Trudvang Chronicles

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Greetings Programs.

It’s been a while, my fault entirely, I’ve recently started a new job and have been taking some time to adjust to the role and find a new routine etc.  Now that I am in a slightly better position I thought it high time that I put something new onto this blog.  With that in mind we’re going to talk about the Trudvang Chronicles by Riot Minds, this is a game I backed on kickstarter and (like all Kickstarter RPGs that are not 7th Sea) was delivered late.

Before we get started I have a couple of things to say about the Kickstarter:

First up it was delivered late, which I am obviously not a fan of, but that seems to be the norm for RPG Kickstarters, I haven’t backed a single one (other than 7th Sea Second Ed) that delivered anything on time.  It’s one of the main reasons I stay away from the platform for the most part, you often get a better deal waiting for the retail release.

Second, Riot Minds did not release the PDFs to the backers until the physical books were shipping, this means that errors that may have been spotted have been missed and I really don’t understand the reasoning for keeping backers in the dark as to the PDFs.

Third, we were promised that they would be launching some kind of website full of online resources for Trudvang along with the main books.  This has not happened.

Fourth, there is a GM screen included but it is printed on very flimsy stock and won’t stand up on it’s own.

Fifth, none of the PDFs are bookmarked, this is a massive oversight and makes using them much harder than it should be.

Finally, they shipping standard was terrible, books are shipped simply wrapped in 3mm of cardboard and so almost all backers have received some damage to their slipcase and/or books.

That said, the books are beautiful (assuming they are not damaged) and the game looks really interesting.

So with no further ado, lets have a look at the game shall we.

The physical books are nicely put together, you get a Slipcase that contains the following books:

  • Players Guide
  • GMs Guide
  • Monsters Book
  • Masters of Vitner
  • Dimwalkers
  • Wildheart Adventure

I also got a GM Screen (see above comment though) and a pad of character sheets.

In PDF terms the Players Guide also contains the Masters of Vitner and Dimwalkers books.

So, what do these do then?

Players Guide – Basic rules for creating characters, introduction to the world and races plus the skills.

Masters of Vitner – The source book for magic and wizards.

Dimwalkers – The source book for miracle workers and priests.

GMs Guides – More detail on the world and rules glorious rules, skill checks, combat, etc etc.

Monsters Book – As you would expect, monsters, lots of different kinds and well presented.

Wildheart – A pretty solid adventure for your group.

First off, these books (when delivered undamaged) are beautiful hard-backed books with high quality images on the front and a nice plain back with a light image of a stylised tree printed on it.  The art for these books is, in a word, gorgeous.  It is beautiful Celtic/Scandinavian inspired fantasy art full of lush verdant woodlands and scary looking creatures.

An early question you might ask about this game is what is the setting?  Well it bills itself as a Fantasy RPG inspired by Celtic & Norse mythologies and legends.  Think Beowulf and the epic poems that tell the Norse mythologies.  Having had a look through the books I can say that this is pretty on the nose, the game feels like a very different kind of fantasy to your classic D&D or Tunnels & Trolls.

What about characters then?  The game has a points based character generation system and uses a combination of Race & Archetype for character gen, the races don’t give stat bonuses, they exist just for flavour and to determine your native language.  On top of that there are Archetypes, these are applied only at character generation and each archetype flags two core skills, you are given extra character generation points to spend on those two core skills.

This means that the character generation system is very open and adding new archetypes and even new races is a simple job for the GM.

Now, as long term readers of this blog might well know I really love me some character generation and I find that it is often the best way to get a feel for a new system. So that’s what we’re going to do now, we are going to create a character.

What shall we create then?  Well given the mythologies and the fact that a lot of the terrain is forest I’m going to create a ranger type character.

The first step is to determine how many creation points are available, I think the expectation is that you will play most games at the middle tier of creation points called ‘Practiced’, this gives 500 creation points.

The order of the character creation process is:

Choose Race & Culture
Set Character Traits
Select Archetype
Choose Skills
Calculate Secondary Traits
Starting Raud
History
Equipment

Lets get started then.

Step 1. Choose Race & Culture

There are multiple options for race and culture, the core races are Human, Elf or Dwarf.  There are also various options for mixed race characters and for characters who have racial heritage beyond those core 3, you can play a half troll for example.
I am going to take the easy path here and play a Human.  So that’s race, but what kind of Human, looking at the available cultures we see:

Mittlander: Originally from the Thronelands the Mittlanders lived in the east for a long time before moving back to the west.  Proud and honourable, not as tall as the
Stormlanders but famed for their endurance.

Stormlander: The Stormlanders are pretty much your classic vikings.  Tall and broad shouldered, they live in the wilderness and are either dark haired with dark eyes or blond with blue eyes.

Virann: From the far west they Virann are typically blond and with grey or dark brown eyes, they are known for their wisdom and knowledge.  The Virann are also known for their agriculture.

Wildfolk: A mix of tribes from the north western mountains, the wild folks are shorter and less intelligent than the average Stormlander but are often stronger.

Then there are Half-Trolls, these have their own cultures as they are often raised by Humans.

Changelings are Half Forest-Troll, Gray Brutes are Half Gray-Trolls and Ogro are Half-Ogres.  The other half breeds are covered under the other races.

I am going to play a Mittlander I think, someone steeped in the old cultures and gods with a respect for nature and the powers of the wilds.  This gives Vrok as the native language and the basic skills that everyone gets.

Culture Knowledge Discipline Lvl 1
Language Discipline Lvl 1
Vrok Specialty Lvl 3

Step 2. Select Character Traits

A character has the following traits:

Charisma
Constitution
Dexterity
Intelligence
Perception
Psyche
Strength

All traits start at Zero, which is average.  You can go up to +1, +2 & +4 and then down to -1, -2, -4.  Each trait gives specific bonuses and penalties depending on if it’s a bonus or a negative, the creation points cost/rebate is:

Level Cost
+4 -60
+2 -30
+1 -15
-1 +15
-2 +30
-4 +60

We have 500 creation points to spend on both traits and skills.  As a Ranger I’m probably going to want a high Dexterity & Perception I will probably also bump up Constitution as well, Rangers are hardy folk.

Having a think about this, I’m going to go for +4 Perception, +2 Dexterity and +2 Constitution.  Then I’m going to leave the others at 0 for the moment.  I might revisit this once I get a feel for how much skills cost.

The bonuses for these stats are:

Con (+2): Grants a +2 Situation Modifier, Body Points +2, Health – Heals up to 3 Body Points per day.

Dex (+2): Grants a +2 Situation Modifier, +2 Meters to Max Move, +2 Initiative, Disciplines and Specialties belonging to the Agility Skill Tree cost 2 points less than normal.

Per (+4): Grants +4 Situation Modifier, Finding and Spotting, Thief Signs, Tracker, Weatherman, Wilderness Signs, Orienteering and Cartography, Navigation and Extracts & Potions cost 4 points less than normal.

So far we’ve spent 120 character generation points, leaving 380.

Step 3. Select Archetype

The archetype is a broad statement about what your character does.  The options are:

Bard
Dimwalker (Priest)
Dweller
Ranger
Rogue
Vitner Weaver (Magic User)
Warrior

For each archetype there are 2 core skills and you get a special bonus of 50 generation points to spend on only those two skills.

Obviously we’re taking Ranger here, the core skills for Ranger are Knowledge & Wilderness.

Step 4. Skills

Everything up to this point has been pretty standard, the skills system however is anything but.  I really like the way they have organised this and it will seem pretty familiar to anyone who has played Skyrim as the skills are presented as trees that look similar to the constellations in Skyrim.  You have Skills, which are the broad competence in an area (all characters get skill value 1 in all skills), skills are rated between 1 and 10 and cost the number of points equal to the value you are going to, each level must be purchased in turn.

Then you have Disciplines which are more focused areas of a skill, disciplines are rated 1-5 and require increasing skill levels as a minimum, they also cost more.  Levels in a Discipline add to levels in the skill for the purpose of skill checks.

Finally you can take Specialties, once you have a discipline you can take the specialties under it, these are also rated 1-5 and cost the same as a discipline.  Levels in Specialties generally add +2 per level on top of skill & discipline to your skill total.  They can also add a special ability or outcome.

Discipline/Specialty Costs & Requirements

Discipline/Specialty Level Required Skill Minimum Cost
1 4 7
2 7 14
3 7 14
4 10 28
5 10 35

As you can see the costs escalate quickly.  Disciplines and Specialties cost the same because the Specialty is a more narrow application but generally gives a +2 per level bonus.

The core skills are:

Agility
Care
Entertainment
Faith
Fighting
Knowledge
Shadow Arts
Vitner Craft
Wilderness

All start at level 1, this includes the Faith & Vitner Craft skills, this works out fine as you need to have multiple levels in the Faith & Vitner Craft abilities to access their power.

If we add in the starting skills then we get the following.

Knowledge 1
Culture Discipline Lvl 1
Language Discipline Lvl 1
Vrok Specialty Lvl 3

Now we have 50 points that can be spent only on Wilderness and Knowledge so lets spend them.  Looking over the Knowledge skills the one that immediately leaps out at me is Monster Lore, which is a specialty of the Race Knowledge Discipline.  So we need to raise our Knowledge base skill to at least 4 to quality to take the Discipline, that will cost us 2+3+4 for a total of 9 points, then 1 point in the Race Knowledge Discipline costs 7 and 1 point in the Monster Lore Specialty is another 7 for a total of 23pts.  But my knowledge skill now looks like this:

Knowledge 4
Culture Discipline Lvl 1
Language Discipline Lvl 1
Vrok Specialty Lvl 3
Race Knowledge Lvl 1
Monster Lore Lvl 1

Now lets look at Wilderness.  There are a lot of things under the Wilderness skill tree that I want, I think I’m going to be using the Wilderness skill a lot so for the moment I’m just going to raise the base skill as much as I can with the remaining 27 points.  Which puts my Wilderness skill base to 7.

At this point we have 380 points to spend on skills, disciplines and specialties.  We also get discounts on Agility Disciplines and Specialties from our +2 Dex and on a list of specialties from our +4 Perception.

Lets start our spending spree with some combat skills, fighting is going to come up a lot in games like this and we need to be able to defend ourselves.  We also need to have some ability with Bow & Arrow to be an effective hunter.

Lets spend 27pts to raise Fighting to 7 (why 7 you ask, well if you look at the Disciplines/Specialties table above you’ll see that skill rank 7 qualifies you for up to level 3 in a Discipline or Specialty and beyond that you have to have rank 10) then look at the disciplines, lets take Armed Fighting to Rank 2, that costs 21pts and then Bows & Slings to Lvl 1 for another 7.

Thats 55 Points on Fighting, I think that’s enough.  Our Fighting skill now looks like this:

Fighting 7
Armed Fighting Lvl 2
Bows & Slings Lvl 1

That does mean that our total fighting skill for Bows & Slings is now 11 and we have 9 with other weapons.

Ok, next up Agility skills.  We get a discount on these so lets see what there is.  Looking over the list there are a couple of things I’m interested in taking but I’m not sure how I’ll be doing for points, but lets go ahead and get a couple of the basics.

First, raise Agility to 7 for 27pts.  Then take the Body Control discipline to Level 2 for 19pts total ((7-2)+(14-2)), then get two levels of the Jumping, Climbing & Balancing specialty for another 19pts.  Then we’ll add Battle Maneuver at Level 2 for 19pts and then the Evade specialty at lvl 2 for a further 19.  Taking our total spend on agility to: 103 but making the skill look like this:

Agility 7
Battle Maneuver Lvl 2
Evade Lvl 2
Body Control Lvl 2
Jumping, Climbing & Balancing Lvl 2

We now have 222 points remaining, lets look at some Wilderness skills.

We already have Wilderness 7, we can spend another 27pts and push Wilderness to 10, this sounds like a great idea for a Ranger.  Now we’re obviously taking the discipline Hunting Experience to level 3 for 35 points, we are then going to take the Tracker & Wilderness signs specialties, we get a 4 point discount on these so level 2 of a specialty costs 13 points ((7-4)+(14-4)).

I’m also taking the Disciplines Geography, Nature Knowledge & Survival at level 2 for 63pts and then looking at specialties I am then going to take Orienteering & Cartography to level 2, Weatherman at level 2 both for 13 points each (they are both on the discount list) and then finally one level in Camper, Pathwalker and Weathered (I see this character spending a lot of time outside) for a total of 21pts.

So after a total of 172pts my Wilderness skill looks like this:

Wilderness 10
Hunting Experience Lvl 3
Tracker Lvl 2
Wilderness Signs Lvl 2
Geography Lvl 2
Orienteering & Cartography Lvl 2
Nature Knowledge Lvl 2
Weatherman Lvl 2
Survival Lvl 2
Camper Lvl 1
Pathwalker Lvl 1
Weathered Lvl 1

After than spending spree I have 50 points remaining.  Looking at the skills I think I need to put some points in Shadow Arts, I need to be able to sneak up on a deer after all.  So lets raise Shadow Arts to 7 for 27pts then take Shadowing at Lvl 1 for 7pts and a point in Finding & Spotting (Discounted Skill) for 3pts and I’ll take a rank in Camouflage & Hiding for 7pts.  That totals 44pts and give this:

Shadow Arts 7
Shadowing Lvl 1
Camouflage & Hiding Lvl 1
Finding & Spotting Lvl 1

With my last points I’m going to raise my Care skill to 3 as I might want to use this later.  This leaves 1 point over which I can’t do anything with.  Now the book doesn’t say what happens to this point but I would argue that as Character Generation points and XP are used in the same way you would just keep it and add it to your XP for spending later.

We then move on to secondary traits.

First up age.  This is a simple choice, I think this character has a decent amount of experience (perhaps he was taught well) but isn’t too old, lets say he’s 24.  I never bother with Height & Weight for characters so I’m skipping that.

Then we choose Weapon Hand, I’m taking Left Handed as I am also Left Handed and it will be easier for me to remember.

Finally we roll D6 for Raud.  Raud is a big deal, you only ever get your starting amount and it does not replenish (although I might house-rule that to work more like Fate Points in Dark Heresy).  Raud can be used to modify things in your favour, examples are to avoid a blow, undo a statement that you’ve just said, succeed a skill check you just failed.  Anyway I role 1D6 and get 5 so I have 5 Raud.

Body Points, now we calculate body points, these are hit points and are set based on your race.  So Humans get 32 body points and 10 movement.  We get +2 Body Points based on our Constitution taking us to 34, we also get +2 movement from our Agility taking that to 12.

Next you have damage levels, this is a range based on your BP (Body Point) total and the formula is given in the book.  Our damage levels are:

Damage Level From HP To HP
Lightly Damaged 1 9
Injured 10 17
Seriously Injured 18 25
Critically Injured 26 34

There is also a useful stat called Persistence in the Wild that is how long you can stay in the wild , the base for everyone is 10, this is modified by your Psyche (zero mods for us), however you also add 1 day for level of the survival discipline and 2 days for each level of the Weathered specialty adds 2 days.  So our total persistence in the wild is 14 days.
You negotiate starting equipment with your GM and you work to create a history.  I reckon I can get away with a Bow and arrows, a sling, a pair of knives and some soft leather armour.

So, without going into the details of the weapons and armour systems, which I might look at in a later post, here is my finished character.

Character Sheet

Name: Bjarke (Meaning Bear, because he troops around the woods a lot)
Race: Human
Culture: Mittlander
Age: 24

Mother Tongue: Vrok

Body Points: 34
Raud: 5
Movement: 12

Persistence in the Wild: 14 Days
Handedness: Left

Traits
Charisma: 0
Constitution: +2
Dexterity: +4
Intelligence: 0
Perception: +2
Psyche: 0
Strength: 0

Skills

Agility 7
Battle Maneuver Lvl 2
Evade Lvl 2
Body Control Lvl 2
Jumping, Climbing & Balancing Lvl 2

Care 3

Entertainment 1

Faith 1

Fighting 7
Armed Fighting Lvl 2
Bows & Slings Lvl 1

Knowledge 4
Culture Discipline Lvl 1
Language Discipline Lvl 1
Vrok Specialty Lvl 3
Race Knowledge Lvl 1
Monster Lore Lvl 1

Shadow Arts 7
Shadowing Lvl 1
Camouflage & Hiding Lvl 1
Finding & Spotting Lvl 1

Vitner Craft 1

Wilderness 10
Hunting Experience Lvl 3
Tracker Lvl 2
Wilderness Signs Lvl 2
Geography Lvl 2
Orienteering & Cartography Lvl 2
Nature Knowledge Lvl 2
Weatherman Lvl 2
Survival Lvl 2
Camper Lvl 1
Pathwalker Lvl 1
Weathered Lvl 1

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