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Chapter 3: Character Generation

3.1 Fate

Avatar uses a system which allows the player some additional influence over the outcome of character generation. This influence is in the form of fate points. Each starting character gets 3 fate points to be spent during character generation. Any points not used during character generation are added to a character's starting fate points (see
section 4.7).

Each fate point may be spent during character generation to reroll any one die roll, or to 'buy' something for the character. When a fate point is used to reroll something, the player may choose whether to keep the original roll, or change it for the rerolled value.

There are a number of possible other things that a fate point could be spent on, such as having an ambidextrous character. If the player wishes to have a non-human character, and the statistics for that non-human are advantageous, the GM will probably charge one or more fate points. Similarly, if the player wishes to be a member of nobility, they should be charged one or two fate points, according to how high a rank they wish to have in society.

3.2 Attributes

The standard attributes in Avatar are:
Strength [STR]:
The degree of physical force which may be exerted.The amount of damage that a character can do with a weapon is affected by strength.
Endurance [END]:
The degree of physical punishment which can be endured. Endurance determines a character's Wound States (see section 5.9).
Dexterity [DEX]:
Measure of hand-eye coordination and reflexes. Dexterity determines a character's Initiative dice (see section 5.2).
Agility [AGL]:
Measure of full body coordination and balance. The base number of Actions (see section 5.3 and section 6.3) a character has is determined by agility.
Awareness [AWA]:
Measure of perceptiveness and alertness. The acuteness of all five senses is assessed in awareness.
Phase [PHS]:
Extent to which the individual influences Shadow, and hence how magical - and how magically resistant - a character is. Phase determines a character's Mental Code (see section 7.3) and also acts as a kind of sixth sense (see section section 7.20).
These attributes are rated on a numeric scale from 1 to infinity. For most Humans, attributes will fall between the values of 1 and 20, although in some cases values above 20 or below 1 may be possible.

3.3 Attribute Ranks

Attribute values are calculated using a system of ranks. A rank gives the general level of aptitude in an Attribute; a high rank gives a higher probability of a high Attribute value, though it does not guarantee it (nor does a low rank enforce a low Attribute value). Since ranks give the general trend in the level of Attribute values, all members of one race or species will tend to have the same rank levels, with some races having a high rank in one Attribute corresponding to a lower rank in a different Attribute (see
section 3.4). Table 1 shows how Attribute values are rolled for each rank; the shaded columns give a statistical breakdown of the potential Attribute values for each rank, giving ranges and averages. It should be noted that ranks will play no part in the game after the character has been generated.

Table 1: Basic Attribute Table
Rank Dice Range Average
0 1d6 1-6 3.5
1 2d6 /2 1-6 3.5
2 2d6 -1 1-11 6
3 3d6 -2 1-16 9.5
4 2d20 /2 1-20 10.5
5 3d6 +2 5-20 12.5
6 2d6 +8 10-20 15
7 1d6 +14 15-20 17.5
8 1d6 /2 +17 18-20 18.75
9 20 20 20

All humans start with a base rank of 4 for each Attribute, which may be altered by raising or lowering at the cost of one lowered rank to each raised rank (that is, the total of all the ranks must be 24). However, Racial modifiers may also be applied to this (see section 3.4, below). 3.4 Racial Modifiers Within any one species, there may exist a number of racial variants, usually dominated by regional variation. These regional variations are represented by Racial modifiers. These modifiers apply to the Rank of each Attribute, and not the values. It is suggested (but not essential) that the sum of all Racial modifiers be a fixed value for any one Species. The only additional restriction is that if a Racial modifier is positive, then that Rank may not be lowered below that value (without the Gamesmaster's permission). For example, here are a set of possible Racial modifiers:

Aerloon: -2 STR -2 END +2 DEX +1 AWA +3 PHS
Gobrach: +2 END +1 AWA -1 PHS
Helios: +2 END +1 AGL +1 AWA -2 PHS
Orphis: -1 STR -1 END +2 DEX +2 AGL
Trok: +1 STR +1 DEX +2 AGL -2 PHS

A person from Gobrach can't lower END below Rank 2, or AWA below Rank 1, but can lower all the others to Rank 0.

3.5 Non-Human Attribute Modifiers

Non-humans may have a Range of Attributes which exceeds the Normal human range of 1-20. In game terms, this is represented by a Species modifier for certain Attributes. These changes are not changes to Ranks but to the actual Attribute values. However, these modifiers never reduce Attributes to less than 1. For example, a Minotaur might be expressed as:

STR +10 (11 to 30) END +8 (9 to 28) DEX - 6 (1 to 14)
AGL -2 (1 to 18) AWA +0 (1 to 20) PHS -10 (1 to 10)

Such a creature exists more in Twilight than in Shadow, and has greater power over the material (STR and END) at the expense of reduced control over the immaterial (PHS).

3.6 Older Characters

The standard age for starting characters is assumed to be around 18 to 24 years old (for a human), although some players may wish to start characters who are older than this. For each complete five year block beyond 20, the character forfeits one Attribute Rank, but gains a +1 on all their Skills (see section 3.11). Any Racial Rank modifiers are applied normally in the case of older starting characters, that is, the number of Ranks available are divided between the six Attributes and then Racial Rank modifiers are applied.

For example, a certain person wishes to start a character at the age of 42. This is 22 years older than age 20, which divides by 5 to give four whole blocks of 5. As a result, they only have 20 Ranks to divide between their Attributes (see section 3.2), but will gain a +4 on all Skills they roll on Table 10.

The loss of Ranks is intended to represent the degree of deterioration the body has experienced through aging, compensated for by an increase in knowledge. The Avatar rules system does not give any clues as to what the character's Attributes would have been like at a younger age, nor does it cover any future aging effects. The Attribute values produced for older characters should be used to determine Governing Values (section 3.11) in the normal way. Any lowering of Governing Values due to lower Attributes is offset to a certain degree by the bonus awarded to Skills for starting at an older age.

For non-humans, increase the size of the `aging block' and the starting point for aging in the ratio of 70 to the average maximum age for a member of the species, e.g. if the species lives to 140, it would be each block of 10 after 40.

3.7 Example of Attribute Generation

The following is an example of how a character's Attributes are generated. Fairn is a Human from Ashdar (see section 3.4, above), and hence starts with the following Ranks:

STR 4   END 5   DEX 6   AGL 4   AWA 4   PHS 3

The player generating Fairn decides that he definitely wants a high DEX and a reasonably good AWA but is not bothered about the other Attributes, provided STR and END are not too low. He chooses the following Ranks:

STR 3   END 4   DEX 7   AGL 4   AWA 5   PHS 3

He consults Table 2 and rolls the appropriate dice getting:

STR 7   END 14  DEX 19  AGL 8   AWA 14  PHS 8

Assuming he is happy with this, he could then proceed to selecting Affinities (see section 3.8, below). Otherwise, he could spend Fate Points (see section 3.1, above) to reroll Attributes (one Fate Point for each reroll).

3.8 Affinities

Avatar uses an affinity based system to help define characters. This essentially means that characters will have a list of terms which define their personality in some way or another. There is no limit to the number of affinities which a player may choose, but you are advised to only choose Demeanour traits (see section 3.9, below) that truly describe the character you envision.

The affinities are divided into two separate categories: Demeanour traits, which are used to describe the personality of the character, and Concept Affinities/Aversions which describe concepts with which the character has a natural rapport - or antipathy with.

These traits affect Skills (see section 3.11), including combat and magic. Every action performed by the character can be modified in effectiveness according to these traits. No trait is always a help or a hindrance - for any one trait there will be certain situations in which it will be an asset, and certain situations in which it will be a liability.

3.9 Demeanour Traits

All the possible Demeanour traits are listed here with their opposites. In all cases, a character can be one trait, or the other, but never both. The pairs of traits are relatively extreme, and if the character is conceived as being somewhere between the two traits, you are advised to select neither. You do not have to select one trait from each pair, just choose those traits which fully describe your character.

Somewhere between five and fifteen traits is usually reasonable (but do not let this restrict you if you feel that the character's personality cannot realistically be expressed in this many traits).

Table 2: Demeanour Traits
Demeanour Traits
Abeyant Intrepid Deceptive Truthful
Abstemious Hedonistic Direct Subtle
Altruistic Selfish Emotional Pragmatic
Angry Sedate Equitable Inequitable
Arrogant Modest Erudite Unacademic
Avaricious Contented Forgiving Vengeful
Bold Fearful Impulsive Predictable
Candid Secretive Incurious Inquisitive
Capricious Persistent Loyal Perfidious
Carnal Chaste Mystical Sceptical
Cautious Reckless Optimistic Pessimistic
Compassionate Cruel Suspicious Trusting
Conformant Rebellious Peaceful Violent
Constructive Destructive Profane Religious
Courteous Uncivil Romantic Stoic

Whilst some combinations may require a small stretch of imagination, all possibilities are, nonetheless, legitimate. In order to reduce any conflicts of interpretation, the demeanour pairs are described as follows:

Abeyant / Intrepid:
An abeyant character is generally not interested in adventuring or heroics, and would rather live a quiet life. An intrepid character has a drive to explore, and be adventurous. Intrepid differs from bold in that a person may desire to be adventurous, but lose their nerve in dangerous situations, and differs similarly from reckless since a reckless person might simply act dangerously, and have no real desire to be heroic.
Abstemious / Hedonistic:
Hedonistic people are, by nature, pleasure-seeking, although not necessarily selfish. Conversely, an abstemious person has little desire for pleasures of the flesh.
Altruistic / Selfish:
This pair of demeanour traits deal with how self-sacrificing a person is. Altruistic people are prepared to act without personal gain for other people's benefit, whereas selfish people always look out for number one. Whilst it can be argued that no-one is wholly altruistic, it should still be possible to see the difference between a character who is altruistic and one who is not.
Angry / Sedate:
People who are in general sedate will respond to confrontations and problems calmly, rather than getting worked up and losing their temper as an angry person will tend to do. Being angry does not necessarily mean being violent, however, and sedate does not necessarily imply apathetic, just a steady way of doing things.
Arrogant / Modest:
How a person views themselves is dealt with by considering how arrogant or modest they are. Modest people do not generally desire praise, and tend not to boast, whilst arrogant people are constantly praising themselves for their own achievements.
Avaricious / Contented:
People who are naturally greedy and desire a great deal of material goods are considered avaricious. On the other hand are people who have little need for material possessions, and who are contented.
Bold / Fearful:
Not to be confused with reckless, the bold character is always prepared to take risks or face danger, when such a risk is necessary. The fearful character will, however, do whatever is necessary to avoid risk or danger.
Candid / Secretive:
A candid person is free with their opinions, although they do not have to be truthful in what they say. Those who are naturally secretive prefer to keep their opinions - and knowledge - to themselves.
Capricious / Persistent:
Those people with tenacity and dedication (although not necessarily those who are loyal) are the persistent workers of the world. Those who rarely stay with a project long enough for it to be completed are the capricious shirkers of the world.
Carnal / Chaste:
A character who is carnal has a high sex drive and is generally lusty. The chaste character has a low sex drive and has little or no desire for sex.
Cautious / Reckless:
Whether you are cautious or reckless depends on your attitude to unnecessary risks. If you will always try to avoid taking risks, except where essential, then you are cautious. If you rush in where others fear to tread, you can safely be considered reckless.
Compassionate / Cruel:
Not to be confused with altruistic, compassionate indicates a degree of care for other people's well-being. They may not actually do anything to ease another person's suffering, but they will certainly feel guilty if they don't. Cruel people have little care for people in general, although if altruistic they may well still care deeply for friends, lovers or family.
Conformant / Rebellious:
The rebellious character has a natural tendency to ignore rules and possibly to deliberately break them. The conformant character has a much greater respect for law and order.
Constructive / Destructive:
Those whose preference is for building up, creating and repairing are generally constructive in nature. Conversely, those who take delight in tearing things down, or in causing the destruction of things around them are destructive.
Courteous / Uncivil:
Regardless of their feelings towards a person, the courteous character will generally be polite towards them. The uncivil character is usually insulting - perhaps even towards their associates.
Deceptive / Truthful:
People who are truthful rarely lie or bend the truth to their own purposes. On the other hand, the deceptive person has no belief in the sanctity of truth and may, in fact, enjoy lying for the sake of lying.
Direct / Subtle:
This pair of traits considers how an individual acts to achieve their aims. A direct person will generally attempt to persuade, cajole, bribe or threaten their way through life, whereas a subtle person tends to find less direct means of achieving a goal.
Emotional / Pragmatic:
If you are generally ruled by your heart, emotional describes you better than pragmatic, which covers those whose head keeps their heart firmly in line. In distinguishing between these traits and others which seem similar, the general rule is that emotional and pragmatic define the character's motivation and not necessarily their actions. A character can be emotional yet sedate, in which case they act as their emotions dictate but don't generally get worked up and, similarly, a character could be pragmatic yet reckless - they know what they should do, but they just can't resist the lure of the actual act.
Equitable / Inequitable:
Fair-minded individuals are equitable: they believe in justice. Their inequitable cousins, however, believe in no such principles, although they may be prevented from an inequitable act (such as theft) by personal values or honour.
Erudite / Unacademic:
The studious and academic mind is generally erudite, finding learning relatively easy. The unacademic mind may well be competent in many skills, but has difficulty learning facts and knowledge.
Forgiving / Vengeful:
Quite literally, the forgiving person is prepared to forgive and (possibly) forget, whilst the vengeful person will almost always seek retribution.
Impulsive / Predictable:
Those with a self-consistent set of personal rules, or perhaps with a strict upbringing, will tend towards being predictable, in that their motivating forces are often apparent to those who know them. An impulsive person, on the other hand, acts on the spur of the moment, and is motivated by whimsical forces which they themselves may not wholly understand.
Incurious / Inquisitive:
If the erudite person finds learning easy, the inquisitive person finds learning essential. They may not fully understand what they learn, but they are driven to find out. They cannot stand other people being secretive. The incurious person, on the other hand, is content with what they know, or think they know, and has a lesser interest in the unknown.
Loyal / Perfidious:
Those that are prepared to stick with a friend or ally to the bitter end, no matter what the cost, are certainly loyal. The perfidious person will jump ship whenever their loyalty is no longer beneficial, logical or perhaps just enjoyable for them. People who are Perfidious and altruistic may find themselves in a conflict of interests.
Mystical / Sceptical:
Belief in the unknown, the unknowable and the unexplained is characterised by a mystical attitude. People who are sceptical, on the other hand, tend to believe only in what can be concretely proven or seen. Whilst magic is an important aspect of the game, it is not necessarily well known or understood by people in the game world, hence magic can be mystical, in the same way science can be mystical to people now.
Optimistic / Pessimistic:
Optimistic people look on the bright side of any situation, no matter how hopeless. Pessimistic people always look at a situation from the worst possible perspective - perhaps even making the situation worse.
Suspicious / Trusting:
Whatever their other opinions of a person, the suspicious character assumes that they are out to get them. Severely suspicious people have trouble trusting their friends - and even themselves. The trusting person, conversely, has faith in everyone, to some degree, and often suffers because of this faith.
Peaceful / Violent:
Those who abhor violence are peaceful. They avoid acts of physical hostility wherever possible. Violent people, however, resort to physical aggression far more easily.
Profane / Religious:
Regardless of whether they believe in a particular god - or indeed any god - the profane character has a natural hatred of religion (although possibly not their own religion, if they have one) and purposely acts in ways which would offend members of (other) religions. The religious character has a highly developed sense of respect towards all religions - whether theirs or not.
Romantic / Stoic:
The stoic person rarely sees beauty in anything and will tend towards a spartan existence. The romantic person looks for, and seeks, beauty in everything they do. Romantic should not be confused with hedonistic, in that the hedonist seeks pleasure, but not necessarily beauty.
These demeanour traits should not be seen as rigid rules to the role playing of a character, reducing characterisation to the level of rules lawyership. During play it will probably be found that aspects of the various demeanours will merge to create the character, rather than them being discrete and individual, and a character's demeanour traits are expected to change during the course of a campaign (see section 3.23).

The definitions presented here are to avoid argument, not to set in stone how the various character will be played. It is conceivable for two players to create characters with identical demeanour traits, but have them act totally differently in play, without actually countermanding the above guidelines.

3.10 Concepts

The following is a selection of possible concepts. I cannot stress enough that this list is far from complete. If you wish to have an affinity with, or an aversion to, something that is not listed, all you need is the Gamesmaster's permission. However, choosing a concept not listed here will mean the GM will also have to determine how (if at all) that concept will affect Skills (see section 3.11). GM's are advised to limit players to a certain maximum number of concept affinities (five is suggested), with any in excess of this being 'paid' for by choosing additional aversions.

Certain combinations are obviously ridiculous: a character should not be allowed an affinity with both Day and Night, for instance. It should be stressed that the Gamesmaster should not let the players define stupid and foolish ways for their affinities to affect them by exploiting `double meanings' or abstract interpretations of the terms used. The GM's decision in this, as everything, is final.

General Concepts

Art Exploration Nature
Challenge Fabric Recreation
Chance Food Rope
Communication Healing Sleep
Concealment Height Speed
Cultivation Jewels Stone
Depth Language Survival
Documentation Law Technology
Drink Leather Travel
Drugs Metal Weaponry
Entertainment Music Wood

Places

Beaches Forests Rain Forest
Caves Grasslands Rivers
Cities Hills Seas
Cliffs Icelands Waterfalls
Deserts Mountains Wetlands

Time

Dawn Dusk Equinox
Night Day Eclipse
Full Moon Solstice Twilight

Flora and Fauna

Birds Horses Lizards
Trees Fish Humanity
Plants Wolves

Weather

Fog Rain Storms
Winds Ice Snow
Sun

Elements

Air Earth Fire
Water

Note that an affinity with a concept is more than just a free advantage. For example, having an affinity with Wolves should also imply your character will be loath to kill wolves. Also, the affinity is not a complete protection from that concept. Having an affinity with water does not mean you can never drown. Like Demeanours, affinities and aversions will change during the course of a campaign (see section 3.23).


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Last Updated: September 28th, 1999