Wednesday, February 3, 2021

New Year, New Character Day 29: Dungeons & Dragons

 New Year, New Character 

 Day 29 

 Dungeons & Dragons 

 (Rules Cyclopedia)

Dungeons & Dragons has been the great, hidden presence throughout this series. Palladium started off as a series of House Rules for a game of D&D, and that system begat Heroes Unlimited and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is, directly, a successor game. Pathfinder and Starfinder are both based on the third edition of D&D. And the Sine Nomine games of Silent Legions, Stars Without Number, and Wolves of God are all based on off D&D. I often described things like "the classic six attributes"--and by "classic" I just meant "the things that Dungeons & Dragons" used. 

This isn't really all that surprising. D&D was the first, and remains the most popular, role-playing game. I suppose one could cite Blackmoor, but let's be honest--Mike Pondsmoth wasn't thinking about Blackmoor when he wrote Cyberpunk. As I approach the end of this series, it makes sense to go back to the original.

Or at least, the original that I have in print. I'd love to do an "original boxed set" character, but I only have those rules in PDF. Instead, I'm going to use the Rules Cyclopedia, the final official version of the classic rules. Much like with Legend, this one of the games I picked up in my searching years, as I grew increasingly dissatisfied with (then) modern edition editions of the game. The complete classic game, all in one book, was quite appealing. 

And it's a pretty neat game! Lots of interesting and fun rules and mechanics that I had never seen before, a lot of which made the "end game" particularly interesting. But, like most of the games I randomly picked up, I was never able to convince folks to get in a game with me. I've only ever run this game with a group totally new to roleplaying, and it was quite a blast. One day, I would like to be able to play it myself. 


The player rolls 3d6 to determine Ability Scores, then picks either a Race or Class, so long as they meet certain basic requirements. Elves and Dwarves and the like are their own "Classes" for this edition of the game.  Most features are determined by the choice of Class, but there are a certain amount of other random elements later. By default, there are no "Skills" per se in this edition, but there is an Optional set of rules to cover these. 

Step 1--Roll for Ability Scores

I start of roll 3d6 for each Ability--

  • Strength 2, 4, 2 for a total of 8
  • Intelligence 3, 1, 5 for a total of 9
  • Wisdom 3, 6, 4 for a total of 13
  • Dexterity 1, 3, 5 for a total of 9
  • Constitution 5, 4, 6 for a total of 15
  • Charisma 5, 5, 6 for a total of 16
A decent set of stats, and enough that I can pick almost any of the Classes--any save for the Mystic. In later editions, I would pick a class that works with the 16 Charisma. But, while all benefit from a high Charisma, none of them are actually based around it. 

Step 2--Choose a Class

Instead, I decide to go with the 13 Wisdom and choose to play a Cleric. As a Cleric, this character can use any armor or shield, but can not use any edged or pointed weapons. He does possess the ability to Turn Undead, but can not cast spells until 2nd Level. With a Wisdom of 13, he gains an Experience Bonus of 5%.

Step 3--Adjust Ability Scores

Clerics have Wisdom as a Prime Requisite, so I would benefit from that as high as possible. I can take two away from any Ability to increase the Wisdom by one. But, I can't mess around with Constitution or Charisma, and Dexterity can not be lowered. I'd need to increase Wisdom to around 16 to really benefit from this increase, which means taking a -6 split between Strength and Intelligence. Strength is already suffering enough, and I don't like playing characters with extremely low Intelligence, so I decide to leave things as is. 

Step 4--Roll for Hit Points

A Cleric begins with 1d6 for Hit Points. I roll and get a 4

Step 5--Roll for Money

All characters begin with 3d6 x 10 in gold pieces. I roll 5, 5, and 3 for a total of 130 g.p. 

Step 6--Buy Equipment

I go ahead any buy the "necessities" first--Mace (classic Cleric weapon), Plate Armor, and a Shield. All together, this cost me 75 of my gold. I spend the rest on a Holy Symbol and general adventuring gear, leaving 12 gp--I can use these for specific gear once I have a better idea just what kind of threats this character expects to face. 

Step 7--Determine Other Numbers and Rolls

Starting with Armor Class, this Cleric begins with an AC of 3 due to the Plate Armor, and subtracts 1 from that thanks to the Shield. So, he begins with an AC of 2.  Then I move onto Attack Roll--as a 1st level Cleric, this character begins with a To Hit AC 0 of 20. Finally, I note the Saving Throws. Each Class has a different value of the five Saving Throws.

Step 8--Note Adjustments for Ability Scores

I actually make a note of the Ability Score modifiers here, even though they could have played a factor in the character already--for example, a high Dexterity could have improved the Armor Class. The only modifier that matters at this point is Constitution. With a value of 15, this character begins with +1 Hit Point, bringing the total to 5. 

Step 9--Choose Character Alignment

There are three possible Alignments--Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic. I decide to go with "Lawful." As a side note, the character speaks Common and the Lawful Alignment Language.

Step 10--Select Name, Personality, and Background

"He/him" has been popping up in this post so far, but I actually haven't decided on a gender yet. I toss a coin and get a female for this Cleric. I flip to the UNE. I don't think I've actually used Latin so far for a character in this series, so I decide to go Ancient Roman. I roll a d20 (13) and a d100 (24) and her name will be Livillia Pertinax

For personality, I see her as a serious but friendly individual, always willing to help when possible, but wise enough not to be taken advantage of. She is suspicious of those who follow Chaos, but willing to withhold judgement and allow herself to be pleasantly surprised. 

Background is something that needs to be determined with the rest of the party and, more importantly, the Dungeon Master, so this part I skip.

Step 11--Determine Character Height and Weight

These values are chosen by the player from a chart. She is 5'6" an weighs 1,300 "coins." One Coin Weight is equal to one-tenth of a pound, so she weights 130lbs. 

Step 12--Earn Experience

This is where you "level up" the character after adventuring. As a 1st level character, this step does not apply.

Final Thoughts

When I first say the "Twelve Steps" for creating a character when skimming the rules, I was a bit put off. Just seemed far more complicated than I had anticipated, and I had even run the game before! But, each step just covered a single, often simple, thing for Character Creation, so it all went very fast. 

Compared to other characters I've made, Livillia doesn't have a huge amount of depth, or at least little that I can take from her mechanically. This is mainly due to the lack of a built in skill system, but I've honestly never felt that these provided much of a benefit in D&D. What would make this character come alive isn't the stats on the page, but rather how the player embodies her.  

Here's her final sheet.


  1. It is what the player brings to the character that counts the most. And this does sound like a game that would be fun to play, though the THACO (at least it looks like that) would confuse the heck out of me for a while.

  2. THACO is an interesting thing. Once you get it, it's pretty intuitive, but it's also kind of like walking--once you know how to do it, you just do it, right until you start thinking about what you're trying to accomplish.


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