This weekend has been playtest weekend for Warlock! Part of me doesn’t like games where you have to roll randomly for your career. I say part of me, because when I play games like Zweihander I always randomly generate my character.
The dividing line between accepting random careers and rejecting them is whether you get locked in to a path. Warlock! has a wonderful balance in this part of character creation. You roll four careers and choose one of those four. If you don’t get one you are enthusiastic about it isn’t a massive problem because it only costs you 5 ‘advances’ (experience points) to change career. There is no ‘lock in’.
My character, Kallen of course, had the choices of beggar, grave digger, outlaw, wizard’s apprentice.
There was no way I was going to turn down Wizard’s Apprentice in a game called Warlock!
I normally give solo characters a boost to counter balance the lack of a supporting party. In this case I am maxing out Stamina and Luck. Both are highly volatile anyway, so starting with 24/19 is good, but isn’t going to last long. Every time you cast a spell it costs Stamina. I will be burning through it pretty quickly.
Warlock! has pretty simple character creation, which means for solo characters you don’t get a lot of levers to pull when trying to balance the game. In a previous iteration of the rules I tried giving characters a number of bonus advances to improve their skills but more Stamina and Luck makes your character feel more heroic. Everything else I left as random, the background and in my case my first spell.
The basic yes-no oracle is going to be d20+Luck. Over 20 for Yes, Under for No.
The adjustments for likelihood are in blocks of 5 and they are only for things being less likely. Five is a recurring number in Warlock! opposed tests, such as having the initiative or shooting at a distance. As Luck is always positive, only negative modifiers are needed.
Basing the oracle on the character’s Luck means that an average Luck of 14 (2d6+7) means that there is a 70/30 bias towards Yes answers. It is generally accepted that the GM should lean towards Yes, and that is what happens here. As soon as something is unlikely, it becomes typically something like 55/45 and very unlikely, a -10 or two lots of five, goes 30/70 in the favour of No. These numbers are rather variable as Luck starts high and descends as adventures progress.
Having the characters Luck pretty much controlling the universe does mean that life in general favours characters that are lucky. It is oft repeated advice to ask the questions that are best for the game, not the questions that are best for the character. If the oracle is focused on the character, it removes the need to try and be unbiased. Ask things from the characters perspective, where yes is good and no the less good, and the gods will smile upon you. As you push your luck, the universe will slowly turn its back on you.
The open question style oracle uses a d20 table that has different aspects. You chose two or more aspects and roll for them. Then try and read some meaning into the combination of words. It is intentionally compact.
This set of rules is not the most complicated, but Warlock! is not a complicated game.
I will let you know how the playtest goes, tomorrow.