Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Amazing Adventures: James Cash, the Explosive Rocketman!

As an example of Amazing Adventures character creation, I'm going to create a sample character with a bit of history to show off what the system lets you do. Yes, AA is a D20 spin-off with class-based mechanics, but it's got some pretty nifty features as far as its breed goes, and here's a sample of how that works:

Meet James Cash, the Explosive Rocketman

James Cash began his career as a daredevil stuntman in the Hollywood of late 1929, known primarily for his role in cheap action serials as "Daredevil Dan, the Singing Detective Cowboy," but his role as a real adventurer didn't begin until one fateful evening when he was invited to a glitzy party at the Wollerman Mansion in the Hollywood Hills. There he was unexpectedly thrust into a web of deceit, lies and treachery when he arrived at the party and found  Marvin Wollerman, Hollywood mogul, under gunpoint by hooligans working for the famed Doctor Anthony Sevarius, a well known mad scientist who had been ousted from his profession for unethical practices a few years earlier, and was now working with local mobsters to unknown ends.

It turns out that Marvin Wollerman was secretly the (now retired) former Captain Skyfall, famous American vigilante and hero who worked against the fascist menace in The Great War some ten years earlier. He was forced to retire from duty as a covert agent of the United Stats due to a crippling injury to his back from the secret forces of agent Kaiser Wilhelm II during the final days of the war. Still, Wollerman was resourceful, and had built many fabulous gadgets since, including the exoskeletal framework which let him walk in public.

The goons holding him up were rapidly dispatched by a fast-acting hard-punching James Cash, who earned the respect of the party-goers and the police who arrived to mop up. More importantly, Wollerman realized that Cash was the sort of man he could appreciate, the kind who could carry on a legacy....after the event, Wollerman invited Cash into his parlor, and made a proposal: take up the mantle of his old guise, armed with the many gadgets and devices Wollerman had built over the years to aid him in his duties as secret agent for the U.S., and carry on the good fight. More importantly: find out what Doctor Sevarius wanted, and shut him down!

Cash, naturally, could not refuse the offer. Especially not when he saw Wollerman's greatest invention yet, the flying rocket suit...and thus was born the Explosive Rocketman, as the press would come to call Hollywood's latest mysterious vigilante of the skies!

Rolling up James Cash

Amazing Adventures gives you a point pool to design PCs with (you can roll if you want, too). I'm going to point buy James Cash for maximum focus; each stat starts at 6 and I get a pool of 45 points to distribute. Right now I see him as a bit of a pugilist and a gadgeteer rolled into one, so multiclassing may be in his future. For now, I assign his stats as follows:

Strength 14 - Cash is tough and strong, but not muscle bound.
Dexterity 14 - I see Cash as very agile, he needs to be in his line of work.
Constitution 18 - Years of work in the stuntman business has hardened Cash to pain and injury.
Intelligence 11 - Cash is above average, but not a brainiac.
Wisdom 9 - Cash has some good intuition, as he needs it in his line of work, but he's no Socrates.
Charisma 15 - Cash is loaded with charisma; its why he makes the Saturday adventure serials!

AA's modifiers for stats is the same point spread you see in C&C, LL, S&W and others, so he has the following stats: STR 14 (+1), DEX (14 (+1), CON 18 (+3), INT 11 (0), WIS 9 (0), CHA 15 (+1). Okay, so no below average stats, he's all around above average or better. Soaking hits is his big score.

Cash gets three primes. We're gonna make them Charisma, Constitution, and Dexterity. He's noted for his good looks and charm, his toughness and his agility. In AA, this gives you a +5 modifier to challenge checks, which are a base DC 15 (so the AA universe is ranked slightly off from conventional C&C).

James is destined to be a gadgeteer, but I really see him being strong as a pugilist, to reflect his years as a stuntman. In AA there is an official multiclassing option which looks a lot like C&C's rules (4th crusade edition onward) and an optional version that looks a bit like 3rd edition D20's methodology. As intrigued as I am at the alternating class level option, I'll stick with the official multiclass option for now, making Cash a level 1/1 gadgeteer/pugilist.

Multiclassed characters have a formula for calculating XP gain which I won't go into, but the short version is "figure it out and write it down." They also gain all class abilities, weapons and armor permitted, and an average of the two classes' hit dice and hit bonuses.

After adding in class abilities and combining them accordingly I get the following:

Hit Points: 12 (6 for gadgeteer plus 12 for pugilist, averaged out, plus Con Mod; note that after this he will roll D12 and D6 for each and get the average at each new level)

Base to Hit Modifier: 0 (neither class gets a bonus at level 1)

Base Gadgeteer Abilities: Support Gadgeteer (he gets his gadgets from Wollerman), making his prime Charisma. He starts with 1D6+1+Charisma mod. in gadget points but I'm going to cheat and max him out with 8 points. More on this in a sec. He also gets Jury Rig, an intelligence-based skill which reflects a general handiness with machinery and fixing things.

Base Pugilist Abilities: At 1st level a pugilist gets nothing exciting; most of that stuff comes later in the class. He does get an unarmed attack damage of 1D4 (instead of 1D3) and Mind over Body (+1 to Con saves). Pugilists at level 1 are basically living for the future.

Alignment: I think we'll go with lawful good on this. James Cash is a lawful sort of guy, and good runs in his blood.

Fate Points: Yes, there are fate points (hero points, action points...save your butt points). You start with 1D4+1. I roll and get....3 fate points to start.

Building Gadgets: James is a charisma-based gadgeteer, so he wears and uses stuff his support man makes. This is a tougher role for the gadgeteer, because you lose the ability to make on-the-fly gadgets, and you can possibly lose your support if they are shot, kidnapped or otherwise removed from your access. The plus side is slightly reduced cost in making gadgets. At first level the suggestion is to let the gadgeteer buy level 0 or 1 gadgets, and one higher level gadget. Obviously we're going to make a rocket pack, so we'll start there. Here's what we work out:

Rocket Pack (Fly, cost: 4); We've got our rocket pack, which gets Cash around at a hefty clip. It's reasonably portable, and we'll say its bulky but can slim down to fit in a hiker's backpack if necessary. Cash can lift the equivalent of his normal maximum load in flight as well as himself while he is airborn (which for the record is 140 lbs. or even potentially 210 lbs. dead-lifted, for a few seconds).

We've got 4 points left after that. This is enough to get two level 1 gadgets, four level 0 gadgets or a mixture. We'll go for something  a bit complex, the "Rocketman Pistol." The rules don't (that I've spotted) specifically talk about combined gadgets but I see no reason not to allow it here:

Rocketman Pistol (Light, Dancing Lights, Arcane Bolt; Total Cost 4); this impressive pistol has three settings: it can project as a ordinary but very effective flashlight (light), can emit four glowing electrical balls of plasma to illuminate the region (dancing lights), and it can fire arcs of force energy at targets to injure or even kill (arcane bolt). Wollerman has future intentions (when more gadget points are earned) to add a chafe effect (faerie fire) and stun setting (daze).

Swapping class abilities is next. There's one ability I don't think hits Cash well: his Jury Rigging. Cash isn't a technical guy, and Wollerman is the man for the job in designing the gadgets, so I see Cash as more likely to have something that fits his background here. Looking at the abilities at hand I find two that feel handy: Two Fisted (punch with both hands) and Wealthy. Wealthy is an appropriate swap for Jury Rig, so we'll take that instead, reflecting Cash's accrued wealth as a stuntman and his newfound resources through his patron, Wollerman.

Next we come to Backgrounds. The background can be picked based on character type, or rolled randomly. There's no specific suggested background that fits, so we'll invent one: professional stuntman. In addition we get some knowledge skills, specifically kowledge (gadgeteer) and knowledge (pugilist). Knowledge skills are a lot like the D20 variant, but some good guidelines here will help more traditional OSR GMs with adjudicating how this skill works.

Next we have traits. Characters can start with two traits, which provide both benefits and drawbacks. With my vision of Cash two traits immediately look appropriate: the brawler and reckless. Brawler however is for non-pugilists who want a bit of the fight in them; this might be a good choice if I was rolling a pure gadgeteer with a touch of fisticuffs in his blood, so I instead go for aggressive. Cole is a man of action and being aggressive gives him a +2 initiative bonus at the expense of a -1 to AC.

After reading up on reckless I think it would be a bit of a hindrance (bonus to damage, penalty to hit) and would overlook some non-combat opportunities for character development. I go with polite, instead; he's polite and friendly to a fault, gaining a +1 bonus to diplomatic charisma checks but at the penalty of -2 to charisma checks to intimidate.

We're not finished yet, though! Cole has a sanity score (ripped right from the pages of CoC D20) and that score is 45 (WisX5). Hoookay. Lets hope Cash fights mostly fascists and mad scientists, and fewer cthonic beings from beyond the veil of space and time!

I did run into one oddity in design: in AA pulp armor is by suit piece, so you could get an armor bonus for wearing a bomber jacket, fedora, gloves and even a scarf. However, my choice of classes has limited what James can secure: his gadgeteer options aren't quite in sync with my vision of a bomber jacket wearing dude, and his pugilist options are effectively none, so I guess I'll just deal with it. Ultimately I think this means that my vision of James includes him wearing some sort of flight jacket....it just doesn't happen to be very effective at stopping blows.

James Cash is now complete!

James Cash, Alias the Explosive Rocketman
Level 1/1 Pugilist/Gadgeteer; Alignment LG; Background: career stuntman
STR 14 (+1), DEX 14 (+1)/P, CON 18 (+3)/P, INT 11 (0), WIS 9 (0), CHA 15 (+1)/P
Hit Points: 12; Base to Hit Modifier: 0 Sanity: 45; Base AC: 10 (+1 Dex, -1 trait); Fate Pts: 3
Traits: Aggressive (+2 Init, -1 AC), Polite (+1 diplomacy, -2 intimidate)
Knowledge Skills: kowledge (pugilist), knowledge (gadgeteer)
Gadgeteer Abilities: Support Gadgeteer (Cha), Wealth (swapped with Jury Rig), Mind over Body (+1 to Con saves)
Pugilist Abilities: unarmed attack damage of 1D4
Gadgets: Rocket Pack (Fly, cost: 4); Rocketman Pistol (Light, Dancing Lights, Arcane Bolt; Total Cost 4)

In time he will gain new gadgets, including a fancy helmet and maybe even some bullet proof sort of flight suit....but for now, he's got his trusty jetpack and his unique pistol!


I thought about retconning the pugilist class entirely, but I like the idea of him swooping down and punching fascists in the face. To demonstrate the long term advantages for this multiclasser:

Level 2: Base unarmored AC jumps to 11, unarmed strike become 1D6 damage, Down and Dirty which grants a +1 to all grapple, escape and overbear foes, and also adds to opposed Str and Con rolls. He also gets his first +1 BtH. As a gadgeteer he gains 2 gadget points (enough to buy a new level 1 effect). His hit points go up an average of 8 this level to around 20.

Level 3: Unarmed AC jumps to 12 and he gets fast movement. As a gadgeteer he gains 3 more gadget points (enough for a level 2 gadget). His BtH will go to +2 (assuming you average and round up). His hit points will be somewhere around 28.

By higher levels he'll look suspiciously like a rocket powered monk from C&C in many regards. Except this monk will supplement his fists of fury with terrifying, instantly reusable devices that do terrible terrible things...


  1. VERY cool breakdown! I like how you took advantage of the "if it's not there, make it up" rule for Backgrounds.

    The Pugilist is much more rough-and-tumble than the monk; his abilities are focused more along the lines of boxing and wrestling than mystic martial arts. Also, there is a note that GMs can override costume restrictions for specific builds. If I get to do a second print/edition, I may remove the "armor allowed" altogether, as every class, as it stands, has the ability to stack up a +6 bonus if they choose, so why bother restricting clothing pieces?

    That being said, even within the grounds of what is listed for the Gadgeteer (and I'll admit, not allowing a bomber jacket and gloves was a major oversight on my part), you could go with a helmet (mask), flight suit (body suit), and scarf for a +3 bonus.

    1. Oh, also: remember that he needs to roll to hit even with the Arcane Bolt, but it should grant him a +5 because of its guided/targeted blasts. At higher levels he may want to spend points to increase the level of the effect, so it does more than just base damage.

      There are rules for putting multiple effects in the same gadget, essentially, they're just, "you can do it, within reason." They are under "Improving Gadgets," on page 20.

      There is, in case you didn't know, an errata thread here: http://www.trolllord.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=12513&sid=0365dd3469b64dd2817ed8d87e7789a3