Character Creation

A story is just a means of spending time with and getting to know characters. Without enjoyable characters, the plot, the setting, and the genre don’t really matter. Great characters can make even a bad plot enjoyable. They keep us invested—the people we wish we knew, the ones we love to hate, and even want to be. That’s the greatest thing about RPGs—you can be the coolest character that you can imagine. All you need to do is dream them up and express them through actions and in game mechanics.

Following is a character design summary, covering the steps in character creation in a functional order, but not an order set in stone. You might decide to choose your class and race before determining your ability scores. You might start off with a great name. Go in the order that feels right to you.

Consider Your Character Concept


Think about what sort of character you want to play. What kind of abilities does she have? What’s his origin? What does she like or dislike? What makes him interesting? What drives her? For inspiration, you might think about your favorite superheroes, fantasy characters, or even real-life figures. Think about powers, experience, or skills you want her to have.

Theme: Theme is an essential part of heroes and villains in super-powered worlds. Your hero might be a hot-head with fire-powers. She might represent the mental, moral, and physical potential we all should strive for. He might throw exploding playing cards and be a risky ally. She might be a patriot with a star-spangled uniform and a Hammer of Justice.

Some characters are played against theme, resonating because of self-contradiction. Your hero could be a gentle giant. She could have fire-powers and be cool under pressure and emotionally distant from her teammates. He might be a staunch atheist with powers given to him by a Christian relic.

A theme is an important aspect of a character within superheroic adventures, whether following a theme entirely or subverting the theme in a new way.

Function: Another consideration is the hero's function within the team. While super-strength and flight might be common powers used by several heroes, more than one character with teleportation or cold-powers can feel redundant.

Outside of the mechanics of the game, there are also roles that are common for characters to fill within the team. These roles aren't finite, and they aren't represented in every group.

  • The Advisor: He is there to offer wisdom to those who call the shots.
  • The Clown: She always has a witty comeback, and if she doesn't she tries anyway.
  • The Field Leader: When the lasers are flying and the task needs to be complete, he's the one who gives direction and makes the hard calls.
  • The Knower-of-Things: She's the scientist, philosopher, inventor, and all-around smart lady who spends most of her downtime in a lab of some sort.
  • The Ol' Reliable: She's the one everyone else can count on. She'll die before she lets her team down.
  • The Medic: He keeps the team alive and in fighting shape.
  • The Mentor: She is the guiding force behind the team who seeks to see each member achieve their fullest potential.
  • The Sooth-Sayer: His cryptic words often lead the team into advanture and uncover deeper, unexpected truths.
  • The Smooth-Talker: He could talk a drowning man into buying a glass of water. It's really good water. A lot better than that water you're drowning in.
  • The Strategist: She's the planner and director of the team. She has the big picture in mind.
  • The Unhinged: He's a little crazy and sometimes get's crazier. And he's not necessarily safe.
  • The Wildcard: Her past is vague, and what's known is a little incriminating. She may or may not take orders.

Archetype: An archetype is a classic character-type. Comic books have produced many archetypes over the decades, like the all-American hero, the chosen-one, and the vengeance-seeker. These anchors of personality drive the stories and tell the players and GM what to expect.

A character might fall into more than one archetype, granting her a greater depth. Or she may fall into a category all her own.

  • Aggressive Hero. You're looking for a fight and work hard to make sure every encounter with a villain is resolved with violence.
  • All-American Hero. You aren't the most powerful hero, but you're the one who's right. You win your battles through strength of character and will because someone has to make sure freedom is still around tomorrow.
  • Arrogant Hero. You look down upon mundane people, though you may not be openly condescending. They do need your protection.
  • Chosen-One. You were chosen to be a hero, whether by an ancient power, a desperate organization, or a legendary predecessor. While you often have conflict with your role, it's part of who you are.
  • Cursed Hero. Your powers aren't a blessing, but a curse. But you've fought to keep the horrors in check, and now you use your curse to do good.
  • Dark Vigilante. You protect the innocent and punish the guilty, and you aren't afraid to walk a shadowy line to do it. You aren't concerned with the opinions of other heroes, only that your enemies fear you. You like to work alone, but might take a young hero under your wing if you think she's got what it takes. But, no matter who you're working with, you do things your way.
  • Do-Gooder. You want to make the world a better place. While fighting evil on the front lines is important to you, so is your charity work.
  • Executioner. Evil is a cancer, and you're here to cut it out. Protecting the innocent sometimes means killing the wretched scum that's above the law.
  • Explorer. You are driven to go where no one ever has and see what no one's ever seen.
  • Glory Hound. You love the cameras and maintain your public image. You might be brave or cowardly, but the public sees a shining hero. And the perks are great.
  • Hard-Luck Hero. You're just trying to do the right thing, and you have a clearer understanding of what that is than most. But, you can't catch a break. You might struggle to keep up with your schoolwork or hold down a job, but the bills keep stacking up, either for you or your family. And why do your villains threaten your friends when they don't even know who you are?
  • Haunted Hero. You’re driven by the ghosts of your past. Some wrong choice brought about great pain for not only yourself, but others that you love, and now you have to make that right.
  • Hired Hero. You're in it for the money. You're happy to fight evil, and you're not about to be a bad guy, but you do dangerous work, and you should be compensated.
  • Legacy Hero. You inherited your powers, motif, and mission from someone close to you, maybe even in your family. They may have done the same. This may have been something you always dreamed about, something you've always dreaded, or something that was a complete surprise to you.
  • Neighborhood Watchman. You keep your neighborhood clean from scum and watch out for the people around you.
  • Outcast Hero. People see you as a failure or a freak. But you haven’t given up on them. You know eventually your good deeds will show them that they're wrong.
  • Reluctant Hero. You didn't ask for this—not the powers or the responsibility. But people cry for help. You kick yourself for answering.
  • Scientific Adventurer. You are a brilliant scientist drawn to mysteries of the universe. You might track down treasures in forgotten temples or cross the fabric of reality into realms unknown, and you always seem to be drawn from one adventure into the next. And, even if you have powers or fists of fury, it's your wits and knowledge that save the day.
  • Thrill-Seeker. You thirst for the thrill of danger, and being a hero satiates that.
  • Vengeance Seeker. You're only doing this to avenge yourself or a loved one. You're going to stop the person or organization who did this, and they're going to pay.

Talk With the Game Master


Your game master (GM) may have given some thought to the title she has in mind, or other players may already have chimed in with their character concepts. Make sure the hero you want to play will fit in. Checking with the GM is always a good early step as the character you have in mind may not fit easily into her story. If she’s planning a title based around a group of woodland shape-changers fighting to free their woodland home from an oppressive, logging cyborg, she may ask you to save your Atlantean pirate for another game. Or at least she'll need time to figure out the how and why of your character's role in the story. Players should remember that the GM puts a lot of work into creating and running a game, and she needs to be inspired and have fun too.

The GM also needs to remember to be graceful. Sometimes a GM can be a little less excited about an Atlantean pirate than his player is. Don't ever just say no. Consider it—can this work in the title? GM's should keep in mind that the whole world is theirs to control and that the other players only have their heroes.

The GM will also tell you what level your character should be. Usually, a title will begin with a group of 1st level characters (a typical empowered or magus just gaining his powers, for instance). But she might run an adventure for experienced heroes of level 10 or even higher.

The level of the game is up to the GM and other players to decide, but the default starting level for Super-Fantasy is 1st level.

Determine Ability Scores


Each character has six abilities. The three physical abilities are Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. The three mental abilities are Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. The Ability Scores section explains how to generate these scores. All player characters within a title should use the same method for determining their ability scores, so check with your GM.

These initial numbers will be modified by your race, subrace, and possibly by other factors explained later.

Choose Your Race


The term race is used differently in most RPGs than we use it in everyday life. Human is a race, and people of all skin tones and ethnicities belong to it. But your character can be something other than human as well, like a genetically-modified organism or even a robot. Your hero's race—and sometimes subrace—determines his nature.

The race you choose for your character establishes his general appearance and the traits he's gained through blood or culture. These include size, land speed, special senses, and proficiency in specific skills, tools, or languages. His race also increases one or more of his ability scores.

Look over the options in the Races section and select one that sounds interesting to you. Keep track of these racial traits on your character sheet.

Choose a Class


A class is a basic framework of competency and skill—it defines what a character is good at. As a character advances in level, he gains greater competency and more skills. Your character might be an Action Hero, a Charmer, a Scientist, or any other class as described in the Classes section. All classes bring something to the game, whether its social graces, combat prowess, or keen observations.

You also gain a number of proficiencies: weapons, armor, skills, saving throws, and sometimes tools or languages.

Keep track of everything your class grants you on your character sheet.

Level: The benefits gained from your class are increased with levels. A hero gains levels by earning experience points (XP). Record your level and XP on your character sheet. If you’re starting at 1st level, you have 0 XP. If you're starting at a higher level, you have the minimum number of XP needed to be that level.

Proficiency Bonus: Your level determines your Proficiency Bonus. This modifier is applied to a number of your d20 rolls including:

  • Attack rolls with weapons you’re proficient with
  • Attack rolls using powers
  • Saving throws made my other creatures against your powers
  • Saving throws you’re proficient in
  • Power checks to see how well you use your powers
  • Ability checks using skills you’re proficient in
  • Ability checks with tools you’re proficient in

Choose an Endowment


An endowment is a foundation which helps you determine the types of super-powers or superior capabilities that your character will have. Your character will begin with a collection of knacks and 1st-level powers which will grow as he gains levels.

Some endowments are meant to represent true super-powers, while others are granted by training or equipment.

Look at the options in the Endowments section and select one that interests you. Keep track of these endowment traits on your character sheet.

Choose a Background


Before becoming a hero, your character had already experienced life and learned valuable skills. A background gives a snapshot of the history of your character. It isn't his backstory, but it does represent how his backstory affected him up to the moment he became a player character. Your hero could be the heir to a fortune, a member of the clergy, or he might have been raised as a crime-fighter.

Your background helps determine your wealth and the job you work to pay the bills, even if you left it to become a full-time superhero.

You also choose two personality traits, one ideal, one bond, and one flaw from your background, which helps to define your hero's motives and personality.

Creed


A creed is a statement of belief, like "I will never watch another innocent suffer" or "Education is the path to truth". It summarizes your characters fundamental beliefs—a Weltanschauung or worldview. Everyone has a creed to some degree. Some can put it into words, while others couldn’t if they had to.

Choose the one thing your character is most passionate about. Write this in a phrase or short sentence. This is your character's creed.

The GM can work these creeds into the titles, customizing the adventure to your character. Not every character’s creed should crop up in every issue, but they should be a major part of the overall tale.

Here are a few examples:

  • Always treat others with dignity and respect.
  • Be cool.
  • Education is the path to truth.
  • I believe in the powers of my teammates.
  • I’m a pretty tough guy.
  • Love sucks.
  • I wish I was like Tony.
  • I’m made of awesome.
  • Jesus loves me.
  • Liberty or death!
  • Love your enemies as yourself.
  • Mean people suck.
  • My crew comes first.
  • My family comes first.
  • My own sins compel me to forgive others.
  • Never give up, never surrender.
  • Nothing can stop true love.
  • Seize the day!
  • The show must go on.
  • To rid the world of evil.
  • When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
  • You can’t take the sky from me.

Select Your Skill Proficiencies


Skills are tasks you can utilize and improve, such as hiding, public speaking, or medical know-how. Your race, class, and background can give you skill proficiencies. Some of these are predetermined and others might be selected. Having a skill proficiency means that you can add your relevant ability modifier and your proficiency bonus together when rolling a d20 to see if you succeed.

Without a skill proficiency, you generally just roll the d20 and add your ability modifier, if you can use the skill at all.

Select Your Tool Proficiencies


Tools are devices you can use and improve, like computers, cars, or lock-picks. Your race, class, and background can give you tool proficiencies. Some of these are predetermined and others might be selected. Having a tool proficiency means that you can add your relevant ability modifier and your proficiency bonus together when rolling a d20 to see if you succeed.

Tool use is not tied to a single ability since proficiency with a tool represents broader knowledge of its use. For example, when using the String Instruments tool proficiency, the GM might ask you to make a Charisma check when performing for an audience, a Dexterity check to pull off a particularly difficult solo, or an Intelligence check to know a specific song.

Without a tool proficiency, you generally just roll the d20 and add your ability modifier, if you can use the tool at all.

Select Your Powers


Powers are the special abilities your character has. She might be a telepath, able to read minds. She could be a tank with super-strength and natural armor. She could be an eldritch sorceress wielding magic. The list of possibilities is a long one.

The rules will explain how to select powers based on your race or subrace. The Powers section describes how to build your power suite and how to use those powers within the game.

Some powers increase in effectiveness as you gain levels and others have a static effect that doesn't change.

Upgrades and Downgrade
Some powers have a longer duration, range, or some other additional or increased effect. Others might be easily overcome or come with a vulnerability to a mineral or be difficult to control. These nuances are covered under the Upgrades and Downgrades sections.

Determine Your Equipment and Wealth


Your character has money to spend based on his background. Some backgrounds provide an opulent lifestyle, and some render you impoverished.

Because this isn't a game about accounting or investment spending, your characters finances are tracked in two ways: lifestyle and cash.

A lifestyle is determined by your background and describes the sort of home your character hangs his hat in, what restaurants he eats at, what type of car he drives, and what basic accouterments he surrounds himself with. He might be poor or rich, or somewhere in between.

Cash is tracked separately because this is something that fluctuates. You might loot the warehouse of your vanquished foes, be paid a reward for capturing a bounty, or receive a pot of gold from a disgruntled leprechaun.

Your class and background will grant you a loadout of starting gear. This includes options for diversifying, but you can also trade out the starting gear for cash and select your starting gear from the equipment list in the Equipment section.

It's possible to live above your lifestyle for a time by spending cash. Or you may gain a new lifestyle when your circumstances change—joining a team, getting a promotion, or getting fired from your day job because you were out galavanting around the universe. These changes to lifestyle are left to the discretion of the GM and are meant to be used as rewards or motivation.

You'll want to record your equipment, cash, and lifestyle on your character sheet, along with statistical information for weapons, armor, and tools.

Determine Your Hit Points


Hit points (HP) are a representation of the amount of damage you can take before falling. Your class, level, and Constitution score determine your hp, and there are powers and other features which can affect your HP.

Determine Your Armor Class


Your armor class (AC) is determined by the armor bonus of your armor and often other modifiers, like your Dexterity or other ability score modifier. There are also powers that affect your AC.

Determine Your Movement


Movement is how many feet a character can move in a single action. Race, powers, armor, and some other features determine your speed. For most characters, it's 30 feet. This is sometimes called a "land speed" or "walking speed". Some characters have other speed as well, such as a swim speed or a fly speed, granted by their race, subrace, or powers.

Select Your Alignment


An alignment is a choice of morals (good or evil) and ethics (lawful or chaotic) possessed by your character. An alignment helps determine some effects of powers for or against a character, as well as social interactions, and gives you guidelines for how your character will behave.

Most heroes are good, but some, like mercenaries, mystics, or slackers, are neutral. Villains are almost certainly evil.

Alignments are not always as black and white as they seem. An evil character may be a mustache-twirling sociopath, but he might also be a traumatized and sympathetic victim of tyranny trying to protect others through a means the heroes can not allow.

Select Your Feats


Feats are an optional rule. If you're using feats, humans may opt to exchange their ability score bonuses at first level for a +1 to two different ability scores and a feat. Whenever any character gains an Ability Score Increase (ASI) as a class feature, she may take a feat instead.

Feats grant you capabilities or improve abilities you already have, and most give multiple benefits.

Describe Your Character


What's your hero's name? Does he have a secret identity? How old is she? What color is his hair? Where does she live and where did she grow up? Does he have a family? Write these things and any other description down on the character sheet. You don't have to decide all of this now—there's plenty of time in-game to determine the nuances of your character, but writing down what you've decided will help your character to remain consistent and help chart the path of her arc.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License