Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Look at Character Creation in Ashen Stars

Spent last month's gaming sessions working up new characters. The group is new to Ashen Stars, so it took awhile. The mechanical parts were relatively straightforward. The emphasis the game places on character development took the players a little off guard.


The players divide up shipboard and groundside roles between them. The shipboard roles relate to the operation of the player's ship in combat. The groundside roles define what each character brings to an investigation. The mechanical aspect of the roles amount to a title and a list of the skills needed to be effective in the role. The roles are not as restrictive as classes. Players can even opt out as a group from using roles and simply pick out their skills directly.

Skill selection is a simple point buy. There are no conversions between experience or other points to skill points. One point buys one rank in a skill. Points may be banked for use after character generation. These banked points can be used later, even during an adventure, to purchase new skills.

Equipment is simple. No need to go through lists to purchase every single item. Player characters are assumed to start with what they need to perform their role. This includes a sidearm, a communications device, and a data retrieval/scanning device. The only time players need to pour over lists is when big ticket items like cyberwear or their ship come into the picture.

Character Arcs

Players create a character arc with a beginning, middle, and (if desired) conclusion. These arcs relate to some goal of each player character (find a lost sister, reestablish and uphold lawful government, have a grand adventure and look good doing it). The goal and each step in achieving it are presented as one sentence ideas. These are the seeds for future adventure subplots. It is still up to the GM to incorporate these ideas into the campaign. The details (who, what, where, when, and how) are controlled by the GM, but this allows the players input into the development of their characters.


The group had no problems with the mechanical aspects of character generation. Looking up what each skill or piece of cyberwear did take time, but grasping the concepts was not an issue.

Coming up with character arcs was a little more challenging. It's an approach to character development that places more on the players' shoulders. It is more proactive than writing up a backstory and seeing what, if anything, the GM decides to use. It allows the player to decide what is important to their character and how that effects future game sessions.

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