This step-by-step guides you through character creation step by step. Character creation involves assigning aptitudes, choosing a species, archetype, background, and class, buying equipment, and fleshing out your character’s persona. You’ll want to have a character sheet, pencil, and a notepad.
0. Familiarize Yourself with the Premise
1. Assign Aptitudes
You have four aptitudes: Violence, Trickery, Curiosity, and Trade. Assign each of the following dice to an aptitude: d8, d6, d6, and d4.
Note down your Violence die number as your starting Grit, your Trickery die number as your starting Reflex, and your Curiosity die number as your starting Will. Later, your chosen species, archetype, and class will provide you with more.
2. Choose a Species
In Meskellian, there are many species to choose from. Choose one from the available options. You may also choose to be some combination of these, though not all species can be combined with another one.
Your species provides you with features that you start with, as well as advancements that can be purchased with XP as you advance your character. Any time during character creation that you would receive a competency that you already have, you instead gain a specialty in that competency.
3. Choose an Archetype
There are three archetypes to choose from: fighters, rogues, and scholars. Pick one, note its features, and pick a background from that archetype.
Every character gets either the Mercenary, Freelancer, or Adventurer background for free in addition to the one they choose.
4. Choose a Class
There are many classes to choose from. Choose one class from either your species or archetype and note its features.
Your class provides you with competencies and traits that you start with, as well as advancements that can be purchased with XP as you advance your character.
5. Equip Yourself
You start with the following gear. On your character sheet, note each item, its weight, and its value:
- A mercenary’s, freelancer’s, or adventurer’s pack, depending on which of those three backgrounds you chose.
- The trappings of any other backgrounds you have.
- All items required for the use of any non-weapon competencies you have.
- Three hands’ worth of weapons that you have proficiency with, as well as a dozen pieces of ammunition for each weapon that requires it. You can choose to exchange one hand’s worth of weapons for a dozen more of a weapon with the thrown property.
- If you are competent with any light weapons, choose one of them to have an additional one of.
- As a member of the Meskellian: piecemeal leather armor and an agency-branded keffiyeh, obi, or shawl that has the minor defense enchantment.
- As a Council Cavalier: articles of your warrant; a warrant letter, a tattoo, and a token. Each features a specific color and animal that are unique to your warrant (though due to the number of warrants, some are similar). The warrant letter is an 8” by 6” (when folded up) parcel of parchment adorned with wax and embossed seals documenting your status. Your tattoo can be anywhere on you that you desire, but you may have to show it for verification. A warrant token is a thimble-sized stainless steel figurine. All articles of warrant have enchantments of returning.
- Three silver coins. This is just enough for a night at an inn, plus some pocket change. You should find work soon!
6. Describe Yourself
The only thing left to do now is describe your character: your home city, name, physical appearance, age, ambitions, and contacts. Traits like name, height, weight, hair and eye color, and your age (and rate of aging) will be influenced heavily by the species you chose.
Choose the Dodekapolis city that you grew up in (and/or gained your background in). This is the city you’re the most familiar with; you ignore movement penalties from non-tourist crowds in that city, are proficient in the primary language of your city (alternatively, you may choose instead to be proficient in one of the languages granted by your species), have advantage on knowledge checks regarding your city, and social checks made with natives of that city.
Every species has a description of how members of that species are commonly named. The following are common names based on profession or culture regardless of species:
Mercenary Nicknames: Ace, Blue, Books, Brickhouse, Bumble, Butcher, Crab, Deev, Dibs, Dogboy, Doze, Fingers, Gemmy, Ghost, Glimmerjack, Goldlace, Grimbleshanks, Hamjam, Hardnose, Jay, Jobby, Junk, Lantern, Larm, Madshow, Mosley, Peaches, Pony, Pun, Rance, Razorburn, Scorpio, Scrub, Wolf
A character’s age ranges from child to young to middle-aged to old to venerable. Starting characters are typically assumed to be young. The actual age ranges these categories cover is determined by the character’s species.
A child character does not start with an archetype, background, or class, and only get them when they achieve their grand ambition. Short recovery takes five minutes, long recovery takes an hour, and extended recovery takes a day.
A mature character is the default choice, since characters start with zero experience. Recovery times are unaffected.
A middle-aged character starts with an additional background and proficiency in a competency of their choice. Their recovery times are increased by one step: short recovery takes 8 hours, long recovery takes a week, and extended recovery takes a season.
An old character starts with two additional backgrounds and expertise in a competency of their choice. Their recovery times are increased by two steps: short recovery takes a week, long recovery takes a season, and extended recovery takes a year.
A venerable character starts with three additional backgrounds and mastery in a competency of their choice. Their recovery times are increased by three steps: short recovery takes a season, long recovery takes a year, and extended recovery is impossible. There is a small chance (depending on species) every so often that the character dies of old age.
Ambitions are about what your character strives to achieve. All characters start with one driving ambition, one fleeting ambition, and one grand ambition. Figure out what these ambitions are during character creation, and note them on your character sheet. Driving ambitions are relatively simple, and won’t likely change much (if at all) over the course of a campaign.
It’s highly likely that your referee will also be providing you with a campaign ambition, a form of grand ambition shared by all characters in your party. Camapign ambitions are provided either during character creation, or the first couple sessions of play. The default campaign ambition for starting (0xp) characters is “Establish a reliable mass trade route between two cities.” This is due to your involvement with The Council Cavaliers. Of course, your referee is free to run a very different style of game.
Driving ambitions are something your character generally strives to be doing on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to keep this simple, and something you can demonstrate accomplishing at least once a session. Examples include: “showing my strength”, “profiting from trade”, “making friends”, “exploring the wilderness”, etc. It’s okay to add or remove these once in a rare while, but you should always have at least one that doesn’t change.
Fleeting ambitions will change and be updated every few sessions, assuming you pursue them. Unlike driving ambitions, these aren’t necessarily things that are core to your character’s identity, but rather are as the name suggests; simply temporary personal goals, specific things your character wants to do and can reasonably expect to achieve in no less than three sessions but no more than five. If you accomplish a fleeting ambition, or haven’t accomplished it after five sessions, you must decide on a new one. Examples could include: “getting back at the merchant who swindled me”, “finding a contact with the Daughters of the Prism", “learn how to cast fireball”, “get a better enchantment on my armor”, etc.
Grand ambitions on the other hand are personal goals for your character that might change only once over the course of a whole campaign, and only then with lots of hard work and sacrifice. These are major life goals for your character and while they’re something you’re probably passionate about, the scope of them is such that they’re not something you’re working towards every session. Life has a habit of getting in the way of that. Examples could include: “reach upper leadership in House Velith”, “find my brother’s killer”, “become a dragon”, “find a cure to old age”, etc.
Contacts are your character’s nodes in their social network. Contacts can be sources of information, gear, training, safety, favors, employment, etc. During character creation, come up with a number of contacts equal to the number of social competencies you have (minimum 1). Come up with the name, species, archetype, and background for your contact, and note what city they reside in. Your contact’s loyalty is determined and kept secret by the referee. The more contacts you have, the less loyal each of them will be (on average). There is no guarantee of loyalty even with only one contact.