CD10 Core: Characters

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.
— Eckhart Tolle

Why a character?

The character (or the role, the person, the PC etc) is the individual that represents you in the game world. In CD10 a character is called a character or PC (player character) for short. In order to play a role-playing game you must have a character so one of the first steps on your journey towards playing is to create your character.

If you're used to other role-playing games you may already have some idea on how to create a character. We'll assume, however, that you have no idea how to start or that you're used to more mechanics-heavy games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder. Usually in such games, you'll be looking at numbers, tables and points to create your character.

In CD10 we take things from another perspective, but don't worry! We'll get to the numbers eventually. For CD10 the character's backstory is very important in establishing history, motivation and helping you pick skills and traits, and it is the point where we will start.

What is a character?

A character in CD10 is built up of a backstory, species, a set of traits, a set of skills. Abilities depends on the setting. A magical setting could see the character have magical abilities, while a modern or futuristic setting could see characters have mutations, cybernetics or psionic abilities. Each of these stats tell you something about how the character will perform in the game.

Background

The character's background is among the most important parts of a character. Even though it isn't displayed on the character sheet or provide any numbers for gameplay, the backstory is what helps the player guide which traits and skills to choose. In addition, the background sets up a couple of important events and people for the Keeper to use in future stories. We'll go through how to create a background in just a minute.

Species

Depending on the setting, the species of the character affects a few things including a set of starting traits in addition to providing a social context for the story. Your choice of species doesn't have to be made early on in character creation. It can usually be left to until after you've created your backstory, but depending on settings, the choice of species may be more or less important. Ask your Keeper about the details of the setting.

Traits

Traits are descriptors of the character and can describe things like physical size, quirks, personality and even things like fate. Traits help define a character and thanks to their integration into the core of CD10, traits can play a large part mechanically, giving your choices real gameplay impact.

Skills

The skills of a character define what they have learned in life and how good they are at performing them. Most anyone who has played roleplaying games are familiar with skills and how you perform "skill checks" to overcome challenges in the game. CD10 models things that most games define as "base attributes" as skills. So if you're looking for things like "strength", "intelligence" and "charisma", CD10 defines these as skills.

Background

The first step of character creation is to come up with a backstory. Where did your character come from? Who are they? Create a background story together with the Keeper. The background is important to allow the Keeper to tailor the story to your character and to establish some important people in your character's life.

It's usually a good idea to come up with a profession for your character during character creation, to help guide you in picking skills and traits.

Requirements for the background story

These three elements must be fulfilled before your character can be considered completed. You need a backstory, but it doesn't have to be complicated, as long as the below is achieved.

  • Pick one person that has been influential in your life and that still mean a lot to you.
  • Pick one person that is your rival. Someone who has been a thorn in your side in your life.
  • Pick two members of the party and describe your relationship with them.

Character starting skills and traits

The Keeper sets a starter experience level for all the characters in the campaign, depending on what she needs. This "starter level" determines how many skills and traits your character can have and is a useful tool for the Keeper to tweak the style of campaign. The groups of Average, Skilled, Superb and Legend represent increasing amounts of experience at the start of the adventure. Each group gets a different amount of skills and traits.

In the top row, the column headers list each base experience level and each row below that determines your Traits Value and how many skills of each competency level you get. Skills are granted in four levels: Hobbyist, Competent, Professional and Master, representing the values 2, 4, 6 and 8. If you've already looked through CD10 Core: Skills, you know how these work. They represent your ability with a skill.

Character experience is just a descriptor for indicating the average skill and experience of the character at character creation. We do not track "levels", like for instance DnD, and your characters do not increase in distinct levels through gameplay. Once character creation is done, your starting experience is irrelevant and the level is not noted on the character sheet. Most characters, unless the Keeper decides otherwise, should start at Skilled.

CD10 STARTING CHARACTER VALUES
Average
Skilled
Superb
Legend
Traits
2
4
6
8
Hobbyist Skills (2)
5
10
14
18
Competent Skills (4)
2
5
6
8
Professional Skills (6)
0
1
2
3
Master Skills (8)
0
0
0
1

 

If the Keeper wants the players to have a bit of a head start on things, she can have them created at a higher experience point like Superb or even Legendary. The Average is generally used for creating NPCs and should not be used for players.

A character created as a Skilled character will have a Traits value of 4, meaning they can only pick up to 4 negative traits and the total sum of their traits when added together may not exceed 4. They also get 10 skills at Hobbyist skill level, 5 skills at Competent and 1 skill at Professional.

Advanced Traits and Skills

If you are running a game with any of the modules providing additional abilities, then you should pick these before you move on. Be it magic, mutations or psionics, get them out of the way first.

Choose your Traits

A character can theoretically possess any number of traits as there is no hard cap on how many traits you can have. At character creation, however, a character is limited in two ways: They may only pick a maximum number of negative traits (beyond those granted by their species) and the total sum of their traits may not exceed the value in the "Traits" row on the character starter level table. The starting traits of any species always add up to a sum of 0, so unless you modify those traits, you can ignore them for your calculations.

If that value is "4", then your character may only pick 4 negative traits, beyond those granted by your species. When you are done picking your traits and putting values to them, the sum may not exceed 4. If a character is Superb, these numbers both change to 6 negative traits and a total sum of 6.

Traits from species

A species in CD10 is defined by a set of traits. While the traits can be altered by the player, they should not do so without good reason. These traits define the average for that species and shifting them slightly is a good way to make a unique character, but removing or greatly altering them may leave you with an odd character.

If, for instance, a player wants to play a dulzuun but not be Unattractive, he must modify this trait by "paying" two points from his maximum. His character is created as a Skilled character, so his Trait value number is 4. Now, to get rid of Unattractive he must "pay" two points to raise the trait from -2 to 0. This means he has less points to put into other traits when adding them all together. This holds true for lowering species-given traits as well. Say the player wants to remove Hound-nose from his character, he then gains a point he can put into other traits.

Remember that all species add up to ±0, so if you change them, this will affect your final total and you may need to give up points in some of your picked traits to make up for it.

Dulzuun CD10 Starting Traits
Big
4

3

3

-3

Eye Defect (Near-sighted)
-4

1

-3

Iron Physique (Everything)
1

-2

If a player doesn't change his species' traits, he can ignore them for all his calculations. Please note that even if you remove a negative trait from your species' traits, you cannot add more negative traits to your character than your starting level allows. If you have a value of 4, then you cannot pick more than 4 negative traits, even if you remove a negative trait from your species lineup.

Picking Traits

Picking traits should be done with your character's physical and mental characteristics in mind. Pull from your background story to find traits that describe your character. Traits are deviations from a norm, so try and find things that define your character in one way or another.


Drenka is created as a Skilled level character, so she may only have 4 negative traits and when she has calculated all of her traits together, she may not have a total trait value above 4. She lists her traits as follows:
 
Kuna CD10 Starting Traits
Big
1

3

2

-3

Eye Defect (Color blind)
-3

Eye Defect (Near-sighted)
-3

2

3

-2

-4

-1

1

2

2

Her total value when adding all traits (except species traits) together ends up being 3+2+2+2+2+3-3-2-2-3=+4 and she has not picked more than 4 negative traits. She is also a kuna, so she adds her species traits as well. But since she doesn't want to be Big, she reduces it to 0 and so her new total is +3. To fill the gap, she raises Unapproachable to -1 instead of -2, putting her back at a total of +4.

Choose your Skills

According to your character's level, pick skills that make sense from your character's background and life goal. It is usually easier to just pick out the skills first then choose which ones are Hobbyist, Competent or Professional level, rather than trying to pick that immediately. Go through the skills list, pick a bunch of skills you want and that fit with your background, then decide which ones you want to be good at.

If your character has skills or traits that require purchasing with XP, you may substitute a Hobbyist skill for 3 experience points, a Competent skill for 10 experience points or a Professional skill for 21 points. These abilities are listed in their respective advanced module. For instance CD10 Abilities: Psionics for psionic skills.

Property, wealth and gear

Finally you need to equip your character. First, add up the values of the traits Status and Riches (or Poor alternatively). You have a base amount of funds on your person and can purchase equipment for an additional sum of money. The additional sum cannot be converted to in-hand funds post creation, so spend them wisely! Also take note that a character without any traits that affect it, can only carry 12 Kg of gear on their body or risk becoming encumbered in combat.

The number under "average income" is a suggested target level for your monthly income from work, stocks or other sources. You should come up with a narrative way of how your character makes that kind of money, be it employment, freelance work, criminal activities etc.

Below follows an example table of different income levels from Cinders of the Cataclysm. You can create your own table to fit your own world.

Trait Value Starting Wealth Starting Equipment Living Standards Rent Avg Income Other
-4
100 Cr
0 Cr
Streets
0 Cr
0 Cr
Ragged clothing.
-3
200 Cr
500 Cr
Abandoned Building
200 Cr
400 Cr
Rough clothing.
-2
300 Cr
1000 Cr
Slum Apartment
400 Cr
600 Cr
Decent clothing.
-1
400 Cr
2 000 Cr
Rundown Apartment
600 Cr
800 Cr
-
0
500 Cr
4 000 Cr
Basic Resiblock
800 Cr
1 500 Cr
-
+1
1 000 Cr
8 000 Cr
Decent Resiblock
1 200 Cr
2 200 Cr
-
+2
2 000 Cr
10 000 Cr
Fine Apartment
2 000 Cr
3 200 Cr
-
+3
4 000 Cr
15 000 Cr
Luxury Apartment
3 500 Cr
5 000 Cr
Basic model car. Loan Ceil. 10 000 Cr.
+4
10 000 Cr
40 000 Cr
Penthouse
5 500 Cr
8 000 Cr
Fine model car. Loan Ceil. 20 000 Cr.
+5
10 000 Cr
60 000 Cr
Penthouse
5 500 Cr
8 000 Cr
Fine model car. Loan Ceil. 20 000 Cr.
+6
15 000 Cr
80 000 Cr
Luxury Block Flat
8 000 Cr
14 000 Cr
Fine model car. Loan Ceil. 50 000 Cr.
+7
35 000 Cr
160 000 Cr
VoH Apartment
18 000 Cr
28 000 Cr
Private Hover. Loan Ceil. 200 000 Cr.
+8
50 000 Cr
300 000 Cr
VoH Luxury Apartment
20 000 Cr
40 000 Cr
Private Hover. Loan Ceil. 500 000 Cr.

Age and death

A character who sticks around for a long time may eventually grow old. When the character passes the threshold for old age for their species (see the species description) the character must make a check against +3 DC per 5 years beyond the threshold and can use any applicable physical trait, such as Iron Physique, Strong, Feeble or Sickly for the check.

Should the check fail, the character gains the trait Old -1 and will age according to the trait's description.

Death

Living an adventurous life is dangerous and even if one does not die violently on an adventure, age will inevitably claim us all. A character's death should be role-played and be a focused scene for people to enjoy. The death-scene should leave everyone, including the player whose character died, with a memorable experience.

If a character dies in battle it should be a glorious and dramatic death, such as fighting to the bitter end and shouting a scathing insult at the foe who dealt the killing blow. If the character is fataly injured the coming death scene should be role-played as the character is surrounded by their adventurous companions and perhaps friends and family, to say their final goodbyes.

A character who reaches Old -5 must, before the next gaming session, decide on a good death scene for their character, which should also involve every other party member as well as what friends and family the character has. Make it memorable!

Once the death scene has been played out the player should think about what to do next. Some leave the game entirely, but if that's not what they want, they should figure out what new character they want and also think about what happens to the character's possessions and wealth. If the character had children, they likely inherited what was owned by the character. The new character could be a child of the old character and therefore inherit some, or all, of their wealth, if any.

Pay close attention to inheritance rules within the setting. Party members looting the dead corpse may be illegal.


Articles under CD10 Core: Characters



Cover image: CD10 Banner by Mizomei

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