Sunday, November 22, 2015

Player Characters in The Arduin Adventure

Art by Ramon Naylor

The first step in creating a character for The Arduin Adventure is to choose a race.  Hargrave's Arduin offers a plethora of playable races; however, for The Arduin Adventure (hereinafter ArdAdv) he presents only six options.  The limited number of races is appropriate for an introductory game, yet it's still 50% more than the number of races in Basic D&D.  The races available in ArdAdv are:  Human, Amazon, Half Orc, Dwarf, Elf, and Hobbitt (usually – but not always – spelled thus with two 'T's).

Amazons are treated as a race distinct from Humans.  For instance, “...Amazons can see better in the dark than humans...”  In Arduin,
There are three distinct types of Amazon.  The most numerous are the sea going “Gypsy Corsairs” who use light leather armor and cutlasses as well as short bows.  The least numerous are a very dark complexioned and tall jungle-living kind who fight with no armor...The third kind...come from the loose coalition of City States known as “The Motherland.”
Amazon “culture stresses 'the warrior ethic'” so much so that hardly any Amazons “have done anything except become warriors.”  So who carries out the non-warrior functions in Amazon society?  Slaves?  Amazon 'men'?

With regard to Dwarves, there are “'Mountain' or 'Dark Dwarves' and the taller 'Stone Downers' or 'Common Dwarves.'”  The Elf types are High, Wood, and Sea.  Hobbitts “usually come in one of three types: the taller, darker 'Gravellers' – who are usually associated with a Stone Downer settlement, the more common 'Plow Foots' usually found in small farm oriented villages and lastly the small and secretive 'Street Wise' or city Hobbitts.”

After selecting a race, players determine character 'statistics' by rolling 1d20 for each statistic.  (Instead of 1d20, I would have had players use 2d10 so as to achieve a more 'realistic' bell curve.)  For statistics, ArdAdv has the usual six D&D attributes along with Agility and Ego.  Agility is “A character's ability to dodge, duck, move about on his feet, etc.” as opposed to Dexterity, which is “A character's ability to wield a weapon or use his hands.”  Ego “is the character's force of will and arrogance factor.”

Statistics are modified in accordance with the character's race.  Amazons allocate eight points between Constitution and Strength.  Dwarves allocate twelve points among Constitution, Strength, and Ego.  Elves distribute twelve points among Dexterity, Agility, Intelligence, and Charisma.  Half-Orcs allocate six points between Constitution and Strength but must remove a total of four points from Intelligence and Wisdom.  Hobbitts distribute eight points among Agility, Dexterity, and Charisma.  Lastly, Humans either add or subtract points – a 50% chance of either.  They add (or subtract) four points between any two statistics.  For any race, the minimum modification for any applicable statistic is one point.  For instance, an Elf must allocate at least one point to each of Dexterity, Agility, Intelligence, and Charisma.  For all characters, the minimum value for any statistic is 5 (except for Intelligence, which must be at least 10).  Also, the maximum value for statistics is 20.

ArdAdv offers the standard four classes – Warrior, Mage, Priest, and Thief – and also offers Forester.  Apparently, the classes are open to all races and there are no level limits.  Each class also adds one point to at least one statistic.
  • Warrior:  Strength and Constitution
  • Mage:  Intelligence and Ego
  • Priest:  Wisdom
  • Thief:  Dexterity and Agility
  • Forester:  Constitution and Agility
Each class offers certain abilities.  Mages and Priests can both cast spells; in addition, Mages can sense magical magikal things and Priests can sense evil.  (I suppose that good Priests sense evil while evil Priests sense good, but I could be wrong.)  Warriors have a “chance of detecting ambushes and avoiding 'surprise.'”  Thieves can hide “in darkness and shadows” while Foresters have a “chance of following any track or spoor.”

“Finally,” Hargrave explains, “each character is allowed one character quirk or special attribute if it is not too outrageous.”  Hargrave didn't see fit to include the Arduin special ability charts in ArdAdv, but he encourages players to use “imagination to make each character unique and different.”   He also suggests the Arduin Grimoire “for those who have difficulty” in this regard.  The sample character, Jothar, is a Human orphan raised by Elves.  So, he “knows a lot about elves and elven ways (a rare thing for humans).”  Jothar also has +2 with bows.


  1. "So who carries out the non-warrior functions in Amazon society? Slaves? Amazon 'men'?"
    WHY does EVERYTHING need to be explained? CAN'T people use their own imagination? Can't a GM decide on his own? Do what Dave wanted you to do; make the game your own and make your own stuff up. Why's that so hard???

    1. I agree with you. My queries should not be construed as criticism; I was merely musing.

      I find it interesting that Hargrave (1) used Amazons as a race instead of a class open only to (human) females and (2) included this race in an introductory RPG. Hargrave had definite ideas about Amazon culture. I'm not saying he should have provided all of the details; I just wonder what some of those details were.

  2. I also agree, and I've run an Arduin campaign for the last 30 years that is my own, however I, too, often think about and wonder what Dave did with this stuff. I corresponded through letters with Dave in the early 80's, but was limited by the medium (oh, to have had instant messages back then!), and to this day still have questions about how he did things. Not that I would adopt his stuff "whole cloth", but it would be pretty cool to know how it was done in the "original" game he ran.