Aries I – Zodiac I

One day, some years ago but not nearly as many as it should have been, I realized just how insanely useful astrology is for creating role-playing game characters. Why limit oneself to just RPGs?

This is the first in a series devoted to making use of astrology in gaming. I have in mind doing a RPG character, a V:TES deck, and maybe get into other gaming areas as ideas come. Perfect time of year to get started. Spring, Easter, rebirth … Aries!

Aries
the infant
“I am”
positive: innocence, wonder, faith, courage
negative: selfish egotism, thoughlessness, aggressiveness, impulsive action
– from Linda Goodman’s “Love Signs” [it was handy]

I could whip up a Legend of the Five Rings character since I’ve been studying the main book recently as my interest in Heroes of Rokugan http://heroes-of-rokugan.com/, L5R’s living campaign, was rekindled by playing a module online not long ago. But, I have an assignment due Memorial Weekend to come up with player characters for my friend’s Conan d20 (http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/home/series.php?qsSeries=7) game, so why don’t I put my effort into that instead?

I was given some guidance: five 7th level characters, at least one pirate, no scholars or temptresses, Dabbler feat would be useful. Aries is about action. There’s no shortage of action roles in Conan, but the note about pirate makes things easy. Pirate is meant to be an aggressive class in Conan what with its Ferocious Attack ability. Being a lover of irony, if I were creating a character for myself, I would be amused by creating an Aries scholar (which I can’t do anyway), but people playing in one-shot games at cons aren’t looking for subtlety and cleverness so much as they are looking to have fun, and it’s easier to give people what they expect than to be so clever as to confuse them.

Race and class are the two most defining flavor elements to Conan characters. I have class. Race is interesting. The adventure is going to be set around the Vilayet Sea, far to the East of where the dominant Hyborian nations and the infamous Stygia can be found. Typically, I’d expect someone building a pirate to choose Zingaran or Argossean for race. It’s not in any way difficult to explain how an individual from an ocean-faring race got to the Vilayet – the Empire of Turan/Hyrkania which surrounds the Vilayet is heavily involved in slaves from around the world. Yet, this seems a prime opportunity to try something different. Why not a local?

Attributes. I’ll use the heroic method and roll 8, 8, 8, 5, 4, 2. A total of 36 would be an average attribute of 14 (36/6 + 8 base), so I’ll move the 2 up to a 3. Normally, I like to have high INT characters as about the only thing I like about d20 is the skill system. There’s nothing unintelligent about Aries or any other sign, but the character should be good at physical action, so strength and dexterity should be high, while charisma should be high for an outgoing pirate and a leader of men (Aries being the cardinal fire sign after all).

Other. While assigning skills is time-consuming, it’s not all that difficult for me. I start with what I think fits the character as I envision it, discover I’ve way overspent, and pare down considerably, often taking out skill themes. Feats are what kill me about creating d20 characters. I pretty much hate the feat system even though the concept is really good. d20 feats are just far too bland, mechanical, and unbalanced. I don’t want a poor sailor for this pirate, so I know I’ll be devoting most of the skills to traditional sailor areas. Unfortunately, 7th level isn’t high enough (normally) to get the Navigation feat, not that navigating on the Vilayet is quite the same as ocean travel.

Names. I dread names. I like to have meaningful names which is hard for fantasy worlds, fortunately, Conan’s world uses a prehistory of ours, so we can look up real world names and be confident they will sound reasonable. My favorite site is http://www.20000-names.com/ as the meanings of names is as or more important than how they sound. From Armenian boy names, I get Dzovag “lake”. From Turkish girl names, I get Pinar “spring”, I don’t know if it’s spring as in Spring or some other spring, but that seems entirely appropriate for an Aries whichever way. Neither Armenian nor Turkish were my first thoughts, I was thinking more Cossack, Tatar, Hun, or Mongolian, but these are probably fine.

Background. As a pure pirate, I envision this character as being from a family who lived by the Vilayet, maybe a fishing family, maybe a child of pirates. But, for more of a hook, I envision someone forced into piracy, pushed into the sea by politics or violence. A desire for revenge on landlubbers and a freedom-loving spirit feed the character’s career choice. With faith being an Aries element, I think it’s important to have this character worship some god or pantheon local to the Vilayet to get the Faith bonus to Will saves (a notoriously weak area for many Conan characters).

Looking over the character sheet below – I apologize for the crummy formatting, I must admit to not being thrilled. This pirate could really use being better at combat, better in certain skills, and more interesting and flexible. Probably best to create the other PCs and see how this character compares, it could just be not remembering how limited characters were at 7th level. More likely, I’ll just start tweaking to make the character more efficient.

Pinar (female) or Dzovag (male)
Race: Hyrkanian Class: Pirate Level: 7

STR 17 3 Fort: 5 +1 6
DEX 18 4 Ref: 5 +4 9
CON 13 1 Will: 2 +1 2 5 (Faith)
INT 14 2
WIS 12 1 Hit Points: 45
CHA 17 3

Parry Value: 13 +3 16 (18 on boat/ship at sea)
Dodge Value: 15 +4 19 (21 on boat/ship at sea)
Magic AB: 1 +3 4

Armor Check Pen.:
VS. Touch Attacks: 19
Arcane Spell Fail:
Flat-Footed: 19 (Uncanny Dodge)

Armor/Protection Type DR MD CP SF Spd Weight
Leather Jerkin L 4 +6 -1 40% std. 5
Steel Cap 1 0 10% 3

Initiative: 5 +8 13

Base Attack Bonus: 5
Melee: 5 +3 8
Finesse: 5 +4 9
Ranged: 5 +4 9

Weapon Proficiencies: All Simple, All Martial, Two-Weapon

Weapon Dam. Crit. AP RI H HP Weight
Hyrkanian bow +3 d10+3 19-20 3** 100′ 5 3 2
arrows (40) 5 1 6
Yuetshi knife (F) d6+3 x2 1 8 1 1
scimitar d8+3 18-20 2 10 5 2.5

Feats:
Far Shot [1] projectile weapon range increment x1.5, thrown x2
Improved Initiative [3] +4 initiative
Mobility [p5] +4 dodge DV vs. AoO from moving
Fleet-Footed [6] +10′ movement

Special Abilities:
Hyrkanian +1 attack rolls w/ bows
Hyrkanian +1/2 attack w/ bows 6/9 range increments away
Hyrkanian no requirements for taking Far Shot
Hyrkanian +2 Diplomacy, Gather Info, Intimidate in empire
Hyrkanian -2 saves vs. hypnotism
Hyrkanian tulwars and Hyrkanian bows as martial
Religion god/pantheon local to the Vilayet, as Erlik
Seamanship [p1,6] +2 Climb, P: Sailor, Use Rope, Balance, DV aboard boat/ship at sea
Ferocious Attack [p1,7] +4 initiative, attacks, damage melee; -4 DV; additional attack; first round
Pirate Code [p2] Vilayet Sea Flags
TSaRoBaS [p2] Coup as a free action
Sneak Attack [p3,6] +2d6
Sneak Subdual [p3] nonlethal
Uncanny Dodge [p4] dodge while flatfooted
Bite Sword [p7] 3+3 rounds/minutes

Languages: 9 – Hyrkanian, Khitan, Shemitish, Zamorian, Brythunian, Kothic, Iranistani, Yuetshi, Vendhyan

Skills (8+16+4,5,5,5,5,5,6 = 59), max 10:

Class Skills Ranks AM MM Key Skill
Appraise 2 2 INT 4
Balance 6 4 DEX 10 (11 at sea)
Bluff 5 3 CHA 8
Climb 2 3 STR 5 (7 at sea)
*Craft (bowyer) 2 2 INT 4
Disguise 0 3 CHA 3
Escape Artist 0 4 DEX 4
Gather Information 5 3 CHA 8
Intimidate 5 3 CHA 8
Jump 2 3 STR 5
Knowledge (geography) 1 2 INT 3
*Knowledge (local) 5 2 INT 7
Knowledge (rumors) 1 2 INT 3
Move Silently 0 4 DEX 4
Perform (sing) 1 3 CHA 4
Profession (sailor) 5 1 WIS 6 (8 at sea)
*Ride 2 4 DEX 6
Search 1 2 INT 3
Spot 0 1 WIS 1
*Survival 2 1 WIS 3
Swim 5 3 STR 8
Tumble 5 4 DEX 9
Use Rope 2 4 DEX 6 (8 at sea)

Reputation: 15 – +2 Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Intimidate, Perform; -1 Disguise

Fate Points: 2

Corruption Points: 0

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