Thursday, December 8, 2011

Random Character Generation for a Hyborian Age

I just couldn't leave well enough alone. Give me a game, even one that I love and mostly works for me and within a couple weeks time I am already bolting on flashy bits of chrome or trying to kit out his engine.

I swore great blood-sealed oaths to grim Ymir that I would just play Conan/ZeFRS straight out of the box, but here I am doling out some variants. It's probably not a great surprise to longtime readers that the first thing I would take a sharp chopping instrument to is the point-buy system (a particular and persistent dislike of mine), and that I did.

See below for a random character generation system to be used with TSR Conan rpg or its lovable, free clone ZeFRS . Because it spills out over a few pages, I will only present part of the subsystem blogside. You can find the full PDF download here.

As always this is a work in progress and I would greatly appreciate feedback (no seriously, please drop me at least a line about it). Does it work? Is it clear?Tweaks? Or do you just want to hit it with your axe?

Design Goals:
Speed up character gen. Should take 5-15 minutes with the subsystem.

Reduce min/max dithering. Characters will have a decent, sensible spread of talents. And removing the min/max impulse means that players can be surprised by what they may get. Some choice still exists with the election to take rolls on the weakness charts (any talent points there can be freely assigned).

Provide color. The background charts provide some decent REH archetypical characters with a light touch that allows for them to figure out most real details of their character at the table.

Bolster the power range a tad. Characters generated here get an extra talent point and five extra talent points per weakness to compensate for being bound by the almighty die.


  1. The first thing that came into my head after seeing that was Skyrim.

  2. Cool! I'm gonna have to order ZeFRS from Lulu. The original game is a tad pricy on ebay, though if the right auction intersects in a timely manner with my wallet...

  3. @Mike
    Skyrim, how so? I have been intentionally avoiding getting hooked right now. In fact a 100 percent reduction in computer games is pretty much my secret on how to be able to juggle all the Google Plus gaming. But if I was going to go back there...

    At $8 ZeFRS is a great (at cost) deal, plus you get some of the skills and subsystems added in the Conan modules. But of course lacks all the Hyborian frills.

  4. Houseruling a great system, sounds familiar. I love random character generation. I am not familiar with this system so I cannot offer any advice, but always applaud GMs making the game theirs.

  5. I like how you have it set up, and I think having some extra umph in exchange for randomising is great. The only qualm I have so far is that if someone is a well-versed REH afficionado, they're likely going to want to pick their country of origin. Not sure what kind of trade-off might be used there.

    On the other hand, I would gladly roll for it, as I enjoy the challenge of the unexpected.

  6. I really like the "where do you come from" & "how did you spend your early years" tables. The "sorceror's accomplice" is an especially nice touch - lets you know right off the bat that whatever they've been up to, it's nothing good.

    Confirmation word: Gersol. Now I'm thinking you could use blogspot captcha as a random name generator.

  7. @Miguel
    A kindly GM will let you fudge. At least I still give you some choice by grouping them by culture type. (Which reminds me that I have some lands omitted that I need to add back in.)

    Sorcerer's apprentice sounded just wrong for Hyboria--too high-fantasy innocuous and devoid of inherent corruption.

    Captcha generates great S&S names.

  8. Chris, I was able to gen up a character on my phone while waiting tables. I used Invisible Castle for the die rolls ... and the damn character is fantastic. I'm gonna play the little guy if I can ever get in on the G+ game.