Narrative Character Generation

Most of my gaming group are relatively naive in the sense that they haven’t been gaming all that long. In addition two of them are still relatively young (born in 2001). The result is that I’ve ended up providing them with their PCs and allowed them to grow into them.

Sketching Characters - 'borrowed' from Peter Christian Neufeld at Elfwood

Sketching Characters - 'borrowed' from Peter Christian Neufeld at Elfwood

I was thinking recently about how I could ease them into coming up with their own character concepts and came across an enticing blog entry by an old hero of mine, Dave Morris, author of Dragon Warriors (an entry which I can no-longer find at the time of writing). Unfortunately, the brief notes that he presented were (a) incomplete and (b) for Dragon Warriors, so I took a stab at doing something similar for our fantasy Savage Worlds.

Don’t worry if all the rules don’t fit 100% – I play fast and loose with the Attributes for example – it was designed to be an approximation for 99% of characters rather than fitting all.

Character’s Name:______________________
Male []/ Female [] age:___

I grew up – (in the wilds []/ in a village []/ in a monastery or convent []/ in a town []/ in a castle []/ on the road []/ other:__________ [])

You have 15 ‘skill’ points to allocate. Learning how to do something costs one point, to do it well costs two, very well three and extremely well four.

Normally you can only be as good at doing something as your body allows. For example, if you are not very strong, it will be difficult for you to be a good climber. If you want to be better at something than your attributes (see below) allow, each extra level of expertise costs two points instead of one.

As your character starts, they will not be experts at everything, but don’t worry. Half the fun of adventuring is having your character get better at things as they gain experience. Read through all of the four following sections carefully before you decide.

(1) Whilst I was growing up I learned how to: (indicate whether the following applies (a) a little, (b) pretty well, (c) very well, or (d) expertly)

  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Use boats [1]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Investigate (finding things out, such as information in a library) [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Sneak quietly [1]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Climb [2]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Pick Locks (covers picking locks, avoiding traps etc.) [1]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Survive (fend for myself in the wilds) [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Fight (hand-to-hand fighting, wrestling etc. but not to throwing or shooting) [1]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Repair things [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Swim [1]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Gamble (win money at games of chance) [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Ride a horse [1]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Throw (use throwing weapons) [1]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Heal wounds (perform first aid) [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Shoot (bows, crossbows etc.) [1]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Track (tracking animals and/or people in the wilds etc.) [3]

(2) I am also good at: (again, indicate whether the following apply to your character (a) a little, (b) a fair amount, (c) a lot, or (d) very much)

  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Keeping calm in scary situations [4]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Persuading people to do what I want them to do [4]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Intimidating or bullying people (Threatening opponents or making them feel small; if you shout at someone, do they break down in tears, or do they just laugh at you?) [4]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Streetwise (finding things out from people) [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Noticing things (how observant are you? Would you notice if someone took something from your bedroom? Would you be able to find the peanut butter behind a packet of Pringles?) [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Taunting or teasing people, provoking an opponent to rage [3]

Everyone has common general knowledge, but what are you an expert at? This can help you on adventures.
(3) I know more than most people about: (again on a scale of (a)-(d))

  • (a)(b)(c)(d) History [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Smithing [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Religion [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Magic [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Herbs [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Languages [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Runes [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Mythology [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Other [3]

(4) If I can use magic, then my skill is: (again on a scale of (a)-(d))

  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Alchemy [4]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Miracles [4]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Psionics [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Druidism [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Perform [4]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Spellweaving [4]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Elementalism [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Magic [3]
  • (a)(b)(c)(d) Ritualism [3]

(don’t worry just yet too much about which branch of magic you’re good at, it will come clear later, just indicate the number of points in one of the skills that seems best)

[1] Requires agility [2] Requires strength [3] Requires smarts [4] Requires spirit

Describe yourself:
There are 5 basic ‘attributes’ that describe your character, agility, strength, smarts, spirit and vigor. Agility describes how quick you are with your hands and on your feet (important for how easy it is to hit something), strength describes how strong you are (duh!) and so how much damage you do, smarts how clever you are and how good at learning things; spirit – how brave and confident, vigor – how tough, fit and resistant to disease, poison etc.

Which of the following best describes you?

  • I am pretty good all round
  • I am particularly _________, but not very _________ (e.g. I am particularly strong, but not very smart)
  • I am very _________, but not very _________ or _________

Edges and Hindrances:
Edges are advantages that you have that make you a bit different to everyone else (you might be particularly beautiful for example, making others want to help you more). Hindrances are disadvantages or character flaws that affect the way that you interact with the world about you. For example you might not hear very well or you might be mean-spirited. Hindrances come in two forms, minor and major.

Edges have to be ‘bought’. You can have up to three hindrances; one major and two minor. A minor hindrance gives you one point, a major one two (giving a maximum of four). For two points you can choose an edge or increase an attribute. For one point you can increase a skill by one. If you want to be able to use magic, for example, you will need to ‘buy’ the edge ‘Arcane Background’ by taking either one major or two minor hindrances.

Look at the Edges table to decide which advantages you want to have. When you have done this, look at the Hindrances table to see which weaknesses you think will match who you are to ‘pay for’ these edges (or for increasing attributes or skills).
Don’t worry if you run out of points to buy edges. When your character gains experience, they can add further skills, edges and even increase their attributes.

About Mike Page

I’m a Christian, a father, a husband, a biochemist (PhD), a photographer, a gardener, a lover of good rock music, food wine and beer, an ex-pat, a lousy pianist and a patent examiner.
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