06 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day Nine: Almogàvers

cover by Albert Monteys
Almogàvers by Enric Grau is a historical role-playing game published in 1995 by Joc Internacional, the Catalan publisher who also published the Spanish translation of RuneQuest 3. The 90s were a period during which stat-heavy, gritty RPGs were definitely the norm. The reason I mention this in this short introduction is to make you realise that upon reading Almogàvers I got the impression that it was written with the assumption that RQ wasn’t gritty enough. You know… RQ is jokingly referred to as the RPG in which you get your left leg chopped off. Well, in Almogàvers you get your left leg chopped off and then you bleed out to death because your femoral artery was severed. Or you get an infection and no physician is available to cure it, your leg gangrenes, and you die in terrible pain. There are actually three large tables (in true 90s fashion) to figure out how you die of a major wound. I love ‘em.

As implied by the name of the game, you play an Almogavar, one of the many Catalan mercenaries who merrily terrorised the coasts of the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century under their famous battle cry of Desperta Ferro! (“Awake iron!”). Apparently, their legacy lives on in Greece where a popular saying still goes as “may the revenge of the Catalans fall on you” and in Bulgaria where “son of a Catalan” means, well, you can figure it out by yourself.

I believe the game enjoyed some popularity in Spain since it was supported by several adventures in Líder, the most successful Spanish gaming magazine of the 90s.

I am going to create a standard warrior. Characteristics are rolled using 3D6, re-rolling any ‘1’s and assigned to a chosen characteristic without the possibility of changing one’s mind if a better score appears later; e.g., I roll 1, 4, 5, re-roll the 1, getting a 5, so 4, 5, 5 = 14 for my first characteristic. Do I assign it to my favourite characteristic? What if I get a better roll later?
I think this is an extremely nicely thought-out method that could be ported to any 3D6 stats-based role-playing game.

Almogàvers makes a difference between Characteristics and Attributes. The former are used for skill point purchase and advancement, the latter for what you’d call ‘derived attributes’ in most games (hit points, damage bonus, etc.). Both are rolled using the method described above; however, the 6-18 results are transformed into adjectives for the Attributes.

Name: Jeroni
Profession: Warrior
Social class: Soldier
Height: 1m60
Weight: 60kg
Sex: Male
Age: 27 (--> 180 character creation points)

Dexterity 15
Agility 8   Speed modifier +4
Constitution 12
Memory 10
Perception 16
Willpower 13

Strength Normal   Damage inflicted 2D6
Size Small
Appearance Very ugly
Charisma Normal

Wound Resistance
A 7
B 10
C 15

Reputation 0 (Normal)

SKILLS (I am only writing down the ones in which I’ve invested character creation points)
Warrior skills; all start at “Novice” level
Shield (Agility skill) Novice+ (cost: 16 points)
Sword (Dexterity skill) Initiate (cost: 40 points)
Bow (Dexterity skill) Initiate (cost: 40 points)
Dodge (Agility skill) Initiate− (cost: 45 points)
Ride (Agility skill) Novice (no point invested)

Non-warrior skills I’m also investing points in; all start at “Ignorant” level
Hide (Perception) Novice+ (cost: 36 points)
Search (Perception) Neophyte− (cost: 3 points)

Aaaand then you roll 3D6 to get your starting money and purchase equipment but sorry I am not going through all those super accurate tables with armour being purchased on a per location basis. The interesting thing is that damage is based on the character’s strength, not on weapon type– the latter indicates the kind of wounds are inflicted. And we’re back to losing legs and bleeding to death!

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