Character Creation

From Swords of Infinity
Revision as of 10:57, 30 November 2018 by Brendan Cass (Talk | contribs) (Defects)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Playing Swords of infinity begins with creating a character. This character will be the player's proxy in the adventures that take place in the game.

Character Concept

Building a character begins with creating his or her concept. In Swords of Infinity, a character's concept helps to decide what tools and skills he or she will use when solving problems in the game. Some players will enjoy developing an elaborate biography for their character, but generating a simple concept is as easy as answering a couple questions. How will this character do battle, up close, at a distance, with magic, or some other way? What sort of problems is he good at solving, those requiring physical might, cunning, or charm? The answers to these questions help decide which ability scores should get the highest values and how experience points should be spent.

Example: Holtsmeistur is a Dwarven scout, commando, and combat engineer. He is adept at stealth, infiltration, constructing wooden field fortifications like palisades, destroying wooden structures like doors and bridges, and both finding and setting traps of various sorts.

Ability Scores

A character's ability scores represent their likelihood of successfully using a skill with no specialized training in it. All skills can be tied in to at least one of these abilities and examples for each are listed below. In some cases a skill might relate to multiple abilities, and it is up to the Storyteller to determine which of them is relevant to the situation.

  • Resisted movement (e.g. running, jumping, climbing, swimming, pushing, pulling etc.)
  • Determining the power of an attack.
  • Hitting things (the ability to direct an attack and successfully connect with it)
  • Complicated movement (e.g. dancing, tumbling, legerdemain, picking a lock, dodging an attack, horseback riding, moving unheard)
  • Ignore physical discomfort (e.g. ignore the ill effects of a disease or injury)
  • Perform a physically draining activity (e.g. running for a long time, staying awake after not sleeping for a long time)
  • Determining the power of a special ability.
  • Remember information (e.g. about a certain subject or person).
  • Solve a problem (e.g. mathematical, engineering etc.).
  • Successfully cast a spell.
  • Choose the right words to affect an opponent in social conflict.
  • Noticing things beyond surface details (e.g. noticing trouble, seeing hidden details, discerning odd noises, judging a person’s character or intent, detecting whether a supernatural ability is in effect etc.)
  • Wilderness Survival (e.g. foraging, hunting, hiding etc.)
  • Determining the power of a spell or a phrase in social conflict.
  • Creating art.

Generating Ability Scores

The next step in building a character is generating the numbers that make up her ability scores. Swords of Infinity supports two methods of obtaining these scores, and it is up to the Storyteller to determine which of these methods is the most appropriate for the story they are attempting to tell.


Using dice to generate ability scores produces the most dynamic and interesting results and is the preferred method when playing Swords of Infinity. To generate an ability score using this method simply roll a d% and divide the result in half (rounding up). Repeat this process six times and record the results so that they can be assigned.

Storyteller's Note: Depending on how difficult you intend your game to be, it is recommended that a limit be put on how low the sum of a character's ability scores can be. A good general limit is 150, this guarantees an average  score of 25 (a 25% chance of success) in all abilities and it is also the number of points recommended for the point buy method of ability score generation.

Point Buy

Some players want more control over their character's ability scores than the randomness of dice allows. The point buy method involves assigning a predetermined number of points into each of a character's six abilities. The storyteller can specify this predetermined pool of points based on how difficult she wants her game to be, but the recommended number is 150. This guarantees an average score of 25 in each ability, and gives players the opportunity to give their characters interesting strengths and weaknesses. No more than 50 points should be spent on a single attribute, and this is also the maximum value an ability can receive from the dice rolling method.

Storyteller's Note: If neither of these methods does it for you, try hybridizing the generation of ability scores. Players can roll six times and add the results to get their initial pool of points and then spend them using the point buy method.

Assigning Ability Scores

Picking which ability to assign a score to is as important as generating the score itself, and there are two ways that this can be accomplished. The method used to assign scores is typically left up to players, but requiring one method or another is a tool that Storytellers can use to influence the game (e.g. requiring organic assignment might push players out of their comfort zones).

Organic Assignment

Organic assignment allows chance to decide what a character is good at, and can only be used with scores that were dice generated. To use this method simply assign each score in the order they were rolled to each ability, Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, Awareness, Intelligence, and Personality. Players should use this method if they enjoy the challenge of playing a character that hasn't had their abilities optimized for a particular role, alternatively the organic assignment method can help players come up with a character concept (e.g. a character organically assigned high dexterity and intelligence scores might make a good thief).

Picked Assignment

Picked assignment is the method that most players prefer, and is the default method for the point buy method of generating ability scores. To use this method, simply assign either the rolled score or points into each ability until no more rolls or points are available. Characters that are created using picked assignment can be optimized for a particular role in the party and so are often more successful. Players should pick this method of assignment if they are interested in having greater control over their character's strengths and weaknesses, or are interested in rounding out their party's capabilities.


Resistances are calculated based on a character's ability scores, and represent their ability to resist mental or physical effects.


Physical resistance is equal to the sum of a character's physical Ability Scores (i.e Strength, Dexterity, and Vitality). This score represents the character's ability to resist effects that influence the character physically; An opponent attempting to trip the character, or a spell that affects a character's Strength, Dexterity, or Vitality scores are both good examples of when physical resistance would come into play.


Mental resistance is equal to the sum of a character's mental Ability scores (i.e. Awareness, Intelligence, and Personality). This score represents the character's ability to resist effects that influence the character mentally; An opponent attempting to coerce the character, or a spell that affects a character's Intelligence, Awareness, or Personality scores are both good examples of when mental resistance would come into play.


As characters become experienced adventurers they specialize in the skills that help them perform their role in the party more effectively. When rolling for success or power, skill specialization scores are added to the ability score that they are keyed to, thus making it more likely that the character will succeed at that task.

Key Ability: Dexterity
Score: 10
Total (Key Ability + Specialization Score): 31

Point Buy

Skill specializations are bought using experience points, and each experience level that a character starts with is equal to a block of 100 experience points that can be spent on specializations, special abilities, or traits. Most characters will begin play with one Experience Level, but Storytellers might opt to give new characters more Experience Levels (or none at all!) depending on the how they want the story to begin. Specializations are purchased using the scale in the following table, which represents a character's learning curve as they strive toward mastery -- making quick improvements in the beginning and slower improvements at higher levels of skill.

Score Point Cost Cost to Next Level Total Experience Spent to Next Level
1-10 1 10 10
11-20 2 20 30
21-30 3 30 60
31-40 4 40 100
41-50 5 50 150
51-60 6 60 210
61-70 7 70 280
71-80 8 80 360
81-90 9 90 450
91-100 10 100 550

Effect of Skill Specializations on Ability Scores

The skill specializations that players buy during this step in the character creation process improve the character's ability scores. The key ability associated with it is increased by 1 for each ten's place in the specialization.

Example: Holtsmeistur has a specialization score of 10 in stealth (a ten's place of 1), which is keyed to Dexterity, this specialization improves his original Dexterity score of 20 to 21

Special Abilities

Special Abilities are a unique skills that allow characters to perform superhuman feats. These skills can accomplish anything that a magic spell can, are always keyed to Vitality, and can only be used once per combat encounter before it needs to be recharged. To use a special ability in combat add its score to the character's vitality score, and make a power roll, this gives you the special ability's power score, which can be spent the same way as a spell power score; using a special ability costs one action. Note that each special ability can only accomplish one effect. A Special Ability can be recharged by expending one action and making a success check against the ability's target number.

Barbarian Rage
Score: 10
Total (Scores + Vitality Score): 41
The character's strength is increased by the special ability's power roll for at least one round, and can last additional rounds by reducing its power by 10 for each additional round.


Traits cause minor, permanent Narrative Effects, or a bonus that can be applied to Success or Power checks under the right conditions. As a general rule, if a special ability causes a Narrative Effect that only effects the character, is something they would need to be born with, and is something that is always passively affecting the character, its a trait; things like night vision or water breathing qualify as traits. Traits always apply a numerical modifier with a magnitude of 10 (e.g. when modifying a Success or Power Check) and stack with bonuses granted by Skill Specializations. Traits can be purchased again to increase their "tier" for increased benefit, and their costs can be found on the following table.

Trait Tier XP Cost Trait Bonus
1 10 +10
2 30 +20
3 60 +30
4 100 +40
5 150 +50
Storyteller's Note: Depending on your setting, it may not make sense to allow players to buy traits unless they belong to an appropriate race; humans probably should not be able to breath underwater, for example. This is entirely up to you, work out with your players what fits and what doesn't, Swords of Infinity is intended to be flexible.


Interesting characters are not completely perfect, and Swords of Infinity reflects this with Defects, which are either permanent penalties to a character's skills or traits that negatively affect them. Whenever a player invokes one of their defects during play their character's morale increases by one, this is done to encourage players to role-play their defects.

Players do not have to invoke their defects, but the best role-players frequently will. Purchasing Defects does not cost any Experience Points, and so the severity of the defect is entirely up to the player creating the character.

Storyteller's Note: While players can only buy their own defects, this should not stop you from granting characters new Defects when it is appropriate to the story (e.g. a character that has received many serious leg injuries might be granted a Skill Defect in Jumping).

Some players might attempt to "game" the system by invoking their Defects to gain the bonus in situations where they would not cause any substantial consequences for their character. This is not in the spirit of Swords of Infinity, so feel free to deny the player their bonus if the Defect is invoked in a situation where it does not contribute anything substantial to the story.

Skill Defects

A Skill Defect applies a penalty to Skill Checks of a particular variety (e.g. a character might have particularly bad vision, and so receives penalties on Spot Skill Checks), and is effectively the opposite of a Skill Specialization. The bonus granted by this variety of Defect is equal to the penalty score applied to the skill. Creating Defects of this variety is identical to the process for creating regular Skill Specializations, with the main exception being that the specialization score applies a penalty instead of a bonus.

Example: Poor Eyesight
Skill: Spot
Key Ability: Awareness
Penalty: -20

Defect Traits

Defect Traits apply a permanent negative Narrative Effect to a character, and give an offsetting 10 point bonus whenever a player chooses to invoke it in the story. Defect Traits are created similarly to the regular Traits described above, with the exception being that it should cause some form of negative consequence for the player. Defect Traits always apply a negative numerical modifier with a magnitude of 10 (e.g. when modifying a Success or Power Check) and stack with penalties granted by Skill Defects.

Example: Curse Magnet -- whenever someone nearby is targeted by a harmful spell, this character is targeted as well at no additional cost to the caster.

Archetypes (Optional)

Archetypes are an optional part of building a character, but can help players if they are struggling with creating a character concept, or picking their skill specializations, special abilities, and traits, etc. Archetypes are bundles of specializations that have been picked based on a generic type of character concept, for each archetype the total experience point cost and the cost of individual specializations are given so that players can buy the whole Archetype quickly or customize it to suit their needs with other specializations of equal value. There are two general types of Archetypes, Races and Classes, that cost 50 experience points and so are designed for players to be able to combine two of them at first level.


Racial Archetypes are designed to be purchased during character creation, contain traits, and bundle a set of specializations that a stereotypical member of a race would be good at. Characters that buy multiple racial archetypes typically represent persons of mixed heritage, and this may or may not make sense in the context of the story. In the case of common pairings the Storyteller may also want to create an archetype specifically for that hybrid. In Swords of Infinity Humans are the baseline which other races are compared to, and so do not typically have an Archetype of their own, but Storytellers should decide if some groups of humans are different enough from others to warrant creating one.

Dwarf (Cost 50 Experience Points)
Dwarves are short, stout people that average about four feet in height but weigh as much as full-grown Humans and tend to be somewhat more resilient, steady on their feet, and resistant to poison and magic with physical effects. They are a largely subterranean folk that can see well in even total darkness and who are semigeophagous, consuming large quantities of minerals compared to most other races. Dwarves have an innate sense for how far underground they are and are skilled at mining, blacksmithing, and any tasks related to the working of metal or stone or identifying unusual stonework features like sliding walls, traps, new constructions, unsafe surfaces, and unstable ceilings.
Traits: Night Vision (Cost 10), Sense Depth Underground (Cost 10)
Skill Specializations: +10 Craft Metal or Stone (Intelligence, Cost 10), +10 Physical Resistance (Vitality, Cost 10), +10 Stonework Knowledge (Intelligence, Cost 10)


Classes are Archetypes that represent some kind of special training or practice that the character has had, and so are designed to be purchased at any time in the character's lifetime and combined with each other.

Peltast (Cost 50 Experience Points)
Greek term for lightly-armored infantry skirmishers, usually armed with a spear, shield, and a number of javelins.
Specializations: +10 Hit with Spear (Dexterity, Cost 10), +10 Hit with Javelin (Dexterity, Cost 10), +10 Damage with Spear (Strength, Cost 10), +10 Damage with Javelin (Strength, Cost 10), +10 Block (Awareness, Cost 10)

Example Character