Note that I'm going to post the character that I create twice, once using the basic DragonQuest, 2nd Edition game system and rules, the second time using the revised and expanded system that I use these days for the game.
Game: DragonQuest Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI)
Degree of Familiarity: Extremely. I ran the first two editions of the game from the time the game came out in 1980 to the early 1990s, with another round of the game early in the 2000s. I haven't run it in a few years, but I'm sure it'll all come back to me as I create the character. :)
Books Required: DragonQuest, 2nd Edition hardcover
Please note that this post is extremely 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. Hence the majority of this post is behind the cut. That said, there is some of the game mechanics and descriptions of game world elements that I've skimped on in this write-up, so if you want to know more, just drop me a line in the Comments.
For those who don't know, DragonQuest is a fantasy roleplaying game originally published by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) in 1980. Where first generation fantasy roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons restricted players to particular character classes, DragonQuest was one of the first games to utilize a system that emphasized skills, allowing more individual customisation and a wider range of options. It tends to be a traditional fantasy roleplaying game that allows the option of either epic or low fantasy gaming, and all the spectra between, due to its modular design.
Step 1: Come up with a Character Concept for the player character that you want to play.
The first step that I always include in my games is to have the player come up with a Character Concept for the character they want to play. This is basically a one- or two-sentence bit that gives you all the essentials about what the character in question is. While this is not a step in the character creation process for the DragonQuest RPG, it's one I will follow here.
Given that the game is traditional fantasy, and that I'm going to be a starting character in the game world, I look over the basic Skills (what the system called various Occupational groupings), and decide that I don't want him to be a straight fighter. I decide my character will be male, and that he's something of a ranger and a hunter, with a couple of surprise skills mixed into that. I think over his name and settle on Ferrin Samnoth. I'll decide where he comes from when I write up his background (though some of the other Skills, such as Languages, may give me a good guideline in this regard).
Step 2: Determine the Aspect for the player character.
The player character's Aspect is the date and time of the birth of the player characer, and is very much astrological in nature and significance. It also takes into account the elemental nature of the character, and thus is determined before the player decides on Characteristics and the like, since one should not be playing an Air Mage if one is Earth-aspected and so forth. The Aspect of the character is rolled on the Aspect Table, and one rolls D100.
While there are certain Aspects I don't see myself wanting for Ferrin, I'm willing to see what the dice come up with for this. I roll percentil dice, and roll a 31. Consulting the Aspect Table, I determine that Ferrin is Vernal Stars/Fire Aspected. A good start, I think. Could make the character a bit fiery tempered at times.
Step 3: Determine the number of Characteristic Points the player character will start with.
The next step in character creation is to determine the starting number of Characteristic Points that the player has to assign to the character's Characteristics. This is determined, once more, on a chart, the Characteristic Point Generation Table. Summing up the result of 2D10, I will come up with a number of points that I have to assign to the character's Characteristics, and a maximum value that can be assigned to any one Characteristic.
Taking my two d10s, I roll a "0" and a "6" for a total of 16 on the dice. Consulting the chart in question, I see that this gives me a total of 95 points to put into my Characteristics, with a Maximum of Group F, translating to a maximum value of 20 in any one Characteristic. This allows me to have up to two Characteristics equal to the maximum because my maximum is a 20, up to two Characteristics equal to one less than the maximum, or up to three Characteristics equal to two less than the maximum.
Step 3a: Determine the starting Characteristics of the player character.
Using the guidelines from Step 3, above, the player assigns the number of points they have into their Characteristics. DragonQuest uses six basic Characteristics - Physical Strength (PS), Manual Dexterity (MD), Agility (AG), Magic Aptitude (MA), Willpower (WP), and Endurance (EN), with several other Characteristics derived from these, which we'll talk about in Step 3b, below. The first three are kind of obbious, though Physical Strength (PS) is a partial determinant of Encumbrance allowance, Willpower (WP) is also related to magical resistance, and Endurance (EN) is one of the aspects of physical damage a character take as well as determining Fatigue (FT; see Step 3b, below). Magic Aptitude (MA) is a measure of the character's ability to harness and direct magical energies, as well as remembering arcane rituals and the like. The player can assign no more than the maximum to a Characteristic as determined in Step 3, above, and a value no lower than 5 into any one Characteristic.
As noted above, I start with Ferrin by having 95 Characteristic Points to assign to the basis six Characteristics, with a maximum of 20 points (but see the guidelines above). Because of the high number of Characteristic Points I have to play with, I'll be assigning two Characteristics to the maximum of 20, and two to the maximum of 19. While the obvious for a non-Mage is to start with a Magic Aptitude of 5, I decide to assign 8 points of my 95 points to MA. Since I'm planning a Ranger character, and intend to take a bow weapon, I assign a Manual Dexterity (MD) of 20, and I want a good Endurance (EN), so assign 20 points into that as well. This means I've used 48 points out of my 95 points on Characteristics. I assign another 19 points to my Agility (AG), bringing the total up to 67, 16 points to my Physical Strength (PS), for a total of 83 points, and the final 12 points go into my Willpower (WP), for a final total of 95 points. All accounted for and used! :)
This gives me stats that look like this:
PS: 16 MD: 20 AG: 19 MA: 8 WP: 12 EN: 20
Step 3b: Determine the starting Secondary Characteristics of the player character.
Once the main Characteristics (PS, MD, AG, MA, WP, and EN) have been determined for the character, the player determines the secondary Characteristics for the character. These include Fatigue (FT), Perception (PC), Physical Beauty (PB), and Tactical Movement Rate (TMR). Fatigue (FT) represents a measure of the time and how much physical and mental exertion a character can undergo, as well as the potentially serious wounds a character can turn into minor cuts and bruises. It is determined based on maximum Endurance (EN, see Step 3a above).
Consulting the Endurance and Fatigue Chart, I see that with an Endurance of 20, Ferrin starts with 22 Fatigue. Nice! :)
Perception (PC) is a measure of intuition developed through experience, and the ability to note peculiarities in situations. Perception is determined with a starting value of 5, but can be raised through the use of Experience Points.
I note that Ferrin starts with a Perception Characteristic of 5. Not great.
Physical Beauty (PB) is a measure of physical attractiveness (or repulsiveness) as perceived by a member of a humanoid race. Physical Beauty is determined with a roll of 4D5+3, where a 7 indicates an ugly character and a 23 indicates a beautiful character.
I roll the dice for Physical Beauty, and get "3", "4", "2" and "5", for a total of 14, with +3 being added, giving me a final PB of 17. Somewhat above average.
Tactical Movement Rate (TMR) is the number of hexes (equal to 5 feet per hex) that a character can move in one Pulse (a combat round) in combat. It is a direct function of one's (modified) Agility. Hence, there's another table for this one, too.
With an Agility (AG) of 19 as determined earlier, I consult the table and see that Ferrin has a TMR of 5. Not bad.
Summing it all up, my final set of Characteristics for Ferrin (barring a few other elements that follow, below) look as follows:
PS: 16 MD: 20 AG: 19 MA: 8 WP: 12 EN: 20 FT: 22 PC: 5 PB: 17 TMR: 5
Not too shabby
Step 4: Determine the Gender, Handedness, and Heritage of the player character.
Once the player has determined the above for the player character, the player continues to determine other aspects of the player character. These include the character's Gender, Handedness, and Heritage.
The player determines the Gender of the player character, and may choose to play the character Male or Female. In the case that the player chooses to play a female character, the character reduces her Physical Strength (PS) by 2, but increases her Manual Dexterity (MD) and Fatigue (FT) by one each.
I decide that Ferrin Samnoth is a Male character. Nothing else need be done.
The player determines the Handedness of the player character. The player rolls a D5 and a D10. If the D10 is greater, the player character is Right-handed. If the D5 is greater, the player character is Left-handed. If the two rolls are equal, the player character is Ambidextrous.
Determining the Handedness of Ferrin, I roll a "3" on the D10 and a "3" on the D5! Ferrin is ambidextrous! Nice!
The player determines the Heritage of the player character. Heritage consists of determining the character's Race, Social Status, Birth Order, and Wealth and Experience. These will determine how much starting Experience Points and Money (not to mention equipment) the character will start off with.
The player determines the character's Race. All player characters may start off as Human, but there are other Races available to be played by players. These include Dwarf, Elf, Giant, Halfling, and Orc in the basic system, and has been expanded to include a few other Races as well in an article that appeared in Ares Magazine. However, taking a non-Human isn't as simple as just saying so. The various Races have a certain percentage occurring in the population, and this translates into a pecentage chance of rolling up a non-Human. I'm not going into the details here, for reasons that will be obvious. Each non-Human Race has an Experience Multiplier (such as 1.2 for Elf) that increases or decreases the Experience Point Costs for all abilities and magic abilities by that number.
One also determines the character's Magic Resistance. This is based on Willpower (WP). Non-Adepts gain a bonus of +20 to their Magic Resistance, while Adepts have a Magic Resistance equal to their Willpower.
Not wishing to complicate matters, and having a clear conception of how I want Ferrin to be, I choose to make Ferrin Human. There are no modifiers to apply for Race here, and Humans have an Experience Multiple of 1.0, which I note.
With a Willpower of 12, and the fact that he is a non-Mage, I determine that Ferrin's Magic Resistance is 12 + 20 = 32. He has a 32% chance of resisting magic.
After determining the character's Race, the player determines the Social Status of the character. This reflects the social status of the character's parents, and can be used for inspiration in terms of the character's background and history. Social Status is rolled on D100, so it's not a complicated process, but it will influence Birth Order (see below), and possibly starting monies.
While I'm not overly worried about his origins, I roll the bones and the roll comes up "65". Ferrin is either of Craftsman or Adventurer social status, and I decide to go with Adventurer. So I know where Ferrin got his interest in travel! :)
The player determines the character's Order of Birth, and exact order of birth (if desired). This is based on Social Status as determined above, and a D100 roll.
Using the row for Craftsman or Adventurer, I roll D100 and get a "53". Ferrin is Legitimate, rather than being a Bastard or First-born. I then roll a D10 on the next chart for exact order of birth, and roll a "4". Ferrin is Third-born.
The player determines the starting Wealth and Experience for the character. These are determined on a further chart, but are modified by Birth Order. Bastard gets 50% of the monies that he would normally receive, but gets 25% extra Experience Points. A First-born character gets 50% additional monies that he would normally start with, but takes 25% less Experience Points to start with.
Since Ferrin is neither a bastard nor first-born, he just...gets whatever the rolls on the tables yield. I start with his beginning Experience Points. I roll an "95" on percentile dice, and determine that Ferrin starts with 200 Experience Points. Since he has a Racial Experience Multiplier (EXM) of 1.0, there is no change to that.
For the starting monies roll, I roll a "68" on the percentile dice. This gives me a result of 55. The Craftman or Adventurer has a Money Modifier of 5, so I multiply my total by 5, and Ferrin starts off with 275 Silver Pennies. He's not wealthy, but he's not poor - and will have to choose equipment and the like wisely.
Step 5: The player spends starting Experience Points to purchase skills, abilities, spells, and so forth.
The player determines what Skills, Weapon Skills, and Talents/Spells/Rituals of magic he wishes to purchase for his character, and does so using his Experience Points. Each ability (whether it is a Skill, Weapon, or Magic element) has a cost per Rank achieved with said ability. The player also begins with two Skills, Stealth and Horsemanship, at Rank 0 each, and these can be increased using starting Experience Points. And don't forget the cost of an ability in Experience Points must be factored with the Racial EXM mentioned earlier. Note that a player may expend 100 Experience Points (rather than the usual cost) to acquire any Skill at Rank 0, either before his first or at the conclusion of any adventure, but may only do this once.
The character also receives certain Language skills, both Spoken and Read/Write, but these are at the discretion of the GameMaster and adhere to the rules found in the main DragonQuest Rulebook.
Ferrin starts with 200 Experience Points. Not a lot to do a good deal with, but we'll see how much it gets us. Since Ferrin is Human, his racial EXM is 1.0, so there is no additional or reduced cost to his abilities.
Since I stated that I wanted Ferrin to be a Ranger, I start there. Since Ranger has an Experience Point Cost of 600 to start at Rank 0, normally I wouldn't be able to go there, but for that nice clause noted above. I spend 100 Experience Points, and Ferrin is a Rank 0 Ranger. The starting cost of Short Bow Skill is 100, which I don't have enough Experience Points for (assuming I want other weapons), but I decide that is the route I'm going to take with the character, and give him Rank 0 in the short bow.
That covers my 200 Experience Points.
I decide that Ferrin comes from a country on the main continent called Dorgane, and that he speaks it at Rank 8 (native fluency) and reads/writes it at Rank 6 (moderate fluency). He also speaks the continent's Common tongue, and speaks that at Rank 8 as well, and reads/writes it only sparinging (Rank 4). His parents, while adventurers, were not overly thrilled about languages and didn't ensure their son learned more than some of the basics of reading and writing.</i>
Step 6: The player spends starting Wealth to purchase weapons, equipment, and so forth.
The player determines the starting weapons, equipment, and so forth that the character has. The player uses the initial wealth (see Step 4, above) to purchase the character's starting equipment and materials.
As noted in Step 4, above, I started with 275 Silver Pennies (SP) for Ferrin. I start with my weapons and armour. I purchase a short bow for 20 SPs, a quiver of 20 arrows for 5 SP, and though I have no skill to use the weapon, a dagger for 10 SP, and a small belt sheath to hold the dagger for 2 SP. This brings my expenditures up to 37 Silver Pennies. I add a set of leather armour (providing 4 Damage Points of protection, but modifying my Agility by -1) at a cost of 20 Silver Pennies, raising my spent funds to 57 Silver Pennies.
Looking through the clothing and equipment lists, I add a cloak (8 SP), tunic (3 SP), long pants (5 SP), shirt (2 SP), money belt (4 SP), weapons belt (waist) (4 SP), jacket (6 SP), low boots (4 SP), and a jaunty hat (3 Copper Farthings) for an expenditure to this point of 94 Silver Pennies and 3 Copper Farthings (93 SP, 3 CF).
I round things out with a quart wine skin (2 SP), flint & steel (1 SP). a sleeping sack (3 SP) and blanket (1 SP), a small leather sack (2 SP), and a leather backpack (14 SP), and a week's (person) rations (10 SP). This brings my total up to 126 SP and 3 CF.
This leaves Ferrin with 148 Silver Pennies and 1 Copper Farthing.
Step 7: Determine a Background, History, Personality, and Name for the character.
The player should determine the name of their player character. Once this is done, the player should determine a background for the player character, including some history and personality elements for the player character.
Looking at the work that I've done on the character, whom I earlier called Ferrin Samnoth, I come up with a character background and history for the character, throwing in some other interesting elements along the way. See the background on the character below.
And that's that. So when all is said and done, and the character is finished, we end up with the following:
PS: 16 MD: 20 AG: 19 MA: 8
WP: 12 EN: 20 FT: 22 PC: 5
PB: 17 TMR: 5
Aspect: Vernal Stars/Fire
Social Status: Adventurer
Birth: 3rd Born
Magic Resistance: 31%
Armour: Leather armour (Prot 2 DP, AG Mod -1)
Short Bow Rank 0.
Horsemanship Rank 0, Stealth Rank 0, Ranger Rank 0.
LANGUAGES: (Speak/Read & Write)
Dorgane Rank 8/6, Common Rank 8/4.
Dagger & belt sheath
Short bow & quiver w/ 20 arrows
Clothing (cloak, tunic, long pants, shirt, money belt, weapons belt (waist), jacket, low boots, jaunty hat)
Quart wine skin
Flint & steel
Small leather sack
A week's rations (one person)
Money: 148 SP, 1 CF
Traits & Appearance:
Ferrin Samnoth is some 18 years old, full of vim and vigour. He stands 5 ft, 10 inches tall, is a muscular 179 lbs., and has dark blue eyes, sandy blonde straight hair (from his mother) and a neat moustache. He's a bit tanned, from the time he spends outdoors, and prefers dark brown or green clothing, though he is fond of fox pelt. He has a fear of water, since he doesn't swim well, a fondness for strangers (inherited from his travels with his parents), and is quite possessive of his bow and quiver, both of which are his two most prized possessions. Somewhat open, Ferrin is a bit too trusting at times, but is learning. Sometimes, the hard way.
Ferrin Samnoth grew up in the city of Kerleth, a large city in the country Dorgane, on the edge of the Melyranne Sea. The son of a pair of adventurers, Ferrin was raised by his maternal grandmother, while his parents continued to adventure in the wilderness of the area. He became tall and strong, and developed into an agile and dexterous young man, taking after both his parents, and eventually they took him out adventuring with them when he turned 15. He took to the life easily enough, but had a bit of a temper on him (which never really left him) and after his parents' retirement from the game due to age, has continued the family tradition. Still learning the trade, he works as a guard for several caravans in the Dorgane area, his youthful bow skill providing basics of defense when needed. Ferrin has something of a fear of magic, having encountered it twice now during attacks on caravans with which he was serving. Given an opportunity these days, he tends to target Mages in those who attack, but knows that it is his speed that gives him the edge...for now. Still young and inexperienced, Ferrin has a great deal still to learn.
And that's one of the first player characters that I ever created for the DragonQuest RPG back in the days. First 2nd Edition character I ever did up. It wasn't too difficult to go back and redo all the math on this character, as the system (once you get used to it) is relatively easy to work with mathematically. The real challenge will be to give the character the update to the current (massively) revised and expanded DragonQuest system that I use these days.