Where Am I?
You are at the web site for the AmberCon North, AmberCon, and Black Road events in the "Welcome to Hogwarts" series.
If you have found your way here and don't know what that first sentence means... Well, feel free to read through the site, but it is meant for that event, and not really for general consumption.
As was implied by the various game descriptions, "Welcome to Hogwarts" takes place prior to most of the events of the Harry Potter books. In fact, it is set 8 years prior to Harry's arrival at the school, which makes it roughly 3 years after the Fall of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. But, aside from the faculty being a bit younger, this changes very little.
(Players who are not familiar with the books should, at the very least, pick up the first prior to the game. It's a quick and very enjoyable read!)
Player character have, in the past, been first year students, some of whom, in a very unusual move, are being allowed to transfer in to Hogwarts in mid-year. More precicely, in mid-October, just about 6 weeks into the school year, so they won't be too terribly far behind the rest.
Characters added after the initial session (at ACN 2000) will be existing first-year students, getting a chance to meet some of the new students.
All the familiar Hogwarts rules concerning first-years apply, naturally. First-years are not allowed their own broomsticks, nor are they permitted to leave school grounds (excepting Christmas and Easter holidays). No first-year has played for their house quidditch team in almost a century, and as this stays true until Harry Potter changes it several years later, no one should expect otherwise in this game.
Rules and Such
"Welcome to Hogwarts" uses an original system created by the GMs. It is intended to be simple and light, with as little math as possible and not even as much structure as the ADRPG. It is, of course, completely diceless.
In general, characters are described by "key words". When attempting an action covered by one of your character's key words, success is very likely. When attempting an action not associated with a key word or when opposing characters both have applicable key words, broad "category scores" will be used to determine success.
Character Creation Process
- Write a description of your character, as detailed or simple as you care to make it. Don't skip this step, it's vital. The better you know your character at the beginning, the easier the rest will be.
- Go through the description and mark around a half-dozen key words, be they skills, abilities, possessions, secrets, friends, enemies, relatives, reputation, or whatever. You should select every factor you feel is important to representing your character, both positive and negative traits, but also try not to go overboard. If you pick more than eight or nine key words, you should probably go back and eliminate one or two of lesser importance.
- Now assign each key word to one of these four categories: Brains (knowledge and cleverness), Brawn (physical size, strength or skill), Power (magical abilities, specialties or limitations) and Prestige (reputation, connections, family). Except under unusual circumstances (ask the GM if you think your idea qualifies), no character should have more than one or two negative key words in any one category. If a key word could belong to more than one category, you may choose which to use for it. For example, Harry has his Invisibility Cloak, which could be considered a Power keyword (it's an item of magical power) or Prestige (it's an inheritance from his father); in the GMs opinion, Harry's cloak is a Prestige keyword, as the family connection matters more to him than what it does.
- Next, determine a "score" for each category. For this, each positive key word is worth +2 points and each negative key word is worth -1. (Note: In earlier versions of these rules, that was -2... The GMs have decided that was encouraging too many negative keywords.) Yes, your score in a category can be negative if all you have in a category is a negative key word. Your score in each category will be used to resolve actions related to that category but to which no key word applies or to break ties if both characters have equally useful keywords. Thus, a character with 3 positive Brains key words will tend to be good at Brains-related actions in general.
- Finally, we have to balance out the characters somewhat, to be fair.
- If your total score is less than 10, you may add points to any category or categories until your total is 10. For every 2 full points you add to a category, you may also add an additional positive key word of your choice; go back to your description and find something else good to say about your character! Or, perhaps, you can add another negative keyword and turn a 1 point surplus into 2, earning that extra keyword. If not, a 1 point surplus can be added to any category without a word, and will assist your character in breaking ties.
- If your total score is more than 10, you must either remove positive key words or add additional negative key words. Either remove something that isn't quite so central to your character or else find (or create) something bad you didn't emphasize earlier to make into a new key word.
Prior Communication With the GMs
It never hurts to talk to the GM in advance.
If you have an idea you aren't sure how to make work or questions you need answered, just drop us a line.
Also, the more we know about the characters in advance, the more work we can focus on the things players show interest in. And that's good for everyone!