Reflecting on this over the last couple of days I present B/X Indiana Jones, Master Thief.
Almost certainly I won't have created the B/X Indiana you would have, he is too iconic for any hope of that but my goal was primarily to explore B/X through reflecting on Indiana not the other way around.
Ability scores for legendary characters are difficult to assign. I could have just simply given him 18 for everything but that's untrue even in the film series, lacks any intellectual gain for me and frankly is boring. I could have rolled and rolled until I found something I liked, in fact I did this 4d6 take the best 3, a few times, and quickly gave it up. Finally I settled on this challenge, Indiana has ability scores of: 13,14,15,16,17,18; to be assigned as I saw fit. You are welcome to tell me how you would have assigned the scores, or characterised Indiana Jones into B/X, differently.
14th Level Master Thief
Hit Points 68
AC (4)vs melee, (2) vs missile weapons
Leather Flight Jacket gives the equivalent of leather armor (AC7)
Acts as a +1 ring of protection (+1 AC, +1 all saving throws)
Additional +2AC vs missile weapons
Returning: Indiana's magical hat will always find some way to return to him within 6 turns
Whip +2, (as per Rules Cyclopedia page 66: may be used to cause damage (1-2) or have a special effect, the victim must save vs death ray or become entangled, slowed or delayed, depending on the victim's hit dice and consulting the special effects Table 3 on page 80).
Additionally Indiana can use his whip to perform acrobatics or feats of daring-do using his climb sheer surfaces thief skill (99% at Level 14, modified by the DM for the complexity of what Indiana is attempting)
Indiana has a profound fear of snakes. If he encounters a snake he must save vs Rods, Staves, or Spells, failure means he must flee as per the 1st level cleric spell Cause Fear
Notes - Here I attempt to justify all my choices.
Why a thief?
Look at this picture, what else is he?
This is Indy about to fail his pick pockets / sleight of hand roll.
This is Indy about to fail his pick pockets / sleight of hand roll.
Yeah he fights, but he doesn't win by pure brawn. He's not stacked like this opponent fighter. He uses dexterity and luck more than strength, traits of a thief.
Look at him
Indy is a thief.
Why Level 14
It's just the best you can be in B/X.
The exact numbers are really irrelevant, the key is the order I chose. Which I am sure is very debatable.
From least to most:
Not forgetting this student.
Intelligence, he is a professor. Some might think he needs to be smarter but 15 intelligence is very smart on a 3-18 scale.
Dexterity, with the stunts Indy does, and the way he avoids ever being shot, he has a very high dexterity.
Wisdom, this will be controversial.
From my recent meanderings on Intelligence and Wisdom I quoted Gary Gygax defining the ability score of wisdom in AD&D as, "For game purposes wisdom ability subsumes the categories of willpower, judgment, wile, enlightenment, and intuitiveness."
Willpower is a very important aspect of this as can be seen in my Wisdom Retrospective, where from editions after Holmes, Wisdom gives a saving throw bonus to certain magical attacks, making the 'will' aspect of wisdom very prominent. Indeed, only in AD&D where clerics get bonus spells from having high wisdom, is there any other in game mechanic for wisdom apart from wisdom as will, benefiting saving throws. For a new take on the intuition / divine guidance of wisdom see this recent post of mine.
The trouble we have is that when we think of wisdom we think of being wise, not of being wilful.
We think of Yoda, not Indiana lurching from one disaster to the next. Though, nine hundred years old, may be a matter of will as well as Yoda species genetics.
Yet, will is clearly a D&D aspect of the ability score wisdom. This isn't as strange as it seems. Charisma is both physical attractiveness and/or force of personality. To quote Gary page 15 DMG, "Many persons have the sad misconception that charisma is merely physical attractiveness." It is possible to be physically attractive but still have a low charisma. Why then should it not be possible to be unwise but very wilful. Or at least not particularly wise but very wilful.
In a recent debate posed by A Paladin in the City regarding who would win if two strength 13 fighters arm-wrestle, Alexis (The Tao of D&D) in his customary style said, "the one who wanted to win." A Paladin in the City asked, which game mechanic encapsulates this? My answer would be, the one with the higher wisdom (will).
Is Indiana wilful? I say a definite yes! He never ever gives up. That is one of his defining characteristics and why I gave him wisdom (will) as his second most high ability score.
Constitution, Indy takes a beating and then he takes another. Bloody and bruised he comes out in the end. He has a high constitution, no question. And I give it 18.
With 18 constitution he gets 27 (3*9 levels). With 5 levels above name level a B/X thief gets 2 HP/level = 10 hit points. 9d4 hitpoints, I rolled a few times using the App Dicenomicon, until I rolled 29. I liked that but the total number became 66, felt like the wrong number for Indiana, though whip in Rules Cyclopedia is on page 66. I found out that Harrison Ford is 68 and for no other reason but that I was looking for a logical reason to move from 66 hit points, I settled on Indiana Jones has 68 hit points.
I know there are no leather fighter jackets in fantasy D&D. I called his jacket leather armor. I could have made it very magical giving him a really low AC but B/X doesn't need super hyped items or ability scores. Also Indy gets hit in melee fights a lot, it's his high hit points that saves him.
His fedora hat, his most iconic item, therefore his most powerful. A bonus to AC, since I didn't give him one with his armor felt appropriate here. And the bonus to saving throw I am sure he needs and uses regularly! The additional +2AC for missile weapons? Do you know how often bullets, darts and arrows fly at Indy, how often do they hit? Magical returning hat, if I didn't see it happening time after time in the movies, I would never have believed it.
Whip +2. Hardly B/X but there is no whip in B/X. Using cyclopedia was admittedly a cop out and if I really had whips in my campaign I would design a simpler game mechanic. Linking his whip acrobatic manoeuvres to his climb sheer walls thief ability, seemed to encourage his feats of daring-do, giving him a high chance of success, which is what we observe in the films. He doesn't often land flat on his face when using his whip.
His fear of snakes, I was happy enough to use the cause fear spell mechanic already in the rules but had trouble settling on which saving throw it should be made against. Originally I thought save vs paralysis but failing against paralysis and then running away as fast as you can didn't feel right. Save vs Rods, Staves, or Spells, at least conjures the image of snakes as rods or snake staves.
What about guns you ask? I thought about referring to JB's B/X Guns Postings or else giving Indy a crossbow or hand crossbow (too drow like) but in the end decided to drop the whole concept of a missile weapon, his revolver is not one of his defining characteristics as far as I am concerned.
I leave you with this image. Raiders came out in 1981. How much did the opening scenes of Raiders influence our D&D campaigns? It still is, just ask James Raggi, it features in one of his modules.
I hope you enjoyed, Indiana Jones a B/X Master Thief.
PS If any wise blogger, that is wisdom as being wise not as in wilful, knows how to stop large empty spaces appearing in my posting, please let me know. It doesn't look like this in the draft, prior to Publish Post.
Image web locations in order of appearance: