A few months ago I started an Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign I was calling Spear! Fang! Raygun! which centered around “pantless barbarians”–basically ultra-cliche badass heavy metal inspired barbarians in woolly triceratops fur loincloths and boots and helms adorned with the horns of the Shaggy Hellcows of Crom!–and their adventures in the lost world-ish, dimensionally permeable realm of the Forlorn Plateau. (A very special snowflake campaign, obviously.) PCs ranged from Fly Stargroove, a jive knight who used the Funk, to Murrl, a monk devoted to Ar’nuuld! the Mightily Thewed and trained at the Golden Domed Gym. Anyway, you get the idea. I also stole the name “Pantless Barbarian” from Chris Kutalik outright. Sorry, Chris.
Putting this together, I made a bunch of special character creation rules and added a Luck attribute to the game. I wanted to share all of that here since someone may get some use or inspiration out of it. I’ll be dropping these piece by piece so as not to overwhelm.
So here’s the first article in the series.
Ability Scores Generation
Ability scores for Player Characters in the Spear! Fang! Raygun! campaign may be generated according to one of the following methods. It is the player’s choice which to use.
Worthy of Crom!
To generate ability scores as Crom! intended, use the following method:
- Roll 3d6 straight down, assigning results in order.
- Roll a 1d6, add points to ability scores however (but no score may exceed 18)
- Worthy of Crom! – Accept what the universe has given you and make something of it! Crom! cares not for the weak and snowflakey, only those who are worthy and that means you! The character gains a +2 bonus to Luck. Additionally, the following two rules apply to characters using this method:
- Crom! Grant Me this One Request! – 1d3 times per a year (this roll is secret, only known to the DM), he may call on Crom! for assistance (whether that be to grant you revenge or make it with the Sexy Giant Cave Amazon queen, it doesn’t matter) and Crom! will answer (the DM will intervene in your favor).* After the character has reached the limit of his worthiness, for a year and a day from the last intervention, Crom! is displeased with his weakness, so to hell with you! (You now suffer the To Hell with You! curse below and lose the +2 bonus to Luck.)
*In order to call upon Crom! you must give an impromptu, dramatic monologue worthy of the gloomy god. If you fall to do so, then To Hell with You!–you immediately suffer from the curse below.
- To Hell with you! – Crom! suffers not the weakling, the whiner, the seeker of handouts! Your character is cursed by Crom! for not being able to pull himself up by his own sandlestraps! Whenever you are in Crom!’s domain (or what Crom! considers his domain), you may be called upon to make Tests of Luck or Extraordinary Feats of Luck at random, totally arbitrary intervals, suffering grave and/or hilarious consequences in the event of failure (of a sort entirely meaningless and as a result of an uncaring universe).
Unworthy of Crom!
To generate ability scores as a pansy and feel the cold, stern neglect of Crom!, use the following method:
- For each ability score, you start with a 3d6 but may assign additional die from a dice pool of seven d6 dice.
- Decide how you want to arrange the dice pool among your rolls. For example, an array could be 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6 or 10d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6 or 5d6, 5d6, 6d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, etc.
- Once you have distributed your dice pool, roll for your scores, taking the highest three points for each roll and adding them.
- Distribute the scores however you wish.
Unworthy of Crom! – Crom! suffers also not the writer of extravagant, meaningful backgrounds! Your character (perhaps rightly) believes he is destined to leave his mark upon the world but Crom! finds only those worthy who achieve greatness via the sheer, uncaring randomness of the universe! But you may still attempt Crom! Grant Me this One Request! as above except it only works if you succeed at an Extraordinary Feat of Luck. Failure, though, means that Crom! will curse you for your groveling. (The nature of this curse is up to the DM). Additionally, upon failure you immediately suffer the effects of To Hell with You! for a year and a day, at which point you may try to call upon Crom! once again, though the curse may or may not be lifted.