Game: Universe SF RPG
Publisher: (Was published by) Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI)
Degree of Familiarity: Overly experienced. I have been running the Universe SF RPG since it first came out in 1981, all the way up through 2003 (with a few breaks along the way), and am getting back into the game now. The version of the system that I run has been somewhat modified and added to (as most campaigns of the game have been over the years), with new materials added to it.
Books Required: The Universe SF RPG Rulebook (plus additional materials specific to my campaign)
The process for creating a character for the Universe SF RPG is not all that intense, but requires a D10 and a set of percentile dice, as well as some spare paper (and a character sheet, of course).
Part A: Character Heritage
Step One: Choose a Race
The player starts by choosing his or her Race. The game, at the time it came out, only had Humans available, but a new alien species, the Sh'k'tlp, but for the purposes of this character, we're going to make him or her a Human.
Step Two: Potential Multipliers
Next, the player determines the Potential Multipliers for the character. The Potential Multipliers are the elements of heredity that are given the character. These four multipliers include Physique, Coordination, Intellect, and Social Background. These are rolled for on a nice chart, using a D10. For our character, we end up with
Physique 3 (Above Average)
Coordination 3 (Above Average)
Intellect 3 (Above Average)
Social Background 1/2 (Poor)
Step Three: Study Points
We determine the character's Study Points.
Summing the Potential Multipliers and looking at the Table, we see that the character receives a total of 4 Study Points. Study Points are used to purchase the character's Fields of Study (see below). We note this number.
Step Four: Natural Habitat
The next step is to determine the Natural Habitat of the character. This will give us the character's Home Environ (represnting both contour (e.g. flat, hills, mountains, etc.) and major features of the land (e.g., volcanic, light, vegetation, woods, etc.) as well as home world gravity, temperature range in the home environ, and the starting Urban Skill Level (if any).
I roll one D10 to determine the Column on the Habitat Table, and a second D10, modified by my Physique and Coordination. I determine that the character comes from Flat-Woods (FL-WD) with a Level of 4, a Heavy (HY) world (giving me a default gravity in a range of 1.3-1.7 G, and a Skill Level of 1), Cold temperature (-50 to 00C), and an Urban Skill Level of 1.
I have a one-shot opportunity to reduce the Environ Skill by 1, and increase the Gravity Skill by 1, and I do so. Thus, I have an Environ Skill of FL-WD 3, and HY Gravity of 2. This affects all other Gravity Skills, and all other Environmental Skills, but we'll not go into that detail here.
Step Five: Social Standing
I have to determine the Social Standing of the character. I roll one D10, add two times my Social Background Multiplier, add my Urban Skill Level, and subtract my Home Environ Skill Level (before modification), and then consult the appropriate Table. I find that I come from a Lower Middle Class Family, have a base of 100 Mils (1,000 Mils=1 Tran(sfer), being the units of currency, so I'm a bit poor, and have an Initial Skill Point modifier of 0. I roll a D10 and multiply by my base money, and start off with 1 Transfer in cash. Adequate, but not great.
Part B: Character Development
Step Six: Fields of Study
I determine the Fields of Study with which my character has. These represent the schooling and life experience I had during my teen years. These Fields include Theoretical Science, Applied Science, Business, Humanities, The Mind, The Body, Military, and General. Everyone start with the General skills. I start by placing "X"s next to each Skill that I begin with for the various Fields of Study. Each "X" represents that I have familiarity with the Skill, and can use it even unskilled. Each Field of Study costs 1 Study Point to take, except the Mind, which costs 2 points, and I can take a given Field more up to twice if I so choose. Various Professions have requirements in terms of both Fields of Study and the Characteristics (see below) in order to take them. I decide to take The Body, The Military, Humanities, and Business as my Fields. This gives me the following Skills with Xs. (Asterisked skills are added to the game.)
Military Skills: Ambush, Battlefield, Blades, Demolitions, EVA, Handguns, Grenades, Jetpack, Laser/Stun Pistol, Longarms, Unarmed Combat
Vehicle Skills: Ground Vehicles
Scientific Skills: Computer Operations*, Culture*, Mathematics*, Programming
Interpersonal Skills: Administration*, Arts*, Athletics, Diplomacy, Economics, Gambling, Law, History*, Linguistics, Recruiting, Streetwise, Teaching, Trading
Environmental Skills: Survival
Other Skills: Home Gravity only), Urban Skill
I determine my Initial Skill Points, and assign them into the Fields of Study skills, as well as my Racial and Encultured Skills.
I begin with certain Racial and Encultured Skills (another added game element), for a Human non-spacer, as follows:
Computer Operations-1, History-1, Mathematics-1, Ground OR Air Vehicles (I choose Ground), One Other-1 (I choose Agriculture, as we lived on an agrarian world), Hobby Skill-1 (I choose Mech Tech, since I did a lot of repairs to farm machinery), and Perception-2.
I determine my Initial Skill Points by rolling a D10 on the appropriate table and adding my Initial Skill Point Modifier of 0. I roll, and the result gives me 3 Initial Skill Points. I decide to take one point each in Law, Trading, and Handguns
Step Eight: Determine the Characteristics
I proceed to determine the Characteristics (what other rpgs call Attributes). There are nine Attributes: Strength (ST), Endurance (EN), Dexterity (DX), Agility (AY), Intelligence (IN), Mental Power (MP), Leadership (LD), Empathy (EM), and Aggression (AG). The only two that need explanation (and if you feel there are more, ask me in Comments) are Mental Power (MP) and Aggression (AG). The former refers to the character's control of his mind and emotions, especially in stressful situations, while the latter refers to the base instincts a character exhibits, especially during stress. A character with low Aggression will behave cowardly or in a self-preserving fashion whereas a character with a high Aggression will act recklessly.
The Characteristics are each rolled for on a chart with percentile dice, modified by a number the various Fields of Study that one has taken. Without getting into the charts and the rolls, here is what I have for my Characteristics...
Strength 10, Endurance 5, Dexterity 5, Agility 8, Intelligence 7, Mental Power 3, Leadership 4, Empathy 9, Aggression 5
Not a bad set of stats, but not great other. A bit deficient for a Leader type, but the Aggression and the Mental Power are acceptable.
Part C: Character Professions
Step 9: Determine Profession
As noted earlier, each Profession has pre-requisites in both Characteristics and Fields of Study that need to be met to take the Profession. Perusing the list of Universe Professions (and those that I have added to the game), I settle on Interstellar Trader. He's either a crewman or part owner of an interstellar freight vessel. He gains the following from his profession...
Skill Point Modifier: 4
Skills: Arc gun, Gunnery, Handguns, Longarms, Missile Guidance, Space tactics, pilot, linguistics, diplomacy, asteroid mining, astronomy, EVA, planetology, astrogation* (2 levels only), astrophysics*, cartography*, (alien) technology* (I decide on Eebek (one of the alien species) for the Technology skill)
The Benefit Level will be determined below.
Step Ten: Years Employed and Age
I determine how long the character has been employed. Since I am in a non-military and non-psionic profession, I decide that my character has been employed for 16 years. Adding 20 to this, the character is found to be 36 years old. A somewhat good age for an experience interstellar trader if I say so myself.
I now determine how long I was actually employed. Rolling on the Employment Table, I find that I was employed for 12 years. Therefore, I have actually been unemployed for four years of game time (since the period of Declared Employment was 16 years). Ah, well...
Since I am older than 32 years of age, I must roll on the Effects of Age Table to see if my physicality has declined. I roll on the Table and determine that I have aged well, and lost no Characteristic Points.
Step Eleven: Determine Skill Points and Skills
I now cross-reference the actual period of employment on the Skill Table, roll a D10 and add my Intelligence (7) and the Skill Point Modifier from the Profession (4) to the roll. I end up with a total of 9 Skill Points to allocate to my skills. With these 9 points, I choose to put 1 point into EVA, 1 point into Astronomy, 2 points into Trading, 1 point into Diplomacy, 1 into Linguistics, 2 into Survival, and the last point into Unarmed Combat. All the other Skills that I have are considered to be Familiar, and I can use them during the course of the game as well.
Step Twelve: Determine Benefits
I now determine the material benefits gained by my character through his years in his Profession. I roll one D10 and add my actual years or employment (12) to the roll and consult the Benefits Table. I receive Benefit Level D. Consulting the Benefits under the Intestellar Trader description, I see that I start with 5 times my starting wealth (meaning I've got 5 Trans) and a Civ Level (CL) 7 business computer.
Step Thirteen: Equipment and Supplies
I can now buy any additional equipment and supplies that I might want to add to the character. I'll likely want to purchase a weapon of some sort, and will buy a few other items that will be relatively cheap. In my own campaign, I provide the player characters with certain starting equipment and a few sets of clothes as well.
And that wraps the character up. So, here are the final starting values for the character, whom I'll call Handsor Alberts...
Name: Handsor Alberts
Profession: Interstellar Trader
Description: White male of average build, 36 years old, 180 cms tall, 83.9 kgs in weight, has dark brown, somewhat curly, hair, green eyes, and a trim beard with a hooked moustache.
Potentials: Physique 3, Coordination 3, Intellect 3, Social Background 1/2
Social Standing: Lower Middle Class Family
Fields of Study: Business, Humanities, The Body, Military
Study Points: 4
Initial Skill Points: 3
Characteristics: Strength 10, Endurance 5, Dexterity 5, Agility 8, Intelligence 7, Mental Power 3, Leadership 4, Empathy 9, Aggression 5
Skill Points: 9,
Benefit Level: D,
Money: Trans 5, Mils 0
Military Skills: Arc Gun, Ambush, Battlefield, Blades, Demolitions, EVA 1, Gunnery, Handguns 1, Grenades, Jetpack, Laser/Stun Pistol, Longarms, Missile Guidance, Pilot, Space Tactics, Unarmed Combat 1
Vehicle Skills: Ground Vehicles 1 (Automobile 1)
Scientific Skills: Astrogation*, Astronomy 1, Astrophysics, Cartography, Computer Operations* 1, Culture*, Eebek Technology*, Mathematics* 1, Planetology, Programming
Technical Skills: Mech Tech* 1
Interpersonal Skills: Administration*, Arts*, Athletics, Diplomacy 1, Economics, Gambling, Law 1, History* 1, Linguistics 1, Recruiting, Streetwise, Teaching, Trading 3
Environmental Skills: Agriculture 1, Asteroid Mining, Survival 2
ENVIRON SKILL DISPLAY
Flat/Woods (FL/WD) 3, Urban Skill Level 1
Gravity Skill Level NW -2, LT 0, HY 2, EX 0
Temperature Range: -50-0 degrees (CD) x
Equipment: CL 7 business computer
As you can see from the LJ time stamp, it hasn't taken me all that long to create the character. For this write-up I've simplified some of the steps, and not gone into actually choosing at certain points along the way, rather than just rolling the dice. Not bad for a game system that's over 25 years old, huh? :) The character's background and story tend to be pretty much self-evident from some of the choices that I made in character creation, and to be honest, some of it is flexible enough to incorporate background elements that were left out deliberately.
Comments and thoughts on the character are welcome, and any discussion about the Universe SF RPG is welcome here in the Comments section.
Hope you all enjoyed! :)