Second Draft Character Creation

Okay, second draft for character creation.  Nothing much has changed, really, just a couple little refinements and adding magic points (calculated in much the same way as hit points, but using Level Bonus instead of Level, and the modifier for Iron Will on magic points is smaller than the one for Great Fortitude on hit points).

It’s pretty simple overall:

  • Come up with a character concept;
  • Choose cornerstone talents that suit the concept;
  • Choose common talents that suit the concept;
  • Choose capstone talents that suit the concept;
  • Choose gear (I usually give starting characters gear that matches their talents);
  • Choose descriptive elements like height, weight, alignment.

I’ve got a slew of common talents defined (at least in draft): Divine Talents from Agents of Faith, Combat Talents from FantasyCraft, and more Combat Talents from Iron Heroes mastery feats.

I’ve also started a document containing new talents (just updated), including a couple cornerstone talents.

Already I have errata.  Capstones are ‘shaped’ more like standard talents, including potentially having multiple tiers and being cumulative in their effect and ‘upgradeable’.  The ‘bottom’ tier, like any other talent with limited range, is expected to be as good as that tier is for any other talent — which is to say, it has as much ‘good stuff’ in total as other talents will have accumulated by that tier.

Thinking about how I phrased cornerstones last night clarified this for me and should hopefully sort out a problem I was having with capstone design.  It also suggests that if a talent has a gap and is missing tiers, the extra mojo should be stacked into the next tier available.

Echelon Character Creation Draft
Echelon Character Creation Draft, click to download PDF

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    • Wow, that really looks good. Power looks pretty much in line with what I would expect at that level, the not-quite-defined talents are evocative and I’d like to know more about them. The undefined talents won’t directly change numbers much, so this character would be usable as-is, just a little narrower in ability than she might be.

      Apart from the dearth of applicable talents (that led you to suggest others), how much effort was involved in creating the character (mechanically)?

      • Not a lot of effort involved in the mechanics, there’d’ve been more if I’d copied out the provided abilities from each talent (which I would probably do if I was planning to use any of these characters in a game).
        My approach was to first place the most iconic abilities of the character in the top slots, then fill everything else. The reduced number of low-tier slots in the newer slot table is good, makes the top end more prominent. Minor formatting quibble: the slot table was my first port of call when creating any new character, perhaps it should be at the front of the section?
        A bit of humming and hahing over which talents to pick for certain aspects. I used a mix of Political Mastermind and Overwhelming Presence to represent Amren-ja’s social style, for instance. Also some juggling to decide which order the cornerstones should go in: this has been the same for every character so far, actually. Deciding order for capstones has been easier because the prerequisites usually mandate an order, and as above I already have a system for ordering the normal talents. I don’t know how this would change when there are more capstones pre-written, and hence I’d normally be working towards a set of prerequisites rather than creating them post-facto.
        Equipment I copied from my previous attempts with this character (I explicitly ignored the rest so I was working from scratch with talents).

        • I think keeping the checklist first is still sound, but the slot table early is good too (I don’t remember precisely where each bit is, but I suspect the slot table currently is after the score definitions, in which case it should be moved).

          I think it would work better to present the talents selected in top-down order. I would be inclined to go (capstone, commons, cornerstone) for each tier from Legendary..Basic. Is it really important that she is of noble blood, or is it more important to know that she is Warrior Born and Gods Touched? Do you want to see that she knows Animal Handling before you see that she’s a Political Mastermind? That sort of thing.

          I noticed the equipment and wondered about it. At this tier tiger-chow just kind of happens, unless there is a situational reason why not. In this case it might actually be relevant because you’re in the desert. I might look for some kind of talent to justify the tiger-drawn chariot, but that might be part of Doom Rider or something — “badass mount” comes with the territory. I’d need to think about it. Similarly, with the way I expect to go about gear in a starting/just created character I might look for more justification for the bow. She’s got Expert Mounted Archery, normally that might warrant a masterwork bow rather than the very shiny one she has.

          These are all minor details, though. I think the character is fairly, and fairly well, represented. I look at it and really see nothing hugely out of line, and a large part of me is going “goddamn that looks like a fun character to play!”

          • Oh, I meant before the checklist, yes (didn’t have it in front of me), but before the scores. Arranging things from high to low is an interesting idea, I will try that.

            The disparity between her skill with the bow and its shininess is deliberate: she’s not overly keen on bows (prefers more of an up-close-and-personal style) but it’s been handed down the royal line for generations, and legend says it was gifted to the first queen by her mother, Umiet the sun goddess. For the queen to go into battle without it would cause some eyebrow-raising and pearl-clutching at court. The shield stowed in the chariot is a political concession too.

            As for tiger feed, yes, for ponies you could just handwave it and say they find somewhere to graze. But if it’s tigers we’re talking about then — particularly in the desert — you want to make sure they are well-fed, in case of terrible accidents! Speaking of tigers: how would you go about making one? I had a try at some mundane creatures a while back (the mechanics are probably a bit dated).

          • Ah, I see. Attached to the Political Mastermind instead then.

            Hmm. There’s an idea. (Baseline) significant items are hinged off your level. They tend to align with your talents (and usually will), but are not required to. In this case she gets a sweet axe because of Axe Mastery at a high tier, she gets a bow (that might actually be higher than her tier would suggest) becomes of the Political Mastermind element, or perhaps Ruler of the Land. The headdress may be a better match for Ruler of the Land, actually, but since she can’t sell it it’s not actually worth much in terms of build resources. Some talents really provide nothing beyond their own benefit (Martial Training is not terribly specific, after all, and requires nothing in particular to practice), while others may (Combat Archery, you must have a mount and you must have a weapon).

            I could work with this.

            I’ve taken the liberty of copying the character here with some slight annotation and links. I figure there’s a better chance people will look for it here, and I can explain what’s going on.

          • Okay, quick run at Tiger. CR 4 (Echelon 8, top of Expert tier), predator, some dangerous abilities.


            • Level Bonus: +4
            • Tier: +2
            • Max Training Bonus: +4
            • Martial Ability: +8 [Level Bonus + Martial Training Bonus, “Base Attack Bonus”]
            • Casting Ability: +4 [Level Bonus; no spells known]
            • HP: 32 [(Level + Martial Training Bonus + FortModifier) * Tier]
            • MP: 8 [(Level Bonus + Caster Training Bonus + WillModifier) * Tier]
            • AC: 22 [10 + BAB 8, + armor +4]
            • Saves: Fortitude +8, Reflex +8, Will +12

            Hit points are a little lower (32 compared to RSRD 45) but Armor Class is a fair bit higher (22 vs. 14). Damage is probably comparable. I really need to work out how size modifiers work.

            Attack bonus is about the same, much the same attacks available, most of the same abilities are available.

            Expert Talents

            • Predator (capstone) [TBD, probably brings bigger damage, Scent]
            • Expert Natural Armor [+4]
            • Expert Martial Training [+2 MTB]
            • Expert Multi-Weapon Fighting [claw/claw/bite]
            • Expert Natural Weapons (Bite)
            • Large Size
            • “Tiger Combat Style” [pounce, rake; I haven’t documented combat style construction]
            • Warrior Born [+2 MTB]

            Basic Talents

            • unknown (capstone)
            • Basic Great Fortitude [+2 Fortitude, +2 base hit points, Endurance]
            • Basic Lightning Reflexes [+2 Reflex, +5 movement, act when flatfooted, +4 initiative checks]
            • Strong Animal (cornerstone)
  1. In fact, here’s one now. I am missing a capstone for him, any ideas?

    The Character Creation PDF refers to BAB when telling how to calculate AC, but BAB isn’t actually defined. I think it’s the same as the “Martial Ability” score (Level Bonus + Martial Training Bonus)? “modFort” and “modWill” are also undefined but the Great Fortitude/Iron Will talents explicitly give the HP/MP increases anyway.

    • Right, “Martial Ability” used to be “Base Attack Bonus”. I shouldn’t have changed it without explanation. And yes, Great Fortitude and Iron Will spell out the changes explicitly, largely because I don’t like how the formulae looked on the page.

      • To me, I think it would be easier to read if the HP/MP rules only incorporated level and training bonuses, leaving the addition from the saves to be specified by those talents alone. Also, the variation in level-dependence between the two point tracks (level bonus for MP but straight level for HP) is a bit of a “gotcha” and should probably be brought to the reader’s attention.
        This next bit is more an observation than a suggestion, but there is a broken symmetry between saves and points: HP includes Fortitude, MP includes Will, but there’s no common point track that makes use of Reflex. This might be okay but it does stand out on the page.

        • Fortitude (this was before Will gave magic points) used to give a straight block of points. I wanted the benefit to scale a bit better with level, so I rewrote it to add to the base that gets multiplied. I have no philosophical difficulty with changing it back, but I thought I’d see how it plays.

          I know magic points and hit points are different formulae. When I was thinking about it I realized that magic points on the same scale as hit points, given how I was planning to use them, made for a very, very large amount of spell casting. This way it works out to about $tier spells per day at full power, plus about 50% for maximized Iron Will. If I can see a way to make them the same and have it work as I want it to I will, but for now this may be the better way to go.

          Lightning Reflexes doesn’t add to any point mechanics, but they do add to movement. It’s not the same, but it is there.

  2. David Lamb

    The first two drafts focused on creating a character at an arbitrary level, but I’m having trouble getting my head around what happens as a character goes up one level at a time.

    From the talent slot chart it looks like at the start of a tier you lose 2 tier N-1 talents and gain 2 tier N; does this mean the tier N have to be upgrades of the tier N-1 talents? Then at the next level up you gain a tier N talent without losing a tier N-1, then gain 2 tier N and lose an N-1, then gain a tier N and a capstone and lose one tier N-1. Where I’m guessing “lose tier N-1” might really mean “upgrade N-1 to N”.

    Some earlier version of the rules (possibly from long ago) had a way for you to replace a tier N-1 talent when you upgraded it. Does this still happen?

    • Indeed, when the number of talents at a tier goes up and the number at a lower tier goes you, you upgrade them. For instance, the first level of a tier sees you upgrade two of the talents at the previous tier. When you get one at a higher tier without a matching decrease in the lower-tier slots it is a net new talent and does not need to be an upgrade. In this case if you choose you may upgrade a lower-tier talent (from any lower tier) and full the lower tier in the same manner (net new or upgrade one that is lower yet and backfill that). I talk about it a bit in Character Evolution.

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