Math Is Hard

There was quite a buzz about a lifepath-based character creation system in the upcoming Kavala kirja. I decided to write something about it, partly to promote it, partly to explain it and partly to manage expectations. If you are a fan of a randomized lifepath where blind chance and fate makes the decisions for you, you are in for a disappointment. I hate those systems – the purpose, the sole purpose of character creation is to enable player to create an adventurer they would like to play. I want to give players tools to pursue their visions. That applies to the freeform system given in the rulebooks and that is the design goal of the lifepath system coming with Kavala kirja.

To make the long story short, Kavala kirja presents a bunch adventurer careers for every social class. Okay, there are six, just in case somebody wants to roll between them. Player gets to lead their adventurer through six (or five, or seven) of them before the play starts. For each career, they can distribute eight skill points into career skills on 1:1 basis (plus a couple of free points for personal interests and whims of fate). Player may also choose an Edge for every career, either from recommendations or anywhere if the explanation is good enough. And for every Edge, there must be Flaw, likewise either from recommendations or freely chosen.

It is possible and sometimes even recommended to take the same career more than once. Switching careers within the same social class is not a problem either. But choosing a career from a lower class drops the adventurer into that class as well. On the other hand, certain Edges can be combined with social climbing, enabling adventurer to enter a career from a higher social class and thus rise into that class themselves. There are limits, though. Commoners cannot become nobility and if a noble chooses a higher-class career, it is temporary assignment or stewardship. Knights do not become landed nobility and landed nobility cannot ascend into royalty.

During the character creation, that is. Anything is possible during the play.

Character creation in Praedor RPG has sometimes been accused of being mathematically difficult. I have my own opinion but it doesn’t really matter – if there are players who feel that way, I should do better. Treating skill points as a 1:1 resource rather than a currency with varying prices removes the biggest problem as everything is now straight summation. And while the career system may feel complicated, the careers themselves are not. Six skills, three recommended Edges and Flaws. Each career corresponds to 1-3 years of life past the age of 13. Timescale is off for young and old characters, so the term length is flexible.

With the usual six careers, player gets to distribute 60 skill points and around 5 more from Background. This is a lot less than the 100 points given the rulebook but there are no initial purchases or cost doubling beyond the skill value of 10. Points are added straight into the starting values and any skill with even a single point added is learned. Counted in this way, the sample characters in Seikkailijan kirja vary from 58 to 72 skill points. Having 60 points from careers and 5 more from background skills falls almost exactly on the average. I am not saying a character made this way would always be 1:1 with those created using the rulebooks but they are close enough for government work.