Creating a Character – Chapter 3 (Part 6) – HYOOTRD RPG Players’ Guide

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Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama Role Playing Game
Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama Role Playing Game

Step 8. Modify the character to accommodate any special conditions encountered during play (as required)

These rules only apply if your character is a subject to illness, injury, a disability (which can be identified at character creation to allow a gain of two more hero points) or if your character has been the victim of a transformative event (the bite of a werewolf, loss of a limb, scientific experimentation, or physical re-engineering etc.).  If these rules do not apply to your character at this point in time then your character is complete.

Illness and injury

Wounds heal at a rate of one point per day unless they are piercing wounds (from blades or projectiles). Piercing wounds heal at a rate of one point per week.

Example (Healing standard wounds)

Jake Stead

Jake was beaten severely and received five standard wounds. He  heals one of his wounds each day. On the sixth day after the fight, Jake is fully recovered.

Example (Healing piercing wounds)

Malefice, Mistress of the Mystic Arts)

Malefice has 6 wound points. In a fight she is stabbed twice rendering her unconscious. She takes all 6 points of damage before her friends rescue her.

She adds a dot of piercing wounds for each time she was stabbed and records the remaining four wounds as standard wounds.

Malefice will recover from the 4 (6 standard wounds minus 2 piercing wounds) standard wounds she received in 4 days. The remaining two piercing wounds (one for each dot of piercing wounds she received) will take a further week to recover from each.

Rub out each standard wound dot as it is recovered daily first. Then rub out the remaining dots (with their corresponding piercing dots) as each is recovered with the passing of each subsequent week of game time.

If subject to an illness the player’s character will generally recover after one to five days of rest.  Roll 1d6 for the number of days.  A 6 indicates that the player will not recover without treatment during that five day period.  Where treatment is required, the player rolls 1d6 to determine its effectiveness. A roll of 1 to 5 indicates the treatment works.  A 6 indicates that a permanent weakness has resulted. If the character fails to find treatment within the five days they die from the illness.

A permanent weakness might include a limp, partial paralysis, a recurring fever, loss of memory or any of a number of other disabilities that your GM might invent.


Insanity may or may not be a feature of the stories your characters participate in.  Sanity is  represented by your character’s essence score.  Serious shocks can reduce your sanity and leave your character suffering from phobias of various sorts.  Some shocks (or the cumulative effect of a series of shocks) can be so great as to drive the character over the edge into suicide, psychopathy, sociopathy, or other forms of serious madness.

When characters encounter a shock sufficient to require a sanity roll they roll 2d10 + their essence.  If the result is higher than or equal to 12 they survive the shock intact.  If they fail they now roll 1d6 to determine the strength of the shock.  A 1-5 results in a phobia while a 6 results in a severe problem.  Hero points cannot be used to adjust sanity rolls.  Roll on the Phobia table to determine a phobia or use the Psychopathology table if a more severe problem is called for.  Re-roll identical results. If three phobias have been collected the player must roll for a severe condition and replace the oldest phobia with it.

2d10 Phobia
2 Ophidiophobia – The fear of snakes.
3 Acrophobia – The fear of heights.
4 Agoraphobia – The fear of open or crowded spaces.
5 Cynophobia – The fear of dogs.
6 Astraphobia – The fear of thunder/lightning
7 Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces
8 Mysophobia – The fear of germs.
9 Aerophobia – The fear of flying.
10 Trypophobia – The fear of holes
11 Carcinophobia – The fear of cancer.
12 Thanatophobia – The fear of death.
13 Glossophobia – The fear of public speaking.
14 Monophobia – The fear of being alone.
15 Atychiphobia – The fear of failure.
16 Ornithophobia – The fear of birds.
17 Alektorophobia – The fear of chickens..
18 Enochlophobia – The fear of crowds
19 Aphenphosmphobia – The fear of intimacy.
20 Trypanophobia – The fear of needles.



1d10 Psychopathology
1 Alcoholism
2 Anxiety/Panic attacks
3 Depression
4 Bipolar disorder (Mood swings between manic and depressive epsiodes)
5 Obsessive compulsive disorder
6 Delusions
7 Psychopathy (mistreatment of others for pleasure)
8 Sociopathy (mistreatment of others due to lack of empathy)
9 Multiple personality disorder
10 Eating disorder (starvation or binging)

Players may choose, at character creation, to sacrifice essence (taking on a phobia for each point sacrificed) in order to gain extra hero points (2 hero points for every point of essence sacrificed).

A player reduced to zero essence is incurably insane (and probably catatonic).  Such a character will be transferred to a mental institution and will no longer be available for play.

Phobias and serious mental illnesses are invented by the GM as required and usually relate to the conditions surrounding the shock that applied to the character (eg. A shock that occurred in a dark tunnel might result in a phobia regarding enclosed spaces or a fear of the dark etc.).  Serious mental conditions arise as means of escaping the triggering condition. Suicide, Multiple personality disorder where a protective personality is developed, memory loss/amnesia, and even catatonia are examples of conditions that might arise.

Examples (Sanity Loss)

Jake Stead

Jake Stead is afraid of small spaces after an experience in the great war.  He pays a point of essence to gain a two hero-point benefit from this phobia but must role play the effects of this phobia whenever faced with small enclosed spaces (spaces in which he is required to stoop or turn sideways to fit into etc.).

James Mitchell

Investigative reporter, James Mitchell, returns to his family home to find all his family members have been torn apart.  In the center of the ruin is a tentacled beast covered in hooks and beaks feeding on the remains.  The shock is immense and James rolls his sanity (2d10 + essence).  He fails and loses 1 essence point.  The GM decides the shock is severe and asks for a d6 consequence roll.  James rolls a 5 (saving him from a severe condition).  The GM decides he now has an uncontrollable fear of tentacles.  James runs screaming into the night.

The Blue Wren

An Occult Librarian, known only as the Blue Wren, is present during a ritual of summoning that calls forth a monstrous entity from another dimension.  This being is so alien that it drives many of the participants insane.  She rolls her sanity (2d10 + essence) and fails.  Due to a number of previous encounters she only had one essence point left which she has now lost.  She rolls a 6 on a consequence roll indicating a resulting severe condition.  The GM decides she has gone suicidally insane and she hands her character sheet over.

Bad Things (transforming events)

Bad things can happen to your character; things far worse than injury and illness (though they happen as well).  These bad things include, but are not limited to, being mutated by a mad scientist, turned into a vampire or zombie, bitten by a werewolf, killed and raised as a spectre, transformed into a ghoul, changeling, or promethean , or rebuilt as a cyborg.   Bad things don’t necessarily mean the end of your character, however.  If you want, you can continue on and try to maintain what remains of your humanity.  Who knows there may even be a cure out there somewhere that can help reverse the effects your character suffers?

Such events have results that share two characteristics in common; they require the maintenance of an animating principle and imply a potential loss of humanity.  The strength of the animating principle makes it possible for the character to continue in the transformed state without breaking down and is measured by Essence.  The strength of the capacity of the character to retain his or her humanity/essential personality in the transformed state is measured by Resistance.


Transformed characters gain new skills (in keeping with their condition) that have as many dots in them as the character has in initial essence or resistance points (whichever is higher).  The player may invent any skills they wish to add these points to so long as they conform to the nature of the transformation. For example, if the player is mutated and develops gills it would be appropriate for the player to develop the ability to breath under water, or filter poison gases out of the atmosphere.  More traditional transformations may, but do not have to, embrace more traditional powers (such as a vampire’s ability to turn into a bat).  Claws and teeth may grant new attacks during combat etc.  A cyborg may gain the ability to lift heavy objects or do extra damage.


Transformations have a generally negative effect on how the world sees a character (either in terms of trust or attractiveness) and the character must accept a -2 penalty to their persuasion skill.

Essence and Resistance can be lost.  Each month (or individual adventure whichever comes soonest) the player must make an essence AND resistance roll (2d10 + (the stat/2 rounded up)).

A successful essence roll indicates that the animating principle (keeping the character mobile) has not faded.  A failure reduces essence by one (along with any mental skills the player may have) and indicates they are beginning to fade – their ectoplasm is running out, or the electrical bonds holding them together are starting to break down, or the virus that infects and animates them is starting to break down.

Each point of essence or resistance that is lost is recorded under penalty points on your character sheet.  These should be deducted from every skill roll made thereafter.

If essence reaches zero the character is unable to continue play having faded, fallen into torpor, or physically disintegrated.

A successful resistance roll indicates that the character does not lose possession of their faculties and personality as a result of the transformation.  A failure reduces resistance by one (along with any manual skills employed by the character) and indicates the character is beginning to lose touch with their underlying humanity.  A failure indicates that the character runs amok for 24 hours.  During this time the character is unaware of what they have been doing (though the GM knows).

If resistance reaches zero the character is no more than a beast, unable to assert any control over their base drives.

Dealing with injury

The nature of the transformation alters the way players recover from injury.  Living creatures recover as normal.

Mechanical beings are repaired rather than healed.  Assuming the presence of sufficient tools and time, ordinary bashing damage is repaired at 1 point per hour while piercing damage is repaired at 1 point per four hours spent.

Mechanical beings have no magical skill.  Any previously held magic ceases to operate. The points spent on magical abilities are returned to the character to be spent on non-mystical skills and they are thereafter considered to belong to the adventurer or academic speciality.

Mechanical and undead beings are immune to illness.

Creatures which are dead must spend essence to heal.  A point of essence returns an undead character to full wounds.  However, the essence cost is permanent.

Mutation (mutant)

A character can be turned into a mutant (by being captured and experimented on by a Mad Scientist or through exposure to dangerous radiation etc.)  If this happens they will be subject to a number of (usually random) physical alterations. A character may have up to 3 mutations (made up by the GM or picked from a list such as the one below).


Webbed feet or hands












Multiple eyes


Eyes on stalks



Extra limbs







James Mitchell

James Mitchell is captured by a mad scientist and subjected to a mutating energy beam.  The GM rolls 1d6 getting a 5 and dividing the result by 2 rounding up to determine how many mutations James is subject to (in this case 3).  He decides James develops multiple eyes on his face and body, a set of gills, and (1d6/2 rounded up or 3) tentacles which grow out of his back.  His freakish appearance gives him a -2 penalty to any attempts at persuasion or social interaction.

Rather than lose the character at this point, James decides to play on.  He has four points of essence and invents the following skills in line with his new condition. He adds a tentacle attack skill at one dot and can now add an extra (clubbing) tentacle attack to a combat phase.  He adds a breathe underwater skill at one dot also.  Finally he adds a two dot bonus to perception (for his multiple eyes).

Mechanization (cyborg)

A character may (either through capture by an insane gadgeteer or simply because they have been damaged beyond normal endurance) be subject to mechanization.  Mechanical parts are grafted onto the body as functional replacement parts etc.  It is even possible that the entire body (apart from the brain) may be replaced. Mechanization is always physically intrusive (making the character appear less human).  Generally speaking a human body can handle three significant simultaneous modifications at most.  Where the character seeks out a replacement limb (etc) they can control what replacements occur.  However, if they are captured and altered by an outside agency the changes are up to the GM.  Elements of mechanisation might include…

Replacement arms

Full body replacement (excluding brain)

Replacement legs

Extra legs

Replacement organs (excluding brain)

Replacement torso

Extra arms

Replacement senses (optical scanners for eyes etc)

Replacement skull (excluding brain)

It is possible to add extra arms and extra legs to a full body replacement if so desired (so that it still technically adds up to three changes).



The mystic Beth-Nalain is captured by an insane clockmaker who succeeds in turning her into a clockwork cyborg.  The GM randomly determines that she will undergo three modifications.  When Beth-Nalain wakes up after the surgery she no longer has any mystical abilities, her legs have been replaced with clockwork as has her skull and both her heart and lungs.  Her appearance is now very frightening.  She has 4 essence points chooses to give herself the following new skills; frightening visage (which, after discussion with the GM, freezes opponents in place for a round and on a critical success consequence roll causes them to break and run away) enhanced speed, immunity to poison, and extra processing (which after discussion with the GM allows a second roll whenever an academic skill is required – she can choose the best of the two results).


Disembodiment (ghost)

Having been killed it is sometimes possible to bring a character back as a ghost.  Ghosts are usually raised for a purpose.  It takes a successful resistance roll to defy that purpose or stay behind once the purpose has been accomplished.

Ghosts are generally visible as a glowing translucent memory of their original form.  Movement is achieved by gliding.  Ghosts are unable to touch, taste, smell, or otherwise handle real world objects.


Elias Fergusson

Elias was trying to prevent the evil Mordric from raising an evil King to recover a lost treasure.  He succeeded in thwarting the plot but died in the process. Mordric, having survived, and, being a vindictive sort, decides to raise and enslave Elias as a ghost.  Elias has 4 essence points and invents the following skills for himself in ghostly form; pass through solid objects (one dot), turn invisible (one dot), possess living entity (one dot), and drain life (one dot, which on discussion with his GM allows him to drain 3 wounds of life each attack phase).  The possess living entity skill suggests Mordric may get more than he bargained for by raising Elias.

Reanimation (zombie)

A character may find themselves brought back from the dead to inhabit their own corpse.  This may be the result of mad science, voodoo rituals, or a zombie virus etc.  Generally, zombies are raised for a purpose.  Viral zombies may exist only to kill and eat, but the traditional zombie is a slave.   To assert a zombie’s independence over its primal urges (or its master’s orders) it must make a successful resistance roll at creation.  Zombies are subject to putrefaction up to the point at which they are raised (after which they do not decompose) but retain any physical wounds  (not wound points) and scars received prior to and at the time of death.  They do not need to eat, breathe, or sleep.  They do not get tired or bleed.  New wounds received, however, will not heal either (except at the cost of essence – see above).


Samantha Hughes

Samantha was shot three times in the chest by her enemies before the vodoun found her and raised her to her new zombie state.  She has 4 resistance points and decides to invent 4 zombie skills for herself; hide in shadows (one dot), enhanced strength (one dot, which after consultation with the GM adds one point to all bashing damage), induce fear (one dot, which causes opponents to freeze in terror or run away on a failed consequence roll), and read death and decay (one dot, which allows the zombie to “see” the events associated with a place of death or decay).  The bullet wounds in her chest remain after her resurrection but are easily hidden beneath her clothing).  She was raised quickly so, while a little green in pallor, does not appear too rotted.

Reanimation (promethean)

Promethean Reanimation (typified by Frankenstein’s monster) occurs where the character has been turned into a recombined and animated corpse (the brain having been preserved while a number of body parts have been stitched together from a variety of sources, possibly with some mechanisation thrown in for good measure).  Changes wrought at reconstruction might include minor mechanical combined with major biological replacement parts such as…

Replacement arms

Full body replacement (excluding brain)

Replacement legs

Extra legs

Replacement organs (excluding brain)

Replacement torso

Extra arms

Replacement senses (optical scanners for eyes etc)

Replacement skull (excluding brain)


Andrew Steele

After being captured by the Technomaster, Andrew Steele awakes naked upon an operating table, energy surging through his body.  Looking down at himself he sees scars, stitches, and unfamiliar musculature.  This isn’t his body anymore.  In fact it appears to be an amalgam of body parts taken from diverse owners.  His left hand doesn’t even look human… perhaps clockwork.

Andrew’s player adjusts his character to fit the new reality in which he finds himself.  He has four essence points and invents some new abilities to use in his promethean state; enhanced strength, channel lightning (an area effect doing 4 points of damage, but only available for use 3 times a day), feline sight (he decides the Technomaster gave him cat’s eyes), and sense living creatures.

Andrew immediately tries to break free of his constraints.  He wishes to be revenged upon the monster who did this to him!

Vampirism (vampire)

Characters who have been subject to a vampire bite or turning may or may not have all the features of traditional vampires.  Regardless, vampires have a hunger that can only be met by feeding on the living. The GM will decide whether  or not this is a traditional blood thirst (who knows, the hunger may alternatively be for life force or mental energy?), how sparkly or otherwise they are, and whether they can handle sunlight etc.


Richard Renfrew

While on a midnight mission in London, super spy Richard Renfrew, was set upon in an alley by thugs and left to die.  When he awoke he had a wound in his throat and an aversion to daylight.  After three days with a high fever he awakes to find himself suffering from an almost unbearable thirst for blood.  He is a vampire.

Richard’s player adjusts his character sheet accordingly and with four resistance points to spend takes exsanguination and turn/sire new vampire as skills, while also taking summon/control rats and wall crawling (one dot in each).

Lycanthropy (werewolf)

Lycanthropes transform into predatory bipedal animals (wolves, bears, foxes, mountain lions etc) at the full moon.  While the details of the Lycanthrope’s condition is left to the GM, some things are typical. They gain fur, teeth, claws, and a tail.  They are usually vulnerable to silver (which acts as a poison).  Wounds from normal weapons do damage but are regenerated during the day.  A  Lycanthrope cannot be killed in their transformed body unless by silver.  A transformed lycanthrope can only be killed by silver but turns back into an unconscious human when damaged (by normal weapons) to the full wounds points available.  If the human form is killed the Lycanthrope is permanently dead.


Sarah (Six-gun Sarah) Henley

It had almost been a month since Six-gun Sarah Henley had fought off the wolves outside Duke Von Hohendorf’s chateau.  She had only received a small bite, but today the old wound is hurting a good deal and she feels very tired.  As the moon rises above her the pain in the wound begins to spread forcing her to her knees.  She can feel the change coming on even as she tries to resist it.  Fur sprouts, she falls to all fours, her jaw elongates and her joints reform themselves.  Before she fully realises what is happening to her, the change ias complete.  Sarah is a werewolf.

Sarah’s player adjusts her character sheet to reflect her new condition and records “Infectious Bite” as one of her skills.  She has three points remaining to spend and buys night vision, tracking/stalking and silent movement.

Necrophagy (ghoul)

Characters infected with Necrophagy (by having been fed dead human meat) undergo a number of physical changes.  They become gaunt and wasted with pointed ears, sharp teeth, and an inability to eat anything that isn’t carrion.  They are particularly drawn to dead human bodies as sustenance.  If essence reaches zero the character loses what remains of his/her humanity, hands their character sheet over to the GM, and becomes a monster dwelling in one of the ghoul colonies to be found beneath cemeteries.


Angela Astbury

Socialite, Angela Astbury thinks there was something terribly wrong with the meal served at Lance Scarborough’s dinner table last night.  She has been feeling extremely unwell all day.  When she looks in the mirror her face appears withered, her hair is falling out, and she appears to be wasting away even as she watches.  She was fed infected, dead, human meat and has been turned into a  ghoul.

Angela’s player takes a few moments to adjust her character sheet and buy some new skills (in this case, enhanced strength, claws, night vision, and tunnelling) before deciding what her next move will be.

NEXT TIME: Chapter 4 (Part 1) – Getting things done – character actions and playing the game, especially general actions and skill ranks.

This chapter of the Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama RPG and all associated content (except where acknowledged) is © copyright and Philip Craig Robotham 1997 and may not be reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author.

HYOOTRD Roleplaying Game – Players’ Guide

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