Shadows in Space
Character creation for this campaign will take a lot of thinking on the part of the players. There are many situations where there is no convenient list to choose from – such as Aspects and Aspirations. It’s not intended to frustrate the players, but to create fully rounded individuals for dramatic purposes.
Another point for this is to help bring into play some of the best GMing advice I’ve ever read: be a fan of the player characters. While I find this advice (stolen and paraphrased from the game Monsterhearts) to be some of the best for keeping a game fun and interesting, it’s also easier if the players meet the GM midway.
Finally, this is a very open setting, and a lot of this is an attempt to help the characters come from the setting without putting too many unnecessary constraints on the creative process.
Step One Concept
Spend some time thinking about the character you want to play. Beyond the basic role, you want to put the details that make your character unique within that role. The four basic roles are as follows: Hacker (the one who alters things to aid the group); Hitter (the one who brings the pain); the Sneak (the one who moves around silently); and the Talker (who speaks well to others.)
Step Two Pick a Race
There are 12 races that make up the Tier Republic. You can review them at Species. At this point, pick the Race you wish to play and record it. Also, note which of the Paths are available to that species – with the exception of Terrans, each race only has three paths from which they can choose. They can still learn the magic, but can not open to the paths.
Do not record anything else about your species at this point.
Step Three Assign your Attributes
There are 9 attributes, divided by the Mental, Physical, and Social categories. The mental attributes are Intelligence, Wits (perception and agility of thought), and Resolve (the ability to persevere through obstacles). Physical attributes are fairly self-explanatory – Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina. Social attributes are Presence (raw social power), Manipulation (more subtle social power), and Composure (keeping self control).
A character begins with one dot in each Attribute. Then you should pick which attribute category is most important to your concept (Mental/Physical/Social), and divide five more dots between the three attributes.
Next, choose your second most important category, and divide 4 dots between those three attributes.
Finally, in your last category, divide three dots.
A rating of 1 is seriously impaired in that Attribute. Having an attribute at 1 should be a serious character defining attribute. No character can have more than 1 Attribute rated that low. If you think your concept requires that, perhaps it’s better taken as a Flaw or a Trouble.
2 = Average
3 = 75th Percentile
4 = 90th Percentile
5 = 99th Percentile
Step Four Assign Skills
As with Attributes, Skills are divided between Mental, Physical, and Social skills. Unlike with Attributes, characters do NOT begin with a dot in each Skill.
Assign the priority of these three categories. They do not need to match the same choices you made for attributes. In your primary skill category, divide 11 dots between the 8 skills. In your secondary category, it’s 8 dots, and in your tertiary category, divide 4.
Taking the fifth dot in a skill costs 2 of your skill dots. It is also saying that you will NEVER be able to get better with that skill.
A quick note about skill substitutions: on the character sheet, you may note that you have the skills Marksmanship, Pilot, and Provoke. These skills replace Firearms, Drive, and Intimidation, respectively. When looking at any official stuff (like Merits or Rotes), substitute the new skill titles for the old ones.
step Five Pick specialties
Each character gains three specialties – focused parts of a skill. For example, a character might take an Athletics specialty in Swimming, or an Occult specialty in Rituals. The important point of specialties is to think of a situation in which it wouldn’t apply with that skill. If you can’t, then it’s probably not a specialty.
Step Six Homeworld
Every character, even among the Sparrial and Zethra, has a homeworld. Each player must pick or create a World to come from. After creating your world, pick a specialty based on the skills and aspects important to that world.
Step Seven Pick a Path
There are six Paths available to the characters. A Terran can pick any of the six paths, while other species are limited to three. Record your path.
Next, see which Attribute (Resolve or Composure) your Path favors, and add one to that Attribute.
Choose your starting Arcana. First, put two dots (each) in two different Arcana, and then put one dot in a third. Your two favored Arcana must have at least one dot each at this point. Then take one more dot and place it in any Arcana you wish.
(For example, a Mastigos Mage might put two dots in Mind, two dots in Spirit, and one dot in Space. The final dot can go anywhere, and in this case we’ll add it to Space.)
Finally, describe your Nimbus. Use the descriptions of the path nimbuses for examples, but build from there to make it unique. A Nimbus is a sensory effect that occurs when your character performs vulgar magic.
Step Eight Pick an Order
Pick one of the Orders available.
On your character sheet, check off each of the three Order skills you begin with. When casting a rote using one of these three skills, you gain +1 on the dice pool. This ONLY applies to rotes.
Take one dot in Order Status (this is a Merit)
Pick 10 levels of Rotes. You must pick at least one rote per level of an arcana – so in the above Mastigos example, they would have to pick a level one Mind rote, a level 2 mind rote, a level 1 Space rote, a level 2 space rote, a level 1 Spirit rote, and a level 2 spirit rote. This takes up 9 levels of rotes, giving them room for one more level 1 Rote.
You MUST have an Arcana at the right rating to learn that Rote. Without space 1, you won’t learn any Space 1 rotes, for example.
Finally, define your magical tool. This should be an item that is both related to your Order and to your character. Magical tools reduce Paradox.
Step Nine Miscellaneous Template Steps
You have one dot in the Gnosis attribute.
All mages start with the following Merits: Attuned Weapon (O), High Speech (OO), Language: High Speech (O), Sanctum (O), Spaceship (O)
Step Ten Merits
A character has seven dots to spend on Merits. Make sure you have the right prerequisites to take the Merit you are interested in.
A character may spend 3 points of Merits to gain +1 Gnosis. They may spend 4 more to gain an additional point of Gnosis (for a total of Gnosis 3). This last step is REALLY not recommended.
Step Eleven Apply Species Template
Look up your species, and record their capabilities and limitations. Even Terrans gain bonuses to separate them from the other species.
Step Twelve Figured Stats (aka Math)
A. Health = Size + Stamina (Unless otherwise stated, all creatures are size 5)
B. Willpower = Resolve + Composure
C. Defense = Lowest of Dexterity or Wits
D. Initiative Modifier = Dexterity + Composure
E. Speed = Strength + Dexterity + Athletics + (Size – 5)
F. Perception = Wits + Composure
Some racial benefits and merits might alter these, so please take those into account
Step Thirteen Aspects
(I’m replacing the virtue and vice rules with Aspects because I like how they work much better.)
Each character will have seven Aspects that define them. These may be among the most important part of defining your character. These are as follows:
A. High Concept. Define your character concept in a whole. What they do, what makes them unique, etc.
B. Heroic Aspect: What about your character is heroic? Why would we root for them? Keep in mind that not every heroic character is a shiny beacon of morality. (Examples: Malcolm Reynolds; Elric Kinslayer; Tyrion Lannister) There is little debate that these characters are heroic.
C. Trouble: How is your character imperfect? Make it interesting.
The last three Aspects will come from your training time on New Atlantis, and give the group connections from the beginning.
See Aspects for how this works.
Step Fourteen Aspirations
Pick one long term Aspiration, and two short term Aspirations, minimum. See Aspirations for ideas and inspiration.
Step Fifteen Finishing Touches
Describe your character, name important NPCs (even if they aren’t Merits), and think about anything else that is important to your concept.
Then we’ll be ready to go.