Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The RPG Character Library: Dragonball Z RPG

I never got into Dragon Ball, or any of it's spinoff shows, despite kind of wanting to. Every episode turned into people standing around in a desert, or similar, screaming, comparing their power levels, and powering up. I think a case could be made that if you cut out the episodes and just showed the teasers (Last Time/Next Time...on Dragon Ball), you could have a very briskly-paced series that hits the same beats but isn't quite as tedious. If I ever have a large window uninterrupted time and some editing software, I might test this theory to see how it goes. Until then...

I picked up the Dragonball Z RPG at a con just on a whim. I remember having a vague desire to create a game kind of like Dragon Ball, in which the characters had one attribute (POWER!) that they parceled out in different ways to do different things. The game never came to fruition, in part because the DBZ RPG (OMG!) already exists, in part because I'm easily distracted, and in part because I don't love anime nearly as much as I love Star Trek.

In the game, you can pick from any three species provided you roll well enough (3 or less on 2d6 to be a Namekian, 2 or less to be a Saiyan). In practice, this mean that I was playing a human. Humans can look like pig people or dog people or whatever, because Dragon Ball, but in the end, their stats are the same.

The rulebook is laid out in a weird way, which made character creation a bit of a challenge. In the first place, stats and skills are listed in one order in the book, but in another order on the character sheet. In the second place, there's nowhere in the rules (that I could find) that tells you how to calculate your Power Level and Power Up stats. Fortunately, the dice mechanics to determine these stats are listed on the sample character sheets, so I was able to actually make a character.

One thing that I found rather strange was that Power Level isn't actually indicative of anything. I had assumed, prior to making a character, that it was more like XP in Dungeons & Dragons 5E, where a sixth level character would be powerful enough to trigger meme-like screaming from Vegeta. It's not. It's actually randomly rolled. Presumably it improves with character advancement, but I'm probably never playing this game, so I didn't read that part of the rules.

In true Geoff fashion, I rolled and got the lowest possible result for my Power Level, so my character would likely be a one-scene comic relief wonder before being stomped into the dirt by the actual fighters in the series.

This is the first game that I'm doing for the library that features a point buy character creation system. While I'm all for point buy creation in theory, in practice it's a little tricky. I tend to gravitate to "normal" characters with have average stats in everything, especially if I don't know what I'm doing yet and don't really know the ins and outs of the system. I started out doing that for this game, only to realize that Combat is the most important stat (it modifies four skills), followed by Physical (which determines your Hits). For a game that's all about fighting, dumping points into those seemed like the logical way to go.

I was glad that the character generation section offered up character hooks (Personality, Important Value, etc.) that I could pick from to round out my character. Those, plus the off-handed mention in the rules that said my character could maybe be a wrestler if I wanted, allowed me to crystallize my concept and create former pro wrestler "The Flying Triangle."

I'm not sure if I did Fighting Techniques right. There's seemingly no limit to the number you can have or how high they can go, except that your FT rating adds to your damage dice when you hit with the Technique, but subtract from your attack dice, making you less likely to hit. They may be wrong, is what I'm saying, but I do have fewer of them than most of the sample characters, so at least I'm not a munchkin.

And yeah, that's right. Most of those numbers on my character sheet are dice pools.

The Flying Triangle

Power Level
Power Up

Species: Human
Personality:  Silly and Fluff-Headed
Important Value:  Having a Good Time
Valued Person:  Myself
History:  Mentored by the Penultimate Fighter in the Encircled Square
Shtick:  Drinks Lots of Soda, Belches, Hates Universe Man, Hates Particle Man

My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable
The Flying Triangle: 5
Triple Suplex!: 3
Particle Pile Driver: 4
Belch from Dantien:  2

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