Sunday, October 23, 2016

Character Creation in Rêve

Art by Rolland Barthélémy

There are fourteen primary characteristics for Rêve characters –
Size:  “overall mass”
Appearance:  “charisma and presence, in no way related to beauty”
Constitution:  “health, vigor, resistance to shock and disease”
Strength:  “muscular power”
Agility:  “overall coordination, graceful harmony of movement”
Dexterity:  “manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination and tactile sense”
Sight:  “More than visual acuity, this characteristic encompasses visual memory and especially observation.”
Hearing:  “Partly the auditory sense, but mostly the correct analysis and interpretation of sounds, as well as auditory memory.”
Smell-Taste:  “Detection, analysis and interpretation of smells and tastes.”
Will:  “force of will, character, courage, ego, morale”
Intellect:  “intellectual faculties...disposition to acquire knowledge and use it...[and also] memory.  It is in no sense...intelligence.”
Empathy:  “intuition, the ability to feel, to be spontaneously consonant with one's environment”
Dream:  “The faculty of dreaming and remembering dreams...It's a kind of 'Power' characteristic.”
Luck:  “how lucky a character is”
Players have 160 points to allocate among a character's primary characteristics.  The initial, minimum value for each characteristic is 6 and the initial, maximum value is 15.  The human average is 10.  Strength cannot be more than 4 points over Size.  We are told, “Only creatures and dream entities can have characteristics above 20.”  As an alternate rule, there can be a Beauty characteristic with a default value of 10.  This value can be increased using some of the 160 points; however reducing the Beauty score does not net additional allocation points.

Aside from primary characteristics, there are four derived characteristics:  Mêlée (average of Agility and Strength), Missile (average of Dexterity and Sight), Throw (average of Strength and Missile), Stealth (average of Agility and the inverse of Size [i.e., 21 – Size] ).

There are also a few values categorized as “Points & Thresholds.”  Life Points function as hit points; the number equals the average of Constitution and Size.  Constitution Threshold is “an indicator negative Life point level that equals death.”  It is figured by looking up Constitution on a table; values range from two to five.  Damage Modifier ranges from –1 to +2 and is determined by averaging Strength and Size, then consulting a table. Encumbrance Threshold is the average of Size and Strength.  (“As Encumbrance is often measured in tenths of points, do not round off this value.”)  Sustenance Threshold is the amount of food and water a character must consume on a daily basis.  It is based on Size and is either two, three, or four.  For each point of Sustenance a character must drink 0.2 liters of water and consume the equivalent of an “average inn meal.”

Endurance is either the sum of Size plus Constitution or the sum of Life plus Will, “whichever is better.”  The rules tell us, “Endurance may be lost due to strenuous activity (running, swimming), asphyxiation (drowning), weakness (starvation or illness), or trauma (wounds).”  Fatigue is twice Endurance and represents a number of boxes on eight rows appearing on the character sheet.  As rows are filled, the character suffers a penalty on all physical and mental actions.  Endurance loss also counts as Fatigue loss, but there are activities which cost Fatigue but not Endurance.  A complete loss of Fatigue causes the character to fall asleep; a complete loss of Endurance causes the character to fall unconscious and lose a Life point. 

Approximately seventy skills are listed on the Rêve character sheet, grouped into seven categories:  General, Mêlée, Missile & Throw, Specialized, Arts, Sciences, and Draconics (i.e., magic).  Discretion (which is described like Stealth) and Vigilance (“The talent of always being on on[e]'s guard”) are among the General Skills.  There are thirteen Mêlée skills – most of which equate to weapon use but also included are Dodging, Hand-to-Hand, and Shield.  There are eight Missile Skills – all of which are weapons – including Blowgun and Whip.  Specialized Skills include Commerce (“Evaluating the value of goods, services, or local currencies”) as well as Pickpocket, Riding, and various Survival variants.  Among the Arts, there are Navigation, Surgery, Swimming, and Gaming.  (However, Singing and Dance are General Sills; Acting and Music are Specialized Skills.)  Some of the Sciences are Writing, Medicine, and Legends.

Each category of skills has a base value (either –4, –6, –8, or –11) and each skill must be improved from this negative value.  “Level zero represents mastery in a skill” and while skills do not have an “upward limit...skills beyond +11 are exceedingly rare.”  Skill values are typically indexed against characteristic scores on a Resolution Table to determine a character's percentile chance of success for any given action.  For example, riding a horse would pair Riding with Agility but calming a horse would pair Riding with Empathy.  A starting character has three thousand points (!) to distribute among Skills.  However, all costs are in multiples of five so – hypothetically – the allocation pool could have been 600 points (which is still an intimidating volume).  Some examples of skill costs include:  'Polearm' at 0 would cost 80 points, 'Thrown Axe' at 0 would cost 100, 'Juggling' at –5 would cost 45, 'Running' at +3 would cost 120.

The Rêve character sheet has a section for “Peculiarities,” such as Age, Gender, and Handedness.  Also among the Peculiarities is Birth Hour.  In Rêve, each day consists of twelve hours; each hour has 120 minutes.  “The hours have been given the names of the constellations of the zodiac” and the “same names are also used to designate the months of the seasons.”  (These names are indicated in the graphic below.)  A character's Birth Hour is similar to an astrological sign.  It has some bearing with regard to magic and can modify Luck rolls.


  1. Discrétion can simply mean stealth in French. It's a pretty common skill name when Move Silently and Hide aren't separate entities.

    I had thought I was done buying more fantasy games, but I may have to find a copy of this one now.

    1. I just thought it was odd that a Skill (Discretion) was described almost exactly like a characteristic (Stealth). Maybe something was lost in translation.