A Character For Every Game, you say.
A promise I’ve been pretty lax on fulfilling you say?
So be it, I return to the original quest of this blog, albeit on occasion, with my first character in months.
Ah, The Palladium Role-Playing Game. Back when Palladium wasn’t just a company name, but the name of Kevin’s flagship RPG. This game was by far one of my favourite sources of D&D house rules back in the 80’s. It brags on the cover of the 20 classes, 290 magic spells and the funky wards and magic circles.
It was indeed a thing of beauty.
And making a character, like many Palladium games (except those that convenience you with piles of tables for chargen, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), requires a bit of thought about what race and class you want to play before you pick up the dice. The game uses specific stat generation based on choice of race, with humans having 3d6 in all stats, and each other race having some other variant (like orcs, who have only 2d6 for Intelligence and Mental Endurance, but 4 dice in Physical Strength).
One of the unique races to the setting (for the era) were the changelings, sort of a player character doppelganger (although now seen in other games, including D&D). They were one of my absolute faves when I played this in my teens (and of course the larger races like Wolfen, Trolls and Ogres who made god’s own longbowmen with their 3d6 damage bows), so I’ll go with a changeling for now and choose my class based on how my stats turn out.
Changelings are well adapted for the magical classes (O.C.C.s – Occupational Character Classes) – having 5 dice for Mental Endurance, 4 for Mental Affinity, and low stats (2 dice) in Physical Endurance, Physical Beauty and Speed. Another interesting touch in the Palladium system is no penalties for low rolls and only providing bonuses for exceptionally high rolls of 16+. And if you get a 12 on a 2d6 stat, or a 17-18 on a 3d6 stat, you get to roll an extra die and add it to that stat. Meaning you run into goblins with 18 Strength on occasion.
For my changeling, the stats I get are:
- Intelligence Quotient (IQ) (3d6) – 12
- Mental Endurance (ME) (5d6) – 20
- Mental Affinity (MA) (4d6) – 12
- Physical Strength (PS) (3d6) – 14
- Physical Prowess (PP) (3d6) – 8
- Physical Endurance (PE) (2d6) – 17 (rolled a 12, and a 5 on the extra d6)
- Physical Beauty (PB) (2d6) – 3
- Speed (Spd) (2d6) – 7
He’s got a very high willpower and physical endurance, but his appearance is somewhat horrendous (which I always found to be a strange weakness for a race of shapeshifters – in this case he’s uglier than usual though, so I’ll pick out some appropriate physical flaw based on his OCC). His Charisma is ok (as determined by his MA) and he’s otherwise fairly typical of his species.
Looking through the various classes, the one that jumps out to me on this reading (skipping the summoner and diabolist, who both have quite complex and poorly defined magic systems in this edition of the game, albeit systems full of flavour and depth), it is the elemental spellcaster, the warlock, that jumps out at me. And the changeling has the stats to choose two elements to be master of instead of one due to his fairly high IQ and very high ME. I’ll go with Fire and Earth and make his low PB be the result of scarring he received from a volcanic vent he was working at during his apprenticeship.
As a changeling, Parlsen Flowstone Shaper has a 40% chance of Cannibalism (the dice say yes) and an average lifespan of 800 years to spend trying to hide his deformity among the races of the world that hate his kind.
He starts with hit points equal to his PE, plus 1d6 per level (so +1d6, since he’s a level 1 character). The dice also tell us that he is the fourth born child of his family, is obese (awesome, an ugly, fat changeling…) and is 24 years old (leaving him a very long life ahead of himself if diabetes or lung cancer doesn’t get him first). His social background is clerical, so his parents were part of the church (albeit secretly, as they had to pretend to be elves or some other race to pull it off for long), granting him the Medical skill with a +3% bonus, Demon and Devil Lore with a +5% bonus and Religious Doctrine with a +5% bonus. His disposition is that of a braggart – cocky and exaggerative, although usually cheerful. He dislikes the Wolfen (a powerful race of wolf-like humanoids who rule the north) and hails from the Western Empire.
While his background makes me consider making him a somewhat villainous or selfish sort, I decide on an alignment of Scrupulous (think Chaotic Good to Neutral Good). Palladium uses 7 alignments – basically breaking down to 2 good (LG and NG), 2 selfish (CG and CN) and 3 evil (CN, LE and CE).
As a warlock, Parlsen gains the ability to communicate with and detect elementals as well as their general friendship which results in him always being the last to be attacked by an elemental unless there is no other choice. Finally, he can summon an elemental with 2 hours of preparation, although at level 1 he only has a 5% of success at such an endeavour. Among his class skills is the ability to speak 2 additional languages, so I select the tongue of his native environment (the Western tongue) since his native language as a changeling is elven, and also grab the Eastern tongue as another.
He then gets to choose 6 elective skills from the OCC skill list. In order to make him slightly better than completely useless in combat, he takes Hand to Hand: Non-men of arms and Weapon Proficiency Battle Axe and Crossbow, putting his remaining three in Prowl, Read/Write and Use Poison. He then gets 8 secondary skills, and his OCC bonus of +10% applies to his already-present Demon & Devil Lore. The Racial Histories skill which he picks up allows him to know the histories of 6 of the 12 PC races, by taking it twice, he knows all 12 races. Even with an IQ of 12 and a class bonus, he still only has a read/write of 40%… a far cry from the literacy race of the average D&D character (or the even higher literacy rate of the 3e and later edition characters). His choice of Use Poison as a class skill actually looks VERY dangerous for him, with only an 8% chance of success in the field.
Being a servant of two elemental masters, Parlsen knows one level 1 fire spell and one level 1 earth spell. Every time he levels up he learns an additional spell of each element, can it can be a spell of any level up to his experience level. For now he goes with Chameleon (making him 90% invisible if not moving, and 70% invisible if moving at 2 feet per melee), and Flame Lick (creating a 1d8 damage flame that lasts for 2 rounds and that can attack up to 4 feet away).
Then as an afterthought, much like in D&D, it’s time to see if Parlsen has any psionic ability (if I roll high I’ll be kicking myself – as only characters who roll Master Psionic ability can become Mind Mages, the equivalent of the psion). I get an 81, making him a major psionic, but not a master psionic. He gets Inner Strength Points equal to his ME +1d8/level. At levels 1, 2 and 3 he develops random psionic powers of those levels – with a 60% chance of learning each ability available. He gets a few classic low-level psionic powers including Detect Psionics, Object Reading, Resist Cold, Resist Thirst, See Aura and Sense Magic.
As a non man of arms, Parlsen starts with clothes and accountrements and 110 gold. And he can wear light armour without penalty (and he will!). A battle axe sets him back 40 gp, leaving him enough for padded armour for now (although he’ll be going for studded leather when he gets the money – currently his armor protects against the first 15 hit points of damage from attack rolls of 5-8 on a d20, whereas studded leather protects against the first 38 damage from attack rolls of 5 through 12). He’ll also have to wait to pick up a 60 gp crossbow.
Like most old-school D&D-style characters, he’s got a pretty high “whiff” factor – he sucks at the few things he can do. But once he levels up, he’ll be a minor menace.
Parlsen, Flowstone Shaper
Class: Warlock (Fire & Earth)
Hit Points: 20
ME: 20 (+3 saves vs Psionics & Insanity)
PE: 17 (+1 saves vs poison, +5% saves vs coma/death)
Social Background: Clergy
Disposition: Braggart & Cocky
Personal Hostilities: Wolfen
Origin: Western Empire
- Speak Elemental
- Sense Elementals – 60′ radius, 15% success.
- Elemental Non-Aggression – Elementals will not attack unless absolutely necessary
- Summon Elementals – 1/day, 2 hours to attempt, 5% chance of success
- Speak Native Language (Elven)
- Spell Casting (1 fire, 1 earth per day)
- Magic Combat (+1 saves vs spell magic)
- Power Words (4 elemental words)
- Symbols (4 elemental symbols)
- Speak Additional Language (Eastern Human) (+35%) (65%)
- Speak Additional Language (Western Human) (+35%) (65%)
- Medical (+3%) (31% Identification & Diagnosis, 35% Treatment)
- Demon & Devil Lore (+15%) (40%)
- Religious Doctrine (+10%) (28%)
- Hand to Hand: Non-men of arms (+2 dodge)
- Prowl (18%)
- Read/Write (+20%) (40%)
- Use Poison (8%)
- W.P. Battle Axe (+1 Strike)
- W.P. Crossbow (Rate 1)
- Recognize Precious Metals / Stones (+15%) (23%)
- Recognize Poison (10%)
- Cook (10%)
- Ventriloquism (8%)
- Speak Additional Language (Wolfen) (+10%) (40%)
- Speak Additional Language (Goblin) (+10%) (40%)
- Racial Histories (all 12) (18%)
Fire Spells (1/day)
- Flame Lick (2 rounds, 4′ range, 1d8 damage, x2 vs wood)
Earth Spells (1/day)
- Chameleon (90% invisible if immobile, 70% if moving 2’/round or less)
Psionics (Major Psionic)
- ISP: 24
- Detect Psionics (620 yards, 2 rounds, 2 ISP)
- Object Reading (touch, 3 ISP, 30% success of learning history and operation of object, +10% / 3 ISP spent)
- Resist Cold (self, 2 hours, 2 ISP + 2 ISP / 10 degrees below freezing. 1/2 damage vs unnatural cold)
- Resist Thirst (self, 8 hours, 2 ISP)
- See Aura (120 feet, 1 round, 4 ISP – 15% / level to recognize an aura seen before)
- Sense Magic (60 feet, instant, 2 ISP, 69% chance to track source of magic for additional 6 ISP)
- Quilted Jacket and Leggings (AR 8, 15 SDC)
- Battle Axe (2d6 damage)
- Large Sack
- Pen and Quills
- Knife (1d6 damage)
- Oil Lantern (1 pint capacity, 6 hours)
- Oil, 1 pint
- Flint and Steel
- Belt Purse
- 2 gold coins