'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Friday, August 10, 2018

Modern Age: Making a Character.

Now that we've had a quick look at the print edition of Modern Age, I thought I would go a little more in depth into various parts of the rulebook. Starting off this series: Characters.

Without characters the players would have no real ability to interact with the world and without that our story is going to suffer. It makes sense to start our look at these rules with character generation.

As most RPGs characters are defined by a list of attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, Intelligence, Constitution and Charisma....No wait that's D&D, a game I haven't really played in close to 25 years. Although I admit to a few pathfinder sessions. It's funny to me that I can still recall the attributes from that game. These are of course NOT the attributes used in Modern Age. Modern Age uses the following attributes to define a character

  • Accuracy - Aim, precision, ability to use ranged weapons.
  • Communication - Social skills, personal interactions.
  • Constitution - Health and fortitude.
  • Dexterity - Hand-eye coordination, reaction time.
  • Fighting - Close combat/melee weapons.
  • Intelligence - Reasoning, memory, problem solving.
  • Perception - Ability to use the characters senses, how observant they are.
  • Strength - How strong the character is.
  • Willpower - Self control, discipline.

BUT before we get around to generating your alter-egos physical and mental abilities lets do one thing first, which is actually listed as step 1 of character creation in the rule book. The first thing we need is a basic concept. Having an idea of the campaign you are going to play in will be an important thing to know. If your adventures are set in the south American jungle, choosing a street wise private eye is probably not your best choice.

Knowing the group is going to play a group trying to rid the city of crime in a gritty 70s/80s type cop show, we will choose that street wise private investigator as our basic idea for our character.

Now that we have our basic idea we can determine our stats. The base method of determining this is to roll 3d6 in order and consult a table. This will generate a stat from -2 to 4. It also include the ability to swap any two rolls to more closely meet the character as he or she develops. They include two other methods, one is random and one is a point build system. I am in favor of point build systems in a lot of cases. I like the idea of allowing a player to build the character they like and want to play.

Using the standard method of rolling 3d6 in order we come up with the following for stats.
  • Accuracy - 2
  • Communication - 0
  • Constitution - 2
  • Dexterity - 3
  • Fighting - 0
  • Intelligence - 1
  • Perception - 2
  • Strength - 2
  • Willpower - 2

Once we have the attributes figured out we figure out our characters social class, background. These are a few simple rolls or choices and will give the character a random bonus as well as an increase to an attribute, a focus and a talent.

My rolls for my class and background roll out as follows....
Social class: Outsider
Background: Bohemian
Background Bonus: Acrobatics

Bohemian grants +1 Communication, One of two different focuses, keeping our character in mind we will choose Communication (Performance) and one of two talents. We will again choose Performance. Our roll of Acrobatics grants us that as a focus.
  • Communication - 1, Performance
  • Dexterity - 3, Acrobatics
Talents: Performance.

The next step we are going to complete is the characters profession. Again it is a simple roll or a choice. The profession will give you another focus and another talent as well as the characters base health and resource score.

For a profession we roll Survivalist.
This grants us another focus. We will choose Accuracy (Pistols)
And another Talent. We choose Tactical Awareness.
Our base health, as this is a physical profession is 20+Con, or 22.
  • Accuracy - 2, Pistols
Talents: Performance, Tactical Awareness.

Once we have our abilities, background, social class and profession we need to determine what drives the character. As the rest of the steps this is a pretty simple set of rolls and will give you a description of the things that drive your character as well as a quality and a downfall. You will also gain a new Talent and the ability to improve something, from a list of 3 things.

Our characters drive is Builder. You are someone who wants to create something lasting. A foundation, community etc. How you get it? That is less important.
We again get another Talent and we will choose "Maker".
We also get an improvement. Right now our Resource score is 0, so we will move that to 2
At this time now that we have a better understanding of our character we can swap out two abilities, but I think ours are looking ok, so we will leave them as is.
  • Resources - 2
Talents: Performance, Tactical Awareness, Maker.

Equipment in the game is a basic set of starting equipment your character might actually have. Is she a PI? She might have a low budget office, cell and computer. Maybe a pistol. The game lists starting equipment as clothing, equipment and weapons in line with the character. It is in general a pretty open thing that will need to be discussed with the GM. Money in this game is handled in a very abstract way, so you won't be buying 50 feet of rope and deducting 10gp from your character sheet.

A basic set of equipment that fits our character and current abilities.
Equipment: Basic simple clothing and tie. Pistol. Cell phone. Older cool car.

We have a few more stats to figure out which are just simple derived stats based on a base + ability. ie Health is determined by your profession and now we learn your health is that base + your characters Con. We determine health, defense, toughness and speed this way.

Our final derived stats look like this:
  • Health - 22
  • Defense - 13
  • Toughness - 2
  • Speed - 13

The penultimate step in character creation is a little more abstract. Determining a few goals as well as relationships and strengths of those relationships. Did someone save your life? Would you take a bullet for someone? Does someone have to die? The number of these is determined by your characters communication skill.

  • Goals: He's seen too much crime in his life. All he wants to do is to take down as many bad guys as possible.
  • Goals: Form a group of men and women that can act outside the law to take down criminals and others.
  • Relationships: Close relationship with a detective on the police force.
  • Ties: This will be some ideas about how this character knows the other PCs in his group.

Finally name and describe your character. Figure out who he or she is exactly. Once that is complete you have your first character for Modern Age.

Name: Jim
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 189lbs
Age: 31

And finally the completed character. Overall I found the system easy to learn and follow along with. I hope you have a better understanding of how a build might look.

Name: Jim
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 189lbs
Age: 31
Early middle age, shabby clothing,
dark slightly curly hair.
  • Health - 22
  • Defense - 13
  • Toughness - 2
  • Speed - 13
  • Accuracy - 2, Pistols
  • Communication - 1, Performance
  • Constitution - 2
  • Dexterity - 3, Acrobatics
  • Fighting - 0
  • Intelligence - 1
  • Perception - 2
  • Strength - 2
  • Willpower - 2
Resources: 2
Equipment:
Clothing, tie
Pistol.
Cell phone.
Older cool car.
Talents: Performance, Tactical Awareness, Maker.
  • Goals: He's seen too much crime in his life. All he wants to do is to take down as many bad guys as possible.
  • Goals: Form a group of men and women that can act outside the law to take down criminals and others.
  • Relationships: Close relationship with a detective on the police force.
  • Ties: This will be some ideas about how this character knows the other PCs in his group.
WeaponAttack BonusDamageROF/RNG/CAP/RELOAD
SA Handgun+42d6 -B-W-SA/55yrd/5 cap/minor

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