Frontier 1879 will be using Boot Hill 3rd Edition rules, which is based on a d20 dice system (earlier versions of Boot Hill were percentile based). Character creation in Boot Hill is much less complex than in most role-playing games.
Like all RPG's, there are Attribute scores that fill out the physical stature and hardiness of the character, as well as scores that flesh out the mental and congenial attitudes as well. However, unlike most other RPG's, Boot Hill has no "classes", and characters do not progress along any character advancement based on "levels". Once a character is rolled up, the player then decides what the character's "career" path will be based on a set of Skills (out of many to choose from). Each Skill is assigned so many skill points, which determines the character's proficiency with that particular skill - the higher the number, the more proficient the character is with any given skill. Characters advance throughout the game by either learning new Skills, or advancing their knowledge of known Skills, which is done through - essentially - experience point expenditure.
I will run down the character creation process one step at a time below. Use the examples here to assist you with creating your character for the Frontier 1879 campaign, and if you have any questions, please post them on the Questions and Answers thread.
When rolling up a character for the Frontier 1879 campaign, please use this thread to do so. Create a reply post, and use that to roll your dice and display your character's Attributes, Skills, physical appearance, and any other relevant information you would like to have be generally known.
All Attributes have a range from 1 to 20, except Luck - which has a range of 1 to 10. The primary Attributes that are used by the Boot Hill system are as follows :
- Strength - (Measures physical power, stamina, health, and wound capacity. 10 is average.)
- Coordination - (Measures manual dexterity, agility, balance, speed, and accuracy. 10 is average.)
- Observation - (Measures alertness, vigilance, eyesight, hearing, and other senses. 10 is average.)
- Stature - (Measures how well known the character is, their reputation, and how imposing they are. 10 is average. Dice roll for Stature is halved.)
- Luck - (Measures escape from harm ability, survivability, and other 'impossible' acts. 5 is average. Dice roll for Luck is halved.)
The method I'd like all players to use when creating their characters is to roll 2d10 five times, adding the relevant modifier from Table 1A below to each roll. Then place the scores in the Attributes of your choice. This provides the players with the opportunity to tailor their scores to a pre-conceived idea of what they want their character to be.
Note: Keep note of the fact that while Strength, Coordination, and Observation all get the full score rolled (and modified), the score selected for Stature and Luck are halved (rounded up).
2 - 5 +5
6 - 10 +3
11 - 14 +2
15 - 17 +1
18 - 20 +0
There are 57 "work" Skills to choose from, and 5 weapon Skills to choose from. Work Skills range from everything from Accounting to Preaching/Theology to Wrangling. The five weapon Skills are Archery, Brawling, Knife/Sword, Pistol, and Rifle/Shotgun.
The number of initial Skills that a player is eligible for is determined by adding together all of the character's Attributes, and then consulting with Table 2A below.
Once the player has determined how many skills their character has available to them as initial skills, then the player may begin to select the skills they wish their character to have by consulting Tables 3A and 3B . The number of initial Skills can also be termed "Skill Points" or "Points" for reference below.
27 - 40 10
41 - 62 8
63 - 80 6
Skill Selection - When selecting skills, the character has a 1 (one) skill level in the given skill selected. Each Skill selected by the player can be viewed as one "point" being spent. A player can, therefore. decide to put more than one Skill Point in a given skill.
Note : A player cannot spend more than half of their Skills on weapon skills.
[EXAMPLE : John is rolling up his character, Michael "Mickey" Isaacs. After rolling for his Attributes, Mickey ends up with 10 Initial Skills. Looking through the Skill lists, he decides on the following Skills: Bartending(1), Cooking(1), Teamster(1), Cow Handling(1), Gambling(2), Roping(1), Wrangling(1), Pistol(1), and Rifle/Shotgun(1). Note that he selected Gambling twice, which gave him two Skill points in Gambling.]
Table 3A - Work Skills
Accounting* Artillerist Artist* Assaying
Bartending Bureaucracy* Carpentry Chemistry*
Civil Engineering* Cooking Cow Handling Dentistry*
Entertainer Explosives Farming Fast Draw**
Gambling Gunsmithing Indian Contact Law*
Leadership Linguistics* Literacy Locksmithing
Medicine* Orienteering Photography Pocket Picking
Preaching/Theology Printing/Journalism* Prospecting/Mining Public Speaking
Railroad Engineering Riding+ Roping Saddlemaking
Scouting Sheepherding Silversmithing Smithing
Stealth Surveying/Mapmaking* Survival Swimming+++
Tactics Tailor/Seamstress Teamster Telegraph*
Thespian Throwing++ Tracking Trading
Trapping Veterinarian* Wainwright Whip
* - Prerequisite for this skill is the skill Literacy.
** - Fast Draw is a required skill if the player wishes the character to be able to quickly skin their smokewagon in a fight.
+ - All Boot Hill characters can ride a horse, this skill is for use in unusual circumstance, such as trick riding, etc.
++ - Throwing is used for all thrown objects, combat related or not.
+++ - Few people in the West actually knew how to swim. Without this skill, characters are deemed to not know how.
Table 3B - Weapon Skills
Archery Brawling Knife/Sword Pistol Rifle/Shotgun
Players have the option to simply choose whether their character is right or left handed (but they must choose one or the other at character creation). However - players also have the option of attempting to determine if their character is ambidextrous. The player simply rolls 1d20 - if the roll is a 20, then the character can use either hand equally well and never pays an off-hand penalty.
The player then needs to describe what the character looks like to someone the character would encounter on the road, or in town. The player can get as detailed, or be as brief, as necessary.
Character backgrounds are important, as I regularly will use background information at times from character histories to spice up a game or campaign. The background can be as detailed as the player wishes it to be - however, a few things that need to be indicated are ancestry (at least to grandparent level), place of birth, if they have any siblings or not, and any significant things that happened during the character's life up to the point of game start that affected them in some way (including any people that were a part of said history that may have friendships, rivalries, hatreds, etc.).
Note : The Frontier 1879 campaign will be based on real world Old West history up to the year 1879 and beyond. I plan on making the basic area played in (at least to start) in the Colorado / Arizona / New Mexico general area.
This should be a list of equipment that the character carries on their person in a typical outing when on horseback. Typical Western items should be included, such as bed rolls, tents, weapons, saddle, changes of clothes, rope (and length thereof), etc. Players are free to equip their characters within reason.
Note : With regards to weapons, if a player is developing a character with the Fast Draw skill, please note whether or not the character has a "fast draw revolver". Guns of this ilk were typically modified by their owners - any part of the gun that could "hang" on a draw, such as the front sight, were filed down, or off, to make drawing the pistol faster and smoother.
A note on "Hit Points"
You have probably noticed that there are no "hit points" indicated anywhere during the character creation process. This is because Boot Hill does not utilize a hit point system.
In Boot Hill, a character can only die if they receive a mortal wound during a fight. There are four types of wounds - a "mere scratch", light wound, serious wound, and mortal wound. No amount of scratches or light wounds combine to become a serious wound, and no amount of serious wounds combine to become a mortal wound. Essentially, a character could conceivably be shot 5 times - 3 serious wounds and 2 light wounds - and he would recover and continue adventuring afterward. However, a single mortal wound means that character has met his fate.
Additionally, the system has what's known as "wound points". These are equal to the character's Strength Attribute. Each time a character is wounded in combat, the number rolled on the d6 for wound severity is the number of wound points received by that character for that wound. If at any time the character receives additional wound points that carry beyond their wound point amount, that character will pass out from blood loss and / or shock (but they will not die - again, that can only occur through receiving a mortal wound).