Adventures of the Dread Sea
During a typical Sword and Sorcery campaign, characters will amass fewer tangible rewards for their efforts (such as gold, land and magical items) than characters in most fantasy settings. They are more likely to be fleeing the country after an adventure than being given a land grant. Thanks to the rules on characters’ savings, gold will slip through their fingers in the taverns, gaming-houses and bordellos of the nearest city within a matter of a few weeks. A character’s experience and combat prowess are paramount, but will not serve him in every situation. His reputation, on the other hand, is always with him, even when he is a clueless courtier, a penniless wanderer or captured prisoner.
Your hero’s Reputation starts at zero, but can be affected by his or her actions during the course of the game. The higher your hero’s Reputation, the more renowned he is across The Dread Sea Dominions and the more benefits he gains.
Reputation can go negative, but this grants no benefits—it just puts your character further away from being a legendary hero.
Reputation VS. CHARISMA
While Charisma is generally based on appearance and personality, it can also be modified by Reputation. Folk are more likely to take notice of a famous person, regardless of his physical appearance or manners, and help him when they can, whereas a hero’s foes tremble at his name.
Reputation VS. RANK
A hero’s Rank is a measure of his experience, although it does incorporate a degree of Reputation. Rank is a by-product of earning Experience Points, which aren’t always linked to heroic deeds. Sure, the hero may rescue a princess, but the rescue might be fairly mundane and quickly forgotten. Only deeds which attract attention count toward Reputation.
Reputation is measured with Reputation Points, in exactly the same way experience is measured with Experience Points. Characters can rise to become famous heroes or else they can slip into mediocrity.
Reputation is earned through heroic endeavors, good roleplaying, and investing heavily in the character, not expected just because the hero is a player character.
VARIABLE REPUTATION DEEDS
After each adventure, and only when the heroes return to civilization, one of the party may begin telling the tale of their epic battles and heroic deeds. The character makes a Persuasion roll, modified as below.
The GM is always free to add positive modifiers for truly heroic actions or based on the character’s weaknesses and how he overcame them. Think of how the heroes’ true exploits (as opposed to any extra bits they invent) sound as a tale told by bards. This is important, as it is the listeners in The Dread Sea Dominions who are effectively granting your Reputation. Ideally, an extra + 1 or + 2 should be the maximum.
For instance, slaying a dread liche is certainly worthy of praise, but that is already covered in the table below. However, lopping off his head with a Called Shot as the killing blow is worth a small modifier, as it’s the sort of detail found in epic poems.
Likewise, a Novice party with a d6 as their highest combat skill (including arcane skills) who slay a bunch of warriors in melee without any assistance should be rewarded with a greater chance of fame. The GM may also opt to add penalties to reflect weaker opponents (such as unarmed or unarmored adversaries) or favorable character circumstances (every hero had a dozen alchemical blast devices on hand).
REPUTATION DEEDS TABLE
|Is a bard||+ 1|
|Has negative Reputation||– 2|
|Highest Character Rank||Modifier|
|Highest Number of Foes||Modifier|
|You outnumbered them||– 1|
|They outnumbered you more than 2 to 1||+ 1|
|They outnumbered you more than 4 to 1||+ 2|
|They outnumbered you more than 10 to 1||+ 4|
|Highest Foes’ Toughness||Modifier|
|4 or less||– 1|
|5 to 6||+ 0|
|7 to 10||+ 1|
|11 to 15||+ 2|
|16 to 20||+ 4|
|21 or more||+ 6|
|Per Wild Card||+ 1|
|Per named Wild Card||+ 2|
|Per Wild Card killed in a single blow||+ 4|
|A foe had an AB with 5 or less powers||+ 1|
|A foe had an AB with 6 to 10 powers||+ 2|
|A foe had an AB with 11+ powers||+ 4|
Arcane Background: Where multiple foes with an Arcane Background were defeated, only the highest bonus applies.
Character Rank: The higher the heroes’ Rank, the more dangerous foes they must overcome before anyone is interested in their tales. After all, when you’ve already slain the head of a notorious Assassin’s Guild, who cares if you killed a local highwayman?
Foes’ Toughness: Once you start talking about fighting a demon, listeners tend to forget or lose interest in the cultists you defeated in an earlier encounter. As such, only the highest Toughness of defeated foes counts.
Named Wild Card: No one really cares much if a hero slays a generic Valk chieftain, but the slaying of Nargal the Terrible is a notable deed. Not every Wild Card should, or indeed can, be named. Sometimes a Wild Card chief is just a nameless foe.
Number of Foes: As with foes’ Toughness, once you begin telling how the party slew a dozen witches in one encounter, talk of beating five or six tends to become dull to the average listener. As such, only record the greatest number of foes slain in a single encounter. Defeating three barbarians in one room and eight in another equates to only eight barbarians.
The party size includes any allies on the heroes’ side—a party with 20 members must defeat a lot of foes at once to get noticed. Even if the heroes forget to mention their helpers, any survivors will be telling their own stories across The Dread Sea Dominions.
Single Blow: A Wild Card killed in a single blow must have been unwounded when the killing blow was delivered. Chopping the head off a dread liche with 3 wounds is not exactly heroic.
Likewise, the foe must have been aware of the party and capable of retaliation—slaughtering sleeping dragons or entangled demons doesn’t make a good story, though the entangle spell might be worth a small bonus.
Storyteller: Although anyone can tell a story, bards are trained in using the right words and adjusting the rhythm to keep an audience enthralled. They can turn even a mundane adventure into an epic struggle.
With a success, every hero involved in the action gains 1d6 Reputation. A raise increases this to 2d6. Failure earns no bonus or penalty. A critical failure, however, causes the loss of 1d6 Reputation, perhaps because the listeners disbelieved the storyteller or doubt the prowess of the party to achieve what they claim. Roll the dice for each individual member of the party earning or losing Reputation.
Reputation awards can be altered by the GM, but this should be done only for truly notable actions. Modifiers normally apply solely to individual members of the party, not every member.
For instance, the hero who delivered the Called Shot to the head, killing the dread liche, should earn a + 1 or + 2 bonus for his notable deed. This actively encourages use of special maneuvers and imaginative combat, as opposed to the standard “attack–damage” routine.
Of course, if one hero played little part in the action, perhaps because he was Incapacitated early on or spent the whole time cowering in fear, he should receive less Reputation than those who were in the thick of the action. Just because he’s a player character and was present does not entitle him to the same reward as those who risked their lives and took part in the bulk of the action. Such a hero may roll his dice with a –3 penalty, for example, possibly earning a small penalty overall with an unlucky roll because of his inaction.
FIXED REPUTATION AWARDS
Fixed Reputation awards cover lesser deeds not played out (such as events during long periods of downtime), killing smaller number of foes during an adventure (they do slowly add up over time), or rewards for which there are many witnesses (battles or rescues). These are in addition to any Reputation gained above.
GM’s are encouraged to devise their own modifiers for things like concluding peace treaties or founding new mercantile routes that benefit a large population. Although notable deeds, the rewards for these types of endeavor should not be overly high—few people will remember who signed a peace treaty, but you can bet they’ll recall a hero who risked his life to venture into the heavily guarded camp of the enemy commander and kill him in an epic duel.
Even without performing major heroic deeds, a hero can become famous through his collective lesser deeds. Such rewards are typical of the examples above, especially the slaying of lesser foes. These are wrapped into a single +5 Reputation bonus gained when a hero achieves a new Rank. It is possible, though rare, for a hero to reach Legendary status with no additional Reputation—he has performed many deeds, but none stand out as truly heroic.
War is a terrible thing and something sane men avoid, but it can also grow and break reputations.
Use the table below whenever the characters are involved in a fight using the Mass Battle rules. Whereas skirmishes are commonplace, true mass battles remain rare events. Hence, all Reputation modifiers are fixed.
MASS BATTLE REPUTATION TABLE
|Smallest army had hundreds of troops||+ 1|
|Smallest army had thousands of troops||+ 3|
|Smallest army had more than 10,000 troops||+ 5|
|Typical humaniod army||+/–1|
|Enemy had less tokens or was equal||+ 1|
|For each token the enemy had above yours||+ 2|
|Enemy had more tokens or was equal||–1|
|For each token less your enemy had||–3|
|Two raises on Heroes in Mass Battles roll||+ 1|
|You commanded the army||x2|
Size: Huge armies are rare in The Dread Sea Dominions, and thus while any battle earns Reputation, the more participants there are the greater the tale told.
Enemy Forces: Certain races/enemied are more despised than others. To qualify for the bonus, the specific enemy must account for more than 75% of the enemy army’s troop strength. Add the modifier if the heroes won, and subtract it if they lost (a defeat by a hated foe usually means the enemy will grow more confident and thus pose a greater danger in the future).
Victory: Everybody loves a winner. The greater the size of the enemy army, the more reward is earned. For each token your enemy’s army was larger than yours when battle commenced, the hero earns a +2 Reputation bonus.
Defeat: Defeat is never easy to live with, but the ignominy is far worse if you outnumbered your foe. For each token you outnumbered your enemy at the start of a battle you suffer a –3 penalty.
Personal Heroics: Scoring a double raise is more than just a die result. It represents a major event within a battle, such as slaying an enemy commander or slaughtering so many foes a battalion breaks. However, the modifier only applies if the number of enemy tokens was less than or equal to your army’s tokens at the time (slaying an enemy commander when you have a + 3 bonus is nowhere near as heroic as when you have a –3 penalty.
Commander: A hero who commands an army gains greater Reputation than his troops for victory, but also suffers more ignominy if he loses the field. Take the final Reputation modifier and double it to see what the hero earned.
Even if the heroes’ tale of how they killed a hundred warriors doesn’t earn them any immediate Reputation, having prisoners recount the tale of their rescue quickly causes word to spread.
Important NPCs must be famous, powerful, and named. A merchant, Lotusmaster, priest, minor noble, or similar is worth + 1 Reputation. Saving a count or a skilled Enlightened One is worth + 3. Rescuing a prince, king, or similar official gains the hero + 5 Reputation. For groups of lesser NPCs, rescuing ten or so is worth + 1 Reputation, a few tens + 2, and a hundred or more + 3. Saving a lone villager from a Valk tribe is brave, but not enough to be retold by bards.
Rescue doesn’t have to mean entering a prison and breaking captives out. Liberating a village beset by raiders,
for instance, counts as a rescue. If the rescue involves a Mass Battle rather than tabletop action, the party is deserving of the Mass Battle rewards as well.
Being a hero has its perks. When a hero reaches a multiple of 20 Reputation he must immediately pick one benefit from the list below, meeting any requirements.
Some heroes may opt to acquire Followers or become leaders of men and build a personal army. Others might use their fame to gain valuable connections or become better combatants, while others may prefer to rely on their reputation to ensure a friendly welcome in civilized lands.
Unless otherwise stated, benefits can be taken multiple times—the number in parentheses after the name indicates the maximum number of times the benefit may be taken. Fill in the appropriate section of the character sheet.
Should Reputation drop below a multiple of 20, any benefits above the character’s current Reputation level are temporarily lost (unless otherwise stated) until Reputation is regained. Dropping below 20 and then rising above it again does not grant the opportunity to take a new benefit—it simply allows the “lost” one to be used again.
Combat Prowess (2)
Requirements: 40+ Reputation
While most stories about heroes start of close to the truth, they quickly spiral out of control, attributing heroes with abilities far in excess of what they actually possessed. The character may take a Combat Edge immediately. He must meet all the requirements as normal.
Requirements: 20+ Reputation
At some point a hero is likely to gain Reputation by aiding certain organizations, whether directly or indirectly. When a hero gains a Connection, he must pick a specific group, as per the Edge of the same name. The hero does not belong to the organization—he simply has friends among their number willing to assist him (though he may, at the GM’s discretion, be offered membership as well).
The Connection should be appropriate to the character’s background and his deeds. Note that the hero still needs Persuasion and Streetwise for this benefit to be of any use. Just because he’s renowned, it doesn’t mean the Connection will drop everything and come to his aid with exactly what he wants.
Requirements: 60+ Reputation
The adage that there are old heroes and bold heroes, but no old, bold heroes doesn’t apply to this character. Whether because he believes in his own legend and refuses to get up when the going gets tough, or whether the gods are smiling on him, the hero can do things other heroes can’t. He gains a free benny. This adds to his regular total, thus increasing the number he starts each session with.
Requirements: 40+ Reputation
Famous heroes attract entourages and hangers-on. The hero gains the Followers Edge regardless of his character Rank. The GM and player should work together to determine the nature of the Followers, based on the character’s profession and deeds.
Followers are not automatically replaced when they die. Additional Followers may be gained at Legendary as normal through taking the Followers Edge with advances or by earning more Reputation and taking this benefit. Followers don’t automatically leave if a character’s Reputation drops below the level he gained this benefit, but they begin to grumble, refuse orders, and eventually mutiny. In game terms, the character’s Leadership Edges no longer work on them. When his Reputation rises above the threshold again, his Followers stop grumbling.
Don’t forget, having Extras accompany you on every mission means you have to slay more foes to earn Reputation.
Heroic Aura (4)
Requirements: 40+ Reputation
True heroes have destinies beyond those of lesser men. As a hero becomes more famous, so his fate becomes more important. Lesser foes no longer present the danger they once did, and only the mightiest enemies give the hero pause.
When not wearing armor (he may use a shield), he gains + 1 Toughness each time he takes this benefit. While wearing armor, no benefit is gained. Encumbrance plays no part in this benefit—the modifier is gained even if the hero is heavily weighed down with other gear.
In game terms, taking this benefit once grants the protection equivalent of leather armor, but it cannot be reduced by AP weapons, protects against area effect attacks, and has zero encumbrance. With a second benefit, the hero as well protected as wearing chain mail, three times plate, a fourth time gives him better protection than any mundane armor.
Heroic Status (4)
Requirements: 20+ Reputation
This bonus represents how well known the hero is across The Dread Sea Dominions. With heroes few and far between in the modern era, those who stand out from the crowd are widely recognized for their notable deeds. Common folk recognize the hero for his brave deeds and are likely to help him in his endeavors, if only for the bragging rights.
He gains a + 1 bonus to initial rolls on the Reaction Table when dealing with civilized races with whom he has a generally positive reputation, and to Persuasion and Streetwise rolls each time he receives this perk, to a maximum of +4. This stacks with bonuses from any Professional Edges and with the hero’s Charisma. A hero also gains the same bonus to Intimidation rolls—enemies quake at his name and even allies are fearful of the character’s prowess.
Immortalized in Song (1)
Requirements: Heroic Status taken 4 times
Whether a brave warrior, a noble lord, or a powerful spellcaster, the character’s place in history is assured for eternity. Songs are sung and poems told about his legendary deeds, parents name their children after the hero, and he is welcomed at any goodly settlement. When he eventually dies, he is guaranteed a burial befitting the greatest of heroes.
The number of Followers the hero currently has doubles, as men flock to bask in his Reputation (this cannot be applied to Followers gained later). He may also take another Novice Sidekick immediately.
Leader of Men (4)
Requirements: 40+ Reputation
Not every hero wants to be a leader of men, but those who do quickly find others respond well to them in times of stress, like a battle. The character may take a Leadership Edge immediately. He must meet all the requirements of the Edge as normal. As he gains no Experience Points from this benefit, his current character Rank applies.
Requirements: 80+ Reputation
Regardless of his character Rank, the hero has attracted a Sidekick, as per the Edge (see p. 25 for details). If the Sidekick dies, the character may take this benefit again when he earns more Reputation. A second Sidekick may be gained at Legendary as normal through taking the Sidekick Edge with an advance.
Like Followers, Sidekicks remain with the hero when his Reputation drops, but may grumble, not perform to the best of their abilities, or even refuse to follow orders. When the Reputation rises sufficiently high again, the Sidekick returns to his former loyal state.
Reputation can be won, bit can also be lost. In general, a hero must deliberately act in a less than heroic way to suffer a Reputation penalty. Everyone makes mistakes and crosses the line at some point, but minor misdemeanors should be ignored unless the character makes a habit of such actions. Sample penalties are included below.
Special Slaying a good and just powerful NPC
–1 to –20 Caught committing a crime
–3 Cowardice or leaving a comrade behind
–3 Refusing Orders (the Hindrance)
–10 Breaking an oath
Crime: This is a catchall penalty covering anything considered abhorrent to civilized society. Theft may warrant a small penalty, as may a single murder. However, arson, rape, and mass murder all deserve high-end penalties.
Oaths: A creature’s word is a solemn bond among the civilized races, and those who renege on sworn oaths are considered treacherous.
Slaying: Killing a good, just, and powerful NPC, such as a king or a high ranking member of a ruling council, causes a hero to suffer a drastic loss of Reputation. His Reputation is swapped from a positive to a negative immediately. For instance, a hero with +50 Reputation drops to –50 and becomes a very wanted man. The greater the hero’s reputation, the higher he falls for such a terrible and wicked act.
Heroes with negative Reputation do not earn rewards, but they do garner drawbacks.
When a hero reaches –20 Reputation, he gains the Wanted (Minor) Hindrance. At –40, this changes to the Major version.
Generally, the Minor Hindrance extends to a single realm, usually the one where the Reputation penalty was incurred. The Major version, on the other hand, covers pretty much all the civilized, settled domains of The Dread Sea Dominions. A hero who gains enough Reputation to rise above the rating at which he gained this Hindrance, doesn’t lose the Hindrance. He may have performed some heroic deeds, but he is still a wanted man.
At –10 Reputation, the hero acquires the Enemy (Minor) Hindrance. At –30 (or lower), the Enemy becomes a Major Hindrance.
The exact nature of the enemy depends on the villain’s deeds. A servant of Thrym may fi nd a Hearth Knight has vowed to hunt him down. A cleric of Vali may make an enemy of a paladin of Eira. A king slayer may find a cleric of Hothar hounding his trail after justice.
Again, it doesn’t matter if the hero’s Reputation rises above the level at which he gained his foe—his Enemy doesn’t give up his vendetta. Should the hero gain a Major Enemy while his Minor Enemy is still at large, the foe simply steps up his campaign against the character. Otherwise, the hero gains a new enemy.
Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams & Snowy. (2009). Hellfrost Player’s Guide, pp. 99-104. Triple Ace Games. ISBN 978-0979245558