[Let’s Study: Fantasy AGE by Green Ronin] Part 2: Character Creation

Posted: August 4, 2015 by pointyman2000 in Fantasy AGE, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games
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Welcome back! Chapter 1 of Fantasy AGE starts off with Character creation. The chapter doesn’t really waste time in introducing the procedure of character generation right away, but I wanted to take a moment first to introduce the race options for the default “generic” Fantasy AGE game.

Races

The race options you can choose from are: Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling, Human and Orc.

Each of the Race writeups has a short description of what they are like, and a generic snapshot of the race’s society and appearance. A handy list of names follows, with a short list of racial modifiers that you automatically benefit from by picking that race.

The most noteworthy part of the races in Fantasy AGE is the addition of a Benefits Table for each of the races. Players roll 2d6 twice to get two different results on this table. This makes it so that one member of a race isn’t exactly like another, despite sharing many similarities.

Most of the race writeups are pretty standard fare, which makes sense given the generic nature of Fantasy AGE. Future setting books will likely overwrite the culture notes in the races of this book to suit their own worlds.

Orcs are notable here as they are listed as the actual “full” orcs, rather than the half-orc that other games have. There’s a little sidebar here that talks about this choice, stating the case that a race isn’t automatically evil.

Mixed heritages are also noted here in a sidebar that discusses how it is possible to cross races. The mechanics for it are simple: just roll once on each of the Parent races’ Benefits Table. How and why you’re half-one and half-another is something for the group and the GM to agree on.

It’s a simple solution that allows for some pretty funky results outside of just a Half-Orc or Half-Elf…

Character Creation Process

Okay, let’s get our hands dirty and put together a character from scratch. There are nine steps to creating a character for Fantasy AGE:

1) Create a Character Concept
2) Determine Abilities
3) Choose a Race
4) Determine Social Class and Background
5) Choose a Class
6) Pick Starting Equipment
7) Calculate Defense
8) Pick a Name
9) Choose Goals and Character Ties

CHARACTER CONCEPT

As with a lot of times doing this, I’m going to be operating in a vaccum, so I’ll hold off on coming with a character concept for now. Maybe I’ll come back to this once I’ve got more detail on who the character is.

ABILITIES

There are nine abilities in Fantasy AGE: Accuracy, Communication, Constitution, Dexterity, Fighting, Intelligence, Perception, Strength and Willpower.

Most of these are self-explanatory, but it bears noting that Accuracy is used for ranged combat, and Fighting is used for melee combat. It’s also entirely possible to have a good Accuracy score and have a terrible Dexterity apparently, given that these values are decoupled from each other.

There are three ways to determine a character’s abilities in Fantasy AGE.

The first and most straightforward is to roll 3d6 nine times, one for each of the character’s Abilities. The results are compared to a Determining Abilities table to get the final result, which ranges from the abysmal -2 to the very impressive 4.

Once all abilities have been rolled for, the player may swap any two abilities to allow for some customization.

The second method is similar to the first, but allows for the player to assign the values rolled to any Ability of their choice.

The last method is to buy Abilities with the use of Advancements. Characters begin with 10 advancements, and each advancement can be used to improve an Ability by 1 to a maximum rating of 3.

For the sake of this example, I’ll be going through the default method. After a bunch of rolling and checking on the table, I get the following values:

Accuracy 1
Communication 0
Constitution 0
Dexterity 2
Fighting 3
Intelligence 1
Perception 1
Strength 0
Willpower 1

That wasn’t so bad, though if I’d chosen the method of buying Abilities I’d have an extra +1 I could assign somewhere.

RACE

I’ve aways had a soft spot for Gnomes, so I think I’ll go for that. Picking Gnome for my Race allows for the following:

+1 To Dexterity
A choice of either 1) Constitution (Stamina) or Dexterity (Legerdemain) as an ability focus
Dark Sight
Speed of 8 + Dexterity
Speak Gnomish and Common

Rolling twice on the Gnome table gets me:

Focus: Intelligence (Evaluation)
Focus: Communication (Bargaining)

At this point, I think it’s a good time as any to talk about Ability Focuses. An Ability Focus is an area of expertise specific to a given Ability. When a character has an Ability Focus in a given activity or skill, they count as having 2 more points in that Ability. This means that my Gnome effectively counts as having +2 to his abilities when Bargaining, or Evaluating items. I might just pick Legerdemain as his other focus to make it look like your usual trader with a bad habit of having sticky fingers.

BACKGROUNDS

Backgrounds represent a lovely trend of current generation RPGs having a more Roleplaying opportunities “baked into” a character. In this case, every character in Fantasy AGE hails from a background, which is composed of several options from a given social class.

To determine the character’s Social class randomly, we roll 1d6. I got a 6, putting me firmly in the Upper Class. Rolling another 1d6 on the Upper Class backgrounds table gives me a 1, resulting in the “Apprentice” background, and giving me an extra focus choice between Intelligence (Arcane Lore) or Intelligence (Research).

I’m going for Intelligence (Arcane Lore) this time. As an adventurer, my Gnome can buy and sell in magical goods!

CLASSES

Fantasy AGE has three Classes: Mage, Warrior and Rogue. Given his background so far, I’m leaning towards either Mage or Rogue right now.

Rogue feels like more “fun” though as the idea of a Gnome that got kicked out of being an apprentice to a mage sounds like a fun hook, so we’ll go with that.

Each Class grants starting Health, and Weapon Groups to the character, in addition to special powers at different levels.

As a Level 1 Rogue, my Gnome starts with:

Starting Health of 25 + Constitution + 1d6
Weapon Groups: Brawling, Light Blades, Staves and Black Powder

Class Powers:
Pinpoint Attack – Once per round, add 1d6 to the damage of a successful attack if your Dexterity is greater than your opponent’s.
Rogue’s Armor: Ignore Armor Penalty of leather armor.
Starting Talents: Novice in Contacts

EQUIPMENT

Starting characters begin with a small kit of stuff including:

A backpack, traveler’s garb, waterskin, light leather armor, and two weapons. As a member of the Upper Class, I also start with 100 + 3d6 Silver pieces.

DEFENSE

Calculating defense is straightforward: 10 + Dexterity + Shield Bonus if applicable. That makes my Gnome start off with 13 Defense.

NAMES

In honor of an old Gnome character I played before, I’ll name this one Roscoe Gemfinder.

GOALS AND TIES

To wrap up character generation, I need to come up with goals and ties for my Gnome. The book advises having at least 3 goals, with 2 short term and 1 long term, and having a tie for every other character in the party.

Given that I’m doing this in a bubble, I’ll work on the goals instead. At this point, I’ll go for:

Short Term:
– Steal my former master’s catalog of ancient artifacts
– Establish a name in the city as a capable adventurer

Long Term:
– Become a member of the Thieves Guild’s Shadow Council

FINAL CHARACTER SHEET:

Roscoe Gemfinder
Level 1 Gnome Rogue
Upper Class Apprentice

Accuracy 1
Communication 0
Constitution 0
Dexterity 3 (+1 from Race)
Fighting 3
Intelligence 1
Perception 1
Strength 0
Willpower 1

Focuses:
Dexterity (Legerdemain)
Intelligence (Evaluation)
Communication (Bargaining)
Intelligence (Arcane Lore)

Weapon Groups:
Brawling
Light Blades
Staves
Black Powder

Health: 26
Defense: 13
Speed: 11
Dark Sight
Speak Gnomish and Common

Talents:
Contacts (Novice)

Class Powers:
Pinpoint Attack – Once per round, add 1d6 to the damage of a successful attack if your Dexterity is greater than your opponent’s.

Rogue’s Armor: Ignore Armor Penalty of leather armor.

Equipment:
A backpack, traveler’s garb, waterskin, light leather armor, a Short Sword and a Pistol. As a member of the Upper Class, I also start with 100 + 3d6 Silver pieces.

IMPRESSIONS

Character creation in Fantasy AGE is pretty straightforward, and easy enough to do if you’re used to other systems. There’s a lot of rolling involved, which may be boon to those new to RPGs, or be slightly annoying to others.

It’s easy enough to just rule that people can pick the options for Racial Benefits and the Social Class that they want based on their character concepts. Likewise, I’m glad that they provided multiple options for building characters.

The resulting character certainly looks (and probably feels) like a Level 1 character. Just enough to be interesting, but not so much as to be distracting to new players.

—-

The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook is available in PDF format from DriveThruRPG for only $15.99 or roughly Php 720.

This Let’s Study series made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!

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Comments
  1. Michael Dessain says:

    So… Lemme get this straight. This game tells newbies to FIRST pick a Concept and THEN roll to see if the game will let them play it? Didn’t Green Ronin learn not to do that after Dragon Age RPG Box Set 1 got raked over the coals? I’m sorry if I’m sounding overly negative here, but I can’t wrap my head around this.

    • Hi Michael, I think that the picking a concept first works best with the Point Buy variant of the Abilities generation.

      I understand where you’re coming from with your comment, as it would be nice to know what you’ve got to work with before you come up with a concept that’s appropriate to it, rather than wanting something then rolling poorly.

      • Michael Dessain says:

        My biggest problem with this is that it seems to be presenting this as how NEWCOMERS to the hobby should make a character. Speaking as someone who has worked in RPG design before, I’m pretty sure that that’s the meanest trick an RPG can pull on a first time player. If an RPG wants to be newbie friendly, it should come with semi-customizable pregens like Savage Worlds or Myriad Song so that they get both context for what is a supported concept and some input on what they’re playing without the risk that they’ll make something useless. It should not be telling them to create a concept when they have nothing to go on and THEN ask them to roll stats down the line. This is ESPECIALLY true for a game where stats have a huge impact on character performance (and seeing as this is a setting agnostic version of Dragon Age, I’m guessing that that’s the case) because then not only are they unlikely to get rolls that support their concept, the bad rolls means that they’ll underperform throughout the campaign with no understanding as to why and through no fault of their own.

        • Good point with regards to the choice of Ability score generation for what is a starter product for people new to the hobby. I would have gone with making a point buy system the primary means of making abilities myself.

          There’s merit to pre-generated customizable characters as well. I suppose there were a lot of leftover artifacts from the D20 DNA that Fantasy AGE pulls from.

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