Create a Hero In 7 (Supposedly) Easy Steps!
Step 1: Concept
Create, or choose, a Concept. A Concept can be as simple as a couple well-chosen words or five pages long. No matter the detail in the initial Concept, you should know certain things about your character, such as Race, profession, Type, and maybe a couple of interesting personal details that will help flesh them out. This is easier than it sounds, and harder than you think it is. To do this, you must go away now.
Read a novel, play a game, put on some music, watch a movie... do whatever it is that inspires you.
Remember this: Starting characters will be either Naturals or recently augmented Super-Powered Beings, so keep that in mind when creating your Concept. Every story has a beginning.
You may, at this point, find that your concept and "Human" don't mix. No worries. Have a look at the available Races and see if any of them fit your idea. If not, perhaps you could create your own Race (with Narrator approval, of course).
AKA: Primary Attribute
Every character has a Type. As stated above, this is fairly synonymous with "primary attribute" but there is just a bit more to it than that. There are twelve Types in all, corresponding to passive, neutral and aggressive forms of the four Stats. Type is, therefore, painting with broad strokes: a one- or two-word character portrait. Armed with the knowledge that a particular individual is, say, a Brute, one would know that he or she is typically an actions-speak-louder-than-words sort whoe likely prefers a "straight fight" to "all this sneaking around". Of course, no character should be one-sided, but sometimes it can be nice to neatly pidgeon-hole characters for the sake of simplicity and expediency.
Now that we know what Type is, we should probably figure out what that means for characters. The first, and probably easiest thing to determine is a character's primary attribute. Simply put, all Skills aside, what does your character do best? Is he big and strong? Does she take notice of everything around her? Is he quick and light on his feet? Does she place great value on her ability to think her way out of any problem? If you answered "yes", or even "yes, but," to any of the preceding questions, your physical Type is decided. All that remains is to figure out if your character is, shall we say, average, cautious, or aggressive and your Type is set.
This corresponds to a character's primary attribute. While a character may be both smart and quick or both strong and aware, one Stat will be a defining characteristic. The primary attribute of a character not only determines Base Attack, but also gives a special bonus to rolls based upon it. All rolls made with the primary attribute have their difficulty lowered by one level. In other words, when a Strong character attempts to utilize his or her Strength in a way that should be Difficult, it is only Challenging, instead.
But wait, there's more! Not only does playing to one's strengths make life a bit easier, every character Type also gains a special ability that may be used once per session!
Those characters whose Primary Attribute is Strength are capable of performing a Feat of Strength once per game session. For the duration of a single Action, a character may effectively increase his or her Strength by one level.
Dextrous characters may perform a similar Feat of Agility once per game session. Again, this works for the duration of a single Action.
Smart characters may, once per session, focus all the brute computing power of their brains towards a single goal. As long as it is within the realm of possibility, Narrator being the final arbiter, a Smart character may use his or her Intellectual Superiority to succeed at any, single Intelligence-related task without rolling, once per session.
Characters whose Primary Attribute is Awareness have a special ability that is simultaneously perhaps unfairly potent and totally unpredictable. When the party gets stuck, stranded, confused, lost, or is certainly doomed, an Aware character has a chance to notice a detail that could potentially save the day. This, of course, will only work once per session, no matter how much trouble the party may be in, and it is almost completely outside player control. When an Aware character wants to use this ability, the Narrator makes a hidden roll. Based upon the result, the Narrator will share a previously unnoticed, and even unsought, detail with the Aware character. Whether or not the information gained is useful will not be known to the player, nor will any further information be given, such as how best to make use of this new knowledge.
There are three basic personality types that, when combined with a character's physical type, determine a character's Type. That isn't confusing at all, eh? Anyway, the three Personalities are: Passive, Neutral, and Aggressive.
Personality and Stance
Certain Personality Types are more suited to intense combat than others. This is reflected in Combat Stance. Rather than the way one stands when preparing for trouble, Stance is a method of approaching Combat. There are three Stances that roughly correspond to the three Personality Types: Defensive, Normal, and Aggressive. A Neutral character may adopt any Stance, but the others are both limited. Passive characters may never adopt an Aggressive Stance and Aggressive characters may, similarly, never adopt a Defensive one. They both, however, do gain additional benefit by adopting their "natural" Stance.
Combat Stance is declared at the start of Combat and may only be changed during the Initiative Phase of the Round.
Defensive Stance - In this stance, three(3) is added to all rolls for Active Defense, and subtracted from all other rolls. Additionally, Passive characters adopting a Defensive Stance may Active Defend against all attacks. One Active Defense roll is made and acts as the Defense for the character for the remainder of the round.
Normal Stance - All rolls are made as per the standard Combat rules.
Aggressive Stance - While in this stance, three (3) is added to all Attack rolls, and is subtracted from all other rolls. Additionally, Aggressive characters adopting their "natural" Stance may perform Normal Attacks whenever they would usually be forced to perform a Quick Attack.
Step 2: Sheet
Print out a character sheet.
Step 3: Stats
Learn About and Pick Stats.
Step 4: Skills
Skills describe all the things your character can do well. From driving fast to hacking computers, Skills describe all the ways your character can apply his or her raw talents (Stats) in a constructive, destructive, or creative manner. During character creation, you will have a chance to purchase Skills, have Skills given to you, and earn some more through your Job, not necessarily in that order!
The emphasis on the entire system is simplicity and ease of use. This is done to encourage more role-playing, and less “roll-playing”. All Skills are separated into eight Skill Levels:
A rating of zero would symbolize one that is untrained or otherwise totally lacking in this area.
This level describes an amateur or a person who has had limited practice in this area.
Denotes a practiced amateur.
Describes a professional, or a person who has otherwise had extensive training in this area, and could teach others.
This level represents a great amount of dedication and a likely equal amount of respect and reputation in appropriate circles.
At this level, one is widely considered to be a master of this Skill, or an expert in this field of study.
Levels six and seven are covered in Specializations, below.
Remember: If there are any Skills you can't find, it is okay to make up one's own Skills, patterning them after those seen here, as long as you get the Narrator's approval. Besides, Narrator, at least one of your players is doing this, right now. You might as well be prepared for this contingency.
Whenever a character attempts an action for which the outcome is in doubt, the player must make a Skill Roll (or Skill Check, if you prefer). The player rolls 1D10 (one ten-sided die) and adds any applicable modifiers as set by the Narrator. If the total is less than or equal to the character's Ability (Base Attribute + Skill), the action is successful. Otherwise, it is not. Simple, right?
There are two special cases: If a Natural 0 or a Natural 9 is ever rolled, the player must check for Criticals. 'Nuff said.
To use a Skill, you must purchase it. No matter how much effort or Intelligence one may apply to hacking CIA computers, without any Hacking Skill, the likelihood of success is exactly zero. However, if one really wants to take the chance, go ahead and try. The results may be unpleasant.
Rolling for a Skill at level 0, one rolls the Base Attribute. On a Critical Success, the action is successful. Anything else is considered a Critical Failure! For instance, in the aforementioned hacking example, such a failure will not only mean that the goal was not achieved, but the CIA is also alerted to the would-be hacker's presence and very likely knows their exact physical location. Should a true Critical Failure be rolled in the attempt (a natural 0 followed by a Critical Failure according to the rules for Criticals) the results are likely to be deadly. To continue in the same vein, the CIA is not only alerted, some agents happened to be near-by and are now kicking the doors in, guns drawn. Have a nice day. :-)
This may seem unfair at first, as one might ask, "I have to invest points in Drive so I can run to the store for smokes when I need to?"
Well, yes, you do. When creating a character, remember to make a whole person. You don't have to be Mario Andretti to fetch some milk for Mom at the corner grocery, but you will have to know which pedal does what and what all those signs on the roadside mean. It may seem unfair, but it is not.
The moral of this story is: Leave it to the expert. Leave hacking to hackers, surgery to surgeons and warfare to soldiers, okay?
Each character will receive a "free" Skill Set based on occupation. These Job Skills reflect the education and training necessary to perform one's primary occupational function at a professional capacity. Job Skills are, generally, given at the lowest possible level. One need not be Sherlock Holmes in order to make the rank of Detective, after all. In the same vein, beat cops will not have the same level of weapons training as a SWAT officer. It's all relative.
See the Jobs page for more information, but come right back, because we are not done here.
Focus and Specialization
Focus is used for defining a specific area of personal expertise within a large skill "family" such as Science and Athletics. Focus may reflect a preference for a specific form of exercise [Athletics(Cross-Country)] or a special interest in a particular realm of scientific study [Science(Biology)] for a person with a generally scientific mind. For certain Skills, Focus may be required.
Focusing a Skill does not cost any points, but, once Focused, the Focus is treated as a partially separate Skill. Increasing Science (the Base Skill) will increase Science(Biology) (the Focus), but increases in Science(Biology) will not increase Science. Also, increasing Science(Math) will not increase Science(Biology). Skill Points earned with a Focus may not be spent on the Base Skill and Skill Points earned with the base Skill may not be spent on the Focus. Confused yet? Good.
It should be obvious by now, but Focus is notated in the following manner: Skill(Focus).
Focus is not a prerequisite for Specialization, meaning one need not Focus in Science(Mathematics) in order to later Specialize in Math. It must be stated that a Specialization would likely be better described as Lifetime Dedication To X but the one-word descriptor is more succinct. Specializing in a Skill allows one to purchase two more levels in that Skill. A character possessing level six or seven in a Skill could, or should, be world-renowned as the undisputed master of the feat in question. This level of prowess is not easy to achieve as it, as hinted at above, requires incredible discipline on the part of the character. As such, Specialized levels of Skill may not be purchased as regular Skills. They can only be acquired by purchasing the appropriate Advantages either during character creation or over the course of play, with the caveat that the player roleplay the training and dedication required. Good luck.
Further Reading and Character Growth
Please see the Master Skills List for more information on individual Skills, and their prerequisites and Foci, where applicable.
Purchasing additional Skills during character creation will be covered later, in Upgrades. Purchasing additional Skills, or improving those already purchased, between sessions will be covered in Character Advancement.
But do not get ahead of your, er... other self! First, you'll be needing a Job, if you do not already have one, so go there next.
Step 5: Job - It's Whatcha Do!
But I'm only four!
Every character has a job. Employment status, age, and ability have absolutely nothing to do with it. Obviously, an explanation is in order.
Like it says above, your character's Job is what he or she does. Whether they be cop or crook, child or crone, every character does something. Think of a Job as a basic Skill set necessary to pursue one's chosen, or at least current, lifestyle: the tools one uses to get by throughout the day. For a child character, that individual's Job is likely to be Child and would likely include such Skills as Play, Athletics, Gaming, Hide, and Sneak. For the destitute, the Job could be Beggar, featuring Skills like Hide, Sneak, Search, Survival, and Street Smarts.
Keep in mind that one's Job should never be confused with employment. Simply having all the Skills necessary to make a good secretary does not guarantee one gets the position. Hey, that's the way the world is, right?
I hate my Job!
That is okay. A lot of people hate their job, so what of it? Tired of being a Student and ready to pursue that career in medicine? Great! Just change Jobs! It sounds easier than it is, though.
There is no real "cost" in Character or Skill Points to change Jobs, but there are requirements to meet. Simply get your Skills to match (or surpass) the Skills you would normally get from your desired Job and Poof!, new Job! Yes, it really is that easy... of course you also have to roleplay all the hard work, dedication, education, and/or sacrifices involved to grow from Child, to Student, to Doctor to Surgeon.
See the Help Wanted Ads when you are ready to jump-start your new career.