Thursday, July 2, 2009


Character creation is the most important step in playing a Role Playing Game.  Past games basically had the players sit and randomly create characters to play.  Such randomness was fun and quick but did not allow a player to use the character they wanted.  The randomness also allowed for cheating and players could get maximum attributes with "lucky" rolls.

The lesson of these early systems and rules was to allow some flexibility to allow a player to create a character they wanted to play but still provide balance to the game.  There are many modern ways this issue is dealt with and perhaps many go too far and character creation becomes hours of pouring over books and selecting skills, powers from lists.  

The more time that is wrapped up in creation time, the less available for playing the game.  A creation system for a RPG must balance flexibility with speed to have a player create the character they want in a minimal amount of time.

Here is the creation process for this game:

Step 1: Think about the character you would like to play.  Think of their most distingushing characteristics, things like what they can do, how the act, things that are good about them and things that are not good about them.  There might not be much that is interesting about your character at this point other than maybe an occupation or skill, and that is fine.  When you have a concept of what your character is like, move on to step 2.

Step 2:  Attributes:  Consider your character concept.  Are they smart?  If so, how smart are they? Normal people have 10s for all attributes.  A Nobel scientist might have a MS of 18 or 20, just as an Olympic gymnast might have a BS of 18 or 20. Now down the following on a piece of paper with a pencil: MP:10, MS:10, ME:10, MI:10, BP:10, BS:10, BE:10, BI:10.  These are the attributes.  As you raise one attribute you must lower another, or take disadvantages (later).

Step 3: Skills:  In this game, a skill is necessary for everything the character can do.  Quite often they are default and based upon the controlling attribute.  But there is no substitute for training and skills that are untrained, or default will suffer more modifiers than skills which have been trained.  A skills costs one point per point increase (1/+1), a skill that has a negative modifier is a disadvantage and can be used to pay for other skills, powers or equipment.

Step 4: Powers and Equipment: Selection of powers and equipment is best from a list to speed the creation process, but a basic idea of the cost of an item has to do with it's value in a contest.  For each point the item increases or decreases a skill or attribute in yourself or others, it costs one point.  For each 3 feet (or about 1 meter or yard) of range the item has it costs one point. So a sword that can reach about a meter/yard away and does 5 points of damage, would cost 6 points. (more on item creation later)

Step 5: Disadvantages: A disadvantage is the opposite of a power and instead of costing points, they add points back to the character.  Disadvantages must be played and must have a point value - they are more than "afraid of the dark" where a character carries a glow-stick to avoid the effects of the fear.  Creating disadvantages will be covered further, later.  Basically there are two kinds of disadvantages, constant and conditional.  Constant disadvantages apply all the time, such as blindness where a character is always -10 to see (and would be worth 10 points).  A conditional disadvantage is only in effect for part of the time.  "Afraid of the Dark" where the character is -2 to ME, -2 to MS and -2 BS when they are in the dark.  If this were a constant disadvantage it would be worth 6, but since the character would expect to only be in the dark roughly half the time it is worth 3 points.

Repeat, if necessary.

The most important rule is "you get what you pay for".  If you didn't pay for it then you didn't get it.  So if you make a power called "invisibility" and figure it costs 10 points, because everyone is -10 to see you.  Well, that effects seeing the character, not hearing or smelling them.  On the same note, if you have a disadvantage which is "forgotten" and not used, the points must be given back. Disadvantages that can't be given a rating in numbers are not worth anything.  Like "Kleptomania", unless you can attach a value to the disadvantage then it is not worth much.

Another key thing to remember is that all the points you spend are part of your character.  When you take damage, anything can have points deducted.  So, if you take 6 points in damage it can come from attributes and skills. 

Many things are fun to add to a character, such as hair color and favorite colors.  If you make an especially entertaining character the Game Master running the game might give you some extra points, but a character's favorite color is of little value in a contest.

1 comment:

  1. Or you could take a different approach... what you get is directly related to how much you spend

    Let's go back to invisibility - a good example power. So I'm building a 2nd-string superhero (think Mystery Men) and I want to have his invisibility be more comic than effective - he's only invisible when no one's looking at him. This could be rated as a Poor or even Terrible invisibility, but it's still invisibility if he can pull of the stealth check to make sure no one is looking at him. Done right, I could even *earn* points for creating the power that way.

    It's not in his best interests to improve the power beyond that point - it's better to improve the stealth skill that triggers it. And a skill is often less expensive than a power or improving a power in many systems.

    I look forward to reading more. Welcome to RPGBlog-istan! ;)


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