View Full Version : Original System Idea for Character Creation/Advancement System

2018-09-18, 12:56 PM
These are just some musings I've had recently. They're bare bones for now, but I'd like people's input on the ideas - any thoughts at all are appreciated. I'm sure some of my ideas are terrible, but hopefully a few are interesting. Also - if you know of a system that does something similar, please let me know so I can stea - *ahem* compare notes.

First off - you start at level 0, not level 1. At character creation, a player makes three choices that I'm calling the character's "origin": kin, kith and ken. These are essentially race, background and (sort of) class, but you end up having to explain those terms to newcomers anyway and terms like race and class make it harder to explain in my experience because they already have meanings that are quite different in the real world, hence the name change - it may also have to do with me being a sucker for alliteration. Each of these gives you a list of traits and those traits put together is what makes your level 0 character.

The choices for kin are the likes of human, elf, dwarf, etc.

Your kin choice gives you some attribute/ability score improvements and helps determine your starting hp (orcs benefit from being hardier, gnomes - not so much). You get other general features like night vision or inherent magical abilities but this does not include any features gained from culture. Your kin choice makes no assumptions about how you were raised - even if your species is incredibly war like there is no guarantee that you were raised with them so you might not speak their language or have gone through their martial training.

I wanted having so-called "half-breeds" - or let's go with "mixed kin" - characters built in to the kin choices. So the traits for each kin are divided between core, enate, agnate and true features (enate means on your mother's side, agnate means on your father's side). If you wanted to be a full blooded elf - you get all four. If you wanted to be a half-elf, then you get the core features from both elves and humans and you can choose to take the enate features from one and agnate features from the other - you cannot take the true features from either as you would not be a "true elf" or a "true human".

I'm thinking of calling subraces "kindreds". Just to keep the alliteration rolling. For most kin choices, the kindred will probably not be reflected in the core features. Instead, kindred-specific features will be enate/agante and core features. This way, if someone wants to play a half-elf without worrying about whether they're a half wood elf or whatever, they can.

If players want to play a type of character that is a bit too powerful, this might be a way to let them play a half-whatever it is. So a true demon let's say is not a playable kin choice but a half-demon half-whatever might be.

The choices for this one are the likes of merchant, urchin, aristocrat, etc.

This describes the culture and (social) class that the character was brought up in. The features from your kith choice include your languages, giving you your starting cash, maybe training with certain tools or certain features to aid in roleplaying - for example, a character who grew up on the streets is better able to make connections there. This is not meant to be very mechanically impactful.

Does anyone think there's any utility at all in making these modular like the kin features? I mean, you could be playing the lost heir to a noble house whose family was slain while they were a child and so came of age as a street urchin in hiding from those who destroyed their life. I suppose I could divide the features into two depending on which was more recent. The street urchin isn't going to have half the starting cash of a noble, so that'd count as a "more recent" feature, but a lot of the social graces would still be that of a noble, so that'd be a "less recent feature"

This choice reflects the character's occupation at the time they become an adventurer. So here's where you know what weapons, armor and magic you start off knowing at level 0. It may also come with a few extras for flavor. For example, a soldier will know how to handle a bunch of weapons and decent armor, while a cavalier/cavalryman will be somewhat similar but know how to fight on horseback.

Your ken choice will also give you attribute/ability score improvements and starting hp - so your kin choice doesn't really determine the kind of character you can play, but it could still complement it if you wanted to go the traditional route.

I was thinking of having these optional features added on. They're all RP focused, but sometimes that can be valuable to have on your character sheet. These are just for fun really, as might come across in how I've named them. They're Kwirk, Kwest and Kwalm... yes I know I'm being a total dork but I'm doing a bit - a stupid bit - but it makes me happy!

Kwirk - something unique about your character. Go wild, whatever you want as long as it doesn't break the game somehow. Be silly, be serious, be symbolic just have fun.

Kwest - there is something your character cares deeply about. This is the mission they will complete if they have any hope of doing so. It may very possibly be their reason for adventuring or it may be something they gave up hope on until NOW - or whenever the GM brings it into a plot hook somewhere down the line.

Kwalm - this is the thing that you HATE. You will get into arguments over this, you will get into fights over this. It could be the Empire that invaded your homeland and cost you everything or it could be the sound of people slurping their soup.

For character advancement, I was thinking of a system where you gain levels (though a point buy could work too I guess). Each level you get to choose three things. Number one, you get to improve an attribute by a small amount. Two, you benefit from an ""Origin Feature" - the basic idea being a feat or talent that you can get depending on what you chose as your kin or ken (dragonfolk soldier can get better at breathing fire or better at melee combat by a small degree). And finally, you get to take levels in certain "archetypes".

Rather than a class system, archetypes work a bit more like skill trees that character's can start climbing in any way and any combination they like. They also determine the amount of base hp you gain every level (not your kin or ken - they only determine starting hp). This is where I'd see most of the value in advancement coming from - though origin features may not be a distant second. For a sense of how powerful a level 1 character is compared to a level 0 character (though this is absolutely something that's open to change) I'd see each additional level be worth a fraction of the features one gains at level 0 - so a level 1 character isn't twice as powerful as a level 0 character. Maybe a level 4 character would be twice as powerful? Not sure, but something like that kind of scaling.

Each archetype represents a different style of fighting, or using magic, or a kind of magical fighting. For example, the warrior archetype would work like the fighter classes most of us are familiar with - getting better at combat and being the best physical damage dealer. The "magic knight" archetype on the other hand may not be as good as the warrior at fighting but they have a few magical tricks up their sleeve, though those spells pale in comparison to the wizard. You could choose to have your character take levels in the warrior archetype and the wizard archetype - but this would still be different to the magic knight archetype where the abilities are focused on a synergy between your magic and your fighting rather than having them as separate things - the wizard/fighter having to choose between them each round instead of using magically enhanced attacks like the magic knight, for example. There could be valid reasons both in terms of character and tactics to do both.

There would be aspects - which function as branches off the skill tree. You can take any combination of aspect levels as they open up to you (you cannot take X levels in an aspect until you have Y levels in the archetype to keep more powerful features specifically for higher levels). For example, that magic knight might have aspects that let them make magic oils to use on their weapons for extra effects or even let them make alchemical grenades. There might also be specific offshoots that you get open up as rewards for fitting a list of prerequisites called avocations - I'm not sure they're a good idea, but this was what I came up with.