Character Building Hints

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There are a lot of character building options in Brilliance & Shadow, so it is possible to make poorly optimized characters without some guidance. As you become more familiar with the system don't be afraid to experiment outside the box and take less obvious choices, but newer players may find these hints helpful.

Primary Statistics

  • When picking primary statistics looking for synergies with the skills and powers you intend to use. If you intend to make a character who uses Light melee weapons or Ranged weapons (which can use Dexterity instead of strength) you don't need to raise Strength for attack rolls.
  • Plan to have at least a 3 or 4 in your most important statistic. For Mages & Channellers this will be Intelligence for casting spells, Sorcerers will use Willpower, and Shaman will use either Intelligence or Willpower. All physical weapons characters will use Strength or Dexterity. While you can raise Statistics with General Experience later, it is costly so its easier to start with good base stats.
  • Don't underestimate the value of Constitution. While Constitution only contributes to Health and Vigor, it is the key to staying alive. Note that Brilliance & Shadow does not have any resurrection powers, and healing magic is costly.
  • Strength is important for using heavy equipment such as certain types of armor and weapons.


  • Almost all characters will eventually need to engage in combat. Even predominantly social or knowledge based characters should have some option to contribute in a combat situation. Most characters will greatly benefit from taking at least 3 Skill Points in a suitable weapon skill matching their highest physical statistic (Strength or Dexterity) or a damage dealing ability from their Source powers.
  • It is very beneficial to have at least 1 Skill Point in any skill you expect to use regularly, as it will remove the negatives for using the skill untrained. This is particularly important for Intelligence based skills such as Knowledge which suffer the greatest penalties for untrained usage. E.g. Consider taking at least 1 Point in Medicine. With magic healing being rare and expensive, using Medicine to bind a bleeding player's wounds may mean the difference between life and death.


  • If you intend to use a Fighting Style for weapons, note that the core Maneuvers for most styles start at Rank 2. If you are building a starting character with weapon skills, consider taking Rank 1 & 2 of your preferred weapon style.
  • Template Focus (e.g. Mage Focus) is a great option for pure spellcasters who don't intend to dabble in physical fighting styles.
  • If you are looking to build a character with options such as a wealthy noble family, multiple languages, or regional fame, buying Improved Background is extremely valuable. Since you can only buy this Benefit at Character Creation, you get essentially double benefit you would get buying the options individually with experience later.


  • Always consider some form of armor. Even Light Armor (padded/leather) offers some additional protection and can mean the difference between life and death. If you are playing a spellcaster, look at the defensive options your Source powers provide such as Force Armor (Mages). These powers can substitute for bulky physical armor in exchange for a mana cost.
  • Look at the weapons and armor that best match your statistics. If you have a lot of Strength, you may look at Two-Handed Weapons or Large Shields, and heavy armor, while Dexterity based characters will excel with Ranged Weapons and weapons classified as Light. Note that heavier armor gives armor penalties to certain skills like Stealth and Acrobatics, so even if you have the Strength to wear it, you may want to choose something else.

Source Powers

  • When you build a new character, build on the basics and expand with experience. Most Sources will offer the ability to get an Enhancement bonus to either equipment or a primary statistic which are good choices for starting powers.