Warriors & Warlocks generation walkthrough

Here’s a quick runthrough of how character generation works in Warriors & Warlocks (the fantasy supplement for Mutants & Masterminds). The end result will be Jessie the Barbarian from the previous blogpost, and I’ll be showing how we went from blank sheet to finished character in just a few easy steps. That’s the plan, anyhow.

As this is going to be a character in our low-fantasy PL6 game, Jessie has 90 points to spend.

1. Concept
Every good character needs to start with a concept. This is the “spark” which sets the whole chargen process going. It could be as detailed as a handwritten multi-page biography, or as simple as “dude in blue armour”. In Jessie’s case I had my render of her to work from, and the idea of a lightly armoured two-weapon fighting warrior woman.

2. Base stats
In M&M character generation can be approached in any order with (almost) any section omitted if it doesn’t apply. If you want a character with no Powers, lacking in Feats or no Skills (which would be a bit weird, granted) then that’s cool. Stats though, you need.

I begin with Jessie’s. I’m going to use a few of the professional templates from the W&W book and they’re going to add to her stats, so I just jot down how I envision Jessie to be without her training.

Str 12, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 16

Jessie is limber, attractive and healthy, but not necessarily the person you’d go to for advice. Perfect.

Points spent: 20

2. Templates
As Jessie is human we’re going to skip the Racial Templates and move straight on to the Professional ones. File these under “optional-but-darned-useful”. For Jessie, I’m going to use two of them – the Soldier/Mercenary and Ranger/Scout. No fiddly multi-classing rules here! Just apply what you want, and pays your points.

These two templates give Jessie bonuses to her Strength, Constitution (+2) and Wisdom. All that outdoors living does wonders for a gal. She also gains skill ranks in Climb, Intimidate, KS:Nature, Notice, Stealth and Survival as well as the Attack Focus (Melee), Dodge Focus, Favoured Environment and Track feats. Nice.

Incidentally, I like how the Ranger template uses Favoured Environment rather than Favoured Opponent. As with anything else in M&M, you’re free to change it if your concept differs, of course.

Str 13, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 11, Cha 16

Climb +9, Intimidate +5, KS:Nature +5, Notice +6, Stealth +9, Survival +6
Attack Focus:Melee 1, Dodge Focus 1, Favoured Environment:Northern Wastes 1, Track

Points spent: 36

3. Saves, Attacks and Defences
So far we’ve spent 39 out of 90 points – we’re not even half way there! Now it’s time to look at Jessie’s saving throws and combat ability. First, let’s bump her saving throws up a tad.

Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +3

That’ll do.

Unlike D&D (or pretty much any of the other D&D clones out there), your character’s skill at attacking or defending aren’t tied to your Strength or Dexterity, but bought separately. This has the happy side effect that it’s possible to create a character who’s extremely agile but completely unskilled in combat (a DEX 18 ballet dancer, for example) or someone who is frail but deadly (a STR 6 wizened old Sensei).

For Jessie I want someone who is highly skilled with her paired longswords, but pretty handy with any other weapon she may find along the way. At Power Level 6, the maximum she can hope for is +6 to hit, +6 damage – but those numbers can be juggled around and traded 1:1. Fantasy combat is usually high skill/low damage as we could go as far as +10 to hit, +2 damage (a master knife thrower, for example) or +2 to hit, +10 damage (orc rager with massive warhammer). So long as the total doesn’t exceed 12, it’s all good.

Juggling the numbers a little, I give her Attack +6 and bump her Attack Focus:Melee to 2. This gives her +8 to hit with melee weapons. Her longswords will do +4 damage (ie, DC19). Perfect.

The same thing applies to defences. Her maximum Defence is +6, Toughness +6 but these numbers can also be traded between each other. Want a heavily armoured soldier? Defence +2, Toughness +10. Nimble rogue? Defence +10, Toughness +2 – or anything in between.

I settle for Defence +6 with Dodge Focus bumped to 2 giving her a total Defence of +8. Using Dodge Focus is cheaper than buying full-on defence (1 point as opposed to 2 points) but it doesn’t apply if she’s flat-footed. In M&M if you’re caught unawares your Defense is halved – in Jessie’s case, that means her Defense would be +3. It’s a fair price to pay to keep the points costs down, methinks.

Attack +6 (Melee +8), Defence +8
Dodge Focus 2, Attack Focus (Melee) 2

Points Spent: 70

4. Featses
We’ve got 20 points left to spend, and Jessie is looking good already. She’s already got a healthy selection of feats, but I want her to have plenty of choices in combat and out. Time to spend some more points.

As she’s going to be wielding two swords, the first feat on the list is Ambidexterity. This lets her use her off-hand without penalty. As neither weapon is short, she’ll be able to make two attacks at a -4 penalty to each. So, that’s one attack at +8, or two at +4/+4. Got that?

I picture her as more of a blade-dancer than berserker, so instead of barbarian rage I pick All-Out Attack. She can lower her defences (by up to -5) and increase her attack bonus by the same amount in combat, and change the numbers round-by-round. If she’s using two attacks she can choose which attack gets the bonus, and share it in any proportion. For example, she could lower her Defence by 4 and allocate +3 to the first attack and +1 to the second, using them to swipe at two different foes for +7/+5, or split it evenly for +6/+6. Or just make a single attack for +12. Choice is good!

Next up is Animal Empathy. As a Ranger from the Deep Wilds I want her to have a good connection with the natural world. I make a mental note to bump her Handle Animal skill when we look at Skills.

I could go on cherry-picking feats but instead just head for the Fighting Styles on page 65 of Mutants & Masterminds. These are pre-selected bundles of feats which simulate a certain combat style. Sword-fighting (which I rename Twin Blade Style for Jessie) is just 7 points and gives us Accurate Attack, Defensive Attack, Improved Block, Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Power Attack and Taunt. That’s a LOT of combat options which means the Jessie can vary her combat potential from round to round switching between defensive, offensive and damaging as the need arises. Add in Block, Disarm and Taunt options and she’s like a twin-bladed dervishing ranger of barbarian goodness. Oh yeh.

But we’re not done there.

All-Out Attack, Ambidexterity, Animal Empathy, Attack Focus (Melee) 2, Dodge Focus 2, Favoured Environment:Northern Wastes 2, Fighting Style:Twin Blades, Track
Accurate Attack, Defensive Attack, Improved Block 1, Improved Disarm 1, Improved Initiative 1, Power Attack, Taunt

Points spent: 81

5. Skillses
I bump up Jessie’s Bluff, Handle Animal and Swim skills. Bluffing in combat is a great tactical trick, and Jessie’s Taunt Feat means she can to the whirling swords thing while her opponents look on in awe then run away. Or something.

Bluff +9, Climb +9, Handle Animal +7, Intimidate +5, KS:Nature +5, Notice +6, Stealth +9, Survival +6, Swim +7

Points spent: 85

6. Equipment
Equipment can be bought in two ways in W&W/M&M – either with cash, or with points. Paying points for equipment is the route to go if the item is something that’s intrinsic to your character concept. These items are as much a ‘part of you’ as anything else on your character sheet. Going the cash option either means making a Wealth check or spending cold hard gold pieces at the local store. Buy a dagger, and you’ve got a dagger. Pay points for the dagger, and you’re That Guy With The Dagger.

In Jessie’s case, she’s That Gal With Two Swords, so it’s two longswords, for 2 points.

Twin Longswords +8 or +4/+4 DC19

Points spent: 87

7. Powers
There’s just 3 points left, and that’s enough to give Jessie a couple of tricks up her sleeve. As she’s a Barbarian Ranger it’s tempting to buy her an Animal Companion or a touch of shapechange to allow her to morph into a Hawk. But no.

Raiding Warriors & Warlocks, I like the idea of her having a couple of signature moves with her paired blades. These are roughly akin to 4e D&D’s Powers, except she can use them as often as she wants and they’re entirely optional. Don’t want ’em? Don’t buy ’em!

I pick Agonizing Strike but lessen the effect to Sicken to make it cheaper, then add Blinding Strike as an Alternate Power. This makes it cost just a single measly point, but she can’t do both effects in the same round. Well, duh.

Agonizing Strike (Nauseate 2, DC12, Sicken)
– Blinding Strike (Dazzle 4, DC14, Sight, Alt Save:Fortitude, Range:Touch)

This being Mutants & Masterminds, we’re only limited by our imaginations, the points costs and GM’s permission. If we wanted Jessie to be winged, able to morph into a tree or possess mystical shamanistic powers, it’s all good.

Points spent: 90

And there you have it. One character, done.

“Jessie”, PL6 90pp
Str 13, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 11, Cha 16
Tough +3, Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +3
Attack +6 (Melee +8), Defense +8, Init +7

Bluff +9, Climb +9, Handle Animal +7, Intimidate +5, KS:Nature +5, Notice +6, Stealth +9, Survival +6, Swim +7
All-Out Attack, Ambidexterity, Animal Empathy, Attack Focus (Melee) 2, Dodge Focus 2, Favoured Environment:Northern Wastes 2, Fighting Style:Twin Blades, Track, Equipment 2
Accurate Attack, Defensive Attack, Improved Block 1, Improved Disarm 1, Improved Initiative 1, Power Attack, Taunt

Agonizing Strike (Nauseate 2, DC12, Sicken)
– Blinding Strike (Dazzle 4, DC14, Sight, Alt Save:Fortitude, Range:Touch)

Twin Longblades +8 or +4/+4 DC19

Character generation in M&M is a thing of beauty. You’re creating a unique individual who should fit your original concept as closely as possible. This means generation can be time consuming, especially for your first few characters where you’re learning the ropes. It’s well worth sticking with though – while it might look detailed when broken down, I created the above character in 5 minutes flat using the frankly awesome Hero Lab generation software. Which I still need to review.

A blogger’s work is never done, eh?

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8 Responses

  1. Helmsman says:

    Nice. Symplistic numbers but lots of options in the character creation. Looks like a solid system. I don’t agree with not tying combat abilities to attributes though. Skill should always be the telling factor, but that doesn’t change the fact that an untrained Vinny Jones will still pound the crap out of my out-of-shape marginally trained ass.

    All told your artwork is pretty sweet though. What are your rates?

    Helmsmans last blog post..Coming Back to Alpha Omega

  2. labsenpai says:

    A 90 point barbarian in the HERO system could have a lot more interesting wrinkles. With this, the “construction” seems to be just piling on bonuses till the scale hits a certain number. M&M players must be allergic to exacting crunch and random rolls.

    labsenpais last blog post..Gamers Defeat Greasers in Lulu-Dome!

  3. Character Generation in T & T

    Let’s see what Greywulf’s Jessie the Barbarian girl ranger looks like in T & T.

    Using the alternate points pool system for attributes we get:

    STR 12 DEX 16 LK 10 SP 12
    INT 12 CHA 16 CON 8 WIZ 4 Combat Adds +4
    Talent: Survival = DEX + 1D6 (rolled poorly got a 2)

    That’s 90 points and the only time we worry about allocating points. 90 is very low for a T & T character. Rolling 3D6 for the 8 attributes will generally get you more points than that (average 72 to 96) (and we generally throw out characters with too low an attribute or put them aside to serve as Citizen npcs.)

    Specialist Ranger: She is a skilled bowman and hits most targets on a L1SR on DEX. This means the only time she misses will be when she rolls a 3 on 2D6. If the shot is of unusual difficulty (not merely hard, but extremely hard) the GM may call for a higher level saving roll.

    Weapons: gladius (3D6 + 2)
    Katar (2D6)
    Light self-bow (3D6)
    (quiver with 20 arrows)

    I could have rolled for money and bought what she could afford, but using the what’s reasonable for such a character I just gave her the weapons listed above. She probably made her own self-bow and got the others by helping the smith around the forge in her own clan steading.

    Armor: None. Jessie counts on her Survival talent to avoid injury in battle.

    Feats, Skills, etc. All of those things that fill the body of Greywulf’s example are handled by saving rolls on the various attributes. Example, both Bluff and Intimidate can be functions of her high Charisma. Most situations will fall into the level one area of difficulty and anything better than a 3 on 2D6 will see her succeed. Things like Swim, Climb, Handle Animals fall logically under the Talent of Survival which is 18 for her at the moment, and will improve as her DEX improves.

    Let’s talk about the Talent for a moment. Jessie is only a relatively weak L1 character. She only gets one Talent. Wisely, she has chosen a broad Talent: Survival.
    Her background is that she’s a barbarian girl of the Northern Wastes. Lacking any discernable magical talent, she trained as a child to be a warrior and a hunter. Her father, mother, siblings, and other clan members taught her the many tricks of survival. She can swim, dodge, climb, build a fire, track game, hide in cover, make a shelter from available materials (whether trees or snow or old giant hamster pelts) improvise weapons, cook, sew, and stand up for herself in an argument or discussion. In any situation where her survival is threatened, her player can use her Survival Talent to call for a saving roll allowing her to accomplish any necessary feat. All the player has to do is describe what he hopes to achieve with the Survival Talent and then make a saving roll based on a difficulty level chosen by the G.M. She’s in good shape for most ordinary first and second level saving rolls.

    So, the T & T Jessie has to settle for smaller blades, but gains uncanny accuracy with a light bow. As her STR and DEX increase with play, she will be able to use heavier weapons in the future. Jessie is a healthy, good-looking human warrioress who will require some good role-playing to stay alive in difficult situations, but would be more than fine in everyday fantasy life.

    End

  4. Greywulf says:

    I love it when you show off your T&T-Fu :D

  5. Kriton says:

    M&M is indeed great. I tried it recenlty. A friend of mine built a world combining elements of our 2 favorite anime: Full Metal Alchemist and Last Exile. I made a character who was a Vanship Pilot with high intellect and amazing mechanic skills and used his plane as a device. Was great fun to play.

    But for classic fantasy gaming, D&D still is the gaming system I go for.

    You character concept of a lightly armoured two-weapon fighting warrior woman is nothing that cannot be achieved with D&D 4e, and in fact there are mirriads of ways to build her, depending on your likes.

    Ofcourse D&D will not give you the blind freedom that M&M favors. But the options are there and characters are amazing too.

    You could build a classic two-weapon fighting ranger which feats along well with your skills of choise. But thats not the only option. You could make her a tempest fighter or a thaneborn barbarian, a dodger rogue, some wicked bard multiclass, etc.

  6. Slatz Grubnik says:

    I loved this very much. It seems so simple to make a character, and I particularly enjoyed your explanation of trading points between attack/defense, as well as your saves. It just didn’t seem as clear in the rulebooks.

  7. The Bane says:

    Damn you Greywulf! I was sitting pretty, loving every ounce of Swords & Wizardry, and then I read all your posts tagged with W&W. I bought the PDF last night and have been mooning over it ever sense! Now my ADD is screaming at me to change the setting I am writing for S&W:WB to W&W!

    What is your take on W&W being re-released with M&M 3ed coming out? I hate that I didn’t wait (I couldn’t), but it was worth it! Off to build some templates for my setting, or characters, or villains… AH!

    TB
    .-= The Bane´s last blog ..Warriors & Warlocks =-.

    • greywulf says:

      Glad I tempted you :) I rate 2e M&M as one of the best systems currently out there, and W&W just adds to that awesomeness.

      From what I understand, the changed between Third Edition and Second Edition are minimal – some simplified and reworked points costs, necessary rules updates and a few under-the-hood changes, and that’s about it. Oh, and stats are gone; only the stat bonus remains. That’s going to take some getting used to.

      There’s plans for a Conversion Document when 3e is released so W&W should be usable from the start. We’re going to stick with 2e for a while until we’ve fully playtested the 3e changes. I’ll keep you posted how it works out!

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