It’s been a little bit of time since Part 1 of this series but let’s get back into the thick of things with a look at Character Creation in Coriolis
Building a Group
With a world as expansive as Coriolis, and with so many opportunities for different kinds of adventure, it becomes necessary for the GM to focus on a particular portion of Coriolis as the basis of his games. This is done when the players all gather and form a group of player characters.
We begin by picking a group concept, the game has an offering of the following: Free Traders, Mercenaries, Explorers, Agents and Pilgrims. These are broad concepts, which are open to a lot of wiggle room for character concept to fit in. Each concept helps narrow down the kinds of adventures you’d run into in each game.
Once you’ve got a concept, it’s time to move on and put together your spaceship. In Coriolis, the group begins with a ship, preferably one suited to the group concept. This can be chosen from a list of pregens, or the players can work on making their own ship from scratch with the ship creation rules. In either case, starting with a ship isn’t cheap, so every Coriolis group begins in debt.
Debt is calculated as half of the ship’s original value. Who you owe is up to the players to figure out. Whether it’s their patron, some other NPC or even their nemesis! Players are expected to pay back about 5% of their total debt per year in monthly payments. It’s a quick and easy way to make certain that players keep taking on jobs
The players also get to pick or create their own Patron and Nemesis. These are pretty much self explanatory, and the book is helpful enough to grant a list of potential Patron and Nemesis concepts to use per group concept.
With the concept out of the way, we can look at Character Creation in earnest. This is a fairly straightforward process with a few random rolls on tables as an option if you want to mix it up a bit.
Choose your Background
The first step is to choose a background for a character. This means deciding if they character is among the Firstcome or a Zenithian. Each one has a different outlook on the world, so being able to make a decision here can help ease the way you think of the character as you develop them.
For our sample character in this exercise, let’s go with a Zenithian trader for a Group with the Free Trader Concept. He’s more adventurous, and perhaps a little less pious, but has a healthy respect for other people’s cultures if it means he can turn around a quick buck.
Choose your Upbringing
At this point we choose from 3 options of Upbringing: Plebian, Stationary or Privileged. Plebians are the lower class of the Horizon. People who were raised on major space stations are called Stationary. The Privileged are the highest of the social strata. Your Upbringing influences many aspects of your character, including attributes, skills and Reputation score at the start of the game, as well as the starting capital.
With our sample character, let’s go with Stationary, he was raised on a space station, and that means he’s somewhere in the middle. According to the table for reference, our character begins with 14 attribute points, 10 skill points, 4 reputation and 1,000 birr.
Concepts affect the attributes, skills and talents that I can pick from, some gear and relationships and personal problems.
I’ve already sort of got the whole trader idea in mind, so I’m picking the Negotiator Concept, with the Peddler Sub-Concept. Flipping over to the various Concept descriptions, I’ve got the following:
Peddler – You scheme and deal in anything from frozen goats to Kuan hardwood. Profit is your imperative, and birr jingling in your pockets make you truly happy. You could be a free trader, an import mogul, or a dabra of a souk. Or you could be working from the shadows as a smuggler or a fence for the Syndicate.
Key Attribute: Empathy
Concept Skills: (Peddler) Culture, Manipulation, Observation, Pilot
Appearance: Face full of stubble, wearing a black caftan
Talents: Faction Standing
Personal Problem: You owe money to the Syndicate. They want it back. Now.
Relationships to the other PCs: ____ is good with words. You respect that.
Gear: Tabula, Com Link V, Exquisite Clothing, Language Unit, Mercurium dagger
Characters in Coriolis have 4 attributes: Strength, Agility, Wits and Empathy. These should have a minimum of 2 points assigned to them and a maximum of 4 points, except for your Key attribute, which is allowed to go up to 5.
Given a pool of 14 points, I’m going to go ahead and spend his attributes points this way:
Hit Points and Mind Points determine just how much punishment a character’s body and mind can take. HP is equal to Strength + Agility, while MP is Wits + Empathy.
This gives me 5 HP and 9 MP. I guess Radwa had better stay away from combat!
Skills work in tandem with attributes to determine how well a character can do in the game. Skills range from 0 to 5 with the higher being better. Concept skills can be raised up to a maximum of 3, while other skills are capped to 1.
As a Stationary, Radwa begins with 10 points to assign to skills. His Concept skills are: Culture, Manipulation, Observation and Pilot
Given his background and concept, I think I’ll give Radwa the following:
Now that we have Radwa’s basics down, let’s take a look at his talents. New characters begin the game with 3 talents. These are determined by several factors, including the Group Concept, and the Icon your character is born under.
Rolling randomly, I get a result of 33, leading to… The Merchant Icon. Fancy that.
In the absence of an actual group, let’s just say that Radwa’s Group Talent pick is:
Everything Is For Sale
You have a knack for finding the most corrupt public servants, toll officers or guards, and always get a +2 Manipulation when you are bribing someone.
For his Icon Talent, Radwa gets:
The Merchant’s Talent
You can find a favorable loan enabling you to purchase an expensive object or ship module. The loan must then be paid back within the agreed upon timeframe.
Finally for General Talent, I have:
You belong to a faction or gang and can use its reputation to get a +2 Manipulation when trying to scare or threaten someone – given that the person you are threatening knows of the faction, and the the faction has some influence in the location where you are.
The last part is picking out the crew position. Given his proficiency at piloting, I’m thinking that Radwa would make a good Pilot.
Overall character creation is a fairly straightforward process with a few lookups, but nothing approaching the level of Exalted 3rd Editions Charm Lists. The small templates that they give you to work with are surprisingly robust, and I enjoy the small plot hooks baked right into the characters from the beginning.
Next Up, we’ll take a look at the game mechanics behind Coriolis!