Hello everyone, today we tackle character creation in Yggrasill. For the purpose of today’s article, let’s try putting together what may very well be the most recognizable stereotype of Norsemen, a Berserker.
It all starts off with Fate. Before we do anything else, let’s see what Fate has in store for our hero. To determine this, we draw runes that will determine his fate. This is done by rolling three 8-sided dice, with each one assigned to one group of runes, called an aett.
Each rune is then chosen to be cast in an either positive or negative aspect, in two possible combinations: two negative, one positive, or two positive, and one negative.
So, let’s get started. For our Berserker, I roll 3d8 and get the following in order: 1, 7, 3. These net me the following:
Fehu – Negative Aspect: Loss of goods, poverty, social rejection. The character might be born in a poor family and find it hard to survive, or he will suffer a reversal of fortune and never regain his social status.
Algiz – Positive Aspect Only: Algiz is the most powerful protective rune against malevolent energies, traps, and supernatural creatures. The character is protected from harmful influences, attempts to manipulate him, and curses of any kind. This may be due to the character’s own magical skill, divine protection, or just an innate talent that draws on this protection. If the character commits and act of betrayal, breaks an oath or refuses to assume his Fate (refuses vengeance, to help a parent or blood brother, a duel, shows cowardice in the battlefield, etc) or uses the seidr, galdr, or runes to cast a curse, this rune’s power is broken forever.
Ehwaz – Postive Aspect Only: This rune is that of the horse, Frey’s animal. For the character it represents a favorable progression or a successful voyage without incident. It also supports other positive runes (Positive Aspect, or Positive Aspect Only) by maximizing their positive effects.
Well that was interesting. Makes for a nice Conan-y type monster / sorcerer slayer right from the get go. You cannot imagine how big my grin is right now.
The book then goes on to introduce character creation packages in the form of Archetypes. Given the specific nature of the culture being tackled by the game, I find that this is a nice touch, and can certainly help new players get the necessary skills to portray their concept.
For the sake of my Berserker, I’ll choose the Privileged Skills for the Beserker template (Athletics, Dodge, Intimidation, Survival and one Combat skill of my choice), and take the mandatory Savage Warrior gift along with it.
The templates are then followed up with pregenerated chracters, which are great for pick-up games and NPCs.
Now we determine the Characteristics for our Berserker. Characteristics in Yggdrasill are divided into three categories, with three characteristics each.
Body: Strength, Vigour , Agility
Mind: Intellect, Perception, Tenacity
Soul: Charisma, Communication, Instinct
Characters begin with 19 points to distribute among the nine characteristics, with each point spent increasing the charactersitic by 1. All characteristics start at 1, but cannot be raised higher than 4 during character creation.
After some deliberation, this is what I’ve come up with:
Body: Strength 3, Vigour 3, Agility 2
Mind: Intellect 1, Perception 2, Tenacity 3
Soul: Charisma 1, Communication 2, Instinct 2
Secondary Charactersistics are derived from the nine primary ones:
HP: (Body x 3) + (Mind x 2) + (Soul x 1) = 41
Bloodied at >41, Wounded at < 41, Severely wounded at < 11
Reaction: Int + Per + Ins = 5
Physical Defense: Agi + Vig + Ins = 7
Mental Defense: Ten + Int + Ins = 6
Movement: Agi + Vig = 5
Encumbrance: (Str x 2) + Vig = 9
Furor is one of those mechanics that really pushes the flavor of Yggdrasill. As you can imagine, Furor is an emotional state, natural rage and mystical resource that allows heroes to surpass themselves.
Each character has a Furor pool of ten-sided dice. How this is calculated differs per character type. For our Berserker, we calculate furor with the following formula:
Vig + Ins + Ten
Resulting in a Furor pool of 8d10
So how does this help me? Well, Berserkers have special rules for the use of Furor. In brief, the Berserker is allowed to enter a battle furor, gains the following effects:
- The player may choose to add the result of one or more furor dice (but no more than his Tenacity score) to the result fo his current attack test. These dice are then removed from his furor pool. However, it them becomes impossible to use fewer furor dice in subsequent attacks. He cannot use less until his furor pool runs out, whereupon he become exhausted.
- While in battle furor, a Savage Warrior may drop to as many negative Hit Points as he has positive Hit Points before dying, as opposed to dying upon hitting negative 1/4th of the value of his positive hit points as the rules normally dictate. Once the furor is ended and the damage he’s suffered would normally kill him, the beserker dies.
- The Berseker ignores all wound penalties for as long as the furor is still ongoing.
While all of this sounds awesome, there are stil significant downsides to using furor.
- While in batle furor, the character suffers a difficulty level increase of one to all Perception tests. The Savage Warrior’s Physical Defense value is reduced to zero, and the Savage warrior must perform at least one attack action in each combat round.
- A player who wishes to prematurely end his battle furor must make an Intellect test, adding his Mental Defense score to the result against a difficulty determined by his health and the number of furor dice used. If this test fails, then the Berserker will continue to attack the nearest creature, but the player may re-try at the beginning of each combat round.
Furor recovers at a rate of 1 die for every two hours of sleep, or all dice after a full, undisturbed night’s sleep. A character also regains one furor die if he takes part in a festival or feast where they can eat or drink freely.
Gifts and Weaknesses further define a character. Anyone familiar with advantage / disadvantage mechanics will feel right at home here. Characters begin with one free gift, but may obtain another if they choose a weakness to go with it.
Gifts allow a character to roll an extra die in any test where the gift applies. He still keeps the result of two dice, however. Weaknesses occur once per session, and forces the player to keep the highest die and the lowest in a particular test.
As with the Archetype section above, I’m obligated to get the Savage Warrior Gift.
I figure I might as well pick up something else, and grab Iron Body, which allows me to add an extra die whenever my berserker has to stand up to ablow.
As for a weakness I choose Cold, which makes him inept in seduction and sympathy, even if his emotions are genuine.
Right, now onto skills. Skills range from values of 0 to 20. Character creation gives us 35 skills to spend, but 5 of which need to be spent on Privilege Skills if we picked an archetype (which we did.)
Raising a Priviliged skill by one level costs one skill point, while non-priviliged skills cost two per level. Character creation places a maximum cap on skill levels to 7 (competent)
I actually like the skills given by my archetype so I’ll stick to these for now:
7 Long Weapons (long swords & axes and such)
Lazy skill point distribution? Maybe, but I don’t think I’ll be complaining in a fight.
Finally we tackle Combat Feats, which are pretty self-explanatory to the D20 crowd. These are special powers that allow a character to pull off extraordinary actions that aren’t common to everyone in a fight.
Characters begin with 12 points to spend on Combat Feats (or spells for Odin’s Initiate). combat feats cost a number of points equal to their level x3.
Feats apply a penalty to the attack when being performed (a reasonable trade off) and characters are advised to spend Furor on some of the more difficult ones.
For Berserker I decide to grab the following:
- Leap of the Lynx (level 1) – This will allow my berserker to close the distance between him and someone using a ranged weapon. Pretty handy, I think.
- Bloodthirsty Howl (level 1) – Nothing like the crazy intimidating howling that can scare an opponent and DOESN’T cost an action.
- Quick as Lightning (level 1) – Shifting up the initiative order ahead of my opponents? Yes please.
- Impetous Charge (level 1) – Adding Move values to damage in a charge? Always fun.
My berserker is turning out to be a mobile, shifty fighter. Good thing too since you can’t really be effective if you’re not anywhere near your target.
And that brings us to the end of the character creation process. Equipment is probably tackled elsewhere and most of the characters will be assumed to be armed with what they need. Though given my character’s fate, he’s most likely start off with just the clothes on his back and maybe an axe.
So that concludes the character creation attempt. Overall, the process is fairly painless, if a little bit involved. There’s a lot of little parts to the character, but I was very pleased with some of the subsystems that really work to encourage the flavor of the game. Fate runes and Furor being foremost on my list, but I’m pretty sure that the magic system will be no less impressive.
On Monday, we’ll take this little Berserker out for a test drive, pitting him up against one of the sample characters in the book as a means of figuring out how combat works in a sample combat.