Throughout the process of choosing a system, I have met a lot of great folks. One of the great things these days, is the wealth of content available on the Internet, and the ability to quickly learn about different options that are available.
Ultimately, this is what lead me to Savage Worlds in the first place. As I started mentioning it in my blog, I’ve had a number of people ask me about it. Because of this, I have decided to give folks a quick run-through of the character creation process. With luck, this will be of use to people who are either curious or riding the fence, trying to decide on a new system.
Being a generic system, the first step really lies entirely with the GM. Obviously, playing an elf wouldn’t be an option in a 1930’s pulp action setting, and an alien superhero in red & blue tights wouldn’t exactly be at home in a high fantasy campaign.
Once the GM has a feel for what type of campaign they wish to run, a number of questions will be answered. The core Savage Worlds Explorer Edition gives you enough information to create just about any type of setting. That said, there are a number of sourcebooks available (both from Pinnacle Entertainment Group & 3rd party publishers), which give richer information for different types of settings.
From there, you get down to the “nitty-gritty” of actually generating the characters. In Savage Worlds, you have basically 4 things to consider: Attributes, Skills, Edges, and Hindrances. Of note particular note is the omission of “Character Class”. That’s important (and one of the main reasons why I went with the system) because within Savage Worlds, you’re not pigeon-holed into playing a rigid template. You simply create the type of character that you want.
For the purposes of this explanation, I’m going to describe the process of creating my girlfriend’s character, for our upcoming game. This should give a decent example of the steps, as well as offer some insight into the thought process of someone totally unfamiliar with the system.
“Shayleer Ravenswing” Character Creation
She’s a 40 year-old (yes, I got permission to mention that, this time) mother of two, who has never even been slightly introduced to RPGs. She reads a bit and catches the occasional movie but aside from daydreams, has never had the slightest reason to ponder taking on the role of an imaginary character.
I armed her with a brief lesson on what a role-playing game consisted of, and gave her instructions to think about fictional characters she enjoyed (any genre). Then, I asked her to just rattle off some qualities which might be appealing to her. I told her to do this without consideration of what would “be good”, instead focusing on what she’d like to be like if she were in a movie.
With little or no hesitation, she said “I want to be sexy and I want to kick butt!”
After my laughter subsided, we continued. The former was easy enough but I needed to dig deeper on the latter. Queries about how she wanted to go about the “butt-kicking”, filled in the blanks a bit. She informed me that it wasn’t about “breaking through walls” but instead, she wanted to be nimble and sneaky. This put me a bit closer to the pin.
Finally, because of the setting, I asked whether she saw herself doing this by magical means or through physical training. Without missing a beat, she said that magic would have nothing to do with it. She informed me that she pictured a character who’s in great physical shape, and therefore sexy, nimble, & sneaky. I took this as a great sign because it seemed that she was already “connecting the dots” and coming up with her own reasons for the character to be a certain way.
Hindrances are both a game mechanic and a great RP tool within Savage Worlds. Basically, a player may choose disadvantages for her character in return for “points” which may be used in other areas of character development. While it’s not necessary for a player to take hindrances, it adds a lot of depth to the character and helps to afford other beneficial traits later.
Suggested Hindrances are offered in the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition, but the guidelines are there to come up with just about anything. As with the rest of the system, a lot rests in the decision of the GM. If a character in a desert setting wanted to take a “fear of polar bears” Hindrance, it would obviously be a little silly. The player and GM need to work together on this to come to agreement. She went with the following:
Phobia (minor): Fear of spiders. Both monstrous or of the household variety
Stubborn (minor): Self explanitory and she’ll have no trouble role-playing it (::ducks::)
Enemy (major): Upon hearing this one as an option, she really fleshed out her background. She decided that her young sister had been abducted as a child, by a barbaric warlord (Brom Bolg). Shayleer swore to avenge her sister and has spent her life being a thorn in the warlord’s side. As such, he’s not terribly pleased with her and wants her dead. There were a number of different ways that she could have taken this disadvantage, but she was fond of the idea of constantly being hunted, so we settled on “Enemy”.
Edges are special abilities which define your character. These could range from a wizard’s spells to a warrior’s special attacks. Spells in particular, warrant a better description at another time. Instead of choosing from a static list of spells, players create their own, based on various effects. As my girlfriend opted against magic, I won’t cover that here. This is what she went with for Shayleer:
Attractive: Basically a bonus to her charisma, which helps with the “sexy” aspect and allows bonuses to certain persuasive skills (see below).
Acrobat: Again, due to the physical background she described. Allows bonuses for acrobatic manuevers as well as to her Parry score.
Assassin: A good fit with her desire to be “slinky” and intention to avoid going toe-to-toe with opponents. Grants bonuses for attacking unwary foes.
Your 5 basic traits (Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength, & Vigor) aren’t too far off from any variety of other RPGs. Where things get a bit different is in the values. Instead of simply being given a number value, Savage Worlds Attributes (and Skills) are assigned a die-type. These will range from d4-d12, with the higher type being better.
Attributes start with an initial value of d4 and players are given 5 points, with which to raise them as they see fit. When it becomes necessary for a character to test an Attribute or use a Skill, the player rolls the associated die-type. A roll of “4” or better would indicate a success.
Various Edges have Attribute requirements. Higher Attributes make the purchase of higher ranks of Skills somewhat cheaper.
Agility: d10 (she spent 3 points here, as this attribute basically defines her character)
Stength: d6 (spent 1 point as a requirement for “Acrobat”)
Vigor: d6 (spent 1 point here as a requirement for “Attractive”)
To round things out, we have Skills. Skills represent particular areas of knowledge that a character has. Each is linked to a particular attribute. A player has 15 points with which to buy skills. A single point buys the skill at an “entry-level” of d4, with increases in die-type costing an additional point, up to the character’s linked attribute. Skills may be purchased in values greater than the linked attribute at a cost of 2 points per die-type.
Shayleer’s skills are listed below:
Fighting (Ag): d10
Climbing (St): d6
Stealth (Ag): d8
Boating (Ag): d6
Persuasion (Sp): d6
Streetwise (Sm): d6
With all the numbers in place, all that is left to do is fill in the blanks of her character background. I must say that I’m feeling rather optimistic so far. She really seemed engaged in the process and it looks like she’ll be talking about ideas for her history, well into the night. There are worse things in life than finding a mate who enjoys your hobbies!
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to use the comment space if you should have any questions, tips, tricks, or advice for me. I’ve really been enjoying “meeting” all of you folks out there. Good Gaming!!!
This post references the Savage Worlds game system, available from Pinnacle Entertainment Group at www.peginc.com. Savage Worlds and all associated logos and trademarks are copyrights of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Used with permission. Pinnacle makes no representation or warranty as to the quality, viability, or suitability for purpose of this product.