So: Character Creation.
EP1 Character Creation was a mess. The original rules were unwieldy to say the least, and they tried multiple methods to fix this:
- Fan-made Excel sheets, which I think stung the developers that were heavy into using open source and such.
- They Kickstarted an app to be a character tool. It was horrible at first and, last time I checked, merely awful.
- A later book added a ‘lifepath’ style system.
- There was also a conversion of the entire game to the Fate rules.
So, kind of a mess. Part of it is the game is very freeform about defining characters but at the same time a lot of stuff does have mechanical impact. The old rules used a 1,000 point (or so) budget for skills, which was after you spent a couple other pools of points to determine Aptitudes (basic stats) and other details. It was interesting, but kind of ugly.
So, the new rules: There’s some good advice: They recommend doing character creation as a group, something I’ve been leaning to for a few years anyway. I don’t need to play in an RPG where very character is a unique unattached oddity with their own plot arc. I’d much prefer players actually make characters that might want to associate with each other. “Plan Ahead” is another bit of advice which is a bit more difficult as players may not know much about the rules or setting. The final bit of advice is ‘Playing an Asyinc’ which is the settings local version of psychics. We’ll get to them in a bit…
So the new system is similar to the previous ‘lifepath’ incarnation, but cleaned up. I think it might be better designed for people new to the game, which is a good thing.You choose a background, and get some skills (about 250 points in total, but I’m not checking all of them). Simple enough. Backgrounds are where you came from, and include Colonist (You settled on a planet or planetoid), Enclaver (You grew up in a something akin to a gated community on Earth), Hyperelite (You’re from the wealthy), Infolife (Greetings, program!), or others. There’s random tables if you can’t choose, and the packages include some skills you get to choose from or design.
Next you pick a career, which is broadly similar to Background, but it’s more recent. Again, it’s around 200-250 points of skills. These are heavy on the “Know:” skills, which are catch-alls for things that don’t merit a dedicated skill. You might be an Enforcer, a Hacker, an Academic, or Scavenger.
There’s also an Interest, which is basically a small customization option. The Social character might pick Networker, while the team lead might go for the Commander Package. The tech that can fight surprisingly well can pick up the Fighter package. or there’s the Slacker package.
Next is Factions. Characters pick one of 16 factions, but it’s not mandatory. Factions are a major part of the setting, and cover a wide range of backgrounds. Hypercorp means you work for the corporate machines, while Scum hang out on floating party barges. Less extreme are Barsoomians (Martian settlers opposing the corporate hypercorps) and Reclaimers (retaking earth).
One weird one is the Jovians. The Jovian Confederation tends to be one of the setting’s bad guys: They’re extremely bioconservative (They think turning oneself into a giant octopus is immoral) almost to the point of being cartoonish (They’re against a lot of augmentations, even many life-preserving ones). They’re a tough choice for PC types as they’ll probably be mistrusted by most others… And they skip many of the game’s rules unless they’re willing to compromise their beliefs.
The Faction choice gets you a Know skill for your choice and, right now, that’s it. There’s a later ‘Rep’ section, but that’s a few steps away.
Next is Aptitudes. For those that speak D&D, this is the ‘roll 4d6 drop 1 six times’ except in this case you pick from one of 7 templates that set the six aptitudes to values from 10-20. Same 90 points each.Characters can tweak these a bit, too.
Next step (we’re at step 6) is Skills. Skills are percentile and have a base on a linked attribute. You get the skills from the previous steps and can’t go above 80 at this point. When we get to CP, you get to buy more skill points.
Next step is Languages, and you get two. There’s bonus skills for high mental stats. They’re “binary skills” you either have or don’t.
Continuing: Flex. Characters start with one Flex pool point, which is basically the game’s “Meta mess with the scenario” currency.
Moving on, Reputation: Reputation is a big deal in the setting. With the original rules it could be used as a currency, and might be the major currency in some outer regions. In EP2, it’s even bigger I think, as the developers got rid of detailed cash tracking, especially since so many areas don’t do normal currency.
See “Reputation Economy” which is an interesting idea, even if I don’t personally know how it would work beyond small groups.
There’s a backwards page ref to explain the Reputation network a character can spend points on:
- @-Rep is the “autonomists, anarchists, Titanians, scum and Extropians” or basically the people who think capitalism is icky to various degrees.
- c-rep for the corporate interests.
- f-rep for the rich and Famous.
- g-rep is for the organized crime, and the criminal underworld in general.
- i-rep for the “The Eye” or Firewall (the aforementioned “let’s not let alien viruses eat the world” faction)
- r-rep (Researchers and pro-science factions)
- x-rep (Explorers, including the Gatecrashers mentioned earlier)
You get 100 points to divide between these, with a suggestion of covering 2 or 3.
next is customization, where you get 20 points that can be spent at different values for the above steps as well as purchasing Ego Traits (mental special abilities). There’s also negative traits to get more CP.
At this point you take a breather. This is a lot of material! There’s some number crunching to do to determine your character’s stats, but as of right now you’re a mind without form. So Step 12 is Starting Morph & Gear.
Gear is handed out by packages. There’s a package for each career (step 2) and each kind of campaign (Firewall, Gatecrashing, Criminal).
Morphs are bought with another currency, Morph Points. This is where your physical traits come from. Morphs will get their own post, but in general they were a big feature of the EP1 run. You can use extra Morph Points for extra Gear or Flex.
A final step is Motivations, which is roughly analogous to 5e’s “Traits, Flaws, and Bonds” but you pick three things that are important to you. You’re allowed to mark them as + or -: You might pick “reclaim Earth” and mark it with a + if you think it’s an important goal, or a - if you think it’s a waste of time.
More to come, but that’s character creation.