Game: Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX)
Publisher: Exile Game Studio
Degree of Familiarity: High. I've contributed to the game itself in a couple of capacities, and have run a pretty decent campaign since October, 2006.
Books Required: The Hollow Earth Expedition rulebook.
Step A: Decide on a character concept.
I decide that the character is going to be a reporter of some sort. Also that the character is relatively young, but not a newbie.
Step 1: Choose an Archetype.
Archetypes represent the classic roles and iconic character types found in Pulp adventures. The character is going to be a reporter, so I decide to take the Reporter Archetype.
Step 2: Choose a Motivation.
The Motivation of the character represents the character's driving goal or greatest desire. Playing one's Motivation is one way to earn Style points in the HEX system. I decide on the Truth Motivation for the character. The character became a reporter because he had been taught by his mother and father to always rely on the truth, and to always seek out the truth about matters. It's something that he believes in firmly.
Step 3: Determine the character's Primary Attributes.
There are a total of six Primary Attributes in HEX - Body, Dexterity, Strength, Charisma, Intelligence, and Willpower - and a starting character receives 15 points to allot into these starting Attributes at a cost of 1 per 1. Human average stats are a 2, and one cannot start with an Attribute of greater than 5, except through Talents (see below) and the like.
I decide the character should have an average Dexterity, Strength, and Body, and decide to purchase a slightly higher Intelligence, Charisma, and Willpower and spend my 15 points as follows: Body 2, Dexterity 2, Strength 2, Charisma 3, Intelligence 3, and Willpower 3.
Step Four: Determine the Secondary Attributes.
The secondary Attributes of Size (which defaults to 0, unless one chooses a Talent or Flaw that changes this), Move, Perception, Initiative, Defense, Stun, and Health. These are calculated as follows:
Size = 0 (Average Human)
Move = Strength + Dexterity = 4
Perception = Intelligence + Willpower = 6
Initiative = Dexterity + Intelligence = 5
Defense = Body + Dexterity - Size = 4
Stun = Body = 2
Health = Body + Willpower + Size = 5
Step Five: Choose Skills.
The player has a total of 15 points to allot to the purchase of Skills, on a 1 per 1 basis, but may not purchase a Skill level higher than 5. Furthermore, the player may purchase a specialization in a particular aspect of a Skill, at a cost of half a point, which gives a +1 bonus to the specialization chosen.
Since the character is obviously a photojournalist, I give him both Art: Writing at 2, and Art: Photography at 1. He's still pretty young, I envision, so I don't want him to be an expert in these areas. I pick up Con at 2, since he's got to be able to Fast Talk his way in and out of things; Diplomacy at 2, since he needs to be able to Persuade people; Investigation at 3, for the Interview side of things, as well as for the sake of Research; Streetwise at 2, and round things out with Athletics 1 and Firearms 1. This totals 14 points. I spent two half-points on the Interview specialization for Investigation, and the Rumours specialization for Streetwise. That covers my 15 Skill points.
Step Six: Talents and Resources
The player chooses 1 Talent or Resource for the character. Talents represent special abilities (such as Accuracy with weapons or even being Strong), while Resources represent the character's power, wealth, and influence.
I choose the Skill Aptitude Talent, specifically for the Art: Writing Skill. In this case, it means that the character has a natural affinity for the skill. He receives a +2 bonus to the Skill level, thus raising his Art: Writing to 4.
Step Seven: Flaws (Optional)
The player chooses a Flaw. A Flaw represents the character's physical, mental, or social shortcomings. The character earns Style points by playing the Flaw during the course of the game.
I choose the Superstitious Flaw. My reporter is somewhat young, and as such he's seen a few things in his time as a journalist that have caused him to develop a few unusual beliefs. He earns a Style point whenever his eccentricities cause him trouble, or if one of his beliefs turns out to be true.
Step Eight: Experience
The player receives a total of 15 Experience Points that can be alloted to either Skills and Attributes (both at varying rates) or can be used to purchase a new Talent or Resource (at a cost of 15 points).
I decide to give my character a second Talent at a cost of 15 points. Looking over the list, I choose Combat Skill, which allows the character to be adept at keeping out of harm's way when using a specific non-Combat Skill, in this case Art: Writing. This gives me a bonus of +2 to my Defense when using the specific non-Combat Skill during combat.
Step Nine: Finishing Touches
This is the stuff such as the character's name, a physical description, some background, and pick out some basic gear.
I decide the character is called Yancy Clarke. He's some 22 years old, caucasian, with dark brown eyes, black hair cut relatively short, and the beginnings of a beard. He typically wears a shirt and tie, a crumpled jacket, and a pair of pants that have seen better days. Yancy starts with a small caliber gun, and has a collection of papers, pens, notebooks, and scraps of paper, as well as all the photographic equipment he might need.
So, when all is said and done, Yancy looks something like this...
Defense 4 (6)
Art: Photography 2/1/4/(2)
Art: Writing 3/4/7/(3+)
Combat Skill (Writing; +2 to Defense)
Skill Aptitude (+2 to Art: Writing)
Superstitious (+1 Style point whenever your eccentricities cause trouble or your beliefs turn out to be true)
.32 Automatic 2L/0/4L/(2)L Range 50'
And there you have my character for Nick's game of HEX. An experienced player can create a character for the system in around 10 minutes; a newbie to the game might take a good 40 minutes or so. Hope this encourages you to take a look at the game system.