13 Aug 2017

Test Run - Hercules & Xena - Priestess

It's been a while since I've put a character up here.  Since I'm about to review the game anyway, why not give The Hercules & Xena Roleplaying Game a spotlight?  If any TV series looked like an actual RPG as played, it would look like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.
Xena: "I want to be a warrior princess atoning for past sins."
Gabrielle: "I want to be her sidekick, chronicling her adventures."
Joxer: "I want to be the black sheep from a family of murderers.  Oh, and I don't know which end of a sword to hold."
GM: "Er, you do realize that this is swords and sorcery?"
Joxer: "I do.  And I've written my character's theme song."
GM: “Of course you did.”
Salmoneus: "Now I don't feel so bad for creating a cowardly merchant."
West End Games picked up the license and created a game using their D6 Legends mechanics, a variant of the d6 rules used in Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game.  Very cinematic, which suited both series.  Alas, in 1998, when the game was published, WEG's parent company was going through bankruptcy and drained the game company dry, so Herc & Xena was the last RPG released under the old company.  WEG has been reborn, but it lost all of its licenses, including Star Wars*, Herc & Xena, and Men in Black.

History aside, let's create a character!  I'll go through the step in the book, as usual, but I already have a concept.  A priestess of Athena, cast out of Sparta for both her size and her hobby of studying scrolls.  I could use one of the templates in the book, but none fit the concept, so I'm going with the creation process.

1. Choose a name for the hero
Oh, let's make it tough at the start.  Naming isn't exactly an easy step, either in gaming or in writing.  It's the challenge of finding a name that suits the idea.  The core Herc & Xena rules does have a list of suitable names, though with a few tossed in that editors never caught.  Phaedra (no relation) seems to fit the concept.

2. Designate a hero type
Already done.  Phaedra is a priestess.  The book has a list of possible types with recommended sttributes and skills.  If none of the types had fit, I'd have just gone with the core concept.  The types aren't cast in stone; they're merely suggestions to help with character creation.

3. Select a race
Phaedra is human.  Other possibilities in the game are centaur, nymph, and satyr.  Phaedra's concept, though, meant she was going to be human.

4. Choose a unique possession
A character's unique possession should reflect the heritage and be something important to him or her.  With Phaedra, I want something that reflects the transition from her homeland to her profession.  Right now, I'm thinking a brooch in the shape of an owl, carved from wood.

5. Create a goal
Phaedra wants to be the best priestess she can be, striving to follow in Athena's footsteps, even with the occasional mis-step.  She is devout; her fellows in the priesthood might think she might be making up for being Spartan.  They could be right.

6a. Assign Attributes
I've broken this step down.  There are dice to be spent, and it's easier to follow if I take it one part at a time.  There are eight attributes and twenty-four dice to be split among them.  Because Phaedra is human, no attribute may be lower than 2D or higher than 5D.  Her home thought she was too scrawny to be a proper Spartan, but that doesn't mean she's weak.  However, she is known for her studying.  With that in mind, time to make the distribution:
Coordination 2D
Endurance 3D
Reflexes 3D
Strength 3D
Awareness 3D
Charisma 2D
Knowledge 4D
Mettle 4D
Most of those should be self-explanatory.  Coordination is hand-eye, Reflexes is more for gross motor skills.  Part of the original concept was that Phaedra was near-sighted, but that's best reflected in the lower Coordination stat.  The low Charisma stat means that Phaedra tends to be blunt.  Politeness wasn't a Spartan quality.

6b. Assign Skills
Phaedra has ten dice to distribute in skills, with a maximum of two into any one skill.  Being a priestess, she'll need Pantheon, Omen Interpretation, and Scholar.  Being from Sparta, she also needs Fighting, Survival, and Dodge.  The distribution is:
Dodge +1D
Fighting +1D
Omen Interpretation +2D
Pantheon +2D
Scholar +1D
Stay Up +1D
Survival +1D
The more math astute may have noticed that I've only spend nine dice.  There is a reason.

6c. Create or choose specialties
The Herc & Xena game doesn't have a way to get specialties or special moves at character creation.  However, the Star Wars RPG did; one regular skill die can be broken down into three dice that can only be spent on specialties.  It works as a house rule for Herc & Xena, giving players a chance to get special moves, like Xena's pinch, right away.  This was also a later step in character creation, but it makes more sense to keep it with skills and attributes.

Phaedra takes her last skill die and turns it into the following specializations: Spears for Fighting, Athena for Scholar, and Forest for Survival.  None of the special movies fits her, so I'll ignore them for now.

6d. Select advantages and disadvantages
Another step that was near the end that makes more sense to have with skills.  Advantages and Disadvantages cost skill dice.  It's a way to get more skills, but at a cost.  With Phaedra, I have two disadvatnages and one advantage in mind already.  However, because I have no more skill dice to spend, the advantages and disadvantages need to balance.  Starting with the disadvantages, the first is Motion Sickness, gaining one die.  Phaedra needs Gravol if she rides a horse or carriage; since it doesn't exist, she's facing penalties if she can't make her Endurance roll.  The other disadvantage is Sworn Enemy, a single person for one more die.  This person is her brother, who drove her out for being weak in his eyes.

With the two bonus dice, Phaedra now picks up Blessed, specifying Athena.  If Phaedra prays for intervention, the GM will roll the Wild Die and, if the Thunderbolt of Zeus (or a six on a regular die) comes up, Athena will respond in some way.  This may not always be a good thing.  Both series show that having the gods meddle in the affairs of mortals leads to problems.

7. Determine Body Points
Body Points act as the hit points, how much hurt a character can take before dropping unconcious.  The base is 20, plus the number of successes on an Endurance roll.  Rolling Phaedra's three dice, I get two hydrae and a chakram, for one success and a total of 21 Body Points.  Not the best roll, but it does play into her background.

8. Record starting Character Points, Fate, and Fame
Easy enough.  Starting characters get 15 Character Points, 1 Fate point, and no Fame.  However, character points act as both experience points to be spent improving skills and as a karma point system, allowing additional dice to be rolled.  It's the one weakness of the D6 system; players tend to hold back on spending character points to help themselves when they see it as taking away from improvements.  If I were to run the game, I'd house rule a separation of the two, experience points and brownie points.

9. Indicate Speed
Speed is dependant on the character's race.  Humans have a base speed of 30.

10. Purchase gear
Shopping trip!  Again, a quick house rule here - characters have clothing approrpriate for their background, social standing and profession**.  Makes it easier to get gear for a character.  Phaedra has 200 dinars to spend.  She'll want a weapon, armour of some sort, and possibly unusual equipment that suits her profession.

Let's start with armour, since it's the first section of the equipment chapter.  Phaedra picks up arm guard for 25 dinars, leg guards for 35 dinars, and a shield for 25 dinars.  The idea here is that she's used to making do with less.  Leather armour would provide the same level of protection, but for more dinars.  Next, weapons.  Phaedra needs a spear, for her specialty, and having a knife is handy even outside a fight.  The breast dagger, a knife that tucks into a woman's cleavage, is tempting but doesn't quite fit Phaedra's concept.  The weapons cost a total of 35 dinars.

Being a studious type, Phaedra will need writing materials.  She picks up three vials of ink at one dinar each, three papyrus scrolls at three dinars each, three rollers at two dinars each, and a set of writing implements for two dinars.  Transport is out; Phaedra has motion sickness, so she's not going to own her own riding horse.  A quick look at the miscellanous adventuring stuff will let her ten candles at two for one dinar, fifty feet of rope for five dinars, and five sacks for one dinar total.  Phaedra has spent 151 dinars, leaving her 49 when she starts her career as a PC.

That’s essentially it.  Sure, there are other details to work out, like appearance, but Phaedra is complete for play.  Her full sheet is below.  Questions and comments are welcome.  If you do wind up using her, please let me know.
Name: Phaedra
Race: Human
Gender: Female
Type: Priestess
Age: 19
Height: 5'3”
Speed: 30
Body Points: 21
Character Points: 15
Fate Points: 1
Fame: 0
Advantages & Disadvantages
  Blessed (-2D)
  Motion Sickness (+1D)
  Sworn Enemy (+1D)
Coordination 2D
Endurance 3D
Reflexes 3D
  Dodge 4D
  Fighting 4D
    Spears +1D
Strength 3D
Awareness 3D
  Omen Interpretation 5D
Charisma 2D
Knowledge 4D
  Pantheon 6D
  Scholar 6D
    Athena +1D
  Survival 5D
    Forest +1D
Mettle 4D
 Stay Up 5D
Dinars: 49
  Wood brooch of a carved owl
  Arm guards (Protection 1)
  Leg guards (Protection 1)
  Shield (Protection 1)
  Knife (Base Damage 2, Weapon Speed 4)
  Spear (Base Damage 3, 2 bludgeoning, Weapon Speed 3)
  Ink, three vials
  Papyrus scrolls, 3 rolls
  Rollers, 3
  Writing implements, 1 set
  Candles, 10
  Rope, 50'
  Sacks, 5
* And WEG's influences on Star Wars is still felt today.  Dave Filoni, showrunner for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels uses the sourcebooks WEG published for inspiration and designs.
** Not all games need this house rule.  Some have standards of living which assume needs like clothes, food, and shelter are covered.

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