Magic Monday – YAOSC Character Creation

As long as at least one member of your group (the GM) knows the rules of YAOSC and is able to guide the rest of you in play, all you need to do is create a character and you should be ready to go! Describe your character’s behavior in naturalistic terms; the GM should be ready, willing and able to translate this into game terms, and direct you in making rolls, as necessary.

Characters have “levels” (which are different from skill levels), and the default starting level is zero. Zero-level characters may die easily in a combat-centered campaign, and it never hurts to have a henchman or helper. Depending on the mood and danger level of the campaign, you could begin play by creating two or even more characters. After their first adventure concludes, one of them will then advance to first level, and main-character status. Here’s what you need to create a zero-level character:

0. Flesh out the Character

This is step zero because it can happen at any point during the character-creation process. Perhaps you have an idea that you will attempt to bring to fruition as the character develops. Perhaps one of the dice rolls or choices detailed below will inspire you. Perhaps your character will be nothing more than “Joan the Fighter” until play begins and her actions and words begin revealing who she really is. All of these options are fine.

1. Generate Ability Scores

Each character’s inherent talents are modeled by six ability scores (Constitution, Dexterity, Intellect, Presence, Sense, and Strength). These fall into a range from 3 (extremely weak) to 18 (extremely strong). Generate them by rolling 3d6 six times and assigning one result to each ability score, in whatever order you want.

+ Constitution (Con) is a character’s ability to endure physical hardship including harm, poison, disease, fatigue, extreme environments, and other unpleasant situations. A high Constitution makes a character tougher and harder to kill.

+ Dexterity (Dex) is a character’s coordination and fast-twitch muscle capacity. A high Dexterity helps the character avoid harm and makes them better at finesse-based tasks.

+ Intellect (Int) is a character’s ability to quickly take in and analyze information. Intellect is good for skills based on knowledge and abstract concepts, such as academic subjects or magic.

+ Presence (Pre) is a character’s sense of self and ability to project it in social situations. While good looks may be part of the equation, far more of it depends on poise, confidence, assertiveness and centeredness. Presence influences most social interactions, including the character’s ability to lead others, and the mind’s resilience.

+ Sense (Sen) is a character’s wisdom, sensibility, trust in their “gut,” and ability to pay attention to the world around them. Sense aids artistic skills and can be beneficial in a wide variety of circumstances.

+ Strength (Str) is a character’s slow-twitch muscle capacity and force output. It influences power-based tasks including hitting hard and carrying large loads.

Each ability score, depending on its value, will modify various values or rolls in a wide variety of contexts. Unless otherwise noted, use the modifiers from the following table:

Score

[-1]

[-2]

3

4/5

6~8

9~12

13~15

16/17

18

[+2]

Mod

[-8]

[-5]

-3

-2

-1

0

1

2

3

[+1]

Numbers in brackets are outside of the range possible for normal humans: any scores higher than 18 are inhuman or supernatural; scores of 1 or 2 indicate some terrible and unusual trauma. Scores above 18 increase their modifier by 1 for every 2 points the ability score increases. So 18 and 19 give a +3 modifier, 20 and 21 give +4, and so on.

2. Choose Species

Basic YAOSC assumes a relatively standard fantasy-adventure setting, and its default choices for species are humans, halflings, elves and dwarves, with humanity as the default species. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume for now that all characters are humans, and introduce rules for other species later on.

3. Choose Class

YAOSC assumes that every potential adventurer has an area of expertise, or natural talent, that can be honed through training and the rigors of the adventuring lifestyle into one of four tracks: the mystical, the arcane, the adept, or strength of arms. This is reflected in your choice of “class.”

+ Priests serve the divine forces of the world, hoping to draw their favor or divert their wrath. Priests often demand that their companions worship, or at least honor, their chosen deities, but in return offer miraculous healing or other boons. Priests may perform and direct devotions, and channel the rewards and miracles of their patron gods. They can be moderately adept in both combat and mundane skills.

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+ Sorcerers study arcane secrets that allow them to manipulate the hidden forces of nature. Although not traditionally well suited to combat or outdoor living, they are welcome in adventuring parties for the potency of their spells and depth of study they command. Sorcerers are able to work magic by all available methods, where most people can only take part in rituals or activate the powers stored in magical items.

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+ Specialists form the backbone of an adventuring party. While they cannot master magic, call upon the power of the gods, or match warriors in combat prowess, the breadth and depth of skills they bring to the table can benefit any group they work with.

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+ Warriors are an adventuring party’s muscle. Masters of arms and armor, they are the most skilled class when it comes to stopping enemy attacks and dishing out damage, and are made tough and resilient by their training.

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Congratulations! By rolling some dice and making a couple of choices, you’ve done most of the work of character creation. You should have a character sheet by now – a piece of paper with enough space to record all the relevant information – with your results from steps 1-3 (and perhaps 0) on it, and all that’s left is to fill in some numbers.

4. Record Survival Meters

Each character’s durability is measured with three meters. These describe his or her ability to take a beating, to withstand fatigue, and to bear psychological stress. If the corresponding wear and tear ever get too high, your character will have to make a special roll to see how they respond to the punishment, and will probably spend at least the rest of the scene out of action.

+ Hit Points (HP) show how much damage your character can take before it becomes overwhelming. Too much damage can give you a penalty to your actions due to pain, or cause you to drop, in shock and at risk of long-term injury, disfigurement, or death.

Roll a die to determine your starting HP: Sorcerers roll 1d6, Priests and Specialists roll 1d8, and Warriors roll 1d10. Then add your Con modifier. If it’s negative, this decreases your HP! But even if your Con modifier is negative and you roll low, you can never start with less than 1 HP in your meter: change any results of 0 or lower to 1.

+ Endurance Points (EP) show how much energy your character can expend before they have to stop or slow down and rest. Too much fatigue can leave your character in a state of exhaustion, in which case they’ll probably be useless until they can recuperate.

Roll dice to determine your starting EP. (Humans roll 2d6) Then add your Str modifier. Again, there is a minimum: you can never start with fewer than 2 EP.

+ Stability Points (SP) show how well your character’s mind can stand the strain of the violence, fear, weirdness and magic that accompany the adventuring lifestyle. Too much strain can give you a penalty to your actions due to distraction, or cause you to break and become useless until you find your balance again. Breaking in this way can end a character’s adventuring career as surely as death, so be sure that your character finds a way to cope or unwind after stress.

Humans begin play with 3 SP. In addition, Sorcerers and Warriors add 1, Priests add 2, and Specialists add 3. (So for example, a human Sorcerer begins play with 3+1 = 4 SP). Add your Pre modifier and the level of your Concentration skill. The minimum starting value is 3 SP.

5. Record Saving Throws

Some situations will call for characters to make a special check called a saving throw (“save” for short) to avoid all or part of a bad situation. For example, disease, poison, a hostile spell, or falling rocks may all call for saves. Usually this check is rolled with a d10, although easier or harder saves may call for different dice. There are four types of saves:

+ Corruption – These throws resist relatively slow developments that would interfere with the body’s normal functions, including poison, Chaos, and magical effects such as polymorph.

+ Evasion – These throws resist anything that can be avoided through agility and athletic ability, including many traps, area affects, off-guard attacks, and magical effects such as blasts of flame.

+ Psychic – These throws resist mental stresses, including torture, madness, and magical effects such as enchantment or control.

+ Shock – These throws resist sudden, extreme stresses to the body, including massive damage, compression or decompression, and magical effects such as death magic.

Each save starts with a value of 1, with the following adjustments. When you are finished, change any results of 0 or below to 1: there is always a chance, however small, of making a save.

  • Corruption: Add your Con modifier. Then, if you are a Specialist, add 1.
  • Evasion: Add your Dex modifier. Then, if you are a Warrior, add 1.
  • Psychic: Add your Pre modifier. Then, if you are a Priest, add 1.
  • Shock: Add your Str modifier. Then, if you are a Sorcerer, add 1.

6. Record Skills

Skills are some of your most important tools in play. For a starting character, you won’t have many choices to make yet: you begin with only the “default” levels in most skills. Depending on your class, you may have a few free points to assign. Otherwise, simply note the default level for each skill – it may be a numerical value or equal to an ability modifier. If you want to start play right now, you can skip this step. Look up (and record) a given skill’s default when you first want to use it.

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7. Record Miscellaneous Detail

Your character will have some other numbers that describe them and their capacities: sight distance, movement speed, and physical descriptors such as mass, height, and so on. Some of these are pre-determined, especially by your choice of species; others can be assigned as you desire, rolled randomly, or even left alone until you need to know them.

8. Record/Buy Equipment

Your class (and perhaps species) will come with a default equipment package. Record the gear and monetary reserves listed there on your character sheet. Alternately, if you are familiar with the campaign world and have the time and inclination, go ahead and choose your own equipment a la carte. Note the monetary value of the starting package(s) and translate that into equipment of your own choosing.

When you’re done with that, you’re ready to play! Remember to note changes on your character sheet (in pencil), and remember that at the end of your first adventure, one of your characters will advance to first level and need some adjusting: their survival meters, saves, and skills will all improve, and you’ll have some choices to make. You’ll probably use some resources and find some treasure, which can be saved for your own use or spent on training, hiring helpers, or buying new equipment. With luck you’ll find something in the campaign world that engages your interest and leaves you wanting to come back and experience some more. Good luck, and have fun!

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All art public domain images by Telecanter.

 

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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