Sunday, February 28, 2021

Characters and Elements in Everway

From Leonhard Thurneysser’s Quinta Essentia (1574)


Previously, we examined parts of the Identity Stage of Everway character generation; specifically, the concepts of Virtue, Fault, and Fate.  The remaining portion of the Identity Stage is choosing a name for the character, which “is not a trivial matter.”  However, “You may choose a name at any point in designing you hero.”  Names of Everway characters often “mean something in everyday speech rather than being merely traditional.”  Names of the pre-generated characters appear in a chart later in this post.  Choosing a Motive is also part of the Identity Stage.  Seven Motives are listed, but the reader is invited to “invent your own.”

    Adversity:  “The hero is under some compulsion to walk the spheres.”

    Authority:  “The hero is the hands, the eyes, the mouth, or the sword of some authority, such as a deity, ruler, or holy order.”

    Beauty:  “The hero seeks to share or to experience that which is beautiful:  art, music, romance, poetry, aphrodisia, and more.”

    Conquest:  “The hero lives for challenges and loves to exert power.”

    Knowledge:  “The hero seeks knowledge to be found in new realms and new worlds.”

    Mystery:  “The hero seeks no mundane goals but wishes to confront mysteries on other worlds.”

    Wanderlust:  “The hero wanders the spheres with little or no care for a purpose.”

Stages that follow the Identity Stage involve an allocation of elemental points.  Players have twenty elemental points to spend on the Powers, Elements, and Magic of their characters.  Elements are the “basic aspects” of a character – what would in other games be called characteristics or attributes.  In Everway, these basic aspects correspond roughly with the four medieval humors.  Rather than have attributes like Phlegm and Yellow Bile, Tweet wisely named these aspects after the four classical elements.  Elements have ratings from one to ten, with a one meaning helplessness and a ten meaning a godlike level of ability.  Player characters have a minimum rating of two and a maximum rating of nine.  We learn, “An average hero's scores are usually between 4 and 5...”  An average background character (i.e., non-player character) has only twelve elemental points to allocate, “so a well-balanced average person has a score of 3 for each Element.”  The Elements and their meanings are:

          Air determines intelligence, speech, thought, logic, analytical ability, oratory, and knowledge.  A hero with a strong Air score knows a lot, speaks well, and can figure things out easily.

          Earth governs a hero's health endurance, fortitude, will, determination, and resilience.  Heroes with strong Earth scores can withstand damage, shake off the effects of poison, and resist magic.

          Fire measures vitality, force, courage, speed, and daring.  Heroes with strong Fire scores are energetic and capable in physical activities.

          Water governs intuition, sensitivity to that which is unseen and unspoken, receptivity, psychic potential, and depth of feeling.  Heroes with strong Water scores are good at sensing lies, feeling magic, intuiting hidden emotions, adapting to new social situations, and so on.



As the above graphic shows, each Element has an opposite Element and combines and contrasts with the remaining two Elements.  For example, Air ('thought') opposes Earth ('might').  The combination of Air and Water results in 'Wisdom' (Air associated with “spoken” and Water, “silent”), while the combination of Air and Fire results in 'Energy' (Air associated with “focused” and Fire, “forceful”).

If a player has a “role” or “career” in  mind for his or her character, one or more Elements can be emphasized.  As examples...

Earth:  farmer or guard

Earth and Water:  priest or healer

Water:  mystic or artist

Water and Air:  physician or poet

Air:  scholar or engineer

Air and Fire:  leader or messenger

Fire:  warrior or acrobat

Fire and Earth:  athlete or smith

Even opposite elements can be combined for certain roles / careers.  High Fire and Water scores can represent a scout or dancer.  High Air and Earth can represent a magistrate or inquisitor.

For each Element, a player character has a Specialty.  A Specialty is a particular area of expertise.  “Generally,” the rules inform us, “a Specialty allows a hero to perform an act as if the [Element] score were 1 point higher than it is.”  Examples include...

    Air:  Smooth-talking, Occult Lore

    Earth:  Resisting Magic, Tireless Stride

    Fire:  Archery, Running

    Water:  Stealth, Tracking

It's possible for a Specialty to be a “Cross-Specialty,” meaning it can be associated with one Element but affect another.  As an example, the rules explain that Archery is a task normally associated with Fire, but “because arrows fly through the air,” Archery could be associated with Air.  If a hero has a Fire score of 2, but an Air score of 6 (with an Archery specialty), then that hero “would shoot arrows as well as as a 7-Fire” character.  Other Cross-Specialties include Smithing (Fire – Air), Swimming (Water – Fire), and Mining (Earth – Air).

The Everway boxed set comes with twelve pre-generated characters.  As such, Tweet gives us a good amount of insight into his concept of how player characters ought to be.  Below is a chart showing the Element scores for the “ready-to-run heroes.“  The characters are ordered by ascending value of their Air scores.

In terms of averages:  Earth = 3.83, Air = 3.92, Fire = 4.5, and Water = 4.75.  The 'Wisdom' Elements (Air and Water) have a value range of 3 – 7 while the 'Power' Elements (Fire and Earth) have a value range of only 2 – 6.  For fully three-quarters of the characters, Element ranges are within 3 – 6; for one-fourth of the characters, Element ranges are within 3 –5.  If the characters are grouped according to which of their Elements has the highest score, each Element would have three characters except Fire, which would have two.  (One hero has Fire and Water tied at highest score.)

1 comment:

  1. Silver Anniversary Edition restricts heroes to Element scores in the 3-6 range.