CHAOS OF THE OLD WORLD
Character Creation Basics
LETS START WITH SOME BASIC OF CHARACTER DESIGN NEXT:
One of the key elements in any roleplaying experiences are the characters the gameplay focus on; the heroes and personalities that interact with the GM and the setting to tell interesting and engaging stories. The player characters are an important part of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, as well. A PC in Warhammer is not just defined by his race or his characteristics. His career, wealth, talents, and skills all play a part in describing who he is and the role he plays within the setting. This designer diary take a look at the steps in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay character creation process.
Step 1: Select a Race
When creating a character for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the basic character concept can be strongly influenced by the character’s background and race. There are four races available in the core set – Reikland humans, dwarfs hailing from Karak Azgaraz, high elves, and wood elves. Each race has its own rich history, distinct flavour, strengths, and special abilities.
In addition to background information about each race, and that race’s impact and involvement in the Empire, there are a number of special abilities associated with each race. Player characters of a certain race share these special race abilities in addition to any other abilities they may have from their career or training. Alternatively, if players wish to randomly determine their PCs races, a table is provided.
Step 2: Draw 3 Careers
The next step in the character creation process is to determine the starting career for the character. The character’s career influences his available skills, talents, the advancement options after earning experience, as well as describes the character’s social function and role within the Old World.
To determine the character’s starting career, the player shuffles together all the basic career sheets and draws three careers at random. He checks to see if his character’s race is eligible for the careers drawn. If any of the careers are not compatible, the player draws until he has three valid careers. He then chooses which of those three careers he wishes his character to start with.
Step 3: Invest Creation Points
Each player has a number of creation points available to invest in the customisation of his character. The number of creation points available is based on the character’s race. Creation points are spent by the player to invest in his PC’s characteristics, as well as starting wealth and other advancements to improve a character’s starting skills and abilities. Any creation points not spent during character creation are lost – so the players need to invest wisely!
For example, if a player chooses to invest zero creation points in his character’s starting wealth, then the player character starts out broke. A broke character begins play with the clothes on his back (probably old and tattered), a dagger or quarterstaff, and has 5 brass coins.
Step 4: Acquire Action Cards
A character’s action cards provide a broad range of options during gameplay. All characters begin play with a few “basic” action cards. Several of the basic action cards have a minimum characteristic requirement. If a character does not begin play with the required characteristic rating, he does not begin with that basic action card. However, if he later raises his characteristics to meet these requirements, he can choose to acquire these actions later in his career.
Certain careers may have access to other basic actions. For example, wizard careers start the game with a number of petty magic spells, which are considered basic spell actions, and Channel Power, which allows them to generate the power needed to fuel their spells. Priest careers start the game with a number of minor blessings, which are considered basic blessing actions, and the Curry Favour action, which allows them to generate the favour needed to activate their blessings.
Step 5: Determine Stances
The player is now ready to determine his character’s starting stances. The character’s career sheet indicates the default number of conservative and reckless pieces for that character’s stance meter, which can be augmented over time by investing in additional pieces. The player then takes a number of puzzle-fit stance pieces based on the character’s stance makeup. One neutral stance piece is placed in the centre. A number of green pieces are attached to the left equal to the character’s conservative stance rating, and a number of red pieces are attached to the right equal to the character’s reckless stance rating.
Step 6: Select a Party Sheet
Once the individual players have created their characters, they work together to determine what sort of relationship their characters have with each other. Developing a back story or concept of why these characters are working together provides motivation for the characters, as well as potential plot hooks and adventure ideas for the GM.
The players should look through the available party sheets and decide which party sheet best reflects the play style and type of party they want their characters to be in. Each party sheet offers different options to the group. If the group cannot decide, they may wish to randomly draw a party sheet and discuss how their character fits into the concept presented by the sheet.
To get the most out of a roleplaying experience, players are encouraged to consider their characters and develop a sense for who they are and how they fit into the setting. What are the character’s motivations? What drives him to action? Who are the important people in his life? What inspired him to take up a life of adventure? Does he have any long-term goals or aspirations?
Is the soldier a battle weary veteran grudgingly forced to take up his sword again when beastmen threaten his home? Or is he an avaricious man, who seeks fame and fortune with his swordarm? Is the initiate of Sigmar a devout and pious man, never questioning the doctrine of his faith? Or is he on a personal quest of redemption to answer the questions burning a hole in his very soul?
By spending a few minutes thinking about a character’s background, motivations, and personality, players can enjoy a much richer, more fulfilling game experience. If a player is not sure how to answer these questions right away, that’s fine, too! One of the exciting thigs about roleplaying games is playing a character who develops and grows over time. And as players become more familiar with the game system, the setting, and their character, more ideas to flesh out their personal stories will emerge.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CLICK THE CHARACTER CREATION EXAMPLE LINK AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE
NOW LET’S LOOK AT ADVENTURING PARTIES…THAT’S YOU GUYS…
While some roleplaying games focus the attention on a single character, many RPGs focus on the actions and stories of a number of player characters who work together. It may be a consortium of superheroes, a special forces unit, a small band of secret agents, or one of many other types of groups. In many fantasy RPGs, individual characters band together to form parties.
Sometimes it is for mere convenience – there may be safety in numbers, or all the characters are headed toward the same destination. Other times, the group has a common goal and purpose for working together. A party identity can help establish the mood and atmosphere. A strong sense of why this group of individuals is working together can help add depth and immersion to the game experience.
Groups of player characters often have at least some sense of purpose or direction – even if largely unspoken or only briefly defined. In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the role of the party has a mechanical effect, as well as its story-driven effect.
The player characters in the game share a central party sheet, representing the teamwork, leadership, and camaraderie of its members. Each party sheet offers its own abilities, as well as makes managing certain party resources easier. Here is a closer look at the features that make up a party sheet.
Party Talent Sockets
As you may have noticed, the player character career sheets have a limited number of available spaces to socket talents. Each group of characters has an additional resource at their disposal to take advantage of their diverse talents – the party sheet. Each party sheet has several sockets that can also hold talents, and the type and quantity may vary from party sheet to party sheet.
Each talent slot on a party sheet can hold one talent of the corresponding type. The talents socketed to the party sheet are provided by members of the party, from their personal selections of available talents. However, when a talent is socketed to a party sheet, the ability is conferred to the entire party – everyone benefits from the leadership or knack of the character providing that talent. For talents that require a player to exhaust the talent card to gain a benefit, this means any player in the group has the ability to trigger the benefit by exhausting the card.
As long as the GM deems that the members of the party are close enough together to benefit, everyone can use the abilities listed on talents socketed to the party sheet. If one member of the party moves away to do something on his own (such as a thief sneaking out to reconnoitre an abandoned warehouse) then he may not be able to take advantage of the party sheet talents until he gets back in contact with the rest of his party.
Each party sheet has a special ability unique to that sheet. Some party abilities allow members of the party to use talents in different ways, exhaust talents attached to the party sheet to generate an effect, or have other novel and unique traits. The use or restrictions of each party ability is listed on the individual party sheet.
Each party sheet features a fortune pool. This area is a reserve to store fortune points gained over the course of a session. When the GM awards the party fortune points during play, they are placed on the party sheet in the central reserve. Once the party sheet has accumulated the proper number of fortune points, fortune refreshes and the individual party members can regain a fortune point.
The party sheet also features space to track the party’s tension. Party tension is a representation of the friction, anxiety, and apprehension a group of characters struggle with in the face of new challenges, arguments within the party, or as consequences for certain roleplaying actions.
When a triggering effect occurs that raises the party’s tension level, the GM moves a tracking token along the party tension meter on the party sheet. The party sheet lists the results that occur when certain spaces on the sheet are reached. If the party’s tension meter ever reaches the final space on the track, a more severe effect occurs, then the tension meter resets to zero.
Tension as a GM Tool
The tension track on each party sheet is a subtle way the GM can help resolve conflicts between players or their characters, or help reinforce the type of game experience the players collectively want to participate in.
When the party’s focus starts to wander, or in-character arguments threaten to cross over into player arguments, the GM can advance the party’s tension a space or two if he wishes. The goal is not to punish or embarrass the players, but rather provide a simple, visual cue that things are escalating in a way that may be counterproductive. Or that enough time has been spent on a particular side conversation, and other members of the group are ready to proceed with a course of action.
If the characters are working together especially well, the GM can move the tracking token a space or two back to reflect this. Moving tension back also offers the GM another in-game resource to reward players for good roleplaying.
Other Examples of Tension
In addition to the examples provided, there are a variety of other factors that can influence party tension. For example, an encounter with an especially fearsome creature could potentially increase party tension, or a horrible miscast by a Bright Wizard while he’s in an extremely reckless stance. Accusations of heresy levied against the party by a zealous Witch Hunter might ratchet tension up a few notches, as could an ambush by a group of beastmen who completely catch the party unawares.
Conversely, spending a restful evening in a temple of Shallya could easily decrease tension, as could a great in-character conversation with an important NPC. There are some other applications, as well, and creative GMs will find plenty of opportunities to integrate party tension in a way that feels appropriate for his group and play experience.