One of my tabletop gaming dreams is to experience the world of Hyrule at the roleplaying table. I’ve loved the world of The Legend of Zelda since I was a child and frequently imagined my own characters who might live in that world. With so many interesting fantasy races with unique cultures and tons of iconic locations to explore, it’s no wonder that I’m not the only person who had this idea. Enough people had this idea, in fact, that a group of them banded together to create a Zelda tabletop experience. Called Reclaim the Wild, this game takes inspiration first from Breath of the Wild but also from the Zelda series in its entirety and offers to translate the experience of the video game franchise into tabletop play.
In my experience with roleplaying games, the best way to get an introduction to the basic systems of a tabletop is to go through the process of character creation. It introduces you to all the core concepts, gives you an idea of what your creative possibilities are, and gets you excited for what comes after. So with no opportunities to play Reclaim the Wild looming on the horizon, I thought it would be fun to take some character ideas and put them onto paper to see what the game has to offer. I’ll be exploring two different character concepts at the same time, with my tentative plan being that one will focus on physical characteristics or speed while the other is a social or magical character. This will allow me to engage a few different mechanisms and to prioritize different aspects of the character creation process.
Character creation in Reclaim the Wild follows a seven step process that begins with a concept, then determines the race of the character before distributing traits, invests in gear and special abilities, before finally finishing things up by filling in secondary characteristics and colorful details that give life to the character. While I’ll be focusing primarily on the options I am taking for my characters, I’ll also talk about what I’m not taking to a degree so that you can fully appreciate the variety of options available. After all, I imagine many of the folks who might be drawn to this article will be wanting to get an idea of whether or not you can create the kinds of characters you are excited about, so I want to show that off as much as possible.
I have two character concepts in mind, based somewhat on archetypes that already exist in the Zelda universe so that I won’t be pushing the system too hard. The first is a Zora character who I envision as my social or magical character. The second is a Rito who will be oriented more towards physical abilities. The game recommends coming up with a short description that can quickly describe your concept, giving examples like “a fast-talking knight” or “a romantic herbalist.” For my characters these concepts are “a wise innkeeper” and “a well-traveled postman.” I imagine both of these characters as people just beginning their journeys as heroes, rising out of humble beginnings just as Link himself often begins as a knight-in-training or a rancher.
I’ve already shared my race choices, but let’s talk about them in a little more detail. I chose a Zora innkeeper because – as we see in Breath of the Wild – the Zora are longer lived than the other races. I imagine this is a character who has met a truly impressive number of travelers and heard their stories, gleaning wisdom from individuals of many cultures and walks of life. As for my Rito postman, the ability to fly allows the Rito to quickly travel all over the world, honing his athletic skill as well as his knowledge of survival in the wild. Each race in the game has bonuses, and my Rito character would benefit from flight and gliding as well as resistance to the cold. Meanwhile, my Zora would get bonuses to swimming, enhanced accuracy with weapons frequently used in Zora culture, and one free ability related to the Zora race.
The game has a pretty extensive list of race options. Being based primarily on Breath of the Wild, you can play as a Hylian, Sheikah, Goron, Gerudo, Rito, or Zora and fit right into the setting. These are primary races recommended for starting players, but with permission other races from across the Zelda series are also permitted. These include the Twili, talking animals, Subrosians, Deku Scrubs, fairies, and demons. Because the game doesn’t have a class system, your race choice doesn’t limit your options as far as combat ability or magical potential. There are certainly mechanical benefits to consider, and from a balancing perspective some races will seem better than others at particular abilities, but you’re just as welcome to play a Deku tank as you are a Goron one.
Traits are the core stats of your character, and there are quite a few of them: 24 in total, 8 for each of the three core pieces of the Triforce (Courage, Wisdom, and Power). Your character begins with 80 points that are referred to as tokens of heroism to invest across traits. Traits start at 1 and can be raised as high as 5 during character creation, with each increase costing as many tokens as the number you are raising to. This means it costs 14 of your 80 tokens to increase a single trait to 5. Because choosing individually how many points to put in every trait could easily become painful, the game provides trait sets which are recommended formats for spending your 80 points based on how balanced or specialized you want your character to be.
Power traits contain many of your core battle statistics such as Combat (which determines damage), Hearts (determining hit points), and Fortitude (resistance to physical maladies). Power also involves skills related to craftsmanship such as Smithing and Mechanics. Wisdom is of course where Magic lies (determining your MP) as well as Willpower (determining spell power). Many social abilities, such as Influence and Perform, also fall into this category. Finally, courage includes traits like Accuracy, Agility, and Stamina which are important for battle, but also traits like Guile and Insight which influence your ability to trick and to be tricked. Because you invest tokens in individual traits and not in the three major aspects, you don’t have to build your character as focused on one particular one (and most likely wouldn’t want to).
It’s valuable in these situations to look ahead at what secondary stats are influenced by the primary traits you choose. For example, Stamina is important to anyone who wants to use combat techniques or items frequently, while Athletics matters if you want to be able to jump or lift heavy objects. Hearts, Stamina, Magic, Agility, Discipline, Fortitude, and Athletics are the traits that influence secondary statistics, so they may be worth investing at least a couple of points in regardless of whether or not they are super important to your character. This is particularly true for Hearts, as a character with only 1 token in that trait will have only 4 HP at the beginning of the game.
For my Zora innkeeper, I definitely want an emphasis on magical and social traits, so I will likely put a lot of points in wisdom traits. I’m drawn to the “focused on their strengths” archetype which puts a few traits at high scores but has lots of traits with very little training. Having Magic, Willpower, and Perform each at 5 will make the character very potent magically. Arcana and Influence at 4 will secure the character as someone who is socially powerful and knowledgeable. Cooking and Insight at 3 reflect skills the character would naturally develop at her job. I want Health and Stamina to be at 2 so she isn’t totally helpless in those regards, as well as Perception, Civilization, and Discipline. Everything else will be set to 1. Notably, this character would not have good basic attacks, with both her accuracy and damage being pitiful. She wouldn’t be particularly fast either, definitely making her a glass cannon in combat scenarios.
For my Rito postman, I imagine a character with a more balanced skillset, nothing at the highest possible rank but also few traits (maybe no traits) at the lowest rank. I like the “varied” set for this. Only five traits are at 1 but there are also three traits at 4, meaning that the character will have a clear specialization while also having at least a little bit of a bonus to most traits. I decide to put his three 4s into Agility, Stamina, and Perception, skills that I imagine are key to his work as a postman. His six 3s I want to use to build his combat prowess, throwing them into Hearts, Combat, and Accuracy to improve his fighting prowess. I also want to emphasize his knowledge of the world and survival, so Civilization and Nature are both important here. Finally, looking at the description of Fortitude shows that it is relevant for exhausting tasks, so that makes sense to me for long flights when making deliveries. Now I assign my 2s and 1s – it looks easier to pick five things he is bad at rather than nine things he is mediocre at, so what traits do I not care about? I don’t see him being magical, meaning Magic, Willpower, and Enchantment are all irrelevant. I also don’t see him being good at crafting or performing music, so with all my 1s done I set everything else to 2.
What kind of goofball would set out on an adventure without gear? Certainly not my goofballs! Each character in Reclaim the Wild gets equipment of three kinds: weapons, armor, and tools. How many of each you get is based on the ranks you want. Higher ranked gear gives better bonuses and has improved stats, but of course the way it works is that the more high-ranked gear you get, the less gear you get to carry overall. Your character can carry two rank 1 pieces in each category, but each rank 1 piece can be swapped out for two rank 0 pieces if you prefer (so you could have two rank 1 weapons, one rank 1 weapon and two rank 0 weapons, or four rank 0 weapons). You also get a single pack for carrying gear, with the types of pouches available to you described in the book.
Armor can be worn on the head, torso, or legs just like Breath of the Wild, and comes in four categories: civilian (AKA clothes), light, medium, and heavy. Medium and heavy armor cause penalties to evasion in exchange for their higher improvements to defense. Civilian and light both don’t have any penalties associated but civilian gear gives less of a bonus, so mechanically there’s really no reason to choose civilian gear at character creation – that’s a roleplaying choice you can make if you’re willing to sacrifice defense for it. This is one area in which both of my characters would be identical – I’d go with two pieces of rank 1 light armor for the torso and legs, giving both characters a defense of 4 at the beginning of their adventure. I don’t want to put heavier armor on my Rito because I don’t want him to lose the advantage of his high Agility trait.
Weapon ranks determine the starting damage and durability of the weapon, with both stats being doubled at rank 1 compared to rank 0. Weapons are then further modified by the weapon type, with axes being strong but having low durability and low accuracy, while spears are highly accurate but don’t deal as much damage. The differences in damage, accuracy, range, and durability make a variety of weapons appealing, and the durability is definitely not something to be ignored – if you choose two low-durability weapons at character creation, you could find your character unarmed in a short amount of time. I decide to balance things out by choosing weapons that don’t have the largest durability penalties, and making my weapons rank 1 so that they start with higher durability in the beginning. For my Rito hero, I decide to use a bow for ranged combat and a sword for melee. Neither of these have damage bonuses but are both durable (the bow particularly so) and have decent accuracy. My Zora has bonuses to accuracy when using specific weapons, so I decide for her I want to play into that accuracy bonus and choose a boomerang and a spear. Both of those weapons do reduced damage but have high accuracy, so she at least has a good chance of landing blows despite her low stats. Her damage will come from spells, anyway.
Tools are quite varied in their application and vary from familiar items like grappling hooks and bottles to ammunition items such as bombs and arrows. I know right away that I need a bunch of arrows for my Rito, so I’ll use one rank 1 tool to get him 20. I also know that I want my Zora to have a high-quality musical instrument for her magical songs, so I’ll scoop up a harp for her. I also need her to be able to cook things and put them away in a bottle for later use, so I use my two rank 0 pieces to give her cooking utensils and an empty bottle. I decide that my Rito would be carrying practical gear related to long journeys, so I give him a tent and bedroll both at rank 0. He can sleep safely and shoot things, and that’s probably all he needs for the time being.
FEATS, TECHNIQUES, AND SPELLS
These special abilities expand on the unique skills of a character and are purchased with a separate pool of tokens of heroism. Each character has 12 of these to spend, and can only buy a feat, technique, or spell that costs up to six. Many of these have other prerequisites and the character has to meet those prerequisites in order to take the ability in question. Feats are passive abilities, techniques are specialized physical attacks or combat forms, and spells are magical actions. Songs also fall into spell territory, although they function differently and require GM permission in order to incorporate them into the game. I anticipate that my Rito postman will have multiple feats with one or two techniques, and that my Zora innkeeper will have multiple spells with one or two feats.
I decided to focus on feats first since that category will be relevant to both characters. What I quickly learned is that feats are way more expensive than I anticipated. I expected to be able to pick up multiple 1-token feats, but the cheapest ones take 3 of my twelve tokens and most of the halfway interesting ones need 6 or even 9. I do see multiple feats that would potentially make sense on my Rito postman – a Longshot feat that increases ranged attack distance, a quick-witted feat for bonuses to initiative rolls, and a feat that would allow him to recover normally without a bedroll in the wilderness. For my Zora innkeeper, practiced efficiency promises a decrease cost to Magic for a particular spell of my choosing, so I keep that in the back of my mind in case I don’t have that many spells I want. A very large number of feats are dedicated to crafting in particular styles, and there are also feats that are relevant to neither of my characters related to mounted combat. Most races have a single racial feat, and I can say now that it is probably worth looking at these in advance. Having a musical character, for example, is going to be easier for a Hylian due to a special feat that only they can use.
Things don’t get any easier for my Rito postman as I look through the various techniques. There are lots of special arrow attacks that I like and of course many of those cost 3 or 6 tokens as well, meaning I can only pick up two to four of them if I completely ignore feats. There’s also the question of whether or not I want the character to have no special abilities at close range – if I put all four techniques into his bow, what happens if I end up trapped in melee? I decide to alleviate that concern by investing in an ability to put distance between my archer and his opponents. I spend 3 tokens on a feat to kick enemies backwards while also pushing my Rito backwards, and then buy three more 3-token techniques for special types of bow attacks: Aimed Shot (which reduces the foe’s defense based on your perception), Pinning Shot (chance to Halt the target), and Trick Shot (hit any target in range you can trace a path to as long as the arrow doesn’t have to pass through a solid object). These aren’t the only special ranged attacks and there are a plethora of melee special attacks that I’m not even touching, not to mention some techniques tied to specific races like the Goron’s Ground Pound.
The very first thing mentioned in the spells section immediately makes me regret a previous choice – turns out that rod and staff weapons increase spell damage, so I’m going to need to replace one of my weapon choices for my Zora innkeeper. I decide to deal with that later and focus on what spells she can learn. I look through the songs to see which ones I want to learn, focusing on songs I recognize like the Song of Healing or the Elegy of Emptiness. Songs are divided into major and minor songs with major costing 6 tokens while minor cost 3. While I like the idea of the Song of Healing, it’s expensive and doesn’t seem totally needed at a low level. So I decide to go for Farore’s Wind, which enables the performer to create warp points and return to them. I then decide to look at the spells. I’m on the lookout for cheap offensive and healing spells, and then maybe one more utility spell. The cheapest offensive spell is Wizzrobe’s Wave, which has no elemental affinity attached to it and no special effect but only costs 2 magic to cast on a given turn. Fairy’s Light is a similarly cheap healing spell, so I pick that up. For the additional utility spell, I like defensive spells like Bari’s Touch (which electrocutes someone dealing melee damage and can also repel their weapon if it is metal) as well as spells that seem to have practical uses such as Ravio’s Hookshot (pulling her towards objects or pulling objects towards her). I ultimately decide on Magnesis because it has a low magic cost and a full bullet list of possible applications.
Now it’s time to figure out those secondary statistics. My Rito has 12 HP while my Zora has 8, but she makes up for it in the magic department with 20 MP compared to the Rito’s 4. The postman has 16 SP while the innkeeper has 8. Next is evasion, which starts at 10 and adds agility as well as any passive bonuses. This means that my archer has 14 (so enemies have to roll 14 or higher on 2d6+accuracy to hit him) while my magician has only 11. Concentration and Vitality are based on Discipline and Fortitude, respectively, and are calculated similarly to evasion. Both characters have 2 discipline and therefore 12 concentration, but my Zora has only 11 vitality whereas my Rito has 13. Finally there’s jumping and lifting. My innkeeper is good at neither, able only to jump one square vertically or horizontally and unable to lift more than 30 pounds even with two hands. My postman doesn’t have particularly high athletics either, but he caps out at lifting 50 pounds and can jump up to 2 squares both horizontally and vertically.
The final piece of the character puzzle is to determine the details related to roleplaying the character like their age, personality, and history, as well as ties to other group members. I won’t dive fully into this section for the characters I have created, as I think for the purposes of this article it is more valuable for me to instead focus on the what it’s like to look back at the character creation process and bring everything together. Like any game, by the time character creation is done you have a bit better of a grasp of the game mechanics and may have realized how earlier choices you made aren’t as viable as you originally considered them to be, or they don’t fit the vision of the character that you reached at the end the way they fit your starting concept.
When creating a character for Reclaim the Wild, I recommend that you look at the feats, techniques, and spells to help guide you towards a concept for your character. There are quite a few feats that require specific scores in certain stats in order to take them, or techniques that require you to be a specific race. Understand the durability mechanics before making choices about the weapon types you carry and about weapon rank versus number of weapons. Review both the basic attacks and the combat maneuvers in the combat section, as some weapons have special effects (like shields, rods, and staves) and you may envision your character using certain tactics in battle that will require high ranks in particular traits.
Overall, I found the character creation process for the game to be fun and it definitely accomplished the goal of getting me excited about my character. While my options were limited in some ways compared to my expectations (feats, techniques, and spells are going to be pretty limited in the early game), the game’s reward mechanics make it so that you’ll leave most sessions being able to improve your character in meaningful ways. The feats or spells I couldn’t choose can easily be purchased with tokens of heroism down the line, and with the rules suggesting 2-4 of those for the typical session you’ll generally be able to pick up one cheap ability each time a session wraps up unless you decide to save for something big.
If you’re interested in checking out Reclaim the Wild for yourself, follow this link to their website where you can pick up the rulebook and read posts from the creators.