10 steps for "Vanished Lands: A New Dawn"

Here are the revised steps for Player Character creation in Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style fantasy telecom game, as of autumn 2013/“spring 1227 B.C.E.:”

1. Think of a concept.
You should think of a character that would be fun to play, that would make sense in the eastern “Vanished Lands,” and that would mesh well with party/campaign themes. Discuss with our fellow role-players.

2. Roll basic attributes.
Roll 4d6 six times, dropping the lowest, and re-rolling ones. The Game Master should witness all rolls. Arrange them however you like, and note adjustments. (Add 1 to any one stat every four levels.)

  • Strength (to damage for hand-to-hand, Fighter prime requisite; x10 = max. load)
  • Dexterity (bonus to hit, Armor Class, initiative, Reflex save; prime for Thieves)
  • Constitution (bonus to Hit Dice, Fortitude save)
  • Intelligence (bonus = no. of bonus languages besides native and Shengtese [eastern human common], prime for Magic Users)
  • Wisdom (bonus to Willpower save; prime for Clerics)
  • Charisma (bonus to reaction, followers; Bard, Sorcerer prime)


Score Penalty/bonus
3 – 3
4-5 – 2
6-8 – 1
9-12 0
13-15 + 1
16-17 + 2
18 + 3

3. Choose a subspecies/race.
Note that the eastern races are somewhat different than the standard ones.

  • Note racial adjustments to attributes and base movement:
    • Humans, Spirit Folk: 40 ft./round
    • Beast-kin: 50
    • Hill folk: 30
  • Note physical description: Height, weight, complexion, age, etc.
  • Note likely homeland, nationality, and languages.

4. Pick an alignment.
This follows the traditional Law vs. Chaos and Good vs. Evil axes, and remember that this affects class choice below. I recommend avoiding Chaotic Evil P.C.s. You should also pick a patron deity or philosophy.

5. Choose an occupational class.
Again, note that the eastern classes are somewhat different from the standard classes of most fantasy tabletop RPGs. Also, note the following:

  • Hit Points, which are modified by Con. First level is at maximum.
  • Base Attack Bonus (no THAC0); Dex modifies to-hit rolls.
  • Saving Throws, which will either be by level (as “Vistel’s Circus” uses), or + 1 for every three levels to a single ability check (Dex/Ref-Rog, Con/Fort-Ftr, Int/Will-Wiz, Wis/Will-Clr; preferred by the telecom team).
  • Base Honor score (see also aspects, below)

6. Pick racial/class abilities.
Each P.C. starts with four and gets a new one (from either list) every three levels. Feats from other D20/Open Game License sourcebooks may also be allowed. Combat rules, including critical hits and fumbles, are listed elsewhere on this site.

7. Pick proficiencies/skills.
Note that attribute bonuses apply. The two methods under consideration are as follows:

  • P.C.s start with two at + 3 and add one every three levels. Class-related skills are at + 5. (The current face-to-face and telecom groups lean toward this.)
  • P.C.s start with four points to spend (1 rank = 1 point), with four more points every level. Class-related skills get a + 3.

Proficiencies (by ability, specialties, class):

  • Acrobatics (Dex; includes escape artist, fly, tightrope, tumble; Rog)
  • Animal Handling (Wis; incl. ride; Dru, Rng)
  • Appraisal (Int; assess value; Rog)
  • Athletics (Str; climb, fly, jump; Ftr)
  • Concentration (Wis; to think/cast under stress; Clr, Wiz)
  • Craft (Dex/Int; specialize, incl. alchemy, armory, cooking, create magic item, herbalism, poisons, weaponsmith)
  • Deception (Cha; incl. bluff, disguise; Rog)
  • Disable Device (Dex; incl. pick locks, remove traps/wards; Rog)
  • Endurance (Con/Fort; incl. run, swim; Ftr)
  • Gaming (Int; card, gambling, strategy; Rog)
  • Intimidation (Str/Cha; Ftr)
  • Knowledge (Int, by specialty):
    • Arcana (magic, spellcraft, unnatural creatures; Brd, Wiz)
    • Architecture (incl. dungeons, engineering, siege engines)
    • Etiquette (heraldry, tea ceremony; Brd, Sam)
    • Geography (by region; Brb, Rng)
    • History (by region, incl. law, lore; Brd)
    • Linguistics (1 pt. per language beyond native, common (Shengtese), and Int bonus; plus decipher script, forgery; Brd, Wiz)
    • Nature (biology, wildlife; Dru, Rng)
    • Planes (Outsiders; Clr, Wiz)
    • Religion (and Wis; incl. Undead, ceremonies; Clr)
    • Tactics/Strategy (warfare, Ftr)
  • Leadership (Cha; total follower levels = Cha + Leadership ranks, but followers must be at least two levels lower than P.C.)
  • Martial Arts (Dex; 1 maneuver — such as Iajutsu/fast draw — per rank, Monk gets + 1 rank to spend per level; see Oriental Adventures for styles/feats, prerequisites)
  • Medicine (Int; heal; Clr)
  • Perception (Wis; passive; Rng, Sam)
  • Perform (Cha; by artistic medium, includes calligraphy (Wis), dance, musician, painter; Brd, Sam)
  • Persuasion (Cha; diplomacy, bargaining; Brd, Clr)
  • Profession (Wis; nonadventuring, such as farmer, merchant, etc.)
  • Resolve (Wis; strong will; Brb, Clr, Ken, Wiz)
  • Search (Int; hear noise, active notice; Rng, Rog)
  • Sense Motive (Wis; vs. Deception; Clr)
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex; holdout; Rog, Wiz)
  • Stealth (Dex; incl. hide in shadow, move silently, shadowing; Rog, Rng)
  • Streetwise (Cha; gather info; Rog)
  • Survival (Wis; incl. camping and tracking, by terrain, incl. dungeons; Brb, Rng)
  • Vehicle (Dex; by type — boat, chariot, dirigible, etc.)
  • Or, by ability:
    • Str: Athletics, Intimidation
    • Dex: Acrobatics, Craft, Disable Device, Martial Arts, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Vehicle
    • Con: Endurance
    • Int: Appraisal, Craft, Gaming, Knowledge (all), Medicine, Search
    • Wis: Animal Handling, Concentration, Medicine, Perception, Profession, Resolve, Sense Motive, Survival
    • Cha: Deception, Intimidation, Leadership, Perform, Persuasion, Streetwise
  • Favored class (includes subclasses):
    • Clr: Animal Handling (Dru), Concentration, Knowledge (Nature-Dru, Planes, Religion), Martial Arts (Monk), Medicine, Persuasion, Resolve, Sense Motive
    • Ftr: Animal Handling (Rng), Athletics, Endurance, Intimidation, Knowledge (Etiquette-Sam, Geography-Brb/Rng, Nature-Rng, Tactics/Strategy), Perception (Rng, Sam), Perform (Sam), Resolve (Brb, Ken), Search (Rng), Stealth (Rng), Survival (Brb, Rng)
    • Rog: Acrobatics, Appraisal, Deception, Disable Device, Gaming, Knowledge (Etiquette, History, Linguistics-Brd), Perform (Brd), Persuasion (Brd), Search, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Streetwise
    • Wiz: Concentration, Knowledge (Arcana, Linguistics, Planes), Perform (calligraphy), Resolve, Sleight of Hand
  • Martial arts: In addition to the base Martial Arts skill, P.C.s can choose maneuvers that make up a style. The AD&D1 Oriental Adventures is preferred, but other sourcebooks may be relevant (see bibliography below).
  • Pick spells: If relevant to class (include citations; see also bibliography below).

8. Write a brief bio.
Just a few sentences or paragraphs should do for a back story.

  • What mannerisms or sayings do you use? Also, find a portrait image that we can use on Obsidian Portal.
  • What are your P.C.’s non-adventuring hobbies and interests?
  • Why is your character adventuring, and why would he or she travel with a party?
  • What short- and longer-term goals do you have? The next phase of P.C. creation should help.

Define your background aspects: Yes, this is borrowed from FATE (Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment). These can be “tagged” by spending a Fate point for a 1d6 bonus or a reroll. P.C.s start with a refresh of 3 Fate points, plus one every three levels. Each time the G.M. “compels” an aspect, you get an additional Fate point for the session.

  • Family/birthright
  • Training
  • Complication
  • Guest star
  • Motivation (We might put honor here rather than AD&D1 OA ’s numerical tracking.)
  • Adventuring (to be gained at Level 5)
  • Membership/leadership (Lvl. 10)
  • Hero of (Lvl. 15)

9. Pick equipment.
See bibliography below. Starting equipment typically includes clothing, armor and weapons (note AC, range, damage), rations, and class-related tools. Each P.C. starts with 250 gold pieces.

  • Eastern currency equivalents:
    • copper piece = fen
    • silver piece = 2 yuan
    • electrum piece = 1 tael
    • gold piece = 2 tael
    • platinum piece = ch’ien

10. Upload to Obsidian Portal.
I can help with this, and please try to keep your P.C. records up to date. You can expect to level up every five sessions. You should now be ready to play!

Bibliography (in descending order of importance)
Role-Playing Games:

  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
    • Oriental Adventures (AD&D1, in hardcopy and PDF)
    • The Complete Ninja’s Handbook (AD&D2)
    • Forgotten Realms: Horde Campaign (AD&D2)
    • Forgotten Realms: Kara-Tur Vols. 1 and 2 (AD&D1, borrowed from Jason E.R.)
    • assorted adventure modules, some borrowed from Jason E.R.
  • Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game (D20 retro-clone)
    • Core Rules (r75 in print, r78 in free PDF)
    • supplements and conversions (see downloads and forums)
    • Other retro-clones: Dungeon Crawl Classics; Adventurer, Conqueror, King; and Labyrinth Lord (PDFs):
      • Black Streams — the Pacts of the Wise, the Yellow Bone Legion
      • Classes of the Far East
      • An Echo Resounding: Lordship and War in Untamed Lands
      • Red Tide: Campaign Sourcebook and Sandbox Toolkit
  • D20/Open Game License
    • Arrows of Indra
    • Avatar: the Last Airbender (two fan conversions, PDF only)
    • Creatures of Rokugan (D&D3.0, PDF)
    • Oriental Adventures (D&D3.0; PDF)
    • “Oriental Dragonlance Adventures” (fan-written PDF)
    • From Stone to Steel
    • The Hidden Emperor (D&D3.0; “War Against the Darkness” campaign book)
    • Jade Dragons & Hungry Ghosts: Monsters From the East
    • Jade and Steel: Roleplaying in Mythic China (PDF)
    • Legend of the Five Rings: Rokugan Campaign Setting (D&D3.0 OA; While the eastern “Vanished Lands” is neither the “Forgotten Realms’ Kara Tur” nor “Rokugan,” it does borrow heavily from both.)
    • Legends of the Crane Glossary (PDF)
    • Legends of the Samurai
    • A Magical Society: Silk Road
    • Magic of Rokugan (D&D3.0, PDF)
    • Way of the Ninja (D&D3.0, PDF)
    • Way of the Open Hand (D&D3.0, Shinsei Monks)
    • Way of the Samurai (D&D3.0, PDF)
    • Way of the Shugenja (D&D3.0, eastern Clerics)
    • assorted adventure modules (D&D3.x)
  • Pathfinder
    • Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook
    • Advanced Player’s Guide
    • Advanced Race Guide
    • Bestiaries 1 through 4
    • Dragon Empires Gazetteer, Primer
    • Heroes of the Jade Oath
    • Ultimate Campaign, Combat, Equipment, Magic
    • assorted PDFs and Web sites
  • Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE)
  • Generic Universal Role-Playing System (GURPS)
    • GURPS (4th Ed.) Basic Set, GURPS Lite
    • GURPS (3rd Ed.) China
    • GURPS (4th Ed.) Fantasy
    • GURPS (3rd Ed.) Japan, Second Edition
    • GURPS (4th Ed.) Martial Arts
  • Hero System Fifth Edition
    • Ninja Hero
    • The Ultimate Martial Artist
  • Palladium Fantasy
    • Adventures in the Northern Wilderness
    • Weapons and Assassins
    • Weapons and Castles of the Orient
  • Sengoku: Chanbara Roleplaying in Feudal Japan (borrowed from Jason E.R.)
    • Shinobi: Shadows of Nihon, plus Shiki adventure supplement
  • Storyteller: World of Darkness (borrowed from Rich C.G.)
    • Dark Kingdom of Jade, Adventures — sourcebooks for Wraith: the Oblivion
    • Hengeyokai: Shapeshifters of the East — a Sourcebook for Werewolf: the Apocalypse
    • Kindred of the East — for Vampire: the Masquerade
  • Basic Role-Playing (Chaosium/Cubicle 7)

Historical references:

  • Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors
  • Myth and Mankind: Chinese Myth — Land of the Dragon
  • Myth and Mankind: Japanese Myth — Realm of the Rising Sun
  • Osprey Elite Series 23: The Samurai
  • Osprey Elite Series 35: Early Samurai, 200-1500 A.D.
  • Numerous books on philosophy, religion, and swordsmanship

Recommended viewing:

  • Avatar: the Last Airbender (the animated TV series, not the live-action movie)
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
  • Enter the Dragon
  • Hero
  • House of the Flying Daggers
  • Iron Monkey
  • Kung-Fu Panda
  • The Legend of Drunken Master
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Seven Samurai
  • Yojimbo

10 steps for "Vanished Lands: A New Dawn"

Vanished Lands GeneD5