Welcome back to Card Catalog! I am going to do things a little differently this time around! This edition of Card Catalog, I will take one core concept and make that concept in three different systems to see what the system’s choices will do to that concept! Personally, I think it is fun and instructive to see how a character concept is changed or shaped by the mechanics of each system and the character generation system as well as advancing the character several levels.
I am not a game designer, but I appreciate game design as all tabletop role players should. Card Catalog looks not only at what sort of characters may inhabit each world, or system, but also shows how some of the character is shaped by the system. That is why the design and character note sections are separated out for each of the posts. As a periodic break from just taking the deeper dive into a single system or setting, Card Catalog will take the time to take one character concept through several different systems and settings.
The Concept – Aristocratic Archer
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a fondness for Archers in fantasy settings. I think that they are, for the most part, underplayed and undervalued compared to the sword wielding and focused fighting classes or the ranged superiority of magic using classes. Looking at how a system addresses Archers in a fantasy setting can show how they are approaching certain aspects of combat, range, and what may be intended compared to the melee weapon approaches.
For this Archer, I want to focus on a Long Bow as the main weapon that symbolizes the significant specialization and power that the Long Bow historically meant. To add some flavor to the design and really test some of the flexibility of the systems, I will make this character the scion of a noble family. If possible, I will push her to leadership and etiquette style skills or abilities that allow this concept to be an active battlefield commander. This leadership or charisma based theme allows the character to be differentiated from others for more than just what specific weapon abilities are used. Personally, I like to have this kind of a secondary skill set or focus for most character to help me create and play a more three dimensional or fully realized character.
The three systems will be Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, The Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game 2d Edition, and Earthdawn 4th Edition. To keep things fair, the character we make will be made solely with the core rulebook for each game. Each subsequent post will focus on one system and making this aristratic or noble archer to see what sort of mechanical choices happen and how it may change this core concept.
Balama Domine – Level 5 Fighter
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
May 8, 2018
The best way to make an Archer from the D & D 5e Core Rulebook is the classic Fighter class. The Flagbearer of Tabletop Role Playing Games successfully reinvented itself with its 5th Edition providing a way to fulfill the promise made in 4e, to open the game to new players and create a more accessible system, but retaining a core identity that still evokes the original Dungeons & Dragons game for generations of older fans. Balama comes out well rounded because the Fighter Class is the overall combatant but there are several ways that the Archery and ranged aspect gets emphasized.
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Balama Domine – Level 5 Long Bowman
The Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game 2d Edition
May 15, 2018
The Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game reflects the specialization of a Long Bow Archer by having a specific Long Bowman class, or O.C.C., I can use. The PFRPG 2e updated the original PFRPG to incorporate parts of the Palladium Megaversal system that were finalized after the original game was published. It remains a classic TTRPG with a class based system and level advancement. Balama had the fewest choices for generation here, but that was because of the significant focus and benefits built into the Long Bowman class for the Long Bow and ranged combat! The PFRPG also provided the most straightforward advancement of all three!
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Balama Domine – Circle 5 Archer
Earthdawn 4th Edition
May 22, 2018
Earthdawn also specifically has an Adept Discipline of Archer separate and distinct from the Warrior. In Earthdawn, the thematically rich world was created to support and explain the tropes of existing Fantasy Role Playing by FASA connecting their Shadowrun Future with the Earthdawn Past. While the Intellectual Property of those two games has been passed to different companies, Earthdawn is in the hands of a newly formed FASA Games that has created an improved and refined version of the original Step System. The separate Archer Discipline provides some of the focus on ranged combat like the PFRPG, but provides more overall power and utility like D & D. The advancement in Earthdawn was the most complex, but also the most customizable.