Creating a Character

Hmmm...Better Than Life-a grandiose claim for a role-playing game. Have you ever longed to live in the wondrous realms created by your favorite Sword & Sorcery Fantasy authors? Do you dream of living in a time of heroic knights and wise old dragons? This could be your chance to experience life as it should have been, or could have been, if only... But first, you have to decide who you want to be, because Better Than Life has perhaps the easiest, and hardest, character creation rules most gamers will ever deal with.

Before you begin, read over our descriptions of the Kingdoms of Ereth and the player races, or discuss this with a player or a Pooh-Bah, our game magistrates. Most concepts can be accommodated with our playing system, so come up with your character concept and then read the character creation rules. Your character must be from this world, Ereth, and will need a reason to be in this locale, the town of Haefen.

O.K. Here is the key point for creating your character. Start HERE! I am deadly serious. Fill out the Character Concept Template before you even look at how to do skills. I promise it will make your life much easier. Selecting skills will be important for your character, but for those skills to work, it is essential to have a pretty fair notion who you really are. The Template is designed to help you with that. You will be able to start with whatever skills and talents you desire. You will choose your character's natural aptitudes and select appropriate skill levels to go along with them. But do this part first ...the rest will fall into place. Trust us.

Character Concept Template

Tell us who you are. We need your history to see where your persona fits into the world of Ereth. Click here to print out the template.






Identifying marks, physical handicaps or quirks__________





Socio-economic Class_____________________________________

Occupation/Skills/work experience________________________




Political Affiliations___________________________________

Family Background________________________________________




Current residence________________________________________



Your Character's Life History

What are the most important things to know about your character? How has your character developed into the person you are portraying? What are your goals, your ambitions, your frustrations, your fears? How has your past affected who you have become.

This can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. If you feel you've covered everything you want to tell us when you fill out your Character Concept Template, you don't need to go any farther. If you want to add anything, go ahead, we want to know all about you. We promise your character history will actually be read by the storytellers and taken into account when coming up with modules for the game sessions.

You can choose "employment" for your character. If the persona you've created is not independently wealthy, we can give you a "job" in game to account for in-game currency you start out with. Your character will get paid a weekly in-game salary. Town guard, town beggar, gambler, doctor, shoemaker, thief; pick a career. Games are on "Sunday", during your "day off".

Some other things to think about. Coming up with appropriate costuming is part of the fun. Locating just the right cloak for your noble baron can be a rewarding challenge. Your garb can range from a simple tunic, to a chainmail shirt and coif covered by an elaborately decorated tabard displaying your family crest. Check out our "Getting in the Mood" section.

Make your character as distinctive as you like. Tattoos, blue hair, fangs, pointy ears, all these and more are options you can try out. Check out the character race descriptions for specific requirements if you want to play a non-human. Racial supplement guides are available with more information on culture, dress, and history.

In B.T.L. we encourage players to create fully developed characters. There are no set level restrictions for starting characters. Yes, you can start out as a master swordsman, with influential contacts and plenty of money. You can play a venerable old mage with unique and powerful spells who lives in his heavily warded tower where he stores his valuable tomes of magick. If you can act the part, you can play the character.

Ah, here's the catch, such as it is. Your character history must explain where and when s/he got those skills. In other words: your character is a master swordsman... Great! Is it natural talent or the result of hours of agonizing practice? Who did s/he learn from? Did his/her parents approve of becoming a warrior? If some part of your character history conflicts with our game world setting, we will try to find a way to make your concept work. We want interesting characters, with personal goals and their own unique outlook on life. In game, you are this persona; have fun with it. Live out your daydreams. That's what we're here for. Don't feel you have to play the sword wielding hero; a shopkeeper dealing in ancient artifacts or a traveling fortuneteller could be more to your liking.

In live action role-playing, you must be able to present yourself in character. If you want to play a nobleman with a commanding bearing, you must adopt those characteristics while in game. Taking court etiquette as a skill will not enable you to automatically impress people with your ability to deal with situations at court, you have to role-play it. On the other hand, if you take court etiquette as a skill, you can have your persona do things requiring these traits between game days. If you tell the storytellers that you petitioned for the right to sit at the King's table at the banquet, you would be more likely to have the right granted if you have skill in court etiquette.

The skills you choose will determine what your character can accomplish during the time between game days. During actual play, you will be role-playing your actions, acting out your part in the story. Try to pick a persona that you will be comfortable portraying.

Here again, your skills in game must be acted out. Having a persona with skills in haggling will not help you con another player out of his goods; you would have to actually talk him into it. On the other hand, if your character has haggling as a skill, you will be able to claim that he has plenty of goods to trade at a fine profit.

Some skills, such as lockpicking or magic using, do effect action during game play. If the skill effects game play, there will be guidelines to follow for the outcome of actions. If there isn't a specific rule, you simply work it out in game with the other players. Unlike other R.P.G. systems, in B.T.L. you do not advance your character by gaining "experience points". Your character develops through actual game experiences. You don't need to "go up levels" to accomplish your goals. You can start out with whatever skills and talents you want. If your persona is a mage and wants to learn new spells, find a way to learn them in game. Join the Mages Guild, become an apprentice, search out spell books in obscure shops. If you want to learn an appraisal skill or lock picking skill that you didn't start out with, find a way to learn it in game. Your rate of advancement is based on the number of game sessions you participate in. Once you have stated your goal to the storytellers, they will let you know how long reaching that goal will take. This is where your background talents and skills come into play. Finding ways to achieve your personal goals is part of the challenge of the game. You are your character; you need to use your wits and skills to succeed in this alternative reality.

We have rules for combat situations that may arise. If you want to participate in boffer weapon fighting, follow the rules. We want everyone to have fun. If you don't want to be involved with weapons, don't play a fighter.

Our Storytellers will be hard at work, coming up with challenges for the players. The more we know about your persona, the better we'll be able to make the game modules fit your goals.

O.K. Now we'll talk about skills and aptitudes.

Aptitudes & Skills

Here's the technical part, or as technical as it gets anyhow. For those of you used to crunching numbers this will be a shock, there are no numbers!!!

All character skills are rated on levels of Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman and Master. A rating above Master indicates Legendary status and characters with Legendary status in any skill must be retired (they become NPCs). You may pick one primary and two secondary Aptitudes. An aptitude is something you are inherently good at. It can be whatever you want. These will determine how far your expertise can advance in a given skill. You can advance to apprentice in any skill. You can advance to journeyman in skills that fall under your secondary Aptitudes and to master only in skills that fall under your primary Aptitude. This doesn't mean you must be that skilled, only that you can be.

Here are some sample Aptitudes categories and some applicable Skills that could fall in each:

Aptitudes are in bold face type and the applicable skills follow.

Martial: Just what it sounds like; tactics, specific weapons (every weapon is a different skill), hand-to-hand fighting, etc.

Fine Arts: Again, like it sounds; painting, composing, sculpture, playing musical instruments (like weapons, every instrument is different).

Crafts: These are those skills most people use to earn a living; smithing of all sorts, weaving, hunting, sailing, leatherwork, etc. and so on.

Underworld: Ahh, these are the skills used by those who don't want to earn a living; pickpocketing, begging, burglary, gaming, etc.

Arcane: These are scholarly skills; reading, writing (no, if he doesn't know how as a skill your character cannot read+write, but most humans in this world have a basic education), scribing, history, law, languages other than your native tongue.

Finance: These are the skills a successful merc hant would be expected to possess; haggling, appraising, investment, money matters in general.

Social: flirting, leadership, manipulation, etc.

Magic: These skills are more fully outlined in the Magics of Ereth section, for here, if you want to be a spell-caster you need them. They are the most complex of the character creation rules, and so, have a special section devoted to them.

But wait!, you whine, I don't see the skill I wanted here. Well, figure out what category it would fall in and take it. If you're having trouble, ask a Pooh-Bah. This list is only a rough outline to give you an idea where things might fall.

Oh, O.K., so what skill levels do I get to start with, and how many do I get?

Here is where I say, "Remember when I told you to write your character history?" Good, go back to it, what does your character know how to do? Answer: Those are your skills. As many as you feel your character, as you have presented him/her would have.

Your skill levels depend on which Aptitudes you chose. If a skill falls under your primary Aptitude, you can have that skill up to and including master level. If the skill falls under your secondary Aptitudes, you can have that skill up to journeyman level. If you have no aptitude for the skill, you can only have the apprentice level for that skill. See- pretty simple.

We do expect you to have reasonable expectations for your character. It is unlikely that you would be a rich Ogre merchant who is also a master thief and a master swordsman, who just happens to be a seamstress and a dancer, who has a store of arcane knowledge on elves and is capable of concocting deadly potions and can speak with animals in their own tongue. Maybe you could explain all this in your character history, but we might suggest a few modifications.

"But it's okay if I start as a master swordsman?"

Sure is, as long as you give the Pooh-Bahs a background story that explains HOW you became a master swordsman. That's it- be who you want to be.

Now, back to those of you who want to play a magic user. You'll find a spell list in the Magic section of this book. It will continue to grow, I'm sure, as all the new spells you create are added. Use what we have, or come up with your own ideas -but remember, your ideas do have to get past the Storytellers. We can't let you have that much power. You'd only abuse it, you know you would.

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