26 August 2010

Grab and Go: The Ten Item Rule

One of the things I like least about Labyrinth Lord and any other Classic Fantasy Game is character creation. Specifically, buying equipment.

The rest of the game is so straighforwards and easy. I took my girlfriend, one of the people who's going to play Friday in my Aremorican Addendum playtest, and we made a character in just a couple of minutes. Hit points, armor class, weapons, everything. It took almost literally no time at all, thanks to one of the least controversial and handy house rules I ever forget that I have:

The Random Demon Generator?
I call it the "Ten Items or Less" Rule. See, you can get basic items and armor for free (that's up to light armor and any one-handed item) for free, because they're practically free anyways and I'm not really picky. I don't require dynamic encumbrance counts, for one. Math at the table should be limited to figuring out one's hit rolls by subtracting THACO from the die roll, or by figuring out how much gold goes where at the end of an adventure.

But for two, you get ten items from the equipment table for free. You can have a bedroll, two torches, waterskin (water), flask(rum), two 50' ropes, tent, blanket, and 10' pole. Or you could have a hammer, 50' rope, waterskin (water), two blankets, three days of rations, a bedroll, and a tent. For free. Seriously, don't even count them, it doesn't matter. I'm not looking over your math anyways, just take ten items, stick them in a backpack, and spend your gold on weapons, armor, ammunition, that sort of thing. When you're done, though, all your gold is gone. Instead of keeping it, you get 1d6x10 silver. That's 10-60, roughly a month's wages for a skilled laborer. 

See, this rule does a couple of things. Firstly, it means that players aren't agonizing over whether to spend their 5 silver on ropes at character creation. There are more interesting times to worry about gold, and that's at the table, not when we're trying to figure out who's bringing what and how. Second, it's essentially a starting package for you- you have some odds and ends, and it encourages creativity. So you've already got food, water, shelter, and light. You've got another item to bring. Should you bring parchment? What about a quill? Will we need pitons? That sort of thing.

Should have brought pitons.
And lastly, it means that characters start out kind of poor. You know, the driving motivation behind half of what Conan does (the other half being revenge), and all of what people do in Theives' World. It's the simplest, and easiest motivation in the world. If a night in an inn costs 1 gold, and you currently have roughly 1/6th of one gold peice, you're going to need to make back the investment you guys just now made into all of that shiny armor and weapons and stuff. Hey, night's falling. You'd better get moving, the town guard doesn't take kindly to vagrants.

All of these things are good things. You still have to spend money outside of character creation, of course, so that the rope and pitons and stuff you brought will be more expensive next time. With any luck, of course, you'll be coming back to town with 500-600 gold, so maybe it'll be time to upgrade that plate armor for once, and then spend time in town recuperating and training and all that. Without any luck, you'll come back into town broke and half dead, with the blood of henchmen on your boots, but that's neither here nor there. Come back with your shield or on it, as they say!

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