Sunday, May 8, 2016

Original Characters in The Adventures of Indiana Jones

Art by Rafael DeSoto

Something of an afterthought, character generation rules for The Adventures of Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game (hereinafter Adventures) were provided in the Judge's Survival Pack.  The eight steps for “generating characters for adventures” appear on a single page (with enough space left to display a sizeable publicity still of Harrison Ford).

The first step is to make a percentile roll for each of the six Attribute Ratings.  The second step involves allocating “30 points” among the Attribute Ratings; however, “no Rating can be raised higher than 70.”  In a previous post, we noted that the Attribute Ratings of the seven characters supplied with Adventures ranged from 44 to 92.  Also, each Rating was divisible by four in order to accommodate ×½ and ×¼ values for purposes for Modified Checks.  In fact, the third step is to record the Modified Columns.  “Round all fractions to the nearest even number,” the rules state.

The fourth step in generating a character involves the player choosing “what [the character's] background was before he got caught up in wild adventures.”  There are three “categories” of background.  Each background has a list of skills associated with it.  The rules use the terms “skill” and “Knowledge” interchangeably.

Characters with an Education background choose one Education skill.  Then 1d10 is rolled, modified by +1 for each ten points of Instinct the character possesses.  If the result of the roll is at least ten, the character has an undergraduate degree and another Education skill.  With an undergraduate degree, a character can attempt to attain a doctorate and a third Education skill.  Another d10 is rolled, “but only add 1 point for every 20 points of Instinct greater than 70.”  A result of at least ten is necessary to receive a doctorate.

Characters with a Soldiering background receive +10 Prowess and a percentile roll is made on the “Soldiering Knowledge list.”  There is also “a 10% chance that [the] character has an additional knowledge” chosen from the Soldiering and Real World lists.  The result of “91 – 00” when rolling on the Soldiering list reads “Choose 1 and roll again.”  Therefore, it is possible for a character with the Soldiering background to have three skills in addition to the bonus to Prowess.

The only other available background is the Real World.  This indicates “a variety of jobs.”  Characters with this background have a choice of two skills from the Real World list.

The actual choice of skills (or random determination of skills in the case of the Soldiering background) is the fifth step in generating a character.  The Education Knowledge list includes Archaeology, Medical, Photography, and Surveying.  Three other items appear on the list:  +10 Appeal, +10 Instinct, and “Any language.”  None of these options appear on the Soldiering or Real World lists.  Soldiering skills include:  Driving, Explosives, First Aid, Heavy Weapons, Karate, Mechanical, Parachuting, Piloting, and Sailing.  (Medical and First Aid are distinct Knowledges; however, First Aid is subsumed into Medical.)  The Real World can confer Driving, Entertainment, First Aid, Hotwiring, Lockpicking, Mechanical, Picking Pockets, and Sailing.   Adventures describes five Knowledges that none of the seven provided characters possess:  Explosives, Heavy Weapons, Medical, Photography, and Sailing.  Presumably, the designer (i.e., David Cook) thought that likely non-player characters would have these skills Knowledges.

The sixth step is called “Select Your Languages.”  However, “first you should decide what nationality your character is.”  A character knows his or her native language.  Additional languages – aside from those acquired as Education Knowledges – can be gained with each successful Instinct Check.  The first Check is made at ×1, the second at ×½, and any others at ×¼.  When an Instinct Check fails, no further attempts may be made.  Only languages “of the known world” may be chosen.

The seventh step regards obtaining equipment.  Each character “has a reasonable wardrobe of clothing and a place to live.”  The amount of  funds available to a character is determined by the formula:
(1d10 + # of skills + [1 per 10 points of Appeal over 70] ) × $100

After acquiring equipment, “you are ready to adventure.”  The eighth step – “Final Details” –  is evidently optional; the exact terms are, “you could do a few other things.”  These optional, other things include:  “give your character a name, decide whether it is male or female, decide what he looks like, and how old he is.”

Two of the seven provided characters have “Irrational Fears,” the mechanics of which are described on pages 40 and 41 of the rules.  The character generation rules do not address the possibility of contracting such a fear.

While it is not reasonable to expect Adventures to have a background system as extensive as that of Daredevils, three background options seems rather meager.  With the availability of skills such as Hotwiring, Lockpicking, and Picking Pockets, I can easily imagine a 'Criminal' or 'Illicit' background.  Other possible backgrounds may not be feasible given the paucity of skills, but “Your referee can create additional knowledge areas if he desires.”   If the Soldiering background offers a bonus to Prowess and the Education background offers bonuses to Instinct and Appeal, why can't other bonuses be available?  Should there be minimum Attribute Rating requirements for certain backgrounds?  Would a character with a Strength or Backbone of 01 be admitted to the military?  Would a character with an Instinct of 01 be accepted into academia?

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