Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alternate Character Creation For Legends of Anglerre: Sword & Sorcery

I know that it is an artifact of the character creation rules in Spirit of the Century, but I'm not a fan of how the Phases of character creation are handled in it or in either of Cubicle 7's Fate offshoots: Starblazer Adventures or Legends of Anglerre. Luckily for me, Fate is an easily hackable game system. I like the idea of Phases in character creation, just not the implementation of it in these games.

This post assumes that you own a copy of Legends of Angelerre (that is, by the way an affiliate link that helps support my gaming habit, if you are interested in purchasing a PDF copy of the game) and is not intended to be self-contained. If you don't know about Fate, or the system that these games are derived from, check out this SRD (system reference document) for the base system.

I am a fan of Sword & Sorcery fantasy, much more than I am of the epic, high, traditional, or whatever we are calling it today school of fantasy. Blame Michael Moorcock for that, and for introducing me to the works of Robert E. Howard and others in this genre of fantasy fiction. With this alternate character creation system I am going to gear the Phases towards the creation of a Sword & Sorcery character, as I see it of course.

Each Phase still assumes that the player picks two (2) Aspects that are tied to the events of that Phase. Characters also still start with a number of Stunts equal to half the number of starting Aspects. This should give a starting character eight (8) Aspects and four (4) stunts, equivalent to a Great character (LoA 17).

Phase One: The Idylls of the Past
All Sword & Sorcery characters have a Before that tells us who they were before the blood and magic and savagery changed their life and their world. For many S&S characters, who they once were is what they are fighting to return to...or to avenge its loss. Sword & Sorcery characters can come from any sort of background within the world, ranging from the simplest commoner to the most important noble.

This Phase should be a peaceful one, providing a contrast to the horrors of the world to come, or perhaps demonstrating that there really is no safe place in a world of Sword & Sorcery and sooner or later the darkness and horror reaches everyone. Aspects tied to this phase should represent that peacefulness, or at least show the sense of longing or loss that the character may have for that time of their life. Much of the moody introspection of Sword & Sorcery characters can be tied into this Phase of their lives.

Phase Two: By The Prickling Of My Thumbs...
Sooner or later the horror, magic and blood of the greater world (or multiverse!) creeps into the world the character. It may just be harbingers of the greater darkness, enough to introduce the weird into the character's world and give them a hint at what is to come. Often at this point the character dismisses the coming darkness, or thinks that it is not powerful enough for them to trifle with. Often, for the S&S character, this is a Phase marked by arrogance on their own part, a Phase that brings the first whispers of evil and darkness into their lives and opens the door for the next Phase...

Aspects tied to this Phase should deal with the creeping darkness and blood into the previously idyllic life of the character. The scars from this Phase typically were not physical, but they last long and serve to remind the character of how what they did lead from the Idyll to the Doom.

Phase Three: The Doom
All Sword & Sorcery characters have their moment of downfall that leads to their entry into the greater world of horrors and darkness, and their upcoming life of adventure and savagery in that world of darkness. The character's Doom changes their world, and their life, forever. The Doom varies with the character, but it is always a personal thing...from the destruction of their homeland by the forces of darkness in the world, or the loss of their most loved at the hands of those same forces (or even their own hands). Pride comes before the fall, and this Phase represents that downfall in the character's life.

Aspects tied to this phase should represent that loss and destruction in the life of the character, due to their actions or inaction in the world. Where the Aspects of the previous Phases are often emotional and psychological, the Aspects of this Phase are mostly physical: the loss of their home, of their love, and of the scars and physical damage done to them during this loss. Now is when the character in a Sword & Sorcery story truly learns that they have to fight for what is important to them in this world.

Phase Four: Into The World of Blood and Darkness
The previous Phases of the character's life has informed who they were, what they have lost, and why they have ventured out into the greater world. Now, they set out upon a restless and rootless path, either trying to keep the blood and horror at bay for themselves and for others, or they are seeking a vengeance upon those who took everything from them.

Aspects from this Phase should be tied to the transition to becoming a warrior in a world of blood and savagery. Their old lives are over, but can never be forgotten, and now they seek a peace, or revenge, to quiet the voices and the ghosts of their past that still echo within them.

You now have created the life of your Sword & Sorcery character for Legends of Anglerre. I would suggest taking one of the Fighter or Rogue Occupations from Chapter Five, as they have more of a Sword & Sorcery flair to them. Some of the Magic User Occupations (except perhaps Wizard) can be used for more magic-oriented characters (Elementalist characters in particular fit well in a Sword & Sorcery world where the heroes use magic).