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Character Creation

    Amongst the more important duties, you will have as a GM is assisting players to create their characters. Chapter 1 of the Legends of Kralis Players Guide provides a 9 step guide for character creation and, when followed, should pave an easy path for a new player to generate a new character. It will also help veterans should they forget a step. Essentially, character creation comes down to the following: Pick a Species (and Subspecies if one is available); Determine Attributes; Pick a Focus; Choose some skills and then Pick a starting ability.


    When you begin this, get your players together and walk them through the process, step by step, answering questions that might arise.


    In order to make this a process smoother, take a moment at the beginning and ask each player what type of character they may want to play: A combat type, a social type, a knowledge type or a stealth type. While the types are generic, this gives you and them an idea of what kind of character they want to play.


    As you are doing this, you might ask them to eliminate any potential duplicate-like characters and shore up possible weaknesses in the party. While it is often a good thing to have a well rounded party that can handle a wide range of situations and give each player a specialty, there are times where a group may want to take on a specific motif of types. Perhaps they are all part of the Ta' Jahu Secret Security or they are a band of roaming Bhahuul priests, or perhaps they desire to establish themselves as good hearted chovah air-pirates.


    When the players have finished their characters take a moment to look over them to better understand the player characters and how they will be involved in the adventure and campaign.


    The important part of this process is to be sure and take down some notes about each character. These notes should be a part of your campaign journal or log. They can range from the character's name, focus type, aspects, motivations, background, any exceptionally high attributes, personal information, or important details such as species information or if they have armor and what type.     


    You may also use the Kralis Character Cards as a way to track characters (download sheets at www.talariusgaming.com)


    Of particular importance is to take notes about the skills that a character has invested in a lot. Specifically, any skills that are in their focus or any additional skills that they have chosen. This can give you a good idea about what sort of things that player will what her character to excel in or her style of play or what type of adventure you can tailor to suit the skill set.


    This is also a good time for troubleshooting. Recognizing what skills might be lacking or if a player did not get a correct beginning skill total. If the adventure will call for a lot of Void-flying and the player(s) have vested their skills in Languages or Lore, you might let her know that the player character may not feel very useful during much of the adventure.


    You may also give players an idea of what type of adventure or campaign they are going to be playing in and help them determine what skills, beyond their focus, that they should take. If a player wants to keep all her skills, but you feel that they should have a specific skill, then grant them the use of the skill. How you choose to deal with this depends on your players and your own personality and style.


Integrating the Characters

    Once you know who the characters are and what their focuses are, you should look at the current story and the adventure (or even the campaign) and decide how to involve the characters.


    It is important to explain why the characters are together or care enough to begin the adventure at hand. Do not hesitate to throw the characters together for odd or bizarre reasons. Even in the same cliche of "You all meet in the Red Dragon Tavern..." some of the best campaigns have begun with this trope.


    While cliches can be used to bring a group together, if the players do not feel much compulsion to be in the initial scene, it may be more difficult keep their interest through out the rest of the adventure, let alone a whole campaign. Be careful of what cliche starting tropes that you use, some players may reject it, while others are not bothered by it at all. The following are a number of ways to bring the characters together:


    The Ties that Bind - This grouping has two concepts: the first is that the player characters have all known each other for many years. These relationships can be anywhere from childhood friends to rowdy bar friends to shopkeepers working with each other in the town, city, or village. They also may be a part of the same guild performing different functions within the guild. Perhaps they are a part of a thespian entertainment group that travels from one location to another.


    Defenders - Similar to Ties that Bind, Defenders places the characters as part of a local watch, sheriffs, city guards or part of an organization (knights, watchers, crusaders, adventurers guild, etc.). As such they know of each other, though the relationships are weak and loosely affiliated. Yet, they are requested to defend the village, the city, look into the goings on in the sewer complex of the city, stop monsters from raiding the local farmers. They may even be hired as guards of a caravan needing defenders against the wilds of the world.


    Bounty Hunters - As individuals looking for work, they each locate a bounty for a wanted criminal, a lost item or even to discover the fate of a merchants caravan that has gone missing. In this grouping the character's are all hired by the same individual to perform some task.


    Fate Intervenes - In this grouping all the characters become involved together when suddenly something terrible occurs. They are forced to work together to solve the problem, defend the village, or track down the murderer of the local constable.


    Or perhaps they have all been accused of some incident and are rounded up, individually or all at the same time by the local town watch or guards. Perhaps they are in the same caravansary when it suddenly is besieged by monsters or the local thugs.


    Or perhaps they are all on the same airship, sailing ship, or passengers on a Void Transport Ship, when pirates or raiders suddenly attack them.


    Or perhaps they are all magically teleported against their wills to a room deep within a prison or dungeon and must work to escape.


    In the Service of - The PCs all serve a local lord, and similar to Defenders, they may be on the same squad of defenders in the service of the city and have been requested that they escort their nobleman, archmage, etc., to another city, or retrieve an object from a merchant in another city. Perhaps the area they live in is being attacked by a horrible monster or by groups of monsters, and they are ordered to stop them.


    Religious Order - The characters are all of the same religious order, or most of them are, serving as crusaders, priests, monks, or viziers. The church and the holy order are often called upon to perform quests, tasks, and missions that the religious order deems important. If the entire party is not of the same faith or are not of the faithful, they could then be hired as bounty hunters or mercenaries to serve in the quest.


    Mercenaries - Like bounty hunters, characters in this group have been gathered together by a powerful patron to accomplish a task, a mission or quest. They will all be paid handsomely if they all should survive and return having accomplished the quest or mission.


    We Come Together - The characters have all been brought together at the funeral of a mutual friend or connecting relative. They are drawn into discussions because of lingering questions about how the person died, perhaps a couple of the characters are being investigated for their odd connection to the person.


    Or perhaps during the burial the procession is attacked by a powerful person or creature that escapes with the body and they must retrieve it and investigate what is going on.


    They are all Targets - This finds that each of the character's have themselves targeted by a group of assassins or killers. Perhaps this occurs at the same inn they are staying in or perhaps right in the middle of the day as the characters are shopping in the local market.


    Who are We - This assumes a great deal of trust from the players on the GM and willing to move the story along. The party awakes with no exact memory of who they are, they remember their names and they know they have skills (perhaps they get to pick the skills they might have during character creation), but nothing much else. Perhaps they awake on stone slabs, naked as a dark sacrifice ritual is taking place and they are the sacrifice to the Old Gods. Perhaps they awake on the shores of some land all around them are bodies and ruins of some ship. The characters and perhaps a few others are all that have survived and suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of an attack from the locals (monsters or tribesmen).


    Escape - The characters need to escape they may be prisoners within the city, or the prisoners of a brutal lord and has thrown them into their dungeon to rot.


    Or they are being tortured for various reasons, most likely because they are wrongly believed to have specific information required by those who have captured them.


    Or they were sacked by slavers and have been or are being brought to the slave lords keep and are to be sold in short order.


    Or they all begin in some monster’s lair and must escape before they become food. This may be a dragon, a roc, a giant or some other huge or giant beast that has captured them all.


    OutCasts -The characters all have been born with a specific mark that the more hostile believers see that they are the sign of doom to city, town or region and have been forced out into the world to fend for themselves either as young adults or bound adults and taken away from the city to be executed or dropped of some cliffs or other high point.


    In Medias Res - In the same vein as fate intervenes, In Medias Res throws the character's together due to some "apocalyptic" event that causes them to band together for survival, defense or saving the region from the impending doom. This is done by having the characters caught up in the middle of things happening at a pace that they cannot control directly and must make through in the beginning to confront the problem later in a more controlled fashion for the characters.


    You Too - This grouping relies on the backstories of the players and linking them together as a plot device where they all have separate connections towards a specific goal or target, but are unknown at the start to each other. This may be revenge by one character, recovery of the object for their lord, been hired to destroy or kill the target, one character is out to stop the object or target from destroying another object or target. This can be very tricky and requires you as the GM to "soft-railroad" the players so that at the right moment, the various characters must then determine how to handle the situation when they all find out they are invested in the same goal for different reasons.


     All of Us -This method allows the players to present a personal and unique opening scene. Ask the players to explain why their characters are together and what motives they have for being a group. Once you have established the opening premise or scene, the players then come up with the reasons why they are at that initial scene. Ask them to think about subplots and past relationships they may have with any NPCs. This method requires a strong group of players that can improvise on the spot, but it is also more rewarding for the players as they have established their motives for being in the adventure and set the future of the campaign.


    

Evil Characters

    Evil player characters are often refused to be allowed by nearly all GMs, in almost all RPGs, and for very good reasons. Traditionally, campaigns are centered around good characters struggling against the dark, and throwing an evil character into the mix could shatter party cohesiveness and possible in-fighting.


    Occasionally, a player has an idea to play an anti-hero, or perhaps you have a story-line that requires evil characters to play. Perhaps the players are playing good characters and evil characters in the same game and if you are clever enough both groups on different days could be working against each other until the day you reveal that the players have been playing both groups and now comes the twist of them facing each other in a final, terrible conclusion.


    Evil characters are more than just vile beings that engage in offensive behavior or homicidal maniacs. Just as good characters do, evil characters do not just do what ever they want, for they also understand that there are repercussions for their actions.


    The key to allow players to play evil characters is a find a way to align their interests to the story line. Perhaps they are the antithesis of a group of heroes working to stop their dark lord from conquering the region.


    If a single player wants to play an evil character, you and the player must align the characters interest with those of the good or neutral characters in the party.


    This is best done through a compelling backstory for the evil character. Perhaps a much more vile or dark being, entity or energy wronged, betrayed or hurt the character in such a way that it has spurred the character to seek revenge and this aligns with some like-minded folks. Still, their plans and the evil character's plans might not be the same, the end goal does. This is what you want with the character and the group: similar goals; moreover, the evil character wants and needs to use the part to achieve their goals.


    Most players seem only to think that being evil means acting in a genocidal or maniacal way and that they must kill everything in their path. While this sums up the majority or regular players, this type of thinking or gaming is not something that the evil character or party wants to be directly associated with. That type of action tends to draw unwelcome attention, and this will significantly reduce the player's or the group's longevity when people around them find out that they are evil.


    In the campaign world, most people tend to be neutral in their outlooks; they work the land, rule the kingdoms and tend to be in every nook and cranny. Many will work towards being good and altruistic as much for themselves as for the world itself. Then there are those few within a society that are evil; they are hopelessly out numbered and there is no shortage of good-aligned groups to hunt them down and stop their works and deeds.


    One of the biggest obstacles for players attempting to play an evil character is understanding when they need to show their dark side, and when to play it close. Their reputation is what they need to protect and make the rest of the population believe that they are good individuals.


    They need to work in secret, formulate their plans, execute those plans and repeat this every day. This tends to be the difference between good players and those that decide to attempt to play an evil character. Evil characters need to grow to survive, evolve. They will have the most character growth than everyone else in the party.


    The big question is then, why would a character supposed to be evil bother to be a part of a group of others that are not inherently evil. The following are couple of reasons why they might be together:


    - They owe a member of the party a life debt


    - They are attempting to reform one or two of the group


    - The target wronged them that the party is opposing


    - The party is looking for the same object you are to bring about their patrons desires.


    - Their patron or master as ordered them to assassinate the party.


    - They are actively attempting to reform themselves


    - They are aware that the party is central to the completion of some ancient prophecy



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