Character creation is the first step in a long and hopefully fascinating journey into the realm of medieval fantasy roleplaying. You AND your character aren’t likely to be very well prepared for the many challenges and adventures ahead if this first step is glossed over or taken too quickly. The character creation process really provides the foundation for your expectations of what the medieval fantasy adventuring experience is going to be like.
The process is basically arranged in the order in which a character comes into the world, grows to adulthood and sets forth into the world: Step 1. Character Race; Step 2. Character Origins & Background; Step 3. Character Trades & Skills; Step 4. Character Attributes, Virtue & Vice and Physical Description; Step 5. Character Skill Levels, Skill Awards & Trade Ranks; Step 6. Encumbrance & Movement; Step 7. Tactical Attributes; Step 8. Starting Money & Buying Equipment.
Character generation in Realms of Myth stresses developing PC’s in great detail. The more you know about the PC when first bringing him into play, the faster his personality develops and he gains a life and identity of his own. The character generation process determines a wide spectrum of vital information about the PC. It measures him by means of a set of physical and psychological characteristics, provides him with a few special abilities, and even hints at quirks and foibles that may be inherent in those abilities.
The character must have a social and family background, for this influences his early attitudes and the must be related to the knowledge and skills he ends up with, for they must somehow be the result of those attitudes and his background. Every character must have a place in the gameworld, a place he calls “home”, along with a community of people he knows and who know him, unless he has been defined specifically not to have one. This carries a certain importance in character generation. No matter how far a character ventures out into the world, a “home base” to return to is essential, a place where he can breathe easy, rest and recoup with his old friends and neighbors. These are the ones the ones he knows and can trust and count on in times of trouble. The more complete the description of the character and all his abilities and knowledge, the easier the GM’s task in integrating him into the gameworld, and the easier your task is in developing him during play.
By the time he is complete, a RoM character emerges as a person with depth and dimension, with a past defined in sometimes broad but useful strokes, sometimes with some finer strokes, but to which greater detail can always be added over time. That character has a present full of prospects that the GM can use as fuel for writing the adventures that he is drawn into, and also a future that can already be focused on meaningful goals that can be further tweaked as the game continues on.
Standing to gain so generous a leg up on getting into the roleplaying that is the ultimate focus of this game, you must be patient through character generation. Yes, it takes time (although the Quick Method less so) and a measure of thought, but it is always an adventure in and of itself, and never the same for any two characters. It is a tool that can be used to explore the possibilities surrounding the character, to prepare him for the adventurous life that lies before him.
Unfortunately, unlike the others making up their individual PC’s to play exclusively, the GM must get used to running through the character generation process over and again, as his role in the game includes designing and defining a great number of NPC’s to be played for the players’ benefit as his game progresses. Unlike a player spending points or rolling dice, however, when the GM settles down to generate his NPC’s many of the facets determined here by players are most likely already to have been decided, according to his needs, dictated by the adventure for which they are being created, all of which shortens the process for him significantly, and most of his needs for generating NPC’s can be met by the information provided in Chapter 3. NPC’s & NPC Generation. Only a small part of it is actually taken from the process provided here for PC Generation.
For the sake of flow and clarity through the character creation process, for the players and GM alike, as well as for ease of use during play, all the descriptions and information concerning each of the individual races, trades, skills, and various rosters of goods and equipment have been compiled into their own pages, to be found on menus nested under the various phases of character creation to which they pertain. In this way they cannot bog down or make the steps and directions for character creation any more difficult to find or follow. The descriptions of the Trades and Skills alone occupy a fair number of pages, as do the various types of equipment. This is one of the primary reasons the special rules and descriptions for magick and its use in play have been removed to The Grimoire. The information separated out and compiled in this way is likely to be needed often in the course of each gaming session.
The GM should be sure to make any interpretational notes or rules clarifications or modifications in any given description that strike him, or that puzzle or distress him as he reads, whether on note paper or in the margins of the pages. He must be sure to pass those that affect the PC’s directly on to the players prior to or during the creation of their characters. This way the GM can avoid any unpleasant surprises due to a differing point of view or interpretation of the text on the players’ parts. This is why reading thoroughly all of the parts of the rules that pertain directly to the character is stressed so strongly.
A copy of the standard Realms of Myth Character Record Sheet and both Major NPC and Minor NPC Record sheets are provided at the very end of this book along with the other record sheets designed to make the GM’s life easier. The GM may make as many copies of these as he needs (for his own personal use, only, of course).
Perusing the character sheets it is readily visible that the order in which the record sheet is laid out has absolutely nothing to do with the order of in which the Character Generation process is arranged. This is because the record sheets are designed for the convenient use during play, which has absolutely nothing to do with the order in which that information must be determined during character creation, for which some aspects and scores are required to determine other aspects and/or scores defining the character further.
What is needed soonest is determined first in that process.
Generating characters should always wait on the design of the area they hail from in the gameworld, however, and the accompanying notes of who and what is where, which could well lead to placing some restrictions on the races the PC’s have to choose from in creating their characters for his game, and can also affect the availability of certain Trades or Life Skills or Life Skill Bundles, or the imposition of certain conditions – all of which the players must be warned of in advance of creating their characters.
The characters in Realms of Myth are somewhat more complex in the definitions of their knowledge, abilities, and skills, the system somewhat “crunchier”, as many veterans of the hobby would say. Each character can take a fair amount of time to create and fully develop. This is why sample characters are provided for immediate play, so you can dive right into learning the rules of the game and getting comfortable, find out which aspects of the mechanics describing a character are the most important before you dive into Character Generation, and also why the Quick Method of Character Generation (described as follows) is recommended when you first decide to create your own character for yourself.
Although an experienced player might be used to playing more than one character in some other game systems, RoM characters are generally too complex for a player to play more than one at a time and still develop them all fairly and properly, to their full potential. One character or another inevitably suffers from lack of attention or from being treated as a lackey, or simply as an extension or appendage of another character.
‘One character to each player’ is the rule.
The GM should stand by his guns, never allowing any player to talk him out of sticking to this rule, no matter how imposing or insistent.
High mortality rate among beginning characters is a major reason for the prevalence of this practice, BUT in RoM the players are provided with the tools to create characters that are tough enough to face most common threats from the start of play without dying, regardless of the trade they practice. This eliminates any need to try to play more than one character at a time.
While any character may gather a group of lackeys and/or household servants and officers to take care of his domestic needs and certain matters of business (according to his financial means), and the GM consequently make the player responsible for determining their duties and activities, it is the GM who is responsible for actually roleplaying them. It is the GM who must be one to step in and say “Beggin’ yer pardon, guv’nor, but I don’t see as I can rightly do that,” when the PC oversteps the bounds of his relationship with his staff, tries to use them without regard for their safety or abuse their good natures or their willingness to serve. It is the GM who must step in to say “Yes, Master Philpot” or “I’m afraid we’ve run out, Mistress Goodbody” when the PC’s are ordering them about in carrying out their various responsibilities.
After taking into account how his setting affects or perhaps even limits the elements the players have available to use in creating characters (especially their backgrounds), the GM must decide which method his players are to use to make their characters.
To suit the need and tastes of the widest variety of players, casual and serious, Character Generation has actually been set up to accommodate a couple different methods of creating characters, and some variations on them. These are found and discussed under the headings “Quick Method” and “Custom Method” throughout the text.
The Quick Method is designed for speed and convenience for those players who want their characters in a hurry and aren’t fussy about details, and especially for novice players to help them through the process. If the GM has started the players with the pre-generated characters included, making and playing Quick Method characters is the perfect second step. For the more casual but experienced player, it also provides a good result while still allowing him get to play soonest.
Most every step in generating background for Quick Method characters relies on rolling dice or accepting the average (most common) results, while rolling for any additional details, rather than making the belabored decisions that a Custom Method character requires (player’s discretion within limits, in some cases).
The GM may allow a “Best out of two or three rolls” protocol for dicing in Quick Method generation to provide a little leeway in the results, the player should check in with him to see what his preference is in this regard, but the player can always fall back on the default offered if those all fail to provide a spark.
The results may be modified to suit the player with the GM’s approval so the player ends up with the character he wishes to play, but the player should keep in mind that the primary purpose of the Quick Method of character is speed and expediency, to get the player through the process with an acceptable result and to the table to play soonest. If he wants the character to have any advantages in his background beyond what the dice provide, the player may have to accept a disadvantage or two to balance them out, especially when those advantages are considered significant in game terms.
The Custom Method takes the greatest investment in time, as it is based on spending a pool of Development Points (DP’s) on each of the phases of Character Generation.
Players start with 100 DP’s, unless the GM opts to alter this number, as discussed in the following text.
IF the GM is anticipating the players leaning heavily on the special Heritage Traits, or Banes & Benesons, to gain points to make more heroic characters, he might consider lowering the 100 DP initial allotment to 75 or 80, or if he knows they have the balancing of flaws with advantages down to a science, maybe even as low as 60 or 70.
IF the GM wants to give the players more of a free hand, however, to create truly impressive heroic characters without having to saddle them with hindering flaws, he might consider granting the players a few more DP’s with which to create Custom Method characters, or grant a bonus to the dice rolls for Quick Method characters.
The GM should approach this with a conservative hand, however.
It is good for a heroic character to have flaws, areas in which he is not so perfect. It gives him something to be humble about. Arrogant characters that crow about their prowess and use it as a means of putting others down are nothing but boors, and tiresome at that. However, there is also something to be said for not making the players work the disadvantageous Heritage opportunities and Banes quite so hard to make a truly respectable hero.
A clever player can work 120 or 130 DP’s in miraculous ways when motivated. Allowing 150 or 160 DP’s might actually make a player lazy and not work the system very hard at all (which is good insofar as it allows the player to focus on what he wants in his character rather than tinkering with points to get the greatest bang out of them), while allowing 175-200 DP’s is an embarrassment of riches and should never be exceeded.
All advantages a character may be given have a price in DP’s, and any disadvantages taken give you more DP’s to spend elsewhere. These costs and rebates are noted throughout the text where they are available. You are (largely) free to write the background you like (subject to the GM’s approval, of course), with as much detail as you like, but the DP cost for it must be paid here during the character creation process and it has a direct impact on the number of DP’s you have to spend elsewhere in developing the character’s abilities, knowledge and skills.
Using the Custom Method doesn’t mean you get to ignore the tables provided – while the tables all start with a die result column for the Quick Method characters down the left side, there is a DP’s column beside that for use in making Custom Method characters. Use these tables first as a guide to what information you should be coming up with for your character, and second to pay for it. You may even use the dice on them as a source of inspiration to navigate the details, dice results being modified or even ignored completely, as desired, simply paying the DP costs noted as you go.
Getting the expenditure of points tweaked just right might take an entire afternoon and/or evening, perhaps even longer if you want to devote some serious consideration to the full spectrum of options in making the decisions to complete each step. This investment in time and thought has the benefit of allowing you the greatest amount of control over almost all aspects of the character, and encourages all players to consider some additional facets (Special Heritages, Banes & Benesons, Special Circumstances) just for fun!
Before making your character, you need to check with the GM to find out what Method he prefers (Quick or Custom), how many DP’s to start with if this is his choice, and if there are any aspects concerning the setting the GM has chosen for his game that directly affect Character Generation, especially race, social class and/or especially trade restrictions. It is highly recommended that all players in the same game use the same Method for creating their characters in the interests of starting with a level playing field, so everyone has equal access to character-building resources, but the final decision rests with the GM.
Because anything can happen in the game (and the GM should be making sure that it often does), I encourage you to balance your character’s knowledge, abilities, talents and skills according to the challenges that may come, whatsoever they may be, allowing the GM the widest scope for writing the adventures. You are the other players should make sure that the characters in the party are (collectively, at least) prepared for any situation, while also being aware of the possibility of their getting separated and having to get by on their own. Player foresight can often save a character’s life.
In this way, it can often be a good idea to have all the characters intended to adventure in the same group or “party” also be created together, at the same time. This is especially useful in preventing too much overlap between characters. The members of the party can be made to compliment one another perfectly. Sure, it doesn’t happen that way in the Real World, but this is a fantasy! Such an approach is not too far-fetched after all, however, when considering the fact that people of like minds often come together, and one often makes lasting friendships with those whose knowledge/abilities compliment one’s own. Some overlap is good, for some tasks benefit from extra hands, but too much and it feels like the characters are competing for the same niche in the group.
Due to the fact that the Custom process takes longer, the players also get that much more exposure to one another to see how you fit and get a jump start on determining the dynamics of the group. Creating characters together can take on a party-like atmosphere, bringing all of you closer so your characters are more inclined to work together once the game begins. It can energize them for the coming adventures.
So, what is needed to sit down and make a character?
A copy of the Character Record sheet, a bit of scratch paper for quick notes and calculations, writing tools of some sort and this rule book will do. To really make things easy, the player can use a little pocket calculator, nothing fancy, just as long as it has the four basic math functions (add, subtract, multiply, divide).
Let’s get started.