Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fifth Cycle

Whoops, missed a few days. Blame those dreadful Rikti for invading Paragon City.

Today’s character is from Fifth Cycle, another fantasy heartbreaker, but as mentioned at the end of the last character, not one from the ‘It only cost a quid’ collection. Not only do I have the main book for Fifth Cycle, I also have one of its supplements and an adventure. However my character will be created using just the main book.

Fifth Cycle is a 198 page perfect bound book, first published in 1990. The back cover depicts a large though sparse map of the Vice-royalty of Dolphinia, the game’s default setting. The front cover is quite striking, being mostly black, with the game’s title and a border depicting various characters and monsters from the game in a rainbow gradient. The same style of cover is used on the two supplements that I have for the game.

Inside, the text is large and in a pleasant font with clear headings, and the art, whilst sparse is reasonable. Nothing special, but it doesn’t detract from the game, and the icons for the schools of magic are quite nice. Overall the package looks more professional than both Dandanon and Darkurthe Legends.

Fifth Cycle comes with a sparse background, a barebones setting and a built-in reason for characters to go adventuring; they have an Archaeological Charter to investigate Third Cycle ruins. The game’s background is basically a list of the Cycles of the world.

The First Cycle began with the creation of the world; it was a time of barbarism and savagery. Magic was unknown. The second cycle began with the discovery of magic, and the rise of great civilisations. The third cycle was the age of the Tyrant mages. It was during this time that the various races were created. The fourth cycle was a dark age, when all magic was shunned and magic users hunted down. Finally, the Fifth cycle of the game’s title begins and magic starts to be re-discovered, and the excavation of Third Cycle ruins begins.

And now, Character creation.

Creating a character in 5thC is semi-random, that is, you roll to see how many points you get to spend on your attributes, you roll for your family’s profession, but can choose your own, and the amount of experience you get to spend on your own profession’s skill is based on your randomly determined age.

I roll badly on the attribute points table, getting the worst possible result, and 118 points to spend on my attributes. At this point I also decide to ponder what race to make my character.

Since I’m only using the main book, the only playable races are the ones that were created from humans by Tyrant mages of the third age, that is Dwarves, Elves, Waerlinga (sort of like halflings, but they wear shoes, and are renamed to Wynoc by a sticker inside the back cover of the book). To make a character non-human, you select it, then get two attempts to roll that race. If you fail, your character is human. If you make a character human to start with, they get a +1 bonus to a random attribute.

e.g.if I wanted to make my character an elf, I’d have two attempts to roll three or less on a d10, otherwise they’d be human.

Based on my lousy dice roll for attribute points, I decide on a human and roll a +1 to strength as my bonus attribute.

After assigning my attribute points, my character’s attributes and their primary and secondary modifiers (used to adjust the costs of skills, lower is better) are as follows:

Strength: 17 –1/0
Agility: 10 1/0
Hand manipulation: 10 1/0
Endurance: 10 1/0
Intelligence: 17 –1/0
Common sense: 15 0/0
Magical ability: 17 -1/0
Eloquence 14 0/0
Comeliness 10 1/0

These done, I now work out my character’s Magic Resistance, Movement rate, Encumbrance and Fatigue points.

Magic Resistance: 17 (this will change if I buy ranks in the Magic resisting skill)
Movement Rate: 2
Encumbrance: 27 kilos – every two kilos more than this that my character carries will reduce their agility and Move by one point. Rather harsh.
Fatigue points: 10

Next step is to roll my character’s age, which is 2d6+12 for all races. I get a total of 20. I then roll for my family’s profession and get 2 – Armsman. I decide that my character’s chosen profession will be Mage.

I also roll to see how tall my character is, deciding at this point to make her female. She turns out to be 174 cm tall. Character weight is based on height and mine weighs 146 Kg.

Now I get to start buying my skills.

I have 50 points to spend on skills from the Armsman and Common skill lists and 80 points to spend on any skills I want. Any skills not from the Armsman, Common or Mage lists will cost me more per rank. Any points not spent on skills must be banked towards improving set skills once play starts.

It is in skill purchasing that we see the first bit of small-press oddity from 5th cycle. Every skill has its own cost per rank. There is no unified skill costs table.

Anyway, let’s buy skills. First, the 50 points.

I decide on Combat Tactics, Strategy and a weapon skill. The first two adjust my initiative – CT during the round and Strategy when rolling for it, and a weapon skill just makes sense.

Looking at the skill cost table, the primary and secondary stats for Combat tactics are Endurance and Agility, giving a modifier to the cost of +1 per rank. The other skills work out at 0 for Strategy and –1 for Sword.

Combat Tactics: 1
Strategy: 1
Broadsword: 1

After buying a rank in each of the skills I wanted I have 11 points left.

Next to spend the 80 XP gained from my apprenticeship. I’m first going to spend these on magic skills, spells, then any useful common skills, and finally, if I have any points left over they’ll be spent on topping up my armsman skills.

The key skill for a Mage is Magic Training; it increases your spell points and controls the highest level of spell you can cast. I spend just over half my skill points and pick it up at level 2.

Magic training: 2
Magic Resisting: 1

Magic in Fifth cycle is split up into schools, and the school that you pick first controls the costs of all other spells you may want to buy – the closer they are to your school the cheaper they are. It also determines your opposition school – you can’t learn spells from that school until you’ve mastered two different schools of magic. I decide that my character’s primary school will be Darkness and buy the following spells.

Create Darkness: 2 (This is the basic skill in the Darkness school – all other spells have it as one of their perquisites)
Detect Traps: 1

After buying those skills and spells I have 10 skill points left. I now look at the Common Skill list and purchase the following, using both the 10 points left from my apprenticeship XP and the 11 from my family XP.

First Aid: 1
Swimming: 1
Riding: 1

The total cost of these is 18. I bank my 3 remaining XP in my Broadsword skill.
Also, now that I’ve bought levels of Magical training, I see that my character has 6 spell points.

Last steps are to work out my characters Hit points, Defensive bonus and starting money.

Hit points are worked out by cross-referencing the sum of your ST, EN and CS on a table. Mine work out as follows:

Head: 4
Torso: 8
Limbs: 5

For a normal human character there are 10 hit locations; each location gets its own set of hit points, so in this example, each limb would have 5 HP.

My agility of 10 gives me a –5 Defensive bonus.

I get 2d10+5 shillings as starting money, rolling 18, and basic equipment consisting of Soft leather armour, a couple of weapons for which I pick a broadsword and a dagger, some spare clothing and a pack to keep my stuff in.

And we’re done.

Next up, GURPs 3rd edition.

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