I started thinking a little while back about how I would go about making a Witcher game based on an OSR system. I believe the biggest difference would be in the character creation, as the kind of characters you want to play (witchers) aren’t built the same was as most characters in OSR games. The typical pattern for such a character is the picaro, the roguish sort, and you roll stats to insert unpredictability and emphasize that the adventuring profession takes all comers.
Witchers, on the other hand, are supposed to be a select and trained group, mutated to exceed normal humans and extensively educated in their profession. They’re not especially differentiated among each other by strength, or dexterity, or constitution. A character with bad rolls, even in single stats (especially the physical ones) would have been weeded out or killed in the process of becoming a witcher. Also, differentiated classes make less sense.
Instead, a better approach might be a low-randomness, statless, classless system built on the B/X skeleton (S&W, for me). The bulk of this change would be in player-facing character creation. Here’s what I’ve got so far.
HP starts at 3. These are abstracted hits, most monsters deal 1, some deal 2 or even 3, very small monsters don’t deal even that, status conditions or grappling.
Save starts at 6, roll at or under, up over time, or start at 15, roll at or over, down over time
Other stats, like attack and damage bonuses start at 0.
AC starts at 10+Armor bonus, 2 for light, 4 for medium, 6 for heavy
Simple so far, everyone starts in the same place. The classless part comes with simplified leveling. You gain ‘pips’, with which you can increase any number on your sheet by 1. Increase your attack bonus? Add 1. Increase the number of hits you can take? Add 1. Increase base AC? Add 1.
Starting characters have 3 pips. This means that, before the first adventure starts, they could feasibly have double starting health, or a +3 attack or damage bonus, or a natural AC equivalent to leather an shield. This produces characters that are tougher, deadlier and more experienced than equivalent ‘first level’ characters in B/X. This is very much intentional.
Magic and alchemy, which would surely be part of the game, I’m much less sure on. For a Witcher game, I’d need to make a bespoke quick magic system, same with alchemy. Ripping off the videogames is a good idea here.
As for XP, It might be preferable to use milestone or quest leveling. While witchers are in it for the money, they’re not plundering tombs, they’re taking up jobs and getting paid, which wouldn’t count towards XP under B/X. Pips upon completing quests, or for every few sessions, Mothership-style. Actually, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some substantial inspiration from Mothership here.
What do you think of this approach? How would you develop a high-powered, super-simple character system for OSR?