Sunday, October 26, 2008

C&C, WFRP, RQ Review: Appendix D. Creating Warhammer FRP characters

With Warhammer more of the character generation process is driven by the dice than the D20 games as a characters' career and personal characteristics can be almost entirely generated using the charts in the start of the book. This is an example to go with my comparative review of Castles & Crusades, Warhammer FRP 2 and Runequest II.

Name: Udo
Race: Halfling
Advance Used+5%
Advance Used

Applying Shallya's mercy to his Toughness gives him an average score of 21, this will also increase his TB to 2 on the secondard characteristics.

Skills: Based on race in WFRP
Academic Knowledge(Geneology/Heraldry), Common Knowledge(Halflings), Gossip, Speak Language(Halfling), Speak Language(Reikspiel), Trade (Cook)
Career Skills:Animal Care, Charm, Gossip, Haggle, Perception, Search, Speak Language (Brettonian) - so his final skills end up with Gossip (+10%)

Talents: Mostly racial features in WFRP
Night Vision, Resistance to Chaos, Specialist Weapon Group(Sling)
Randomly rolled: Savvy +5% to Int
Career Talents: Dealmaker, Flee!, Seasoned Traveller, Hardy (+1 wound) - a better choice than Suave as a +5 to fellowship would reinforce an already very good characteristic

Starting Career: I rolled 10 for a Camp Follower and 25 for a Grave Robber and selected Camp Follower with Udo being a cook following the armies to look for plunder. As a career this concentrates on the social and intellectual development of a character meaning that Udo will generally talk rather than fight and if he has to fight it'd be at a distance with his sling.

Physical Features (as there are tables for them I'm rolling them):
Height: base 3' 4" roll 8 so add 8 inches to get 4 feet 0 inches - a tall halfling
Weight: percentile roll - 88 on the table gets me 120 pounds so Udo is big and tall in halfling terms - able to look a dwarf in the eye!
Hair colour: Eye colour:
Distinguishing Marks: only one roll I've decided - Missing nail
Siblings: 5
Star Sign: The Big Cross Age: 26
Birthplace: The Moot Name: Udo
Purse: 12GC - 4GC for sling gives 8GC
Trappings: Clothes (worn shirt, breeches, boots and cloak), Pack containing Blanket, Wooden tankard, Wooden utensils, Trade Tools(cook), Tent, Pouch, Cleaver (Handweapon), Dagger, Purse

Handweapon (Cleaver) Damage SB(2)
Dagger Damage SB-3(-1) only the damage die will actually give any damage
Sling Damage 3

For purchase one thing stands out: a sling as his high ballistic skill and specialist weapon group talent mean he's going to be a lot more effective with that than going into melee with a sword. I made his handweapon a cleaver as being appropriate for a cook.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

C&C, RQ, WFRP review: Appendix B Creating C&C Characters part 2

C&C Character 2 again has his stats assigned by the player.
Alfar "the average"
Human Wizard Level 1
AC: 10


Abilities: Spells - Alfar will get a bonus first level spell for having an intelligence of 13. His spell book will contain spells to match the number he can cast per day of 4 for level 0 and 2 plus 1 for level 1. I actually selected these rather than rolled for them to avoid making his list too weak.
Level 0: Detect Magic, Mending, Detect Poison, Dancing Lights
Level 1: Read Magic, Sleep, Magic Missile

Staff +0 1D6
Dagger +0 1D4
Thrown Dagger +0 1D4 10ft range increment

Move: 90ft(120ft base minus 25% for light encumbrance)

Starting gold 90 good for a Wizard, but they have still plenty of options on equipment.
ItemCostEncumbrance ValueLocationComments
Spell Component belt pouch10gp1worn
Map or scroll case1gp1pack
10 sheets paper10gp-scroll case
1 oz ink8gp-pack
Bar soap5sp1pack
Bullseye Lantern12gp2pack
2 oil flasks2gp2pack
Flint and steel1gp-pack

Alfar has 35gp 7sp left after buying his equipment
To work out Alfar's Encumbrance Rating the base value of 10 is not adjusted for Strength modifier or primes so remains 10.

The Encumbrance Value of the items with a (w) suffix is reduced by 1 when worn so this means that Alfar's clothes are ignored and as an Wizard he has no armour to worry about. The items in the pack and belt pouch have their total EV reduced by 2 so the pack containing a bedroll (EV3), Scroll case (EV1), Soap (EV1) and lantern oil(EV2) has a total encumbrance of 5 for contents (7-2) and 1 for the pack itself (2-1) giving an EV of 6. Alfar's total EV then is 16:
  • Staff 4
  • Dagger 1
  • Pack 6
  • Component Pouch 1
  • Robe 1
  • Waterskin 3

As this is greater than his ER, but less than twice his ER he is lightly encumbered and has his move reduced by 1 quarter and a +1 to the challenge level on all dexterity based tests.

C&C, RQ, WFRP review: Appendix A Creating C&C Characters

A Tale of two characters...

Rolling the dice and then assigning the numbers as per the core rules I got two sets to work with.
Character 1Character 2

I'll do Character 2 as a separate post to avoid these becoming too long.
Geoffrey Borecutt
Dwarf Fighter Level 1
AC: 14

Dexterity:(10-1) 9+0
Constitution:(12+1) 13Prime+1

By putting the die roll of 12 into a demi-human's characteristic that has a positive modifier I'm able to boost a second characteristic into having a positive modifier.

Abilities: Weapon Specialisation - this gets a +1 to hit and to damage with a selected weapon. I'm going to go with the fearsome bearded axe though that does mean not being able to use a shield. Because of the +1 to hit and damage from his strength, Geoffrey will have a +3 to hit from his BAB, Strength and Weapon Specialisation and +2 to damage. With the bearded axe he'll do 3d4+2 damage giving a minimum of 5 and an average of 9.5 which in C&C will be lethal to low level opposition like Orc's and Hobgoblins.

Bearded Axe +3 to hit Damage: 3d4 +2
Dagger +2 to hit Damage 1D4+1
Sling +1 to hit Damage 1D4 Range 50 ft

Movement: 20 ft

Starting gold 110 - not great for a fighter who will always need armour and weapons at first level.
ItemCostEncumbrance ValueLocationComments
Bearded Axe20gp4carried
Scale Mail50gp4(w)wornIncludes a Leather Coif
Sling-1Belt pouch
Armour and Weapon oil1gp2pack
Large Belt Pouch1gp1(w)worn
4 Bandages2sp-Belt pouch
Pipe5gpBelt pouch
1 lb tobacco5sp1Belt pouch
Flint and steel1gp-Belt pouch
Heavy Boots1gp1(w)worn

So Geoffrey ends up with a few GP remaining: (110gp - 89gp 6sp) 20gp 4sp

His total encumbrance is not the sum of the encumbrance values of his equipment, armour and weapons as putting items into the Belt Pouch and Pack reduces the total EV and the items with a (w) have the encumbrance reduced when worn.

To work out Geoffrey's encumbrance his Encumbrance Rating has to be calculated which has a base 10 with any Strength modifier applied and with plus 2 for either of Strength or Constitution being a Prime. So Geoffrey with a Strength modifier of +1 and both of those attributes as Primes has an ER of 15. The maximum possible would be an ER17 with a Strength modifier of +3.

The Encumbrance Value of the items with a (w) suffix is reduced by 1 when worn so this means that Geoffrey's clothes are ignored and hsi armour only has an EV of 3. The items in the pack and belt pouch have their total EV reduced by 2 so the pack containing a bedroll (EV3), crowbar (EV2), canteen (EV1) and armour and weapon oil(EV1) has a total encumbrance of 5 for contents (7-2) and 1 for the pack itself (2-1) giving an EV of 6. The pouch with two items with an EV of 1 in it, sling and 1lb of tobacco has an EV of 0 (2-2 for contents, 1-1 for pouch). Geoffrey's total EV then is 14:
  • Bearded Axe 4
  • Armour 3
  • Pack 6
  • Dagger 1

As this is less than his ER he is not encumbered and moves normally.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Podcast Review: Security Now

Security Now is a IT security podcast presented by Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte. There is some controversy about Steve Gibson in the IT security community, but I'll discuss that as a separate issue once I get my IT blog running.

There are two main types of show: Listener Feedback and Themed podcasts, the split is 50/50 between these. Listener feedback includes a lot of Question and Answer content often related to the previous podcasts. The themed podcasts are usually about a few topics, such as the Phorm behaviour tracking software, Microsoft's Windows Steady State, Open ID and TruCrypt. There is a reasonable level of IT knowledge assumed which is appropriate for the content.

Leo Laporte acts as the facilitator for the show with Steve Gibson explaining issues and replying to the listener feedback that Leo reads out. This works well and Leo plays the role of an informed layman on the show.

There are a fair number of plugs for the companies that support the show, such as Astaro and Steve Gibson's company GRC with its product SpinRite. These are not too intrusive and reflect the reality of needing to support a podcast commercially unlike many of the others that I've reviewed.

At the GRC site there is an option to download a low bit rate version that is small and of a listenable quality. The high quality version can be downloaded from iTunes and the other usual sites such as Feedburner.

This is a useful podcast with plenty of sound advice amongst the product promotion. If you do dislike frequent mentions of sponsors or the presenters' own products you may not like it. I do listen regularly to this which shows that I do consider it worthwhile, but remember to look at other useful sources of security information like Bruce Schneier's blog.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Excellent Old School D&D Blog

The Grognardia blog is an excellent one for players of old school D&D or its many similar games like Castles & Crusades, Osric, Basic Fantasy Role Playing, Labrynth Lord or Swords and Wizardry

This post in particular shows many ways of how I like D&D to be played, I'm going to return with more detailed thoughts about it sometime soon.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Podcast Review: Digital Planet

Digital Planet is an IT and digital technology podcast from the BBC.

The main presenter Gareth Mitchell introduces the items which will normally cover a range of technology topics with the main regular guest presenter being Bill Thompson, who also writes for the BBC's websites. The discussion is clear and accessible for a layman, but due to the constraints of the format can not be particularly in depth.

Examples of topics covered would be the launch of the Google Android phone, how analysis of politicians' voices can reveal their personalities, effects of social networking in games and an entire episode devoted to technology in Brazil.

This does not attempt to be a comprehensive news podcast with the BBC having Science in Action to cover news topics.

Sound quality is high as you would expect from a BBC podcast and downloads from iTunes or other websites seem reliable with file sizes kept down.

This is another useful podcast for keeping up with technology news and I do listen to it regularly. Recommended.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Comparative Review of C&C, RQII and WFRP Part Ia

Comparative Review of C&C, RQII and WFRP
Part Ia Character Creation compared

In this additional part I'll discuss character creation in more detail including the variant methods in RQII. I'll also compare the differences in how the three games treat character attributes.

The use of 2D10 plus a fixed number that is used by WFRP gives a smaller effect even though it has a slightly wider range of results than the 3d6 used in C&C and RQII, given the WFRP's use of attribute scores as percentage amounts to be rolled.

The way that attributes affect resolution in C&C and RQ is stepped, e.g. if you have an attribute score of 12 in C&C it brings no positive modifier, but a 13 will give a +1 and a 16 +2 and an 18 +3. These are lower than the equivalent in 3rd edition D&D and base D20 games and in play are probably not quite so important though obviously having a positive modifier on any check helps.

Likewise in RQ a stat of 12 will normally bring no modifiers, but a 13 might bring a +5% and a 17 a +10%, in RQ these are not global modifiers for that statistic, but based on the particular application of the skill, e.g. Intelligence helps on attack, defence and knowledge rolls, but not on parrying. The Power statistic in RQ has a mixture of positive and negative effects for a high value, generally a power above 17 gives a +5% on most things, but makes a character harder to conceal because of their aura.

The difference between a score of 23 and 24 in WFRP is minimal (literally 1%), however for the derived values in the secondary profile of Strength Bonus and Toughness Bonus the main stat does make a difference as a score of 29 gives a SB or TB of 2, while a 30 gives a SB/TB of 3. This will affect the damage done in combat or the ability of a character to deal with wounds.

Comparing the three games and the degree of randomness in their character generation systems is fairly simple as RQ and C&C use 3d6 which gives the following bell curve/probabilities.

Warhammers 2D10 system gives a nice clean list of percentages, so for a human character any attribute can have the following values:


Shallya's mercy does mean that the average of attributes for characters is slightly higher than would happen if all rolls were taken as they fell, but only slightly as it raises a roll to the average for that character's race.

All three systems produce a bell curve so an "average" character is not outstandingly good at anything, but the most likely outcome with a random generation system is of a character having good and bad points which I personally like as creating scope for roleplay and determining the character using what has come out of the die rolling rather than starting with a concept and using a point buy system to try and make that character.

For in game effects Warhammer tends to be more granular with the percentage point differences on an Will or similar check while in C&C there will be the effect of the modifier giving a 5% step with each +/-1 and the very significant effect of primes which with the 6 point difference in the resolution score gives a +30% difference between a prime and non-prime attribute. RQ does not have the same tendency to make checks directly on attribute scores, but uses a stepped method with +/-5% increments on the resolution. On the whole I tend to prefer the RQ system, but all of these systems do work well in practice and these are not particularly big points of difference between these games and I'd need to compare to a very different mechanism like Savage Worlds or HeroQuest to see a major difference.

As a supplement to these first couple of posts I'm going to show character creation using the default method for all three sets of rules with each in an individual post.

RQ variant systems
The most significant of these is the points buy system which uses a flat value of 20 for the unallocated points with a base value of 8, so buying an 18 uses 10 points while a 14 takes 6 points. This was the first point buy character generation system I remember finding in an RPG, but I don't really remember using it as I preferred taking my chances with the dice. The other alternative systems still use some randomisation such as 2d6+6 or roll d20, though there is an option to use whatever system the GM wishes. I prefer the BRP system in Call of Cthulhu and RQIII with Intelligence and size as 2d6+6 as it avoids the hard to play low intelligence characters, unless the player and GM agree to use one for particular reasons.

The rest of the review can be found in these posts:
Part 1 Settings, Characters and Advancement

Part 1b Characters and Careers

Part 2 Equipment and Encumbrance

Part 3 Melee

Part 4 Magic

Part 5 Conclusions

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Podcast Review: Guardian Tech Weekly

Tech Weekly is a regular podcast from theGuardian

There are a floating group of regular presenters from the Guardian's journalists with Aleks Krotoski the regular host with Charles Arthur, Jemima Kiss and Bobby Johnson all appearing regularly. There are interviews with a wide range of people that relate to each podcast's theme, with an understandable bias towards British contributors.

The regular content will relate to recent technology news and also has regular features like the Elevator Pitch, where start ups explain what their company or product is about in only the time to ride in an elevator. This show is aimed at the general listener rather than the technology specialist so the content does not go into deep technical discussion and tends to feature social impacts of the issues.

The sound quality is good as you would expect from a professionally produced podcast and downloads from the Guardian's own website or iTunes are reliable and fast.

This is a worthwhile podcast to keep abrest of technology news, though it would ideally be supplemented with other podcasts such as the BBC's Digital Planet.