Monday, July 23, 2007

World of Synnibarr

World of Synnibarr has been long regarded as the king of gonzo ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ and ‘WTF were they smoking?’ game design.

It’s one of the games that people joke about running, but don’t.

It has two types of bear with laser beam eyes: the Sea bear and the Giant flying grizzly bear. (Potential players will be pleased to know that the Giant Sunstone, Midnight Sunstone and plain Sunstone grizzlies don’t appear to have eyebeams). One of the character types gets a weapon called a ‘Midnight Sunstone Bazooka’ at level 40 as well as the ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’ Big Gun at level 20. There are also Giant Armoured Bees.

It has a rule that states that if the GM fudges anything or otherwise deviates from the rules as written, the players are allowed to call his bluff and either get the adventure declared null and void and their characters reset to their pre-adventure state, or get double XP from the adventure.

It cost me a quid, and to this day I’m not sure if it was a rip-off or not. I’m certainly never going to play it, character creation doesn’t have quite the comedy value that it would in other games, and it’s only just minable for ideas.

And yet, here I am, making a character for it because it’s the first book on my games shelf.

Step one

Generate basic initial characteristic scores.

From the start World of Synnibarr makes no pretence that this is anything other than a ridiculously high powered game. Your six characteristics are rolled on 7 d20, dropping any that roll below 8, then dropping the two lowest and re-rolling one until it is both above eight and above the scores that you dropped.

I manage to get the following numbers: 14,10,20,15,17, and 19.

What? A 10? How did that happen? My two dropped rolls were a 10 and an 8, that’s how. They were replaced with the 19.

Attributes done, it’s time to pick a class. These are supposed to be done semi-randomly – you roll three times on the class table and can then pick one of the classes rolled. Not realising this, I go to the class section and pick an Archer as the best fit for my Warrior-Scholar build.

Archers in WoS are great shots, keen gamblers and appreciate the arts, running a museum that they all act as collectors for. Though the size of the museum isn’t that impressive; it only takes four days to go around; the Lourve is supposed to take at least a week for a proper visit.

Having decided on playing an Archer, I assign my dice rolls to the attributes. Archers get bonuses to their Strength, Agility, Dexterity and Wisdom. The other attributes are Constitution and Intelligence.

After assigning my rolls and adding the bonuses, my archer’s characteristics are as follows:

Constitution: 17
Strength: 19
Agility: 22
Dexterity: 25
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 11

Next, I quote the book.

Here comes the fun part. Now you get to fill in all the rest of the scores on your character sheet. Most of these are a simple case of cross-referencing your ability scores with the columns of the tables.

Phew. I thought that this might be the bit I need a calculator for.

Anyway, after much cross-referencing of tables I ended up with the following attributes:

Attacks: 2
Attack segments: 6 and 11
Advantage bonus: 4 (1.5 from agility, 2.5 from dexterity)
Surprise adjustment: -15
Dodge: 61 (2* Agility + my dodge bonus)
Beam attack dodge: 46 (75% of my dodge; I decided to round up.)
Block: 61
Damage bonus: *2
Weight limit: 200 lbs
30% chance to locate traps

I roll up a rather measly 370 life points (1d6*100 + con bonus)

Next are the saving throws:

Magic/Psionics/FP: 9%
Alchemy/Chi/Mutations: 12%
Metabolic shock: 44%
Poison/disease/chemicals: 27%

Whilst I have an Intelligence stat, the book decides that from now on it’s going to be called Ego. As Ego is shorter to type, that’s what I’ll use too.

Reaction bonus: none

I next roll on the Ego Flux table – this seems to declare whether I have a good or bad personality. I get a result of good, meaning no adjustment to my reaction bonus.

The last set of attributes to look up are the chances of my character being surprised.

These are as follows:

Surprise category: chance to be surprised

AA: 99%
A: 75%
B: 80%
C: 70%

According to the combat chapter, the surprise categories are, in order, Invisible ambush, Invisible, Ambush and ‘sucker punch’.

Also, whilst browsing the combat chapter I find a couple of semi-nifty rules. You can, if you have an attack on the same turn that you’re being attacked, try to attack your opponent before his attack is launched (but after you see if you’ve been hit or not) – effectively you’re attempting to retcon the last attack against you.

The second rule is in the same vein but allows the rest of the party to try to save you if you fail to avoid an attack. If the blow would have killed you, they get 1 XP per one of your levels, and if they get killed whilst trying to save you, the player’s next character gets a +2 bonus to all Attribute rolls when creating a new character.

Anyway, the hard numbers are down, time to roll up my characters physical appearance and starting money.

A few dicerolls later and I see that my archer is a good-looking 24-year-old Asian female with red hair and brown eyes. She’s ~7’ tall and weighs about 12 stone.

She enters the world with $13000 with which to buy stuff.

Final steps are to note down skills and any special Archer abilities.

All characters start with the following basic skills:

Balancing and Juggling, Climbing, Combat: Dodging and Blocking, Combat: Hand-Held weapons, Combat: Projectile and throwing weapons, Computer Operation, Cooking, Detect traps and secret doors, Fishing, Maths: basic, Medical: first aid, Navigation: air, Navigation: land, Navigation: water, Piloting: boats, Reading, Running, Sewing, Survival: wilderness, Swimming: basic, Weaving, Woodcarving and Writing.

Additionally, as an Archer, my character picks up : Ambush, Archery, Concealment, Gambling and Sniping.

Her special archer abilities at first level are:

Create Matter – an Earth Power spell that allows the creation of things like bows and arrows, but not money.

Basic Archer arrows – None of these require a physical arrow to be in the bow. The basic arrows gained at first level are: Earth Power, Entangle and Grappling.

I also get to roll twice to see what Special Archer Arrows I know how to create. These do require a physical arrow in the bow, and up to four effects can be placed on the same shaft. The arrows my character learns are Sight Arrow which is a clairvoyance effect, and Phazing arrow which ignores all defence that doesn’t specifically stop Phazed attacks.

And done.

Overall, character creation isn’t too complex, though the game itself continues to seem quite ridiculous.

The Archer is probably one of the least powerful characters I could have made, and possibly not a good example of the bad-craziness that infects World of Synnibarr. For that, have a look at the reviews on RPGnet.

World of Synnibarr entry on RPGnet's gaming index.

No comments: