Recently, there have been some very thought provoking discussions and articles throughout the T&T blogosphere, and at both the Inner and Outer Sanctums of Trollhalla. In particular, the topics of playing a human, playing a citizen, magic and magical items, and talents have intrigued me.
So, I started thinking, if playing a human or citizen are unpopular, playing a human citizen must be an abysmal thought for some players. I also got to thinking, what a ripe character for role-playing and richness of background. Then Ken St. Andre wrote his article about a Heritage bonus for starting human characters, and I knew I had the mechanic I was looking for to tie it all together.
So I started creating characters, I happened to have some pretty good rolls, particularly for Talents, and the first fellow I dreamed up was…
Name: John Q. Public
Talent: Beggarman (Luck+6): Used for begging for alms, picking pockets, palming/pocketing small items, hiding quietly in shadows or cover, scavenging, haggling, finding and/or selling information/rumors, and other skills a beggar living in the streets would use to survive. NOTE: CANNOT pick locks, disarm traps, climb walls, or perform other strictly thief-like skills not already mentioned.
Heritage: His mentor, Beggarman Bill, when lying dying in the street, gave him his Magical Ring of Invisibility (as Hidey Hole spell).
John Q. Public lost his family at the age of 6, and was found crying in a filthy alley by the kindly Beggarman Bill, who took him under his wing and became his mentor. Bill taught John the ways of the Beggarman, and not only was John a fast learner, he was damn good at it. Bill (who possessed a magical ring that granted him the power of invisibility) and John lived fairly well for beggars in the streets.
Fast forward 10 years, John is 16, and Bill had taken another young person under his wing about 6 years earlier, named Cassie, about the same age as John. While John was out working the streets for alms, Bill and Cassie were attacked by thugs who caught Cassie trying to pick one of their pockets. Bill was mortally wounded, and Cassie was dragged off by the thugs. John found Bill barely alive, who told him of Cassie’s fate and gifted him the magical ring, warning him not to abuse its great power, or risk becoming a slave to it. Bill then died in John’s arms.
John has asked around through his contacts in town, and has found out the identities of the thugs. He begins to form his plan to rescue Cassie and avenge Bill…
OK, I can hear people thinking that a ring of invisibility is too powerful for a starting character, but my reasoning is it took him ten years to get to this point where he is going to cross the line from survivor to adventurer. Add the fact that he is weak and not a good combatant, and that ring becomes his best chance of surviving most of what he is probably going to go up against. Besides, I play almost exclusively solo, so I’m player and GM, so I can do what I like.
The next guy I came up with…
Name: Martin the Minstrel
Talent: Minstrel (Cha+6): Used to play music, sing songs, recite poetry, tell stories, also to influence people, gain information, and he can earn a living as a street entertainer.
Heritage: Martin’s father, Markus the Minstrel, handed down his father’s magical rapier (Vorpal Blade) to his son when Martin decided to give in to his wanderlust.
Armor: Leather Jerkin (1 hit)
Magical Rapier (Vorpal Blade) 6+8
Martin’s grandfather, Marvin, was a renowned adventurer who carved a name for himself with his magical rapier, charming personality, and swashbuckling fighting style. Unfortunately, Marvin’s life was cut short by an Orcish axe when Martin’s father, Markus, was only 10. Devastated by the loss of her husband, Markus’ mother refused to let him take up his father’s mantle as a warrior, but instead she packed away Marvin’s sword, then sent Markus to apprentice with a minstrel. Upon her death, Markus inherited his father’s sword, but left it in storage. Markus raised his own son to be a minstrel as well. When Martin decided he was going to leave home and find his fortune as a wandering minstrel, Markus rescued the magical rapier from storage and gave it to his son to help protect him in his adventures.
It is a bright, warm summer morning as Martin, fingering the strings of his lyre and humming a tune, takes his first steps along the road heading out of town, the weight of his grandfather’s rapier feeling strange to him as it dangles at his side…
One last commoner I think might be fun to play…
Talent: Laborer (Str+3)
Heritage: Magical Pendant of Poor Baby (heals 1 Con per combat round), given to him by his mother upon her deathbed.
Otto is what folks around town would call a ‘simple fellow’. He mysteriously appeared in town one day several years ago, and when asked where he was from, all he would say is “Mama gave me this pretty necklace, then went to sleep and never woke up again”. Otto has no idea of the magical power of his pendant, but he values it above all else as it is the last thing his mother gave him. She knew she was dying, and she gave it to him because she was worried about how he would survive after she was gone.
Otto is a laborer, and he works hard to earn coppers for food and shelter. He is always carrying his sledgehammer, and no work is too hard for him. When it comes to needing something smashed, dug up, moved, or carried, Otto is your man. Labor is all he knows, and hard work is all he loves. Oh, and shiny things, he loves shiny things, too.
Recently, a few drifters blew into town, rogue wizards by their appearance and demeanor, and they seem to have caught Otto’s ear about some hair-brained treasure hunt scheme they’ve come up with. The townsfolk warned Otto to stay away from those two boys, but Otto keeps saying “Nice men promise Otto shiny stones if he go with them to smash bad guys”. The townsfolk are uneasy about these strangers taking advantage of Otto, even if they did promise to buy him a suit of armor before they depart…
I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief exploration of a few Common Joes that could be fun to play, and certainly could become interesting high level adventurers. Assuming they survive that long, of course.
Mist-Tikk Foo-all (aka Paul Ingrassia)
Troll Hammer Press