Publisher: Greymalkin Designs
Degree of Familiarity: High. I've contributed a little bit to the game itself in a couple of capacities, and have run a pretty decent campaign since the game debuted in August, 2008.
Books Required: The Desolation rulebook.
Step A: Decide on a character concept.
Nick didn't really have an idea for what he was going to run in terms of plot, scenario, long-term goals, etc., and told us to just come up with characters and he'd fit something around them. I decide that the character is going to be non-human, a Mongrel, and that I want a magic wielding type. Since Mongrels tend to be Primalists, that's what I go with. Primalists see Nature's plants and creatures as one, and they are attuned to Nature, always looking for weaknesses that they can exploit. Yeah, not your typical Primal magics! :)
Step 1: Choose an Archetype.
Archetypes represent the classic roles and iconic character types found in these sorts of adventures. Given that I want to play a Mongrel (see below) and a Primalist, I decide to go with the (Spell Caster:) Primalist as my Archetype.
Step 1: Choose a Race.
As noted, I'm going to take a Mongrel. Mongrels have a mixed heritage of human and beast, and while usually humanoid, some blur the boundaries between man and beast. Due to his race, I get to choose two physiological traits from a list. I pick Enhanced Sense (smell), which gives me a +2 bonus to Perception for that sense, and Thick Hide, which gives me a +1 to Defense.
I must also choose two detrimental elements as well. I choose Fragile, giving me a -1 to Stun, and Slow, reducing my Movement rate by 2. Should make for an interesting character.
Step 2: Choose a Motivation, Personality, and History.
The Motivation of the character represents the character's driving goal or greatest desire, and explains why he does what he does. Having a strong sense of tribal belonging, the character wants to find a new tribe, preferably of Mongrels, where he can belong and where he can practice his magic arts in the knowledge that he is valued for what he does.
The Personality of the character tells something of his views of the world, and insight as to how he deals with the world around him and adversity. Once an optimistic Mongrel, he has taken to concealing his appearance, and hiding his magical abilities in the aftermath of the Night of Fire. Not one to shirk from a fight, he prefers more peaceful means to resolve disputes, and has a strong desire to "belong" to a family once more.
The History of the character tells where the character has come from and what one has endured. It is particularly important in the After, because it tells of the character's life Before, and what he has experienced since, notably during the Night of Fire. The character came from a village of Mongrels, consisting of one tribe, somewhere in the northern regions just south of the land of Necromancy, Kar'Danan. Out with a hunting party during the Night of Fire, he was one of three survivors who made it back to the village - or where the village had been. A gaping hole, as if the ground had been torn out of the earth, was all that was left of the village, and since that time he has travelled to find his people. Settling in the After community of Ridge River, he has since come to dislike the people there, and has taken up the life of a traveller, searching for something...
Step 3: Determine the character's Primary Attributes.
There are a total of six Primary Attributes in Desolation - 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. The 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 set of Primary Atrributes, with a slightly higher Strength and Intelligence (the latter being the Attribute needed for Primal Magic), and a slightly higher Willpower as well. I spend my 15 points as follows: Body 2, Dexterity 2, Strength 3, Charisma 2, 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 (reduced by 1)
Perception = Intelligence + Willpower = 6
Initiative = Dexterity + Intelligence = 5
Defense = Body + Dexterity - Size = 5 (increased by 1)
Stun = Body = 1 (reduced by 1)
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 Primalist, I start by giving him Magic: Primal Magic at 4, as well as Brawl at 1 and Melee at 1. I feel that I need the character to be able to defend himself somewhat in this vicious world, but with his Stun rating he's loathe to get into physical combat. Therefore, he will take Athletics at 2 (with a specialization in Throwing) so that he can thow the spear in range combat. A bit of Medicine at 1 (with a First Aid specialization) will come in handy, too. He's learned something of plant and herbal lore, so that will cover that for now. I add Stealth at 2, Survival at 2, and Scavenge at 1 to round out the character, and that pretty much covers my 15 points in 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.
Because I've chosen to play a Primalist, I must take the Magical Aptitude (Primal Magic) Talent in order to be a spell caster. I would have taken a Burn Reduction Talent or some such, but perhaps at the later stage of character generation.
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.
There is nothing that I want to take from the Physical Flaws, as I've already got the reduction in my Movement rate due to my being a Mongrel. However, coming as he does from the area south of Kar'Danan, the home of the Necromancers, the character has an antipathy towards Necromancers, and I decide to make him Intolerant of Necromancy and those who practice it. He earns a Style point whenever his intolerance causes trouble or when he convinces someone else to detest the same things.
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, there's quite a few Talents that I would like to take, but I decide to take Agile (which increases my Dexterity by 1). So I recalculate all the Secondary Attributes modified by my Dexterity. He may be slow moving, but he's more agile than he looks.
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 Sakhut, and doesn't want to reveal where he really came from, because of his own intolerance of necromancy, so says that he hails from Ridge River, the last place that he lived. Sakhut of Ridge River. He's some 24 years old, has dark brown, somewhat reddish skin, that is thicker than usual and almost leather-like with slightly pointed ears. He has dark blue eyes, a mop of greasy brown hair, and a five o'clock shadow. One leg is somewhat deformed, and this causes him to reduce his rate of movement. He typically wears a tattered set of clothing under a threadbare cloak that seems to keep him warm, a pair of ever ready knives, and a pair of spears. He has several trinkets that he wears, and a pouch that contains all the "special needs" for his trade (even if he rarely tells others what his trade is).
So, when all is said and done, Sakhut looks something like this...
Sakhut of Ridge River
Archetype: Spell Caster (Primalist)
Motivation: Find a new tribe, and make a home for himself.
Magic: Primal Magic 3/4/7/(3+)
-First Aid 5/(2+)
Agile (+1 to Dexterity)
Enhanced Sense (Hearing; +2 to hearing Perception rolls; racial)
Magical Aptitude (Primal Magic)
Thick Hide (+1 to Defense; racial)
Fragile (-1 to Stun; racial)
Intolerant (Necromancy; +1 Style point whenever his intolerance causes trouble or when he convinces someone else to detest the same thing)
Slow (Movement rate is reduced by 2; racial)
Thrown spear 3L/0/9L/(4+)L Range 10'
And there you have my character for Nick's game of Desolation. While it takes a bit longer to create a character for the system than it does for HEX, it's still a pretty simple system to create a character for. I hope this encourages you to take a look at the game system.