Today we’ll be taking a look at the Character Creation system for AMP: Year One. Character creation involves 5 steps, which we’ll be going through in turn. Head’s up though, it’s pretty long.
Step 1: Concept, Loyalties and Affiliation
Concept is pretty self explanatory. I try not to be too ambitious when making sample characters to try out a system, so let’s go with an old concept I put together from before:
John Hudson was a man in the wrong place at the wrong time. In an ill-timed visit to his sister, Catherine, John caught her abusive and alcoholic husband with a knife and threatening Catherine. John tried to talk his brother-in-law down, but things fell apart, and John was assaulted. John’s powers manifested at this point, just as he threw a punch that sent his brother-in-law flying out the window of the eight story apartment, across the street and into the adjacent building, killing him instantly.
John surrendered to the police without a fight, but due to a legal technicality was convicted to spend his time in a prison made for supervillains. His family rallied to his support, trying to get lawyers to overturn his conviction and appeal his case. After five years in prison, John was finally declared to be innocent, and set free.
His time in prison was a spiritual gauntlet for John. But instead of hardening him, John found a different calling. He found a new perspective on life, seeing that for every crazy supervillain out there, far more of those who served time in prison were mostly people who felt that life gave them no other options but to turn to crime. He enrolled in a college to learn psychology and criminology, and went on to join the police force.
Loyalties are the next part of this step, and involves distributing 10 points across different Loyalties. Loyalties are an interesting mechanic as they help simulate the character’s personality, and affect how an AMP might act in situations that directly affect their Loyalties. In addition to influencing a character’s actions, a player gains Bonus XP whenever they use their Loyalties in a way that complicates events for themseves or in a cool or interesting fashion.
The list of Loyalties in the game are: Community, Comrades, Humanity, Justice, Love, Perfection, Self and Truth. Each point spent on any of these grant special bonuses to the character.
Given our concept, I figure we’ll spend his Loyalties on the following:
Community 2 (Inner City, Prison)
Comrades 2 (Police Chief, Prison Warden)
Humanity 2 (+2 to assist people in trouble)
Justice 2 (+2 to bring wrongdoers to justice)
Love 1 (sister, +2BP)
Self 1 (+1 vs checks against death)
Affiliations are the next part. There are 4 major groups to be affiliated to in AMP, each with their own agenda. Interestingly, there only seems to be just one “good guy” affiliation, with the other three ranging from “brotherhood of evil mutants” to “Paranoid authority”
Given my concept, the only one that seems to fit would be the Seekers of Enlightenment, the group dedicated to trying to study and help AMPS contain their lust for conflict.
Step 2: Skills
The starting AMP also begins with 35 points to spend on 22 different skills. There’s an optional skill cap rule that limits skill purchases to 5 points for starting characters, but that can be ignored if the GM says so.
The basic system involves rolling a d20 and adding a bonus equal to a combination of two skills. For example, a roll made to sprint would call for a d20+(Athletics+Speed)
The Skill list is pretty extensive, and covers most things that make sense. Though there are a few entries under skills that don’t seem to be a skill as much as they are an aptitude. Fortitude, Intuition and Speed stand out as examples of these. These aren’t exacly something you go to school to learn. That said, it’s a minor nitpick and you can easily overlook that.
For Officer John Hudson, we’ll spend on the following:
Step 3: Strain, Powers and Augments
With the skills out of the way, it’s time to get to the fun part. AMP assumes that all individuals with Accelerated Mutant Potential hail from a limited number of strains from Project Black.
These strains are: Blasters, Bulks, Elementals, Ferals, Mindbenders, Psychs, Shapers, Shifters and Travelers.
Given his concept, John Hudson makes the most sense as a Bulk. I then get to choose 3 powers in order of priority. The Primary Power has to come from his Strain, so I’ll go for Behemoth (super-strength) as his primary. Secondary and Tertiary can come from anywhere, but I’ll stick with the strain and grab Invulnerability (damage resistance) as my secondary and Regeneration (super healing) as my tertiary.
This sort of allows me to avoid Experience Point surcharges when buying powers outside my strain, but it does make me rather stereotypical as far as Bulks go.
At this point, I have 6 points to spend on them. The limit is that a Secondary power cannot exceed the Primary power’s rating, and the Tertiary Power cannot exceed the Secondary Power’s rating.
In choosing to distribute powers, they also get access to Augments. Augments appear at even levels of a power (2,4,6, etc)
So with that, I figure I can go for an even spread for now with Behemoth 2, Invulnerability 2 and Regeneration 2. This also means I get to buy an Augment for each of these powers.
After a bit of reading up on powers, here’s what John Hudson has:
Behemoth 2: Add Behemoth rating x2 to Might checks and +50 lbs. to their Carry value per Behemoth level. Add (Behemoth/2) to all close combat damage.
Crush 1: After a successful attack, the AMP adds +1 damage. This Enhancement is reflexive
Invulnerability 2: Invulnerability is automatically added to calculate the AMP’s Integrity. Spend 1 Juice to negate damage from an attack directly, up to (Invulnerability/2)
Tougher: The AMP’s skin becomes as hard as steel, making them tougher and grants AR 2/2.
Regeneration 2: When healing, regain an additional (Regeneration/2) Integrity at normal intervals. Add (Regeneration level) to any checks against Death and bounce back to Integrity 1 and ignore any Consequences with a success. Aging slows down to a rate of 1 year for every (Regeneration level) years that pass.
Rush of Health: Instantly heal 2 Damage or 1B damage for each Juice spent.
Step 4: Spend Bonus Points
At this point I also have 12 Bonus Points to spend on further customizing my character as John has an Affilitation. These can be spent on anything from Skill Levels to Specialties, Power Levels, Augments and Loyalties. But the most interesting use of these would be through Gifts and Drawbacks.
Going to town with the Gifts, here’s what I’ve picked up:
Law Enforcement (3)
Stable Psyche (3)
Step 5: Record Integrity, Juice and Movement
Here we get to the derived stats portion of character creation. Integrity is essentially hit points, and is calculated at 10+fortitude. This gives John a base Integrity of 14 with a +2 from Invulnerability.
Juice represents the power that fuels AMP powers. Dependent on Adrenalline, Juice is gained by getting into danger and surprise… which leads to a more interesting game as the more an AMP is threatened, the more Juice they have access to.
All AMPs start with 3 Juice at the start of each day.
Movement stats for basic running, jumping and climbing are also covered here. And is appreciated given the necessity of knowing these in the context of combat.
Character Creation in AMP’: Year One falls in the middle of the complexity scale of character generation systems that I know. It’s mostly point-buy, which is good, and the options given are enough to satisfy all but the most exacting players. I do like that the Strains don’t necessarily limit all your powers, but they do dictate where your Primary comes from. This means that if you really want to have characters with wildly disparate powers that don’t seem to thematically link together, you can still do so. I’m not sure if many players will like the experience surcharge though, and if that will dissuade them from playing cross-strain types as they might be afraid of falling behind other players who decided to stick to a given strain.
I’m okay with the Skill+Skill combination, though I can’t help but feel that some of the skills really aren’t skills at all. That said, math-wise it all works out, and I can’t think of a name that would suit the category better, so Skills they are.
I’m definitely liking the Loyalties as an influence on character actions, though I do feel that the Affiliations are a little bit too skewed towards villainous factions with only one clear good guy. That said there’s little stopping you from dropping Affiliations altogether if you don’t like them in your game.
Overall, it’s not bad. AMP: Year One has a good character creation system, flexible enough to allow for all sorts of characters, with in-setting mechanics that tie it into the physics of the world rather than coming off as too generic.
Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at the powers and systems of AMP: Year One, and see just how robust it is to be able to handle high powered superhero action.