Game: Atomic Highway (AH)
Publisher: Radioactive Ape Designs (via Cubicle 7)
Degree of Familiarity: Relatively good, despite it being a newer game. I received my copy of the game at the beginning of June, and while I've not run the game as part of a campaign yet, I like to think I've got some familiarity with the game.
Books Required: The Atomic Highway rulebook.
Please note that this is quite 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 I've made here.
This is the second character that I created for the Atomic Highway game system since I received it. The game mechanics and the rules are pretty easy to get on a first reading of the rulebook, but I suspect that I will see more nuances and the like as I get more experience with the game system.
Step 1: Decide on a character concept.
While this isn't necessary, it really helps. It's also one of the recommended steps for this game. After perusing the background material presented in the rulebook, I decide that I want to create something along the lines of a shaman. And I can do that. Since I have an idea for a tribe that "lives in the shadows of a mountain", I decide to make him a tribal shaman.
Step 2: Assign Attribute Points.
The next step in character generation for Atomic Highway is to assign the player character his Attributes Points. There are seven (7) Attributes in the game - Muscle, Understanding, Tenacity, Appeal, Nimbleness, Toughness, and Senses. Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, so I'm not going to go into them here. (If anyone has any questions about the Attributes for the game, please address them to me in the Comments section.) The character receives a total of 18 Attribute Points to assign, with at least 1 in each Attribute and a maximum of 5 points in any one Attribute. The average in any Attribute is 2.
Looking over the Attributes, and the character concept that I have, I decide I want the character to be a bit better than average in terms of his Understanding (intelligence, reasoning, and memory), Tenacity (willpower and determination), Nimbleness (physical coordination, reflexes, agility, and dexterity), and Senses (sharpness of sight, hearing, smell/taste, touch, etc.). Thus, I assign the 18 points to my Attributes as follow: Muscle 2, Understanding 3, Tenacity 3, Appeal 2, Nimbleness 3, Toughness 2, and Senses 3. While he's pretty average for the most part, it means there are some Attributes that he is better than average at.
Step 2.1: Roll for Mutations.
One of the options that Atomic Highway gives the players is that of playing a Mutant (commonly referred to as a "Mutie"). There are different types of mutations, but as a general rule, one rolls on the Mutation Chart to see what type of mutation one has gained, and if one chooses a second mutation, one must also roll for a Flaw.
I decide that my character, whom I will name Araga, does not have any mutations, and I move on to the next step.
Step 3: Calculate Health.
Health is calculated using the formula [(Muscle + Tenacity + Toughness)] x 2.
Since I do not have any Mutations or Flaws that affect my Health, I determine my Health as per the above. My character, Araga, has a Health of 14.
Step 4: Record Natural Skills.
Natural Skills are those Skills that all characters have at least some rudimentary proficiency at, such as swing a punch, running, and swimming. The following are the Natural Skills with which the character starts, all at a value of Novice (1): Athletics, Brawl, Melee, Notice, Persuade, Shoot, Steath. These skills all start at Level 1.
Step 5: Select and Record the Character's Rearing.
The next step in the character generation process is to determine the character's Rearing. The Rearing of the character represents his early life and formative years. Each Rearing is in the form of a template, and gives the character Skills, and possibly Clothing, Weapons, and Gear.
In the case of my character, Araga, I had already decided that he is a Tribal. This was a self-sufficient tribe, with its own community, and peculiar rites and outlook, where hunting and gathering and sometimes raiding or trading were the means of survival. As part of his Tribal rearing, Araga receives the following Skills: Athletics 1, Boat 1 OR Ride 1, Melee 1, Notice 1, Stealth 1, and Survive 1. I choose to take the Ride Skill instead of Boat, and thus add these levels to my previous Skills. This gives me the following Skills and levels: Athletics 2, Brawl 1, Melee 2, Notice 2, Persuade 1, Ride 1, Shoot 1, Steath 2, Survive 1.
As part of my Tribal upbringing, I receive a Weapon: Boomerang OR Knife OR Short Spear. I choose to take the Short Spear. I decide that the spear is made of a long leg bone, choosing a femur, but haven't decided yet whether it is human or animal bone.
As part of my Tribal upbringing, I also receive some Gear: A tribal craft necklace made of carved beads, bones, or teeth/claws. I decide the necklace is made of carved deer bones.
Step 6: Select and Record the Character's Pursuit.
The next step in the character generation process involves deciding on the character's Pursuit. The Pursuit of the character represents his main adult experience and training at the beginning of the game. Again, each Pursuit is in the form of a template that provides the character with Skills, and possibly Clothing, Weapons, and Gear.
For Araga, I had already decided that I want the character to be a Shaman. He is the spiritual heart of the tribe, the keeper of tribal lore, traditions, and rites, and the tribal healer and advisor. As part of his Tribal pursuit, Araga receives the following Skills: Boat 1 OR Ride 1, Heal 1, Intimidate OR Persuade 1, Lore 1, Notice 1, Sleight 1, Survive 1, Zoofinity 1, and chooses two of the following: Brawl 1, Melee 1, Shoot 1, Stealth 1. I decide to take the Ride Skill at 1 again instead of Boat, the Persuade Skill at 1 instead of Intimidate, and of the four extra Skills choose Melee and Stealth. This now gives me the following Skills and levels: Athletics 2, Brawl 1, Heal 1, Lore 1, Melee 3, Notice 3, Persuade 2, Ride 2, Shoot 1, Sleight 1, Steath 3, Survive 2, and Zoofinity 1.
As part of my Shaman pursuit, I receive a Weapon: A knife. I decide the knife is made of animal bone.
As part of my Shaman pursuit, I receive some Clothing: Hide pants OR loincloth; leather vest; hide moccasins OR sandals OR boots; fur OR woven wool OR canvas cloak/blanket; tribal jewelry such as beads in the hair, necklaces, and armbands/wristbands; and headdress. I decide on the loincloth, hide sandals, fur cloak and blanket, adornments like beads and bones woven into the hair and hide wristbands.
As part of my Shaman pursuit, I receive some Gear: Pouch of assorted dried herbs and dubious ingredients; mortar and pestle; small pouch of bones OR pebbles OR rune stones used for divination. I decide to take the pebbles to use for divination.
Last, but not least, I receive some Transport: a suitable Mount of choice (with saddle blankets and harness) OR canoe OR kayak. I decide on a good, steady horse with saddle blankets and harness.
Step 7: Customize the Character.
The character receive 4 Skill Points that can be used to customize the character somewhat, to buy new Skills or improve existing Skills (but no higher than 4 in any one Skill).
Looking over the character of Araga, I decide where to put the extra 4 points. I place two of the points immediately into Heal, raising it to 3. I place the other 2 points into Lore, raising it to a 3 as well. My final Skill set looks like this: Athletics 2, Brawl 1, Heal 3, Lore 3, Melee 3, Notice 3, Persuade 2, Ride 2, Shoot 1, Sleight 1, Steath 3, Survive 2, Zoofinity 1.
Step 8: Personalize the Character.
In this step, one finishes character generation. One gives the character a Name, describes their appearance and gear as necessary and appropriate, and briefly outlines their life, personality, and motivations. One doesn't need to overdo it, and a few descriptive sentences are better than pages and pages of exposition.
I have already decided that the character's Name is Araga.
Thinking about it for a minute or so, I decide that Araga is a short, skinny young man. His blond hair is almost unrecognizable due to the ornaments such as animal bones and beads, having been woven into the large clumped dreadlocks he wears. He bears the scars and markings of his intiation on the left side of his torso and on his face.
In terms of his background, I decide that since Araga was the youngest of the shamans of his tribe, he was sent out to find his people a new home. The reason for this is that his people's land can no longer sustain them, the babies being born twisted, and plants no longer growing. He now wanders to find a new place for his tribe to go and dwell.
So, when all is said and done, Araga looks something like this...
Description: Araga is a short, skinny young man. His blond hair is almost unrecognizable due to the ornaments such as animal bones and beads, having been woven into the large clumped dreadlocks he wears. He bears the scars and markings of his intiation on the left side of his torso and on his face.
Background: Araga was the youngest of the shamans of his tribe, and he was sent out to find his people a new home. The reason for this is that his people's land can no longer sustain them, the babies being born twisted, and plants no longer growing. He now wanders to find a new place for his tribe to go and dwell.
Weapons: Knife (animal bone); short spear (animal femur bone).
Clothing: Hide loincloth; leather vest; hide sandals; fur cloak and blanket; beads and bones adornments worn in the hair; headdress.
Gear: Tribal craft necklace made of carved deer bones; pouch of assorted dried herbs and dubious ingredients; mortar and pestle; small pouch of pebbles used for divination.
Transport: Horse (with saddle blanket and harness).
There you have it, the second character that I created for the Atomic Highway roleplaying game. This character took me roughly 20 minutes to create, and I suspect that while a newbie to the game might take twice or three times as long (sorting through choices, and potentially building a customized vehicle such as a car or motorcycle for their character), it can be done in less time than that by an experienced gamer. This may or may not include the character background and the like, depending on how detailed the player wants to get. If nothing else, I hope this encourages folks to take a look at the game system. So roll on down that Atomic Highway!