The World of Llowellen: Play-by-forum & Roll20 Virtual Tabletop.
“After all six abilities have been rolled and recorded on a separate piece of paper or other permanent record for the character, the player decides what class the character will be.”
- Dr. J. Eric Holmes (Dungeons & Dragons, 1979)
Each of the six ability scores measure some fundamental and unique aspect of a character. Not everyone can have a high score in each one—ability scores represent weaknesses as well as strengths. Warriors command great Strength and Constitution, while spellcasters possess a high Intelligence or Wisdom. Occasionally a warrior, such as an unfettered, has a high Dexterity or Intelligence. A magister’s high Constitution score represents an uncharacteristically high stamina.
Ability scores both define stereotypes and allow characters to deviate from them to become unique individuals. Every character has six basic abilities, each of which has a score, normally ranging from about 3 to 18. The average score for a Mortal is 10 or 11.
Strength (Str) shows how physically strong your character is. Someone with a Strength of 3 is so feeble he can barely carry his own weight. Someone with a Strength of 18 has strength of great renown. The giants of Summan have great Strength.
Dexterity (Dex) shows how quick and deft your character is. Someone with a Dexterity of 3 is known for inept clumsiness, while someone with a Dexterity of 18 is incredibly nimble and fast. The litorians of Skenfirth and the quickling faen of the Feyen Isles are known for their Dexterity.
Constitution (Con) shows how healthy and hearty your character is. A character with a Constitution of 3 is sickly and frail. Someone with a Constitution of 18 is fit, never sick, and can take a lot of physical punishment. The sibeccai of Farid and the dracha have great Constitution.
Intelligence (Int) shows how smart your character is. Someone with an Intelligence of 3 can barely form a complete sentence, while someone with an Intelligence of 18 is a genius. The loresong faen of the Feyen Isles and the mojh are very intelligent.
Wisdom (Wis) shows how perceptive, intuitive, and willful your character is. Someone with a Wisdom of 3 is regarded by everyone as a fool, unaware of half the things going on around him. Someone with a Wisdom of 18 is canny and insightful, usually difficult to fool. The verrik of Ken’ Kazuki are very wise.
Charisma (Cha) shows your character’s strength of personality. It also involves both personal magnetism and physical beauty. A character with a Charisma of 3 is horrible and hideous. Someone with a Charisma of 18 is charming, forceful, persuasive, and probably good-looking. Many of the Fey races are well known for their Charisma.
It is possible, if one is willing (or forced) to undergo a difficult Unseelie ritual to evolve along the path of an ability score, becoming a hulking paragon of Strength or a staggeringly beautiful and commanding example of Charisma. These alternate levels are called Evolved Levels.
GENERATING ABILITY SCORES
Mortal Ability Scores: Although the normal Mortal range is 3 to 18, ability scores range from 0 to infinity. In order to calculate a Mortal character’s ability scores a purchasing method is used.
Each character receives a number of points to spend on increasing his basic attributes. In this method, all attributes start at a base of 8. A character can increase an individual score by spending some of his points. Likewise, he can gain more points to spend on other scores by decreasing one or more of his ability scores. After all the points are spent, apply any racial modifiers the characters might have.
The number of points you have to spend depends upon the Age in which you begin play. The Mortal peoples of Llowellen are not equal throughout the Ages. The peoples of the First Age, for example, are physically powerful and possess great epic potential whereas the peoples of subsequent Ages become more and more reliant upon technology and science and less so upon their own physical merit.
Fey and Heavenborn Ability Scores: Players of Fey and Heavenborn characters should arrive at six Ability Scores by rolling 4d6 and dropping the lowest die on each roll. They may then assign the totals as they prefer. As immortal beings, the Fey and Heavenborn races do not evolve in the same fashion as the Mortals and as such their ability scores are not affected by the Age of the campaign.
Different character classes benefit from having high results in certain ability scores and certain races modify ability scores.
Each ability has an accompanying modifier. The modifier is the number you add to or subtract from the result of a die roll when your character tries to do something related to that ability. A positive modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called a penalty.
You can calculate the modifier using this formula:
(ability ÷ 2) – 5 [round result down]
USING ABILITY SCORES
Your character will use their ability scores all the time to overcome obstacles and resist threats.
Any creature that can physically manipulate other objects has at least 1 point of Strength.
A character adds her Strength modifier to melee attack and damage rolls, and to damage rolls when using a thrown weapon. Skills requiring physical power, such as Climb or Jump, use Strength modifiers to adjust the skill bonus. Strength is used to determine carrying capacity (see “Using Strength: Carrying Capacity” below).
A creature with no Strength score can’t exert force, usually because it has no physical body or because it doesn’t move. The creature automatically fails Strength checks. If the creature can attack, it applies its Dexterity modifier to its base attack instead of its Strength modifier.
Any creature that can physically move has at least 1 point of Dexterity.
A character adds her Dexterity modifier to her Armor Class and to attack rolls when using a ranged weapon. Skills requiring agility, such as Open Lock or Balance, use Dexterity modifiers to adjust the skill bonus. A character also adds her Dexterity modifier to her Reflex saving throw bonus.
A creature with no Dexterity score can’t move. If it can act, it applies its Intelligence modifier to initiative checks instead of its Dexterity modifier. Such a creature fails all Reflex saves and Dexterity checks.
Any living creature has at least 1 point of Constitution.
A character adds her Constitution modifier to her Hit Die when she rolls for hit points at each level. Skills requiring stalwart stamina, such as Concentration, use Constitution modifiers to adjust the skill bonus. A character also adds her Constitution modifier to her Fortitude saving throw bonus.
If a character’s Constitution changes enough to alter her Constitution modifier, her hit points also increase or decrease accordingly at the same time.
A creature with no Constitution has no body or no metabolism. It is immune to any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless the effect works on objects. Such a creature is also immune to ability damage, ability drain, and energy drain, and always fails Constitution checks.
Any creature that can think, learn, or remember has at least 1 point of Intelligence.
A character adds her Intelligence modifier to her skill points when she gains them at each level. Skills requiring acute intellect, such as Knowledge or Appraise, use Intelligence modifiers to adjust the skill bonus. Magisters, runethanes and wizards with high Intelligence gain extra spells (see below), and they must have good Intelligence scores to cast spells at all.
A creature with no Intelligence score is an automaton, operating on simple instincts or programmed instructions. It is immune to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, and morale effects) and automatically fails Intelligence checks.
Any creature that can perceive its environment in any fashion has at least 1 point of Wisdom.
Skills requiring insight or perception, such as Spot and Sense Motive, use Wisdom modifiers to adjust the skill bonus. Clerics, druids, greenbonds, paladins, rangers, and witches with high Wisdom gain extra spells (see below) and must have a good Wisdom to cast spells at all. Characters who use combat rites, such as ritual warriors or oathsworn, gain bonus rites to use each day if they have a high Wisdom score. A character also adds her Wisdom modifier to her Will saving throw bonus.
Anything with no Wisdom score is an object, not a creature. Anything without a Wisdom score also has no Charisma score, and vice versa.
Any creature capable of telling the difference between itself and things that are not itself has at least 1 point of Charisma.
Skills requiring force of personality or charm, such as Intimidate and Gather Information, use Charisma modifiers to adjust the skill bonus. Bards, mage blades and sorcerers with high Charisma gain extra spells (see “Abilities and Spells or Combat Rites,”), and they must have good Charisma scores to cast spells at all.
Anything with no Charisma score is an object, not a creature. Anything without a Charisma score also has no Wisdom score, and vice versa.
SCORES OF 0 AND NONE
One or more of a character’s ability scores might fall to 0 during the course of an adventure. This is never pleasant but the results are as follows:
Strength 0 means the character cannot move at all. She lies helpless on the ground.
Dexterity 0 means the character cannot move at all. She stands motionless, rigid, and helpless.
Constitution 0 means the character is dead.
Intelligence 0 means the character cannot think and remains unconscious in a coma-like stupor, helpless.
Wisdom 0 means the character has withdrawn into a deep sleep filled with nightmares, helpless.
Charisma 0 means the character has withdrawn into a catatonic, coma-like stupor, helpless.
Keeping track of negative ability score points is never necessary. A character’s ability score can’t drop below 0.
It is possible for a creature to have an ability score of “none.” A score of “none” is not the same as a score of “0.” A score of “none” means that the creature does not possess the ability at all. The modifier for a score of “none” is +0.
ABILITIES AND SPELLS OR COMBAT RITES
The casting capability of each spellcasting class depends on a specific ability, as described for that class. If a character’s score in this key ability is 9 or lower, the character can’t cast spells tied to that ability. Characters get bonus spells or spell slots and can ready or prepare bonus spells based on this key ability. Find the number appropriate to your character’s score in the “Bonus Spells and Combat Rites” table, and add it to either the spells or spell slots and the number of spells readied for that level.
Characters who use combat rites use Wisdom as the key ability to determine how many bonus combat rites per day they gain.
USING STRENGTH: CARRYING CAPACITY
If you want to determine whether your character’s gear is heavy enough to slow her down (more than her armor already does), total the weight of all her armor, weapons, and gear. Compare this total to the character’s Strength on the “Carrying Capacity” table. See the “Carrying Loads” table to determine whether the weight is enough to slow your character down.
If your character is wearing armor, use the lower figure— either her speed in armor or her speed from the total load— for each category on the “Carrying Loads” table (maximum Dexterity, check penalty, and speed). Do not stack the penalties.
LIFTING AND DRAGGING
A character can lift up to her maximum load over her head. Maximum load is the upper end of the heavy load range on the “Carrying Loads” table.
A character can lift up to double the maximum load off the ground, but can only stagger around with it. While overloaded in this way, the character loses any Dexterity bonus to Armor Class and can move only 5 feet per round (as a full-round action). A character can generally push or drag along the ground up to five times her maximum load at one-quarter her normal speed. Favorable conditions (smooth ground, dragging a slick object) can double these numbers, and bad circumstances (broken ground, pushing an object that snags) can reduce them to one-half or less.
BIGGER and SMALLER CREATURES
The figures on the “Carrying Capacity” table are for Medium creatures. Larger creatures can carry more weight depending on size category: Large (× 2), Huge (× 4), Gargantuan (× 8), and Colossal (× 16). Smaller creatures can carry less weight depending on size category: Small (× 3/4), Tiny (× 1/2), Diminutive (× 1/4), and Fine (× 1/8). Quadrupeds (or creatures with more than four legs) have the following modifiers to carrying capacity: Fine (× 1/4), Diminutive (× 1/2), Tiny (× 3/4), Small (× 1), Medium (× 1 1/2), Large (× 3), Huge (× 6), Gargantuan (× 12), and Colossal (× 24).
For Strength scores not listed, determine the carrying capacity this way: Find the Strength score between 20 and 29 that has the same ones digit as the creature’s Strength score; multiply the load figures by four if the creature’s Strength is in the 30s, by 16 if it’s in the 40s, by 64 if it’s in the 50s, and so on.
USING INTELLIGENCE: REMEMBERING
Whenever a character might remember something that happened to her either in actual play, from her own (pre-game) past, or something that happened “off stage,” she should make a check. In the latter case, it may be remembering someone that the characters saw while eating dinner the previous night; perhaps the GM did not want to point her out then, because doing so would have aroused suspicions unnaturally.
The check for remembering is a simple Intelligence check. Do not allow retries or taking 20. Use the table on as a guideline for setting the Difficulty Class.
USING CHARISMA: INFLUENCING OTHERS
It is possible to alter anothers attitude with a Charisma check (1d20 + Charisma modifier). This check can be further modified by the Diplomacy skill. Roll the check, subtract the Hit Dice of the creature the character is attempting to influence, and consult the appropriate initial attitude line on the “Influencing Attitude” table to determine the result.
For example, say the prophet Alias, who has a Charisma modifier of + 2, attempts to influence a 3 HD unfriendly templar. Alias rolls a 17, getting a total of 16 (17+2–3=16), so the templar becomes indifferent rather than unfriendly. If Alias had at least 9 ranks of the Diplomacy skill, the templar would become friendly (17+9+2–3=25). In general, a character cannot repeat attempts to influence someone.
CHANGING ABILITY SCORES
For every four levels your character increases, you can raise one ability score by 1 point.
Poisons, diseases, and other effects can temporarily harm an ability (temporary ability damage). Ability points lost to damage return on their own, typically at a rate of 1 point per day.
Some effects drain abilities, resulting in a permanent loss (or ability drain). Points lost this way don’t return on their own. As a character ages, some ability scores go up over time and others go down.
When an ability score changes, the modifier associated with that score also changes.
Artwork by Penko Gelev. Used with love and not permission.
Cartography by Ian Hewitt.