Exploring the Halls of Arden Vul: chargen
The material of the Halls of Arden Vul was created by Richard Barton and Andreas Claren for the OSRIC system, a clone of 1e Advanced D&D. We'll be using a modified version of Old School Essentials by Gavin Norman (a B/X clone), using some elements from Into the Wild by Todd Leback and The Perilous Wilds by Jason Lutes.
We'll be using the Advanced Fantasy version of Old School Essentials, which incorporates the classes, spells, and some other material of 1e AD&D. If you do not have the books, an SRD of the Basic Rules ("Classic Fantasy", or B/X) can be found here. The Basic Rules can be downloaded for free on their website.
- 1 Chargen Order
- 2 Classes
- 3 Additional Abilities
- 4 Secondary Skill
- 5 Languages
- I will roll 3 sets of attributes for you using 3d6. You'll select one set for your PC.
- Choose a class, some of which have minimum ability score requirements, all of which have prime requisites (see below). This is a race as class system.
- Non-human characters may multi-class, as described in the Classes section
- Human characters may dual class later in play, as described in the Classes section
- Adjust Ability Scores. Attributes will be rolled in order (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma). You may swap one (1) roll for another result (swapping the Strength roll for the Wisdom roll, for example). You may also raise your PC's prime requisite attribute(s) at chargen by 1 point for every 2 points by which another ability score is lowered.
- Only Strength, Intelligence, and Wisdom may be lowered in this way.
- No score may be lowered below 9.
- Some character classes may have additional constraints.
- Once fixed, make note of attribute modifiers:
- Score of 3 = -3 | 4-5 = -2 | 6-8 = -1 | 9-12 = none | 13-15 = +1 | 16-17 = +2 | 18 = +3
- Prime requisite XP modifiers: 3-5 = -20% XP | 6-8 = -10% XP | 9-12 = none | 13-15 = +5% XP | 16-18 = +10% XP
- Note Attack Values. We'll be using Ascending AC as an optional rule, so you'll note the associated attack bonuses of your PC.
- Note Saving Throws and Class Abilities
- Hit Points at L1 are maximum for the HD of the class. Add any CON modifiers. HD will be re-rolled at every level gain, with +1 HP if the new HD roll does not exceed the character's current HP (see multi-class houserules below).
- Alignment. Select the alignment of your PC and the appropriate number of traits. You can roll, if you prefer. (from The Perilous Wilds)
IMO, the appeal of this system is that it asks the question: "When you have power/influence, what do you do with it?" It's a question highly applicable to the upwardly mobile adventurer, and at default the traditional adventurer is generally going to be some version of 'evil' -- given their druthers, they'd prefer to loot tombs for personal wealth and power, and are willing to harm those who stand in their way of that wealth and privilege. To be something other than evil in this system requires intention and action. A Chaotic or Neutral character doesn't need to enter play with a cause or agenda, just as a Lawful or Good character doesn't, but when they discover a prevailing order their tendency is to act towards disrupting it (in small or large ways); or when they discover imbalances, they tend to seek to right them. Similarly, an Evil character needn't be a mustache-twirling sociopath, but they intend to take what they want, even if it means harming others.
Commoners may not employ the same system of alignment; their access to power and influence is different than that of those who either already hold power or who rapidly climb the socio-economic ladder (as adventurers do).
If you roll, and get a Trait that you're not interested in portraying, please select another. These are meant to be play aids, not uncomfortable constraints.
- Note Known Languages (see below)
- Buy equipment, starting with 100 gp, using the Old School Essentials rulebook or SRD
- Note Ascending Armor Class
- You are starting the game with 2000 XP, unmodified by XP bonuses. Please come up with a sentence or phrase describing the types of activity your character was engaging in to acquire that experience - are they an experienced guard or mercenary, an imperial agent, an itinerant mage or scholar?
- Determine a Secondary Skill
- Select a culture, and name and describe your character (see the People & Cultures page, which has naming suggestions and more information)
- Acrobat (change: HD d6) - Prime: DEX, may not lower STR to adjust scores
- Assassin (change: HD d6) - Prime: DEX, may not be Lawful or Good, may not lower STR to adjust scores
- Barbarian - minimum DEX 9, Prime: CON + STR
- Bard - minimum DEX 9, INT 9; Prime: CHA
- Cleric - Prime: WIS
- Druid - Prime: WIS, may not be Lawful
- Fighter - Prime: STR
- Illusionist - minimum DEX 9; Prime: INT, may use staves
- Knight - minimum CON 9, DEX 9; Prime: STR
- Magic-User - Prime: INT, may use staves
- Paladin - minimum CHA 9; Prime: STR + WIS, must be Lawful
- Ranger - minimum CON 9, WIS 9; Prime: STR
- Thief (change: HD d6) - Prime: DEX, may not lower STR to adjust scores
New Classes from Carcass Crawler Magazine
- Warden (magic-less Ranger) - minimum CON 9, WIS 9; Prime: STR
- Acolyte (magic-less priest) - Prime: WIS
To Dual Class, a human character irrevocably changes their class to another. They retain the HP and abilities of the class they are leaving, but using those abilities will cause the character to forfeit all XP gained from that section of the adventure, until such time as the new class level exceeds the original class level(s). Similarly, new HP are not gained until that point. Dual-classed characters are subject to all of the restrictions of class when seeking to use that class' abilities. (homebrew emulation of 1e/OSRIC)
More information about the non-human cultures can be found on the People and Cultures page.
- Imperial Goblin as OSE Svirfneblin - minimum CON 9; Prime: STR
- Possess the Gnome's Hiding ability instead of Blend into Stone, Listening at Doors instead of Illusion Resistance, and Speak with Burrowing Animals instead of Speak with Earth Elementals. They do not possess Light Sensitivity, but also do not possess Stone Murmurs or Using Magic Items.
- Non-imperial goblins have Blend into Stone instead of Hiding, and possess Light Sensitivity and Stone Murmurs.
- May multi-class as Imperial Goblin and up to two of Assassin, Bard, Illusionist, Magic-User, or Thief. The goblin bardic tradition is unique to their culture.
- Halfling as OSE Halfling - minimum CON 9, DEX 9; Prime: DEX + STR
- May multi-class as a Halfling/Acrobat/Thief, where Halfling receives 1/2 XP and Acrobat/Thief each get 1/4 XP.
- Sylvari as OSE Elf, except they are built on the Ranger and Druid chassis instead of Fighter and Magic-User - minimum WIS 9, CON 9; Prime: WIS + STR
- Use Elf progression and abilities, with Druidic spell progression by Elf level (L4 Sylvari uses L4 Druid spell progression). Use the druid's Nature Magic instead of Arcane Magic, and other Druid abilities except for Energy Resistance and Shape Change, and other Ranger abilities except for Divine Magic. The Sylvari 'druidic tongue' is the Sylvan language.
- May multi-class as Sylvari and one of Acrobat (with inherent balance pole), Assassin, or Illusionist.
- People of Stone as OSE Duergar - minimum CON 9, Prime: STR
- Without Duergar Mental Powers but with the addition of the Svirfneblin's Blend into Stone, Illusion Resistance, Speak with Earth Elementals, Stone Murmurs, and Using Magic Items abilities.
- May multi-class as a Cleric.
Racial Classes who multi-class will have the saving throw progression of their Racial Class only. They may progress past the Racial Class maximum level in their multi-classes, in which event their saving throws may improve beyond their racial maximum.
- Multi-classing is selected only at character generation.
- XP is split evenly between classes except as noted above. Prime requisite bonuses to XP are calculated separately for each class.
- Multi-classed characters earn +1 HP and any CON bonus to HP upon attaining a new level in the first of their classes to do so. They receive new HP and the previous HD re-roll upon attaining the new level in their last class to achieve it. If the multi-classes have different HD, HP for each class is rolled as a proportional fraction of their HD.
- The best Attack Value and allowed armor/weapons of any class are taken. Magical abilities of each class are without restriction.
- Stealth skills are limited to the worn armor restrictions of the class that grants those abilities.
from Into the Wild
The Cleave ability is one that most classes possess. When a character slays a target with either a melee or ranged attack, they are allowed to make an additional attack against another adjacent opponent. As long as they keep killing targets with a single blow they may continue to make attacks against adjacent opponents, up to a maximum number of times per round based on their class:
- Fighters, Barbarians, Knights, Paladins, Rangers, Acrobats, Assassins, Thieves, and Race Classes may Cleave a maximum number of times equal to the character’s Hit Dice
- Clerics, Bards, and Druids may Cleave a number of times equal to half their Hit Dice, rounding down (they may Cleave once at 2nd and 3rd levels, twice at 4th and 5th levels, etc.).
- Magic-users and Illusionists may Cleave a number of times equal to one quarter their Hit Dice, rounded down (once at levels 4-7, twice at levels 8+).
Cleaves do not apply:
- To spells or spell-like abilities
- To area-of-effect damage (such as burning oil) or siege weaponry
- Crossbows can Cleave a maximum of 3 times per round
When Cleaving in melee, a character may move a total maximum distance of half their movement rate, as they dance from one target to the next. When Cleaving with missile fire, all targets must be within a basic forward arc. When Bonus Attacks are in effect (see below), only one of those attacks can initiate a Cleave sequence.
(homebrew emulation of 1e/OSRIC)
Fighters, Barbarians, Knights, Paladins, Rangers, and Race Classes may declare one weapon specialization at L3, which confers a +1 to hit and +2 to damage. Specialization with a two-handed weapon instead confers +0 to hit and Advantage on total damage dice (roll twice and take best result).
(homebrew emulation of 1e/OSRIC)
As the Halls of Arden Vul is written for 1e AD&D, we'll employ the Bonus Attacks rule from that edition. Fighters, Barbarians, Knights, and Race Classes attack once per round at 1st to 6th levels (1/1 attacks); at 7th to 12th levels, they attack thrice every two rounds (3/2 attacks); and at 13th or higher levels, they attack twice per round (2/1 attacks). Paladins and Rangers gain these Bonus Attacks one level later.
A partial additional attack (e.g. 3/2 attacks) means that the extra attack is taken on odd-numbered rounds in the combat sequence, hence two attacks on the first round, one on the second, two on the third and one on the fourth, if applicable. The first attack happens in normal initiative order, with subsequent attacks happening at the end of the round.
(homebrew change to competency)
Acrobats, Assassins, Barbarians, and Thieves with DEX modifiers use their Skill Success Matrices at +1 level for every +1 DEX modifier they have. (Example: a L2 Thief with a DEX 16 (+2) will perform Thief skills as a L4 Thief.)
(I considered a variant system where these characters point-buy improvements to their skills as they level, as a more tactical growth solution, but ultimately discarded that system, as it meant some skills might never improve. The goal here is for low-level Thieves+ to not have to race to mid-levels for competency in their specialties.)
Any collegia-trained Magic-User has the ability to cast Cantrips. from Into the Wild
Cantrip. The character can expend small amounts of magical energy to accomplish basic tasks. The character may do so as often as desired and can produce the following general effects: shed light in a 5’ radius, extinguish a fire no larger than a torch or lantern, clean or dry a 25-sq.-ft. area, produce small gusts of wind, open or close unlocked and unbarred doors and windows, etc. Generally, cantrips have a maximum range of 45’, and last for no more than one hour. It takes one round to cast a cantrip.
The caster can cast offensive cantrips as well. These minor spells can take any form, but all inflict untyped magical damage; a caster who tosses small balls of fire isn’t actually doing fire damage. Such spells have a range of 25 feet and do 1d4 points of damage, or 60 feet and 1d2 points of damage. Both require a successful ranged attack roll and the target does not get to make a save.
Praying for Miracles
from Into the Wild
Any cleric can request a miracle from their god, albeit with a small chance of success. When in dire straits, the cleric may call upon their god to intercede with a 1% chance of success. If this succeeds, the miracle is granted, which functions as a wish spell. The Referee adjudicates the miracle as appropriate, with the caveat that it should be designed to benefit the deity first and the cleric second. Once a miracle has been granted the cleric must gain a level before requesting another miracle. Deities do not take kindly to requests for frivolous miracles, and clerics abusing this power may find themselves cut off from spellcasting or other abilities until they atone for their greed.
(OSE Advanced Fantasy) Choose or roll a skill from the below list. This is a skill with a narrative effect. Skills not named on this list can be discussed.
All characters speak Archontean. Race Classes speak a racial tongue (Goblin, Halfling, Sylvan, and Stonetongue). Thieves speak Brotherhood, Archontean Assassins speak Silent Vengeance, and Druids speak the Druid's Tongue. Affiliation with other institutions may confer access to additional languages.
One's Intelligence score determines additional languages and literacy. Intelligence of 6-8 confers basic literacy, 9+ confers thorough literacy, 13-15 confers +1 spoken language, 16-17 confers +1 additional spoken language, 18 confers +1 additional spoken language.
- Archontean (Mithric script)
- Thorcin (Mithric script)
- Wiskin (Wiskin runic script)
- Mithric - a dead language of arcane theory and practice. All magic-users trained in one of the imperial collegia have some knowledge of Mithric (10% chance per experience level to decipher something written in Mithric). Alternatively, it can be acquired as a language slot.
- Goblin (Mithric script)
- Halfling (Mithric script)
- Beast-tongue (spoken by the Beastpeople of eastern Irthuin) (Mithric script)
- Draconic - a language once spoken in ancient Archontos, but now dead amongst humans; quite rare in any cultural group and requires a strong narrative reason for having access to it (Draconic runic script)
There may be other languages encountered in the course of the game; you can save language slots to learn those in play. Sylvan (Sylvan runic and Sylvan script) and Stonetongue (Stone runic script) are generally unavailable to other races.