For those who don’t mind counting numbers a bit, the following method creates interesting and well-balanced characters.
In this system, all traits start at default level. The GM then allows a number of free levels the players may use to raise selected traits to higher levels. Players may then lower certain traits in order to raise others even further.
Finally, a player may opt to trade some levels of one trait type (such as attributes) for another (skills, for example).
The whole process insures that no single character will dominate every aspect of play.
A GM using the Objective Character Creation system should decide how many attributes she deems necessary in the campaign. She can choose to leave it up to each player, if she wishes. Players then have a number of free attribute levels equal to half the number of attributes (round up). For example, if she selects four attributes, each player starts with two free levels he can use to raise his character’s attributes.
For a more high-powered game, the GM may allow a number of free levels equal to the number of attributes chosen.
All attributes are considered to be Fair until the player raises or lowers them. The cost of raising or lowering an attribute is:
Thus, a player may raise his Strength attribute (which is Fair by default) to Good by spending one free attribute level. He could then spend another free level to raise Strength again to Great. This would exhaust his free levels if there were only four attributes but he would have one more if there were six attributes, and eight more free levels if there were 20 attributes.
When the free attribute levels have been exhausted, an attribute can be raised further by lowering another attribute an equal amount. (See also Section 1.64, Trading Traits.) From the previous example, Strength can be raised one more level (to Superb) if the player lowers the character’s Charm to Mediocre to compensate for the increase in Strength.
If the GM allows the players to choose their own attributes, she may simply tell them to take half as many free levels as attributes they choose. If a player chooses an attribute and leaves it at Fair, that attribute does not count towards the total of attributes which determines the amount of free levels. That is, a player cannot simply add twelve attributes, all at Fair, in order to get six more free levels to raise the others with. GM-mandated attributes left at Fair do count when determining the number of free levels, though.
As an interesting possibility for those who want attributes and skills to reflect each other accurately, do not let the players adjust attribute levels at all. Instead, they select only skill levels, gifts and faults for their characters.
When the character is done, the GM can then determine what attribute levels make sense for the skill levels chosen, and discuss it with the player.
Example: A character is made with many combat and wilderness skills, but no social skills. He also has a smattering of intelligence skills. The GM decides that this character has Strength, Dexterity and Health of Great from spending a lot of time outdoors, practicing with weapons, etc. She will even let the player choose one to be at Superb, if desired. Perception is probably Good, since wilderness survival depends on it. Any social attribute is Mediocre at best possibly even Poor while Intelligence is Mediocre or Fair. If the player objects to the low Intelligence ranking, the GM can point out that the character hasn’t spent much time in skills that hone Intelligence, and if he wants his character’s IQ to be higher, he should adjust his skill list.
In the Objective Character Creation system, each player has a number of free skill levels with which to raise his skills. Suggested limits are:
For Extremely Broad Skill Groups: 15 levels.
For Moderately Broad Skill Groups: 30 levels.
For Specific Skills: 40 to 60 levels.
Ask the GM for the allotted amount, which will give you a clue as to how precisely to define your skills. Of course, the GM may choose any number that suits her, such as 23, 42, or 74. . . see Section 6.3, Character Examples.
Gamemasters may devise their own skill lists to choose from some possibilities are included in the skill lists.
Most skills have a default value of Poor unless the player raises or lowers them see Section 1.4, Allocating Traits.
Certain skills have a default of non-existent. These would include Languages, Karate, Nuclear Physics, or Knowledge of Aztec Rituals, which must be studied to be known at all. When a character studies such a skill (puts a level into it at character creation, or experience points later in the game), the level he gets it at depends on how hard it is to learn. Putting one level into learning the Spanish language, for example, would get it at Mediocre, since it’s of average difficulty to learn. Nuclear Physics, on the other hand, might only be Poor or even Terrible with only one level put into it. It would take four levels just to get such a skill at Fair, for example.
For ease in character creation, use the following table:
Cost of Skills in Objective Character Creation
Easy Most Hard Very Hard
Terrible -2 -1 0 1
Poor -1 0 1 2
Mediocre 0 1 2 3
Fair 1 2 3 4
Good 2 3 4 5
Great 3 4 5 6
Superb 4 5 6 7
Easy = Cost of GM-Determined Easy Skills
Most = Cost of Average Skill
Hard = Cost of GM-Determined Hard Skills
VH = Cost of GM-Determined Very Hard Skills (usually related to Supernormal Powers)
As in the Subjective Character Creation system, the GM may limit the number of Superb and Great skills each character may have at character creation. For a highly cinematic or super-powered game, no limit is necessary.
For example, the GM sets a limit of one Superb skill, three or four Great skills, and eight or so Good skills.
These limits can be exceeded through character development, of course. See Section 6.3, Character Examples.
Once the free levels are used up, a skill must be dropped one level (from the default Poor to Terrible) to raise another skill one level. (See also Section 1.64, Trading Traits.) All choices are subject to GM veto, of course.
It is possible to mix different breadths of skill groupings.
A GM who has little interest in combat can simply choose Unarmed Combat, Melee Weapons and Ranged Weapons as the only three combat skills. But this does not stop her from using all the individual Social skills (and many more) listed as examples. If this option is chosen, the broad groups cost double the levels of the narrower groups.
Mixing skill group sizes within the same areas is awkward in the Objective Character Creation system. For example, it is difficult to have a generic Thief Skills group and also have individual skills of lockpicking, pick-pocketing, palming, security-device dismantling, etc. If she does wish to do this, then the broad skill group in this case has a maximum limit of Good, and triple cost to raise or more, if the GM so mandates.
If the GM is using broad groups, a player may raise a specific skill (such as Poker, for example, instead of general Gambling skill). A player would give his character a specific skill when the GM is using broad-based skill groups to fit a character concept. Do not expect the character to be equally adept with the other skills in the group. This would be true for Groo* the Wanderer, for instance, who would simply raise Sword skill, even if the GM is using the broad term Melee Weapons as a skill group. Groo would have, in fact, a Poor rating with all other Melee weapons, and this would accurately reflect the character.
Gifts & Faults
If the GM has gifts in her game, she may allow player characters to start with one or two free gifts more for epic campaigns. Any further gifts taken must be balanced by taking on a fault, or by trading traits.
A player may gain extra trait levels by taking GM-approved faults at the following rate:
1 fault = 1 gift.
1 fault = 2 attribute levels.
1 fault = 6 skill levels.
However, the GM may rule that a particular fault is not serious enough to be worth two attribute levels, but may be worth one attribute level or three skill levels. On the other hand, severe faults may be worth more attribute levels.
During character creation, free levels may be traded (in either direction) at the following rate:
1 attribute level = 3 skill levels.
1 gift = 6 skill levels.
1 gift = 2 attribute levels.
Fudge Points cannot be traded without GM permission. (If tradable, each Fudge Point should be equal to one or two gifts.) So a player with three free attribute levels and 30 free skill levels may trade three of his skill levels to get another free attribute level, or six skill levels to get another free gift.
Whether the character is created subjectively or objectively, each character has some free uncommitted traits (perhaps two or three). At some point in the game, a player will realize that he forgot something about the character that should have been mentioned. He may request to stop the action, and define a previously undefined trait, subject to the GM’s approval. A sympathetic GM will allow this to happen even during combat time.
GM-set skill limits (such as one Superb, three Greats) are still in effect: if the character already has the maximum number of Superb skills allowed, he can’t make an uncommitted trait a Superb skill.
See the sample character, Dolores Ramirez, Section 6.331.
Psi-punk Copyright 2012, Accessible Games; Author Jacob Wood