Or, making a 2E character.
Erik of Wampus ran the tournament module Egg of the Phoenix on G+ as an experiment. I got in on the last of three sessions dedicated to the adventure, and given that the character I usually play in Wampus is only a third level FLAILSNAILS planeswalking magic-user (originally from Barrowmaze), Slin Zad the Purple, I decided to create a higher-level second edition character for the hell of it. I had about 30 minutes before the session started.
First, roll ability scores. 4d6 drop the lowest arrange to taste: 12, 14, 14, 14, 15, 14.
Second, determine level. Wikipedia tells me Egg is intended for characters of level 5 to 9, so 4+1d5 = … 8. I need to make this character quickly, and I guess it would be fun to roll up a random intelligent magic sword, so let’s go fighter. Human, of course, by default. Abilities: str 14, dex 14, con 15, int 12, wis 14, cha 14. Wow, 2E is pretty stingy with attribute bonuses. Those physical stats only grant +1 HP per hit die and nothing else. That’s okay, 8d10 +8 HP yields… 64 HP. (Jot down THAC0, to-hit table, and saves).
Still no back story… Courtney’s NPC traits tell me smells of smoke, grave, and violent. 2E’s secondary skills table tells me he was a farmer.
How about that magic sword? Following some rolling in the DMG, +3 bonus, int 13, communicates by empathy, 2 primary abilities, alignment: neutral good. Okay, so the sword is neutral good and he is violent by nature, so the sword is probably a force of restraint in his life. Making up sword backstory… was created by some ancient extradimensional agency to recover/destroy/warehouse things that might cause chaotic imbalance in the multiverse. Agency may be long gone, but if so the sword doesn’t know that and has tasked its wielder with seeking out agency headquarters in addition to guiding the champion to dangerous items which must be contained. (Aside, from the section on intelligent weapons in the 2E DMG: Such weapons are useful to give higher-level fighters some additional tactical options and limited-use special abilities.)
Powers: detect magic, 10′ radius (rolled twice, so that becomes 20′ radius) at-will (by chance, that fits the sword’s purpose, to track down dangerous items, perfectly). In pursuit of its mission, it can confuse enemies (as per the spell) on a hit (save vs. spell to avoid). Shoe S. named the sword during the session: Most Furious Gantling.
What about other magic items. Weren’t there some guidelines in 2E about equipping high-level NPCs? Flip flip flip… can’t find it… okay what seems reasonable? How about 1d4 (= 3) rolls on the magic item table the DMG? Yeah, that sounds good. Roll roll, banded armor +2, cloak of elvenkind (yep, this is definitely a 2E character), and ring of fire resistance (ah, that explains the “smells of smoke” trait).
For other mundane equipment, I’ll just use my strength-based encumbrance for guidelines because it’s the best and so Cade can carry up to 14 items before taking encumbrance penalties. I’ll just pick some mundane items: helm, 50′ rope, grappling hook, magic sword, pouch of 3d6 x10 (= 140) GP, shield, heavy crossbow (damage: 1d4+1, 1d6+1 vs. large creatures), case of 20 quarrels, dagger (1d4, 1d3 vs. large), rations, rations, waterskin, 6 torches. Insignificant items: cloak of elvenkind (insignificant because it’s clothing), ring of fire resistance, flint & steel, banded armor +2 (insignificant because it’s magical). There is one encumbrance slot free before penalties start to accrue in case I need to pick something up during the adventure. Yep, I’m inserting my house rules in unilaterally, but they are mostly restrictive, so I don’t think Erik will care. AC 4 (banded), +2 (magical bonus), +1 (shield) for final AC of 1.
Specialized in long sword, because that’s the main class feature of fighters in 2E. +1 attack, +2 damage, two attacks per round (which I didn’t actually remember during play). No non-weapon proficiencies, because who wants to deal with that noise.
So, I have a mystic X-Files eternal champion type, dominated by Most Furious Gantling.
Worked out well in the session too, though he lost two levels to some jerk vampire and so is now only 6th level with max HP of 48. I’m figuring the sword probably had something to do with giving him all those levels to begin with, though that was a one time thing that the sword most likely can’t do again (at least not without visiting headquarters, which may be the product of some past cosmic cycle and so dust by now).