John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane
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a|state RPG Character Creation - Handry Burkel

Given that I'm currrently running the a|state RPG campaign on both my gaming groups (well, I will be again, as soon as August comes around, since I'm getting to play in rpgs for the entire month of July), I thought I would give everyone an example of character creation for the a|state Roleplaying Game. Especially in light of the fact that I've never done so in my blog before. :)

Game: a|state Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Contested Ground Studios
Degree of Familiarity: Very high. I've been running the a|state RPG now since the game first got mentioned and discussed back in 2002, using the a|stateLite rules, and these days use the actual rulebook for this purpose.
Books Required: The a|state Roleplaying Game rulebook.

Please note that this post 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. Hence the majority of this post is behind the cut.


For those who don't know, the a|state RPG is a roleplaying game with Dickensian elements set in a dystopian somewhat steampunk game environment - The City - that has mythic and horror elements as well. So, 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: Decide on a character concept.
While this isn't really necessary for roleplaying game character creation, I find that having a Character Concept really helps as it gives the player creating the character a good framework with which to start. I decide that I don't want to play a gun-toting type in this game, nor do I want someone who is Macrocorporate connected. I don't want someone all that atypical, either, but I think someone medical might work well. I decide to create a healer, specifically a streethealer, who either works in a burgh or who travels from burgh to burgh, doing what he can. I'll figure this out a bit more as I go along.


Step 2: The next step is to answer the Character Questionnaire for the game, which can be found in the a|state RPG rulebook, on page 154. This is technically part of the process of the Character Concept (Step 1), but I've decided to do it as a separate step here.

1. The Name, Age, and Sex of the character.
I decide the character's name is Handry Burkel, he's 34 years old, and is male.

2. What part of The City was the character born in?
I decide that I don't want the character to come from a dirty, filthy, poor district like Mire End or its opposite like Lucent Heights, so I settle on somewhere else, and have Handry come from Folly Hills.

3. What social class were the character's parents?
Handry's parents were both hard-working people living at the lower end of middle class, though they were not affluent.

4. What were the character's parents' occupations?
Handry's father, Jacob, owns a small shoppe that sells knick-knacks and other items salvaged from the canals, ruined buildings, and the like. He thinks of it more as a "second-hand" shoppe. Handry's mother, Elliza, keeps a herb garden behind the shoppe, and sells various herbs and plants to folks who require them, and is something of a healer herself.

5. What was the character's family life like?
Needless to say, Handry's parents were busy running the second-hand shoppe and with his mother's side job as a herbalist, but to give them credit, they treated Handry and his siblings fairly, and were even-handed with Handry. There were laughs, love, and crying at times as the family went through its daily lives in as honest and true a fashion as they could.

6. Does the character have any siblings?
Yes, Handry has two siblings. Adrian is his older brother, two years his senior, and works as a bargeman on the canals in the Sleeping Vale burgh. He has a wife and two young children. Handry's sister, Adele, is five years his junior. She lives in Folly Hills, and works in the shoppe with their father. She's single, but has a little girl out of wedlock. There was also a third sibling, a girl, Hannah, who was three years his junior, but she died when she was 15 of a disease that she contracted after falling into a toxic puddle of water.

7. Why did your character eventually leave the family home (if at all)?
Unlike his brothers and sisters, Handry had no interest in working at the shoppe or in having the type of career that was expected of him. While he did what was expected of him, he was more interested in his mother's work with herbs and plants, and always wanted a career in medicine. He was pretty intelligent, and this brought him to the attention of a local doctor, Felixe Hamers, who took him on as an apprentice. Handry moved in to Felixe's small clinic, and worked with her there.

8. What kind of things did your character learn as a child?
As a child, Handry learned a good deal about working the shoppe, and got a basic education in herbalism from his mother. He learned that it takes hard work to make a go of things, but that one should never take life for granted. He also learned that people in The City (or at least Folly Hills) ran the gamut of the good and the bad, and that you had to take them as they were.

9. What does your character look like?
In appearance, Handry is a relatively average man for his age, standing some 5'10" tall with a somewhat stocky, if sturdy, build. He has dark brown hair, slightly wavy and cut short with a tinge of grey, and dark hazel, somewhat tired eyes, and has a couple of knife scars on his left arm from when he lost a knife fight as a young man. He has a distinctive mole on his left shoulder. He wears a simple set of clothes - dogskin pants, dogskin boots (a separate pair when he's in his surgery), off-white shirt and a vest, complemented by a dogskin jacket or longcoat when he goes around in public. Handry also wears a pair of battered spectacles that have seen better days.

10. Does your character have any notable physical strengths and/or weaknesses?
Handry has near-sightedness, but he corrects these with glasses. He also has pretty decent stamina, a function of having worked long hours during his training and apprenticeship. Handry is somewhat more athletic a man of his age, and moves with a speed that defies his appearance.

11. Does your character have any notable mental strengths and/or weaknesses?
Handry is quite stubborn, at times refusing to give up something that he is doing despite its not being practical or workable, and he has strong opinions on a variety of subjects. He is also somewhat shy around others in social situations.

12. What does your character do for a living?
After moving in to the clinic with Felixe Hamers, Handry learned a good deal about street medicine, primarily from a practical aspect, and saw that there were all manner of diseases and types of injuries that people in The City were afflicted with. After working with Felixe for a few years and learning what he could (rumours were also that they were lovers, despite the age difference), Felixe arranged for Handry to go to Longshore University and study medicine. However, after a year or so, Handry found that the academic approach didn't work for him, and he returned to Folly Hills where Felixe convinced him to open his own clinic to treat the residents of the burgh. He now practices medicine and streethealing, but while he does go out into the burgh from time to time to treat people, his clinic is more than just his home - it's also his lifeblood.

13. What kind of training (if any) has your character received?
He has received training in medicine, both formal and at the street level, as well as having a good knowledge of herbalism. He also knows about medical techniques and history, and is pretty good with street skills as well.

14. What are your character's main goals in life?
To tend to the sick and wounded. To make a good life for himself, and have a family.

15. What motivates the character?
Handry's primary motivation is the death of his sister, Hannah, and the desire not to see that kind of pain and suffering ever again. Unfortunately, he has, more than once. He is also motivated by a good set of morales instilled by his parents, who were fair, decent, and honest people.

16. Are there any particular traits that the character respects/dislikes in people?
Handry respects those who are hard-working, honest, and straightforward in the way they live their lives. He also likes those who give back to the community of Folly Hills. He dislikes those who take too many risks, those who endanger themselves needlessly and/or recklessly(there's more than enough danger to go around The City, after all!), and has an absolute dislike and distrust of the Macrocorporates.

17. Does the character have any close friends, dependents, etc.?
Handry has several friends and dependents. There is, of course, his mentor, Felixe Hamers (and yes they were lovers, but that was a long time ago), whom he values and would help at the drop of a hat. There is Mousey Jones, a dealer who can acquire all manner of minor medical supplies and drugs of various kinds from his Hohler Gang contacts (Handry doesn't know about the gang connections). Jasper Harpere is a local Lostfinder, and comes to Handry's assistance when he needs tough-to-find stuff, and he's treated the Lostfinder enough to know every stitch scar the man has on his body. Finally, there's Helene Wattson, his girlfriend of two years, whom he plans to marry in the next year or so. Unknown to Handry, she's expecting their first child in the next year.


Step 3: Choose Advantages and Disadvantages for the character.

Once the player has determined the background of the player character as per the a|state RPG Character Questionnaire, the player chooses Advantages and Disadvantages for the character, somewhat based on what they wrote in those answers. The character either pays or gains a number of Attribute Points (APs) or Skill Points (SPs), depending on the Advantages or Disadvantages he chooses for the character, as determined by the game rules. The Advantages and Disadvantages I choose for Handry are listed below, with their severity and the points costs/bonuses that they provide the character for his Attribute Points (APs) and Skill Points (SPs). Some of these are obvious from his background, but I add a couple of Enemies as well to round the character out a bit.

Advantages

Agile (Moderate) -8 APs
Contacts (Moderate; Mousy Jones) -10 APs
Contacts (Moderate; Jasper Harpere) -10 SPs


Disadvantages

Enemy (Minor; Hohler Gang cripplecut fighter) +5 SPs
Enemy (Moderate; Rival clinic owner) +10 SPs
Nearsightedness (Major) +15 APs
Nightmares (Moderate; Hannah's death) +10 APs
Shy (Major; social situations) +15 APs
Stubborn (Moderate) +10 APs

See the results of these choices in Step 6, Attributes, and Step 7, Skills.


Step 4: Choose an Origin for the character.

The next step in character creation is to choose an Origin for the character. The Origin tells you about the family that you come from, and should be firmly based in the Character Concept and reflect the answers that you gave in the sections above (see Step 2). The character Origin gives the player a number of Skills to choose from, and the player receives 40 points to assign to these Skills in whatever manner they decide, as long as no Skill is assigned more than 20 points. Each Origin also confers a bonus to one or more of the character's Attributes.

Based on the character's background, I choose the Lower Middle Class Origin for the character, and assign the Skill Points as follows:

Bureaucracy 5
Economics 10
Ground Vehicles 5
Mechanical Computing 10
Writing 10

The character also receives a bonus of +10 to his WIL Attribute.


Step 5: Choose an Upbringing for the character.

The next step in character creation is to choose an Upbringing for the character. The Upbringing tells the character how he was raised, and once more this is influenced by the character's Character Concept. All Upbringings are available only to characters who come from specific Origins, so one has to be careful in this regard. The character Upbringing gives the player a number of Skills to choose from, and the player receives 40 points to assign to these Skills in whatever manner they decide, as long as no Skill is assigned more than 20 points.

Based on Handry's background, I choose the Apprenticed Upbringing, which fortunately he can take as it is ava‎ilable to Lower Middle Class Origin characters. I assign the Skill points as follows, but rather than taking one of the Trades Skills, I substitute First Aid, a reasonable substitution, I think, and given the option choose the Ground Vehicles Skill instead of the Water Vehicles Skill.

Economics 5
First Aid 20
Mechanical Computing 10
Ground Vehicles 5

This gives me the following Skills so far...

Bureaucracy 5
Economics 15
First Aid 20
Ground Vehicles 10
Mechanical Computing 20
Writing 10


Step 6: Purchase the character's Attributes, using the Attribute Point pool that is available.

The next step in character generation is to purchase the character's Attributes. All player characters start with a base of 360 Attribute Points (APs). From my Advantages and Disadvantages (see Step 3), I gain another 32 APs overall, making my total 392 Attribute Points with which to purchase my Attributes. They are bought on a scale of 1 to 100, with each point costing 1 AP until 70-79 which cost 2 points per point, 80-89 costing 3 points per point, and 90-99 costing 4 points per point.

Based on my character's background, I purchase the Attributes at the following values, factoring in the +10 bonus to Will from my Origin (see Step 4, above).

Strength 35
Agility 55
Dexterity 52
Health 50

Awareness 50
Intelligence 60
Willpower 55 (+10 bonus)
Personality 45


Step 7: Purchase the character's Skills, using the Skill Point pool that is available.

The next step in character generation is to purchase the character's Skills. All player charactters start with a base of 500 Skill Points (SPs) to assign to their Skills, at the same costs as those for Attributes. From my Advantages and Disadvantages (see Step 3), I gain another 5 SPs overall, making my total 505 Skill Points with which to purchase my Skills.

I choose to play a Doctor-like character in The City, and thus start with the following suggested Skills: First Aid, General Medicine, Pharmacology, Surgery, Diplomacy, Persuasion, Biology, and Chemistry. Based on my character's background, and taking into account the points I received from my Origin and Upbringing, I purchase the Skills at the following values when all is said and done.

Armed Combat 25
Biology 25
Bureaucracy 13
Common, Spoken 90 (Default: INT x 1.5)
Common, Read & Write 60 (Default: INT)
Chemistry 20
Criminal Culture 15
Diplomacy 20
Economics 25
First Aid 70
Gardening 20
General Medicine 70
Ground Vehicles 10
Herbalism 30
History 25
Mechanical Computing 20
Persuasion 35
Pharmacology 22
Surgery 45
Unarmed Combat 15
Writing 30

A pretty good set of Skills, if I do say so myself. :)


Step 8: Round out the character, and purchase any appropriate personal possessions.

There are several steps to rounding out the character.

SECONDARY ATTRIBUTES

First off, I determine the Secondary Attributes of the character:

Reaction (Average of Agility, Awareness, and Intelligence, round down) = 55

Resilience (Health divided by 10, round down) = 5

Encumbrance (Strength divided by 2, round down) = 17 kg

Kick Damage (Strength divided by 15, round down) = 3

Punch Damage (Strength divided by 20, round down) = 2


STARTING WEALTH

Given that the Starting Wealth value for the Medical occupation is between 1 and 7, I decide that Handry is on the lower side of average, and given him a Wealth value of 4. Rolling on the Wealth table, I roll a 7 on a d10, so Handry starts out with 32 pounds stirling. Handry starts off with a small clinic in a formerly abandoned building in Folly Hills as part of the profession, and the basic tools of the trade.

Thus Handry starts with

A small medical clinic and apartment above
Clothes appropriate to the character
Spectacles (x2)
First Aid Kit (lo-tech)
Set of surgical tools that he's assembled over the years


Thus, we get the character Handry Burkel, who looks something like this:


HANDRY BURKEL

Age: 34
Height/Build: 5'10" tall/stocky, sturdy
Eye/Hair Colour: Dark hazel, somewhat tired/dark brown, slightly wavy, tinge of grey
Occupation: Doctor
Affiliations: Folly End, Hohler Gang

Origin: Lower Middle Class
Upbringing: Apprenticed
Character Type: Medical


ATTRIBUTES

Strength 35
Agility 55
Dexterity 52
Health 50

Awareness 50
Intelligence 60
Willpower 55 (+10 bonus)
Personality 45

Secondary Attributes

Reaction: 55
Resilience: 5
Encumbrance: 17 kg
Kick Damage: 3
Punch Damage: 2


ADVANTAGES

Agile (Moderate) -8 APs
Contacts (Moderate; Mousy Jones) -10 APs
Contacts (Moderate; Jasper Harpere) -10 SPs

DISADVANTAGES

Enemy (Minor; Hohler Gang cripplecut fighter) +5 SPs
Enemy (Moderate; Rival clinic owner) +10 SPs
Nearsightedness (Major) +15 APs
Nightmares (Moderate; Hannah's death) +10 APs
Shy (Major; social situations) +15 APs
Stubborn (Moderate) +10 APs


SKILLS

Armed Combat 25
Biology 25
Bureaucracy 13
Common, Spoken 90
Common, Read & Write 60
Chemistry 20
Criminal Culture 15
Diplomacy 20
Economics 25
First Aid 70
Gardening 20
General Medicine 70
Ground Vehicles 10
Herbalism 30
History 25
Mechanical Computing 20
Persuasion 35
Pharmacology 22
Surgery 45
Unarmed Combat 15
Writing 30


POSSESSIONS

A small medical clinic and apartment above
Clothes appropriate to the character
Spectacles (x2)
First Aid Kit (lo-tech)
Set of surgical tools that he's assembled over the years


And there you have the character that I created for the a|state Roleplaying Game. Character generation in a|state can take a while, due to filling in the Character Questionnaire, as noted in the example above, so the process could take a good three (3) hours or so; an experienced player can likely create a character for the system in around 1 hour; a newbie to the game might take a good 4 hours for the first time, maybe longer, depending on how good an idea the player has for the Character Concept, but once that is accomplished, the rest of the character should fall into place.

Anyway, I hope this encourages you to take a look at the game and its game system.

Thoughts, comments, and questions about the game stuff and the character are welcome. :)
Tags: a|state rpg, character creation, handry burkel, personal, rpg, rpg hut
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