• Welcome to the new COTI server. We've moved the Citizens to a new server. Please let us know in the COTI Website issue forum if you find any problems.

T5: Character Generation.

Come ye arm chair game designers, lets have a good old fashion barney…

A few years ago, my players and I decided we wanted to play a sci-fi game. We invested in some (out of print) t4 books, but then became sore that the rules contained were so damn clunky. Thus we wrote our own t5… I thought some of you might be interested in reading how these rules looked. I’ll detail character gen first, and then go through our other stuff later…

1. RACES; we created from scratch most of the rules for races. Races produced two effects on a character. First race modified attributes (either +/-1, +/-1d3 or +/-1d6). Second, it modified rolls for home worlds and entry into careers.
2. HOME WORLD: we ditched homeworlds because of complexity. Instead players rolled for TL level, Class (low, middle, high etc) and education (none, formal, formal advanced eg what sort of school you went to). Characters also rolled to see if they got a special background, if successful, they rolled on the special background table (which included backgrounds such as ‘refugee’ ‘water world’ ‘spoilt child) etc). Based on these rolls characters got basic skills based on tech (like grav craft), the choice of some extra skills based on class and education (like languages or fencing) and some attribute modifiers. Special backgrounds gave ‘special skills’ which I will explain below.
3. EDUCATION, CAREERS ETC; This is where we really changed the system. First, we made education, careers, everything work from the same template (ie you made the same sorts of roll regardless of whether you where at uni or in a career). We also made each ‘term’ modular. This meant that when you rolled for ‘things’ (like promotions… although as you’ll see no one really rolls for promotions) what you received was described in a single word, and that these words where defined elsewhere, in one place. For example…

Pre-Requisites: Str +8, Dex9+
Entry: 8, +1 if Str 10+, +2 is Soc 10+.
Survival: 5, +1 if Dex 10+, +1 if Dex 10+. if yes roll 1d6.
1-3 Injury or Discharge
4-5 Serous Injury
6 Dishonrable Discharge
Accolade; 7 +1 if Str 10+, +1 if Int 11+. if yes roll 1d6.
1-3 Promotion
4-5 Commission or Promotion or
Minor Honour
6 Commission or Major Honour
Benefit; 4, +1 if Int 10+, +1 if Soc 11+, +1 if Commissioned. if yes roll 1d6.
1-3 Weapon, Vehicle
4-5 Special Skill
6 Improved Benefit +1, Automatic Entry
(Special Forces or Command)
Skills; 4 per Term, +1 for Commission, +1 for Promotion. Roll 1d6 and choose.
1-3 Primary (…Skills essential to being in the army eg tactics)
4-5 Secondary (…Skills you’d learn in the army, but wouldn’t spend much time on, eg mechanics)
6 Tertiary (…Skills unrelated to the army, but that you might learn eg gambling)
Automatic Benefits
1st Term: Rifle, Survival.
2nd Term: Con +1
3rd Term: Leadership
Commission: Pistol, Leadership, Tactics.
Mustering Out. +1 Cash Per Term. +1 Cash per promotion, +3 Cash for commission. +1 Reward per 2 terms.

• the dice system was to roll under the above target numbers on 2d6. Bonus for attributes added to the dice roll –or put another way lowered the target number.
• For each event (eg survival, award etc), you roll once to see if it applies, and if it does, then roll a second time with a 1d6 to see what you get. Each ‘thing that you get’ (eg minor injury, Weapon) was defined at the end of the character gen rules, and was the same for any other careers which offered that ‘event’… eg minor injury (-1 one attribute, but can continue in career) Weapon (receive a weapon upto 1000 credit value).
• Whenever a skill was received (either during the skill rolls or in the automatic benefits) the character got a +1 to their skill. The max a skill could increase by in one term was 3. All skills (trained and untrained) started at 1.
• A ‘special skill’ allowed a character to choose from a list of unique skills. These skills worked like other skills (allowing the character to attempt tasks) but also imparted other benefits. Special skills where our games version of ‘advantages’ or’ ‘feats.’ eg Special Skill: Contact (each level allows you to select an NPC as a contact. This contact will provide you with information, and in an emergency some limited help). We also used special skills to represent JOT and psionics. Special skills could be bought in game, but cost three times as much as normal skills.
• Instead of the normal mustering out tables, we had a single cash, reward and ship table that players made a single 2d6 roll on each, modified by bonuses from their careers.
• Continuance was automatic, except for some survival events.

We also had specialist careers (such as the special op mentioned above). These were not separate careers, but instead used prexisiting career templates, but modified some of the rolls and automatic skills. As a point OTC and NOTC were made to be ‘specialist careers’ of the ‘university’ career.’
We had all the careers from the T4 book, plus ‘mercenary’ ‘primitive’ ‘spacer (which covered belters and other outspace jobs) and then covered a lot of other careers as specialist careers.
We also had ‘adventure careers’ such as ‘war’ or ‘man hunt’ or even more benign ones like ‘big trade’ these where specialist careers that, where taken as part of a normal career but offered greater risks and rewards. The big advantage of these was that it allowed for players to map what their characters did in the careers, not just what their careers where.
Note that our ‘career’ chapter was about the same size as the t4 chapter, even though we had effectively much more careers. This was because the modular system we used let us cut down the space needed for explanations, and because the use of ‘specialist careers’ meant we didn’t need to print entire entries for some careers.

T5: CHARACTER GENERATION (recommendations for t5).
…and while I’m at it, here’s a few general comments about what I think a t5 gen system should look like…
• Ditch Detailed Prior Histories (the detailed system is fun, but it creates some serious problems. The first is that it is very complex, and I think off putting to new gamers. Second, it limits the generality of what characters can be produced. This is because the system has such specific ‘events’ it produces characters that are heavily rooted in the OTU (and this is bad because to appeal to a mass market, t5 needs to be able to used for any sci-fi setting. If you want detailed prior history, make it a supplement).
• Don’t have ‘life pursuits’ (way to complicated)
• Have starting psionics (we did it with a specialist career for academic, see above).
• Have conversion rules for other settings (we had a table that converted skills like pilot: space craft, to pilot: aircraft etc). Rules for mutations and bionics would also be great. And before you all write ‘THAS NOE HOW YE PLAE TRAVLA’ remember some people don’t play OTU, and thus inorder to appeal to them, you need to give them rules that let them play other settings.
• Have an optional point based system. Note I said OPTIONAL, you’d still have the random system, but please give people the option to do things differently. We also had a point based system which the amount of points based on the characters age, and set costs for attributes, skills, special skills ‘events’ (inc commissions, promotions etc).