MCDM RPG Character Creation

· Caio Lente · #podcast  #mcdm  #ttrpg 

This episode was originally published on YouTube and Spotify. For links and references, please see those platforms as this page only contains the transcript.

Intro

Hello everyone and welcome to the fifth episode of The Dice Society podcast!

In case you’re joining me for the first time, this is not my voice… I’m just a bit sick and didn’t want to wait any longer to record this episode, so let’s get started. Anyway, my name is Caio and I’m the author of thedicesociety.com. This is a show about the upcoming MCDM RPG, where I talk about its development, my playtest experience, and, once the time is right, first- and third-party content being made for the finished game.

Since the previous episode, we’ve gotten a lot of new information about the RPG. MCDM has a new designer on the dev team, Matt showed us a new core ancestry, and we got a sneak peak into the encounter sheet they are designing to help overwhelmed Directors with combats. We’ll go over all of that and more in the News section of the podcast.

As for our main topics of the day, they are all related to character creation and progression. First, I’ll tell you everything there is to know about the Culture and Career systems that were presented to the MCDM patrons over the last few weeks. Then, as a treat, I’ll share some hot new details we got this week about class progression and subclasses. It’s exciting stuff, I’m sure you’ll love it.

As usual, however, everything we’re going to talk about is subject to and probably will change, so don’t get your hopes up if you really like any of the stuff I describe here. Cool? Cool. Let’s draw steel and get started.

News

Our first news item is actually just a confirmation of something I’d already mentioned in the previous episode: the Power Roll is in fact moving from 2d6 to 2d10. In order to accommodate the bigger dice, now tier 1 is 11 or lower, tier 2 is 12 through 16, and tier 3 is 17 or more.

With this new math, circumstantial bonuses went back to being called Edges and Banes, but now they are worth +2 and -2 respectively. Double Edges and Double Banes aren’t +-4s, though! Instead, they automatically bump your Power Roll up or down by one whole tier. Still, you can’t get more than two Edges or Banes, and they cancel out one to one; this hasn’t changed. We’ll have to wait and see if this is the last time they tweak the Power Roll.

Speaking of d10s, Djordi, one of the new hires, has officially started to work with the team. He seems to be helping mainly with class design at the moment, but both James and Matt have alluded to some other, less publicly visible stuff he’s been helping with. Djordi shows up from time to time in the patron-exclusive Discord channel to post ominous pictures of his green 20-sided d10s. Mysterious!

Another name we can expect to get used to is memonek. This is the latest ancestry Matt has showed to the patrons and oh boy does it look awesome! Memonek are the native people of Axiom, the Plane of Uttermost Law, and they are humanoid in form, but made of metal, ceramic, and glass. But they aren’t robots; memonek just evolved with a non-carbon-based biology.

As part of the Patreon post, we got some concept art, the first draft of their entry in the Heroes book, and even an idea of how these beings of pure reason start to have… Feelings when they come to Orden. Very nice, very cool, very evocative. 10/10, no notes.

Our last item in the News segment is the encounter sheet. I talked briefly about this in the last episode, and the team seems to be going forward with the idea. Matt even showed us a draft he made to try it out and went into detail of how much simpler monsters could be in this framework.

Now James has also told us that terrain, breakable objects, objectives, and more could be presented on the encounter sheet alongside the monsters. He wants to implement the idea of “action oriented encounters”, where encounters, not monsters, would have openers, reversals, and closers. I’ll let y’all know if and when we get any more news on this.

And our last last news item is a demo of the VTT! This was posted literally minutes after I finished recording, so I snuck this in here. I’ll leave the link to the demo in the description of the episode for you to check it out. It looks amazing, no joke!

For real this time, that’s it for the News segment. Now we can move on to character creation, one of my personal favorite topics. Let’s go!

Character creation

One of the goals of the character creation system is to “separate your physical ancestry from your culture”. Even though D&D took a long time to remove racial stat bonuses, this idea is not that new; is his Patreon post, James even mentions a 2020 book by Gwendolyn Marshall that decouples species from culture in D&D 5th Edition.

With this kind of framework, you can have your classic tough, rough, and buff dwarves, but you can also have a dwarf that was raised in the forest by vegetarian, tree-hugging elves. This gives players maximum flexibility to follow or reject fantasy stereotypes.

As of right now, it seems like there are five components in hero creation: Ancestry, Culture, Career, Inciting Incident, and Class. I might be forgetting something, but I’m 90% positive these are the main steps.

Ancestry is easy. You chose your species (human, dwarf, elf, memonek, etc.) and you get some nice benefits related to your physical form. In the MCDM universe, dwarves are extra durable because of their stone skins, wode elves have an easier time hiding, you get it.

What we didn’t know up until now was how Cultures and Careers worked. Let’s start with the former and then move on to the latter.

Culture

Culture is all about your hero’s childhood. There are four aspects to your character’s culture, namely Language, Environment, Organization, and Upbringing.

First you chose a language: this is the language your culture spoke, not much to see here. The following three steps each will award you with a skill from a set list, so this is the only odd one out.

Next is your culture’s Environment: this describes the, well, environment where your culture lived. The options here are Nomadic, Rural, Secluded, Urban, or Wilderness. An Urban Culture, for example, allows you to gain any one Interpersonal or Intrigue skill.

Third is the culture’s Organization: basically, its system of government. You can choose between Anarchic, Bureaucratic, or Communal. In the Patreon post, the example is a Bureaucratic culture, which awards the hero with an Intrigue or Lore skill.

Lastly is your Upbringing: how your character was raised within their culture. Now you can select Academic, Creative, Illegal, Labor, Martial, or Noble. In this case, it seems like skill options are more tailored to each option instead of broad categories; Martial heroes, for instance, choose one skill of Blacksmithing, Fletching, Climb, Endurance, Jump, Ride, Intimidate, Alertness, Track, or Monsters.

One can easily see how going through this process can help a player discover a little bit more about their character with each choice. One the other hand, it might seem a bit daunting for TTRPG beginners… I can imagine someone just wanting to create a cool dwarf and then having to stop and think about socio-political systems and worrying that there might be a right choice that they are missing. Anyway, this is all a draft! No point in analyzing it right now.

Career

Once you’re done with your hero’s Culture, it’s time for their Career; this is basically what they did in order to make money before they started adventuring. Each Career awards you with at least some extra skills and a Common Title; it might additionally give you some extra languages, Renown, and Project Points. Let me break down each of the benefits we haven’t seen yet…

Titles are like 5e Feats, but you don’t chose when your character gains one; they are exclusively awarded by the Director on special occasions. In the case of Common Titles, the weakest kind of Title, they come with your Career and give you something flavorful to do outside of combat.

Renown represents you hero’s reputation and it grows as they adventure. It helps you in Negotiations and attracting followers and retainers; very Strongholds & Followers if you’ve read that book. In general, Renown starts at 0 unless your Career says otherwise.

Finally, Project Points represents your progress in Crafting and Research projects. Say you want to craft a magic sword; once you have every prerequisite material, you’ll need to gather a certain number of Project Points in order to finish the sword, say 300. As a Respite activity, you can make a project roll and add it to your project, completing the sword when you reach 300. If your Career gives you some starting Project Points, this means your first project will already be partially done once you start it.

Something I haven’t mentioned about Careers is that they also give you some questions to answer. This isn’t a mechanical benefit, but instead a character building exercise that can help you get to know your hero better. I thought this was a really interesting approach, much better than 5e’s Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws.

Now that you fully understand what comes with a Career, I can tell you the full list that they’ve shown us in the Patreon. They are Acolyte, Aristocrat, Artisan, Agent, Beggar, Criminal, Explorer, Farmer, Gladiator, Laborer, Mage’s Apprentice, Performer, Politician, Sage, Sailor, Soldier, Warden, and Watch Officer.

To better illustrate what a complete Career looks like, let me tell you about what a Performer gets…

First there’s a little flavor text: “You can sing, act, or dance well enough that people actually pay to see you do it. Imagine that!” Then come the questions:

Lastly, you get the Performer benefits: 2 Interpersonal skills of your choice, the Music skill, 2 Renown, and the Dazzler Title, which says “When a creature watches you perform a song, dance, or role for at least 1 minute, you gain an edge on tests made to influence the creature for 1 hour after the performance ends.”

Nice, right? Notice how this particular Career doesn’t give you character any extra languages or Project Points. Artisans, on the other hand, get both of those, but no Renown.

Anyway, now we’re officially done with Cultures and Careers, so we’re ready to move on to Inciting Incidents. Except that we don’t have much information about this yet, whomp whomp… Apparently it will give your character a cool origin story, plus a nice benefit and a bad drawback for you to deal with. Matt’s example was a hero that had a chance of having a helpful vision at night, but a similar chance of having a nightmare that drains one of their Recoveries.

So, with Incidents also out of they way, the only thing left is, you guessed it, a Class! I have talked about that before, but now we got some information about Subclasses which I want to share with you. Please follow me to the next segment of the episode…

Character progression

According to the devs, the MCDM RPG will probably feature something like eight or nine core Classes; they have thrown around plenty of Class concepts and many of those unfortunately won’t make it into this select group. Shout out to the Summoner lovers, who likely won’t be able to make their Necromancer characters for a while still.

Right now, for the purpose of playtesting the rules, the team is fleshing out five Classes from levels 1 to 3. James has mentioned that this is the first tier of the game, with second tier going from level 4 to level 6, third tier going from 7 to 9, and level 10 standing all alone in its own category. The classes they’ve chosen are the Shadow (a sneaky, backstabbing killer), the Fury (a raging pile of muscle), the Elementalist (a mage who’s able to control the elements), the Conduit (a divinely favored caster that can heal), and the Tactician (a master of combat and strategy).

Apparently, every Class is also getting their Subclass at level 1. Luckily for us, James has talked in a Twitch stream a little bit about every single Subclass they have already designed for these five classes! Let’s go through them one by one:

First, the Shadow Subclasses. Here we have the College of Black Ash, focused on teleporting around the battlefield by using their Black Ash Sorcery. Then there’s the College of Caustic Alchemy, which deals with poisons and bombs, a more assassin-y kind of Shadow. Finally, the College of the Harlequin Mask, for heroes who want to disguise themselves and go unnoticed when infiltrating enemy strongholds.

Next, the Fury Subclasses. First comes the Berserker, the stereotypical rage machine that hits their enemies hard. Then there’s the Reaver, a Conan-esque character that can be a more crafty and stealthy hero. Lastly, the Stormwight, a Fury that has half person, half animal forms; right now, it looks like they would be able to transform into bear, wolf, rodent, and bird forms, each with their own unique features and attacks.

Third, the Elementalist. James hasn’t mentioned which Subclasses they have already fleshed out, but we do know that there will probably be seven in total, one for each element, namely Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Green, Rot, and Void. An Elementalist will be able to pick their spells from any element, but they will be slightly better at the ones pertaining to their Subclass.

Fourth, the Conduit. Again, James hasn’t specified exactly which Subclasses are in the works, but he did explain that Conduit Subclasses might work a little differently than the ones from every other Class. Here, you choose two domains in your god/saint’s portfolio, and then, when you level up, you pick your abilities from the ones available in these two domains.

Last, but not least, the Tactician. The first Subclass is the Insurgent, a crafty warrior that controls the battlefield from behind the lines. Then there’s the Mastermind, which can move people around and help their allies; basically, a tactical genius. Finally, the Knight Protector works kind of like a defender who holds the front line so that their allies can do their things unimpeded.

Awesome, right? After choosing your hero’s Class and Subclass, character progression seems to work similarly to D&D. You’ll get improvements to abilities you already have, more skills, better stats, additional damage across the board, and new, more powerful abilities. Character complexity will increase as a result, allowing for new tactics and combos.

What do you think about these subclasses? Do they make you excited to play the game? What’s your favorite? Mine is probably the College of the Harlequin Mask Shadow, I’m dying to know more about its abilities.

Outro

And that’s it for today, folks. I hope you guys enjoyed the episode and the topic I chose this time.

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See you all next time… Thank you very much and goodbye!