Creating a Character

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Creating a Character

Creating a character is the very first thing you will be doing with the Brilliance and Shadow system. This character will be your representation in the story that the Storyteller weaves for you. It will contain your triumphs, your defeats, your personalities, your interactions, and your memories. Characters in Brilliance and Shadow are far more versatile than in other role playing systems, and it is easy for new players to become overwhelmed with their choices. It is recommended that beginning players choose from one of the Pre-Built Archetypes so that they can really get a feel for how the system works before building their own first character.

Once you have a grasp of how the system works, or if you really want to dive into the vast landscape of possibilities and bring elements together to bring your own idea to life, this is where you start.

1. Concept

Before you can create any sort of stats, you should create a character concept. To help you get a handle on your character’s identity and motivation, come up with a short, two- or three-word description of him/her. Examples: “shadow priest”, “Imperial mage”, “wandering mercenary”. Often looking through the available races can help narrow down your concept as some races are much more suited to certain lifestyles.

2. Select Race

There are nine playable races in Brilliance & Shadow. Each offers distinct advantages and disadvantages. There is no “best” race, but some races are better suited to certain professions and roles. Trolls, for example, are known as fearsome warriors while having little aptitude for magic. Some races, such as Elari or Lichborne, may only be available in specific campaigns at the discretion of the Storyteller.

Race Favored Source General Appearance
Elf, High Magecraft, Channelling Slender, pale elves with light eyes and hair in a variety of metallic tones.
Elf, Wild Adept, Shamanism Hardy, lean elves with dark complexions ranging from olive to nearly black.
Elf, Wood Adept, Channelling Lithe, agile elves with the most varied skin tone and a tendency toward medium-to-dark hair.
Faerie Magecraft, Sorcery A small race of colorful, androgynous creatures capable of flight with ephemeral wings of magic.
Feran Adept, Shamanism A dexterous race of beings with feline features whose fur coats come in a variety of colors.
Human Any The most widely varied in appearance of the mortal races.
Svaald Shamanism, Adept An ice-dwelling race with thick blue skin and voluminous manes of white hair.
Troll Adept, Channelling A hulking, race of rock-like warriors larger, tougher and physically stronger than any other mortal race.
Half Breeds Variable Humans, Elves and Svaald have been known to intermingle and produce offspring whose appearances vary widely.

3. Select Source

Each player has access to powers beyond normal mortals. The nature of these powers is determined by their chosen Source. There are 5 sources to choose from*:

Title Description Starting Powers
Adept An adept draws on the power of his own internal energy to perform feats beyond ordinary men. With no knowledge of magic spells, spirits, or prayers, an adept gains skill through hard work, dedication, and supernatural talent. He may be a skilled warrior, cunning thief, or silver-tongued orator and many of history’s greatest tyrants, generals, and warriors were adepts.

You might enjoy playing a Adept if: You enjoy using abilities which improve your own character, or aren’t interested in magic spells. Adepts get the best self buffing abilities in the game.

One Rank 2 Discipline with one ability from Rank 1, and one ability from Rank 2
Magecraft Mages are powerful spellcasters who draw on the elemental power of the world to cast devastating blasts of fire or lightning, mind control, teleportation, healing or protective magical barriers.

You might enjoy playing a Mage if: You like versatile characters who can gain access to a huge variety of powers including damage spells, protective magic, and healing. Mages have the broadest power set in the game and can pick up dozens of useful spells, but can struggle with managing Mana, their primary resource.

One Rank 2 Sphere with two spells from Rank 1 and one spell from Rank 2
Shamanism Shamans draw their powers from elemental, nature, animal, or ghostly spirits. These spirits linger unseen in the world, but Shamans can manifest their spirit guides to protect them, imbue the spirits into weapons or armor, and use powers granted by the Spirits. Shamans are often barbaric warriors, holy men, or sages, reaching through the veil of Twilight to see into the realm of spirits and the dead.

You might enjoy playing a Shaman if: You like the idea of having companion spirits to send into battle and draw power from. Shaman have a great mix of buffing, and support powers drawn from their spirits unique capabilities.

One Rank 2 Spirit with one spell from Rank 1 and one spell from Rank 2
Channelling Channelers are priests, clerics, and avatars of immortal patrons gifted with access to their patron’s power. They may be a member of an established order, or a lone crusader for their god or goddess. The powers a channeler wields are restricted to the Domains their patron offers and always reflect the patron. They range from Order, and Healing, to Death, and Chaos.

You might enjoy playing a Channeler if: You enjoy strongly specialized theme characters. Channelers abilities are based off which patron or deity they serve. Thalu the God of Fire for example tends towards destructive powers while Nimway offers more defensive and healing oriented domains. In the area of your patrons influence, you will be unequalled.

One Rank 2 Domain with one Line and one power from Rank 1 in that Line and one power from Rank 2 in that Line
Sorcery Sorcerers are dark casters of primal planar magic nearly beyond their control. They reach into the Outer Planes to unleash raw destructive magic in waves of fire, demonic conjurations, and armies of undead.

You might enjoy playing a Sorcerer if: You enjoy magical brute force. Sorcerers have a few extremely powerful abilities, but very little versatility. In many ways they are the opposite of Mages; trading increased risk and lack of versatility for overwhelming strength in their areas of specialty. Often described as “sledgehammers” they have little utility, and no healing, but are arguably the best in the game at raw power.

One Rank 2 Seed with the Rank 1 and Rank 2 powers from that seed

Benefit Points may be spent to gain a secondary source.

4. Select Primary Statistics

Your characters innate capabilities are Primary Statistics (Stats). Your character begins with one point in each Primary Stat automatically. You may distribute 10 Points among the Primary Statistics. Points costs are cumulative, and the point costs are slightly cheaper if your Race has a Favored Stat (see the Races section for details)

Statistic Rank Regular Point Cost Favored Point Cost
1 Free Free
2 1 Point 1 Point
3 1 Point 1 Point
4 2 Points 1 Point
5 3 Points 3 Points

Example: Mar wants to raise his Constitution to 4 as a Wild Elf with a Favored Stat of Constitution. He needs to spend 1 Point each to raise Constitution to 2, 3, and then 4, for a total cost of 3 points. Another character lacking his Favored Stat would need to spend a total of 4 Points for the same starting rank, since Rank 4 costs 2 points instead of 1.

Primary Statistic Description
Strength Physical might, this stat governs your ability to climb, lift, throw, jump, run quickly, wear heavy equipment, and deal damage with melee weapons.
Dexterity Physical agility, this stat governs your ability to sneak, perform acrobatics, dodge attacks, and fire ranged weapons such as bows and crossbows.
Constitution Physical toughness, this stat governs your ability to soak damage, resist poisons, and resist disease.
Intelligence Mental might, this stat governs your ability to research, investigate, perform medical procedures, and is the primary statistic for Channelling, Magecraft, and some Shaman spells.

Note: This stat has no bearing on your characters education; that is defined through Skills and Benefits.

Willpower Mental toughness, this stat governs your ability to stay alert, act decisively, resist social influence, and is the primary statistic for Sorcery, and some Shaman spells.
Charisma Mental agility, this stat governs your ability to carry yourself, interact with animals, influence others, and gather information. This influence may be a combination of looks, personality, or manipulation.

5. Calculate Secondary Statistics

Your character's Primary Statistics are combined with additional bonuses to create Secondary Statistics such as your characters Health and Initiative. Some Secondary Statistics are based on the average 2 Primary Statistics. Any time one of your stats or abilities is an average, you must round down to the nearest whole number.

Secondary Statistic Description
Magic This stat governs the limits of Source powers, and increases player's mana pool. Player's may have Source powers (Domains, Disciplines, etc) of a rank equal to Magic + 1. All players begin play with a Magic Stat of 1 which may be raised only by General Experience. (see Earning & Spending XP)
Health Derived: Constitution + Racial Bonus. This stat is the total points of lethal damage you can sustain, and the number of rounds you have before you bleed to death. Recovers slowly.
Vigor Derived: Constitution. This stat is the total points of non-lethal damage you can sustain before you begin to take lethal damage from non-lethal attacks or effects. Recovers more quickly than Health.
Mana Derived: Magic x 10. This stat is the pool of points used to power spells and adept abilities.
Initiative Derived: Willpower. This stat is the ability to react quickly without hesitation in the face of danger. This bonus is added to 1d10 rolls for Initiative to determine turn order.
Speed Derived: Racial Bonus + Personal Speed Modifier ((Strength + Dexterity) / 2 ). The total of those two values is the number of yards your character can travel in a single move action. Additionally, the Personal Speed Modifier also serves as a character’s jump distance. Note: Faerie derive Flight Speed by Intelligence + Racial Bonus.
Dodge Derived: Average of Dexterity and Intelligence, rounded down ( Dexterity + Intelligence ) / 2. This stat is the chance of evading physical attacks.
Physical Defense Derived: Dodge + Equipment Bonus (Armor/Shield). This stat is the combined chance of avoiding damage from incoming physical attacks.
Magical Defense Derived: Magical Armor. This stat is the combined chance of avoiding damage from aimed magical spells.
Resistance Derived: Willpower + Racial Bonus. This stat is the chance of ignoring spells, poisons, or disease that directly affect the mind or body.

6. Select Skills

Your character’s learned capabilities are Skills. Each character distributes 20 Skill Points among their skills. Some races will gain points or initial skill ranks in addition to these 20 Skill Points

Skill Rank Point Cost to Increase Total Point Cost
1 1 Point 1 Point
2 1 Point 2 Points
3 1 Point 3 Points
4 2 Points 5 Points
5 3 Points 8 Points

There are several Core Skills, which most characters will have at least some proficiency in, often starting play with 3 or more ranks in each:

  • One Weapon Skill (Unarmed, Melee, Thrown, or Ranged). Assuming your character uses some sort of weapon, you will want a weapon skill
  • One Source skill (Magecraft, Sorcerery, Shamanism, or Channelling). While Adepts don't have a key core skill, they often have abilities which use a non-core skill.
  • Perception. Perception is one of the most called for skills in-game.

Other non-Core skills should be selected by what is appropriate to your character's background and training.

Untrained skills will incur penalties:

Base Stat of Skill Penalty
Charisma/Willpower 0
Strength -1
Dexterity -1
Intelligence -2

7. Select Character Benefits & Fighting Style

Your character also has benefits in the form of traits, assets, and training. Each character begins play with 2 Benefit Points to spend toward Character Benefits. Some races or backgrounds may gain bonus benefits or points, however no Benefit may be raised beyond Rank 2 during character creation.

8. Select Starting Equipment

Every character begins play with starting equipment. This normally includes:

  • 1 Martial Weapon
  • Light or Medium Armor
  • Travel Pack (5 days of food, bedroll)
  • Change of clothes (Common Quality)
  • 10 Gold

Additional equipment, including heavy armor, improved materials (quicksilver, adamantine, ironwood), substantial supplies, mounts, etc may be obtained using the Improved Background Benefit.

9. Character Building Hints

For new players, check this list of hints for building well rounded characters.

10. Characters Above Starting Experience

When building characters for existing games or games starting at higher power levels, refer to the Campaign Rank and discuss details with the Storyteller.