Science Fantasy Role Playing. It’s the title used for Mutant Future, but I think it best applies to the setting of Michael Moorcock’s Hawkmoon novels and the Hawkmoon RPG.
When I started this blog, I commented that I didn’t own a copy of Stormbringer nor had I ever played it – which was interesting in that the primary influence on my own D&D campaigns over the years was the Young Kingdoms from the Elric Saga. A few months later I got a copy of the Stormbringer boxed set, and more recently I picked up a lot that included the fourth edition of Stormbringer, the Games Workshop edition (I didn’t even know such a thing existed!), a bunch of supplements for it, and the Hawkmoon RPG.
Hawkmoon is a series I really enjoy because it shows how well you can run a post-apocalyptic campaign without it becoming all about ancient tech and bizarre insane AIs and robots. It reminds me of Thundarr the Barbarian except that here magic really is just science on a level so advanced that it becomes indistinguishable.
Hawkmoon characters are completely randomly generated, with a bit of player choice in skill selection. This is the same as most games of the era, particularly of the similar Chaosium games.
I grab my 3d6 (I’m surprised how few of these games use 4D6-L for stat rolling, as it was the assumed standard by the early 80’s for most D&D groups) and roll for Strength, Constitution, Size, Intelligence, Power, Dexterity and Charisma; getting 9, 8, 12, 15, 18(!), 9 and 13. That 18 Power is interesting,a nd would be awesome in a Stormbringer game where it could power spells and help enslave demons.
Then it’s percentiles to determine the character’s Nationality. Since this is going to be a generic Hawkmoon character, I’ll use the European table – where most of the action in the books takes place. A roll of 28 makes him Granbretanian (from what used to be England before the Tragic Millenium). The people of Granbretan are insane conquerors. They wear elaborate animal masks all the time and feel naked without them. They are a race of warriors, scientists and conquerors. They are typically obsessive, schizophrenic and paranoid, yet brilliant. As a Granbretanian, our hero has pallid skin, dark hair and eyes. He gets +1d6 Str & Int, +1 Siz, +1d4 POW and -1d8 Cha (if Cha is over 10). He ends up with +6 Str, +5 Int, +1 Pow and -5 Cha.
With an Int of 20, I get to decide between Scientist and Warrior. As a Scientist he would be from the Order of the Serpent, whereas there are well over a dozen orders for Warriors. Still unsure of what Class Background to take, I roll to see if he is a noble (20% chance). Since he is not, I am leaning more towards scientist in the order of the Serpent. I also have to roll 1d6 for his body frame (which determines his weight and can also modify his stats). A roll of 3 makes him of medium build. A d10 roll of 5 determines that he is underweight (1d20 pounds less) and subtracts 1 Con and adds 1 Dex. He’s getting weaker by the minute!
With a size of 12 he’s 69-70 inches tall (5’9″) and weighs in at 160 lbs. I also choose to make him 30 years old (this is an issue in this game – as your age increases your Knowledge Bonus, yet penalties for aging are completely run by GM fiat – which is why I didn’t go for an age of 90 or something). As a 30 year old scientist, I have to roll 3d10 5 times, each time that I roll greater than my Intelligence stat, it goes up by one point. My rolls of 16, 15, 16, 24, and 11 result in a 1 point increase in Intelligence.
Then I determine his ability bonuses based on his stats. Stats over 12 grant a bonus of +1% per point over 12 (in most cases) and a -1% penalty per point under 9. Each skill type has a different combination of stats that modify it. What I discover is that his sheer force of personality and his big brain help counter his low charisma – rendering him a good communicator. These same stats also seriously improve his fighting skills.
Then the brutal reality of a low constitution character sets in. He gets hit points equal to his Con score, modified by his Size. With a size of 12, he gets no modifier, so starts with a mighty 7 hit points – he can be slain with a single blow from just about anything! His fairly high Strength and Size combine to give him a +1d6 damage bonus in melee combat and a +1d4 bonus with missile weapons. He hits hard, but can’t handle being on the receiving end. Good thing he’s a scientist!
As a scientist he gets a bunch of skills and starts with a weapon of his choice, INT x 10 x 1d100 silver (a roll of 67 means he starts with 14,070 silver!) and 1d6 scientific gadgets or pieces of equipment appropriate to his field of interest…
His primary area of scientific study will be Ancient Lore (knowledge of the old records and history). While it doesn’t help him build things, it does help him identify artifacts and know a fair chunk about what happened during and prior to the Tragic Millenium (and he knows a lot, with a base skill of 93%). His next area of study is Chemical Lore which is used to identify and create chemicals as well as chemical protective equipment. Witha Chemical Lore skill of 73%, he has a lot of skills and can even manipulate and deal with radioactives safely, and knows how to make gas masks, fire extinguishers and smoke bombs as well as nastier things like poison gas, explosives and acids. He also starts with every other “lore” skill at 58%, pretty effective overall even able to engage in fairly effective bioengineering projects, and how to use basic electrical devices (but can’t create them yet).
His weapon of choice is the spear (because he can throw it as well as melee), but he’s not very skilled with it. As a Granbretanian he learns Pilot Ornithopter at d100 + Manipulation bonus (80%). He also gets 1d6+2 additional skills of his choice (6) at a level of (1d100/2). He picks up First Aid because his Biological Lore level gives him an immediate +10 on it and because it is Knowledge based (his strongest attribute). Dodge sounds like a good skill to enhance his survivability, and he actually has enough money to afford a flamelance (a very long laser rifle that is the standard “magic weapon” of the era) so he picks up that skill also.
He picks up two sets of armor – one of mail for “regular” field work, and a full suit of plate for when he’s in a warzone. A firelance is well within his price range.
With his specialties in ancient lore and chemical lore, his two gadgets are a gas mask and a hand-held magnetic field detector to find charged electrical devices within 5 feet.
Durgan Chirhill – Scientist of the Order of the Serpent
Strength: 15 (+3)
Constitution: 7 (-2)
Intelligence: 21 (+9)
Power: 19 (+7)
Charisma: 8 (-1)
Body Frame: Medium
Height: 5′ 9″
Weight: 160 lbs
Attack Bonus: +19%
Parry Bonus: +10%
Agility Bonus: +10%
Communication Bonus: +15%
Knowledge Bonus: +33%
Manipulation Bonus: +19%
Perception Bonus: +16%
Stealth Bonus: +9%
Hit Points: 7
Damage Bonus: +1d6/+1d4
Read / Write Common | 113%
Read / Write Granbretanian | 113%
Read / Write English | 73%
Ancient Lore | 93%
Chemical Lore | 73%
Biological Lore | 58%
Electrical Lore | 58%
Machine Lore | 58%
Music Lore | 58%
Memorize | 73%
Craft | 59%
Spear Attack | 39%
Spear Parry | 30%
Pilot Ornithopter | 80%
First Aid | 78%
Dodge | 64%
Flamelance Attack | 39%
Hide | 61%
Cartography | 65%
Read / Write German | 48%
Flamelance (39% Attack, 5d6 damage, 100m range)
2 Spears (39% Attack, 30% Parry, 2d6 damage, 15m range)
Platemail with Helm (1d10+2 damage soak)
Chain Armor (1d6 damage soak)
Magnetic Field Detector – 5 ft range
Coach w/2 horses