As with the last chapter, this chapter assumes some level of familiarity with role-playing games and character generation. It skips most of the introductory information, in favor of keeping things short and to the point.
Character Generation Summary
- Race and Class
- Aleran Classes
- Canim Classes
- Marat Classes
- Starting Profession
- Bonus Qualities
- Creating new boons and banes
- Starting Skills
- Final Details
Character Generation Summary
The following sections detail character generation more completely, but before we get to them it is useful to see the whole process in overview.
- 1. Formulate a character concept. If one does not immediately come to you, or if you prefer to flesh out your concept as character generation progresses, that’s okay too.
- 2. Choose a race and class, then note the base Attributes this combination gives you. Also note which Skills this allows you to choose from.
- 3. Choose a starting Profession, then note the bonus Skills and choices it gives you.
- 4. Choose the unique Qualities your character possesses that set him apart from others.
- 5. Choose your starting Skills from the options available from either your Class or Profession.
- 6. Select your starting equipment and note other final character details, like name and physical description and any dice pools you may have.
Race and Class
The first step of character generation is selecting a race and class. In Alera Nova, unlike in other games, Class is a sub-type of Race, and is not a learned characteristic or trade, akin to caste. Also, the Race and Class you select determines the starting Attributes that are available to you. This works as follows:
This is the basic human race of Alera. They are descended from Roman stock, but sufficient time has passed that they have the full range of physical characteristics and temperaments associated with humanity. The three classes of Aleran are -
- Nobilis – Those descended from the noble families of old. They generally have the easiest access to the corridors of power,from the Academy and the Officer Corps in the Legions, to the Senate Chamber or the gathering chambers of organizations like the Dianic League. Because they spend their time on intellectual, political and social pursuits, however, they are often less hardy than others with a humbler background.
Attributes: Strength 2, Quickness 2, Perception 3, Resolve 3, Passion 3, Empathy 2. +1 to any single Attribute.
Other Starting Traits: Nobilis characters start play with 1 level each of 4 varieties of Furycrafting and one Application for each of those varieties.
- Paganus – Those whose lives are spent in the country, in steadholts and barns and in fields in the far parts of Alera. They work day-in and day-out at back-breaking tasks and in sweaty, dirty sorts of jobs that ultimately keep the Empire together. While they rarely see the inside of places like the Senate Chamber or the Academy, many do go on to have a lengthy and productive career as enlisted men in the Legions or in similarly rewarding positions.
Attributes: Strength 3, Quickness 3, Perception 2, Resolve 2, Passion 2, Empathy 2. +1 to two different Attributes.
Other Starting Traits: Paganus characters begin play with two levels each of 2 varieties of Furycraft and 5 Applications total split between those two varieties.
- Urbanus – Finally, those who live in the main cities of Alera but are not descended from nobility are the Urbanus. They are disproportionately drawn to mercantile, academic and service jobs, being relegated to serving the hordes in the cities and gleaning from them what profit and promise they can.
Attributes: Strength 2, Quickness 2, Perception 3, Resolve 2, Passion 3, Empathy 3. +1 to two different Attributes.
Other Starting Traits: Urbanus characters begin play with one level each in 2 varieties of Furycraft, two levels of 1 other variety, and 4 Applications split between those varieties.
These giant wolf warriors stand about seven or eight feet tall, fully grown, and are covered in thick fur that ranges from blond to inky black. Their red eyes can see in low light, and they are accustomed to the darkness. The three classes of Canim society are -
- Maker – The chief architects and craftsmen of Canim society, the Makers build the stone fortifications of the Canim and the siege weapons that knock them down. They forge the arms and armor, and are trained in ancient techniques that make them absolutely essential to the success of the Canim war machine.
Attributes: Strength 4, Quickness 3, Perception 2, Resolve 2, Passion 2, Empathy 2. +1 to any two Attributes, except Strength.
Other Starting Traits: Makers start play with one level of Furious Strength (raising their Strength by 1), and the Repair skill.
- Ritualist – The holy men and shamans of Canim society, they also served the role of augur and wise man in latter days. They were once famed for their abilities to bless crops and ward pups against disease, though their magical talents have more recently been focused on making war and causing disease among their enemies.
Attributes: Strength 3, Quickness 3, Perception 2, Resolve 3, Passion 3, Empathy 2. +1 to any Attribute, except Strength.
Other starting traits: Ritualists start play with 2 levels of Rituals, in either 1 each in War and Peace, or two levels of one of those. They also possess the bonus skill Blood Sorcery, enabling them to use blood (their own or otherwise) to furl their rituals.
- Warrior: The pinnacle of many generations of evolution, the Canim warrior is a sight to behold. Standing seven feet tall at the shoulder and nearly as wide, a warrior in full battle-rage bearing down on a man is like unto death incarnate. They fancy themselves at once the leaders of and servants to Canim society as a whole, taking their cues from the other castes but ever dedicated to their war games and gadara bonds just the same. They are proud, fierce, and stubborn in their pursuit of glory and honor.
Attributes: Strength 4, Quickness 3, Perception 2, Resolve 3, Passion 2, Empathy 2. +1 to any single Attribute.
Other starting traits: Warriors start play with 1 level of Furious Strength (increasing their Strength by 1), and the ability to learn up to 2 more levels in that Skill as a normal Class skill.
The barbarian totem-warriors of the north were once the scourge of Alera, but are now one of its closest allies. The alliance was cemented with the marriage of FIrst Lord Tavarus Magnus to Kitai, daughter of Doroga who was himself chieftan of the Gargant clan. Her clan, the Aleran clan, has grown many fold in the past generation, and the rest of her kind have migrated throughout Alera so that their tall, pale forms can be seen darkening the horizon as far south as Mt. Kalus and as far north as the old Shieldwall. The clans are normally separated by their chosen totem (or chala), but they have been groups into four main classes below.
- Swiftclaw – The clans who join with chala known for speed or agility, such as horse or falcon or dolphin, are known collectively as Swiftclaw Marat. They all share attributes with their chala, so that horse clan marat grow long hair like unto a mane, while dolphin clan marat love the water and falcon clan marat love high places.
Attributes: Strength 2, Quickness 4, Perception 3, Resolve 2, Passion 3, Empathy 2. +1 to any single Attribute except Quickness.
Bonus starting traits: Swiftclaw begin play with a Quick Chala, described in a subsequent chapter.
- Strongback – The clans whose Chala is known for brute force, size or endurance are known as Strongback chala. Among these are clans like Gargant, Leviathan, and Ox. Like others of their kind, they share attributes with their Chala, borrowing their strength and size, aspects of their physical appearance or even their temperament. This makes them surprisingly serene most times, but terrible when finally roused to anger, as one would expect when one is like a creature whose main protection is strength and bulk.
Attributes: Strength 4, Quickness 2, Perception 2, Resolve 3, Passion 2, Empathy 3. +1 to any single Attribute except Strength.
Bonus starting traits: Strongback start with a Tenacious Chala, described in a subsequent chapter.
- Sharptooth – Those Marat who choose a Chala known for fierceness and lethality, such as Wolf, Herdbane, Slive or Grass Lion, are known as Sharptooth Marat. They, like their Chala, tend to be ever teetering on the edge of losing control to the anger seething within them, or to be consumed by a bloodlust that seems to have no end. As well, they are as fierce and deadly fighters as one might expect, meaning that although these barbarians can be hard to control on the battlefield they are doubtless still an asset on that same field.
Attributes: Strength 3, Quickness 3, Perception 2, Resolve 2, Passion 4, Empathy 2. +1 to any single Attribute except Passion.
Bonus starting traits: Sharptooth start with a Ferocious Chala, described in a subsequent chapter.
- Brighteye – Finally, the least common kind of Marat are those whose Chala are known for cleverness, cunning or intelligence. This is not because the Marat do not value those traits as a people, but because until recently it never occurred to the Marat to bond with humanoid Chala, and that is the most common sort of Brighteye Chala today. Aleran Clan in particular has grown by leaps and bounds, being not entirely uncommon even though theirs is the most solitary and isolated of clans, spread throughout Alera herself and having no internal structure therefore. A few other, similar clans – Iceman, Canim, even a rumored Vord chala – exist, but they are less common, the last being mere rumor and hearsay. Finally, a minority of Brighteye, but still a substantial number, have Chala who are not humanoid but are still known for cunning or intelligence. Dolphin clan and Fox clan are the two best known examples of this. They, like their other brethren, share physical and psychological traits with their Chala, though unlike other Chala are able to learn entirely new skills through their Chala bond, instead of just borrow power or share burdens from time to time.
Attributes: Strength 2, Quickness 2, Perception 3, Resolve 3, Passion 2, Empathy 4. +1 to any single Attribute except Empathy.
Bonus starting traits: Brighteye start with a Clever Chala, which is a special animal companion with certain characteristics described in a subsequent chapter.
In addition to immutable facts like the circumstances of your character’s birth, there are certain choices to be made about what they have done with themselves and will do with themselves in the future. The first, and most impactful, of these choices is their Profession. This choice is somewhat equivalent with that of character class or role in games like Dungeons & Dragons, though it can be changed at significant points in the story and thereby change the direction of a character’s advancement. Right now, however, we are only concerned with where your character start, and what effect that has on them. The choice of starting Profession has two main impacts. One, it gives a single Attribute point to a certain Attribute important to that Profession. Two, it provides a list of Skills from which they can choose a few starting out, and more as they earn Experience Points later. There are ten basic Professions to choose from at character generation (though more Advanced Professions – like General, Lord, Spy, or Bodyguard – will be introduced later, they are not available at character generation), and they are listed below. They are also grouped into three broad categories – Warriors, Rogues, and Townsfolk – with each category having 3-4 Professions in it.
- Soldier – Most commonly seen in service to the Legions, the soldier is the mainstay of organized war on Alera. They are trained in formation fighting and close-in group fighting, so although they are not the most dangerous warriors in a one-on-one battle, they can be very dangerous when they fight as groups together or in very crowded or cramped conditions. Their skills are a mix of offensive abilities that focus on swordplay and group tactics, and defensive maneuvers and tactics that take advantage of the heavier arms and armor that are frequently part of the Legions’ arsenal.
Starting skills: One level of Swordfighting and two other skills from any available skill list.
- Duelist – Swords-for-hire, bodyguards, heroes-in-training and most amateur swordfighters start in this profession and branch out later. While the training of the soldier is focused on group and formation fighting, de-emphasizing personal skill in favor of group utility and effectiveness, the duelist is the opposite. He lives and dies at the keen edge of his blade, and his techniques are focused on defeating individual enemies in open combat with only perhaps a few other allies helping him. This makes the duelist more dangerous in a streetfight or a recognized duel (hence the name), but less dangerous on the battlefield where cramped conditions and constant dangers make his risky, acrobatic maneuvers difficult and perhaps deadly.
Starting skills: One level of Swordfighting and two other skills from any available skill list.
- Hunter – In the legions, cavalry and scouts are organized into alae, or wings. The Canim military have analogous positions, and most steadholts have at least a few men in them who specialize in hunting and archery. These are the Hunters,. Though they often train somewhat in the use of a sword their true specialty is archery and bowmanship, often with a secondary focus on mounted combat and skirmishing tactics. Some are professional soldiers while, more than any other type of warrior, many are found outside of the military among the civilian population.
Starting skills: One level of Archery and two other skills from any available skill list.
- Burglar – Some people make things, some people buy things, and some people take things without asking. The burglar is a member of that third category. They specialize in breaking into locked houses or rooms and making off with the contents therein. Particularly crafty or nimble members of the craft are called cat burglars, even. They almost always work alone, but they do have many underworld contacts – especially a fence, who buys and then resells their stolen property – that they utilize to turn their specialty into a lifestyle.
Starting Skills: One level of Acrobatics and two other skills on any available skill list.
- Thug – While burglars steal with style and grace like a cat, thugs make their business being tough, mean, and underhanded. They are no match for a Soldier or especially a Duelist in a stand-up fight, but that’s never the way they prefer to fight. Thugs prefer to fight in overwhelming numbers, or from surprise, or to strike from the shadows, or to in some other way slant the odds in their favor. More than anything else, they are experts in that – in slanting the odds, making the most of unfavorable circumstances, and getting out of tough scrapes still breathing.
Starting Skills: One level of Dirty tricks and two other skills from any available skill list.
- Courtesan – Thugs and Burglars do their underhanded business on the street; not so with the courtesan. These professionals are experts in the theft of information rather than belongings, of tricking their target into revealing some important fact and then using that in the most effective way. They are far from masters in the shadows or on the battlefield, but in a high society function or a smoky bedroom, they are at their very best.
_Starting Skills: One level of Verbal Fencing and two other skills from any available skill list.
- Scholar – The quest for knowledge consumes the time of many on Alera. They study Furycraft, history, war, economy, art, philosophy, law, literature, and any number of other subjects. Unquestionably, their most prominent locale is in the Academia Nova, Alera’s most prominent university located in the new capital city of Appia, just south of old Alera Imperia.
Starting Skills: One level of Academics and two other skills from any available skill list.
- Politician – Much as the soldier does, the politician works best in groups. Unlike the soldier, though, the politician does not work within groups on the battlefield – rather, their chosen arena is the public square, the ballot box, the Senate chambers. They specialize in Persuasion, the art of making people bend to your will through rhetoric and coercion. This makes them naturally good leaders, and leads them to mix with many different kinds of people, thereby building social networks like no other.
Starting Skills: One level of Verbal Fencing and two other skills from any available skill list.
- Artisan – Builders of things, artisans are what create the monuments, siege engines, weaponry and everyday tools or goods that keep society functioning. There is a wide variety within the profession, as a single person may be called upon in a steadholt to be blacksmith, stonemason, woodcarver and engineer at one time or another. Even more common amongst the Canim – almost all Makers are also Artisans at one point or another – the Artisan is still an invaluable, indispensable part of Aleran society, even though their work is almost universally less glamorous than the Courtesan or the Soldier.
Starting Skills: Three skills from any available skill list.
- Peasant – Many of the people in Aleran society don’t fit in a neat classification; they don’t have a defined role in society. Instead, they float from place to place or role to role, surviving the hardships and troubles as best they can and remaining as free as they can manage. These people are peasants. Though they are generally treated with the least respect, they are without a doubt the most numerous, and although their clamoring is maligned by a few it is undeniably powerful when directed toward a particular end. Specialists in nothing more than staying alive, they have turned scrounging for their next meal or going unnoticed by dangerous men into practically an art form.
Starting Skills: Three skills from any available skill list.
The final step in fleshing out your character is defining those unique characteristics that make him/her come alive and stand apart from everyone else. These Qualities come in three types: positive Boons, negative Banes, and neutral Characteristics. When you make a new character you have the option to pick a single Boon and the option to pick up to two Banes and/or one Characteristic. If you pick Banes, then you may pick additional Boons on a one-for-one basis. Characteristics, because they are neutral, do not allow you to pick any additional Boons or Banes. You needn’t take any Characteristics if you don’t want to.
- Giant: Bonus to Strength, penalty to Quickness, inability to learn Aircrafting
- Nimble: Bonus to Quickness, penalty to Strength, inability to learn Earthcrafting
- Eternal: Bonus to Perception (especially memory), penalty to Resolve, drawbacks of HSAM
- Unbending: Bonus to Resolve, penalty to Perception, drawbacks as obsessive-compulsive
- Volatile: Bonus to Passion, penalty to Empathy, drawbacks of bipolar/narcississtic disorder
- Unbound: Bonus to Empathy, penalty to Passion, drawbacks of Dissociative disorder
- Mixed Upbringing: Lose up to two Skills from your class, gain an equal number from another, social penalty when first meeting members of your own class.
- Strong: +1 Strength
- Quick: +1 Quickness
- Keen: +1 Perception
- Strong-willed: +1 resolve
- Open-hearted: +1 Empathy
- Inspiring: +1 Passion
- Skilled: Learn any one Skill. If this skill is not on a Skill list to which you have access, then you also need to mark one Class Skill that you may thereafter never learn. If the Skill chosen has multiple ranks, you can only learn more if that Skill becomes accessible to you (such as by changing your Profession).
- Ambidextrous: Can make 1 additional attack, dodge or parry per round by splitting your attack dice pool. You do not have an ‘off-hand’ for any other purpose out of combat.
- Hale: Gain a +2 to resist all toxins or poisons, and never get sick under normal circumstances.
- Inherited furies: Your furies are especially strong at certain things, but have especially strong personalities as a result. Pick two Applications from each of two varieties of Furycrafting. Each benefits from a +2 bonus. Pick one additional Application in each variety that takes a -2 penalty.
- Unshakable Devotion: You are devoted to some person or cause, whether because you love them or because you are lifelong friends or because you are a true believer or for some other deep, emotional reason. When forced to act against them you gain a +2 bonus to resist doing so, and take a -2 penalty to all actions you are forced to take in this manner.
- Striking Beauty: Gain a +2 on all challenges related to or dependent upon your appearance. Others gain +2 to recognize/remember your face.
- Weak: -1 Strength
- Clumsy: -1 Quickness
- Oblivious: -1 Perception
- Weak-willed: -1 Resolve
- Uncaring: -1 Empathy
- Boring: -1 Passion
- Weak sense: Choose a sense that is in some manner half as effective. Take a -2 (oor more) penalty to tests using this sense. This can be taken twice; if taken twice for the same sense, it means that sense is gone and you automatically fail all related challenges.
- Missing limb: You are missing an arm or a leg. If an arm, all Strength challenges using your arms are at a -2. If a leg, then all Quickness challenges using your legs are at a -2.
- Illiterate: You cannot read. Buy this off as though buying a new Skill.
- Untrustworthy: You are a known traitor, liar or cheat, and even people who don’t know you pick up on that inherent quality about you fairly quickly. You take a penalty of -2 to all actions that are based on getting someone to trust or depend on you.
- Disfigured: You take a -2 to all challenges relating to your appearance, and a -2 to avoid being recognized or having your face remembered. You may take this bane twice, but if you do then you automatically fail all related challenges due to your severe disfigurement, though individuals may still opt not to challenge you.
Creating new Boons and Banes
Don’t feel hemmed in by the short list of Boons and Banes above; it isn’t meant to be inclusive. You can create Boons and Banes for your characters, if the story demands it. Use the following guidelines to do so:
- A Boon either provides a +1 to a very general sort of challenge (say, Strength) or a +2 to a somewhat more focused sort of challenge (say, appearance-related challenges). A Bane does the opposite.
- In general, if a Boon or Bane is about enhancing some natural capacity of the character’s that is not covered by an Attribute, then a normal Boon/Bane affects it by 50%. If you want to allow them to buy it twice, doing so normally doubles the effect, so that it is either completely gone or vastly superior – 100% gone or 100% improved.
- A Boon or Bane should not negate the drawbacks inherent in Class, Race or Profession, nor should it really change their Profession at all. Profession will naturally change during play, so that will become less relevant with time, and inherent drawbacks are part of the experience of a race, class or profession so it cheapens the role-play to remove them.
- Make sure to avoid creating Banes that are in fact situation Boons. Because Banes reward the purchaser with the ability to buy more Boons, they are supposed to be universally detrimental, and making them situationally beneficial disrupts that.
This next step will require you to read into the next few chapters for more in-depth information. Those chapters are also relevant as your character gains Experience Points, though that is also covered later.
This is where you start your character down the path of learning, growing and developing in the world of Alera. Each Skill has an unique effect, giving you some ability or benefit. Each is described in detail in Chapter 4, though their broad effect is often fairly intuitive from the name. Swordfighting represents learning to use a sword (or other martial weapon) to fight, while Verbal Fencing represents a learned skill with witty repartee and debate that will help your character to get information or secure bargains through conversation. Each level of Skill costs 1 Skill or Experience point, so while some Skills have only a single level and require only 1 Skill/Experience point to learn completely, others may require as much as 6, though for each point you spend you gain something new. You start with three Skill points to spend, but may not purchase more than two levels in a single Skill.
The last step can be thought of collectively as tying up loose ends. This is where you determine your character’s starting equipment, record derived traits, your character’s physical description, and do all of the other little things that finalize your character and bring them to life. To make sure you don’t miss any of these closing steps, they’re listed here for your convenience.
- 1. Record physical details and at least a rough sketch of your character’s background. Be sure to leave room in that background for connections with other characters!
- 2. Record your character’s Initiative, Health and Refresh scores.
- Initiative is equal to his Quickness plus his Perception. This will determine when by default he acts inside the combat round.
- Health is equal to his Strength plus his Resolve. This will determine how many wounds he can receive before falling unconscious.
- Energy is equal to his 5 times his Health. This will determine how much he can push himself before becoming exhausted.
- Refresh is equal to his Passion plus his Empathy. This will determine how much of his Energy recharges every turn.
- 3. Note his equipment. Generally, a character starts with the equipment he would reasonably have given his background and starting Skills. That is to say, a soldier will start play with a gladius, and a blacksmith will start play with a hammer. Additional money and equipment is generally left to your storyteller to decide, based upon the needs of your campaign. See the chapter on Equipment for more on this, and how to translate Wealth into spendable coin.