Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Building Goblins Quickly with the Mutation Deck

The goblin race in Saga of the Goblin Horde has a natural predisposition for unusual mutations, for reasons that are more fully explored in the setting book itself. This is primarily represented through various new Edges and Hindrances (as can be seen in some of the archetypes), but it's also an excellent fit with the new Mutation Deck from Just Insert Imagination.

Fast-Track Promotion

In Saga of the Goblin Horde, the players take on the role of gang bosses, each leading their own pack of goblin cut-throats. Should a PC be incapacitated or killed during play, it's pretty straightforward to let the player promote one of their gang members to Wild Card status and carry on playing. But this replacement character is going to feel very generic (gang members all have the same stats, to keep things simple during play).

A generous GM might allow the player to fully design their new character, but doing this in the middle of the game can seriously slow things down for the rest of the group. Therefore I'm going to outline a very quick and easy way to convert a goblin gang member into a unique Wild Card, using the Mutation Deck.

Base Stats

All goblins in Saga of the Goblin Horde have Darkvision, Size -1, and suffer a -4 Charisma penalty when dealing with humans. They also begin with Agility d6, and a free d6 in Stealth and Survival.

My proposed character creation process therefore works as follows:
  1. Draw three cards from the Mutation Deck (this can be split up by suit into four decks if you wish), representing the core character concept.
  2. Begin with d6 in all attributes, and d6 in Fighting, Notice, Riding, Stealth, Survival, and Throwing.
  3. Begin with d6 in three other skills, chosen from Climbing, Intimidation, Shooting, Swimming, Taunt and Tracking.
  4. Increase one skill and its linked attribute from d6 to d8.
  5. Add the Mutant Hindrance for all three mutation cards, one as a Major Hindrance, and the other two as Minor Hindrances.
  6. Take the Mutation Mastery Edge for one of the Mutant Hindrances.
  7. Take either a second Mutation Mastery Edge, or one of the other new Edges from the Mutation Deck (Elemental Focus, Physical Endowment, Psychically Gifted, or Shapeshifter).
  8. Choose a name, pick up three Bennies for the new Wild Card goblin, and you're ready to go!
The new character can take control of the rest of the gang for the remainder of the session, after which they'll have to calculate their gang size as normal.

If the player's original character later comes back (e.g., perhaps they were only incapacitated), the new character isn't demoted, they simply leave to start their own gang. Perhaps the player will encounter them again in the future as an NPC!

Example

Joe is playing Big Brak, a vicious bugbear brute who loves combat. During one particularly deadly encounter he is incapacitated, leaving Joe with four gang members but no playable boss.

The GM allows Joe to promote one of his gang members to the role of temporary boss, so Joe draws three cards from the Mutation Deck to determine what sort of concept the new character has, and gets Hyena Jaws, Flame Kissed and Metal Bond. He then writes down his starting attributes and skills, picks three more skills (Intimidation, Shooting and Swimming), and increases Intimidation (and therefore Spirit) to d8.

Publisher's Choice Quality Stock Art
© Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games
Joe chooses Metal Bond as a Major Hindrance, and Hyena Jaws and Flame Kissed as Minor Hindrances, then he takes Mutation Mastery for Flame Kissed (his new character can cause her hands to burst into flames) and Elemental Focus (she can also breathe a jet of fire at her enemies).

Finally, Joe names his new character "Sissi Hotlips", grabs three Bennies, and he's ready to play!

Summary

While my goal here is to outline a system for quickly creating replacement characters, the exact same approach could also be used for generating regular characters at the beginning of a session. This can be particularly useful for one-shot games where the player doesn't fancy any of the existing archetypes.