Example of Character Creation: Dai Blackthorn

To illustrate character creation, we present Dai Blackthorn, thief extraordinaire! Dai hails from the Infinite Worlds setting in Chapter 20.

Dai’s career started on Yrth, a medieval fantasy world populated by descendants of Crusades-era folk pulled from Earth by a dimensional rift. He remembers nothing of his birth or early childhood; he was a street kid. When he was about seven, he was taken in by an old thief who taught him to be a pickpocket and second-story man, and Dai learned well. But the Thieves’ Guild didn’t like the competition, and when Dai was 15, the Guild set fire to the old man’s house, and picked off the fleeing occupants with crossbows. Only Dai escaped.

At the time, he thought that he had made a terror-fueled leap from the burning building’s roof to the next one. Later he realized that that jump had been impossible. Something else had happened. In fact, the fear of death had unlocked his psionic gift of teleportation, though it took time before he realized the truth and gained control of his abilities. When he did, he became a master thief indeed, living in quiet comfort and reveling in the marketplace talk of “impossible robberies” that no lock and no wizard could stop.

Then Dai crossed paths, and swords, with an equally formidable rival, a world-jumping criminal using stolen technology to loot Yrth’s treasures. Matters were complicated further by the arrival of an ISWAT team pursuing the world-jumper. When the dust had settled, two of the agents owed their lives to the little thief . . . but he knew too much. They couldn’t just let him go.

So they recruited him. After all, a good teleport is hard to find. As for Dai, he was ready for new challenges.

We’ll create Dai as a full member of ISWAT. As an established hero, he’ll have a base of 250 points.

Dai is on the small side: ST 8 (-20 points). A “thief extraordinaire” should have catlike grace, so we give him an amazing DX 15 (100 points). Dai is also cunning and tough enough to survive on the street; therefore, we take IQ 12 (40 points) and HT 12 (20 points), above average without being extreme.

Now we look at the secondary characteristics these choices give:

ST 8 gives a thrust damage of 1d-3, a swing damage of 1d-2, a Basic Lift of 13 lbs., and 8 HP. But Dai is tough, and no easier to kill than the average man, so we raise HP to 10 (4 points).

IQ 12 gives Dai a Will and Perception of 12. Since a talented thief must be able to spot traps and pursuers, we increase Per to 15 (15 points), amazing, and a match for his DX.

HT 12 gives Dai 12 FP, but Dai prefers to avoid fatiguing labor in the first place, so we lower FP to 10 (-6 points), which is average.

Dai’s Basic Speed is (15 + 12)/4 = 6.75. To get Dodge 10 and Basic Move 7, useful for evading enemies when his teleportation fails, we raise Basic Speed to an even 7.00 (5 points).

Adding everything up, these traits cost Dai 158 points.

We want Dai to look unremarkable, thieves who stand out don’t last long. So we choose an Average build. For ST 8, this suggests a height between 4’10” and 5’8,” and a weight of 90 to 150 lbs. We pick 5’6” and 115 lbs. We make Dai’s appearance Average as well. Since Dai is average in all respects, he pays 0 points. His point total remains at 158 points.

Dai is from a TL3 (medieval) world, but that’s “background color,” his ISWAT trainers corrected this deficiency. He currently functions at TL8, which is standard in the Infinite Worlds setting. The cost to be at the campaign- average tech level is 0 points.

Dai is familiar with Yrth’s culture and knows one of its languages: Anglish. This costs 0 points; everybody gets a culture and a language for free. But Dai is also familiar with the culture of ISWAT’s world, Homeline, and has passable English. Cultural Familiarity (Homeline) is 1 point, while English (Accented) is another 4 points.

Dai pays a total of 5 points for his social background. This makes his current point total 163 points.

ISWAT feeds and clothes Dai, and issues him the equipment he needs on a mission, but does not let him fetch his loot from Yrth. Thus, he does not personally own much. We give him Wealth (Poor), for -15 points. This gives 1/5 starting wealth for TL8, or $4,000. Still, by Yrth standards (starting wealth at TL3 is only $1,000), he lives in more luxury than he knew as a master thief.

Looking at the traits listed under Privilege and Social Restraints, we choose two to reflect Dai’s job. ISWAT is powerful, and its agents’ Legal Enforcement Powers (p. 65) reach across time and space, for 15 points. But these powers come with a Duty (p. 133), which occurs on 15 or less and is extremely hazardous, for -20 points.

Dai’s wealth and influence are worth a net -20 points. This lowers his running point total to 143 points.

Dai’s main advantage is that he can teleport. This is Warp (p. 97), which costs 100 points. But Dai has two special limitations to lower the cost. First, his Warp is psionic, so “anti-psi” can keep it from working. This gives the Psionic Teleportation limitation, worth -10%. Second, his ability has a very short range: 10 yards. That’s a Range Limit limitation worth -50%. These limitations mean that Dai gets Warp at 60% off, for 40 points.

We decide to give Dai another psi ability useful to a thief: a “sixth sense” that warns him of traps and similar dangers. This is Danger Sense (p. 47), with the ESP special limitation. Danger Sense costs a basic 15 points, but the -10% limitation reduces this to 13.5 points, which rounds up to 14 points.

Even without his psi abilities, Dai is a gifted thief. His specialty is second-story work, so we add Flexibility (p. 56), for 5 points, because it gives a big bonus when climbing; Perfect Balance (p. 74), for 15 points, so he won’t lose his balance and fall off; and Absolute Direction (p. 34), for 5 points, to help him negotiate back alleys and rooftops.

Since we want Dai to be able to disappear into a crowd, we throw in the 1-point Honest Face perk (p. 101), he doesn’t “look like a thief.”

Dai’s advantages total 80 points, raising his current point total to 223 points.

Dai believes he can steal anything and escape any situation. He definitely suffers from Overconfidence (p. 148). This trait is worth “-5 points*.” The “*” indicates a trait that requires a self-control number. To avoid crippling Dai, we decide that he can set his attitude aside to weigh risks “quite often,” or on a 12 or less. Overconfidence (12) is worth the listed cost: -5 points.

To play up Dai’s twitchy, catlike side, we decide that because of his high Perception and Danger Sense, almost any little disturbance wakes him up. This gives him Light Sleeper (p. 142), for -5 points.

Finally, since an overconfident thief isn’t a typical team player, Dai needs a reason to stay with ISWAT. We decide that he has come to see those in his squad as a replacement for the “family” slain by the Thieves’ Guild. Although he’d never admit it, he would die rather than let anything bad happen to this family. We represent this with a Sense of Duty (p. 153) to his squad, a small group, for -5 points.

These disadvantages come to -15 points. This lowers Dai’s running point total to 208 points.

Note that when we looked at Dai’s wealth and influence, we chose Duty (ISWAT; 15 or less; Extremely Hazardous) and Wealth (Poor), another -35 points of disadvantages. And Dai also got -20 points for ST 8 and -6 points for FP 10. In a campaign with a disadvantage limit, the entire -76 points from these traits would count against the limit.

Now it’s time to define Dai’s quirks, five minor character traits that help to define his personality. We choose the following:

1. “Dislikes deep water.” Thieves’ Guild enforcers threw the young Dai off a pier, and he nearly drowned. To this day, he is leery of deep water.

2. “Loves high places.” Given Dai’s gifts, he can get to some very high places indeed. When he cases a joint, he always wants a view from the top.

3. “No drugs or alcohol.” Dai is no Puritan, but growing up on the streets he saw too many people destroy themselves that way.

4. “Sensitive about his height.” Dai is self-assured, but he cannot deny one physical shortcoming: he isn’t very tall. This is a topic best avoided in conversation.

5. “Showoff.” Dai isn’t quietly overconfident. He has more than his fair share of natural talents, and is all too happy to demonstrate them.

Dai’s quirks are worth -1 point apiece, or -5 points total. As a result, his point total becomes 203 points.

Dai has spent 203 of his 250 points, leaving him with 47 points for skills. Reading through the skill list, we see dozens of skills that suit a master thief, but since we’re on a budget, we settle on the following.

First, a thief must be stealthy. For this, Dai needs the Stealth skill (p. 222). We want this to be reliable, so we choose skill level 16. At that level, only a roll of 17 or 18 will fail and that’s a failure for anyone. Stealth is a DX/Average skill. Since Dai’s DX is 15, level 16 is DX+1 for him. From the Skill Cost Table (p. 170), we learn that a level of Attribute+1 in an Average skill costs 4 points.

Any thief worth his salt can pick pockets and open locks. This calls for Pickpocket (p. 213) and Lockpicking (p. 206). We want to buy Dai a 15 in both, not as high as his Stealth, but still reliable. Pickpocket is DX/Hard. Skill 15 is DX level, and from the table, we see this costs 4 points for a Hard skill. Lockpicking, on the other hand, is IQ/Average. With Dai’s IQ 12, skill 15 is IQ+3 level. This costs 12 points, it’s very expensive to raise a skill so far above its controlling attribute.

We also want Dai to be an adept second-story man and escape artist, so we spend 1 point apiece on Climbing (p. 183) and Escape (p. 192). Climbing is DX/Average; 1 point buys DX-1 level, giving skill 14. Escape is DX/Hard; 1 point is only good for DX-2 level, or skill 13. Of course, we selected these skills knowing that Dai’s Flexibility advantage would give +3 to both! His Perfect Balance adds another +1 to Climbing, too. His final levels are Climbing at 18 and Escape at 16.

To case an area before he strikes, Dai needs Observation skill (p. 211). This is Per/Average. But Dai’s Perception is a whopping 15, so he doesn’t need to spend many points: 2 points buys Observation at Per level (15), which is more than good enough.

Since stealth can fail, we want to give Dai some combat skills for backup. We decide that he prefers knives. Knife skill (p. 208) is fine for melee combat, but we also want Dai to be good at the quick draw and with throwing knives. Fast-Draw (p. 194) and Thrown Weapon (p. 226) fit the bill. Both require a specialty, in this case, “Knife.” All of these skills are DX/Easy. With Dai’s low ST, he’ll need superb aim to make a knife effective, so we settle on 17 in Knife and Thrown Weapon (Knife). This is DX+2 level, which costs 4 points per skill. Fast-Draw (Knife) is a neat trick, but skill 15 is plenty. This costs 1 point.

To reflect Dai’s medieval background, we decide that he is a fair hand with the shortsword. But not too good, swords are expensive, and Dai grew up poor. We give him the Shortsword skill (p. 209) at 15. Shortsword is DX/Average, so this costs 2 points.

As an ISWAT officer, Dai should know how to shoot. A slim target pistol sounds like his kind of gun. Reviewing the Guns skill (p. 198), we see that pistols call for the “Pistol” specialty. Guns are new to Dai, so we spend only 1 point. Since Guns (Pistol) is DX/Easy, this buys DX level: a very adequate 15.

To conceal all these weapons, Dai needs Holdout skill (p. 200). This is IQ/Average. Dai doesn’t routinely carry concealed weapons, so we just give him IQ level 12 for 2 points.

We decide to give Dai some “background skills” next. He grew up on the street, so Urban Survival (p. 228) fits: it’s the ability to scrounge food and shelter in the city. A Per/Average skill, 1 point buys Per-1 level, or 14. Filch (p. 195) covers shoplifting. It’s DX/Average; 1 point buys DX-1, also 14. Survival has a social side, too. We give Dai Fast-Talk (p. 195) to talk his way out of jams and Streetwise (p. 223) to deal with professional criminals. Both are IQ/Average. We buy IQ level (12) in each, at 2 points a skill.

Dai has now spent 44 of his remaining 47 points. We decide to put his last three points into skills that complement his advantages.

Rereading the descriptions of his advantages, we see that Perfect Balance gives +1 to Acrobatics (p. 174). That’s definitely Dai’s style. Acrobatics is DX/Hard, so 2 points buys DX-1 level, or 14. With the +1 for Perfect Balance, he gets a 15.

We also discover that Absolute Direction gives +3 to Body Sense (p. 181): the skill of reorienting yourself after teleportation. This sounds ideal for Dai. We put 1 point into Body Sense, which is DX/Hard. This buys DX-2 level, or 13. The +3 for Absolute Direction makes this 16.

At this stage, Dai has spent all 250 points. If we wanted to add more abilities, we could add more disadvantages to pay for them, but we want Dai to be carefree, not saddled with problems.

Example of Character Creation: Dai Blackthorn

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