Thursday, January 7, 2010

Building Character

Most people take advantage of the new year to work on their characters. Here at Adventures in Oz HQ, we couldn't agree more. To help you out with this, I'm going to take some time to talk about the choices you'll face as you build a character for Adventures in Oz.

Most of the time, you'll start with an idea of what you want your character to be like. Some people like to be fancy and call this a "character concept", but the important thing is that it's a character that you want to portray.

The easiest way to choose a template is to decide which existing Oz character your original character most resembles. Is the character a young child like Dorothy or Ojo? Use the Child in Oz template. Are they an artificial person, like the Scarecrow or Tik-Tok? Then use the Crafted Person template.

But what do you do if your character doesn't fit neatly into one of the templates? What if you want to play out the further adventures of the Tin Soldier from The Tin Woodman of Oz? Would you use the Crafted Person template or the Soldier template? You get to make a choice. Do you think he is defined more by his tin nature or his military career?

You can also look at the skills that each template gets. Neither the Crafted Person or Soldier template get any standout skills (rated at 3), but both templates get two skills rated at 1. For the Crafted Person, they are Sneaking and Presence, while the Soldier template has Brains and Wits at 1. Brains are not a significant portion of the Tin Soldier's character, and he doesn't seem like the type to be sneaking, considering his clanking tin body, so those skills don't really help us make that decision.

So it comes down to choosing between Wits and Presence. While you can certainly raise either of those skills with points (notice that no points have been spent yet!), let's see what can be had for free. The reason that the Soldier template has such a low Wits is to accommodate the buffoonish soldiers that appeared in the Oz stories (notably the Army of Oogaboo in Tik-Tok of Oz). The Tin Soldier was not a buffoon, so that doesn't fit as well. However, his cold tin heart might be a justification for sticking him with a low Presence score. So finally, after 3 paragraphs, let's settle on the Crafted Person template.

Now that we have our template selected, it's time to spend those skill points. The Crafted template includes the Crafted Trait, but we will have to purchase the Deadly Weapon trait to represent Captain Fyter's sword. Also, he is as vulnerable to water as the Tin Woodman is, so we must make sure to purchase a Weakness. So two points have been spent and one has been returned (since a Weakness is a drawback, characters who have them get points back).

For skills, he will likely want to improve his Athletics and Wits, since both are very useful to a fighting character. Let's also put a point into Presence, so that he can more easily command troops and demand a surrender from a foe.

Wait a second! Didn't we just go through three paragraphs deciding that Presence was not very important to this character? Kind of. One of the fun parts of using the template system is that it encourages you to make choices and decisions about the character to help you get a firmer idea of who the character is.

Only two choices left. Pick a skill specialty and choose a friend. His friend is easy: Nick Chopper. After their adventure to propose to Nimmie Amee, it's hard to believe that they wouldn't become fast friends. The skill specialty is a bit tougher. For simplicity, I will give him the "Sword" specialty for his Athletics skill. This also helps him mirror the Tin Woodman somewhat, in that I gave him the "Ax" specialty when I wrote him up.

Name: Captain Fyter, the Tin Soldier

Template: Crafted Person

Size: 3

Athletics 3 (Sword)
Awareness 2
Brains 2
Presence 2
Sneaking 1
Wits 3

Friends List

Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodman

You know, this is kind of fun. If anyone wants to throw out any other Oz characters for me to write up, drop me a line.

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