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Your Reputation Precedes You...

Characters in Old School D&D and in others OSR games begin as nobodies. They are usually common people without significant past deeds that would make them noticeable or famous. I like that. It sets the stage so that the really special events happen during the game. If the PCs are to become famous, gather a reputation, this will be due things they do in their adventures.
There are many games out there that have a system for fame, reputation, renown and such things. I am sure they all work according to their own logic and serve the purpose of the games they are linked to. However, I do not want to add another layer of bookkeeping to my games. Having to track Renown Points or a separate stat to evaluate how famous or recognizable a character is just adds more complexity to the game. At least how I see it. But I still would like a simple way to evaluate if a guard or traveller the PCs come across have heard about them.

To solve this problem, I’ve come up with what I call a Level Test. This works like this. You roll a die and compare it to your Character Level. If it’s equal to or below the number, the NPC recognizes you somehow. Their reaction will vary according to your deeds and fame.

What dice you roll would depend on the game you play. If you play games that cap at Level 10 or so, like DCC RPG, SS&SS and others, you could roll a d10 or even a d12. In games like D&D and others that can go to very high levels up to 20, you can use a d20 or maybe a smaller die (meaning high level characters are always recognized).

The Referee can also impose a Negative or Positive Die depending on how familiar each region is to the culture of the character. Suppose a character famous for his deed in one kingdom traveled all the way across the ocean to another region, his chances of being recognized would be lowe, so the Referee would roll two dice and keep the higher result. In the same manner, if the character made efforts to become bonded to some specific culture, noble house or organization, NPCs linked to them (even enemies) could roll 2 dice and keep the lower result when determining if they know the character.

Well, that’s it. I did have other used for Level Test in my game of Warlocks & Barbarians, but that’s a subject for another post.

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