Zenobia: Dreamers of the Day
One of the reasons I enjoy using the Zenobia rules system is its simplicity. I prefer a ‘rules-lite’ approach to role playing that encourages spontaneous role playing and character development. While some players enjoy random tables and statistics for every situation in heaven and on earth, I believe more imaginative game play takes place when the players are allowed to visualize a situation internally, rather than consult a chart.
For those unfamiliar with how simple—yet helpful— character creation can be in Zenobia, I have included a basic step by step process for rolling up a new character. The complete rules system for Zenobia is free, so anyone interested in digging deeper should go to the author’s site and download a copy. Did I mention that it’s free?
Basic character creation steps:
1) Choose your cultural origin. A full list of cultures can be found in the core rules. Each culture gives one or two stat bonuses and a skill.
2) Roll for your attributes. Roll 1 six-sided die (1d6) for your Might and Fate attributes. Re-roll any 1s. Roll 2d6 and add 10 for your total hit points. Every player begins with Craft and Learning attributes of 1.
3) Determine your previous experience (profession). For a full list of professions, check the rules. I suggest that beginning players make a Roman legionary: easy set-up and nice gear!
Each profession gives a professional skill and basic starting equipment. Legionaries get a mail cuirass (lorica hamata) and can be promoted to centurion (and receive a pair of greaves). Characters are also awarded a starting amount of money to buy extra gear.
4) Roll for Social Class. This status determines your character’s social origins and gives certain chances of a bonus for Craft or Learning (the higher your social status, the higher a possible Learning bonus; the lower the status, the higher a possible Craft bonus). Each social bracket also comes with a social skill.
5) Equipment. Characters receive equipment from their professional background, a basic equipment package for all adventurers, and then have the option to use any money they have to purchase extra goodies before setting off on an adventure. Zenobia has a most excellent encumbrance system that dissuades players from loading their character down with all sorts of random loot and equipment (or going off on tangential shopping trips in every major city).
6) Background Identity. This section can be skipped if you have a strong idea of how to play your character and his or her background. If not, the background identity section is a very nice way to randomly generate your back story and family relationships.
There are random tables that provide family relationships (how your character gets along with his or her family); a character’s previous status (what life was like before you became an adventurer); the agent of change (what led or forced you down the path to adventure).
A final section addresses culturally appropriate names and covers the basic languages of the region. At this point you should have a character ready to be loosed in the big dusty sandbox of the Roman Near-East.
Audentes fortuna iuuat!