DODS Nwod Character Creation Walkthrough

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    For folks who will be playing in the upcoming DODS chronicle, as this is most of your first time creating a character in NWOD 2nd Edition aka Chronicles of Darkness, B has requested that I post a quick how to on creating your characters.

    For this chronicle, characters will be starting out as mortals and may later be embraced as kindred.  So for starting characters, please use the character creation rules in Chronicles of Darkness for mortal characters. You can grab a lovely fillable pdf of the char sheet from Mr Gone:

    Character creation in NWOD is very similar to the process in OWOD.  There are three sets of attributes (Mental/Social/Physical) and three sets of Skills (Mental/Social/Physical in NWOD similar to the Talents/Skills/Knowledges in OWOD.  At character creation, you will rank the physical, social and mental traits as primary, secondary or tertiary.  So, you will get the greatest number of dots to distribute among your character’s primary focus, less among the secondary and the least among the tertiary.  Primary/Secondary/Tertiary designations DO NOT need to be the same for Attributes and Skills.  As per OWOD, start out by taking one free dot in each attribute as 1 is the minimum rank in an attribute without supernatural intervention.  For now, we’ll only be dealing with the first page of the sheet. The rest is there mainly to fill in details that you will probably put in character bios instead and for holding equipment and anything more you want to write describing various merits, etc. With that, let’s dig in.

    Character Creation: (starts on pg 24 of Chronicles of Darkness)

    Concept: As per OWOD, step one is to create your core concept before you start putting any dots to the page.  Put a brief description that captures your character in the concept tab (“Grizzled Cop”, “Obsessed Occultist”, “Schizophrenic Dragqueen Skinhead Trapeze Artist”, whatever.)

    Name, Age, Player, Chronicle: I think you got this. No need to worry about faction or group name at this time.

    Aspirations: This is skipping ahead a bit, but it’s a good time to start thinking about them. Aspirations are actions that you, as a player, would like your character to complete.  These include character goals but can also be things you would like to see happen.  They should always be active.  Examples: Earn Dave’s respect, make Jimbo feel like a loser, Find out who killed my mentor, see my character get the shit kicked out of him.  Aspirations can be short or long term but they should be something that your character will complete in game as they are the primary method of earning XP.  Ideally you should accomplish one every 1 or 2 sessions.  Pick 3 aspirations, and maybe consult with the ST for choosing them. Pick a new aspiration when you accomplish one on your sheet.

    Virtue and Vice: Virtue and Vice are generally one-word descriptors that define the higher and lower callings that reinforce your character’s sense of self.  Acting in accordance with virtue or vice in a way that puts the character or coterie at risk of losing something or in a dramatic moment allows you to recoup a point of Willpower.  Virtues and Vices are not limited to the 7 heavenly virtues or deadly sins.  Examples include ambitious, competitive, sadistic, compassionate, lazy, etc.

    Now that you have a well defined concept, a virtue, a vice and aspirations, it’s time to start assigning points.

    Attributes: are divided into 3 categories: Mental, Physical and Social.  Choose which of these will be your character’s focus by assigning each as primary, secondary or tertiary.  Distribute 5 dots between your primary attributes, 4 in secondary, 3 in tertiary.

    When finished, each attribute should have a ranking from 1 – 5 dots.

    • 1 = Below Average
    • 2 = Average
    • 3 = Above Average
    • 4 = Truly Exceptional
    • 5 = The peak of human potential

    A rating of 3 or above marks an attribute in which you shine amongst you peers and probably deserves some mention in your bio.  A ranking of 1 has probably been a stumbling block for you over the years.

    The Attributes available are as follows:

    • Mental Attributes
      • Intelligence: Raw mental power such as book smarts or the ability to process data, solve complex problems, etc. A mathematician solving an equation, a detective piecing together clues or a general designing a a flawless strategy all use intelligence.
      • Wits: Wits in NWOD is a mix of the wits and perception attributes in OWOD.  It represents quick thinking on your feet and the ability to notice the subtle details of the world around you.  A general noticing and changing his strategy to attack a sudden weak point in the enemy’s defenses, a detective noticing a stray stain of blood out of the corner of his eye or a socialite coming up with a quick quip to frazzle a verbal sparring partner all use wits.
      • Resolve: Represents your characters patience, concentration and determination in the face of adversity.  This is your character’s long term since of purpose and ability to resist distractions.
    • Physical Attributes – These are fairly self-explanatory and similar to OWOD.
      • Strength, Dexterity and Stamina
    • Social Attributes
      • Presence: Your character’s bearing, charisma and assertiveness.  It can include appearance, but generally is a measure of the power and force of personality your character can bring to bear on others.
      • Manipulation: Your characters social dexterity, the ability to choose the right words to guide others to your will or to mask your own intentions.
      • Composure: Emotional stamina and self control, ability to keep one’s emotions  in check and resist emotional manipulation or stress.  Level headedness.

    Once your dots in attributes are spent, move on to skills.

    Skills: Like Attributes, skills are divided into Mental, Physical and Social categories.  Select which is primary, secondary and tertiary for your character.  You get NO free starting dot in skills.  For your primary skills distribute 11 dots, 7 for secondary and 4 for tertiary.  Bear in mind that an unskilled roll (0 in the skill) imposes a penalty (-1 for physical and social skills, -3 for mental skills.) Example: Nadine has manipulation 2 and no dots in the intimidation skill. She tries to deliver a subtly worded threat (manipulation + intimidation), but because she has no dots in the relevant skill, her dice pool is her manipulation minus one die.  She rolls only one die in this case.

    I will not list off all the skills as they are fairly self-explanatory and good descriptions can be found in the Chronicles of Darkness rulebook pages 31 – 43.

    Skill ratings are as follows:

    • 0 = Untrained. No or minimal ability in the skill in question.
    • 1 = Novice. Maybe took a course, watched a lot of youtube videos, a dabbler.
    • 2 = Professional. You could use the skill for a living at entry level.
    • 3 = Experienced. You have probably done this day in and day out for some time and are recognized as a go-to guy or gal.
    • 4 = Expert. You are the best at a given thing most people will ever meet.
    • 5 = Master. You are at the very top in your field.  If something happens in your area of expertise, you’re the one everyone wants an interview with.

    As per attributes, any skill of 3 or above is impressive and will probably be part of your bio.

    Skill Specialties: Once you have selected your character’s skills, you may choose up to 3 specialties.  For instance, a swindler might have subterfuge specialty of lying, while a detective might have a subterfuge specialty of detecting lies.  You get a one die bonus on any roll within your specialty.  Specialties should be narrow and probably deserve some mention in your bio.

    Merits: Unique abilities and assets.  Starting characters get 7 points of merits.

    Common merits include:

    • Common Sense (3 points)
    • Encyclopedic Knowledge (2 points)
    • Fast Reflexes (1 – 3 points)
    • Direction Sense (1 point)
    • Multilingual (1 point per language)
    • Ambidextrous (3 points)
    • Fame (1 – 4 points)
    • Safe Place/Haven (1 – 5 points)
    • Allies (1 – 5 points)
    • Striking Looks (1 or 2 points)
    • And more… see Chronicles of Darkness p 43 – 65

    Finally, you will calculate some stats that will be used in various rolls.

    Size: The size of your character. Generally 5 for adult humans unless the small frame or giant merits have been purchased.

    Speed: Running speed. Strength + Dexterity + 5.

    Defense: (Lowest of Dexterity or Wits) + Athletics.  Example unarmed attack roll: (Attacker Strength + Brawl) – (Defender’s Defense)

    Initiative Mod: For determining action order in combat or chase scenes. Dexterity + Composure

    Beats: Leave blank for now.  When aspirations are achieved, goals accomplished, conditions resolved, etc your character will get a beat.  5 beats = 1 XP

    Health: The circles represent your total HP Pool. The boxes are where you mark off damage.  Health = Stamina + Size.

    Willpower: The circles represent your total Willpower pool (max willpower so to speak).  The boxes represent the amount of willpower you have to spend currently.  Spending a point of willpower adds an automatic 3 dice to a roll.  Some special moves and vampiric disciplines require spending willpower.  Starting Willpower pool = Resolve + Composure.

    Integrity: Essentially sanity, similar to the humanity or morality trait in Owod.  Unlike those traits, however, it can decrease due to exposure to otherworldly horrors or character specific breaking points.  All characters start with integrity 7.

    Breaking Points: These are actions your character can take or things they could be exposed to that would cause them to roll to lose integrity.

    Sample questions for choosing breaking points.

    • <i>What is the worst thing your character has ever done? </i>This
    doesn’t have to be anything dastardly. If the worst
    thing your character ever did was steal money from
    his mother’s purse and lie to cover it up, that’s fine.
    What’s important here is to consider something that your
    character did that made him hate himself. The superlative
    “worst” is something that the character would apply. Choose
    a breaking point based on the answer to this question.
    • <i>What is the worst thing your character can imagine himself</i>
    <i>doing? </i>We imagine ourselves in various scenarios to test
    our own self-image against a hypothetical situation.
    When children do it, it’s called imaginative play, but
    it fills the same niche. What can you can character
    reasonably see himself doing, but still know that it
    would be wrong? Can your character imagine killing someone in self-defense? Torturing someone for
    information? How about robbing a store with a gun?
    • <i>What is the worst thing your character can imagine someone</i>
    <i>else doing? </i>Of course, we all know that people are
    capable of some hideous atrocities. What tops your
    character’s list? Serial murder? Rape? Torture? Spree
    killing? If your character is extremely sheltered or
    misanthropic, he might have a skewed view, here; he
    might hang on to some lofty, cerebral notion of “dishonor” or “betrayal” as the nadir of human behavior.
    • <i>What has your character forgotten? </i>In the Chronicles of
    Darkness, it’s next to impossible to grow up without
    any exposure to the supernatural. Decide what your
    character saw and forgot. Did she see a vampire take
    the form of smoke and vanish? A man turn into a
    wolf? Maybe she caught a glimpse of an impossible
    nightmarescape through a door that should never
    have been propped open? Describe this scene in as
    much detail as you can. This is a breaking point that
    already occurred, but it helps set a benchmark for
    what your character would have to see in order to
    experience one now.
    • <i>What is the most traumatic thing that has ever happened</i>
    <i>to your character? </i>No one goes through life with no
    trauma. Your character might have been mugged,
    beaten as a child, in a serious car accident, been kidnapped by a parent during a divorce, survived a lifethreatening disease, attempted suicide, been attacked
    by a supernatural (or natural!) creature, or any number
    of other traumatic experiences. The goal here, again,
    isn’t to make a traumatized character. It’s to set a bar.

    Congrats! You got a character!

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