Authors: Robert Donoghue and Fred Hicks
Editors: Fred Hicks, Lydia Leong
This document is Open Game Content, as described in section 1(d) of the Open Gaming License.
Character creation is, ideally, very interactive, with the entire group creating characters in the presence of the GM. The methods below can be adapted to a less group-focused approach, but doing so loses many of benefits of the Fate approach. Character creation consists of a small number of simple steps.
1. GM Overview.
2. Consider the character.
3. Describe each phase
4. Select the Aspects for the phase
5. Spend 4 Skill Ranks
6. Assign Fate points.
7. Select character goal.
Character generation should begin with the GM talking to the players about the game, in order to set appropriate expectations. The GM should address any rules considerations, such as how many phases there will be (see below). More importantly, she should make sure that everyone gets a clear idea of the theme and tone of the game. If all of the players want a game of courtly intrigue and the GM is planning to run a hack and slash adventure, this is a good time to find that out. Finally, the GM should give the players whatever background information they need to know.
It's often helpful for players to get a sense of the sort of character they'd like to play. A lot of things can happen during the phases, so it's easiest to start with a simple idea, and build on it over the course of character generation. Once everyone has a concept, players should feel free to discuss them, unless the GM says otherwise. No player is obliged to participate in the discussion. In fact, no player is even obliged to have an idea at this point. However, doing so allows players to get a sense of what direction their fellow players want to take things, and it gives the GM a sense of what the group dynamic might look like.
Creation will have a number of phases set by the GM. Most games will use between five and eight, but it can really be any number. A phase is defined as a period of time wherein some events of note took place, but the specifics vary from game to game. A game of high school monster hunters might consider each school year a phase, while a game of immortal swordsmen might have a phase for every 50 years. Whatever the duration, the GM gives the players a sense of what was going on at the time, and the players figure out what their character was doing at the time.
Players pick one or more aspects to represent important elements of the character that can tie into the events of the phase.
Aspects are used to describe any element of the character. Aspects include things like attributes (Strong, Weak, Agile, Charismatic, Tough, Fast, Slow), descriptors (Dutiful Charming, Alert, Dramatic), careers (Knight, Mercenary, Musketeer, Cutthroat) or even ties to the setting (Merry Man of Sherwood, Initiate of the Blue Wind, Fiodario Fencing Academy). Aspects may be good, bad or both but they should always reflect some important element of the character.
When an aspect is chosen the character gains one level of that aspect, noted as follows:
|- ||Knight (Fair)|
An aspect may be chosen again on a subsequent phase, in which case it goes up a level and is noted as:
|- ||Knight (Good)|
|- ||Knight (Great)|
The GM sets the maximum number of levels that can be chosen in a given aspect, but a good rule of thumb is a third to a half of the total number of phases.
Skill ranks, as the name suggests, are spent primarily to purchase skills, but they can also be invested in resources.
Skill ranks may be spent to buy new skills or to improve existing ones. Acquiring a new skill costs one skill rank, and sets the skill at Average. Spending a skill rank to improve a skill raises it one step per rank spent (from Fair to Good, for example, or Superb to Epic.). Skills will generally be selected from a skill list (see "Skill Lists".)
Once the aspects are chosen, the player then picks four skill ranks appropriate to the events of the phase. If the player had spent the phase training in an order of knights, then skills like swords, riding or heraldry would probably be appropriate, while skills like garrote or needlework would not (barring a very odd order of knighthood).
Skills are described according to the adjective ladder, and default to Mediocre. Spending one skill rank increases a skill to Average, spending a second increases it to Fair, spending another increases it to Good and so on. Players may spend those four skill ranks any way they like with only one limitation: there must always be one more skill in the next rank down. This means that a character must have two skills at Fair to have a skill at Good (and must have three skills at Average to have the two skills at Fair!). Because of how this looks, it is referred to as the skill pyramid. When the rules are observed, the pyramid is considered to be "balanced." The pyramid must be balanced at the end of every phase. This process is repeated for each phase.
The pyramid can get confusing the first time you try to keep track of it. The good news is it's the hardest part of the system - once you're past that, the rest is easy.
It's often helpful to use tick marks to track progression through the phases, since it allows a visual representation of the pyramid.
Looking at the sample character later on (see "Sample Creation") in the first phase, the character buys ranks in knife, Herb Lore, Healing, Alertness. This can be marked as:
Next phase, she buys ranks of Knife, Healing, Bluff and Pickpocket:
And next, Knife, Bluff, Alertness and Move Silently:
And the marks show the problem. There are 3 XX and 3 X - that's unbalanced. Instead of Bluff, she picks Hide instead, so:
This system saves the trouble of assigning adjectives at each level. Instead, whenever you're finished, simply count up the marks, and assign a value as follows:
During character creation and, later, advancement (which is, in the end, the same as character creation in slow motion), you may find yourself wanting to bump a key skill up another level, but lacking the supporting pyramid structure to make that happen.
Of course, the thing to do at this point is to expand the base of the pyramid first, by adding other skills, in order to provide the structure to support the eventual higher skill.
This is all well and good as a mechanic for keeping skills from rising too fast, but you might be asking, "What's the justification?" Some of those skills you're adding at the lower levels might not seem like they'd have anything to do with the skill you're "really" trying to promote.
Part of the "in game" idea of what's going on here is that, with the troublesome "peak" skill in question, you've plateaued. Perhaps you've gotten about as good as you can get for a while, and it's time to branch out a bit, shake yourself up a little, and then come back refreshed with new perspectives.
Another possibility is that you *are* still improving in that skill, even if its listed rank isn't changing. Consider: the grain of the adjective ladder in Fate is pretty rough, with each rung of the ladder representing a significant step beyond the one prior to it. So while you may be improving, you're not improving so significantly that you've jumped up another level -- yet. The fact that you're picking up other skills along the way indicates that time is passing, which is the "true" support that's being lent to your peak skill.
That all said, in theory, your skill choices within a phase (be it a period of advancement leading up to a goal aspect, or a phase during character creation) are related to the aspect you're getting during that phase, so chances are the skills you're picking up are going to be a bit more related to your Swordplay than, say, Basketweaving.
Say the skill in question is Swordplay. There are any number of things you could pick up that clearly do support that skill. For example:
Metalworking (make your own)
Knowledge: Fencing Schools
Other weapon skills
A skill to represent an advanced maneuver that isn't covered by your Swordplay skill
And so on. Knowledge and profession skills are often great picks during these times, as they expand the realm of things your character knows about, while still tying into the peak skill you're pushing.
That said, if you're learning Swordplay under the Great Kenjutsu Master Hiroko, and he sends you down to the river to make baskets out of reeds every day as a part of your training in discipline and patience -- there's always justification to take Basketweaving.
Fate points are points which may be spent by a player to grant a bonus to an action or to influence the game in some way. The GM gives each player a certain number of them at the game's start, usually equal to half the number of phases. See "Fate Points" for more details.
Finally, the player should pick what direction they want the character to go in next. This is expressed as a goal, which should be the next aspect the player would like for the character. It's possible that the player will not have an idea, and that's fine, but the goals help tell the GM the sorts of things the players are interested in. See "Advancement" for more information.
The GM explains that the game is going to be a standard fantasy game with a slightly urban and low magic flavor, and that character generation will be five phases.
Think about and discuss the character
Deborah decides to make Sybil, who she thinks is going to be something of a trickster, but she hasn't got much more than that.
The phases break down as follows.
This phase covers a number of years, including Sybil's youth in the village of Simbul. She's raised by the village medicine woman, and she takes the aspect "Herbalist" and ranks in Knife, Healing, Herb Lore and Alertness.
Sybil runs off with a gypsy troupe, and travels the realm. She takes the aspect "Gypsy" and ranks in Knife, Bluff, Pickpocket and Healing.
Sybil continues to spend time with the gypsies, acting as a healer. She takes another rank in the Gypsy aspect, and ranks in Knife, Bluff, Move Silently and Hide.
Leaving the troupe, she heads to the big city to pursue a career as a thief. She joins the guild and takes the aspect "Guild Thief" and learns the skills Pick Locks, Pickpocket, Bluff and Hide.
As a result of a big haul that she fails to share with the guild, she ends up with the black mark on her, and a price on her head. She takes the aspect "Hunted" and buys ranks in Knife, Hide Alertness and Streetwise.
The GM gives Sybil 3 fate points to start the game.
|.||Guild Thief ||Fair|