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Given that I’m getting ready to run the Capharnaum - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked RPG that will be forthcoming from the folks at Windjammer Press and distributed by Modiphius on all three of my rpg groups, I thought I would post up here a detailed example of character creation for the Capharnaum - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked Roleplaying Game.





Game: Capharnaum - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Mindjammer Press
Degree of Familiarity: Somewhat familiar. I’ve read the rulebook twice, and have run the QuickStart adventure three times. Just doing the best that I can.
Books Required: Capharnaum - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked.

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, Capharnaum - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked is a fantasy roleplaying game set in a world of Arabian Nights, Argonauts, and Crusaders. Inspired by the One Thousand and One Nights, the myths of ancient Greece, and the legends of the Crusades, it’s where history meets myth, and legends are born. Anyway, here's the character creation process. Bear in mind that this material is quite long, due to the way the background section is written up.


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.

Given that the game is based on the Arabian Nights, I decide that I don’t want to go with a stereotypical adventurer in the desert (though that would be fun for another character to create!), so I look through the setting chapters of the Capharnaum RPG rulebook to better visualize the peoples and the atmosphere of the game. I decide I want to play a merchant who may have a bit of magic for protection, but who has a good understanding of the cultures and peoples of Jazirat, the main area where the game is centred. I’ll leave some of the more interesting elements of the character background until we get to the material on creating your own Legends (see below).


Step 1a: Determine the player character’s Blood and Path.
Blood is the social and geographic origins of the character, as well as his place in the world. Bloods include the Saabi clans, Shiradi tribes, Agalanthian city-states, and Quarterian kingdoms. Choosing a Blood gives the character +1 point in one Attribute (see below), and 1 point in three specific Skills (see below), and lists some suggested Paths that one might follow.

Looking over the various Bloods (there are short versions in the character creation section, and longer, detailed material on each later in the book) and since I’ve decided I want to be a relatively honest merchant (ha! ha!) with this character, I decided on the Salifah tribe (who are very much into travel and commerce) and I choose the Clan of Yousef, Servant of Salif. The clan has a strong feeling of cohesion and family spirit, and is the glue that binds the children of Salif together. This gives me the following game elements:

Attributes: +1 Charisma (CHA) or Intelligence (INT). I choose to take this in Charisma (CHA).
Skills: Flattery +1, Survival +1, and Unctuous Bargaining +1.
The suggested Path (see below) is one of the paths of Youssef, son of Salif.

I decide that the character’s first name will be Ibraman. Given his tribe and clan, this makes his full name Ibraman ibn Yussef Abd-Al-Salif.


The character also chooses the discipline he’s decided to devote his life to in the clan, tribe, city-state, or kingdom. This is called his Path. It’s a generic term. The Agalanthians call it a school and the Quarterians call it an academy. The choice of Path opens the doors of the organization to the character - fighting schools, warrior sects, sorcerous colleges, mystical traditions, and so forth. Each Path provides the character with +1 point in one Attribute (see below), +1 point in three Skills (see below), and a special ability called a first path ability. There are more rules about choosing Paths in relation to Blood (see above), but I’m not going to worry about that here, simply because I’m keeping it simple for this character.

Following the suggestions from my Blood (see above), I decide on the Path of the Saffron Dunes. This gives me the following:

Status: al-Kimyat sorcerer and master trader.
Attributes: +1 Intelligence (INT)
Skills: Flattery +1, Sacred Word +1, Unctuous Bargaining +1
First Path Ability: If you light up a constellation on an opposed Unctuous Bargaining roll to sell something, the price you receive is increased by 50%. If you light up a constellation on an opposed Unctuous Bargaining roll to buy something, the price you receive is decreased by 50%.
Heroic Virtue (see below): Faith

I am also told that as part of the Saffron Dunes, my style is that I dress richly and with many jewels, each one larger than the other. I wear a gold signet ring representing a dune, by which everyone can identify me as part of this Path.

So at the end of this step, I have the following game Attributes and Skills.

Attributes: CHA 1, INT 1
Skills: Flattery 2, Sacred Word 1, Survival 1, Unctuous Bargaining 2



Step 2: Determine the character’s Heroic Virtues.
Each of the Dragon-Marked has four Heroic Virtues which quantify the dramatic qualities of the character. These Virtues are Bravery, Faith, Loyalty, and Heroism. Bravery measures your behaviour in the face of danger. Faith measures your devotion and religious observance. Loyalty measures your devotion to your clan, ancestors, family, city, and so on, as well as your adventuring companions (Dragon-Marked or not). Heroism is calculated based on the average (round down) of the three Virtues above. It plays other roles in character creation, as shall be seen moving forward in this process.

The player starts with 10 points to divide between the three Virtues, with a minimum score of 1 and a maximum score of 6. Heroism is the average of the three Virtues, rounded down.

Looking at the various Virtues, I find this a tough decision. But remember that my Path Heroic Virtue was Faith? That gives me a good base guideline.

I decide to set my Faith at 5, my Loyalty at 3, and my Bravery at 2.

This gives me a Heroism score of 3.

In the final version of the character (see below), the value in brackets is the number of Stars that I have in each of the three Virtues, but I’m not going to go into the meaning of the Stars here. Ask me in the Comments with this post if you want more details.



Step 3: Determine the character’s Attributes.
All characters have five Attributes, that represent the character’s inner faculties, the things that you didn’t have to learn. The five Attributes are Strength (STR), Constitution (CON), Dexterity (DEX), Intelligence (INT) and Charisma (CHA). An Attribute is something that you “are”, while a Skill (see below) is something you “know”. A value of 2 in an Attribute is considered average. When you create your character, you start with a value of 1 in each Attribute. The player then has six (6) points to distribute between them, in addition to any points he might have received in Step 1 above. No Attribute may exceed a value of 4 at this point.

Looking over Ibraman’s Attributes, I determine that I will put 1 point into my STR and CON to begin with. I also raise his DEX by 1 point, making it a 2 as well. This expends 3 of the 6 points I have available. I raise both INT and CHA by point, to 3 each, leaving me one point, and spend the final point on INT to raise it to a 4. This gives me a final set of Attributes after this process that looks like this:

Strength 2
Dexterity 2
Constitution 2
Intelligence 4
Charisma 3

Not a bad set of Attributes, I have to say. :)


Step 4: Determine the character’s Archetypes and Skills.
As well as deciding on a Path (Step 1a, above), which gives you social status, the player character is also defined by his Archetype. An archetype is a loose grouping of learned abilities called Skills. There are several Archetypes, and the character’s proficiency in the skills of each gives you a “portfolio” of the things the character can do. The Archetypes are: the Adventurer, the Labourer, the Poet, the Prince, the Rogue, the Sage, the Sorcerer and the Warrior. Before selecting the Archetypes, the player character gains each of the following at +1: Endurance, Prayer, Unctuous Bargaining and Willpower.

While characters are assumed to be able to count to 10, reading and writing is another matter. To count over 10 and to be able to read and write, the Sage Archetype skills play a huge role. I’m not going into the details or mechanics here, but some characters may find this important. Meanwhile, when you create a character, you assign a number of points to the skills of certain Archetypes. The player starts by ranking the Archetypes in descending order, according to how closely they match the character’s concept. For example, if you see your character as a noble warrior, you perhaps rank the Prince archetype first, and the Warrior second. This is done for all eight Archetypes, even if one considers them unimportant to the character concept. Once the player has the Archetypes ranked in order of importance, the player receives +3 to each Skill in the primary ranked Archetype, +2 to the Skills of the second ranked archetype, +1 to each of the next three Archetypes’ Skills, and nothing to the three lowest ranked Archetypes’ Skills. Note that no Skill can be above 5, and any points that go into said Skills will be reduce to 5 and set aside to add to the Freely Distributed points (see Step 5, below).

I start Ibraman’s sequence here off by adding +1 to each of Endurance, Prayer, Unctuous Bargaining and Willpower. This now gives me those Skills at the following levels: Endurance 1, Prayer 1, Unctuous Bargaining 3 and Willpower 1.

I then Rank the Archetypes in order of importance. I decide that in descending order they are: The Sage, the Prince, The Adventurer, the Sorcerer, The Warrior, The Labourer, The Poet, and the Rogue. Thus, the Skills in each of the Archetypes for each of my Rankings looks as follows:

Adventurer: Athletics 1, Riding 1, Storytelling 1, Survival 1
Labourer:
Poet:
Prince: Elegance 2, Flattery 2, Save Face 2, Unctuous Bargaining 2
Rogue:
Sage: History and Peoples 3, Instruction 3, Notice 3, Science 3
Sorcerer: Prayer 2, Sacred Word 2, Sacrifice 1, Willpower 2
Warrior: Command 1, Fighting 1, Intimidate 1, Training 1

Note that the Labourer, Poet and Rogue Archetypes get no Skill points, as per the rules above.

Factoring in the Skills I already have in the various Archetype set of Skills, the current Skill values are as follows.

Adventurer: Athletics 1, Riding 1, Storytelling 1, Survival 2
Labourer: Agriculture 0, Craft 0, Endurance 1, Solidarity 0
Poet: Acting 0, Music 0, Oratory 0, Poetry 0
Prince: Elegance 2, Flattery 4, Save Face 2, Unctuous Bargaining 5
Rogue: Assassination 0, Intrusion 0, Stealth 0, Thievery 0
Sage: History & Peoples 3, Instruction 3, Notice 3, Science 3
Sorcerer: Prayer 2, Sacred Word 2, Sacrifice 1, Willpower 2
Warrior: Command 1, Fighting 1, Intimidate 1, Training 1

Since none of the Archetype Skills exceed 5 at this point, there are no points added to the freely distributed points later.

And that’s the end of this Step. :)



Step 5: Determine the Finishing Touches for the character.
There are several different aspects to the finishing touches. We’ll go into each of them here.

a) Freely Distributed Points: First off, the player freely distributes some additional points into his character’s Skills. The player receives 5 points to distribute among the character’s Skills, in addition to any points in excess of 5 for Skills which were set aside for this purpose. The player can’t allocate more than 2 points to the same Skill and no Skill may exceed 5.

With Ibraman’s Skills sitting as follows,

Adventurer: Athletics 1, Riding 1, Storytelling 1, Survival 2
Labourer: Agriculture 0, Craft 0, Endurance 1, Solidarity 0
Poet: Acting 0, Music 0, Oratory 0, Poetry 0
Prince: Elegance 2, Flattery 4, Save Face 2, Unctuous Bargaining 5
Rogue: Assassination 0, Intrusion 0, Stealth 0, Thievery 0
Sage: History & Peoples 3, Instruction 3, Notice 3, Science 3
Sorcerer: Prayer 2, Sacred Word 2, Sacrifice 1, Willpower 2
Warrior: Command 1, Fighting 1, Intimidate 1, Training 1

I have 5 points to distribute among my Skills. I decide to assign 1 point to Athletics and another to Riding, another point to Endurance, another point to Save Face, and the last point to Stealth. This gives me the final set of Skills that look like this.

Adventurer: Athletics 2, Riding 2, Storytelling 1, Survival 2
Labourer: Agriculture 0, Craft 0, Endurance 2, Solidarity 0
Poet: Acting 0, Music 0, Oratory 0, Poetry 0
Prince: Elegance 2, Flattery 4, Save Face 3, Unctuous Bargaining 5
Rogue: Assassination 0, Intrusion 0, Stealth 1, Thievery 0
Sage: History and Peoples 3, Instruction 3, Notice 3, Science 3
Sorcerer: Prayer 1, Sacred Word 1, Sacrifice 1, Willpower 2
Warrior: Command 1, Fighting 1, Intimidate 1, Training 1



b) The Legends: Next, the player rolls for the character’s Legend. This fills in some of the details of the Dragon-Marked character’s colourful past life. The Legend Tables generate dramatic snippets for the character’s story, things that he or she did before play starts. There are four (4 sets of rolls to be made.

The player starts by rolling the dice twice on the table for the character’s Blood (Saabi, Shiradim, Quarterian, etc.).

Since Ibraman is of Saabi blood, I roll the dice and get a 3, so Ibraman made a pilgrimage to the ruins of the Village of the Prophets. He gains a +1 increase to his Faith.

For the second roll on the Saabi Blood table, I roll a 9. Ibraman has a distant Hassanid origin, and increases his Training Skill by +1.


The player rolls the dice once on the table for his main Archetype.

Since Ibraman’s main Archetype is the Sage, I roll on the Sage Legends table. I roll a 7, and determine that Ibraman assisted a historian in the composition of an encyclopaedic treatise. I get a +1 to the History & Peoples Skill, and gain a Contact (see below)


Roll the dice twice on the Legendary Archetypes table. Each result will indicate the table to roll on next.

Starting this step, I roll 1 for the Adventurer. On the Adventurer table, I roll a 7. Ibraman survived a dangerous voyage. He gains a +1 to Survival.

For the second roll on the Legendary Archetypes table, I roll a 2 for the Labourer. I roll an 11 on that table. Ibraman owns a small workshop. I increase his Wealth Level by +1, and gain a Contact in the form of the manager of the workshop.


The player rolls the dice on the Legends of the Dragon Mark table.

I roll the dice for the character and get a 13. Ibraman experiences strange and intuitive insights whenever he commits certain crimes. Perhaps he senses danger or understands how locks work with incredible ease. I choose to increase the Thievery Skill by +1.



c) Magic and Miracles: If the character has the Sacred Word ability, the player may now choose how he will cast spells or miracles in the game.

Since Ibraman has Sacred Word Skill at 2, the player may choose one of the three Sacred Words (Create, Destroy, Transform) for the character, which he has at the same level as his Sacred Word Skill. I decide that Ibraman will take the word Transform for the character, so he has this as Transform 2.

I now choose the Elements that go along with the Sacred Word. Since Ibraman has Sacred Word at 2, he may choose 4 elements to use to cast spells. The rules on the Elements can be somewhat complex, especially for the Saabi, so I’m not going to try and explain them here. I kind of like the idea of transmuting tears into sand, so… I decide on the four Elements of Bread, Sand, Semolina, and Water, and jot these down for my character. Useful for creating food and water in the desert! :)



d) Contacts: The player now determines the Contacts that the character may have.
The starting Contacts that the character has stem from the rolls on the Legends tables that he made. These can be a Level 1 or Level 2 contact.

Based on Ibraman’s character and the dice rolls that I made earlier on the Legends tables, I determine that Ibraman has two contacts as noted below.

A historian, Khalil (Level 1).

A workshop manager, Arvidi (Level 1).

Good stuff! :)



e) Survival and Initiative: The player determines the character’s Survival and Initiative values.
The character’s health is derived from the character’s Hit Points (HP) and Soak. Hit Points represent the character’s real health, and are equal to the character’s Constitution score multiplied by ten (CON x 10).

Ibraman has a Constitution of 2, thus giving him 20 Hit Points.


The character’s Soak is re-calculated at the start of each gaming session, and remains the same as long as the character’s Heroism value doesn’t change. Soak takes some of the damage suffered by the character, and is added to armour for this purpose. The character’s Soak value is equal to Constitution and Heroism (CON + Heroism).

With a Heroism value of 3 and a Constitution of 2, Ibraman has a Soak of 5.


The character’s Maximum Initiative is equal to the average of Constitution, Dexterity and Intelligence, plus one. [(CON + DEX + INT)/3 + 1].

With a Constitution of 2, Dexterity of 2, and Intelligence of 4, Ibraman’s Maximum Initiative is equal to (8/3) + 1, equals 3.


The character’s Passive Defense is a score used when the character is defenceless in combat or when he’s decided not to use an action to actively defend himself. The character’s Passive Defense is equal to his Dexterity plus Athletics plus 6 (DEX + Athletics +6).

With Ibraman’s Dexterity of 2, his Athletics of 2, and 6, Ibraman has a Passive Defense of 10.



f) Wealth and Possessions: The player determines the Wealth and Possessions of the character.

To start with, the character’s main Archetype grants the character a certain number of possessions and wealth.

Having taken the Sage Archetype as his primary, Ibraman starts with 3 outfits of city clothing; a khanjar (a dagger with a wavy blade); 10 books and scrolls on various subjects; a calligraphy kit; an astronomy kit; and a house (appropriate to the character’s Wealth Level (see below).


The character’s Wealth Level is equal to the skill bonus that the character receives for his primary Archetype. This also provides a certain amount of money.

Ibraman took the Prince Archetype as his second ranked Archetype, giving a skill bonus of +2, and thus giving Ibraman a starting Wealth Level of 2. Due to one of the Legendary events in his life, he gains a +1 to Wealth Level, thus giving him a final Wealth Level of 3. This makes Ibraman Rich, with very good quality equipment, and he starts with Unctuous Bargaining x 500 in ounces of Cumin (OC). With an Unctuous Bargaining Skill of 5, Ibraman starts with 2,500 ounces of cumin. A good amount if money! :)



When all is said and done, here’s what Ibraman the Trader stats out like:


*****
Name: Ibraman the Trader
Blood: Saabi - The Clan of Youssef, Tribe of the Salifah/Ibn Yussef Abd-Al-Salif
Path:The Saffron Dunes
Occupation:
Status: Al-Kimyat and Master Trader

STR: 2 Max Init: 3
CON: 2 HP: 20
DEX: 2 Soak: 5
INT: 4 Passive Defense: 10
CHA: 3 Heroism: 3

Heroic Virtues: Bravery 2(0). Faith 6(0). Loyalty 3(0)

Skills:
Adventurer: Athletics 2, Riding 2, Storytelling 1, Survival 2
Labourer: Agriculture 0, Craft 0, Endurance 2, Solidarity 0
Poet: Acting 0, Music 0, Oratory 0, Poetry 0
Prince: Elegance 2, Flattery 4, Save Face 3, Unctuous Bargaining 5
Rogue: Assassination 0, Intrusion 0, Stealth 1, Thievery 1
Sage: History and Peoples 4, Instruction 3, Notice 3, Science 3
Sorcerer: Prayer 1, Sacred Word 1, Sacrifice 1, Willpower 2
Warrior: Command 1, Fighting 1, Intimidate 1, Training 2

Attacks/Active Defences:
Khanjar (3/2, damage +5)
Shimshir (3/2, damage +10)
Jazirati Recurved Bow (3/2, damage +9)

Armour: Light armour (AV 3)

Magic:
Sacred Word - Transform 2
Elements: Bread, Sand, Semolina, Water


Path: The Saffron Dunes
First Path Ability: If you light up a constellation on an opposed Unctuous Bargaining roll to sell something, the price you receive is increased by 50%. If you light up a constellation on an opposed Unctuous Bargaining roll to buy something, the price you receive is decreased by 50%.

Contacts:
Khalil, a historian (Level 1)
Arvada, a workshop manager (Level 1)

Wealth Level: Rich

Equipment: (Enc: lbs.)
3 outfits of city clothing; a khanjar (a dagger with a wavy blade); 10 books and scrolls on various subjects; a calligraphy kit; an astronomy kit; and a house (appropriate to the character’s Wealth Level

Money: 2,445 ounces of cumin


And there you have the character that I created for the Capharnaum - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked Roleplaying Game. This character took me about 25 minutes, plus I would say another half-hour of leafing through the various cultures material and other bits. Character generation in Capharnaum - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked is relatively simple and straightforward, though some of the decisions that need to be taken can make the process seem somewhat longer and more difficult. If one has an idea of what one wants in the player character, the process can definitely take even less time, but to be honest, this is a game system that is extremely fun to work with and gives an incredibly wide variation on characters.

Comments and feedback are welcome. :)

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
baron_waste
Aug. 24th, 2018 08:28 am (UTC)


> Given that the game is based on the Arabian Nights, I decide that I don’t want to go
> with a stereotypical adventurer in the desert (though that would be fun for another
> character to create!), so I look through the setting chapters of the Capharnaum RPG
> rulebook to better visualize the peoples and the atmosphere of the game


Have you read The Thousand and One Nights itself?  That'd be better.  [Safety tip:  Don't invite Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote) to your family get-together, and don't allow anyone named ‘Sinbad’ aboard your ship for any reason.  You'll be sorry…]

Those stories get wild and funny and weird. 

[I was going to say, imagine if L Frank Baum wrote mythology, but in a way he did…  Do you know if there are any role-playing games based on The Wizard of Oz?  I'd bet not; no one else could capture the carbonated craziness fizzing in that man's skull.  In the confusingly-named Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, the characters meet

• beautiful, sentient but murderously amoral plant-people who live in greenhouses, and escape from them to

• a land made entirely of wood, even the grass is splinters, inhabited by murderous goblins whose wings are iron-bound cabinet doors on iron hinges, a land the Wizard sets on fire with the pious hope that the whole place will be incinerated, and they escape to

• a beautiful, seemingly deserted valley whose population eat magic peaches to remain invisible to the marauding bears who roam unchecked but who think the character's (now sentient, speaking) cart-horse is a god, so they are able to escape to - &c., &c.

I mean, gawd.  Oz itself is almost irrelevant to the story.

jkahane
Aug. 24th, 2018 04:39 pm (UTC)
LOL! Of course I've read the Arrabian Nights stories themselves, in five unabridged volumes of over 1,000 pages each. Why do you think I love all things Arabian Nights? :)

And yes, there is a roleplaying game set in the land of Oz.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/115539/Adventures-in-Oz-Fantasy-Roleplaying-Beyond-the-Yellow-Brick-Road

Hah! :)
Mark Edwards
Sep. 3rd, 2018 09:10 pm (UTC)
Don't forget the Evil, Steampunk version, Oz: Dark and Terrible https://www.amazon.com/Oz-Terrible-Roleplaying-Rulebook-ECE1001/dp/0615363504
Mark Edwards
Sep. 13th, 2018 06:27 pm (UTC)
Quick Question
Ok I'm trying to write my own characters (running the Tears of Ampharool and have too many players) so I have a question that doesn't seem to be answered (at least as far as my searching can determine). If you have a Sacred Word of 3 do you get the two sacred words at 3 each or do you split up the total (so 2 in one and 1 in the other)?
jkahane
Sep. 13th, 2018 09:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Quick Question
Out of curiosity, Mark, I have to say that I'm not sure that the scenario will work with a large number of players. So will be interested to hear how that plays out.

In answer to your question, I have always played it that a character with Sacred Word 3 would have each of the Sacred Words at 3. This is based on the sample character that Sarah posted in Update 17 of the Kickstarter. (These could be wrong if the system has changed, but the example character in the French version is the same, so...) Also remember that as per page 117, if you take Sacred Word (Create) or Sacred Word (Destroy), the second Sacred Word that you have to take is Transform. If you're a Sorcerer.

Hope that helps. :)
Mark Edwards
Sep. 14th, 2018 02:46 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Quick Question
Thanks, that helps a lot. As for the adventure, I’m going to add to it (and bump the Djinn’s stats a good bit) to compensate.
jkahane
Sep. 14th, 2018 04:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Quick Question
Always willing to help out! My pleasure! :)

Bear in mind you might want to bump up the stats of the King somewhat as well.

Oh, and if you want to discuss some more stuff about the game, drop me a line at my e-mail address (johnk100 AT sympatico DOT ca). Easier than this, and I'm likely to see it sooner. :)

Edited at 2018-09-14 04:41 pm (UTC)
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