12 Mar 2019

Test Run - The Witcher - Human Mage

Last week, I tried creating an elven archer  for R. Talsorian's The Witcher RPG, based on the video game based on the series of dark fantasy novels by Andrezej Sapkowski, all with the same name.  Character creation can get involved, though some of that was self-inflicted with the age of the character.  The lifepath system can add to the time needed to create a character, as can missing a key sentence.  The archer was straightforward, though, no extra mechanics beyond the base rules.

This time around, I'm going to try a human mage.  Since last week's character almost became a bard until his life made him hideous and feared, I'll keep the options open, but the end goal right now is someone who can use magic of some sort.  I'll keep with a random lifepath, just to see what I get.  This time, though, I may ignore results that work against my concept.  After the break, character creation by the steps in the book.

1. Choose race.
Once again, done - human.  Like elves and the other races in the game, humans get perks.  She gets Trustworthy, Ingenuity, and Blindly Stubborn. giving her bonuses around other humans and figuring out things.

2. Run a life path,
Unlike my elven archer, my mage has a choice of homelands.  I'm not that familiar with the setting, so I'll let the dice decide.  The first chart is an odd/even roll for humans.  The ten-sided die (d10) roll is a 7, or odd.  My mage is from the Northern Kingdoms.  I then get to roll to see which one, with the d10 coming up with 7, Skellige, giving my mage a +1 to Courage.

Next, I need to see if anything happened to the family of my mage, let's call her Laila.  The chart is odd/even again and the d10 roll is 10, even.  My mage's family is alive and together.  Since the family is alive, Laila's parents need to be checked.  With another odd/even roll, the d10 is 7, odd.  Something happened to Laila's parents.  Just what depends on the next roll, which is a 6.  Oh, dear, one or both were attacked by monsters.  Which one depends on another roll, an 8.  Laila's mother died in the monster attack.  Exactly which monster is up to me.

With family status, I will reroll if the result doesn't make sense.  My goal is a mage or a magic worker of some sort.  The roll is 8, a peasant family, getting a bonus to Luck and a lucky token.  Laila's mom could have used that.  I'll keep the result, but the next table, Most Influential Friend, has a couple of ideas that would get Laila into the magical realms.  I'll still make a roll, to see if one of my choices comes up.  The roll is 2, an Artisan.  Not what I was thinking.  The two that look best are Mage and Witch.  Given that Laila is a peasant, I'll choose the Witch.

Does Laila have siblings?  The roll comes up as 6, so yes, 6 siblings.  The rolls get involved, so I'll just do one, then put the rest in the character summary below.  For the first, the gender is another odd/even roll, with the result (10) being even, so a brother.  Next roll is relative age; the result (2) is younger.  The next is how he feels about Laila, the 6 shows that he's neutral.  The last roll (5) is on the personality chart; he's thoughtful.  The rest are four more brothers, including a twin, and an older sister.

Now comes the Life Events, one for every decade of life.  Unlike elves, humans don't live long, especially when there are monsters about.  Mages do need to study, so I'll say Laila is 33 years old, or three Life Events.  Not so bad as the archer last week.  The first event is (7) Allies and Enemies.  So young, yet already making (9, odd) enemies.  Given the age, I may reroll if the result doesn't make sense.  Just how much trouble can an eight-year-old cause?  The next roll determines the gender of the enemy, with a 3 (odd) meaning male.  The next roll (2) means he's an ex-lover.  Let's reroll that.  The next roll (7) means he's a soldier.  The why (6) is turned down romantically.  Again, let's reroll that.  Teens, maybe, but not this young even in a dark fantasy.  The why (5) is accused of illegal witchcraft.  Well, that works with my goal.  I'll forego rolling to see who was accused and say it was Laila.  She has spent time with the village witch.  The soldier's power level is 2, so not that powerful.  The next roll (3) on how far things have escalated means they are planning to backstab Laila.  The last roll (1) indicates that the soldier has social power, which doesn't quite fit here.  I'll choose physical power instead.

Laila now heads into her teens.  The event (6) is back to Allies and Enemies.  The new party is an (3) Enemy, too.  Laila is not making friends at all.  Maybe her jealous older sister had a hand in this?  This enemy is a (1) male (2) ex-lover, which I'll keep.  Laila's old enough now.  A (7) terrible wound is involved, caused by (8) the ex, who is power level 7.  Laila is (10) out for blood, but the ex has (8) minions to get through.  If I were a GM who saw this, I'd have a running subplot for a good chunk of the campaign until the character finally unleashed hell on the ex.  Laila carries a grudge.

The last event (5) is Allies and Enemies again.  I'd like to have something else, though.  The reroll is a 10, Romance, which never came up last week.  Laila had a (4) Romantic Tragedy.  Her lover committed suicide and Laila doesn't know why.  Laila's not having any luck with love.

That leaves two more charts.  The first, Personal Style, I get 4, 7, 4, and 9 resulting in ragged clothing, deceptive, braided, and furs for clothing, personality, hair style and affectations.  I'll change the clothing to travelling clothes and personality to stern, but keep the rest.  The final chart, Values, I roll 4, 5, and 7.  Laila's valued person is a friend, most likely the village witch.  She values knowledge, which is very mage-like.  The last, through - people are great - backfires when you look at how she feels about her first ex-lover.  Let's reroll that.  Laila believes (4) that people have to prove themselves.  That's more like it.

3. Pick profession.
Since the lifepath didn't go in a different direction than expected, though some of that was from me not rolling everything, Laila can indeed become a mage.  She gets some Vigor, a few spells, a hex, and a ritual.  She also starts with the following skills: Human Perception, Spell Casting, Hex Weaving, Resist Magic, Staff/Spear, Education, Ritual Crafting, Social Etiquette, Seduction, and Grooming & Style.  What the skill levels will be comes up in step 5 below.

4. Pick statistics.
For Laila, I'll use point-buy.  There's four levels available from Average to Legends.  I'll use Skilled with its 70 points to make things interesting without having to skimp on attributes.  That averages out to each attribute being just under 8.  If I want a 10 in anything, something else is going to take a hit.  Looking at the professional skills as a mage, they're focused on Intelligence, Empathy, and Will, so I should focus on those attributes.  Will has all the spell casting skills, including Spell Casting, so it gets a 10.  Empathy, oddly, is also useful for a mage, mostly for in-setting reasons.  I'll put 9 in that and 9 in Intelligence.  Craft will also get an 8; useful if I want to add some alchemy to the magic.  Luck is going to be needed, so another 8 there.  Speed and Body will gets 6 each; Laila isn't physical.  For the same reason, Dexterity gets a 6.  That leaves me with 8 for Reflex.

The derived stats are easily calculated.  The game includes tables to make it easier.  Vigor starts at 5, and is a limit on how many spells can be cast and sustained at one time without exertion.  Stun and Recovery are the average of Body and Will, rounded down.  From there, Health and Stamina can be checked on the chart.  Run is based on Speed, with Leap based on the result.  Encumberance is based on Body, so limiting that may have issues in-game.  The details are in the summary below.

5. Select skills.
Again, there's two parts to this.  The first part is professional skills, with 44 points to spend on 11 skills.  There's a catch this time.  Several of the professional skills, the ones dealing with magic, are harder to learn and cost double.  This will eat up a lot of those points.  I also have to put at least one point into each skill.  There's no way I can max out Hex Weaving, Spell Casting, and Ritual Crafting at 6 each and still have enough points to place in the other professional skills.  I'll place them at 4 each, costing 24 points, or over half.  Resist Magic would be nice to have at the same level, but cost, so I'll put it at 2 for four points.  That leaves 16 points for six skills.  I'll put 1 point into Staff/Spear.  Laila will have to rely on her magic in a fight, but that's why she's a mage.  Speaking of being a mage, Laila needs to have Magical Training, so I'll put that at 4.  Being from a peasant family, she's a little lacking in Social Etiquette compared to her fellow mages, so a 1 there.  Laila values knowledge, as per step 3 above, so a 4 in Education suits her.  Grooming & Style and Seduction will get 2 each, for four points, leaving the last 2 points for Human Perception.

The second part is pick up skills, a total equal to Intelligence and Reflex.  Laila thus has 17 points to spend.  A quick check on languages tells me that Laila's native tongue is the Elder Speech, the same language as the elves.  She'll need Common to get around the rest of the North, so I'll add that at 3 at a cost of 6 points.  Courage should get a boost, too, raising it to 3 as well for three points, and then to 4 because of her homeland.  Since Laila's not great at fighting, she should get good at dodging; I'll raise her Dodge/Escape to 4.  The last 4 points get put into Deduction, which has the bonus from being human, too.

6. Get money.
Mages start with 2d6x200 crowns.  That sounds better than the Man-At-Arms, but while they only need weapons and armour, mages need magical supplies.  Laila gets (7) 1400 crowns.

7. Spend money on gear.
Before going on the spending spree, I should first see what I can get for Laila being a mage.  From the list, I'll choose a writing kit, a journal, 100 crowns' worth of components, a staff for thwacking people, and a makeup kit.  It's a good start.  For a backup weapon and a general use tool, I'll get Laila a dagger (50 crowns).  To protect her, I'll get her a Verden archer's hood (100 crowns) and a halfling protective doublet (375 crowns).  Laila's staff does help her channel magic, but she should have something a bit better, so I'll get her an amulet with a gemstone (500 crowns).  Laila also needs the same necessities as the elven archer - a satchel, a bedroll, a couple of torches or a lantern, food for a week or so, 20m of rope, and a waterskin - which comes out to 58 crowns before the food and lantern.  For light, Laila gets a standard lantern (33 crowns) and 15 candles (15 crowns).  Of course, she now needs to light the candles, so a flint and steel (6 crowns).  To round things out, I'll add five pieces of chalk (10 crowns), a hand mirror (27 crowns), a bar of soap (4 crowns), and three doses of clotting powder (60 crowns).  This leaves Laila 162 crowns before play begins.

Being a mage, though, has some extras.  Laila gets five novice spells, one novice ritual, and one low danger hex.  With spells, the setting has the classic four elements - earth, air, fire. and water - with some spells falling under a mix of them.  I'll keep Laila flexible for now, with a bit of everything,  Checking the novice spells, Afan's Mirror looks like fun; it creates 1d10 images of the caster.  If an attacker doesn't know which one is the real one, it's harder to hit Laila.  Magic Healing helps the rest of the party if there's no doctor or if the doctor needs healing.  Aenye lets Laila set people on fire instead of hitting them with her staff.  Ice Slick I chose because of the fun I had with the Shadowrun equivalent; the spell is area denial and good if being pursued and allows for a little slapstick.  Finally, Dispel, to counter other mages.

Rituals are more powerful than spells but take longer than cast.  There are a few that look interesting, but Hydromancy may be the one for Laila.  The ritual lets her see what happened in the past or even in the present by scrying in a small body of water.  Hexes are not quite curses; they are more powerful than spells and last until lifted; and they can backfire if the caster is not careful.  There's only two low danger hexes, one ideal for casting on a cheating lover, the other more for the lover who caused a serious wound.  Laila will take the latter one, Hex of Shadows.

Laila took about as much time as the elven archer last week, though with less searching through the rules.  Mages don't take that much extra with spells, rituals, and hexes; the limited selection helps as does each type of spell having a good range of use. 

Character sheet
Name: Laila
Race: Human
Gender: Female
Age: 33

Social Standing:
  Trustworthy - +1 to Charisma, Seduction, and Persuasion against other humans
  Ingenuity - +1 to Deduction
  Blindly Stubborn - may reroll Resist Coercian or Courage roll three times per game session.
Profession: Mage
  Defining Skill: Magic Training 4
Vigor: 5

Intelligence 9
  Deduction 4 (5)
  Education 4
  Language: Common Tongue 3
  Language: Elder Speech 8
  Social Etiquette 1
Reflex 8
  Dodge/Escape 4
  Staff/Spear 1
Dexterity 6
Body 6
Speed 6
Empathy 9
  Grooming & Style 2
  Human Perception 2
  Seduction 2
Craft 8
Will 10
  Courage 4
  Hex Weaving 4
  Resist Magic 2
  Ritual Crafting 4
  Spell Casting 4
Luck 8 (9)

Stun: 8
Run: 18
Leap: 3
Health Points: 40
Stamina: 40
Encumbrance: 60
Recovery: 8
Punch Damage: 1d6
Kick Damage: 1d6+4

  Homeland: Skellige - +1 to Courage (already factored in above)
  Family Fate: Alive
  Parental Fate: Mother died in monster attack
  Family Status: Peasant - +1 Luck
  Most Influential Friend: Witch
    1) Younger brother, neutral, thoughtful
    2) Older brother, neutral, shy
    3) Younger brother, neutral, romantic
    4) Twin brother, looks up to Laila, talkative
    5) Older sister, jealous of Laila, immature
    6) Younger brother, jealous of Laila, aggressive
  Life Events:
    Age 10 - Enemy - male soldier, accused Laila of illegal witchcraft, power 2 - physical, they plan to backstab.
    Age 20 - Enemy - ex-lover, causeds a terrible wound on Laila, power 8 - minions, Laila's out for blood.
    Age 30 - Romance - tragic, lover committed suicide.

  Clothing: Travelling clothing
  Personality: Stern
  Hair Style: Braided
  Affectations: Furs

  Valued Person: A friend (village witch)
  Preferred Value: Knowledge
  Feelings on People: People have to prove themselves

Magical Perks
    Afan's Mirror
    Magic Healing
    Ice Slick
    Hex of Shadows

  162 crowns
  Lucky token
  Black magic doll
  Writing kit
  100 crowns of components
  Makeup kit
  Verden's archer hood
  Halfling protective doublet
  Rope, 20m
  Candles, 15
  Flint & steel
  Chalk, 5 
  Hand mirror
  Clotting powder, 3 doses

As always, please let me know if you use Laila.  She should be a viable character, but no PC ever survives contact with the GM.

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