CHARACTER CREATION, PART ONE: CORE
Welcome to the first of the series of blog posts where we’ll break down the way that character and world creation work in Unbound. For these example posts, we’ll be following the story of Gelt Dimespinner, a maverick sci-fi gunfighter. Today we’ll be looking at the most important part of any character – the core.
We’re going to assume that Gelt is in a swashbuckling sci-fi setting. The touchstones we drew to create and pitch this setting together, over Skype, are: Corporations; Aliens; Frontier; Vehicles. We envisaged a Weird West type scenario, taking place on the edge of civilised space, as power-hungry corporations push further and further out into the stars in a selection of city-sized spaceships.
WHAT IS THE CORE?
The Core is a character’s motivation, background, and story position. Every character in an adventure uses the same core – so there’s a shared group identity right from the first steps of character creation.
Let’s go through the cores and work out how each one could relate to this setting. Warrior could see Gelt as a soldier of fortune on the laser-washed battlefields of the frontier, fighting for or against a cut-throat mining corporation. With the Outlaw core, Gelt’s party could be a group of thieves and vagabonds looking to hijack a ship from under the noses of one of the megacorps, laden with fuel and salvage, to pay off their debts.
Devout could see Gelt as a frontier missionary, bringing the dominant faith of venture capitalism to the heathen aliens. Wild could put us into an Avatar-type situation, with Gelt and co being spiritual guardian’s of a planet’s energy, fighting off dangerous invaders who are trying to install a hyperspace bypass.
The Magi core spins Gelt as a fringe researcher and explorer, delving deep into the occult secrets of a long-abandoned moon temple. Or Pactbound could have Gelt soul-stitched to The Onrushing Dark, a malevolent intelligence that hid in an abandoned moon temple until some fringe researchers accidentally unearthed and infected half the populace.
There’s a lot to work with, here, but we’re going to settle on Magi. We’ve attached the core as a PDF, so you can see what we’re talking about when we reference it. Click here to download the Magi core as a PDF
You’ll see that there are six questions on the Magi core, each of which helps build the world. Normally you’d answer these all as a group together, but for the sake of this example, we’ll have to pretend.
– What is my magical tradition?
We’ll represent the magic with advanced alien technology – Gelt is packing a pair of strange, crystalline pistols that hum ominously seconds before a fight kicks off after picking them up off a shady Xenorian arms trader outside of Ketaphon-5.
– What (or who) are we searching for?
Gelt’s team are searching for The Gate, a oft-referenced but never-witnessed piece of ancient arcanotech that could win the war for Stryx Orbital Mining corporation, their erstwhile underdog sponsors. Gelt is mainly providing protection, but is no slouch when it comes to alien trivia either.
– Where do we reckon it’s hidden?
As established, The Gate is in the abandoned Moon Temple – a massive complex of twisting corridors and utter blackness with a few scrappy survivors carving out a living from the leftover technology that they find there.
– Who would rather we didn’t get our hands on it?
Two groups: the Onrushing Dark, a malevolent intelligence at the heart of the moon, that will send spectres to attack and terrify the party as well as possessing local villagers to act for it. The other group is Lockeheart & Lockeheart Energy Solutions, a rival corporation, who want The Gate for themselves.
– What happens if we don’t get control of it?
If the Onrushing Dark gets hold of it, it can spread throughout the galaxy and possibly trigger the collapse of an empire. If Lockeheart & Lockeheart get hold of it, they’ll stick one end of it in a sun and the other side on the back of their impossibly huge capital ship, the HMS Bulwark, and crush Stryx once and for all.
– Where is the first stop on our journey?
The first stop is Escalon, an interstellar haulage station for refuelling, snack purchases, and leg stretches. Gelt and the team are meeting their contact, Frumious Peake, before descending to the moon’s surface to explore the temple.
THE RECOVERY POWER
Each Core has a recovery power that allows once-per-combat healing and reinforces the theme of the game. The Magi recovery power is LAST CHANCE ARCANA. In Gelt’s case, the recovery power is represented through an Ablative Nanite Dress Coat – it detonates explosively into a cloud of tiny robots to absorb damage and attack enemies, then slowly reforms over the course of an hour or so, this time with slightly different epaulettes depending on what sort of attacks, or enemies, it absorbed.
That’s us! We’ve made the base of Gelt’s character, and also sketched out the plot for the adventure at the same time. Join us next time where we’ll talk about Roles, and how Gelt functions in battle scenes.