Diablotin 2 character creation rules

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Character Creation Instructions for Julie’s Online D&D (3.5 ed) Game: Diablotin 2

Welcome! Here are the instructions for you to create characters for my game. Since I know some of you don’t have access to the rulebooks, and may not be that familiar with the system, I’ll make things as clear as possible. If you don't have the core books, I strongly recommend using the online SRD, as it's easy to use and handy: http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/35/sovelior_sage/home.html For those of you who do have the rulebooks, make sure you read over this anyway, since I use a lot of house rules. If you have any questions along the way, let me know. Have fun!

Step 1. Develop a Concept.

The game is based in the city of Diablotin (which is somewhat reminiscent of 18th century Paris), set fifty years after the conclusion of the first campaign, and all the PCs must be members of the Rhenean Antiquarian Society, a loosely-affiliated group of scholars, historians, sages, treasure-hunters, scientists, etc. This doesn’t mean you absolutely have to make a scholarly character, though. Fighters and sneaky types are welcome too! Though I will say that if you want to play a not-very-smart character (like, below 10 Int) we might have to explain how you got into this group in the first place ;) Gender and age are up to you. If you like, at this stage you can also make up your character’s appearance: hair and eye colour, height and weight, distinguishing features, etc. Diablotin is a predominantly human city – if you want to play a non-human, you'll need to spend some of your Background points (see below) on your race.

Humans: As per the PH, humans have two main benefits.

  • 1 extra feat at 1st level
  • 4 extra skill points at 1st level, and 1 extra skill point at each level thereafter

Step 2. Pick a Class.

If you're playing a human, your choices for classes are:

  • Bard: A performer whose music works magic – not bad at lots of things, expert at none.
  • Cleric: A caster of divine magic and general fount of wisdom.
  • Fighter: A warrior who is very, very good at combat of all sorts.
  • Paladin: A holy warrior and champion of goodness and right.
  • Ranger: A cunning and sneaky warrior of the wilderness.
  • Rogue: A stealthy thief, spy, or scout who uses her skills to defeat her foes.
  • Sorcerer: A spellcaster who gains magical power from her own mental energies.

Once you’ve selected a class that sounds like it would fit your concept, you can proceed to the next section. There’s more to come with regards to classes, but it can wait for a second.

Step 3. Assign your Attribute Points.

Your character has 6 main attributes:

  • Strength (Str – physical strength)
  • Dexterity (Dex – agility, reflexes)
  • Constitution (Con – health, fortitude)
  • Intelligence (Int – book-learning, ability to learn new things, cleverness)
  • Wisdom (Wis – common sense, perception, willpower)
  • Charisma (Cha – persuasiveness, magnetism, physical appearance).

Each of these will have a rating. Most will fall between the 10-18 range when you’re 1st level. Human average is 10-11 in any attribute, but you aren’t average humans – you’re PCs! Because I am a benevolent GM, I allow 82 points to assign between your 6 stats. This will allow you an average of something closer to 14. You will be quite a bit better than average humans, but that’s to make up for the torment I inflict on you later…

Things you need to know about stats:

  • Each stat also has a modifier. This is +/- 1 for every 2 points above or below 10. A 6-7 score has a –2 modifier, an 8-9 score has a –1, a 10 has a 0 modifier, a 12 has a +1, a 14 has a +2, etc. You’ll need to know this modifier because it will affect things later, so it’s best to note it down beside each stat.
  • Because of the point above, you’ll notice that even stats are more ‘useful’ than odd stats. They bump you up to the next modifier. But odd stats aren’t useless, because of the next point…
  • Stats can increase. In my games, I allow each PC to add 1 to any stat at every even level (2, 4, 6… you get the idea). So it’s not an entirely foolish idea to have a couple of odd stats, so that those increases actually get you something beyond simple satisfaction (i.e. an extra modifier point).
  • At 1st level, 18 is your maximum in any stat.
  • Some stats are more important for some classes. While there are no minimum stats required for any class, you still need to distribute your points appropriately. Here’s a brief summary of who really needs what to succeed in life:
    • Str. – Fighters (Paladins and Rangers to a lesser extent)
    • Dex. – Rogues (Bards and Rangers to a lesser extent)
    • Con. – Anyone can use a decent Con, because it affects your hit points.
    • Int. – Sorcerers, but anyone can use a good Int, since it gives you more skill points.
    • Wis. – Clerics, Rangers (Paladins to a lesser extent)
    • Cha. – Bards, Paladins

Note: I prefer to have sorcerers’ prime requisite be Int, rather than Cha, which I feel makes them too much like bards, especially when there aren't wizards in the setting.

Once you’ve distributed your points between your stats, you’re ready to go on to the next step.

Step 4. Pick your House.

In Diablotin, all humans are (theoretically) part of a House. This isn’t your family or your clan – it’s much, much larger. You’re born into your House, and you keep the same one throughout your life – it can’t be changed. In some ways, it will affect your personality and your outlook on life. Also, it is much more typical for people to marry someone from their own House. Inter-House marriages do occur, but they are rare (though less rare than in the last campaign, for those who were in that). In game mechanic terms, each House gives its members some particular features: each grants a bonus to one attribute, and access to a skill known only to other members of the same house. While your character automatically gets the +2 to the appropriate stat, you still have to buy the skill as usual (paying for it as a Class Skill). These skills are supposed to be known only by members of each House, although occasionally such information leaks out to outsiders. Descriptions of the new skills will be found in the Skills section below.

These are all broad stereotypes.

  • The House of the Bear: Members get +2 Str. Only members of the House of the Bear may begin play with the skill Overbear. The stereotype of this House is that they're mostly warriors, and often nobles. Most members are large and physically imposing. Preferred classes are fighter, paladin, ranger. House colour is dark green.
  • The House of the Lizard: Members get +2 Dex. Only members of the House of the Lizard may begin play with the skill Sign. The stereotype of this House is that they're mostly underworld figures and shifty folk. Most members are small and slender. Preferred classes are rogue, bard. House colour is light blue.
  • The House of the Ox: Members get +2 Con. Only members of the House of the Ox may begin play with the skill Meditate. The stereotype of this House is that they're mostly peasants and farmers. Most members are stocky and solid. Preferred classes are cleric, ranger. House colour is dark brown.
  • The House of the Wolf: Members get +2 Int. Only members of the House of the Wolf may begin play with the skill Use Technological Device. The stereotype of this House is that they're mostly artisans and craftspeople. Most members are thin and lanky. Preferred classes are sorcerer, rogue. House colour is grey/silver.
  • The House of the Owl: Members get +2 Wis. Only members of the House of the Owl may begin play with the skill Divine Insight. The stereotype of this House is that they're mostly merchants and professionals (e.g. lawyers, bankers, etc.) Members tend to be plump. Preferred classes are cleric, paladin. House colour is purple.
  • The House of the Cat: Members get +2 Cha. Only members of the House of the Cat may begin play with the skill Seduce. The stereotype of this House is that they're mostly artists, entertainers, performers. Members are generally attractive, or at least interesting-looking. Preferred classes are bard, rogue. House colour is red.
  • The House of the Rat: Members get Darkvision, Trackless Step (urban), +2 saving throw bonus vs. clerical magic. Only members of the House of the Rat may begin play with the skill Scent. They also automatically begin play with Speak Language: Rat in addition to Aveyrone. There are very few members of House Rat as compared to the six other Houses – certainly no more than 10,000 in total – and until fifty years ago they lived in the sewers beneath Diablotin, unbeknownst to the vast majority of the populace. They are, if not quite pariahs, strongly mistrusted and poorly understood by many people. NOTE: in order to play a character from House Rat, you must purchase the appropriate Background (see below).

Note on Inter-House characters: You are permitted to play a character who is the offspring of members of two different Houses. You receive a +1 to each appropriate stat. You may also learn the House skill of one of your parents (depending on which one raised you, for instance, or if you were adopted into one House). Although you may face some prejudice because of your Houseless status, it's not as overwhelming as it was in the first campaign. Also, it was established in the previous campaign that Inter-House characters are slightly more likely to manifest magical power.

Please note that preferred classes are just a guideline – there are members of the House of the Bear who are sorcerers, and members of the House of the Lizard who are paladins. Same thing goes for the appearance of the various Houses. All of the Houses have noble families as part of them, and all have members at the very lowest rungs of society. The House colours are merely the formal designation of each house (for instance, the colour robes that their priests wear) – most people don’t always wear their House colours, except perhaps on formal occasions.

Note on clerics: There is an Order of priests that corresponds with each House, each with slightly different traditional responsibilities (the Order of the Bear tend to be more martial in focus, caring for wounded soldiers, etc. while the Order of the Cat often perform weddings and childbirth celebrations, the Order of the Owl perform funerals, and the Order of the Wolf traditionally educate children, for instance). Though it is more customary for a cleric to be a member of the Order that matches their House, it is not mandatory.

Step 5. Choose an Alignment.

Each character has an alignment, which represents their moral compass. It’s not meant to define your every action, but to provide a guideline by which you will try to live. Think of it as a tool for developing your character’s personality, not a straightjacket. It’s something that can change over time without penalty, so don’t be too afraid of commitment.

There are two axes on which alignments exist: Good/Evil and Law/Chaos. Just so we define a few terms here: “Good” implies respect for life, altruism, and caring for others. “Evil” implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others, lack of compassion, and selfishness. “Lawful” implies honour, reliability, obedience to authority, and a desire for order, but also closed-mindedness, lack of adaptability, and a judgmental nature. “Chaotic” implies freedom, flexibility, rebelliousness, but also recklessness, irresponsibility, and a lack of respect for authority. The 9 possible alignments are:

  • Lawful Good (LG): Combines a respect for society’s customs with a desire to do good. Such a character will generally be honest, honourable, just, etc. A kindly monarch who provides justice, stability, and order for her kingdom would be lawful good.
  • Neutral Good (NG): Does good, but might go against society’s rules if it was necessary. Such a character will generally be kind, caring, helpful, etc. A hardworking peasant who holds back some money from the tax collector to help his sick mother would be neutral good.
  • Chaotic Good (CG): Does good according to their conscience, not the expectations of society. Such a character will generally be rebellious, independent, benevolent, etc. A carefree bandit who robs from the rich to give to the poor would be chaotic good.
  • Lawful Neutral (LN): Follows the dictates of law or tradition, and does not particularly care about either good or evil. Such a character will generally be reliable, upright, rigid, etc. A strict judge who insists on finding the truth and upholding the law at all costs would be lawful neutral.
  • True Neutral (TN): Uninterested in moral debate, does whatever will serve him best in any situation. Such a character will generally be self-interested, ambivalent, flexible, etc. A selfish artist who cares for little except her art, regardless of the consequences to her family or friends, would be true neutral.
  • Chaotic Neutral (CN): An individualist who is spontaneous and avoids responsibility. Such a character will generally be unreliable, carefree, anti-authoritarian, etc. A solitary woodsman who roams the land, living only for his own amusement, would be chaotic neutral.
  • Lawful Evil (LE): Does evil, but nevertheless plays by the rules of society or a personal code of conduct. Such a character will generally be methodical, tyrannical, authoritarian, etc. A cruel, iron-fisted queen who rules her people harshly would be lawful evil.
  • Neutral Evil (NE): Does whatever she can get away with, regardless of who it hurts. Such a character will generally be selfish, heartless, callous, etc. A greedy assassin who double-crosses his employer to get more money would be neutral evil.
  • Chaotic Evil (CE): Does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, without thought for anyone else. Such a character will generally be arbitrary, ruthless, destructive, etc. An insane alchemist who plans to destroy the world would be chaotic evil.

Note: I have removed the alignment restrictions on all classes.

Remember, alignment is only a tool. If you’re not sure how your character would react in a given situation, use her alignment as a guideline. Otherwise, just act the way you think your character would act. Please also remember, there can be serious repercussions to being evil. Evilness is detectable through magic, even if you try to act nice when people are watching, and as a result folks may not trust you (and may even try to kill you). I'm not going to forbid anyone from playing an evil-aligned character, but I'll advise against it.

Step 6. Pick your Skills.

Skills represent what your character can do. Each character will have a certain number of Skill Points to distribute among their chosen skills. How many points you get depends on your class and your Int modifier. However, I give different amounts than in the book. So bear with me here for a second:

  • Bards: (6 + Int mod.) x 4
  • Clerics: (6 + Int mod.) x 4
  • Fighters: (4 + Int mod.) x 4
  • Paladins: (4 + Int mod.) x 4
  • Rangers: (6 + Int mod.) x 4
  • Rogues: (8 + Int mod.) x 4
  • Sorcerers: (6 + Int mod.) x 4

Once you’ve worked out how many points you have (remember to add 4 points to your total at the end if you’re a human, you lucky devil!), you need to pick what skills you want. There are two kinds of skills: Class Skills and Cross-Class Skills. This just means is that some skills are easier for some classes to learn (i.e. they cost less). A rank in a Class Skill costs you 1 point; a rank in a Cross-Class Skill costs you 2 points. A very few skills are only available to certain classes. I’ve made some modifications to the lists of which skills are considered Class Skills for some classes:

  • Clerics: add Speak Language
  • Fighters: add Bluff
  • Paladins: add Gather Information
  • Rangers: add Balance
  • Sorcerers: add all Knowledges

Two other general rules-changes for skills:

  • Everyone gets Search, Spot, and Listen as Class Skills.
  • Everyone can choose 2 Cross-Class Skills at the time of character creation that will always count as Class Skills for your character, to allow for greater customization. Example: I’m making a character named George. He’s a fighter, but I’d also like him to be good at disguising himself and healing people. So I take Disguise and Heal as Class Skills, rather than the Cross-Class Skills they would normally be. For the rest of George’s career, I will only pay 1 point for each rank in these skills, rather than the normal 2.

One additional new skill that is available to everyone:

City Lore (Int): This skill represents a character’s knowledge about Diablotin, its denizens, its locations, and its secrets. It is similar in some respects to Wilderness Lore, except of course that it refers to a specific city. Possible uses include: tracking a target through the alleys of the city without getting lost (DC depends on target’s skill); finding a fence who deals in stolen artworks (DC 15); knowing the location of a prominent merchant’s house (DC 10); locating an unguarded entrance to the sewers (DC 12), etc. It is available to all classes as a Class Skill. Retry: Not allowed for most situations.

House Skills

Overbear (Str): This skill (possessed by the House of the Bear) allows a character to dominate or command another person. It differs from Intimidate in that it does not rely on verbal threats or body language, but on raw physical presence. Possible uses include compelling a guard to let you into a merchant’s home; interrogating a prisoner; breaking up a bar brawl (all DCs depend on the target’s Will). Retry: Not usually effective.

Sign (Dex): This skill (possessed by the House of the Lizard) allows its user to communicate wordlessly with another user of the skill. By means of hand gestures and subtle body language, two or more Signers can hold an elaborate conversation that will be both silent and unintelligible to those who do not have the skill. The Signer must be visible to the target he is trying to communicate with. The DC of the check depends on the complexity of the message being imparted: “Help me take this guard down” might have a DC of 10, while “Have you ever wondered about the possibility of persistent dualism in the human soul?” could have a DC of 30. Retry: Yes, if the situation permits.

Meditate (Con): This skill (possessed by the House of the Ox) allows a person to enter a trancelike state. While in a deep trance, the user will be able to subsist without food and water for a number of days equal to his check; alternately, he may resist extreme heat or cold for a number of hours equal to his check, or hold his breath for a number of minutes equal to his check. In this state, the user will not move, and may barely appear to be alive. He will not hear normal sounds around him, although a very loud noise, or a concerted effort to wake him, may disturb him. While in a light trance, the user may focus his concentration on one task to the exclusion of all others, granting him a bonus dependant on circumstances. In this state, the user will remain mobile and aware of his surroundings, but will tune out all distractions except direct threats to his safety (i.e. he would notice the herd of rampaging bulls headed straight for him). Entering a trance can usually only be done in a situation without a large number of distractions – the DC, normally 10 for a light trance and 20 for a deep trance, will increase in loud or violent situations. Retry: Not for at least an hour from previous attempt.

Use Technological Device (Int): This skill (possessed by the House of the Wolf) allows its user to operate, fix, or even build a mechanical or otherwise non-magical device. Possible examples include: printing press, hot air balloon, telescope, turbine, clock, barometer, combination lock, flush toilet, submarine, eyeglasses, siege engine, blast furnace, windmill, water mill, loom, odometer, astrolabe, pump, hang glider, etc. Of course, a user must have the appropriate materials at hand in order to attempt to construct any device. DC depends on the complexity of the device. User may attempt to operate a device she has never encountered before, at a penalty. Retry: Yes, but a critical failure (roll of 1 on d20) results in the device being damaged or malfunctioning.

Divine Insight (Wis): This skill (possessed by the House of the Owl) is what gives its House their reputation for intuition. When trying to figure out a particularly tricky problem, those possessing this skill may make a check (DC determined based on difficulty of problem). Depending on their level of success, they may suddenly receive a flash of insight into the question. Retry: Not twice on the same problem.

Seduce (Cha): This skill (possessed by the House of the Cat) is used for charming or seducing people. It incorporates much more than physical beauty, relying on small talk, body language, and even more subtle traits. Possible uses include picking up a stranger in a tavern; persuading a nobleman’s daughter to let you into her father’s mansion; getting a priest to reveal his dark secret (all DCs depend on the target’s Will). Retry: Not usually effective.

Scent (Wis): This skill (possessed by the House of the Rat) represents their unsually keen sense of smell. Users can detect scents beyond the usual human range, and can use this skill to identify and track known individuals by their odour, distinguish the vial that held the poison from other identical containers, choose the passage that leads to the surface by scenting fresh air, etc. The typical DC for perceiving a fresh scent is 10. This DC increases or decreases depending on how strong or distinctive the odour is, the presence or absence of other conflicting scents, and the age of the trail. Retry: Not usually effective.

So, you’ve got your number of skill points, and you know which skills you can choose from. Now you buy ranks in the skills you want. Each rank you purchase will give you +1 in that skill. At 1st level, you are allowed to have up to 4 ranks in any Class Skill, and up to 2 ranks in any Cross-Class Skill (remember, Cross-Class Skills cost 2 points / 1 rank). Now spend, spend, spend!

Once you’ve decided which skills to buy ranks in, you need to work out what your score is in each one. Upon referring to the table on p. 63 of the PH, you’ll see that each skill has a Key Ability listed. This means that you apply the Modifier from the relevant stat to your Skill. Example: In making George, my fighter character, I take four ranks of the Climb skill. The Key Ability for Climb is Str, in which George has a 16 (+3 modifier). George’s total score in Climb is thus 4 + 3 = 7.

[What does all of this mean in practice? I mean, 7 sounds pretty low, right? In game play, if you need to make a Skill check, you roll 1d20 and add your character’s score in that skill. You will be trying to beat a Difficulty Class (DC) assigned by the GM. Example: George the Fighter needs to climb a rope (DC 15). He has a 7 in Climb, and rolls a 10 on his die, for a total of 17. He has beaten the DC, and climbs the rope without falling. So don’t worry if your scores sound impossibly low at the moment. Not only will they go up as you increase in level, but they aren’t really that bad.]

Step 7. Select your Feats.

Feats are designed to improve some aspect of your character. A lot of the ones in the PH have to do with combat, which is not necessarily bad, but can be a bit limiting. I have a .pdf file of the feats from many other d20 sourcebooks which I can make available to you, although I’m not going to promise I’ll automatically allow all of the feats contained therein – some of them are grossly abusive, and some are just not appropriate to a high fantasy setting! But if you’re not happy with the choices you have before you, it’s an option to bear in mind.

Anyway, feats. You start with one, but you get an extra one because you’re human (you lucky bugger, you!) So, two feats at 1st level, unless you’re a fighter. Fighters get an extra feat on top of that, bringing them to a total of three (although their bonus feat must be drawn from a certain list – see PH, p. 90-91) As you go up in level, you’ll get more.

Some feats have prerequisites – a minimum score in some stat, a base attack bonus of a certain level, or another feat, for example. Obviously, if you don’t meet the prerequisite(s), you can’t take the feat. Yet. If, however, you notice a feat that you think would be really cool for your character to have, it’s a good idea to start planning for it early, by taking the right prerequisites. Example: I think it would be super-keen for George the fighter to eventually get Spring Attack. I can’t get it now, but I can start planning for it. The prerequisites are Dex 13+, Dodge, Mobility, and a base attack bonus of +4 or higher. So I make sure George has a high enough Dex (I give him a 13, figuring I can always increase it later), and I take Dodge and Mobility as two of my three feats at 1st level. Now I just have to wait until I get to 4th level, when my base attack bonus will be +4. And then watch as George springs into action!

Step 8. Work out the Numbers.

D&D has a lot of numbers. Don’t be intimidated by them – they’re easy once you get the hang of them. One of the nice things about D&D is that you do a fair amount of math during character creation so that you don’t have to do it during the actual game. So, what numbers do you need to know?

Saving Throws

  • Fortitude represents your ability to withstand physical punishment (i.e. being crushed by a giant boulder) and attacks against your health (i.e. poisons). It is modified by your Con.
  • Reflex represents your ability to dodge out of the way of things (i.e. a giant boulder falling at you). It is modified by your Dex.
  • Will represents your resistance to mental influence or domination (i.e. a charm person spell). It is modified by your Wis.

Here are the STs for each class at 1st level:

  • Bards: +0/+2/+2
  • Clerics: +2/+0/+2
  • Fighters: +2/+0/+0
  • Paladins: +2/+0/+0
  • Rangers: +2/+2/+0
  • Rogues: +0/+2/+0
  • Sorcerers: +0/+0/+2

Hit Points

Each class gets a certain die to determine their hit points (HP). Hit points represent how much damage you can take before you fall. If you reach 0 HP, you fall unconscious. If you ever get to –10 HP, you’re dead. Your HP are modified by your Con.

  • Bard: d6
  • Cleric: d8
  • Fighter: d10
  • Paladin: d10
  • Ranger: d10
  • Rogue: d6
  • Sorcerers: d4

At first level, you get your maximum HP without rolling. Example: George the fighter gets a d10 HP, and he has a Con of 14 (+2 modifier). He thus has 12 HP at 1st level. At each subsequent level, you will add another die roll + your Con modifier to your total HP. Because I am benevolent, I allow people to re-roll ones – once.

Attack Bonus

This represents how good you are at attacking with various weapons. There are two basic kinds – melee (weapons used in close combat) and ranged (weapons used from a distance). Your attack bonus is the total of your Base Attack, and your Str mod. (for melee), your Dex mod. (for ranged).

Here are the Base Attack scores for the various classes at 1st level. (Don’t worry, they’ll increase):

  • Bard: +0
  • Cleric: +0
  • Fighter: +1
  • Paladin: +1
  • Ranger: +1
  • Rogue: +0
  • Sorcerer: +0

Example: George the fighter has a 16 Str (+3 modifier), and a 13 Dex (+1 modifier). His base attack bonus is +1 at 1st level, so his melee attack bonus would be +4, and his ranged attack bonus is +2.

Initiative

Initiative determines in what order people act in combat. This is easy – it’s just your Dex modifier, unless you have the feat Improved Initiative. Note it down somewhere.

Speed

Humans have a base speed of 30 feet. This tells you how far you can move in a round and still take an action (like, say, casting a spell or attacking). If you aren’t taking any actions except moving, you can move twice your base speed (i.e. 60 feet) in a round. If you’re running headlong, you can move up to four times your base speed (i.e. 120 feet) in a round. Mostly this will only be important in combat situations, but it’s still good to know.

Armor Class

This number represents how hard it is for other people to hit you in combat. It’s equal to 10 + your Dex modifier, if you’re completely naked. If you’re wearing armor or carrying a shield, this number will go up, depending on how good your armor or shield is. Since you don’t have equipment yet, don’t worry about that too much (but you can see p. 123 for examples, if you’re interested). Most classes are automatically able to use certain kinds of armor and shields:

  • Bard: Light armor and shields
  • Cleric: Light armor and shields (Order of the Bear get all armor and shields)
  • Fighter: All armor and shields
  • Paladin: All armor and shields
  • Ranger: Light armor and shields
  • Rogue: Light armor, no shields
  • Sorcerers: No armor or shields.

Damage

This will depend largely on what kind of weapon you’re using. A brief digression on weapons: they come in three categories – simple, martial, and exotic. See p. 116-117 for a list of the weapons that fall into each group. Each class is automatically able to use some weapons.

  • Bard: All simple weapons, plus longbow, rapier, sap, shortbow, short sword, and whip.
  • Cleric: All simple weapons.
  • Fighter: All simple and martial weapons.
  • Paladin: All simple and martial weapons.
  • Ranger: All simple and martial weapons.
  • Rogue: All simple weapons, plus hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow and shortsword.
  • Sorcerer: All simple weapons.

Each weapon does a particular amount of damage (say, a d4, or 2d6, or whatever). If it’s a melee or thrown weapon, you also add your Str. modifier to that number.

Okay, that’s enough numbers for now. Let’s move on to something more interesting.

Step 9. Magic.

Not all characters have magic. Some (paladins and rangers) will eventually get to cast spells, but not at 1st level. Bards, clerics, and sorcerers have access to magic at 1st level.

  • Bard: Casts spells from the bard spell list (p. 181-3). Casting a spell involves performance of some kind (singing, instrumental, recitation, etc.) Spells do not have to be memorized or prepared in advance. A bard’s spells are based on Charisma.
  • Cleric: Casts spells from the cleric spell list (p. 183-5). Moreover, he may also cast spells from two Domains (these are selected at character creation, based on the deity’s attributes). A cleric must meditate or pray for an hour each day in order to prepare his spells in advance, but does not need to select them in advance (i.e. he can choose and cast them as he needs them). A cleric’s spells are based on Wisdom.
    • Domains: Each deity has four Domains available, and clerics must choose two of their chosen deity's Domains (those not listed in the main PHB are available at http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/35/sovelior_sage/divineDomains.html)
      • Bear: Strength, Nobility, War, Glory
      • Lizard: Trickery, Water, Destruction, Rune
      • Ox: Healing, Protection, Earth, Weather
      • Wolf: Knowledge, Magic, Creation, Artifice
      • Owl: Air, Death, Travel, Repose
      • Cat: Charm, Luck, Fire, Community
      • Rat: Animal, Darkness, Liberation, Madness
  • Sorcerer: Casts spells from the list of sorcerer and wizard spells (p. 192-196). A sorcerer’s spells are derived from her own mental energies. She does not need to prepare spells in advance, but can cast them as desired; however she must still get a full night's rest in order to recover her power each day. A sorcerer’s spells are based on Intelligence.

There are two things a spellcaster needs to know: how many spells he knows in total, and how many he can cast in a day. I’ll just give you the numbers for 1st level here.

  • Bards:
    • Spells per day – 0 level: 2
    • Spells known – 0 level: 4
  • Clerics:
    • Spells per day – 0 level: 3 1st level: 1 Domain Spells: 1 (1st level)
    • Spells known – all level 0 and level 1 spells, level 1 Domain Spells from 2 selected domains
  • Sorcerers:
    • Spells per day – 0 level: 5 1st level: 3
    • Spells known – 0 level: 4 1st level: 2

Each type of spellcaster can also have bonus spells if their prime requisite (Int, Wis, or Cha) is high enough. See the chart on p. 8 to determine how many extra spells per day your character can cast. If your prime requisite is high enough that you get bonus 2nd, 3rd, or 4th level spells, you still can’t cast them until you have reached a high enough level.

Picking which spells you want your character to have can be hard, especially if you’re not that familiar with the game, and don’t know which ones are the most useful. If you need advice, I’m here to provide it.

Step 10. Special Abilities.

Most classes get some special ability or power. I’ll just limit myself to listing those that do or could apply at 1st level, or we’ll be here all day.

Bard:

  • Bardic Music: As a bard’s skill with performance increases, she gains special abilities related to this skill. At 1st level (with at least 3 ranks in Perform), a bard could have three such powers: Inspire Courage, Countersong, and Fascinate. Each of these requires a minimum of three ranks in Perform.
    • Inspire Courage lets a bard give his allies within earshot a +1 bonus to saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 bonus to attack and weapon damage rolls for the duration of the performance and for 5 rounds after it ends.
    • Countersong lets a bard counter magics that depend on sound. Each round of the Countersong, the bard makes a Perform check, and people in range who are affected by sound-based magic can use his result instead of their saving throw, if it is better.
    • Fascinate lets a bard captivate a single creature. This creature must be able to see and hear the bard and vice versa. This must be done in a situation without major distractions (i.e. not in combat). The bard makes a Perform check, and the target makes a Will save with the bard’s result as their DC. If the bard wins, the target will sit and listen to the bard’s performance, ignoring the world around them, for a number of rounds equal to the bard’s level. Any obviously threatening action automatically breaks the fascination. If the bard fails, they cannot attempt to fascinate the same target again for 24 hours.
  • Bardic Knowledge: Bards are familiar with many stories, legends, and pieces of stray information. A bard may make a check with a bonus equal to her bard level + Int modifier to see whether she knows anything about a particular person, item, place, or subject. The difficulty of this roll will depend on the scarcity of the information – a DC of 10 might be appropriate to know about a local celebrity’s well-known drug habit, whereas a DC of 30 could be required to know about who a minor nobleman's great-great-grandfather’s mistress was.

Cleric:

  • Turn or Rebuke Undead: A good-aligned cleric can attempt to turn undead, such as skeletons, zombies, ghosts, vampires, etc., forcing them to recoil from him or possibly destroying them outright. An evil-aligned cleric can attempt overawe or command such creatures instead. A neutral-aligned cleric must choose at the beginning of his career whether he will turn or rebuke undead, and this decision cannot be reversed later. See p. 159 for the mechanics of this power.

Fighter:

  • Bonus Feats: A fighter gets bonus feats at various levels, which must be chosen from the marked items on the list on p. 90-91.

Paladin:

  • Detect Alignment: A good-aligned paladin can detect evil (like the spell detect evil) at will. An evil-aligned paladin can detect good, and a neutral-aligned paladin must choose at the beginning of her career whether she will detect good or evil, and this decision cannot be reversed later.
  • Smite: Once per day, a paladin may attempt to smite the same alignment they are able to detect (see above). She adds her Charisma bonus to her attack roll and deals one extra point of damage per paladin level.

Ranger:

  • Track: A ranger automatically gains the feat Track as a bonus feat.
  • Favored Enemy: A ranger may select a type of creature as a favored enemy. See p. 47 for a list of various types of creatures that could be chosen. When he is dealing with a creature of his chosen enemy type, he receives a +1 bonus to Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Wilderness Lore checks, as well as to attack and damage rolls.
  • Wild Empathy: A ranger can improve the attitude of an animal by rolling 1d20 and adding his ranger level and his Charisma modifier to determine the result. He must be within 30 feet of the creature under normal visibility conditions, and it normally takes about a minute to accomplish.

Rogue:

  • Sneak Attack: A rogue can strike at a vital organ for extra damage if she catches her opponent in a situation when he is unable to defend himself properly. In any situation when the target would be denied their Dex bonus to AC, or when the target is already involved in combat with another person, the rogue may sneak attack them. This attack does an additional 1d6 damage at 1st level. Ranged attacks from under 30 feet away can also count as sneak attacks. A rogue may only sneak attack living creatures with a discernable anatomy (i.e. not undead, golems, plants, or incorporeal creatures, for example).
  • Traps: A rogue may use her Search skill to attempt to locate traps (although this can be quite difficult – DC depends on the quality of the trap). She may then use Disable Device to attempt to disarm the trap.

Sorcerer:

  • Familiar: At 1st level, a sorcerer may summon a familiar animal to himself, and the familiar's powers will increase along with its master's. See p. 52-3 for a sampling of possible familiars and their powers. If nothing on the list appeals to you, think of a (small!) animal you’d like, and together we will work out its powers.

Step 11. Backgrounds.

Once more I scam a good idea from Terry ;) You have 15 background points to spend, distributed as you wish between the following features:

Allies: (2, 4, or 6 pts) This background represents skilled or knowledgeable friends that your character can call on to help them out in a pinch. Players should outline each Ally and the nature of the characters' relationship. Of course you can have friends and associates without taking this background, but the advantage of spending points on Allies is that they will always help you, if they are able, with no Charisma roll required. It is important to note, however, that the more you call upon your Allies for help, the more likely they are to return the favour, so to speak. If you betray an Ally, you lose the advantage of this background.

  • 2 pts – a single Ally
  • 4 pts – two Allies
  • 6 pts – three Allies

Bonus Attribute Points: (2 pts per) You have bonus attribute points to spend on your attributes. The starting maximum of 18 still applies.

Class Skill: (1 pt per) You can make one extra skill count as in-class.

Destiny: (1, 3, or 5 pts) You are clearly destined for some great event. The higher your destiny, the more important events will swirl around you. You may use this background to re-roll any roll you have just made, or to ask the GM to re-roll a roll an NPC has just made that affects you (e.g. an attack or damage roll, a Heal check, etc.) The level of destiny determines the number of times it can be used each game month.

  • 1 pt – once per month
  • 3 pts – twice per month
  • 5 pts – three times per month

Learned: (1 pt per 2 Skill points) You have bonus starting skill points, up to a maximum of 6 extra points. Your maximum ranks still apply.

Special Gift: (1, 3, or 5 pts) You have a special gift, an item passed down to you, or perhaps discovered by accident. This item may have magical properties or may just be of particularly fine quality. The level of Special Gift determines the worth of the item.

  • 1 pt – 500 gp
  • 3 pts – 1500 gp
  • 5 pts – 2500 gp

Status: (1, 3, 5, or 8 pts) You have some level of social status that is outside the ordinary. This is either related to your family (noble birth, child of a renowned person) or your own personal achievements (fame as a healer or musician, for instance). Your status may grant you special privileges and modifies any interaction rolls where social status is relevant; however, it also has the potential to hinder you in some situations (for instance, aristocrats are not universally beloved!) Note that Status does not automatically bring Wealth.

  • 1 pt – Lesser Status (Of noble blood, but family holds no titles, younger child of a titled family, closely related to a local celebrity; minor fame), +2 bonus to interaction rolls
  • 3 pts – Moderate Status (Heir to a major title, or holder of a minor title; moderate fame), +4 bonus to interaction rolls
  • 5 pts – Greater Status (Holder of a major title; major fame), +6 bonus to interaction rolls.
  • 8 pts – Imperial Status (Member of the Imperial family; inescapeable fame), +8 bonus to interaction rolls.

Unusual Heritage: You are something other than a typical human member of mainstream Aveyrone society. While this may convey certain advantages, it can also serve to set you apart from your neighbours in less-desirable ways, making it more difficult for you to act unobtrusively or subjecting you to prejudice from unenlightened folk.

  • 3 pts – House Rat. See above for House Rat traits.
  • 5 pts – Half-elf. Traits as per the PHB.
  • 8 pts – Non-human (elf, Seventh). Elves, in addition to the traits given in the PHB, can potentially have access to the wizard and monk classes. Seventh require consultation with the GM to play ;)

Wealth: You are wealthy, not only receiving additional starting money but receive a regular monthly income without having to work for it (e.g. as income from property or investments, or an allowance from your family). You cannot have 5 pts in wealth without at least 1 pt in Status (minor fame).

  • 1 pt – 250 gp starting money, receive 25 gp each game month
  • 3 pts – 600 gp starting money, receive 60 gp each game month
  • 5 pts – 1200 gp starting money, receive 120 gp each game month

Step 12. Equipment.

By this point, your character is almost complete. You have all of their necessary numbers down on paper, and hopefully by this time they are moderately well fleshed-out in your mind (or possibly also on paper). But they still need gear – whatever things they own. You may begin play with up to 150 GP worth of equipment (see p. 128-9 for gear, p. 123 for armor, and p.116-117 for weapons), unless you have purchased Background(s) that affect this sum.

Step 13. History

I don't require that you write a novel detailing their every waking moment from the age of three onwards, but at least a couple of paragraphs containing information about their personality, their interests, where they're from, how they got where they are now, and where they imagine they're going in the future would be useful. I’ll suggest additions or changes if necessary. Also, if you have any NPCs you particularly want them to be associated with (family, friends, enemies, etc.) please provide a short description of those characters and I'll flesh them out more fully. It would be sufficient to give me something like: George has a mentor who taught him everything he knows, but who is now a run-down drunk, a rebellious younger sister that he's very protective of, and an enemy, the merchant who was responsible for bankrupting his elderly parents. If you don't know what name to fill in for a place or person, you can just leave it blank and I'll supply something appropriate. E.g. George was born in [a small village north of Diablotin] and currently lives in [a lower-class but respectable neighbourhood]. He was apprenticed to [a local merchant] when he was ten…. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me!

This Questionnaire of Doom! is a tool you could use to flesh out your character, if you so desire.