Saturday, September 22, 2012

IKRPG Character Construction 101 - Intro

Over the past couple of weeks I have been browsing the IK RPG book quite a bit, preparing a campaign to be run by Victor. I consider myself a fairly experienced role-player (although some would say roll-player) and having a good grasp of the IK fluff it is pretty easy to dive into the book. However I thought I'd briefly go through the character creation process today to help nail down a few things in my head. It is also a massive tome and I still have a lot of it to read once, let alone twice!

Character Stats

IKRPG has a character stat block that does not look too dissimilar to any RPG, there are Primary and Secondary Stats, broken down into three categories - Physique, Agility and Intelect. The first thing I noticed is that your Physique (Primary) stat has absolutely no relation to your Strength (which is a secondary subset stat of Physique). Increases in your Primary stat (either through the character creation process or later on through XP) give no boost or direct benefit to the Secondary stats. This means that you need to be quite selective when choosing your race and subsequent stat advancements.

There are also derived stats, these are things like defence (DEF), armour (ARM) and so on. These are worked out by adding up Primary or Secondary stats as well as other modifiers (type of armour worn etc).

I found it very useful to have a character sheet in front of me when looking through the creation section just to keep reminding me of what each stat influenced.

Finally the three Primary stats also have a direct influence on your number of hit points... and you wont have many!

Human - are good at everything, but not great at everything. Humans get an extra point to drop against one of the Primary stats to represent their adaptability.

Dwarf - short, angry, good at wearing armour.. reminds me of someone I used to know.

Gobber - I've never really understood Gobbers in the IK universe, and I cannot say that the RPG has shed much more light on them for me. They dont have access to the Gifted archetype (more on that next) and otherwise have a fairly average stat block.

Iosan - who doesn't love high elves... due to their long lives they have access to an additional career Ability. As benefits go thats pretty good in my books.

Nyss - wood elves... the Nyss have a bunch of special rules and look quite fun, although their blighted cousins probably give them a bad name.

Ogrun - these guys have a good Physique stat block but only have access to the Mighty and Skilled Archetypes. I really like Ogrun in IK and it is looking like my first character will be one.

Trollkin - last but not least, the blue guys. To my mind Trolls are fairly similar to Ogrun in terms of their stats, but have some great starting Archetype abilities that make them very cool. They cannot be Warcasters and since we only have book 1 in the series, there is no option for them to be a Warlock yet.

Archetypes come in four flavours, with each one having a selection benefits that a character can acquire as they gain XP.

Gifted - the choice of Warcasters and spellslingers (and a couple in between). Gifted characters get to choose from a selection of abilities that speed casting times, allow them to know extra spells, get additional dice on spells as well as some other non direct combat related abilities.

Intellectual - for smarty pants characters and a good choice for "leader" type characters. Allows you to affect other members of the party, re-roll certain rolls and remember things that the player may have forgotten, but the character has not.

Mighty - kind of sells itself really, if you are going to hit things with a sword you are probably either Mighty or Skilled. Mighty characters get boost damage rolls, can gain extra attacks, countercharge, be tough, regain vitality (hit) points and more.

Skilled - flashy characters that like to dance around and poke things with rapiers. All skilled characters get an additional attack as well as gaining the abilities to avoid penalties from using two weapons, extra DEF, disarm, sidestep and so on.

There are 28 careers to choose from in the first IK book, ranging from Alchemist to Bounty Hunter, Iron Fang to Pirate, Sorcerer to Spy, Trencher to Warcaster. The great thing about the system is that you get to pick two Careers, resulting in a really great mix of characters. It is also pretty easy to guess that careers most of the iconic characters in WarmaHordes choose...

Each class has a starting Skills, Abilities and Assets, and by combining your two careers you can either make a very focused character - Man at Arms/Soldier results in someone that is going to be really good at hitting people and fulfilling the role of party tank, whereas by picking less obviously matched classes - Investigator/Pistoleer - you can have someone that can still be useful in combat, but can also contribute when the shooting stops.

There are a small number of careers that have either Race or Archetype restrictions but these do not appear too onerous.

After the starting Skills and Abilities there comes the advanced options that you can choose as you gain XP. I'll talk about this in another post, but in my opinion the selection of Careers and planning of how your character will advance is far more critical in the IK RPG that ever thought from my first couple of reads.

As your character advances you can also pick up further Careers, to me this does not sound as useful as it may initially appear, but certainly lets you fill in gaps that a party might have, or finish rounding off your character.

Abilities provide the variations in your character that truly make them unique. Some have pre-requisites that you need to have fulfilled, but once again they all seem to make sense. Many of them will be familiar to WarmaHordes players ('Jack Marshall, Camouflage, Girded, Pathfinder and so on), whilst the rest are pretty easy to get your head around.
The selection of Abilities and remembering that your two Careers gives access to more than you can possibly hope to have is a key part of the character advancement process. Selecting a path early and picking the rights ones will result in a better character.

Skills represent more general knowledge, proficiencies, talents etc that the character has picked up. Some translate directly into combat abilities - the Pistol skill for example, plus  a characters Prowess (secondary skill) equals their RAT (or ranged attack skill). Others represent the ability of the character to determine how to get from A to B, how to sway a crowd of people, how to survive on the streets, or how to craft a bullet.

They are broken down into three categories, Military (hitting or shooting things), Occupational (specifically related back to the Careers you have picked) and General (more everyday abilities that most characters could have the opportunity to pick up).

Depending on your total XP you can have 2, 3 or 4 "points" in a skill, each point gives you +1 to the dice when trying to use that skill (along with the bonus from the primary or secondary stat). This means that having 4 points in a skill verses 1 results in quite a swing when you are only throwing 2d6 to try and do things.

Once again, selecting your Skills early is surprisingly important as you will have very limited opportunities to advance them (mainly the Military skills) - trying to get to 4 points in two or Military skills will result in you having to make hard decisions as you either get a new Ability or a single point in a Military Skill at certain points in the XP advancement tree.

Initially you can only have 2 points in any skill, but as you gain XP this increases to 3, and then to 4. Only the most experienced or heroic characters will advance from Heroes to Veterans (cap of 3 points) to Epic (cap of 4 points).

Finally, each Career has skill caps that represent how far a character can advance that particular skill - a Knight can get the Shield Skill up to 4 points, whereas a Soldier can only get it up to 2 points. Another reason to select your Careers carefully.

Finishing Off
At this point you get to finish off your character, work out Vitality points, add thee extra Stat points, buy equipment and finish off your character sheet (work out your DEF, ARM, Initiative etc).

Building a character is a fun process, but I would recommend that you make a few before settling on one to play in a campaign as there are plenty of subtleties that you might not get your head around first time - I certainly didn't that's for sure! Next time I'll have a look at the XP Advancement Table, as becoming familiar with this will save a lot of heartache after a few sessions when you work out that you will never be the Aristocrat/Iron Fang/Warcaster that you hoped you would be...

Next time I'll go through some of the decisions (role and roll-playing) I made as I created by Mighty Ogrun Jack Mechanic Man at Arms. As well as looking at the impact of the XP advance system on Character Creation.

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