Exploring Characters pt. 2: Keywords

All of this replaces proficiency from my last blog post.

Keywords are things used to define a character's narrative. They are short, punchy ideas that carry mechanical weight--any time you can apply a keyword to a roll d20 roll, you roll a d6 as well. If the d6 is a 5-6 and the d20 a success, you have a critical success. If either the d20 or d6 are a success and the other is not, the roll is a success. If both fail, it's just a failure.

Keywords: Dragonslayer & Devil ; art commissioned from Ragnar Pendon

Keywords are pretty abusable, so they require an unwritten social contract to not abuse them. If my keyword is "Mercenary" then I can take advantage when rolling against fear vs battlefield horrors, or having a clever getaway plan, or fighting dirty, but I wouldn't on something weird like politically influencing a king or something. Note the fighting dirty one--if your keyword influences fighting, it should only do so under certain conditions. This will require some thought from Ref and player, but in games of both player skill and narrative evolution, this should be assumed IMO. I considered making it so each keyword has like 6 things they key off of specifically, but that's way too much minutia for me and encourages something other than player skill.

Keywords are kinda' like backgrounds in 2E, but they go beyond backgrounds. Mercenary above is a keyword, but so is "Coward."

The problem with keywords is that too many keywords limits what other keywords can do. The pro of keywords is that they make for character development through progression, as buying keywords via XP would be a thing with this system. To solve this problem, the Ref should select 20 keywords for a given campaign, and those are the only words players can choose from. Use them as a tool for worldbuilding.

You choose keywords to supplement your class. Sometimes, this may lead to a weird result, like a Fighter with the "Magically Trained" keyword. The fun here is reasoning out what this means for the character/player. A fighter that is magically trained may be trained in recognizing magic, could be a witch hunter, or could be someone who knows the trick to breaking spells.

Some keywords might require description. Not sure yet.

Below are some keywords by project or genre:

Princess Mononoke Keywords

Image result for princess mononoke

  1. Eyes Unclouded by Hate
  2. Bond With Animal
  3. Nature Friend
  4. Vicious Leader
  5. Bodyguard
  6. God-raised
  7. Scornful
  8. False Monk
  9. Cursed by Hate
  10. Hated by Gods
  11. Gunsmith
  12. Foreign Prince(ss)
  13. Hunter
  14. Samurai
  15. Former [Prostitute/Slave/Exile]
  16. Ambitious
  17. Schemer
  18. Silver Tongued
  19. Lord/Lady
  20. God Killer

Dark Sun Keywords

Image result for dark sun

  1. [Insert trade] Slave or Slaver
  2. Disciple
  3. Survivor
  4. Cannibal
  5. Defiler or Defiled
  6. Oasis Preserver
  7. Templar
  8. Desperate
  9. Hard to Kill
  10. Gladiator
  11. Whispering Bard
  12. Elementalist
  13. Druid
  14. Dead Mind
  15. World Traveler
  16. Raider
  17. Tribal Leader
  18. Grain/Well Noble
  19. [Insert trade] Merchant
  20. Caravan Guard

Cyberpunk Keywords

Image result for cyberpunk

  1. [Insert specialty] Hacker
  2. Back alley Doctor
  3. Shadowrunner
  4. Bladerunner
  5. Data Horder
  6. Drone Fanatic
  7. Neuromancer
  8. Dirty Celebrity
  9. Body Mod Dealer
  10. Enhanced [Insert Personality Trait or Body Part]
  11. Off the Grid
  12. Double Life
  13. Gun God
  14. Street Punk
  15. Corporate Protected
  16. A.I
  17. Bio-engineered
  18. Uploaded Immortality
  19. Ganglord
  20. Hired Muscle

Exploring Character Leveling Up

Haven't blogged in a while; grad school and personal projects have kept me tangled.

Anyway, been thinking about character leveling up recently. Inspired heavily by Zak S's d100 table of leveling up for various classes, but I wanted to polish it some more to fit my specific taste.
Dragon Bride Killing Drakes: A piece from my upcoming book, a Heaven Bless'd & Burned.

I'm thinking something like this:

Every class has the following-

Level: Goes up whenever your game system or house rule says it goes up. You'll roll on the below Class Advancement Table. You add your level to any checks dealing with hirelings, meaning Charisma no longer needs to be a stat, but it can be.
HD: Depends on class.
Proficiency and Proficiency Bonus: I'm stealing from 5E and applying this to the OSR. Every class lists out a number of things it is proficient at (Fighter: Using Weapons, Attacking, Endurance) and d6 things you roll for as an additional proficiency. (Fighter d6: Animal Husbandry, Commanding Troops, Saves, Intimidating, Remaining Focused, Survival). You add your Level to rolls that would fall under these categories. If this ever overlaps with hireling checks, you are basically doubling your HD bonus.
Saves: This is standard to most OSR stuff. I'm a big believer in 5 categories that fit the world.
Plausible Starting Equipment: Have a d20 and roll the d20 a number of times equal to what the Ref says the table's starting wealth is (which is a number 1-10, with 1 being vagabonds and 10 being filthy rich). Each class has a number of unique pieces of equipment.
Class Advancement Table: This is a d100 table. The first 50 #'s are the same between all classes; the next 50 are unique to each class. The first fifty are

1-20: HD increases by 1. Roll again and add 20 to the roll unless you choose this option from #50.
21-30: Add +1 to all saving throws.
31-40: 1+your level of hirelings are attracted to you by reputation alone.
41-49: Roll your d6 for an additional proficiency, rerolling until you have one you don't already have. If you have all, then whatever you roll, double your bonus in.
50: Choose any of the below options, then roll again, adding +50 to your roll if it's 50 or below.

Then after this, there would be another set of options specific to class. Options should take up more slots if they are weaker, and fewer slots if stronger. Any roll that ends up being over 100 is just considered 100.

Radiant Saint of Tiamat: A piece for my upcoming book, mentioned above.

This isn't for making a balanced game, but it does make a form of character generation that I think puts a focus on player skill and gives buttons at the same time for the player's to potentially hit, because I just like having buttons to hit.

At level 1, you are given an automatic 50, so you start with any option below 50, and then re-roll and get an option above 50. Starting characters are thus pretty decent in terms of power compared to something like a level 1 DCC character, but not so much that it's like dropping a 5E character into an OSR adventure.

I plan on testing this idea with my homegroup and seeing where it leads.