Sunday, April 29, 2018

Characters in Space Opera (part I)

Art by Allen Anderson

The best way to learn about characters in a given role-playing game is to generate a character.  As such, we shall endeavor to create a Space Opera character in this and subsequent posts.

The first step is to choose a class from among the following six:  Armsman, Tech, Research Scientist, Medical Scientist, Engineer Scientist, and Astronaut.  Let's go with Astronaut.

The next step is to determine personal characteristic scores.  The fourteen 'basic' characteristics are grouped into six sets:
  • Physique / Strength / Constitution
  • Agility / Dexterity
  • Empathy / Intelligence
  • Psionics / Intuition
  • Bravery / Leadership
  • General Technical Aptitude / Mechanical Aptitude / Electronics Aptitude
Scores range from 1 to 19, but scores are determined by rolling percentile dice.  Each characteristic 'set' has a column on a chart where the percentile roll result indicates a score.  For example, a roll of 50 for Psionics or Intuition means a score of 9; the same roll for Bravery or Leadership indicates a score of 13.  Our rolls are as follows:
  • Physique (27)/ Strength (28)/ Constitution (47)
  • Agility (38)/ Dexterity (55)
  • Empathy (27)/ Intelligence (47)
  • Psionics (49)/ Intuition (50)
  • Bravery (08)/ Leadership (78)
  • GTA (02)/ MechA (88)/ ElecA  (17)
Each class offers a number of points which can be used to modify the results for certain characteristics.  Astronauts have forty points that may be allocated among Constitution, Agility, Dexterity, Intelligence, Intuition, Bravery, Leadership, and General Technical Aptitude.  A careful distribution of points results in the following:
  • Physique (27 = 11)/ Strength (28 = 11)/ Constitution (47 = 13)
  • Agility (41 = 12)/ Dexterity (55 = 13)
  • Empathy (27 = 9)/ Intelligence (51 = 12)
  • Psionics (49 = 9)/ Intuition (51 = 10)
  • Bravery (8 = 4)/ Leadership (81 = 16)
  • GTA (26 = 9)/ MechA (88 = 17)/ ElecA (17 = 7)
Only 35 of the 40 points were allocated.  The five remaining points cannot raise the scores of any of the allowed characteristics any higher (except for Bravery).  Since the minimum Bravery for Armsmen and Astronauts is 11 (lower scores may be raised to 11), we need not spend points on that characteristic.  The rules establish that player characters “tend to possess 'superior' personal characteristics, compared to those of typical members of their race” and “rarely will they be truly deficient in any of their personal characteristics.”  Accordingly, the percentile roll results tend to provide higher rather than lower scores.  Echoing your humble host's feelings on the matter, Space Opera proclaims, “To inflict the usual 'averaged' characteristics upon PCs and the players running them is a failure to recognize that PCs are 'heroic' in not only their drive to reach goals that lesser men cannot hope to attain, but also their capacity to actually win through to those goals.”  For some characteristics, the baseline score indicates 'normal' ability.  For example, an Intelligence score of 01 “represents the equivalent of contemporary IQ 95 - 105.”

For the most part, the definitions of the personal characteristics are intuitive.  Empathy, however, is defined as “the unconscious and largely uncontrolled broadcast of a character's personality aura and its interaction on auras of those around him.”  We learn that a character with an Empathy score of 01 - 06 is “a man without a conscience in search of a personal, living 'god' to give his troubled life security and purpose, a sword looking for a strong hand to wield it.”  Say what?

The next step is to determine that nature of the character's home planet through a series of die rolls.  A result of 11 an a d20 tells us our Astronaut is “a native of a planet with a standard 'Terran' gravity field of 0.9 G to 1.1 G.”  This result allows a 50% chance of either +1 Strength or +1 Stamina.  The percentile roll result is 33 and I elect to have +1 Strength.  A result of 13 on another d20 indicates a planet with “an atmosphere of more or less Terran quality.”  Planetary Climate is determined with a percentile roll.  A result of 70 establishes our Astronaut's homeworld as Planetary Type 2: Terran Planet without Seasonality.
Assume hydrographic features cover 50% to 75% of the planetary surface.  The climate will vary considerably over the entire surface of the planet, but fixed and unchanging belts of climate occur.  Inhabitants will tend to pick the most favorable and comfortable zones to be settled, making forays into the hinterlands.  As water tends toward the 75% of surface area range, the equatorial and tropical regions develop dense jungle belts.  As the water tends toward 50% of surface area, the equatorial and tropical regions tend toward desert.
“Once the personal characteristics and the planet of birth have been determined for a PC,” section 2.3 explains, “the player will have to decide on the interstellar race to which his character belongs.”  To belong to a particular race, a character must conform to specified characteristic minima/maxima and come from an appropriate planetary type.  The default option, naturally, is human.  We learn that “Humanoids are representative of human races who evolved from the basic racial type during the long isolation of the Interregnum between ForeRunner Civilization and the rise of the current starcultures.”  Presumably, the ForeRunners are the Space Opera equivalent of the Ancients in Traveller.  Transhumans “seem to represent individual evolutionary mutations pointing toward a new stage of [human] racial development.”  There are, however, two Transhuman races, the members of which are Vulcans with the serial numbers filed off.

Most of the playable interstellar races – aside from humans – are anthropomorphic animals:  pithecine, canine, feline, ursoid, avian, and warm-blooded saurians.  The races are presented as types – there may be several (presumably interfertile) races of a given type in the setting galaxy.  For instance, among the feline races, there are the MekPurrs and the Avatars.  “The MekPurrs are the acknowledged masters of cybernetic engineering...” while the Avatars eschew “many of the trapping[s] of technological 'civilization' as decadent...”

Our Astronaut does not meet the requirements for any non-human race other than humanoids or Avians.  Really, who wants to be a humanoid or an Avian?

Height and Weight are derived from from a character's Physique score.  A chart is consulted based on gender and race.  A male human with a Physique of 11 is 180 cm tall and weighs 80 kg.  However, the +1 Strength bonus obtained earlier causes an increase of body mass by 5 - 10%.  A roll of 1d6 results in a 2, so there is an increase of 6%.  The modified weight is therefore 84.8 kg.

The formula for determining Carrying Capacity (CC) is:
( [Physique + Strength + Constitution] / 3) × body mass × racial factor
The CC racial factor for humans is 0.05.  As such, our Astronaut's Carrying Capacity is 51 kg.

Damage factors – representing a character's ability to withstand physical injury – can be calculated thus:
( [Physique + Strength + Constitution + mass] / 10) × racial factor
The DF racial factor for humans is 2.5, indicating a value of 30 for our Astronaut.

Stamina Factor is determined through the following:
(Strength + Constitution) × racial factor
The SF racial factor for humans is 3.0; therefore, the character's Stamina Factor is 75.

In the next post, the character will engage upon a career.

1 comment:

  1. In Chivalry And Sorcery equivalents, Transhumans == High Elves. IE The race with the high stat requirements and all the bonuses.