Thursday, August 30, 2007

Example of Modern System 2.0 Character Creation

So in a recent post on ENW, I posted an example of Modern 2.0 character creation. Although you can read the whole back and forth that led up to this here (and I recommend you do), I thought it only right to put the character creation example up here.

As a huge Sleeper Cell fan (much more my speed that "24"), I use as my iconic character Special Agent Darwyn Al-Sayeed of the FBI, mole inside an al-Qaeda sleeper cell operating inside the United States and planning a major terrorist attack.

We start with Background.

Now we know from the show that Darwyn was an Army Ranger before he joined the FBI, so I set his Background as "military".

This gives Darwyn 4 ranks each in three skills, selected from the following list: Athletics, Engineering, Firearms, Outdoorsman, Perception, Stealth, Unarmed, Vehicles and Weapons.

It also gives Darwyn a little bit of Wealth.

I select Athletics, Firearms and Stealth. Darwyn receives 4 free ranks in each of these skills, representing the training he received during his Army days. However, they are not added to his class skill list, because he's not currently a soldier.

As for what he IS, we now we move to Darwyn's occupation.

This is clearly Spy, at least for his primary occupation (we'll talk about his bit as an FBI agent in a bit).

This adds three skills to Darwyn's class skill list: Crime, Influence and Perception. These are considered class skills regardless of class for as long as Darwyn stays in this occupation. He can leave it whenever he chooses, though this will impose some limitations on him while he transitions from one job to the next.

But Darwyn's not changing jobs right now, he has a mission, so let's not worry about that just yet

Darwyn's occupation also gives him 4 Improved Feats to choose. Not only can he take these feats whether or not they're on his class feat list, they work better for him than for another character, either because he uses them everyday on the job, or because he's had the benefit of special training, what have you.

Darwyn's improved feats are: Awareness, Low Profile (this feat actually allows Darwyn to shunt his Reputation into a separate identity in its improved form), Self-Help and Sneak Attack.

Finally, Darwyn's occupation grants him two "perks", special job bennies that can be used to grant Wealth or Reputation increases, or change the way some of Darwyn's skills work, again through special training or on the job familiarity.

Darwyn's perks are fluid and can be changed anytime he changes occupations, but also when he advances WITHIN his occupation (gains more ranks in occupation class skills or learns an occupational improved feat).

Now, after all this, we move to class.

Darwyn is a committed Muslim, who is defined by his strong love of his religion. He sees the events of 911 as sparking a war within Islam, a war he is committed to winning for the side that believes Islam is a religion of peace. Darwyn is quiet, reserved but when he chooses to stand his ground he is a rock that cannot be moved.

Because of these qualities, I choose Empath for Darwyn's first character class.

Now Darwyn can multi-class at any time, but his FIRST class is improtant, because it determines Darwyn's core ability. Each character only gets one of these, based on the class he takes his first character level in.

As an Empath, Darwyn gains the Resolute core ability, that allows him to add his Empath level to a saving throw once per day. If Darwyn spends an action point, he can treat a failed saving throw as a success.

Like I said, Darwyn's faith and his love of America, combined with a strong sense of personal duty, have made him a rock.

Now we get to Darwyn's hobby. To establish his cover identity, Darwyn actually does a long stretch in jail, where he infiltrates a prison Muslim gang with an influential religious leader (the prison librarian) who will be Darwyn's entry into the sleeper cell.

Because of this, we decide to make Darwyn's hobby crime. He might have been a boy scout before, an elite Army Ranger turned FBI agent whose patriotism is unquestioned. But now he's been an inmate, lived with a muslim prison gang, and on the outside, spends his time in seedy locations like strip clubs and adult movie theaters to maintain his cover.

Darwyn's hobby further expands his skill base, giving him 4 free ranks in the crime skill. Like his Background skills, this is a basic familiarity. The skill isn't added to his class skill list like his three Occupation skills (but remember one of those is Crime as long as Darwyn is a spy).

Now we pick Darwyn's feats. We pick three of the feats from his occupation's Improved Feat list:

Awareness- Darwyn's life depends on his ability to be a step ahead, to read situations and determine the right course of action.

next we take Sneak Attack- as part of being a step ahead, when Darwyn has to fight, he strikes before his opponent is ready; he has to put his man down quick, before he has a chance to blow his cover (or take his life).

Next we take Low Profile- Darwyn's Reputation as a highly decorated Army Ranger and FBI Agent whose loyalty is beyond reproach has been erased (Reputation reduced to 0 per the feat); but rather than being a man with no identity, Darwyn has become someone different- an Army Ranger who left the military because of his radical beliefs, ending up in prison.

Lastly we take a 4th feat, not on Darwyn's occupational feat list, the general feat Moonlighting. This allows Darwyn to gain some of the benefits of a second occupation. We select Law Enforcement, in keeping with Darwyn's double life.

As a final step, we give Darwyn some character disadvantages.

As part of his cover, Darwyn starts seeing a single mother, Gail who he meets through the sleeper cell.

Though she should be part of his cover, she becomes much more and her relationship with Darwyn, a man she believes to be an ex-con working as a bag boy, threatens both their lives, as some local Los Angeles police stumble onto Darwyn, who they believe to be a radical Muslim, and attempt to use her to find out information on Darwyn without going to the FBI (who they don't want to "hog" the credit for this major bust the cops think they've lucked onto).

As Darwyn's player, I represent this state of affairs through the Dependent disadvantage, and the Secret disadvantage.

Darwyn should discard Gail the moment she becomes a liability to his cover and not an asset but he won't. He also has a secret that he must keep from her, to prevent the sleeper cell from killing her to protect their "comrade".

These disadvantages provide no up-front benefit.

Instead, when they activate and make Darwyn's life even more wonderful than normal, Darwyn gets an Action Point as a reward for his trouble. This allows Darwyn to spend his action points much more freely, since he doesn't just have to wait to gain a level to recover his AP.

Of course, with a life like Darwyn's, he needs all the AP he can get.

Whew, I just keep talkin don't I?

Still, I hope this demonstrates that the character generation system is a lot more than picking from 6 classes, I hope it's a system everyone who buys the book loves as much as my players have.

2 comments:

Charles said...

What about if Darwyn multiclasses early (say, 2nd level) and never takes further levels in Empath? Won't his core ability be fairly useless at higher levels? What if he instead got half-credit: a bonus equal to his Empath levels + 1/2 his levels in other classes?

Charles said...

Well- he could still spend an action point for a save to automatically be successful, but yes, his core ability that he could use for free would provide a +1 bonus a save.

Modern System 2.0 rewards characters who spend some time in a single class.

There are feats available to characters who have spent 5 or 6 levels in a class, and the core abilities are more powerful the more time you spend in a single class.