Friday, 19 December 2014

Maelstrom: Domesday character creation

So, I promised I would work my way through the character creation process for Maelstrom Domesday, the game I picked up at Dragonmeet.

This is a game of supernatural investigation in the early middle ages. That makes it the game for me, as you can maybe tell from this image of a small part of my bookshelves:

So, the way character creation in this game works is via a lifepath system. You can either determine your character's background randomly or pick the individual steps, but the system encourages you to do it randomly. I approve, because I'm a big fan of random character generation. I know some people don't like it, but I find it inspiring.

I went through the process twice, just for laughs, but this is my first one.

First off, you generate your starting attributes. There are ten of these -- nothing too exotic. They all start at 40, with most humans having scores in the 30-80 range. You choose four to add d6 to, then select another two to subtract d6 from. I chose to buff up my Attack, Persuasion, Perception and Knowledge and then reduce my Missile and Speed skills. It seemed fair enough for a supernatural investigator type, but the whole point of character creation is that until you get pulled into the world of the supernatural you're just an ordinary person.

Next you roll for your character's "racial" origin -- for the first guy, I rolled Saxon, which is the most likely result, as you might expect from a game set in 11th-century Yorkshire. I then rolled for his social background, and it came up with statistically the likeliest result: a peasant.

Next you roll for three "characteristics," which are various special traits and abilities. I rolled one that made me better at archery, one that improved my mathematics, making me better at bartering and so on, and one that gave me the ability to do hedge magic -- this lets me learn the Magic skill, but only to level 1.

Once you've found your social class, you roll for your starting career -- each background has a different distribution of possible careers. So for instance, if you're a noble, you're going to wind up being a squire or something, while if you're a peasant, not so much. I rolled for my first career and wound up as a wiseman, a sort of kooky village advice-giver / herbalist guy. And I could even learn magic, so that worked out nicely.

Each time you progress through a career, you add a certain amount to your age (it varies depending on the career), then add some points to a set of attributes specified by the career plus a discretionary one. In the case of a Wiseman, these are will, endurance and perception. You also get to spend two points from the various skills available to you. Wisemen have a lot of skills, so I chose different ones each time. You also roll on a random table, with the table being determined by what kind of occupation you have -- sedentary, in the case of a wiseman. Lastly, you can also get some equipment (a random chance) and an amount of money (there's also starting money based on your social class). You then roll to see whether it's your last career, and what career you move on to. I was a Wiseman several times in a row -- it's a pretty restrictive career. As a result, my skills are varied and my Wiseman-relevant stats are great.

The random events were my favourite thing about character creation; at one point, I learned philosophy, which apparently helps me resist something called Imbalance (I haven't read the actual rules). At another, I accidentally set myself on fire, giving me some hideous facial scars.

At the end of my career (you keep rolling to see if your career ends; if you roll over your age it does) I then rolled to see what my encounter with the supernatural had been -- apparently a tapestry shifted walls overnight!

Unfortunately, my contact with the supernatural drove me out of society -- I guess they didn't notice that I could do magic in the first place -- but one magnate decided to retain my services as a supernatural investigator. I rolled to see who it was -- Richard fitz Gilbert, of all people. Great.

So I'm a horribly-scarred, half-educated hedge wizard that no one will have anything to do with because of my role in the weird tapestry incident. Fortunately, I've picked up a smattering of philosophy, so I don't let it bother me too much. My character is a prize weirdo, and I get the feeling this is pretty common among characters in this game.

I made a little picture of him:

His name is Ealdred.
I'm going to enjoy running this game.

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