Star Rovers III
Well, this series has generated more comments than any other posting here (three! Three comments! Whoooo!), so here I am again, as my computer spends most of its processing power to churn through a few hundred thousand pieces of financial data to test out my code. I’ve been promising chargen for two long, digression-filled pieces now, and it’s time to deliver.
Click "More" to see me deliver.
Stats, Stats, And More Stats
OK, 12, 36, or 48 stats, depending on how you count them… rolled in order…
For the record, I’m rolling white, green, red, with each corresponding to an element in that order, i.e, white is the first element, green the second, etc.
Length: 6 (Tall) (+1)
Build: 4 (Median)
Fitness: 4 (Frim)
Oh, a quick digression here. Very high (6+) or low (1-) values for an element can provide small modifiers to the URM. This is a universal scale, that is, if you’ve got a 6 in a given element, that’s always a +1 if the element is relevant to a task you’re trying to accomplish. This may seem to be a trivial and self-evident rule, but this game is coming from an era when AD&D had different charts for each attribute where some added percentages and some added bonuses and some gave you an ability which worked "X in 6", or from Traveller, where skills would have things like "If your Strength>8, DM +2, <6, -1", with each and every skill, weapon, etc, having its own little microrule like that. On the downside, these modifiers come into play fairly rarely — the majority of values (2-5) offer no modifier.
Constitution: 8 (Ouch)
Health: 4 (Hale)
Endurance: 3 (Sound)
Resiliency: 1 (Withered) (-1)
Dexterity: 8 (Double ouch)
Knack: 2 (Shaky)
Agility: 4 (Sure)
Speed: 2 (Slow)
Memory: 3 (Partial)
Logic: 6 (Systematic) +1
Curiosity: 6 (Nosy)
Luck: 4 (Timely)
Imagination: 1 (Drab) (-1)
Awareness: 2 (Unaware)
Insight: 5 (Perceptive)
Instinct: 2 (Superficial)
Synthesis: 2 (Faulty)
At this point, we’re starting to get an image of this guy… he’s starting to look like a stereotypical scientist in a bad movie — technically intelligent, but hidebound and unable to really come up with anything new. He’s interested in a lot of things, but can’t really do much with his knowledge… he’s got a head full of facts but they don’t fit into patterns. His only real other strength is a good ability to see through deceptions, but he’s likely to be completely wrong about why someone is lying or what it means.
Fortitude: 1 (Dejected) -1
Will: 4 (Fire)
Daring: 3 (Cautious)
Mercy: 2 (Brutal) (Well, sucks to be a lab rat… er…space rat… er… space lab rat… spacelab ratoid!)
Amnesty: 4 (Lenient)
Tolerance: 3 (Set)
"Mercy" is the character’s ability to feel the injury of others and give comfort — what most games now call "Empathy". So we see he’s a stick in the mud (which fits prior speculation), he lacks the ability to really understand what others feel, and perhaps it’s because of that he’s a tad more forgiving than average.. he knows he isn’t seeing the whole picture, so he corrects for this by being willing to give someone a pass once in a while.
I ought to note, here, that I generally prefer, and play, "Create a character concept, then build it" systems — which is what almost all games these days provide. This kind of "What the hell kind of character am I playing?" style of chargen is very oldschool, and as you can see, it can lead to strange or contradictory results. However, it can be a lot of fun to be "stuck with" a character you’d never consider playing if you had to choose, or to stop and think about how to reconcile disparate traits. (As a side note to my side note, if I were actually running this, I’d houserule that you could arranged your element dice in any order for each attribute, so you end up with the same total but can shape the components of it. Actually, the rules do say this, sort of… they say to "assign one die to each of the elements", but it’s unclear if they mean "assign red to the first element" or "assign the die after you roll". I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing, in order.)
Outlook: 6 (Happy)
Humor: 2 (Grim)
Patience: 2 (Impatient)
Appearance: 5 (Fair)
Eloquence: 3 (Reserved)
Magnetism: 2 (Offensive)
So, he’s a good looking jerk.
Loyalty: 3 (Casual)
Beliefs: 3 (Worldly)
Honesty: 6 (Ethical) (+1)
Based on his other traits so far, I think his "honesty" is best seen as his being a very poor liar, to the point where he tells the truth because lying never seems to work for him. This might also explain why he’s "reserved" (he’s not good even at social lies) and "Offensive" (he tells the truth even when it’s a bad idea).
Ambition: 1 (Drifting) (-1)
Pride: 6 (Haughty) (+1)
Selfness: 2 (Charitable)
Hm. Arrogant, but lazy and generous? Again, going back to what we rolled earlier, he may simply be stuck in the world of ideas, with no interest in applying them, and shares freely of his material wealth because it doesn’t really matter much to him.
But now, on to the important part! What hand does he use? (Handedness was a major part of early games; not sure why.)
You Put Your Right Hand In, You Take Your Right Hand Out…
I roll 2D5; a pair is left-handed, a 00 is ambidextrous, and anything else is right handed. Right handed.
The Grim Ravages Of Time
Now there’s a verrrry tiny chart for life expectancy, because PCs are so likely to die of old age. I look up my Life Expectancy AVI (which is given for humans of the Star Roving era as "L". Then I look up the tech level, which I think is "N" for a typical campaign, and multiply that by the other value, to get a lifespan of 140 years. There’s a very small footnote which says "+/- 10% per CN variable", which I think means any of the element variables for the Constitution attribute, which is -1, so that’s -14 years, or 126. Oh, I begin my adventuring career at age 20 +/- 2D5, but it doesn’t say how to determine if it’s plus or minus! Oh well, I roll 1 die for "Plus/minus" and two others for age and thus end up as 12 years old. The frack? Well, OK, whatever. This strikes me as one of the dimmer systems in the game; it’s very likely to produce characters too young for their stats.
Also, there’s a chart for determining age blocks, based on your character class, but of course the classes haven’t been described yet.
It’s not entirely evident why this table exists at all. Age mattered in Traveller because of the pre-play career system, and wasn’t random. Age was included in AD&D 1e because… uh… Gygax had some odd little obsessions. Age was a factor in "Aftermath" because it played heavily into your skills as well as if your character remembered the pre-apocalypse world. But here? Yeah, it’s labeled as optional, but I don’t see why it was included at all.
Biomorph or Butler?
Now comes my "Caste Index", or what other games would call "Social class" or "Background". This is another chart that seems to have wandered straight out of Arduin or something very much like it, a sparse little thing with 1-sentence descriptions that convey very little but hint at so much more! Let’s see what we get… I am Social Caste "N", Industrial.. this gives me +1 Knack and +1 Loyalty, so lemme update my stats here…
Knack: 3 (Handy)
Agility: 4 (Sure)
Speed: 2 (Slow)
Loyalty: 4 (Reliable)
Beliefs: 3 (Worldly)
Honesty: 6 (Ethical) (+1)
If I want to stick with the age I’ve rolled, maybe I’m a smart kid from a factory world, lacking in the experience needed to do anything with the things I know?
Each caste (the table is in very small, poorly computer generated type) has a sentence describing it. I am "familiar with machines" and get the skills "Basic Repairs" and "Tech Check".
Other social castes, more interesting ones, include "Biomorph", which tells you "The character KNOWS he is a Biomorph" (but not what a Biomorph is). You can also roll "Barbarian" ("Missionary educated"), "Space Born" ("3-D Playpen as a baby"), or "Carney" ("Born In A Circus"). Oh, by the way, the Carney gets the skill "Mime". Which is in the Carney career. Would anyone be shocked, at this point, if I mentioned the Carney career is not in the rules, but is listed as coming in Module 2, along with Espers, Traders, and Star Knights? (So, basically, we’ve got a game clearly intended to be Star Wars on Acid, but the game shipped without spaceships or Jedi. This is, of course, exactly what Sony’s Star Wars Galaxies MMO did, too. Remember how I said Star Rovers was prescient in oh so many ways?)
Alright, hit point time!
Hit Points, Stun Points, Stress Points, Missing The Point
Actually, there’s four different kinds of hit points… Hit Points, Stun Points, Stress Points, and Psi Points. My hit points are 2.5 times my Constitution AVI, which is listed as 7 here, but it’s "H" in the prior section, which I’d think would be a value of 8, unless A=0, but of course since AVI is never really explained anywhere, you’re left guessing if this is an error or not. ARGH! I greatly suspect this game had no blindtesting, and was played entirely by people intimate with its development who had so internalized some concepts they didn’t even realize they needed to be made explicit in the rules. Well, we’ll go with 7, so that 2.5*7=14.5. I also have the element value for Build (4) and the element variables for Size and Fitness… wait, size? There is no size. It seems obvious they meant "Length", which gives me +1, so 19.5 hit points. I round down (at least that’s explicit), for 19. My stun points equal my hit points. Stress points and psi points? Module 2!
(I propose a drinking game. While reading the rules, every time something which is pretty inarguably "core" to the type of game Star Rovers is supposed to be got punted to Module 2, drink. You won’t make it past the middle of the book.)
Hit points are sort of weird. Anticipating both White Wolf and some variants of FATE/FUDGE, you have have a square grid 6 columns wide, labelled 0 to 5. Each represents a severity of injury. You fill this in cross-wise, so you fill in the first row of 6, then the second, and so on. With 19 hit points, I fill in the first 3 rows completely and the first column of row 0. When I take "Severity class 2" damage, I start marking off in Column 2, and if I take more than 3 points, it overflows to 4, and so on. Thus, a solid hit that does high severity damage can easily bypass the bulk of your hit points. You die if the final two columns are filled in. Ouch.
We end this section with a table for converting characters from "Most other" roleplaying games, which use 3d6, though "some" use 2d6. (Percentile? Nah!)
Now that we’ve rolled up our attributes, we pick a class and… no, now we jump into the damage system, including a delightfully grisly chart of what various severities of injury might mean (Class 2 injuries include "Internal Bleeding", "Local Benign Tumors", and "Major Neurosis"; Class 5 Injuries include "Decapitation" and "Gangrene".) There’s no details on specific injury effects; the GM is supposed to use this for flavor text. There is, however, a full column or so of rules on your stitches coming loose in a fight. Yes, really. Good to know they decided to push the rules for
Jedi Star Knights and space travel to Module 2 so they could make room for this.
Anyway, 4 pages or so of rules on encumbrance, movement, and curing yourself of the space herpes you got from the space hooker in the space brothel, we get to the character class listing. Which, I think I will be saving for tomorrow.