This chapter is for players who want to explore more of their characters' possible backgrounds and traits. After completing basic character generation in the Character Basics section, look through this section to "flesh out" your character with interesting game- and story-related options called Advantages, Disadvantages, and Special Abilities. These suggest the fact that your character might have knowledge, resources, or abilities that aren't reflected by the character's attributes and skills. If something inspires you to change your character's basic characteristics, feel free to go back and make adjustments.
When you first created your character, you probably had a character concept in mind or one was suggested by the template that you used. Now's the time to expand the character's history.
There are several ways you can do this. The easiest is to answer questions like:
Say your character knows marksmanship and several specializations. Why? Was the character in the army? A child of a mercenary? How were these skills learned? You don't have to explain every skill, but try to rationalize any unusual skills (such as Extranormal skills), as well as skills the character has two dice or more in (he is really good at those).
There are, of course, other questions you can come up with, though these are among the most common.
You can jot down notes and go back and fill in the gaps as you play. You can make up the name of the character's village, the exact date of birth, and other things as you go along. If you're stuck for ideas, read the basic description of the game setting or remember pertinent books, television shows, and movies — you can develop ideas based on them.
You might not want to write a background for your character until you look at some of the options available to you. Take a look at the Advantages, Disadvantages, and Special Abilities, and see some ofthe benefits and drawbacks you can choose for your character. You might see something you want to work in, and that will help give you ideas for a background story.
Gamemasters and players can use character options to tweak the basic Human starting character package into any sort of species template that they desire. The next section, "Non-Human Races," provides some sample non-Human write-ups and character packages based on them.
Advantages, Disadvantages, and Special Abilities make the character more interesting, more (and less) effective, and more fun to roleplay (if you do it right). You know the story of your character — here's what that story means in game terms.
Example: You decide to give your character a Special Ability that provides him with a +1 to one of three combat-related skill totals. If you don't have any points to spend on Special Abilities, your character needs to have some kind of Disadvantage as well. The character might have to add 1 to the difficulty of all interaction-related skill totals, or you might include a totally unrelated Disadvantage (of comparative power) — like the character is afraid of the dark and has trouble acting when in the dark.
Every character option in this chapter has its own rules for implementation. There are, if you look hard enough, some nightmarish combinations. If something seems like it is could cause trouble in the game later on, check with your gamemaster before choosing it. Ultimately, the gamemaster has final say on the choice of all Advantages, Disadvantages, and Special Abilities, as well as final say on the interpretation of those choices. Players who misuse their character options, particularly their Disadvantages, may find their Advantages or Special Abilities meeting with some unfortunate accident.
Advantages, Disadvantages, and Special Abilities are listed alphabetically in their respective sections. Advantages and Disadvantages are further organized into ranks. These ranks are numbered; higher-numbered ranks are more powerful. They are abbreviated R1, R2, R3, R4, and so on. Special Abilities don't have listed ranks. Instead, the descriptions give the initial cost for gaining one rank in that ability.
Note: Gamemasters may allow higher ranks of character options than the examples given here. Players and gamemasters should discuss the best way to represent their characters' unique set of traits.
Each rank in an Advantage or Disadvantage is worth one creation point (or one skill die, if you're using defined limits) per number. Advantages cost creation points, while Disadvantages give you creation points (or skill dice). Thus, a Rank 1 Advantage costs one point or die, while a Rank 4 Disadvantage gives you four points or dice.
The cost of one rank of the Special Ability is included in parentheses. Some Special Abilities, such as Immortality, do not lend themselves to being taken more than once. Players may also add Limitations to their Special Abilities, which reduce their effectiveness (and the cost), or add Enhancements, which increase their effectiveness (and the cost); these are described at the end of this section.
In settings where characters with Special Abilities are common, additional ranks of each Special Ability cost one point (or skill die) per rank at character creation. In settings where characters with Special Abilities are uncommon, additional ranks of each Special Ability cost the value listed with the Special Ability. As one instance, the total cost of two ranks of Iron Will in a game where Special Abilities are uncommon is four, while in a game where they are common, the cost is three.
When using templates or defined limits for attributes and skill dice, players may use skill dice or dice received from Disadvantages to get Advantages and Special Abilities. Players in games using character creation point pools may use some of the points in their pool or points gained from Disadvantages to purchase Advantages and Special Abilities.
Additionally, players may use creation points that they earn from giving their characters Disadvantages to buy more skill dice (at a rate of one creation point for each skill die) or more attribute dice (at a rate of four creation points for each attribute die).
A maximum of 10 creation points (or 10 extra skill dice) received from Disadvantages is recommended for any genre.
Disadvantages hamper the character in some way. They might affect her attributes or skills or they might mean trouble for her in certain situations. Both Advantages and Disadvantages make the character more rounded and more believable.
Many Disadvantages exist as counterparts to the Advantages or Special Abilities listed herein. A Skill Bonus Special Ability is the positive end of a Hindrance Disadvantage. Some have roleplaying effects, while others alter attributes and skills.When choosing Disadvantages, keep a few things in mind:
1. You're going to have to live with the Disadvantage. Take only Disadvantages that you don't expect to ever get rid of — there are rules for eliminating Disadvantages, but the gamemaster may allow their use only after lots of adventuring.
2. Choose more roleplaying Disadvantages than gamemechanic ones. Instead of taking easy-to-use modifiers to skill attempts or abilities, select Disadvantages that you can roleplay. Granted, you won't want to have an overwhelming number of either type of Disadvantage, but Disadvantages that can be roleplayed and can work themselves into an adventure story are much more interesting than simple modifiers to difficulty numbers.
3. The Disadvantage has to be a disadvantage. Any Disadvantage that can be easily worked around, no matter how potent, or that actually helps the character on a regular basis is not a Disadvantage. For example, if a character has an Advantage Flaw where he can't use his Advantage when the temperature is below 60, and the character is always adventuring in places where the temperature is at least that high, then it is not a Disadvantage. Check all Disadvantages (and other character options, for that matter) with your gamemaster and explain to him what you think they mean before you start playing the game. That way, you can avoid this problem before it crops up. Gamemasters who figure out the player was purposely trying to break the system may take away the Disadvantage and an equal amount of Advantages, Special Abilities, and maybe even Character and Fate Points.
Special Abilities are those abilities that exceed the usual or natural capabilities of a Human character. The character's species, some sort of unique training, or a magical/miraculous/other effect might explain their origin. They give the character a bonus to her attributes or skills, or they provide her with access to something that the average Human character can't do.
Before allowing players to create characters with Special Abilities, the gamemaster may wish to peruse this list to see if there are any she would prefer not to appear in her games. She may also decide that certain Special Abilities require specific Limitations on them or Disadvantages on the character.
Any Special Ability that gives a bonus to the die roll or the skill total also allows the character to use that skill as if trained. Bonuses received from taking multiple ranks of the same Special Ability are added together.
Skills gained with a Special Ability are not improved when that Special Ability is improved. Instead, they are increased as a normal skill.
Unless stated otherwise in the Special Ability, it does not count as an action for the character to get the bonus from a Special Ability. However, except for such automatic abilities as Natural Armor or Combat Sense, the character must state that she is relying on the Special Ability or she does not receive the bonus.