November 6, 2017: Dungeon Fantasy Tips: Creating Your Own Character
We've offered general tips on getting started, but how about some specifics? The Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game and Dungeon Fantasy GM Screen include 15 ready-to-play delvers between them – but you'll want to create your own! The Design Notes accompanying the pre-generated characters are worth reading for inspiration, and here's some more generic advice:
Follow your heart. You can't change characters mid-quest, so for your first shot at delver design, go with what you want to do. To be a heavy hitter, try a high-ST barbarian, holy warrior, or knight. For stealth and finesse, select a role with ample DX and/or Basic Speed, like the scout, swashbuckler, or thief. To cast spells, be a cleric, druid, or wizard. Bards and martial artists are tricky to play – think about learning the ropes before trying.
Pick your shtick. Pouring your resources into the one thing you value most means you'll have more to do than if you spread yourself thin. Like breaking things? Spend points on several of ST, Striking ST (a great deal!), Weapon Master (with its damage bonus from skill), and damage-enhancing professional abilities (holy warrior's Heroic Might, martial artist's Seven Secret Kicks, scout's Strongbow, thief's Expert Backstabbing, etc.), and perhaps save cash for a high-quality blade. Want to defend like crazy? Combat Reflexes is a must, then Enhanced Block, Dodge, or Parry – and don't overlook a cloak or shield for its Defense Bonus, or making your unbalanced weapon dwarven. Prefer to turtle up? Try to "stack" several of Armor Mastery, Tough Skin, good armor, and a Fortify enchantment. Also find ways to do your thing more often: Extra Attack to rain down blows, Weapon Master to reduce penalties for Rapid Strike and repeated parrying, Energy Reserve and a large power item to cast loads of spells, and so on.
Optimize shamelessly. To excel at many skills based on an attribute (like combat skills based on DX), it's often cost-effective to spend some of your advantage allotment on that attribute. Advantages that raise skills linked by theme rather than attribute are also a good investment: Animal Friend, Born War-Leader, Charisma, Green Thumb, Healer, Outdoorsman, etc. If your profession has spells or special skills, consider advantages that improve them: Bardic Talent for bards, Power Investiture for cleric and druids, Chi Talent for martial artists, Magery for wizards. Don't overlook bonuses from other advantages; for instance, if you have even one point in Climbing, Flexibility costs less than buying skill levels.
Exploit racial profiling. Nonhuman races add complication but are also part of the fun. To take this path, you'll need to set aside points from your advantage allotment. Then review the other traits you could use those points for to meet your goals, and pick a race that covers similar ground: To soak damage, play a dwarf or half-ogre with Tough Skin and the Lifting ST or basic ST to cart around heavy armor. If you like archery, elves and halflings add DX and racial abilities that raise Bow skill. And so on.
Gear! For starting characters, equipment is as important as abilities. It's never a bad idea to trade quirk points for an extra $500 apiece you can spend on not just essentials, but also for further bonuses. Fine arrows, at just $6 apiece, add +1 damage. A knight with Armor Mastery needs DR 2+ armor to receive +1 DR, and can layer armor without consequence, so wear heavy cloth armor under metal armor. Spellcasters want pricey power items, and can add value in $25 increments to sneak over the line for another +1 FP. But you might want to save 1 quirk point for Weapon Bond – a cheap way to get +1 with your starting weapon.
Accept no penalties. If a race, disadvantage, or piece of gear penalizes a key professional task, your chosen shtick, or skills you've tried to build up, avoid it. For instance, don't load up a high-Move, high-Stealth thief with encumbrance, or choose a half-ogre with -1 to IQ as your spellcaster.
Don't sweat the small stuff. Every professional template offers many choices. You can always buy them all later – especially skills (including spells), which you can add for a point apiece. Equipment that isn't necessary to your skills probably isn't essential, and you'll find gear in the dungeon, anyway.
Last but not least, have fun. A character worth playing isn't just efficient, but interesting. Choose your traits to fit a backstory and get ready to ham it up. If you're having a blast, this other stuff won't matter!
-- Sean Punch
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