Leap Day Character Creation Challenge: 1 Character 4 Systems!

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Lofgeornost

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So, at the end of the January 2024 Character Creation thread, we had the idea (thanks to Kage2020 Kage2020) for a special Leap-Day version, as follows: pick a character you like from fiction, movies, comics, TV--or, heck, history or mythology--and stat it up in 4 different RPG systems of your choice. Entries are due on that once-in-a-blue-moon date, Feb. 29th.
 
So, at the end of the January 2024 Character Creation thread, we had the idea (thanks to Kage2020 Kage2020) for a special Leap-Day version, as follows: pick a character you like from fiction, movies, comics, TV--or, heck, history or mythology--and stat it up in 4 different RPG systems of your choice. Entries are due on that once-in-a-blue-moon date, Feb. 29th.
As a starting character, or on unlimited budget?
 
Whatever you like, but for most characters an unlimited budget makes the most sense, I think.
Cool by me, I just wanted to know the ruleset:grin:.

Then I need to start thinking of a character. That's going to be the hardest part...:shade:

Besides, I'm not going to make any mechanics before the 29th itself, or what's the point?
 
Then I need to start thinking of a character. That's going to be the hardest part...:shade:

Besides, I'm not going to make any mechanics before the 29th itself, or what's the point?
Yeah, I’m waffling between a couple of possible characters myself. I plan to do some of the design work early, though, since I’m likely to be busy during the week.
 
As an answer to AsenRG AsenRG's :ooh: response to my previous post: I suppose it would be more of a 'challenge' if you stat up the character four ways in just one day. But in the interest of having an interesting thread, as opposed to a 'one day and done' thread, it makes sense to me for people to submit their characters at whatever schedule they like, as long as they are done by 2/29. That way we have more to read and comment on.
 
As an answer to AsenRG AsenRG's :ooh: response to my previous post: I suppose it would be more of a 'challenge' if you stat up the character four ways in just one day. But in the interest of having an interesting thread, as opposed to a 'one day and done' thread, it makes sense to me for people to submit their characters at whatever schedule they like, as long as they are done by 2/29. That way we have more to read and comment on.
Life insists to keep reminding me that I can only speak for myself, so sure, post them in whatever schedule you prefer:thumbsup:!
 
I'm going to have to go one a day for the next four days, life being what it is (full of "work" and other "necessities of living").
 
Okay, let's get one in.

I've chosen Sam Vimes from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. Vimes is almost an archetypical jaded cop, except that he's not jaded - he's bitter and cynical and distrusts everyone but he still believes in justice.
sam vimes.jpg
source

Here he is in Blade Runner:

Human
Archetype: Inspector
Years on the force: 15 (at the upper end of veteran, but he's not an old-timer just yet)

STRENGTH B/d10
Force D/d6
Hand-to-Hand C/d8
Stamina B/d10
AGILITY C/d8
Firearms C/d8
Mobility C/d8
Stealth C/d8
INTELLIGENCE B/d10
Medical Aid D/d6
Observation B/d10
Tech D/d6
Driving D/d6
EMPATHY C/d8
Connections C/d8
Insight A/d12
Manipulation D/d6
(He's okay at most stuff, not great at subtlety, but excels at just not giving up and on puzzling everything out.)

Health: 5
Resolve: 6
Promotion Points: 3
Chinyen Points: 5
(He's tough but getting long in the tooth, and very determined. He isn't promotion-minded and not political, he just keeps getting promoted because he's good at his job when it counts.)

SPECIALTIES: Married To The Job, Hardened
(He just keeps going.)

Key Memory: years back, in a throng, in the rain on a city street, he witnessed a selfless sacrifice that left him feeling hopeful (at the barricades during the Revolution)
Key Relationship: child, loving, their life is in danger (his son Young Sam is constantly threatened by those who foolishly think this would make Vimes back down instead of do everything to save his son)
Home: with key relationship, in a serene luxury penthouse (Lady Sybil has a grand residence)
Signature Item: book (Where's My Cow, which he reads to Young Sam every night without fail)

Gear: badge, KIA, spinner, PK-D blaster (the usual)


There's nowhere in this system to include drawbacks. I didn't take the Hip Flask speciality because that provides a bonus from having a drink, and Vimes is an alcoholic who goes to pieces when he does backslide.
 
My character is going to be The Avenger, the ninja from the gamebooks...::honkhonk:
 
Not Steed? Or Mrs. Peel?:smile:
Is that a request, or a question::honkhonk:?


Retro-Tv-The-Avengers-Mrs.webp
 
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Sand dan Glokta (Version 1)

One of the protagonists in Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, and other books which I've not yet read. This will be the version of Glokta we meet early on, in The Blade Itself, when he is about 35 years old. From a noble family, Glokta once was a 'golden boy' of the Union's military. He won the Contest, an annual fencing competition, and was a colonel, commanding an elite cavalry regiment. But in the war with the Ghurkish Empire about a decade ago, he was seriously injured and captured while leading a suicidal charge that saved the rest of the army. The Ghurks imprisoned and tortured him severely for a couple of years until he was freed at the end of the conflict. Returning to Midderland, he found that in his ruined state his old colleagues and friends mostly shunned him, so he entered the Inquisition, a kind of secret police. After serving some years helping administer the penal colonies in Angland, he has been transferred to the capital, Adua, where he works as an Inquisitor. His own experience of torture has given him great skill in interrogation and torment, though he leaves some of the physical side of the business to his assistants, or Practicals, Severard and Frost.

Besides being one of the better-developed characters in the series, Glokta makes an interesting challenge to convert into an RPG character, because of his personal history. In his early twenties, he was an expert swordsman and likely a creditable cavalry commander, though in the Union military rank can depend more on social factors than ability. But battle injuries and mutilations inflicted on him during torture have severely altered his physical capabilities. For such a grimdark author, Abercrombie is actually somewhat reticent about what was done to Glokta. His left leg is essentially useless, and he seems to have incurred spinal injury as well, so he walks slowly, bent over, using a cane, and has special trouble with stairs. Half his teeth and his nipples were removed, and—well, he has to urinate sitting down, let's leave it at that. So from a gaming perspective, his physical attributes are now considerably lower than once they were. He doubtless has high skill with swords and similar weapons, but his issues with mobility, balance, etc. should mean that in a normal combat he would be at considerable disadvantage. I suppose that a system like Hero or GURPS would provide rules to portray this, but since I don't have either one I won't be using them.

Abercrombie depicts the Union, Glokta's homeland, in terms that are most reminiscent of 17th or even 18th century Europe—except that gunpowder is not well-known or used. So I've plumped for systems that are designed for roughly that historical era. First up is Cloaks, Courts, and Gonnes, which despite its archaizing spelling of 'gun' is meant to portray agents and operatives in the Thirty Years War. It's a relatively simple die-pool system. Characters don't have physical attributes, just numbers for skills (big categories of abilities) and specialties (more discrete capabilities). The weight for each skill is the number of D10s the player rolls, while the rank in the specialty is the target number of the D10 to get a success. Characters also have a talent which gives them 1 extra D10 to roll when it would apply (g.m.'s discretion) and a form which provides 1 automatic success for three related specialties. The rules explain a talent as a "self-defined word or phrase that describes the character or their expertise"; examples include "cunning diplomat, highly agile, crowned prince, etc." Unfortunately, the system is a bit murkier on forms; they are supposed to encapsulate "your character's training, style, and approach to conflict." The only example given is "accomplished hunter."

So here is Glokta's character sheet:

CCG-Glokta.png Glokta_Comic.jpg

Starting characters would have 2 skills at weight 3, 2 at weight 4, and 2 at weight 5, and within every skill 1 specialty at each rank between 2 and 6. The advancement rules aren't really helpful for progressing Glokta's statistics, and I have tried to take the physical damage he suffered into account as well. The weight for Ranged skill may be too low, but I don't see how he could use a bow or crossbow very effectively, given his handicaps. At first I thought of using his form to beef up his abilities in interrogation and investigation, but I thought the auto-success feature there could be a way to capture his one-time ability as a duelist combined with his current physical limitations. He doesn't get to roll many dice for melee specialties, but he has a high rank in some of them and gets auto-successes.
 
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Sand dan Glokta (Version 2)

For the second version, I choose the Renaissance system, a free OpenQuest derivative that is aimed at England in the 1640s. It fits the Union fairly well, if you leave aside the references to firearms and magic. I also ignored the Righteousness/Faction section; you could make this work in the First Law context, but it would require a fair amount of hacking.

I simply assigned the characteristics, trying to represent Glokta's post-captivity state—no doubt his STR, SIX, and DEX were once higher. It was rather difficult to do this for some stats, since they combine elements together that for this character would be quite different. DEX is the outstanding example—likely Glokta's hands and arms are still about as dexterous as ever they were, but his agility and ability to move quickly is much less. Likewise, CHA combines "attractiveness and leadership qualities"—Glokta is pretty hideous, but can be a commanding figure. I have given him a fairly high CON on the grounds that he was tough enough to survive extensive torture, and his POW is very high because it represents "life force and the strength of his willpower," something he has in excess. I had to reduce his Movement figure by fiat to 1/3 of human normal; there is nothing in the rules about this but it seemed to be required for the character.

Glokta-Renaissance.jpg

I followed fairly standard procedures for generating his skills, giving him the bonuses for his social class and picking some advanced skills to go with it. Instead of giving him one previous profession, however, I used two: Cavalier (which seemed to fit his earlier life) and Witch-Finder (the closest the rules have for Inquisitor). I decided that Glokta would be a 'seasoned' character, and hence get 350 additional skill points rather than the normal 250, but I subtracted the 110 points of skills he got from the Witch-Finder profession from that, to yield 240. I also re-interpreted the Lore-Witches advanced skill that comes with being a Witch-Finder as Lore-Law.

I wasn't really sure of how to handle Glokta's combat skills. As a champion of 'the Contest' he should have very high close combat skills, but his current physical state would make it hard to use these effectively in any but very controlled situations—basically where he does not need to move his legs. So I put some points into Close Combat and Dual Weapons, but did not buy them up as high as I would have otherwise. I thought I would end up spending a lot on Influence, since it is the closest the system offers to an interrogate or intimidate skill, but the score there is simply what he attained from his background and professions. I did buy up his Insight, though.

A few skill ratings I actually lowered from where the rules indicated they should be, usually by 15 points. Given Glokta's mobility problems, he should not be able to do much in Athletics, Dance, Dodge, or Stealth, and his ugliness would lower his Seduction. I've marked all such Skills with an asterisk.
 
Sand dan Glokta (Version #3)

This time I tried to capture Glokta using Honor & Intrigue. In some ways this was easier than with Renaissance, because using careers rather than skills simplifies char-gen a good deal, and it was fairly easy to see which careers applied. But in other ways the system is more complex, particularly for combat. Since H&I lumps characteristics into only 4 QualitiesMight, Daring, Savvy, and Flair—I had the same issue as I did in Renaissance with trying to represent Glokta's injured state. Flair, for example, would apply to flashy moves in combat, and seduction of women (both of which are now far beyond him) but also to verbal jousting (which he's quite good at).

Glokta-HI.jpg

Since Glokta is a more experienced fellow, I gave him 5 points for basic Qualities, 5 for Combat Abilities, 5 Careers (and 5 points for them). I'm not really sure about the Combat Ability ratings—he was once a champion fighter but now isn't. I don't recall the books saying much about his knowledge of languages, so I picked what made sense to fill the available slots. Most examples of Motivations were one word, but I made his a phrase, to capture his doggedness once put on the scent.

For his Boons, Fearsome Looks was pretty obvious, and a Dueling Style was needed, too, given his background. Italian seemed closest to the style used in 'the Contest.' Given that he is quite fearless, Laugh in the Face of Danger is appropriate as well. For the Flaws, his appearance and demeanor definitely make him Unsettling. I waffled on whether his mobility problems should be represented by Missing Limb (though his leg isn't actually gone) or Lumbering, and ended up with the latter.

As for Maneuvers, I simply listed those for the Italian Style. Given that he was the best fencer in Midderland, he should have mastered all of them, but given his current state I cut this back to a single option: Stop Thrust. He uses something like this the one time we see him in action with his sword-cane, IIRC.

The Friends & Contacts and Rivals & Enemies match the situation in the first book.
 
Sand dan Glokta (Version #4)

To make things easy for myself, and to publicize a neat little game, the last version of Glokta will be for Shadows over the Land a horror game designed for one-shots by Olivier Legrand with a default setting of England in the 1640s. Actually, Glokta's parts of The First Law trilogy often come fairly close to horror, and it would be easy to use these rules to run investigative scenarios.

Shadows' characters are easy to create-there are only a few steps:
  1. Decide the Ties that hold the group together--in this case, all would be members of the Inquisition in Adua
  2. Define the character's Role, which is typically a profession (or equivalent) plus an adjective or descriptive phrase. For Glokta that is Cynical Inquisitor.
  3. Assign Qualities, rankings in the fields of Body, Mind, and Soul. These begin as an array of 4, 3, and 2, assigned as you like (or alternatively all 3s); you then add 1 to the Quality of your choice. For Glokta I will go with Body 2, Mind 4, and Soul 4.
  4. Note Possessions that the character normally has on him or her. For Glokta this would be his inquisitor's garb and his sword-cane.
And that's it--he's now defined as far as the system is concerned. Happy Leap Day!
 

After considering the game, I decided that the best way to represent the Avenger is by adopting a particular set of skills (he has to pick 3 out of 8, then gets another, then gets another, which might be one of 2 bonus ones).

So the first version for today shall be the Everywhen Avenger.

He's incredibly agile and quick, very strong, almost untiring, and somewhat good-looking, though not so much that it would be worth a Boon. He's also trained by both monks of Kwon, and ninja, so he's a Shaolin-Ninja! The 80ies kids are tearing up now...
Oh yeah, and he fights empty-handed, regardless of whether he's facing demons, devils, a giant dragon, or a diminutive gnome. He's not even trained with weapons, which might play him a nasty surprise, potentially.

Str 1
Agi 4
Mind 2
Appeal 0

Initiative 3
Melee 3
Ranged 1
Defence 3

Martial Artist 6 (He has defeated many undefeated enemies, including the Supreme Master of the rival Evil Shaolin-like temple of Vile)
Spy (Ninja) 6 (Let's just say, part of his exploits includes defeating the head of a rival ninja clan, by finding him out inside his own clan's citadel)
Actor 2
Outdoorsman 2
Noble (4) (King of his own city, has headed a league of cities, but has no greater claim on power than other nobles on Orb)
Warlord (4) (Lead said league of cities' army in a battle and emerged triumphant)



Boons:
Acrobat, Actor, Blind Combat, Brawler, Disguise, Low Born*, Stealthy.

Banes:
Enemy (several times, he has earned the enmity of multiple Orb-spawning religions, as well as the personal enmity of dangerous men and women...and not all of them are dead, either!)

*He grew up in a temple, training as a ninja...but his real heritage is that of a noble, and he has reclaimed it, as evidenced by his Careers. That said, he doesn't behave like a stereotypical noble at all, as far as I can tell.



...and that's it. The 29th is over for me, and I wasn't even done with the first version, so I consider my part of this challenge an unmitigated failure:gooseshades:!

Congratulations to Lofgeornost Lofgeornost for completing the Challenge:shade:!
 
Sam Vimes in:

Honor and Intrigue!
Motivation: See that Justice is done.
Qualities: Might 2, Daring 1, Savvy 1, Flair 1
Combat: Brawl 2, Melee 1, Ranged 0, Defense 1
Careers: Ruffian/Thug 1, Pugilist 1, Soldier 2, Hunter 0
Lifeblood 14, Fortune 3, Composure 3
Boons: Hard to Kill, Dueling Style - Drake's Style, Savant
Flaws: Hot-Headed, City Dweller, Infamous
Friends and Contacts: Captain Carrot, Vetinari
Rivals and Enemies: nobles and Guild masters generally
Maneuvers: Dirty Fighting (mastered), Shove/Trip, Beat, Quick Cut, Bind

Righteous Blood, Ruthless Blades!
Level 1, Killing Aura 1, Drinking Limit 1, Max Wounds 3
Defences: Evade 5, Hardiness 8, Wits 7
Martial Arts: External Arts 3, Lightness Arts 1
Specialist Skills: Medicine & Alchemy 1, Meditation 2, Survival 3
Unorthodox Skills: Disguise 1, Drinking 1, Gambling 1, Theft 3
Mental Skills: Command 2, Detect 2, Empathy 1, Reasoning 1
Physical Skills: Athletics 1, Endurance 3, Muscle 2
Knowledge Skills: Institutions 2, Jianghu 2, People and Places 2
Signature Ability: Yan's Enduring Spirit
Counter: Insightful Reaction
Eccentricity: Dutiful
Weapon: Stick
Resources: Loyal Bodyguards (Colon and Nobby)
Career: Constable

Against The Darkmaster!
-attached.
 

Attachments

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Congratulations to SoManyRats SoManyRats for completing the challenge. I was interested that you were making Vimes using the beginning character rules (at least for Honor & Intrigue, where I could recognize it). I’m afraid I tended to assume Glokta had additional experience.
 
Congratulations to SoManyRats SoManyRats for completing the challenge. I was interested that you were making Vimes using the beginning character rules (at least for Honor & Intrigue, where I could recognize it). I’m afraid I tended to assume Glokta had additional experience.
Thanks! I went with beginning character rules to keep it simple, since Vimes changes so much over the books (he starts out a mostly-non-functioning alcoholic doing essentially busywork, and grows to become a world-renowned wealthy noble who is so capable and respected that the Assassin's Guild has basically given up on him and who can sometimes access superpowers because he's defeated a Dwarven spirit of vengeance through sheer bloody-mindedness).
 
Will do them in separate posts because of formatting. With out further ado, Conan the Barbarian as a young man, before the Tower of the Elephant, but not much. Will do from oldest to newest system
1. Classic Traveller
2. TFT
3. Dragon Warriors
4. My own
 
Conan the Barbarian as a young man, before the Tower of the Elephant, but not much.

Classic Traveller (Books 1 & 4, + Supplement 4 "Citizens of the Imperium")
Conan the Barbarian
Human

(Service Rank) UPP) (Credit Balance)
Barbarian 2 Warrior CA9765 Age 17 "3 Terms" 1Cr
Blade Combat 2*, Recon 1, Survival 1 (skills)

*Assume gets three "Blade" results on mustering out roll then take second and third as Blade skill
UPP (@ roll 2d6) = Strength-Dexterity-Endurance-Intelligence-Education-Social Standing, on a hexadecimal scale (A=10, B=11, C=12)

Conclusion: doesn't really do it well, but closest and within the character creation rules, the skills seem a little low.
 
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Conan the Barbarian as a young man, before the Tower of the Elephant, but not much.

The Fantasy Trip
Conan the Barbarian
(36 pt. character, 32 is base TFT rules)
Human

Attributes
ST: 15
DX: 12
IQ: 9
MV: 10
Talents:
Sword (2), Swim (1), Climb (1), Silent Move (2), Toughness (2); Woodsman* (1)

*Adding this Talent breaks the TFT rules.
Conan always was described as being at home in the wild, able to live off the land and travel through it. Woodsmen Talent appears to fit the description but it is IQ 11 and the prerequisite Talent Naturalist encompasses abilities Conan never showed.

Conclusion: certainly not possible by the base character creation rules, have to bend the rules on Talents even then; but still respectively play like Conan. Though...this looks very playable especially with 36 pt. sidekicks/companions
 
Conan the Barbarian as a young man, before the Tower of the Elephant, but not much.

Dragon Warriors
Conan the Barbarian

Human Class: Barbarian

Attributes (on a roll 3D6 scale) Attack: 14 Defense: 6
Strength: 18 Evasion: 5
Reflexes: 16 Stealth: 13* Perception: 5*
Intelligence: 10 Magical Attack: 0 Magical Defense: 3
Psychic Talent: 7
Looks: 10

Health Points (1d6+9): 15
Special Abilities:
Track, Berserk, Ride Warhorse
*This is no different from a knight, or sorcerer's stealth & perception

Conclusion: does the warrior part but not the outdoorsman and stealthy aspect of Conan, and higher rank special abilities don't make up for it. Really this class is a berserker and not Conan; so can't do Conan unless add to the rules.
 
Conan the Barbarian as a young man, before the Tower of the Elephant, but not much.

Home System
Conan the Barbarian

Human

See/Hear/Smell: 4 / 2 / 2 Rum/Climb/Swim: 3 /2 / 1 Base Noise: 1

Attributes
(1-6) Talents Skills
Dexterity 5 Athletic 2 Climb +2, Stealth +2, Swim +1
Endure 4 Combat 2 Sword +2, Throw +1
Strength 6 Esthetic 1
Appeal 2 Magic 0[-1]
Insight 3 Nature 2 Scout* +1, Survive +2
Reason 2 Social 1
Will 3 Technical 1

SHP:
16 BHP: 24 CHP: 7
Languages & Cultures:
2 common languages, Cimmerian culture
Religion& Belief: Crom 2

* under these rules the Scout skill also includes the Tracking skill, and is a skill that aids the Senses in detecting things
Conclusion: Built under my point buy system for basic starting characters.
 
Sorry about how everything is squished together. Can't seem to get things to spread out.
 
Sorry about how everything is squished together. Can't seem to get things to spread out.
Not a problem; it’s all readable.

Conan would be difficult to stat out in most systems, I think, because he is such a ‘big damn hero’ even while young. I toyed with doing Eric John Stark but backed away from him for that reason.

In retrospect, I think I should have done Glokta in some system that downplays combat and emphasizes investigation. His parts of the books are not about physical confrontations, really. On the whole, I think Cloaks, Courts & Gonnes probably captured him best, since it is aimed at ‘agents’.
 
Not a problem; it’s all readable.

Conan would be difficult to stat out in most systems, I think, because he is such a ‘big damn hero’ even while young. I toyed with doing Eric John Stark but backed away from him for that reason.

In retrospect, I think I should have done Glokta in some system that downplays combat and emphasizes investigation. His parts of the books are not about physical confrontations, really. On the whole, I think Cloaks, Courts & Gonnes probably captured him best, since it is aimed at ‘agents’.
Yah Conan is tough especially in systems where attributes like Strength also serve as the prime way to determine success or failure in combat. I had a real hard time deciding what Conan's ST and DX should be in TFT. He was always portrayed as fast in the stories.

Then there arises a problem in class systems if there is not a class that combines what Conan is (a cardinal sin in my book for any game holding itself out as able to do the fantasy adventure genre). Dragon Warriors, despite my love for it, has this problem big time. The Barbarian class is given little attention compared to the knight. Good news is you can fairly readily modify their barbarian class to do Conan. Older editions of D&D completely fail at Conan because he was always as good as a fighter in combat and HP but also could sneak and climb (but the latter two were the sole province of the thief),

Traveller, well if the Barbarian citizen was given the full service branch love as for the Navy in High Guard, I'm sure it would work out well (as long as you got good rolls in character creation)

My home system, I designed it so it could do a young Conan; that is, so you could start as a young Conan if you wish. You can also grow into the older Conan in my approach, add in social or other skills, raise attributes, all depending on the choices you make in how to spend your experience. Or you could go a different way, or do more a Viking, or Beastmaster, the thing here is there is no firm or narrow class path you need to follow, also no need me to create a class for each such path.

What makes a young Conan badass under my approach is not so much above average ability in everything, but in a few key areas that a savvy player (such as Conan) can leverage the synergies of.
This Conan could readily take on 2 city guards/bandits, and likely overcome 3 or 4 with some wounds; they key being he is just a bit better at combat (both get to roll 2 dice, but he is +2 skill instead of +1).
However he would be doing 12 points of damage per hit (ST 6) instead of their 8 (4 ST, note 3 is average), and more importantly he roll 5 dice (DX 5) for initiative while they roll 3 (DX 3)...which means if he wins initiative his blows land first.
Also average but tough guards/bandits have 29 HP total (only 24 HP before getting into critical HP), but when each hit of Conan's (and he could get 2) does 12 HP, and it is applied first if Conan has initiative (before the guard's hit can be applied IF the guard survives Conan's hit) those guards have got to be pretty dedicated to face him. Compare Conan has 47 HP.

I think the above shows the value of verisimilitude emerging from the rules. That is young Conan doesn't need to be some near super hero, or big damn hero, to fit the stories. He just needs to be able to do what he does in the stories, perhaps with a bit of luck (good rolls).
He is not taking on a half dozen guards when he starts, he has his companion help him avoid the lions at the Tower, he relies on his stealth to gain advantage, he doesn't act like he is invincible. What he does that is "big damn hero" in the beginning (e.g. dodging the spider in the Tower, breaking chains) is really him being very, very strong and very fast.
I personally don't think Conan is as invincible as some systems have to assume he is given how they model characters, and certainly don't accept that young Conan is so "all that" that is is sheer folly to ask a fantasy RPG game to be able to do Conan.
 
I didn’t mean to imply that Conan couldn’t be modeled, or to object to what you did in that regard. To clarify my point, I was really thinking more about Stark, whom I spent a little time trying to capture. One problem is that it seems he can use just about any weapon, pretty successfully. This works with systems which have a single combat skill, or those where combat ability depends merely on level, but in those with multiple weapon skills (some D100 systems I was considering using) Stark would have to have a lot of points in quite a few of them to do what he does in the stories—pick up about any weapon and use it effectively.

On the ‘big damn hero’ front, there is one element of Conan, and Stark for that matter, which I think many systems have difficulty with. That is, it’s pretty common in the Conan stories (less so in the Stark stories, but it does appear) that Howard (or Brackett) includes some phrase like ‘a normal man would have failed/been exhausted/given up, but Conan (or Stark’s) indomitable will/catlike reflexes/sheer bloody-mindedness carried him through.’ They write it better than I have here, but they do often call out the idea that this person is special, will naturally succeed where others don’t—even others with a similar background and training. I guess a more flexible attribute system, like FATE, might capture this, or having lots of hero points or other meta-currency, etc.
 
I didn’t mean to imply that Conan couldn’t be modeled, or to object to what you did in that regard. To clarify my point, I was really thinking more about Stark, whom I spent a little time trying to capture. One problem is that it seems he can use just about any weapon, pretty successfully. This works with systems which have a single combat skill, or those where combat ability depends merely on level, but in those with multiple weapon skills (some D100 systems I was considering using) Stark would have to have a lot of points in quite a few of them to do what he does in the stories—pick up about any weapon and use it effectively.

On the ‘big damn hero’ front, there is one element of Conan, and Stark for that matter, which I think many systems have difficulty with. That is, it’s pretty common in the Conan stories (less so in the Stark stories, but it does appear) that Howard (or Brackett) includes some phrase like ‘a normal man would have failed/been exhausted/given up, but Conan (or Stark’s) indomitable will/catlike reflexes/sheer bloody-mindedness carried him through.’ They write it better than I have here, but they do often call out the idea that this person is special, will naturally succeed where others don’t—even others with a similar background and training. I guess a more flexible attribute system, like FATE, might capture this, or having lots of hero points or other meta-currency, etc.
Fair enough, don't recognize Stark but think this will apply.

It goes in part to how games separate what I'll call Attributes (lets keep with Strength, Dexterity and Will) from things like what you've learned or are gifted in doing, let's call these Skills (in D&D they are called Levels). Now when and where you use Attributes versus Skills to determine a chance of success is going to impact everything inthis regard.

If Attributes are the basis for everything, then the system is going to have a very hard time with Conan or a Stark, as something you can start as in the game.

If it is Skill based, then there is a possible problem depending on how narrow skills are, that is how many skills do you need to make the character Conan or Stark, (this seems to be the issue with Stark) or what skill bundles the class approach is giving you (that's the problem with early D&D as stealth & climb were the sole province of thieves).

Attributes
For me, how I see these genre descriptions, and my approach, is as follows.
First on 'more than a normal man' that's pretty to get as most games start PCs with Attributes above average. The normal person in my approach has an attribute of 3, with 6 the human max.

Attributes for me are used for those things that are pretty much a direct consequence of the Attribute, like breaking chains, breaking holds is a pure Strength roll for number of dice. Also Strength is the direct measure (not some bonus) of the damage you do with a sword. This approach found covers the genre adjectives for Conan...i.e. verisimilitude with the tales.

Dodging can be a Dexterity roll (or at some point a skill based roll may be better), same with the reflexes, speed of strike, and those adjectives. So similar to above using Attributes for these things solves that aspect of genre adjectives.

The problem (for me) is making the indominable will, unyielding determination fit IF I require that to be reflected in an Attribute.
I have Will as an Attribute, it figures mechanically prominently is resisting certain magics. Now good news for me, in Conan he doesn't really face magic spells that require resisting until later in the stories, so for verisimilitude a starting Conan doesn't need high starting Will for anything game mechanical to allow him to do what he does in the early tales. Also, may be one reason Conan is nervous around magic, and why he spends some of his character improvement resource to increasing his Will and resisting magics :smile:

Otherwise, I believe the meta aspect of how a PC is played by the player covers the genre description of Conan doing things most sane folk would balk at or give up on. Like going into a a pitch black cave, full of monsters and traps for a few coins, maybe, speaks of will, foolishness, or desperation.
I'd say I've had my PC do all sorts of things that in real life would need to make some kind of roll to not chicken out on. :smile:
I never make players roll for morale; it's only when magic which can compel them are used that magically instill in them fear, etc. do they need to roll. So all that being said, wiling to let the meta aspect of how we play PCs, which fear naught natural and never get tired of any goal, lead to the verisimilitude with the genre description.

I'm all about verisimilitude, and I'll take advantage of how we play PCs to avoid having to award a Conan or Stark a high Will. I am definitively not about trying to simulate them but if they were an NPC I'd have no problem assigning them numbers outside the PC creations rules.

Skills
I believe in very broad skills, if by that we mean what primarily determines success when you roll for more that mere being strong or fast. I call these Talents (I use the word skill to mean something else).
For me then I have broad skills/talents called Athletic, Combat, Nature, etc., D&D calls them Classes with the important distinction classes are really special pre-chosen skill bundles that may or may not fit well.
So Stark, in this approach, would have a high Combat Skill/Talent, which is rolled against when using any weapon. Now he may have a focus in certain weapons that makes him even better at them and acts as some bonus or modifier for their use, in D&D this is like specialization. When I use the term Skill in my approach it is in the sense of this specific focus / specialization under the broader Talent.

This is how I did a young Conan, he has Combat Talent 2 (equivalent to a professional soldier) and Sword Skill +2. He gets to roll 2 dice no matter what weapon he is using, but with a Sword he also get a +2 modifier (no extra dice just easier to get a success). What makes him meet the adjectives in the literature is not so much he at a young age is a better swordsman than a veteran infantryman (he's equal to them and outclass any simple bandit or town guard) just the synergy provided by his Dexterity and Strength make him extremely deadly if he fights with half a head (which is he does). My recollection is in a one-on-one fight Conan seems very confident, but he is cautious when outnumbered, facing bows etc. he's not a fantasy super-hero. By the time he is a ship captain he is very much a higher level PC and wading into battle against a half dozen pirates is no thing.

Caveat, I base all this on REH Conan, the tales by others can in my mind suffer from bloat (but still love them), where the simple advantages that Conan had were just not enough.. so power creep :smile:, or course i read tales for enjoyment and realize they are tales...and the story teller has license to exaggerate a bit or much more that a bit....it's the only way I can enjoy The 300 with the gross liberties it takes with history.
 
I'd like to point out that in some stories, Conan notes that he'd have preferred one of the straight Western swords he was used to, but he then proceeds to use his curved sword quite efficiently in a melee:tongue:.


And it reminds me of what would happen in a game with Mythras-like combat styles, say Raiders of R'lyeh*, where someone trained in Classical Fencing (with epee, foil, saber and main-gauche) would get a curved sword, possibly of Indian, Persian or Arabic origins, argue that it's reasonably close to an weapon he's used to, and then proceed to use it without penalty...:shade:

Would it "feel better" if you had your usual weapon? Sure. Would the unfamiliar weapon stop you? Not really. Totally a pulp approach, in my book:grin:!

Of course, Conan himself probably has a combat style adding "improvised weapons" to his picks. But actually, we can make an argument that he really only has 4-5 weapons in his style: Straight sword, Axe or Mace, Dagger, Improvised: Blunt, Spear, Shield...totally within acceptable limits. With this, and the above rule, he can easily use anything that's close enough: scimitars, long knives, shortswords, mace/axe...

And he is mentioned in story to have been learning to shoot a bow before the story begins, so add that as well. It was supposedly bought with Improvement rolls:thumbsup:.

So yes, he is fully doable within the basic rules, and not even requiring something like a Barbarian/Fighter class from Classic Fantasy, nor does it require all weapons to be inside a single talent::honkhonk:!

And, of course, with it being a skill-based system, his combo of skills is easily achievable: just train them up. That includes even the ritual spell he performs in Beyond the Black River...:gooseshades:


*I'm slowly munching the idea of making it my go-to Conan game, for multiple reasons.
 
I'd like to point out that in some stories, Conan notes that he'd have preferred one of the straight Western swords he was used to, but he then proceeds to use his curved sword quite efficiently in a melee:tongue:.


And it reminds me of what would happen in a game with Mythras-like combat styles, say Raiders of R'lyeh*, where someone trained in Classical Fencing (with epee, foil, saber and main-gauche) would get a curved sword, possibly of Indian, Persian or Arabic origins, argue that it's reasonably close to an weapon he's used to, and then proceed to use it without penalty...:shade:

Would it "feel better" if you had your usual weapon? Sure. Would the unfamiliar weapon stop you? Not really. Totally a pulp approach, in my book:grin:!

Well, mileages will vary. If I were g.m.ing a game with discrete weapon skills or weapon styles like Mythras and a player claimed his or her character’s skill with classical fencing weapons meant he or she could use curved swords without penalty, it would be a hard sell. I’d be inclined to impose one. And with Stark, the example that led to all of this, it’s not just a question of one kind of hand weapon or another; he also seem competent (at least) with firearms, energy weapons, etc.

All of these specifics, though, kind of miss the point IMO. There are characters in fiction who are presented as ‘big damn heroes’ who outclass and outperform those around them: characters like Conan, or Sherlock Holmes, or Doc Savage, or John Carter. Then there are characters that are more normal human beings, like D’Artagnan, or Detective Murdoch (from the novels, not the TV show), or the un-named narrator of The War of the Worlds. The latter are easier to stat up, I think, because the whole point of the other sort of characters is that they break the curve or mold, that they cannot be accounted for by normal standards and expectations.

I looked back through some early Conan stories and I think one shouldn’t underestimate just how outstanding he is supposed to be in them. For example, in “The Frost Giant’s Daughter,” which occurs early in his career, he is the only survivor out of 80 men in a skirmish of one band of raiders against another, having killed the sole survivor of the other side at the battle’s end. Despite this, he still has resources enough to follow Ymir’s daughter through the snow for hours and to kill a giant. In “The God in the Bowl,” Conan (now a thief) is held on suspicion of murder by 5 city guards (including their prefect), an Inquisitor, and a watchman armed with a crossbow; a young noble is part of the mix as well. When things go bad, Conan immediately kills the noble with a single stroke, puts the Inquisitor down with one leg-cut, sheers off the ear of the prefect (and would have killed him had he not got his bill up)—all before anyone else has a chance to react effectively. Howard tells us that, of the 4 other police, “half of them would have been down before they had a chance to fight back” except that one by chance got his arm around Conan. His reward was having his eye put out, and Conan then stomped the watchman into bloody submission. In 3 paragraphs, and apparently only a few seconds, Conan killed or put out of action 4 of his 8 opponents, 5 if you count the man who lost his ear. All without apparently suffering any wounds in return.
 
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Well, mileages will vary. If I were g.m.ing a game with discrete weapon skills or weapon styles like Mythras and a player claimed his or her character’s skill with classical fencing weapons meant he or she could use curved swords without penalty, it would be a hard sell. I’d be inclined to impose one.
You can, of course, but that would be you houseruling the system. IIRC, that (or a close enough exchange between kinds of swords) is literally the example in the corebook - though I can't check now, my books are away:shade:.
 
You can, of course, but that would be you houseruling the system. IIRC, that (or a close enough exchange between kinds of swords) is literally the example in the corebook - though I can't check now, my books are away:shade:.
Well, perhaps. The rules indicate that when you are fighting with an unfamiliar weapon, you suffer a penalty, but how much depends on the weapons involved. It sets out 4 main categories of difference: substantially different, reasonably different, broadly similar, and similar. It doesn’t actually give the comparison of fencing weapons vs. scimitars. It does say that if you know broadsword then curved swords count as similar (no penalty), but short swords do not—they are only ‘broadly similar’ to broadswords and so a penalty is applied. I think I would rule that a scimitar is at least as far from fencing weapons as a broadsword is from a short sword. But this is a matter on which different people will reach different conclusions. It also is a question of how combat styles are defined—if the campaign is using a broad definition, like ‘all swords’ (one of the possibilities in the rule book) then clearly it wouldn’t be an issue.
 
Well, perhaps. The rules indicate that when you are fighting with an unfamiliar weapon, you suffer a penalty, but how much depends on the weapons involved. It sets out 4 main categories of difference: substantially different, reasonably different, broadly similar, and similar. It doesn’t actually give the comparison of fencing weapons vs. scimitars. It does say that if you know broadsword then curved swords count as similar (no penalty), but short swords do not—they are only ‘broadly similar’ to broadswords and so a penalty is applied.
Yes, a scimitar isn't further from a fencing saber than a scimitar from a straight (arming) sword. Same length, one blade, cut and thrust...good enough in my book.

I think I would rule that a scimitar is at least as far from fencing weapons as a broadsword is from a short sword.
I'd absolutely agree if it was about a rapier/foil player transferring to scimitar, mind you. But in the case of a saber player?
Nah, I'm fine with it, as explained above:grin:!

OTOH, a rapier/foil player would have an umbrella as "broadly similar"...:gooseshades:

Agreed my example is indeed less clear-cut than for other pairings, but if you'd note, Conan would have - unlike my example - "broad sword" or something like it written as a main armament. So the scimitar would be "broadly similar" in his case at least.
Whether my potential European adventurer in the 1900s should benefit from the same treatment...well, if I believe it works, who's going to contradict me:tongue:?

But this is a matter on which different people will reach different conclusions. It also is a question of how combat styles are defined—if the campaign is using a broad definition, like ‘all swords’ (one of the possibilities in the rule book) then clearly it wouldn’t be an issue.
Yes, and Classic Fantasy has Fighter using all weapons ever with Combat Style: Fighter.
But obviously we're not discussing either of those cases:thumbsup:.
 
I'd like to point out that in some stories, Conan notes that he'd have preferred one of the straight Western swords he was used to, but he then proceeds to use his curved sword quite efficiently in a melee:tongue:.


And it reminds me of what would happen in a game with Mythras-like combat styles, say Raiders of R'lyeh*, where someone trained in Classical Fencing (with epee, foil, saber and main-gauche) would get a curved sword, possibly of Indian, Persian or Arabic origins, argue that it's reasonably close to an weapon he's used to, and then proceed to use it without penalty...:shade:

Would it "feel better" if you had your usual weapon? Sure. Would the unfamiliar weapon stop you? Not really. Totally a pulp approach, in my book:grin:!
Agreed. I don't get into that level of detail normally, an have Sword skill/focus cover any and all sword things from dagger to two handed...but because it is all encompassing....if Conan needed an extra skill/focus point the player could negotiate for a subset of what that skill covers at a cheaper price... :smile: A +2 skill/focus in my rules is a big bonus.
Of course, Conan himself probably has a combat style adding "improvised weapons" to his picks. But actually, we can make an argument that he really only has 4-5 weapons in his style: Straight sword, Axe or Mace, Dagger, Improvised: Blunt, Spear, Shield...totally within acceptable limits. With this, and the above rule, he can easily use anything that's close enough: scimitars, long knives, shortswords, mace/axe...
For me that is where a global skill/talent like Combat comes in. I'm certainly sacrificing detail for ease.
And he is mentioned in story to have been learning to shoot a bow before the story begins, so add that as well. It was supposedly bought with Improvement rolls:thumbsup:.
If this were in one of my games this would be a player justification for why they are spending xp to acquire bow skill. I let players spend xp on anything, and we just assume they have been working on this as a skill/focus for some time before it rises to the level of a numerical bonus
So yes, he is fully doable within the basic rules, and not even requiring something like a Barbarian/Fighter class from Classic Fantasy, nor does it require all weapons to be inside a single talent::honkhonk:!

And, of course, with it being a skill-based system, his combo of skills is easily achievable: just train them up. That includes even the ritual spell he performs in Beyond the Black River...:gooseshades:


*I'm slowly munching the idea of making it my go-to Conan game, for multiple reasons.
Cool! not knowledgeable about Mythras as a system but did play Runequest some in the day
 
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