Game: Atomic Highway (AH)
Publisher: Radioactive Ape Designs (via Cubicle 7, now free on DriveThruRPG
Degree of Familiarity: The game's been around for a while. I've run it a few times as one-shots and the like. So I guess I have a good degree of familiarity with the game. :)
Books Required: The Atomic Highway rulebook.
Please note that this is quite long, as I've gone into the game mechanics a bit in terms of character creation, and have provided background on the character and the choices I've made here.
I've created quite a few characters for the Atomic Highway game system since I first got it. The game mechanics and the rules are pretty easy to get on a first reading of the rulebook, but I have seen more nuances and the like in the game as I've gained more experience with the game system.
Step 1: Decide on a character concept.
This is one of those steps that some folks might find unnecessary, but believe me, it really helps. It's also one of the recommended steps for this game. :) After looking at the background material presented in the rulebook, and with a campaign in Ottawa that I have in mind at the moment, I decide to create a Lore Keeper. The character is part of the remnant Enclave near what was once Kingston, Ontario, and while a bookish type, has some experience in the wilderness as well.
Step 2: Assign Attribute Points.
The next step in character generation for Atomic Highway is to assign the player character his Attributes Points. There are seven (7) Attributes in the game - Muscle, Understanding, Tenacity, Appeal, Nimbleness, Toughness, and Senses. Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, so I'm not going to go into them here. (If anyone has any questions about the Attributes for the game, please address them to me in the Comments section.) The character receives a total of 18 Attribute Points to assign, with at least 1 in each Attribute and a maximum of 5 points in any one Attribute. The average in any Attribute is 2.
Looking over the Attributes, and the character concept that I have in mind, I decide I want the character to be a bit better than average in terms of his Understanding (intelligence, reasoning, and memory), Tenacity (willpower and determination), and Senses (sharpness of sight, hearing, smell/taste, touch, etc.). Thus, I assign the 18 points to my Attributes as follow: Muscle 2, Understanding 4, Tenacity 3, Appeal 2, Nimbleness 2, Toughness 2, and Senses 3. While he's pretty average for the most part, it means there are some Attributes that he is better than average at, and one at which he's really good.
Step 2.1: Roll for Mutations.
One of the options that Atomic Highway gives the players is that of playing a Mutant (commonly referred to as a "Mutie"). There are different types of mutations, but as a general rule, one rolls on the Mutation Chart to see what type of mutation one has gained, and if one chooses a second mutation, one must also roll for a Flaw.
I decide that my character, whom I will name Carter Jones, does not have any mutations, and I move on to the next step.
Step 3: Calculate Health.
Health is calculated using the formula [(Muscle + Tenacity + Toughness)] x 2.
Since I do not have any Mutations or Flaws that affect my Health, I determine my Health as per the above. My character, Carter, has a Health of 14.
Step 4: Record Natural Skills.
Natural Skills are those Skills that all characters have at least some rudimentary proficiency at, such as swinging a punch, running, and swimming. The following are the Natural Skills with which the character starts, all at a value of Novice (1): Athletics, Brawl, Melee, Notice, Persuade, Shoot, Steath. These skills all start at Level 1.
Thus my Skills are currently: Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Melee 1, Notice 1, Persuade 1, Shoot 1, and Steath 1.
Step 5: Select and Record the Character's Rearing.
The next step in the character generation process is to determine the character's Rearing. The Rearing of the character represents his early life and formative years. Each Rearing is in the form of a template, and gives the character Skills, and possibly Clothing, Weapons, and Gear.
In the case of my character, Carter, I had already decided that he is a Remnant. This was a pocket of survivors clinging to the knowledge and technology of the Time Before, in an old laboratory and blood clinic facility in the ruins of what was once Kingston. A bit reclusive, they have managed to make deals for footstuffs and other survival items, as well as protection, with one of the local tribes. As part of his Remnant Rearing, Carter receives the following Skills: Boat 1 OR Drive 1 OR Pilot 1, Lore 2, Shoot 1, and Tech 2. I choose to take the Ride Skill instead of Boat (my GM allowing this, and thus add these levels to my previous Skills.
This gives me the following Skills and levels: Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Lore 2, Melee 1, Notice 1, Persuade 1, Ride 1, Shoot 2, Stealth 1, and Tech 2.
As part of my Tribal upbringing, I don't receive any weapons.
As part of my Tribal upbringing, I also receive some Gear: A gas mask and a geiger counter.
Step 6: Select and Record the Character's Pursuit.
The next step in the character generation process involves deciding on the character's Pursuit. The Pursuit of the character represents his main adult experience and training at the beginning of the game. Again, each Pursuit is in the form of a template that provides the character with Skills, and possibly Clothing, Weapons, and Gear.
For Carter, I had already decided that I want the character to be a Lore Keeper. They can be historians, storytellers, lawkeepers, advisors, scholars; they maintain the oral traditions, preserve knowledge repositories, and learn all they can. As part of his Remnant pursuit, Carter receives the following Skills: Boat 1 OR Ride 1, Lore 2, Notice 1, Persuade 1, Scavenge 1, Shoot 1, Tech 1, and two of the following Skills - Brawl 1, Intimidate 1, Melee 1, and Survive 1. I decide to take the Ride Skill at 1 again instead of Boat and of the four extra Skills choose Melee 1 and Survive 1.
This now gives me the following Skills and Levels: Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Lore 4, Melee 2, Notice 2, Persuade 2, Ride 2, Scavenge 1, Shoot 3, Stealth 1, Survive 1, and Tech 3.
As part of my Lore Keeper Pursuit, I receive weapons: A handgun of choice (fully loaded) OR a pistol crossbow (and 12 bolts), and a knife. I decide I like the idea of the handgun, so I take an old classic, a Colt .45.
As part of my Lore Keeper Pursuit, I receive some Clothing: Pants OR skirt; shoes OR boots; shirt OR vest; coat OR jacket OR cloak; and a hat OR hood. I decide to go with the pants, boots, shirt, coat, and a hat.
As part of my Lore Keeper Pursuit, I receive some Gear: (1-6)+4 rolls on the Library Scavenging Table; a magnifying glass or spectacles; 1-6 pencils and/or pens; and an empty record book. In the library stuff, I end up with 4 items: 3 Self Help books, 1 piece of alternative music (on cassette), 5 fashion magazines, and 1 biography. (In a campaign, I would specify what all these items were, but here...). Rolling for the number of pencils or pens, I find I have 3. :)
Last, but not least, I receive some Transport: A mount of choice (with saddle blankets and harness) OR canoe OR kayak. I decide on a good, steady horse with saddle blankets and harness.
Step 7: Customize the Character.
The character receive 4 Skill Points that can be used to customize the character somewhat, to buy new Skills or improve existing Skills (but no higher than 4 in any one Skill).
Looking over the character of Carter, I decide where to put the extra 4 points. I put one of the points immediately into Heal, one point into Stealth, one point into Survive, place two of the points immediately into Heal, raising it to 3. I place the other 2 points into Lore, raising it to a 3 as well.
My final Skill set looks like this: Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Heal 1, Lore 4, Melee 2, Notice 2, Persuade 2, Ride 2, Scavenge 1, Shoot 3, Stealth 2, Survive 2, and Tech 3.
Step 8: Personalize the Character.
In this step, one finishes character generation. One gives the character a Name, describes their appearance and gear as necessary and appropriate, and briefly outlines their life, personality, and motivations. One doesn't need to overdo it, and a few descriptive sentences are better than pages and pages of exposition.
I have already decided that the character's Name is Carter Jones.
Thinking about it for a minute or so, I decide that Carter is a rather average man, on the slim side. He has dark brown hair, a short but neat beard, and has some scars on his neck from an attack on his person he doesn't talk about. Carter wears what passes for a scholar these days: a pair of baggy pants, ruffled shirt with either lab coat or warmish duffel coat, and worn but still good leather boots. He wears a battered pair of spectacles, the left lens of which has a slight crack in it.
In terms of his background, I decide on the following: Carter grew up in an old blood clinic/laboratory facility in what was once Kingston. While reclusive, Carter was in disfavour because he was more outgoing and he wanted to see more of the world, collect more knowledge. Leaving the facility, Carter has wandered the world (alone, but sometimes with other kindred spirits) for several months now, and has learned things beyond even what the elders of the blood clinic/lab facility can even imagine.
So, when all is said and done, Carter Jones looks something like this...
Pursuit: Lore Keeper
Description: A rather average man, on the slim side. He has dark brown hair, a short but neat beard, and has some scars on his neck from an attack on his person he doesn't talk about. Carter wears what passes for a scholar these days: a pair of baggy pants, ruffled shirt with either lab coat or warmish duffel coat, and worn but still good leather boots. He wears a battered pair of spectacles, the left lens of which has a slight crack in it.
Background: Carter grew up in an old blood clinic/laboratory facility in what was once Kingston. While reclusive, Carter was in disfavour because he was more outgoing and he wanted to see more of the world, collect more knowledge. Leaving the facility, Carter has wandered the world (alone, but sometimes with other kindred spirits) for several months now, and has learned things beyond even what the elders of the blood clinic/lab facility can even imagine.
Weapons: Colt .45 (fully loaded); knife.
Clothing: Pants; boots; shirt; coat; and hat.
Gear: Gas mask; geiger counter; spectacles; 3 pencils and/or pens; and an empty record book; 3 self help books, 1 piece of alternative music (on cassette), 5 fashion magazines, and 1 biography.
Transport: Horse (with saddle blanket and harness).
And there you have it, another character that I've created in detail for the Atomic Highway roleplaying game. This character took me roughly 20 minutes to create; I suspect that while a newbie to the game might take twice or three times as long (sorting through choices, and potentially building a customized vehicle such as a car or motorcycle for their character), it can be done in less time than that by an experienced gamer. This may or may not include the character background and the like, depending on how detailed the player wants to get. If nothing else, I hope this encourages folks to take a look at the game system.
So roll on down that Atomic Highway!