Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gloomspear's Saga: Part One

Previously, I introduced you to my fighter, Gloomspear. Now it's time to see where he's coming from. I've unbagged my battered copy of Central Casting: Heroes of Legend and broken out some Gamescience dice for maximum randomness. Let's get to work.

I can skip the first table, 101: Character Race, because I already know my character is human. Kind of a shame, really, because the chart has a couple of interesting possibilities (like Beastman or Reptileman) alongside the usual Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. Ah well.

Next is 102: Cultural Background. I roll and get a result of 10 on a d10 - Gloomspear is from a "Civilized-Decadent" culture, and is native to the Urban environment. "Fictional examples of decadent Culture include: Robert E. Howard's Stygians, Michael Moorcock's Melniboneans, Fritz Leiber's Lankhmarites and Raymond Feist's Tsuranuanni of Kelewan." Never read any Feist myself, but nice! Gloomspear's a city boy. This gives me a Culture Modifier Number (or CuMod) of 7, which "will be used later to modify other die rolls". Right on. Gloomspear would also get a -10% chance of going insane, and some urban survival skills if he were being created for a game that used such things. Since Labyrinth Lord doesn't have systems for skills or insanity, I can ignore these modifiers, but can keep them in mind for roleplaying purposes.

I roll a 32 on d100 for table 103: Social Status. Even with my CuMod of 7, this nets me a result of Poor. I have a -1 Social Level Modifier (SolMod), but my survival skills increase, and I'd get a chance to get Dagger and/or Brawling skills, if applicable to the system. So, Gloomspear's from the mean streets of a decadent city. All well and good.

104: Birth Legitimacy is up next. Rolling a d20 and adding my CuMod of 7, I get a total of 15. Your character is illegitimate only on a modified roll of 19 or higher, so he's legit. Gloomspear has no LegitMod.

Since Gloomspear is of legitimate birth, I skip to table 106: The Family. It's d20 + CuMod again, and get a total of 24. "None known - left to fend for self. Change Social Status to Destitute." All right, so he was of legitimate birth, but spent his childhood as a homeless street urchin. Going back to the description of Destitute, he automatically gets Dagger and Brawling skills, and (being from a Decadent culture) has a 60% chance of having Underworld Experience. I roll a 40, so yep, I'm going to be rolling on that table next. I'm assuming my SolMod would also change to -3, the default for Destitute Social Status, though it's not explicitly stated as such.

So, since Gloomspear has been caught up in the world of crime, I'm directed to section 534: Underworld Experience. 534A: The Wrong Path will tell me what led Gloomspear to this lowly state. A simple roll of the d10 gives a result of 9: "The character is forced into a life of crime by criminals who threaten his loved ones." Well, Gloomspear never knew his family, but apparently somebody must have been taking care of him for his early childhood. This is a little weird, but workable.

Next is 534B: Type of Crimes. A 1 on d6 gives me "Petty theft. The character and several pals steal things they want or need. They act in violation of any organized thieves guild." I'm envisioning a sort of Oliver Twist situation.

Finally, I'm to roll on table 534C: Underworld Events d3 times. I get a 6 (three events!) and then roll 14, 18, and 8 on a d20. 14 is "The character discovers that several items taken in a recent heist are 'cursed'. No fence will take them and even the owner is making no attempts to recover his property. It seems impossible to dispose of these items or even lose them. Select 1d3 items on Table 863: Gifts & Legacies, then determine the alleged curse on the owner of the items on Table 868: Curses." Damn. Well, I'll get to that in a minute. 18 means "The character's thieving skills improve by one Rank." Gloomspear's a fighter, not a thief, dammit, and this indicates to me that if you're not using a skill-based system, it's probably best to pick your class after using this book. (Maybe I'll use the Advanced Edition Companion rules to multiclass him as a fighter/thief.) Anyway, my last roll of 8 indicates that "The character is imprisoned for a crime. Select the crime on Table 875: Crimes, then determine the length of imprisonment. After being freed, the character goes straight, but maintains his underworld contacts." Wow. All right, so I've got a lot of rolling to do.

863: Gifts and Legacies is going to tell me what cursed things Gloomspear stole. I roll a 4 on d3 (2 items) and so roll a d20 twice: 18 and 20. 18 is "A sealed trunk. There is a 60% chance that it contains 1d3+1 additional items from this table." 17. Yep, it contains (roll of 6 on d3) four freakin' additional items. All right, fine: 15 ("A musical instrument"), 5 ("A tapestry"), 10 ("A sealed bottle, determine contents") and 20 ("Roll again. The resulting item defnitely has both magic properties and some great significance to the character's destiny and the over-all scheme of things"). Jeez! So I'm rolling for two magic items, one that was in the chest, and one that was separate. Okay, I get a 12 ("A bound wooden staff", whatever that means) and an 8 ("A locked or sealed book"). Let's say the book was in the chest. Clearly, Gloomspear robbed a wizard, and nobody is willing to touch his ill-gotten (and reputedly cursed) magical wares.

And what exactly is that curse? A roll of 16 means "Character is subject to fits of berzerker rage" and gives pretty detailed rules on exactly what that means in combat (it's pretty similar to the barbarian class' "rage" ability from 3rd edition D&D). I'm told to roll a d10 (getting an 8), which is the "strength of the affliction", meaning that if I roll under that number on d100 when combat begins, Gloomspear flips out Wolverine-style. I also have to make this check any time he's wounded, a companion is wounded or killed, or if Gloomspear or a companion is insulted during combat. Yikes.

I still have to roll up Gloomspear's time inside, starting with table 875: Crimes. We already know he's been involved in petty theft and robbery, but let's see what landed him in jail. A result of 6 on d20 means it was "Offending an influential person." This means he's imprisoned for d10 years. I roll 9. Nine years in the clink.

Time to head to table 540: Imprisoned! I'm a little unclear as to exactly when this happened in Gloomspear's life, though. Normally, you only start rolling for this sort of thing when you're generating the character's Childhood and Adolescent Events, but I was directed into this whole Underworld Events sequence before I even got that far. I'm going to go ahead and say Gloomspear is imprisoned in childhood, and am directed to roll a d12 to figure out how old he was when this happened. It turns out that he was locked up at age 10. Damn. I get d3 rolls on the Prison Events table, and roll a 6 again. Three events rolled on d10. My first roll is a 2: "The ruler of the land declares a general amnesty. The character is freed after serving only 1d10 X 10% of his sentence (do not make any more rolls on this table)." I roll a 3, and Gloomspear lucks out, only serving 30% (roughly three years) of his sentence. He is released before the age of 13 by a kindly decree from the local despot, and so is spared some of the cruelties of prison life.

Whew. So, after stealing some cursed items from a sorcerer, then being sentenced to jail for insulting his betters, Gloomspear's been scared straight. Where was I again? Oh, right, I was rolling up his family, and it turned out that he didn't have one. The next applicable table is 109: Time of Birth, but the reader is directed to make his own table if he deems it relevant. I don't.

Table 110: Place of Birth is next. I roll a 14, which indicates Gloomspear was born "In a cave" and gives him a Birth Modifier (or BiMod) of 5. Interesting, considering he's a city boy. I'll have to come up with a reason for that. The next table is 112: Unusual Births. I'd say being born in a cave is already interesting enough, but let's see what happens. A d100 roll of 77 plus Gloomspear's BiMod of 5 yields two Unusual Occurances, to be generated on the next table, 113: Unusual Birth Circumstances. I get d100 rolls of 32 and 74. The first indicates that "Water froze or boiled by itself" and the second that he was "Born with a curse (go to Table 868: Curses)." Foiled again.

So, back the Curses chart for Gloomspear. I roll a 3 on d20 this time, meaning that the poor guy "will be responsible for the untimely death of his lovers. When an event indicates a love affair, go to Table 545: Death Situations to determine the cause of death." Maybe this is an allusion to the destiny-affecting magic "bound wooden staff" he later stole? Could this curse at birth be tied to the berzerker rage curse he later acquires from robbing the wizard? Is he doomed to kill the people he loves? Hey, maybe the cursed staff's actually a spear? (No wonder they call him Gloomspear!) I'm getting a real "tragic hero" vibe from this guy now; too bad I gave him that goofy smirk on his character sheet.

Next is table 114: Parents & NPCs. Remember, Gloomspear never knew his parents. However, we know that somebody he loved was being threatened to force him into a life of crime during his childhood. So let's say that somebody found this cursed, abandoned child in a cave, then brought him to the Decadent City and raised him there, until he ended up on the streets. I get a roll of 9 on d20 for table 114A: Occupation, which means this kind soul had one occupation. Another roll on 423: Civilized Occupations (which has the inexplicable Ayatollah Khomeini illustration I referred to in my previous post) indicates he or she had a Middle Class Occupation, to be rolled on table 423C. A roll of 13 on d20 means that Gloomspear's caregiver was "An overseer". Another roll on 423A to determine what type of workers he oversaw directs to yet another table (422A, Barbarian Occupations). I roll an 18, indicating that they were Craftsmen. Yet another roll, this time on 424A Craft Table I, will tell me what type of Craftsmen: 10 on d20 means they were "Rope and Net Makers". Yeesh, that was a lot of rolls for a meager result. I should have just handwaved it and said he was a kindly puppet maker or something.

Still, I'm impressed: Gloomspear's already pretty damned interesting. Next post, I'll get into his Significant Childhood events, as if he hasn't already had enough of those...


  1. I love that book, but it does take a bit of polishing the understandably rough edges that the generic rolls produce. Still, I was impressed with the few number of outright contradictions the tables invoke. Decent editing in that regard.

    --I'm looking forward to the rest of Gloomy's history. :D

  2. It does take a bit of wrangling, as Jaquays indicates in the introduction to the book. There are so many options that it'd be difficult to make them all jibe with one another, but it's pretty well done overall. I know there was a revised version later - I wonder if it cleared up some of the vague parts I've run into?

  3. What is the edition or Copyright date on your copy?

  4. It's copyright 1988. I know there was a later version with a different cover, though.