At the last session with my group, we came up with character concepts and had decided to do the actual generation this week. I wanted to get it taken care on my end prior, so that I could both familiarize myself with the changes to 3e character generation enough to answer questions and be available to do so instead of needing to work on my own character. So earlier last week I finished up my human warrior.
If you’re like me, one of your initial reactions to that last sentence is “a race and a discipline isn’t a character concept,” and you’d be right. However, for this post I want to specifically talk about some of the changes to Earthdawn from a character generation standpoint. So while a character back-story and personality are crucial to a good character, they’re going to be outside the scope of this discussion.
While the Derived Attribute table is mostly intact from previous editions of Earthdawn, racial mods are now done in a reverse Polish manner. Instead of getting flat bonuses or penalties, each race has its own set of starting attributes. Humans (being average) begin with 10’s across the board. Other races start with slightly higher or lower stats depending on their stereotypical characteristics. You are then given 25 points to purchase modifiers to each ability (and get refunds by lowering abilities). Again, like previous versions of Earthdawn, the purchase rate isn’t 1:1 for higher attributes – going from a +5 to a +6 will cost you 2 points, for example. Going up to +7 will cost 3 more.
Having the racial modifiers pre-calculated really doesn’t gain you anything new, but it really doesn’t cost you anything either. Honestly, this ‘new’ system doesn’t feel any different than the old one, the starting point is just now 10 instead of 0 and you have less points. You can’t lower abilities quite as far (8 is minimum now) but I don’t know anyone who went much below that too often anyway.
Sight-based racial abilities were mostly unchanged. The biggest difference is that the Windling’s astral sight ability grants them access to that talent just like the human’s Versatility talent. This adds scalability that was badly needed to keep the ability useful throughout the character’s career, as well as remove the need to distinguish between “windling sight astral sensing” and “Astral Sight talent astral sensing.” A balance and a streamline: good modification.
The biggest change was on the racial front and is the new karma rules. Every race now has the same karma die (d6) and the same cost in LPs. The difference between races comes in their karma multiplier. An adept can have a maximum amount of karma point equal to their Karma Ritual rank multiplied by their racial karma multiplier. I’m not sold on the variable karma pools yet – it’s just something else that needs tracking on the character sheet – but I’m willing to give it a shot in game play to see how it works.
I mentioned this in a previous post, but disciplines have been loosened up to allow some choices in talent selection. Some choices are a no-brainer. I can’t imagine many magicians not taking the second Spell Matrix at 1st circle or any adept not taking Durability as their option at 2nd circle (yes, it’s optional… why I don’t know) for instance. But now a character does have options instead of being on a set path.
Skills & Skill Selection
Initial language, knowledge, and artisan skills are assigned just as in 1st Edition, but now you get 8 more ranks to apply to skills any way you see fit. However, the talent versions of some skills have been toned down (or removed) to help balance things. Avoid Blow, for instance, can be used a number of times per round equal to your rank if you know it as a talent. As a skill it is limited to once per round but otherwise functions the same.
The “Adventurer’s Kit” is still around – a quick one-item purchase to give you starting gear. For players that don’t like to mess with too many equipment lists, it’s a real quick and easy way to get started. Now though, you start with that: a set of clothing, week of rations, artisan kit (if necessary for your skill), and a dagger plus 100sp to spend elsewhere. Basically the items that were pretty much standard you don’t have to worry about and you can spend your leftover starting funds on whatever other gear you want, which includes weapons and armor.
The characters we created this last weekend spent most of the starting cash on weapons and armor, but when the rest of your gear is already provided for you, there’s not much else left. There were a few odds and ends picked up, but mostly by the magicians who didn’t need fancy weapons.
One side note I’ll make, and this isn’t new but it’s something I very much like about Earthdawn. No wonky weapon/armor proficiencies or knowledge base. It doesn’t matter what discipline you follow (if any), you can wield/wear any weapon/armor you choose. Want to be a wizard in plate armor? Go ahead, the only penalty you’ll suffer is the initiative penalty of the armor – same as any warrior who wore the same thing.
Even if there are some minor differences, both the process and the end result of character generation in Earthdawn 3e still feels the same as previous editions. A warning though: character creation in Earthdawn can still be an involved process if you don’t have an application available to help out. The EDCG was fantastic for earlier editions, so I threw together a quick spreadsheet just to do attributes for ED3. It wasn’t pretty but it was functional.
As I mentioned earlier, I built my character ahead of time so I’d be more familiar with the process and could help answer questions for the other players. Still, we took a few hours to get everyone finished (not counting time to do the character concept). So there’s a bit of a time sink, but I’ve found it to be acceptable for the level of enjoyment I get from the game and the settings.
By the end of the night we had an elven troubadour, a t’skrang illusionist, a dwarven beastmaster, and an obsidiman elementalist to go along with my human warrior. Afterward, we started our first “adventure” and helped out a small town, despite them thinking we were someone else. We’re such nice people. 🙂