The inspiration for a character can come from almost anywhere. Some are sparked into life by films, an interesting mechanic or the seed for a grand story. And some are inspired by a desire to chase people with a chainsaw.
Okay, that last one doesn’t fit in quite so well, but that’s exactly what happened when Seventh Sphere released their updated Open Legend rules. These included a good haul of new feats and rules tweaks, but the first thing that jumped out to me was the fact that it gave statistics for chainsaws.
In the past I’ve spoken about the fact I’ve always been a little hesitant to embrace setting-agnostic systems, but the realisation that the kind of flexibility offered by Open Legend would allow me to build a character who specialised in fighting with chainsaws made me grin like a Cheshire Cat. Which is to say, with equal parts glee and malevolence.
There’s more to a character than their weapon, however. We need to work out a few things about our hero’s personality – the most important of which is why on earth they head into battle wielding a chainsaw?
Unless you’re working in the Warhammer 40k universe a it’s unlikely to be a standard military weapons, so it’s probably safe to assume they’ve come from a non-traditional adventuring background. Something happened in their past that prompted them to pick up a loud, unwieldy logging tool and start fighting people with it, and while the natural inclination is to make a chainsaw-waving character a giggling villain I prefer another idea.
After all, crazed murderers aren’t the only people to wield chainsaws. There are also lumberjacks. Very, very angry lumberjacks.
Meet Johan Bristleback, a logger with a thirst for vengeance.
- Might 5
- Fortitude 4
- Perception 3
- Presence 2
- Agility 2
- Battle Trance
- Multi-Bane Specialist (Persistent Damage, Fear)
- Plain shirt
Mechanically, Johan isn’t too different from the classical barbarian archetype. He’s a big, strong dude who can dish out plenty of damage and soak a good amount back up in return thanks to his hefty physical stats and Battle Trance Feat.
However, the combination of his chainsaw and his Multi-Bane Specialist ability means that he excels at forcing foes to flee the battlefield, terrified and bleeding. This makes him incredibly good at either driving dangerous enemies away from the party or simply letting rip and dealing huge amounts of damage.
As he levels up and gains more and more feats it makes sense to focus on this dual-bane aspect, possibly taking Bane Focus on both abilities to make them easier to inflict.
While Johan won’t be too incredible outside of combat, his good perception reflects years spent in the woods while the presence score shows the subtle charisma exuded by a huge, wild-eyed man carrying a bloodstained chainsaw.
Out of the Woods
So we have Johan’s mechanics nailed down, but who is he?
The setting can change a lot, but in my mind Johan spent many years in the forest, simultaneously building a bond with nature and harvesting its bounty. His trusty chainsaw became a close friend to him over those long years and soon he was able to wield it as though it was an extension of his own body.
Then something terrible happened.
Maybe creatures from the outer realms crept through a portal and massacred Johan’s friends in the logging camp while he desperately tried to fight them off with the first thing to hand. Or perhaps an uncaring corporation burned the forest to the ground as part of a weapons test or simply to make room for a factory, and now he’s joined up with a group of vigilantes planning to being their business down.
If we want to stick to a setting where the chainsaw is highly appropriate there’s one cliche that calls out for it – the zombie apocalypse. Maybe the dead have risen and now Johan roams the land, helping to save those he can be day and taking to the treetops by night.
No matter how you play him, Johan will be a blast. Especially if you’re the kind of person who makes ‘vrmmm, VRMMM!’ noises while revving an imaginary chainsaw.