RSV Character Creation: The Hero

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

 I think going through the rules of the Richard Snider Variant individually may be less instructive than working through them functionally, so we are going to start with making characters and consider how the rules were intended to be employed.
As mentioned in the previous post there are but two character classes in the RSV, following the convention in Blackmoor, CHAINMAIL and MIDGUARD.  

We'll start with the "Hero" class, and discuss the more complex Wizard class in another post.

On page 5 of the RSV under "Things to Roll for in Making a Hero or Super-Hero:

Strength, Health, Intelligence, Leadership, Horsemanship, Sailing, Flying, normal (melee) combat skill, archery skill. Roll two dice for each.

So these are what we would now call "Ability Scores".  Persons familiar with Arneson & Snider's Adventures in Fantasy, and Megarry's character sheets will immediately note the similarities.  In fact, we can say the RSV is intermediate between these two.  Below is a table showing our various early examples in chronological order:


Spanish Royalty
Gaylord sheet
Megarry sheet
R. Snider
D&D
Adventures in Fantasy






Brains
Brains
Brains
Intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence
Looks
Looks
Looks

Charisma
Charisma

Credibility




Sex
Sex
Sex



Health
Health
Health
Health
Constitution
Health
Stamina

Strength
Strength
Strength
Strength
Strength
Guts
Courage
Courage




Cunning


Wisdom





Dexterity
Dexterity

Horesmanship
Riding/
Horsemanship
Horsemanship

Horsemanship

Woodsmanship
Woodcraft


Forester/Hunter

Leadership
Leadership
Leadership



Flying
Flying
Flying



Seamanship
Sailing
Sailing

Sailor


Throwing





Loyalty



Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous





So we can see here that Snider is pairing down Arneson's list (and is ignorant of Gygax's version).  In particular Richard drops the personal characteristics of Looks, Sex, and Courage.

He also "appears" (air quotes) to have added a new stat: Normal Combat ability.  I'm hedging on that, because all Richard may be doing is adding something to the character matrix that Arneson used for some time but kept himself, away from his players.

My reason for thinking so is because we've seen "combat" as an ability score before.  It is one of three repeatedly mentioned in the FFC Magic Swords section -  STRENGTH, COMBAT, INTELLIGENCE. (FFC 77:64)  The swords from Arneson's magic sword cards, retyped in the FFC as a list, have these three characteristics listed together as shown, with an increase bonus to each stat provided by the particular sword.
   
These magic sword cards are one of the earliest developments in the game and must date to sometime not far removed from the earliest character sheets like Pete Gaylords'.  Arneson tells us he created them "Prior to setting up Blackmoor" (FFC 77:64)by which we presume he means Blackmoor dungeon.

In any case, we see that the "Normal Combat" statistic in the RSV seemed to function identically to the other ability scores, just as "combat" in the FFC swords, seemed to function in the same manner as Intelligence and Strength.

Next comes:

Weapon Specialization (Hero 3 die, Superhero 4 die).

That brief statement brings up a lot of questions.  That could mean:

1) The hero gets 3d6 weapons to specialize in, the Superhero 4d6
2) The H/S gets a single "Specialization" score of 3d6 or 4d6
3) The H/S gets to roll 3d6 or 4d6 to determine hits every time they use a weapon they have specialized in.
4) The H/S gets to roll 3d6 or 4d6 to generate an ability score for each weapon they have specialized in.
5) The H/S gets to roll 3d6 or 4d6 to determine damage for hits with a weapon they have specialized in.

In a moment, we will see a step that will help us determine which of these 5 is most likely intended, but for now, next on our list is to roll for:

Life energy level: hero rolls one die. On a roll of 1-3, has the option to either keep his first roll or reroll with two dice. Super-hero rolls two dice, on a roll of 1-2 (on either die) has the option of either keeping the first roll or rolling over with three dice. Any time the option is taken, the first roll is thrown out (whether the second roll is higher or not).         

That's a shocker for long time D&Ders.  It's not clear what source, if any, has inspired this Life Energy Level stat.  Quiet possibly, Richard may be riffing off of Outdoor Survival, although there the term "Life Level" is never coupled with the word "energy".  

What is clear, is that unlike the use of the term Life Energy Level in D&D, Richard is not using it as a synonym for Experience Level, but as a separate statistic.  It is also worth noting that this is new terminology as far as Blackmoor material goes.

Next we roll for: 

Magic resistance ability: hero rolls one die and on roll of one has option to keep first roll or roll over with two die.  Superhero rolls three die.
                                                                       
That's the last stat we roll for and this completes the paragraph on making Heroes and Superheroes on page 5.  Interestingly however, some crucial information is placed on other pages.  

On page 4, we are told:

How to Figure How Many Hits a Hero Or Super-Hero Can Take:
(Strength + Health + Intelligence + Combat Skill + Life Energy Level + Magic Resistance Ability + Highest Weapon Specialization) divided by five.

Note "Highest Weapon Specialization", that means the WS is not a single score or a list of weapons, or a hit or damage roll.  Choice 4, then - the H/S gets to roll 3d6 or 4d6 to generate an ability score for each weapon they have specialized in - is the likely one.

Lastly, we need to generate a Saving Throw number:

"A die roll of 1 indicates the following saving throws:

Wizard 7
Super-hero 8

A die roll of 2 or 3, indicates the following saving throws:

Wizard 5  
Super-hero 7  
Hero 9

All other creatures of appropriate type

To make a Saving Throw roll 2 dice; equal or above succeeds."

So, using the above information, lets make a sheet and create a Hero character for the RSV:


Example Hero

Name    Rico                         Type  Hero

Life Energy Level              6                                             Experience Point Total   0

Hit Points             12                                                           Magic Resistance     5

Saving Throw     9                                                              Shekels
                                                                                               
                                                                                               
Trait
Score


Strength
11
Health
12
Intelligence
5
Leadership
6
Horsemanship
10
Sailing
8
Flying
3


Normal Combat
7
Archery
8
Weapon Specialization - Short Sword
12
Weapon Specialization - mace
10
Weapon Specialization - lance
14
Weapon Specialization







3 comments:

Robert said...

Great post. Thank you!

I'm kind of surprised how complicated these rules are.

Life Energy was mentioned in FFC (Richard Snider's Additions), so I guess it dates back to this variant. Good to know that to begin with it was something completely separate from Hits/HP/HTK.

One thing is unclear for me a little:

"Life energy level: hero rolls one die. On a roll of 1-3, has the option to either keep his first roll or reroll with two dice."

In other words: hero has 50% chance to get this rerolling option? Suppose that I rolled 2, then 4 - no reroll. But if I roll 5, then 3, then I can reroll with two. Right?

DHBoggs said...

Hi Robert,

The Richard Snider Additions in the FFC are an exact reprint of 1.5 pages of the RSV - so same thing. You can read more about it here: https://boggswood.blogspot.com/2018/09/almost-forgotten-published-rpg-ruleset.html

As to the reroll rule, your guess is as good as mine. :)

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