The Arcanum was the evolution of Bards Games’ “The Compleat…” series of books which were in turn designed initially as unofficial supplements for Dungeons & Dragons. The Arcanum is the first of three books in the Atlantean trilogy, and a simple and fun fantasy RPG on it’s own right, but also still quite easily converted for use with classic Dungeons & Dragons games.
One of the immediate things noticed with this game is the number of classes to choose from as well as the combination of an XP-driven skill system that works along with the XP-driven character level system. Even if none of the classes were taken from the game, several AD&D and B/X games added the Arcanum’s skill system to the core rules of their games.
For an early 80’s Dungeons & Dragons derivative game, character creation takes a different approach than most of the pack of games – you choose your Race, Profession and Alignment first, then select a background and skills, then determine ability scores before handling derived stats like hit points, and finally start equipping.
I’m going to go with a netherman, one of the races I like because it’s a nice evolution of the half-orc from AD&D – a human/goblin crossbreed. Being half-troll, I think I’ll name him something appropriately Trollish. Diaglo is a name that works for me – he seems to be a troll, but at heart he’s not. As a netherman, I have access to 11 of the huge number of character classes… So we’ll go with Diaglo the Netherman Bounty Hunter. The other thing I like about the races in Arcanum is they don’t modify your starting ability scores, instead they provide you with new maximum stats so you can buy your stats up higher (or lower) than human norms.
For his background, the options are outcast, city dweller, barbarian, aristocrat or villager. I’m going with city dweller – he’s more of an urban bounty hunter, with experience in the seedier taverns, dives and netherman strip clubs around town.
Stats are determined through a straight-up point buy system (1:1 cost) with a character having 100+2d6 points to spend on an array of 8 stats. A nice high roll of 10 gives Diaglo 110 points to spend. With a straight-up one-to-one point buy, not surprisingly stats only start providing a bonus at a 15 or higher. His starting stats are affected by his choice of class (Bounty Hunter requires a high Strength and a variety of other stats at 10 or 12). However, the high number of starting points means that Diaglo is starting with his racial maximum in three of the 8 stats, and close to it in two others.
For starting money, percentage dice are rolled. A roll of 49 means that Diaglo has been making ends meet, but just barely getting by overall. He’s got assets totalling at 52 gp. Unfortunately there is no “hat of d02” on the equipment lists.
Diaglo, Half-Troll Bounty Hunter
Class: Bounty Hunter
Combat: Highly Trained
Weight: 217 lbs
Perception: 17 (40% Detect Invisible, +15% PER skills)
Strength: 18 (+4 damage / attack)
Dexterity: 16 (+1 to hit, +5% DEX skills)
Constitution: 17 (+2 hit points / level)
Hit Points: 25
Max Encumberance: 180 lbs
+1 on saves vs Strength
Waylaying: Knock opponent unconscious with a blunt object with surprise or from behind – 40%
Assassinate: Kill opponent with an assassination weapon with surprise or from behind – 25%
Stealth (Move at half speed, 95% success, 1/2 chance if wearing metal armor)
Set/Disarm/Detect Traps (30%)
Read Tracks (55%)
Tailing (40% – failure means losing the target or being spotted)
Stalking (60% – as tailing above, but in the wilderness)
Streetwise (+2 on saves vs CHA when dealing with lowlife)
Haggling (Save vs CHA to change price by 10%)
Sword, Bastard (& scabbard) – 1d12 damage
Studded Leather Armor
2 Large Sacks