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The Dividing Line – Creating Characters in Free Havoc!

“. . . the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Free Havoc! is the roleplaying game system we’ve developed for use with Havoc! The Combat Card Game. Players can certainly play Havoc! on its own as a pure combat game, or use Havoc! to replace or supplement the combat system of their favorite rpg, but we thought people might want a deeper, more immersive fantasy combat experience.

Free Havoc! provides an introduction to our system for creating characters to play in a high fantasy setting, as well as an overview of our magic system and adventuring among the Lands of Sopron. Free Havoc! is not yet fully formed, but it provides enough details for players to undertake the beginning stages of our first campaign, The Curse of Kakadim. The 64-page full-color booklet looks great, and it’s available for free at www.free-havoc.com.

What makes Free Havoc! unique among the scores (hundreds?) of roleplaying games? In a word, Alignment.

Alignment is critically important in a high fantasy setting. Afterall, high fantasy is about the struggle between Good and Evil. In our view, every fantasy roleplaying game out there tacks on Alignment as a bit of an afterthought, often as a way to add flavor to the dice rolls that comprise the character. In some roleplaying games, players choose Alignment; in others, players roll for Alignment. Still others dispense with Alignment entirely. The emphasis and impact on the story will vary from gaming group to gaming group, of course, but no game system relies on Alignment for actually constructing a character. Given the importance of Alignment in the high fantasy genre, we thought crafting a mechanic that puts Alignment front-and-center would breath life into the struggle at the core of high fantasy.

So creating a character in Free Havoc! starts with choosing an Alignment Leaning – either Good, Evil, or Neutral. That choice sets up the allocation of Character Points among Attributes, Advantages, or Skills. Good characters get more points for use in determining Attributes like Strength, Wisdom, and Charisma. Evil characters get more points to use for Advantages like Wealth, Power, Possessions, and Social Status. As those most grounded in the “real world,” Neutral characters get more points to use for Skills like Armorer, Disguise, and Tracking. In this way, choosing Alignment has direct implications on a character’s Attribute scores, possessions, and capabilities.

Here’s where Solzhenitsyn’s dividing line comes in. While players have some choice at the start, finalizing Alignment is random. Free Havoc! has 13 Alignments rated on a scale from 1 (Angelic) through 20 (Demonic). “Low” Alignments are Good; “high” Alignments are Evil. To finalize Alignment, Players roll two six-sided dice and adjust based on their Alignment Leaning (+0 for Good, +4 for Neutral, and +8 for Evil). The dice roll means it’s possible to end up with an Alignment just outside the chosen Alignment Leaning – a player choosing Good might wind up with a Neutral Alignment of 12 (Worldly), and a player choosing Neutral could have an Alignment ranging from the border of Good (an adjusted 6, which would be Honorable) to the starting point of Evil (a 16 would yield Corrupt). And this random element recognizes that “the line between good and evil cuts through the heart” of every gamer.

While the Alignment Leaning affects creating characters, the exact Alignment becomes incredibly important for other aspects of game play. Alignment affects a character’s ability wield magic, their choice of Skills, their Sanity (Good characters have better mental health), and their eligibility for certain Quests. Alignment can also have significant repercussions for Encounters during game play – triggering reactions from NPCs. And finally, Alignment can change during the course of game play – a character can become corrupted towards Evil, or soar to the challenge of Good.

We hope you find our views on Alignment and game play interesting, and we would be honored if you’d give Free Havoc! a look. Maybe there are some elements you could use at your own gaming table. Thanks for your consideration!

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