John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane
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Broken Rooms Character Creation - Harrison Taylor

While I'm not feeling up to it, given what's just happened in my life, I figured I needed a distraction, so am posting this anyway...

Given that I'm currrently running the Broken Rooms RPG campaign on both my gaming groups (for at least the next three months), I thought I would give everyone an example of character creation for the Broken Rooms Roleplaying Game.

Game: Broken Rooms Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Greymalkin Designs LLC
Degree of Familiarity: Relatively new. The game just came out, and I've just started running it. So, I'm familiar with it, but just doing the best I can.
Books Required: The Broken Rooms Roleplaying Game rulebook.

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, the Broken Rooms RPG is a roleplaying game of modern conspiracy horror across thirteen (13) parallel worlds. There are science fictional elements to this game, and some fantastical things goings on as well, but that's the essence of the game in a nutshell. 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: Character Concept.
While many roleplaying games don't deem this a necessary step for 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. What's even nicer is that Broken Rooms finds this step to be a crucial one.

I decide that I want to play a professional character, one with a good job but whose life has tanked. My character is going to be an architect who has gotten involved in matters pertaining to the parallel worlds after an encounter with his deceased wife.

The game encourages players to name their characters during the Character Concept stage, because names have power and help to anchor and visualise the character in terms of history and personality. After a moment's thought, I name the character Harrison "Harry" Taylor.

Step 2: Milestones.
The default Broken Rooms campaign assumes the characters come from Earth1, the Ordinary World (our world), and I'm going to use that conceit for the creation of this character. Furthermore, the character has experienced the three Milestones that follow.

A. Personal Divergence Event
Just as the one Earth diverged into thirteen Earths on August 13th, 2002, the character experiences and suffers from a Personal Divergence Event as well. It's always some type of devastating loss, traumatic, often violent and fundamentally life changing; it may be literal, emotional, physical, or even spiritual. The character may be fully responsible for the loss or may be an innocent victim of fate.

In the case of Harry Taylor, I decide that his PDE occurred when his wife, Sally, died when a car ploughed into the shopping centre where she had gone to do her grocery shopping. Her death had a profound effect on Harry and impacted his life in so many ways.

B. First Fall
At some point after his Personal Divergence Event, your character travelled to another variation (one of the other twelve worlds). This was triggered by a moment of extreme stress or emotion, possibly related to the character's Personal Divergence Event. This is called the character's First Fall.

During a trip from Pittsburgh back to Philadelphia, Harry encountered a woman by the side of the road changing a car tire who looked to be Sally. This triggered his First Fall, and Harry found himself for a couple of harrowing days on Earth3, Fall.

C. Recruitment
At some point after First Fall, sometimes months or even years, your character encounters the Nearside once more - this time, it's ongoing and life altering. He is recruited to go to work for one of the many organisations that can be found across the Nearside. This Recruitment phase is when your character finally fully engages with the Nearside and starts to have his questions answered.

Six months after his First Fall, when Harry wouldn't let things go, a man from the Regency Group, Ellington, offered him answers to his questions, and promised him that he could meet Sally again. In exchange, Ellington wanted his help in saving the Nearside. He explained what the Nearside is, and what he wanted Harry to do for Regency. How could Harry refuse?


Step 3: MPHA.
The player determines the character's Motivation, Personality, History, and Appearance in this step. There are a whole series of questions that can be asked by the player about their character in this step, but I'm going to consolidate these down and just provide the written material about the character.

A. Motivation
The character's Motivation explains why he does what he does at a very high level.

Harrison's main goal in life is to bring a little bit of light and brightness into peoples' lives. He accomplishes this with his architectural designs. He finds himself in need of enlightenment himself, and thus he plays golf and has recently taken up tennis. He also seeks to find the variant Sally that he encountered, for reasons that he keeps to himself.

B. Personality
Personality tells you how the character views the world and reacts to it, giving insight into how he will try to accomplish his goals and deal with adversity.

Once a very outgoing and social personality, Harry has become somewhat more withdrawn and sharp-tongued. He tends to take a stand more often than not, and has a stubborn streak about things that causes problems in his field work, as he refuses to back down from positions and won't change his mind about his architectural plans. Once a rather unhasty individual in terms of actions and plans, Harry has become more impulsive, but won't take risks.

C. History
History tells you where the character came from, and what he endured.

Harrison Taylor, "Harry" to his friends, was born in Philadelphia to loving parents. He had his three siblings, a brother and sister older than him and a sister younger than him, all of whom were raised with good morals, and his parents doted on their two daughters but treated their sons right as well. Harry was the role model for his younger sister, June, while he looked up to older brother Frank and older sister Claire. The four siblings pursued different careers due to their different outlooks on life.

Harrison developed an interest in buildings and their construction from an early age, enjoying the shapes of various structures as well. This led him to pursue a degree in architecture, and he joined an architectural firm owned by his mentor upon graduation. During this time, he became an avid golfer and developed an interest in gardening and horticulture. He met Sally Travers during the course of his first year at the firm, where she worked as a secretary, and the two pursued a relationship and fell in love. Married six years later, the two tried to start a family (both desiring one, as both came from multi-sibling families themselves), but didn't have any luck in this regard.

Then came a tragic day. While at work on a Saturday morning, Harry received a phone call from the police. He was informed that Sally was killed in a car crash that wrecked the supermarket where she had gone to shop. Devastated, Harry was given some time off to mourn his loss, but when he came back to work several months later, he seemed changed - more distant, less outgoing, and somewhat sharp-tongued. Harry's friends and colleagues tolerated this, and Harry returned to the job he loved so well. But it had lost its lustre, its shine, and his work was never the same. Oh, sure, he was able to create stunning architectural plans and designs, but none of them had that "je ne sais quois" of his earlier work, and none of them won him or the firm awards any longer. Harry chose to eventually leave the major firm that he was employed with, and used his nest egg to start up a small architectural firm, Taylor Designs. Several of his friends at the firm went with him into the new business, and things looked good.

About eighteen months after the death of Sally, Harry finally felt as if he were getting his life put back together. The new business was firmly off the ground, and earning a decent profit. He was starting to come out of his social isolation, and had even started dating again. And then one night, while travelling from Pittsburgh back to Philadelphia by car, the impossible happened. He came upon a car at the side of the road, and there was Sally working on a flat tire! The experience shocked him, and triggered his First Fall. Harry ended up on Earth3, Fall, where a rain of asteroids had devastated the planet, and barely survived his two days there. When he returned to Earth1, Harry found everyone worried about him. He knew that he couldn't tell them the truth of what had happened, but he knew that he couldn't just let it rest. Over the next six months, he didn't see hide nor hair of the other Sally that he had seen, but discovered a few interesting and odd things about people and their doppelgangers.

And then Regency approached him. The man from the Regency Group, Ellington, offered him answers to his questions, and promised him that he could meet Sally again. In exchange, Ellington wanted his help in saving the Nearside. He explained what the Nearside is, and what he wanted Harry to do for Regency. How could Harry refuse?

That was five months ago, and now Harry is a field operative with a Regency team. He's also discovered that he's got a unique ability as well, what the Nearsiders call Meridian or Distance powers. They call him a Blocker, but the one thing that he can never block are his memories of seeing Sally on the road by that car that night, and Ellington still hasn't answered all of his questions. Harry's getting somewhat impatient...


D. Appearance
Appearance tells you what the character looks like, and what others might notice about the character, including dress and the like.

Harry is some 33 years of age, stands 5'11" tall and at 189 lbs. has a relatively athletic build. He has an aquiline nose, tan features, dark brown hair cut relatively short, and dark blue eyes. In the office, Harry wears suits and ties in the latest style, but out in the field he dresses more casually and wears a hard hat. No matter what, Harry wears a pair of Sketchers sneakers in a dark blue colour.


Step 4. Attributes
The next step involves the player determining the Attributes for the character. There are three Attributes in the Broken Rooms RPG - Body, Mind, and Soul. I won't go into the definitions of each Attribute here, but suffice it to say Body represents strength and vitality, as well as agility, coordination, speed, endurance, perception, and overall fitness; Mind represents basic intelligence, but also judgement, cunning, logic, awareness, and problem solving ability; Soul represents raw charisma, but also determination, confidence, creativity, inner peace, conviction, and strength of personality.

Players assign a set number of points to their Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Attribute. Primary Attributes have a value of 5. Secondary Attributes have a value of 4, and Tertiary Attributes have a value of 3.

In the case of Harrison Taylor, I decide that his Primary Attribute is Mind, his Secondary Attribute is Soul, and his Tertiary Attribute is Body. This means he has values of Body 3, Mind 5, and Soul 4.


Step 5. Skills
The next step is determining the player character's Skills. In the Momentum System, Skills determine the Target Number (TN) that is rolled for on the dice. Thus the levels of skill in the game (with their TN in brackets) are Unfamiliar (10+), Familiar (9+), Trained (8+), and Professional (7+). At least, these are the Skill Levels that concern us. :) There are a total of 20 Broad Skills in the game, but each of these cover many sub-skills and specialisations, called Concentrations in Broken Rooms. The best a Broad Skill can be is Trained (8+) or Familiar (9+); after that, only Concentrations may be chosen.

The character first receives three (3) Broad Skills at Familiar (9+). The character also receives their Meridian Skill at Familiar (9+) as well for free. (See below for more about Meridians.)

The character then receives thirteen (13) points with which to purchase Skills. All Skills begin at Unfamiliar (10+). To improve a Broad Skill from Unfamiliar (10+) to Familiar (9+) costs 3 points. To improve a Concentration by one level costs 1 point per Skill Level up to Professional (7+). After character creation, only Skill Concentrations can be raised.

In the case of Harrison Taylor, I decide that his three starting Skills are Higher Learning, Engineering (a Broad Skill that I have added to the system), and Interpersonal. These all begin at Familiar (9+).

I then need to assign my 13 points to Skills, using the guidelines noted above. He's a pretty good golfer, but not professional, so I purchase Athletics (Golf) at Trained (8+) for 2 points. He recently became interested in Tennis, so I purchase Athletics (Tennis) at Familiar (9+) for another 1 point. Since he's a professional architect, but not as good as he used to be, I purchase the Architecture Concentration using Higher Learning (which I got as one of my free skills at Familiar) at the Professional (7+) level for 2 more points. This leaves me 8 points from my 13 points. Since I need to drive a car, I purchase the Transportation (Cars) Concentration at the Familiar (9+) level for 1 point. Since Harry has to bid on contracts for architecture jobs, I increase the Interpersonal (Persuasion) Concentration up to Trained (8+), spending a point there. To round out Harry's architectural abilities, I buy up Artistry (Drafting) to Trained (8+) at a cost of 2 points, and Engineering (Civil Engineering) to Professional (7+) for 2 points. This leaves me two points to play with, and I decide to take the Gather Information (Research) Concentration at Familiar (9+), and the Science (Horticulture) Concentration at Familiar (9+) for another 2 points. That uses up all 13 of my starting Skill Points.



Step 6. Nearsider Abilities
Characters begin play as Nearsiders, those who can travel between the various worlds. The player must determine their character's Distance, Depth, their Prime Meridian, and their Prime Meridian Quality.

Distance is a representation of how many worlds the character has been to to which they have become attuned. It also represents their understanding of the Nearside, and their place within it. Player characters begin with a Distance of 2, and thus Harrison Taylor starts with Distance 2.

Depth is a Nearsider's fourth Attribute, and represents their ability to harness Momentum (see below) and use their Meridians (see below). Starting characters with a Distance of 2 begin with a Depth of 3. Thus, Harrison Taylor starts with Depth 3.

Momentum is the energy that Nearsiders derive from travelling the Nearside, and is primarily used to power their Meridian abilities. The character starts with a maximum Momentum equal to double their Distance. Thus, Harrison Taylor, with a Distance of 2, starts with a maximum of 4 Momentum.

Meridians are the Distance powers that Nearside characters, both player and non-player receive. There are 13 Meridians in total - Blocking, Breaking, Chancing, Changing, Closing, Finding, Juicing, Keeping, Mending, Moving, Opening, Reading, Writing - each limited in scope but potent in their own way. The player chooses his first Meridian, called his Prime Meridian, but will also receive two additional Meridians, his Secondary and Tertiary, as he increases in Distance. Lots of factors go into choosing the Meridian, and in addition to choosing the Meridian, the player must choose a Prime Meridian Quality from the Qualities specific to the Prime Meridian chosen. The player also begins with the Meridian (Specific) Skill at Familiar (9+).

Looking over the various Meridians, I decide to take the Blocking Meridian for Harry, based on his personality and where I see the character going. This means Harry starts with the Meridian (Blocking) Skill at Familiar (9+). There are three Prime Qualities for each Meridian, and the ones for Blocking are Guardian, Anchor, and Pacifier. Looking over the three Prime Qualities, I decide to go with the Guardian Quality for the Blocking Meridian. (See the write-up below under the Qualities in the final stats section.)


Step 7. Qualities

The player determines the Qualities that the character possesses. Qualities are words or phrases that help to give the character dimension and flair. They are the traits, talents, quirks and flaws that help set the character apart from others with similar Attributes and Skills. Qualities can be Positive (+), Negative (-), and Double-Edged (+/-). A player starts with two Positive Qualities and one Negative Quality. They may also add extra Qualities, but must balance them so that they have one Positive for every Negative Quality and vice versa, but no character may have more than three Positive Qualities. Furthermore, the player may also add one Double-Edged Quality as well.

For Harrison Taylor, I give this a bit of thought. I decide that Harry's body, despite his appearance, can take more physical punishment than at first glance, and that he's gifted with the ability to see architectural designs in the abstract in his head. As a negative Quality, I decide that Harry's obsessed with finding the variant Sally for reasons of his own.


Step 8: Other Details

A. Damage Tracks and Thresholds
The first thing that needs to be determined is how much damage Harry can take. Each Attribute - Body, Mind, and Soul - can take different amounts of damage. The damage tracks are for Body Points, Mind Points, and Soul Points. Body Points = Body x 3. Mind Points = Mind x 3. Soul Points = Soul x 3.

Thus, Harry, with a Body of 3, has 9 Body Points. His Mind of 5 gives him 15 Mind Points. And his Soul of 4 gives him 12 Soul Points.

The character's Damage Thresholds are based on his points for each Attribute, as they are divided by 3 for each Attribute. Thus, a character with Mind of 5 with 15 Mind Points has his damage represented in circles with a divider for the thresholds.

Therefore, Harry's statistics would be represented as

Body 000/000/000
Mind 00000/00000/00000
Soul 0000/0000/0000


B. Speed
Speed is determined by the character's Body, times 5.

Harry has a Body of 3. Therefore, Harry has a Speed of 15.

C. Money and Equipment
Broken Rooms is not a game where the accumulation of wealth or the tracking of resources is the focus. Therefore, it is up to the player in consultation with the Gamemaster to decide what starting money and equipment a character possesses.

I give Harry some equipment and items that I think would make sense for the character. See the game stats, below.

And that's it. Thus, we get the character of Harry Taylor, whose game stats look something like this:

HARRISON "HARRY" TAYLOR


Body:  3d    Def:  3d   3/6/9
Mind:  5d    Def:  5d   5/10/15
Soul:  4d    Def:  4d   4/8/12
Depth  3d    Distance:  2   Momentum:  2 of 4
Armor:  0    Speed:  15   Initiative:  2d + 5

ATTACKS:  Fist (0B, 3d@10+)

SKILLS

Professional (7+):  Engineering (Civil Engineering), Higher 
   Learning (Architecture)

Trained (8+):  Athletics (Golf), Artistry (Drafting), 
   Interpersonal (Persuasion)

Familiar (9+):  Athletics (Tennis), Engineering, Gather 
   Information (Research), Higher Learning, Interpersonal, 
   Meridian (Blocking), Science (Horticulture), Transportation (Cars)

Unfamiliar (10+):  Everything else


QUALITIES

+ I Can Take It:  Despite his seemingly academic looks, Harry's
  athletic body is quite fit, and his body can take more 
  punishment than it would appear to.
+ Sees It In His Head:  He has the raw ability to actually 
  see designs in 3D in his head once he gets an idea of what 
  he wants.  1d bonus to all Architecture rolls.
- Obsessed with Sally:  Harry is obsessed with finding the 
  variant Sally, as he wants to regain the woman that he loved.  
  He'll do anything to find her and make her his once more, 
  but doesn't realise that this Sally might not be one to fall 
  in love with him.

M  Guardian:  Provides a 1d bonus when using the Blocking 
   Meridian to create protective shields or armour.  The 
   character can also place himself in front of physical 
   attacks he can see that are levelled against a nearby 
   person he has designated to protect.  He gains a 1d bonus 
   to his Defense rolls when intercepting such an attack.  
   He can only designate a single person per combat.


EQUIPMENT

Several business suits; casual clothes; wallet; cell phone; 
small library of architecture books; survey maps; subscription
to Architecture Digest; drafting board; drafting 
supplies and instruments; state-of-the-art laptop; photo of
Sally; other items as needed.




And there you have the character that I created for the Broken Rooms Roleplaying Game. Character generation in Broken Rooms can take a while, due to filling out the MPHA material (the detail in which one does so determining the length of character generation a bit more), 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: character creation, personal, rpg, rpg hut
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