As described in the Introduction, the characters actively being played (PC’s) and the actions made in response to the story the GM has written as it unfolds define a roleplaying game. Before the players can start roleplaying, they must first create the characters or roles they are going to “run”, or play, in the game. Since this is the players’ first concern, and the GM uses the same parameters and attributes or statistics to define his NPC’s, Character Creation has been made the first area covered in such a way as to provide the additional explanatory notes and supplemental information the GM needs to properly utilize it.
Since roleplaying games are based in an imaginary world shared by all the players, the substance of the game itself is what each of the players contributes, what they say their characters are doing. To create a level playing field for them, there must be some basic definitions, boundaries, and limitations placed on all the characters so the skills, abilities, knowledge and personal resources of the characters can all be measured on the same scale. These definitions and limitations are expressed mostly in the form of numerical ratings, or “scores”, and the ways in which they are used during play make up the formal rules of the game. These rules are the common ground on which the players can meet and agree, so each will know what the other is talking about when one describes his character or his abilities. The rules stand also between the PC’s and the GM so he can interpret all the characters’ actions fairly and by the same standard, so the players will know what to expect when circumstances repeat. This way, the players have a solid foundation on which to stand and can point to the knowledge of their characters abilities and capabilities and allowances spelled out here in the rules when the GM’s generosity fails and he would curtail their actions. As a rule of thumb, a GM should always be generous when following the spirit of a rule, stretching it just a little if need be if it enhances the roleplaying and spirit of adventure and especially the story itself, and encourages the players to stretch their style of play too, to be more daring and creative with their characters.
In “rolling up” a character for a more gritty medieval fantasy such as that of Realms of Myth (regardless of whether dice are rolled in the actual method used), there are many steps to be taken and decisions to be made along the way. Character Generation has been laid out in the order in which those steps must be completed and decisions made: Step 1. Character Race; Step 2. Character Background; Step 3. Character Trade; Step 4. Character Attributes & Description; Step 5. Character Skills; Step 6. Encumbrance, Movement & Tactical Attributes; and finally Step 7. Equipping the Character.
The first step is to choose the character’s race (Step 1.). The medieval game world is populated with a wider variety of races of peoples than humans alone, and the GM is free to explore their use. Many of these have specific sorts of favored environments. Only humans are universal, however, found in ALL environments. The choice of race must come first because it forms the basis for the character’s point of view – his height relative to the other races, the length of his natural life, and certain other inclinations. Just because the character is part of an imaginary fantasy world does not mean that the fantasy world is a perfect world. Racism and bigotry are not confined to Real World human folk, alone. Though used only rarely as elements of character interaction, because the world is supposed to be only a fantasy, the presence of racism and bigotry becomes a bit more potent and pointed, potentially more brutal and even violent. Anyone who has ever read author Glen Cook’s Garret books can see it in action in a fantasy setting. Many fantasy games can get a bit grim from time to time. Not everyone can live “happily ever after”….
After the racial disposition, the background of the character must be determined, his heritage or the circumstances of his birth, legitimacy, social class, and then family station in which he was born and raised – his birthright. In the case of NPC’s, the character’s trade is determined in the same manner as the family of a PC for his background. This basically determines the skill(s) or skill set the NPC has. Determining the character’s trade and skills may also include choosing a guild and a fraternity, depending on his social class and the specific trade.
Once all this information about the character has been gathered, the actual measure of the character’s faculties and basic abilities can be determined. These attributes, which determine the character’s native abilities and talents, are determined in a much more random fashion for NPC’s than PC’s, and lean heavily towards the average, because the common run of people is the pool from which the NPC’s are generally drawn. They are the source of the racial averages in the first place. It is those with scores above and below the average that are the exceptions. The PC’s are intended to be exceptional in one way or another, and sometimes in many ways.
This is the first part of the hard numbers or statistics that govern how effective the character is in which areas in the context of the rules. These attributes define all of the character’s capacities – mental, spiritual, and physical. With the character’s attribute scores in hand, the player can then further detail the actual measures and limits of the character’s body, his ability to run, jump, and leap, lift and carry, and the like.
Afterwards, the finest definitions of the characters’ abilities must be determined, for use in pursuit of their adventures and especially for direct contests against other characters (PC & NPC) under tactical or battle circumstances.
In the last step, the character must be fitted for his life of adventure, his money determined and with it his personal belongings purchased. Some of the character’s belongings are awarded without cost, simple basics according to his social class and family station. Most characters must pay for the tools of their trade and individual skills, but there are some notable exceptions.
In the case of NPC’s, the GM determines the extent of personal belongings, moveable goods, home(s), property (-ies), household retainers, and the like, all personal resources.
To accommodate the special circumstances surrounding the GM’s NPC’s, the rules for generating them are compiled in a chapter of their own, Chapter 3. NPC’s & NPC Generation of Part I.
For the sake of flow and clarity for the players and GM alike, as well as ease of use for reference during play, all the descriptions and information concerning each of the individual races, trades, skills, and various rosters of goods and equipment have been compiled into their own Appendices in the back of this book. In this way they will not bog down any important processes or make the steps of character creation more difficult to find, as those descriptions do occupy a fair number of pages. This is one of the reasons the special rules and descriptions for magick and its skills have been removed to volume II. The information separated out and compiled in this way will be needed often in the course of each gaming session and so will be much easier for the players and GM to reference during play, especially if other parts of this book are needed for reference simultaneously.
The GM should be sure to make any interpretational notes or rules clarifications or modifications in any given description that strike him, or that puzzle or distress him as he reads, whether on note paper or in the margins of the pages. He must be sure to pass those that affect the PC’s directly on to the players prior to or during the creation of their characters. This way the GM can avoid any unpleasant surprises due to a differing point of view or interpretation of the text on the players’ parts. This is why reading thoroughly all of the parts of the rules that pertain directly to the character is stressed so strongly in the PG.
A copy of the standard Realms of Myth Character Record Sheet are provided at the very end of this book along with the other record sheets designed to make the GM’s life easier. The players may make as many copies of these as they need (for their own personal use, only, of course). The order in which the record sheet is laid out has absolutely nothing to do with the order of the text in the book. This is because the record sheets are designed for convenient use during play, which has absolutely nothing to do with the order in which that information must be determined during character creation. Some aspects and scores must be determined first in order to be used afterwards in determining other aspects and/or scores that define the character further.
What is needed soonest is determined first in that process.
Generating characters should always wait on the design of the area they hail from in the gameworld, however, and the accompanying notes of who and what is where, which could well lead to placing some restrictions on the races the PC’s have to choose from in creating their characters for his game, and can also affect the availability of certain trades or skills, or the imposition of certain conditions – all of which the players should be warned of in advance of creating their characters.
Characters in Realms of Myth are somewhat complex in the definitions of their knowledge, abilities, and skills. They each take a fair amount of time to create. This is why sample characters are provided for immediate play, so the players can get used to the system, find out which aspects of the mechanics describing a character are the most important before they dive into character generation. Though the experienced player might be used to playing more than one character in some other game systems, these characters are too complex for a player to play more than one at a time and develop them all fairly and properly, to their full potential. One character or the other inevitably suffers from lack of attention or development, or from being treated as a lackey of another character, or worse, just an extension or appendage of the other character.
High mortality rate among beginning characters is a major reason for the prevalence of this practice, BUT RoM characters are specifically designed to be tough enough to take a decent amount of abuse from the start without dying, regardless of trade(s). This eliminates any need for a player to attempt to portray more than one character at a time.
‘One character to each player’ is the rule.
The GM should stand by his guns, never allowing any player to talk him out of sticking to this rule, no matter how imposing or insistent.
While any character may gather a group of lackeys and/or household officers to take care of his domestic needs and certain matters of business (according to his financial means), and the GM consequently make the player responsible for determining their duties and activities, it is the GM who is responsible for actually roleplaying them. It is the GM who must be one to step in and say “Beggin’ yer pardon, guv’nor, but I don’t see as I can rightly do that,” when the PC oversteps the bounds of his relationship with his staff, tries to use them without regard for their safety or abuse their good natures or their willingness to serve. It is the GM who must step in to say “Yes, Master Philpot” or “I’m afraid we’ve run out, Mistress Goodbody” when the PC is ordering them in carrying out their responsibilities.
Because anything can happen in the game (and the GM should make sure that it often does), the GM should encourage the players to balance their characters’ knowledge, abilities, talents and skills according to the challenges that may come, so to allow the widest scope for writing the adventures for them. The characters should collectively be prepared for any situation, but aware of the possibility of their getting separated and having to get by on their own, also. Player foresight can often save a character’s life.
In this way, it is a very good idea to have all the characters intended to adventure in the same group or “party” also be created together, at the same time. This is especially useful in preventing too much overlap.
The members of the party can be made to compliment one another perfectly. Sure, it doesn’t happen that way in the Real World, but this is a fantasy, after all! Such an approach is not too far-fetched after all, however, when considering the fact that people of like minds often come together, and one often makes lasting friendships with those whose knowledge compliments one’s own. Some overlap is good, for some tasks benefit from extra hands, but too much and it feels like the characters are competing for the same niche in the group. Creating characters together can take on a party-like atmosphere, bringing the players closer so their characters will be more inclined to work together once the game begins. It can energize them for the coming adventures.
So, what is needed to sit down and make a character? A copy of the Character Record sheet, a bit of scratch paper for quick notes and calculations, writing tools of some sort will do. To really make things easy, the player can use a little pocket calculator, so long as it has the four basic math functions (add, subtract, multiply, divide).
All ready? Good.
Let’s get started.