Prism Chapter 12 Summary

Art copyright  Doug Beekman, used by permission12.1 Summary

These are the steps necessary to create a character from start to finish.  Links lead to more information about each step.

  1. Get a blank character sheet and skill sheet.

  2. Find out from the GM about the world background.  This could include the time and place, and any other information the GM wants to give you.

  3. Ask the GM if he has any special requests about the type of character you are going to make.

  4. Do a preliminary design of your character's attributes, personality, background, abilities, weaknesses, and aptitudes.

  5. Ask your GM how many character points to start with.  This will usually be 100.  Some can be spent on plot points, now or later.

  6. Choose which stats to assign, assign their values, and pay the point costs.

  7. Roll all other stats and note their values.  Apply any race or gender modifiers to these stats.

  8. Choose your abilities and weaknesses, paying the appropriate point costs.  Double-check them with your GM first.

  9. Choose and pay for all of your aptitudes.  Make sure that your character points now total 100.  If this campaign includes magic or psionics, there may be another step here, such as assigning Diff Mods in the RDI System of Magic.  Also, copy your AVs onto the skill sheet for quicker reference.

  10. Make a list on your skill sheet of all the skills you feel it is likely your character will develop.  (If you decide later to add new ones, just add them at the end.) Don't forget to list all languages, spoken and written, and any spell lists or skills.  For each one, copy down the Cat and Stat listed in the skill description.  (When a skill has more than one Cat, you must choose one.) Calculate the Diff and write it down as well.

  11. Decide which skills to spend the 60 DP you receive for childhood on.  Remember, during this step only, don't use the Diffs you calculated in the previous step.  Don't forget your native language, using the special rule given in section 8.1.  Make sure the total number of points you spend adds up to 60.

  12. Repeat the previous step, spending only 40 DP this time, for your adolescence.  This time, use the real Diffs.

  13. Repeat this step again, spending 50 DP for your apprenticeship.  If your character will start as an experienced adventurer, spend any additional DP the GM gives you.

  14. Calculate the Base, Stat, Misc, and Total SVs for all of your skills.

  15. Refine your character's personality and write a description of it on the back of your character sheet.

  16. Add the final details to your background story and write the story out on the back of your character sheet.

  17. Design and write down your character's appearance.

  18. Equip your character as the GM allows.  Write the list of equipment, along with locations of each item, on the back of your skill sheet.

  19. Calculate your total Carried Weight and note it on your character sheet.

  20. Determine and write down your Hp, AT, DB, Shield DB, Resistances, LC, CC, Encumbrance Penalty, Armor Penalty, Total Penalty, Base MV, and Encumbered MV.

  21. Write the number of character points you spent, and the total number of development points you've acquired, in the Development section of your character sheet.

  22. If you haven't yet done so, name your character and write his name down on both your character and skill sheets.  Write your own name next to "Player" on the character sheet.

  23. Submit your character to the GM for final approval.  Make any changes requested.

  24. You're ready to play!

Art copyright  Robin Wood 1995, used by permission12.2 Example

12.2.1 Introduction

Here is presented an example of character creation.  In the interests of helping along a confused reader as much as possible, I have presented, instead of a finished product, the entire process of character creation, with all the pitfalls and changes made as the process went on.  At times, this makes difficult reading; however, seeing the whole process should be more helpful if you're having trouble.

When reading this section, it may help to be looking at a character sheet.  At the end of this process, a completed character sheet is presented for the character created herein.

The steps followed here will parallel those of the summary above.

12.2.2 The Making of a Character

  1. First I get a blank character and skill sheet.

  2. The world background is that of The Belgariad by David Eddings.  If you're not familiar with the world background, in order to fully understand this example, you may want to consult with someone who is, read the book introductions or the first chapter, or look through an encyclopedia.  Better yet, read the books.

  3. In order to arrange for the characters to be brought together, the GM would like my character to be employed as a military officer or special agent of some sort.

  4. You have to start somewhere, so I start by deciding to be from Cherek.  My first thought is that a military officer from Cherek is pretty obvious, so therefore, I'll have to not do the obvious.  So I decide he won't be the brawling, drinking, battle-loving typical Cherek.  I do want him to be a warrior, but how about a tinkerer?  Someone who likes to build devices.  He might be able to use this skill in devising engines of war, so he might have been promoted to an officer's rank, but his soldiers wouldn't like or respect him because he's not like them.  Why is he like this?  I toy with the idea that he has some magic talent under the surface, but due to his society's view on magic, he sublimates this into a desire to create by building and inventing.  But there is no version of magic on this world that could fit that except sorcery, and that is only available by inheritance or divine intervention, it seems.  Hmmm...

    I like the "sublimation" idea, so I imagine that he has the mind of a theoretical scientist and channels his desires to experiment and develop theory into his ability to design and invent, which at least his comrades could grudgingly respect when it was used for siege engines and things to make life easier for them.  (I am reminded of the scene where Durnik's idea lets Barak's ship be rolled rather than carried across the plains, making the men of that ship much happier.)  He's torn between his fascination with learning and book knowledge and the values his society taught him; he presently thinks that there's something wrong with him, not with his society.  He tries to get involved in drunkenness and brawling but it just doesn't hold his interest.

    His present position as an officer came when he came up with some unspecified clever trick that prevented his troop from having to spend a night outdoors without shelter in a marshy area.  The men were grudgingly grateful and respectful, but he was promoted out of that unit and put over a group of men who didn't know him, but saw he was not a good leader and not one of them.  He'd be glad to take an assignment elsewhere because it pains him that he doesn't fit in.  But he still isn't sure what he should do and what is wrong with him.

  5. Art copyright  Lou Frank, used by permissionThe GM gives me the normal 100 character points to make this character with.  I won't spend any of them on plot points.

  6. I assign a high Intelligence (+17) because he's a thinker.  He may not be a normal Cherek but I still don't see him as a weakling, just disinterested, so I give him a +8 in both Strength and Endurance.  Chereks are usually pretty clumsy but he's more dexterous than the average Cherek, so I assign a Dexterity of 0.  Since he has an identity crisis and low self-discipline (he's unable to resist his own tendencies) I assign a Resistance of -10.  At first I thought he might have a high Perceptivity, because he'd see the physical interactions between things, which is normally below the surface; but then I thought that he might just as well have a low Perceptivity because he's always thinking about something else and only rarely is his mind thinking about something that's actually applicable to his situation.  Therefore I decide that I might as well just roll it and take what I get.  I have no opinion about Quickness or Will, so they will get rolled too.

  7. For Perceptivity I roll a -4.  Fine, he'll be distracted, always thinking about something else.  For Quickness I roll -9 (ick!).  His Will rolls up as a +3.  The GM tells me that Chereks are, on the average, less magically inclined than other races, so I should subtract 2 from my Will.  Had I assigned my Will, I would not use this modifier, as I didn't use the normal +2 modifiers for Strength and Endurance for Chereks.  I only use modifiers to stats I chose to roll.

  8. I considered Inventiveness as the obvious first choice for an ability.  However, the ability implies an immediate, intuitive grasp of how a machine might work or be created; the person doesn't figure it out, it comes by inspiration.  That's not how I see this character.  So I drop that and instead try Motion Sense at a cost of 15.  I also invent a new one: Detect Structural Weaknesses, the ability to see where the vulnerable points are in objects and buildings.  The GM assigns this a cost of 5 by comparison to Tactical Intuition.  Finally, for no apparent reason I buy Double-Jointed for a cost of 5.

    By now I'm seeing him as a dreamer, always working out some problem or design in the back of his head, rarely the problem or design he probably ought to be thinking about (i.e., one that's relevant at the moment).  Absent-Mindedness makes perfect sense.  As soon as I started to think about his poor relationship with others, I realize I forgot to buy an ability in Status, so I go back and do that.  It's no big deal to be an officer in Cherek, my GM says, so it's a cost of 2.  My negative Reputation as being not "one of the boys" is a 5-point weakness.  The GM gives me 5 more points for an Identity Crisis weakness as well.  Before I start on some quirks, let's see how my points are doing.  I spent 23 on stats, 27 on abilities, and -25 on weaknesses, totalling 25 points.  Having 75 points left over for aptitudes is a lot -- and I haven't even done quirks yet!

    OK, some quirks.  How about "mumbles to himself a lot" and "writes a lot of letters and messages" along with two to be specified later, possibly during play (that gives him a chance to develop himself).  Now I have 79 points left on aptitudes, which is quite a lot, but probably OK, since he's going to be both a warrior and a craftsman-inventor.

  9. First, an aptitude in SCIENCE of 3 and in CRAFTS of 2 seem essential.  The costs are 20 and 24, so I have 34 left.  He's still a Cherek and a member of the army, so a 4 in COMBAT and a 6 in BODY are about the least I can do.  The costs are 18 and 10; I already am down to 6 points!  Boy, they sure go fast!  Should I go back and change one of those?  I glance over the remaining aptitudes and see nothing that I need to be any good at, so no, we'll leave them alone.  In fact, a 10 in MIND seems justified, giving me 3 points back.  (I check with the GM because that's a negative-cost aptitude; she says it's all right because Chereks are simply not magically oriented.)  A 6 in MEDICAL seems like a good use of 3 points.  I'll take a 7 in ARTS so that I don't have to spend anything; the same reasoning gets me an 8 in AIR/SPC and an 8 in SOC/SPY.  The GM says she wouldn't object to me taking a negative-cost aptitude in SOC/SPY since my character is obviously not a "people person" but I figure that'll cancel out with his ability with locks and traps, so I'll stick with an 8.  That leaves six points for OUTDOOR.  I can buy a 6 for 5 points.  What do I do with that last point?  I could get rid of one of my quirks, but I'd rather put it to Endurance, so I do.

    Time to double-check.  I count points I've spent on each category:

    Oops, that's only 99 points!  (Turns out I subtracted the first two aptitude costs wrong.)  I'll also put that last point to Endurance, so I now have a +10 Endurance.

  10. See the character sheet for the list of skills I wrote down that he might know.  Here are some reasons and special notes about these selections.

  11. The first skill to buy during childhood is always your native language.  Using the special rule in section 8.1 I spend 6 DP for each of "common spoken" and "common written" to get 36 points of training in each.  Since each skill just passed a cusp, their Diffs go up from 0 to 1.  For the rest of the skills, I have to remember to use aptitudes of 4 instead of my real aptitudes.

    I've reached the end of the list with 5 DP left.  Going back over the list I decide to add Area Knowledge: Cherek (Diff=0, spend 3, get 13) and change Area Knowledge: Val Alorn from spending 3 to spending 5 (Diff=0, spend 5, get 16).

  12. Art copyright  Doug Beekman, used by permissionDuring adolescence a youth in Cherek begins learning how to fight, to sail, and how to follow in his father's craft (in this case smithing).  That's a lot to learn in a 40 DP period, so you can't spend too much on any one skill.  Don't forget we're using the listed Diffs now.

    I have 1 point left.  Going back I decide to spend it in Gadgetry (Diff=2, spend 1, get 3).

  13. During apprenticeship he begins to realize and develop his talent, so he partially neglects his combat and sailing training (especially the latter).

    Again, I have one point left.  Going back I decide that I'll spend it on Area Knowledge: Val Alorn (Diff=4, spend 1, get 1, now have 17) due to my time on duty there.  He will not have any further training, as he starts as a novice adventurer.

  14. Art copyright  Doug Beekman, used by permissionI won't list the calculation of the SV of every skill here, only the first few and all the ones with something notable about them.

  15. My finalized personality description can be found on the back of the main character sheet.

  16. It turns out that my original background story idea has needed virtually no fine-tuning and little extension.  You can find the final version on the back of the main character sheet.

  17. Art copyright  Ragnarok PressLike any Cherek, my character is a big, red-haired, bearded fellow, and though he's not particularly strong for a Cherek, he's not particularly weak, either.  I see him as being a bit leaner in build than the average Cherek because he's not out building up a "beer belly" with his buddies, or lugging around 50 pounds of armor for a boar hunt every weekend.  So I decide he should be about 5'11" and 180 pounds; he'd be considered a big, muscular man in Sendaria, but a little small in Cherek.  His beard is a little closely trimmed, and his hair is a little unkempt.  His posture is very good, very upright, but his eyes are usually focusing somewhere in space.  Let's make those eyes a striking shade of blue to draw even more attention to his distraction.  He dresses carelessly, much like most Chereks, though for different reasons.  Unlike most Chereks he rarely gets his tunic stained, but when he does he gets good stains because he doesn't really notice the spill right away (unless it was hot soup).  He wears a fur hat when it's cold.  See the character sheet for the last details.

  18. The GM admits that my character is going to be sent on a mission, so I assume that I'm to be equipped for this mission.  I present the following list of requisitions:

    The GM tells me that the best sword I can get is a normal one at my rank, and they don't presently have any ink they can give me.  I'll have to get some somewhere else on my travels.  At this I grumble...  how am I going to write any letters to let the home front know how I'm doing without ink?  The GM also tells me I have 25 Cherek ducats, which are about half the value of Tolnedran half-crowns, or about $10 of 1990s dollars, each.  I also make sure to list where each item is carried or worn.

  19. Adding up the weights of those items that I'll be carrying (not including my clothes, or anything on the horse (including spare clothes)), my carried weight is 39 pounds.

  20. Following the procedures in Chapter 11, I make the following calculations:

  21. I spent 100 character points to create this character, so I write this on the sheet.  I bought no plot points.  As a new character, he has 150 development points.

  22. After some deliberation I hit upon the name Tomalfson.

  23. The GM approves of my character.

  24. I'm ready to play!

Following is Tomalfson's character sheetA blank one can be found in Chapter 16.

Name: Tomalfson Player: Frank Prism
Stats Movement Description
Strength +8 CC 168 Sex: Male
Race: Cherek (Human)
Handedness: Right
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 180
Age (real): 23
  (apparent): late 20s
Hair: Red, short, unkempt
Eyes: bright blue
Skin: normal
Other: Sloppy with a tunic which has occasional, severe stains.  Is in no hurry.  Distracted; eyes are always unfocused.
Endurance +8 +9 +10 LC 504
Dexterity 0 Carried Wgt 39
Quickness -9 r Enc.  Penalty -23
Intelligence +17 Armor Penalty -54
Perceptivity -4 r Total Penalty -77
Will +3 +1 r Base MV 91
Resistance -10 Enc.  MV 14
Aptitudes Vitals
COMBAT 4 Hp 43
AIR/SPC 6 DB 0 (+10)
SCIENCE 3 Shield -- melee 16
MIND 10 Shield -- missile 16
ARTS 7 Delay 34 Development
CRAFTS 7 Resist Poison +10 Character Points 100
MEDICAL 6 Resist Disease +10 Plot Points       (0 avail) 0
SOC/SPY 8 Resist Magic/Psi -10 Development Points 150
Abilities Weaknesses
Motion Sense (+15)
Detect Structural Weaknesses (+5)
Double-Jointed (+5)
Status: officer of the Cherek army (+2)
Absent-Mindedness (-15)
Reputation: not "one of the guys" (-5)
Identity Crisis: thinks he probably should be "one of the guys" (-5)
Mumbles to himself all the time (-1)
Writes letters and messages a lot (-1)
(unspecified) (-1)
(unspecified) (-1)

Personality: Tomalfson is always thinking about something.  Most of the time, it's not anything that's going on...  it's something he saw or heard about a week ago and has been nagging him for a while.  Or something he built once that he has just thought of a great way to improve on.  When he does become aware of a problem, his conscious mind usually (unless he's caught off guard) tries to force himself to think of it in typical Cherek style: "Any problem can be solved by killing the guilty party, getting drunk, or both."  However, in the back of his mind he starts to see gears and forces and his fingers twitch.  Within a moment or two he's forgotten that he was trying to think like a Cherek, and his eyes' focus is back in space.  Of course, this problem may very well be similar to that problem his commanding officer had last week, which brings up an interesting idea...  and he forgets the original problem.  Eventually someone slaps him and brings him back to reality, whereupon he feels terribly guilty and forlorn because he doesn't fit in with anyone.  He does stop thinking about problems and solutions once in a while, such as when he's eating, fighting, very tired, or otherwise distracted from distraction.  He also gets into melancholy moods when he sees other Chereks apparently having lots of fun and camaraderie and realizes he's always excluded from such events.  Sometimes he tries to join in.  If the Chereks in question know him, he'll probably be politely asked to leave (for a drinking Cherek, "politely" means he won't use edged weapons); otherwise, he'll probably attempt to get drunk and end up inventing an ale rack for the bartender, until he collapses.

Background: Tomalfson had an ordinary childhood.  Perhaps he annoyed his father, the smith, with a few too many questions about how things worked, but that's typical of children from any race.  His father had no patience for it.  He was a busy man and sent young Tomalfson to bother his mother, who didn't know anything about anything, and thought that was probably for the best.  Tomalfson got that childhood frustration that no one would tell him anything, but what could he do?  He went out on a ship like any young boy and came back not much better for it, except for the cut lengths of rope and broken pulleys he'd managed to collect before they were tossed overboard.  His new "toys" were quite fun, he found, once he'd fixed them up.  Like any Cherek boy he learned to fight, and studied hard, because he knew he'd have to either do some time in the army or the navy, and he wasn't too keen on the latter.  But he couldn't concentrate too hard even on fighting.  He kept thinking of better ways, and drove his instructor crazy with his "hare-brained schemes" for machines to improve his chances in battle.  Finally, he joined the army, and did mediocrely.  Gradually, his obsession with the way forces and objects interacted, which had no outlet, built up until he could hardly think of anything but building devices.  As the least popular and least talented member of a rag-tag unit of militia on a routine border patrol in some muskeg, his distracted mind happened to be thinking of the right thing at the right time when his commanding officer announced that they would have to stop for the night and had no means of providing shelter.  To the groans of the dozen soldiers, who would have to sleep on cold, wet, marshy ground with only their cloaks, Tomalfson blurted a plan to his C.O.  which allowed the soldiers to jury-rig a simple platform by bending back the trunks of a number of saplings and tying them to each other in an ingenious way to keep them all lying flat about a foot off the ground, then using ropes to create a net in the square frame thus formed.  The troop was overjoyed about being able to sleep off the wet ground and his C.O.  was very impressed.  Before long he got a promotion (not hard to get in the Cherek army, which has many low-ranked officers) and was in command of a dozen men who only knew that he didn't seem to like getting drunk, brawling, and womanizing like they did.  After a few months of this, he was distraught: why didn't he fit in?  Should he?  Would he ever?

Chain Shirt (worn)
Padded undertunic (worn)
Wooden shield, bronze bands (carried, 20#)
Heavy breeches (worn)
Hard leather boots (worn)
Fur cloak, gloves, and hat (worn)
Belt with pouch on front right (worn)
Flint and steel (in pouch, 1#)
Broadsword (left side of belt, 6#)
Crossbow belt strap, foot crank (right side of belt, 1#)
Heavy crossbow (right side of belt, 8#)
Quiver with 20 bolts (right rear of belt, 2#)
Hunting knife with serrated edge (left rear of belt, 1#)
Horse (Clydesdale); on the horse:
  Harness, bridle, etc.
  3 normal tunics in various colors
  30 sheaves of fine scroll paper, in watertight tube
  2 goose-quill pens
  Heavy bedroll
  Traveling toolkit with spare parts (nuts, bolts, etc.)

Name: Tomalfson Prism Skill Sheet

Aptitudes: CO 4  BO 6  OU 6  AI 8  SC 3  MI 10  AR 7  CR 2  ME 6  SO 8

Skill Cat Stat Diff Recipient SIM Skill Train Base Stat A/W Misc SV
Architecture CR I 2 Carpentry (1/2) 0 2 17     19
Area Knowledge: Val Alorn SO P 4 Area Knowledge: Cherek (1/3) 17 4 -4     17
Area Knowledge: Cherek SO P 4 Area Knowledge: Val Alorn (1/3) 13 6 -4     15
Area Knowledge: The West SC P -1 History (1/4) 13 0 -4     9
Armor Donning/Removal CO DQ 1   11 7 -4 +10a   24
Armor Maintenance/Repair CR I 2 Smithing (1/4) 5 3 17 +15b   40
Athletic Games: unspecified OU SEDQP 6   8 0 1 +5c   14
Bureaucracy SO I 8   0 -20 17     -3
Carpentry CR SD 2 Shipbuilding (1/4) 7 1 4     12
Detect Secret Doors/Machinery SO IP 8   0 -25 7 -10d +15b -13
Diving OU DR 6 Swimming (1/3) 4 9 -5     8
Flag Signals OU IP 5   8 0 7     15
Gadget Repair CR IP 1 Gadgetry (1/3) 10 3 7 +10b   30
Gadgetry CR I 2 Gadget Repair (1/3), Mechanical Engineering (1/4) 10 3 17 +5a   35
History: The West SC I 3   4 3 17     24
Hit Point Development CO E 7   8 0 10   25 43
Language: common spoken SC I 1 Language: common written (1/3) 36 12 17     63
Language: common written SC I 1 Language: common spoken (1/3) 36 12 17     63
Leatherworking CR D 1 Armor Maintenance/Repair (1/3) 7 0 0 +5a   12
Maneuvering in Armor: Chain CO SQ 3 Armor Donning/Removal (1/2) 14 0 0 +2a -70 -54
Mathematics SC I 3   6 2 17     25
Mechanical Engineering SC I 4 Architecture (1/2), Carpentry (1/3), Gadget Repair (1/2), Gadgetry (1/4), Plumbing (1/6) 3 3 17     23
Physics SC I 4 Mathematics (1/3) 5 0 17     22
Plumbing CR P 0   9 1 -4 +5a +5b 16
Sailing OU DP 6 Shipbuilding (1/4) 2 0 -2     0
Shield CO SQ 2   14 0 0     14
Shipbuilding CR SE 3   2 2 9     13
Smithing CR SE 2 Armor Maintenace/Repair (1/3), Weaponry Engineering (1/3) 12 1 9     22
Swimming OU EDQ 4 Diving (1/3) 10 1 0     11
Weaponry Engineering CR I 1   10 4 17     31
Martial Arts Strikes I BO SQ 6   8 0 0     8
Martial Arts Sweeps I BO Q 6   6 0 -9     -3
Disarming CO DQ 5   5 4 -4 +5c   10
Broadsword CO SSD 4 Disarming (1/4) 14 0 5     19
Heavy Crossbow CO D 7   2 0 0 +15c   17

a=Double-Jointed; b=Detect Structural Weaknesses; c=Motion Sense; d=Absent-Mindedness

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