands of your people?" I rolled another 8, getting the tragic result of "Your hold was destroyed by goblins." My STR gets another +2 bonus; my CON, a +1. Was my character the only dwarf from the hold to survive?

The final subquestion in this section of the playbook asks "When you left your own people, you found it difficult to live with humans. However, the other characters became your fast friends. Who else became your friend?" My roll of 3 on this table turned up a rather strange result: "Most humans found you too strange, and were frightened of you. You spent much time alone." Since this subquestion is supposed to generate an NPC for the list, it seems counter-intuitive for the playbook to produce a result that provides no hook for generating an NPC. My inclination is to roll again, but I thought I would consult with the group first about doing so. The mechanical bonuses for my roll are +1 CON, +1 INT, and +1 WIS.

At this point, I'm done with the first of the playbook's two major questions. My character's abilities are now as follows: STR 14, CON 16, DEX 8, INT 9, WIS 9, and CHA 6. He also has Skill: Mining.

Becoming a Level 1 Warrior, the character gains the class abilities Weapon Specialization and Knacks as well as a craft skill of my choosing. Since the specific nature of my class abilities will be decided by subsequent rolls on the tables, I initially thought that this skill would be as well. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Since the character came from a precious metals mine, I decide to make this skill "Goldsmithing."

Now I move on to the playbook's second major question: "What have you learned on your adventures so far?"

The first subquestion here is "How do you plan to build your hoard?" My roll is a 4, "You hold in your memory the location of the entrances to several lost elven tombs and plan to take their faerie gold." The mechanical benefits are +2 CON and Skill: Trapping. Can anyone say "plot hook for the GM"? I thought you could!

The next subquestion is "Like all respectable dwarves, you bear the weapon of your fathers. What is it?" With a roll of 2, my ancestors' weapon is apparently "A short but broad blade of heirloom steel." I get +3 CON and Weapon Specialization (+1 to hit, +2 to damage) with the short sword. I'm also supposed to add a building to the village map. Since this entire table is all about weapons, my choices here seem a bit limited: blacksmith, armorer, guardhouse. I'll take votes from the rest of the group.

(I'll also note that my character has run afoul of Beyond the Wall's maximum in-chargen ability value of 19. After these two tables, his CON should be 21—but it can't, so I settle for the 19 and hope I don't get another CON bonus.)

On the third subquestion table ("What was your first big hassle amongst the tall people? The friend to your right was there with you."), I roll a 1: "You were waylaid by a pack of giant spiders near the mountains. Your friend burned their webs as they descended from the trees, and gains +1 STR." My mechanic bonus is a +2 to STR and the Knack: Defensive Fighter (+1 AC). The friend bonus is a good one, given that the player to my virtual right is Brett's Would-Be Knight; he can definitely use a STR boost. We've also learned that the village is near the mountains.

The final subquestion is "What treasure do you keep that first drew the other characters to you?" My roll of 5 gives me "An untarnished silver chalice," a useless CON boost of +2 (that's four points of extra CON down the drain, boo-hoo), and a "cup which purifies its drink." I expect that the other players met my character in the tavern where he routinely drank from his own cup, the one family heirloom he rescued from the destruction of his hold. An NPC creation is signaled here. Since I earned a cup from this table, I think the NPC has to be the man or woman who fills that cup with strong ale: either the bartender at the tavern or the barmaid.

At this point, I'm done rolling. My character's abilities are STR 16, CON 19, DEX 8, INT 9, WIS 9, and CHA 6. My skills are Mining, Goldsmithing, and Trapping. About as classic a dwarf as you could expect (albeit clumsier than most—was he injured escaping from the goblins?). Time for the rest of the players to make comments and suggestions, I think!


  1. The map and npc symbols make sense in the first section, but I'm missing something on the second half. On Would-Be Knight's playbook, there's a map symbol on "What is your preferred fighting style?" The NPC symbol is on "How will you seek your fortune?", and the responses don't mention characters. On the other hand, the responses for "When did you first draw blood?" almost all have people in them.

    I think that any mention of a place or person deserves a note. At least a name. Just my thinking.

    1. I've the same dilemma with the question asking what sort of mage wrote the magic tome. There's an icon for a village location. It makes a bit more sense if the icon appeared on the question asking Who wrote the book. Fortunately the question asking about the visiting southern mage has the NPC icon.

    2. A second read of the How to Play book clarifies this (Parenthesis mine):

      "Any time players see the symbol to the left (Location icon) beside one of the tables in their Character Playbooks or Scenario Pack, they may then add a location of interest to the map. This location may or may not be directly related to the result that they just rolled on the table itself. The player should feel free to use the result as inspiration or just to make up something that interests him."

      So we're free to make something up.

  2. I'm finding this whole blogfest fascinating and it's really selling me on the game. But I have a question, and it's something that's made me shy of these indie-style collaborative-character-creation games in the past - given the fluid nature of most RPG groups, how does a newcomer to a group create a character after the campaign has already started?

    1. The noble and demihuman playbooks are less tied to the village, some are newcomers (weren't born in the village). They could be assumed to be "old" newcomers who have spent some years there, but could probably be adapted as more recent arrivals. As for standard human characters, they could be less acquainted children in the village. Or perhaps even rivals who have come to a grudging mutual respect with the party members.

  3. Shame about the Con overload. You have an override pick (or reroll), might warrant its use here to spread that burned boost to another more suitable choice. Both choices dealing with your items give you a heavy Con bonus and wouldn't change your character much with another pick.

    The dwarf has two heirlooms. One silver chalice and one short sword made of heirloom steel. Actually does that wording instead mean he smelted down a steel heirloom to forge the sword. Or did he carry a block of heirloom high-grade steel ... like in Highlander.

    I've a blacksmith in my background, a villager I befriended outside of my family and children friends.

    As for the other human friends, maybe it's a sign you value your friendship with the party members even more. Not being grown-ups maybe we don't judge you like our parents.

    It's funny we're hanging out with a drunken dwarven refugee with an intent to rob elven tombs. Are the tombs reputed to be near the village?

  4. Regarding the CON overload-does this game use Hit Points? How about, if the group agrees, those 4 points of wasted CON become a one-time 1st level +4 hit point bonus?

    Or, with it being loosely based on B/X D&D (or something along those lines) maybe overloads could be traded in on a 2:1 or 3:1 basis to raise another score.

  5. i'm ok with you having a 21 CON.

  6. I definitely approve of doing your "choose instead of roll" to get something other than CON. Anything else is out of the rules and for the playtest, I think we should stick to "as written". But persuade me otherwise.

  7. Can we start placing locales and naming NPCs yet? In the comments?

  8. Hi all, sorry I'm still working up my post. I just started a new job a few weeks ago, and I've been scrambling ever since. Anyway, I hate to sound like I'm a dope, but whose character rolls will affect mine, and who will my rolls affect (going around the table)? Thanks for your patience. I'm really excited about this effort, and the BtW game itself. I like the idea of the cooperative character creation, and am eager to see how things pan out for us.

    1. I got my head outta my butt and figured out what I needed to know, please ignore my comment above. AND MY POST IS UP!

      Here it is:

  9. You've all inspired me to not only invest in the game, but set up a blogroll on my site so I can easily follow your unfolding blogfest ;)