Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Zorn: Zero Level Characters

 Zorn has always been a setting about diegetic character advancement, telling stories about the world changing your characters rather than the other way around. To better serve that purpose, I took a note from DCC and ripped the idea of a group of zero-level characters going on a deadly adventure and the survivors becoming the player party.

Here's the overarching process of this.

  1. Roll for your stats as you normally would (3d6 down the line for base stats, 2d6 for fortune)
  2. Derive Substats as normal, except for HP which is Con-6 for Level 0, and attack bonus, which is 0. This does mean you can start with negative HP, you don't immediately die, but you might soon,
  3. Roll 1d50 on the table below for background and note the results down where applicable.
  4. Pick one stat off your background's Reroll column, you can roll that stat again and take the better result
  5. Write down your background's starting inventory, items denoted with (Light), (Medium), or (Heavy) are automatically considered corresponding melee weapons
  6. Note down your background's starting skill. This provides a -2 bonus to any flat attribute check that would benefit from relevant knowledge or experience.
  7. Choose a character flaw. This is a small roleplaying quirk used to spice up your character and to provide interesting complications to the narrative. These are things like "Alcoholic", "Loves Exotic Food", "Anger Issues", "Overly Honest"
  8. Repeat this until you have 4 functioning characters.
Once these characters survive their first adventure (or at least escape it with 50 Silver), one of the survivors can level up and become a true adventurer, the remaining survivors decide that this is not the life for them and retire, die, go insane, or otherwise leave the narrative. If a player has zero survivors, they may claim a survivor from another player or generate one zero-level character that can level up if there is enough Silver remaining to do so.

After the campaign is in full swing, dead characters should probably be replaced by level one characters rather than zero-levels, but this is a nice way to set the tone at the very beginning.

The Backgrounds listed below is a quick and dirty list, maybe I'll come back later and rewrite this one to be a bit better, but I really wanted a playable draft as soon as possible. Feel free to add suggestions, comments, or other notes in the comments below as tables like this really benefit from group brainstorming.

I've also provided a few lists of random items and weapons below for posterity's sake.

1d50 Backgrounds


# Name Reroll Starting Items Skill
1 Farmer Con/Wis Shovel (Medium), 3 Carrots Agriculture
2 Hunter Dex/Wis Hunting Shotgun, Bear Trap Tracking
3 Hobo ANY Large Stick (Heavy), 3 Crappy Rations Survival
4 Nobility Cha/Dex Fine Clothes, 3 Pieces of Sharp Silverware (Light) Courtesy
5 Housekeeper Wis/Dex Broom (Medium), Fine Clothes Restraint
6 Bartender Cha/Wis 3 Bottles of Mysterious Liquor (Light), Set of Drinking Glasses Alcohol
7 Distiller Con/Int Heavy Keg of Cheap Swill (Heavy) Brewing
8 Chef Dex/Int 3 Sharp Knives (Light), Cutting Board Cooking
9 Sailor Cha/Wis Dueling Sabre (Medium), Naval Uniform Sailing
10 Soldier Dex/Str Rifle, 3 Awful Tasting MREs, Active Enlistment Military
11 Mechanic Wis/Int Large Wrench (Heavy), Coveralls, Small Bottle of Oil Jury-Rigging
12 Detective Int/Wis Service Handgun, Handcuffs Investigation
13 Pilot Dex/Int Small Knife (Light), Parachute, Small Goggles Aircraft
14 Ship Crewman Str/Wis Small Club (Medium), Hammock Navigation
15 Ship Spotter Wis/Dex Small Club (Medium), Binoculars Weather
15 Machinist Con/Int Wrench (Medium), Coveralls, Small Bottle of Oil Manufacturing
16 Industrialist Int/Cha Sharp Pen (Light), Box of Paperwork Capitalism
17 Nurse Int/Con Syringe (Light), Book on Natural Medicine Medicine
18 Doctor Int/Wis Heavy Medical Book (Heavy), Doctor's Robes Medicine
19 Dentist Dex/Int Pliers (Light), Hand Drill, Small Tool Bag Surgery
20 Travelling Salesperson Cha/Con 5 Cheap Knives (Light), Cheap Suit Trade
21 Attorney Int/Cha Heavy Legal Text (Heavy), Nice Suit Legal
22 Engineer Int/Dex Fancy Pen (Light), Drafting Paper Engineering
23 Teacher Wis/Int 5 Children's Books (Light) Teaching
24 Banker Wis/Int Abacus (Medium), Large Sack, Precise Scales Money
25 Bill Collector/Loan Shark Str/Dex Club (Medium), Black Book naming 3 Debtors Scheming
26 Archeologist Int/Con Shovel (Medium), Fine Brush, History Book History
27 Spy Dex/Wis Sharp Pen (Light), Foreign Soldier's Uniform, Fine Clothes Espionage
28 Thief Dex/Str Prybar (Medium), Dark Clothes Thievery
29 Hired Killer Str/Dex Handgun, Stiletto (Light), Cheap 3 Piece Suit, Note with Target's Name Assassination
30 Cardsharp Cha/Dex Stiletto (Light), Deck of Cards, Small Bottle of Ink Gambling
31 Smuggler Wis/Cha Prybar (Medium), Large Bag Concealing
32 Construction Worker Con/Str Heavy Tool (Heavy), Sack of Tools Construction
33 Foreman Cha/Con Clipboard Oversight
34 Miner Con/Str Pickaxe (Heavy), Miner's Helmet with Light Mining
35 Gardener Dex/Con Trowel (Light), 5 Mysterious Seeds Gardening
36 Lumberjack Str/Con Axe (Medium) Axe Demolition
37 Train Conductor Wis/Con Shovel (Medium), Sack of Coal Steam Power
38 General Laborer Con/Str 1 Random Weapon, 2 Random Items ANY
39 Tailor Dex/Wis Set of 5 Large Needles (Light), Colorful Thread Fabric
40 Barber Dex/Cha Barber's Razor (Light), 3 Rags Cutting
41 Delivery worker Dex/Con Running Shoes, Backpack Running
42 Telephone Operator Cha/Int 50' Length of Copper Wire Fast Talk
43 Mathematician Int/Wis Very Heavy Abacus (Heavy) Math
44 Artist Cha/Wis Set of Paint and Brushes Artistry
45 Philosopher Wis/Int Heavy Book on Philosophy (Heavy), Human Skull, Shiny Rock Philosophy
46 Writer Wis/Int Pencil (Light), Notepad Writing
47 Priest Wis/Cha Religious Text, Religious Icon, Bottle of Sacred Fluid Religion or Occult
48 Scientist Int/Wis Set of Scientific Tools Science
49 Oil Baron Cha/Dex Cane (Medium), Box of Fine Cigars, Fine Clothes Money
50 Exiled ANY Locked Shackles (Heavy), Tattered Clothing ANY

1d50 Random Weapons


# Name Type
1 Hunting Knife Light Melee
2 Chef's Knife Light Melee
3 Stiletto Light Melee
4 Pencil Light Melee
5 Metal Straw Light Melee
6 Brick Light Melee
7 Throwing Knife Light Melee
8 Small Statuette Light Melee
9 Pen Light Melee
10 Scalpel Light Melee
11 Icepick Light Melee
12 Small Paperweight Light Melee
13 Blackjack Light Melee
14 Very Sharp Fork Light Melee
15 Very Sharp Spoon Light Melee
16 Golf Club Medium Melee
17 Katana Medium Melee
18 Cane Medium Melee
19 Suitcase Medium Melee
20 Axe Medium Melee
21 Prybar Medium Melee
22 Shovel Medium Melee
23 Club Medium Melee
24 Wrench Medium Melee
25 Sabre Medium Melee
26 Rapier Medium Melee
27 Frying Pan Medium Melee
28 Rebar Medium Melee
29 Tire Iron Medium Melee
30 Baseball Bat Medium Melee
31 Heavy Book Heavy Melee
32 Large Rock Heavy Melee
33 Longsword Heavy Melee
34 Antique Glaive Heavy Melee
35 Sledgehammer Heavy Melee
36 Pickaxe Heavy Melee
37 Massive Wrench Heavy Melee
38 Locked Shackles Heavy Melee
39 Antique Maul Heavy Melee
40 Long Rusty Pipe Heavy Melee
41 Service Revolver Handgun
42 Military Sidearm Handgun
43 Pepperbox Pistol Handgun
44 Homemade Pipe SMG SMG
45 Military Issue SMG SMG
46 Hunting Rifle Rifle
47 Sniper Rifle Rifle
48 Antique Musket Rifle
49 Hunting Shotgun Shotgun
50 Antique Blunderbuss Shotgun

1d50 Random Items


# Name # Name
1 Bottle of Oil 26 Chicken
2 Small Bottle of Ink 27 Sheep
3 Small Bottle of Blood 28 Cat
4 Pen 29 Binoculars
5 Pencil 30 Tent
6 Prybar 31 3 Flares
7 50' Rope 32 50' Thin Wire
8 50' Chain 33 3 Small Handbells
9 Pickaxe 34 10 Pitons
10 Shovel 35 Bag of Ball Bearings
11 Axe 36 Handheld Radio
12 Hammer 37 Pocket Knife
13 Wrench 38 100' Twine
14 Large Backpack 39 Small Bucket of Paint
15 Sleeping Bag 40 Canteen
16 5 Rations 41 Oil Lantern
17 50' Colorful Thread 42 Flashlight
18 Bear Trap 43 Guitar
19 Fine Clothes 44 5 D Batteries
20 Fine Furs 45 20 Bullets
21 5 Bottles of Beer 46 Fishing Pole and 15' Line
22 Parachute 47 Silver Mirror
23 Small Goggles 48 Magnifying Glass
24 Horse 49 Gallon of Gasoline
25 Pig 50 Hammock

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