BattleTech - The Board Game of Armored Combat

BattleTech Game Systems => A Time of War => Topic started by: adamhowe on 21 April 2012, 05:16:14

Title: How do I make a character?
Post by: adamhowe on 21 April 2012, 05:16:14
I tried but got confused and frustrated, it's too much information to sift through and not very clear on how to make the character.
Title: Re: How do I make a character?
Post by: adamhowe on 21 April 2012, 05:23:54
The character builder program should help me with this.
Title: Re: How do I make a character?
Post by: Kobura on 21 April 2012, 10:53:31
It actually becomes fairly intuitive after a few runs through. I recommend reading the entire rpg rulebook cover to cover once or twice, just so you have a passing familiarity with all the terms, and can recognize when a rule is being referenced. It is not very well laid out, so some rules are strangely placed! Having bumped into them once will help you feel less lost.
Title: Re: How do I make a character?
Post by: adamhowe on 21 April 2012, 20:06:46
The character builder program really helped out.
Title: Re: How do I make a character?
Post by: dieffenbachj on 21 April 2012, 20:23:07
Yeah. A Time of War is one of my favorite RPGs in a variety of areas (I'm making a hobby of studying different RPGs!), but layout is NOT one of them.

I'll give you a quick rundown. First, I always open Notepad++ or Excel, I don't make notes for making a character on a piece of paper... the system just does not allow itself for it.

First, write down the following info:

Code: [Select]
4150 left

STR 100
BOD 100
REF 100
DEX 100
INT 100
WIL 100
CHA 100
EDG 100

Lang/English 40
Perception 10

This all comes from page 52, where it says you get 100 XP for each stat, 20 XP for Language/English and 20 for Language/one other, and 10 XP in Perception. You start with 5,000 XP, but buying those starter stats gets you down to 4,150. This system's called point buy, and XP are your points incidentally.

I've trimmed a number of steps from the equation: I dumped the two language skills together (get your English up to 50 or 80 XP first, THEN start buying other languages), and I wasn't going to tell you about starting at 5,000 XP and going down to 4,150 but decided you should have the option of knowing what's up. I'll be pretty un-diligent about doing things PROPERLY from here on out, just trying to show you the ropes.

After this, you pick a nation. They're the big colored boxes starting on page 54. I'm going to select the Federated Suns, with the specific area in that nation I'm from being the Crucis March. Federated Suns provides either 100 XP in Natural Aptitude/Protocol or Natural Aptitude/Strategy, 10 XP in Protocol/Fedsuns, and Crucis March provides 50 WIL, -50 EDG, Arts/Any 10, interest/fedsuns history 15, and protocol/fedsuns 15. The whole module costs 150 XP.

Code: [Select]
4000 left (note I lowered the amount left by 150, since that's what the module costs)

STR 100
BOD 100
REF 100
DEX 100
INT (minimum 4, note the requirement at the bottom of the fedsuns module) 100
WIL 150
CHA 100
EDG 50

Natural Aptitude/Strategy 100

Arts/Any 10
Interest/Fedsuns History 15
Lang/English 40
Perception 10
Protocol/Fedsuns 25

If you can run through the same figures as me and get the same results, you'll be halfway on your way to learning the system.

Now you just have to do the same with the 'early childhood' module. Say this fedsuns guy is from a Farm, I would deduct 275 XP (3725 left), and add in all of the various farm bonuses.

You'll notice there is a 'Flexible XPs' at the bottom of many modules. This just gives you total freeform choice as to where you put the XP. Me? I think this is a stupid system, because it just adds math with no benefit. What's the difference between adding 10 XP to four areas of your choice from a 275 XP module, and adding 0 XP of your choice from a 235 XP module? Virtually none. Now, there ARE some rules in place regarding how you spend your Flexible XPs... but those rules are nothing a newbie has to worry about, so the presence of flexible XPs just makes it harder on new people learning the system.

So what I would recommend is, for all of your modules, just add any Flexible XPs to your running total of XP left. For instance, with Farm we had 3,725 XP left, but since it has 40 flexible XPs, I would just add that back for 3,765.

Flexible XPs, if you really want to manage them, just let you spend XPs on anything you want up to the limits and restrictions they say.

Anyway, do this again with your late childhood, to pick what you did as a teen. High School is pretty common: 400 XP penalty (3,365), 185 flexible XP (3,550). Please note that any prerequisites a module has--in this case, "May not have the Illiterate trait"--ONLY has to be met AFTER you're done making a character. In that way, it's actually a bad misnomer: prerequisite implies you must have conditions met BEFORE the module is selected. But note how we have Intelligence at a minimum of 4? That's a prerequisite that only has to be met when you're DONE with the character.

Anyway. You'll hit higher education. This is... ugh. Okay, select which schools you go to on page 72. You select one basic field and one or two advanced or special fields, I believe. The module cost of the school is given in the type of school (e.g. Family Training costs 570, down to 2,980, with flexible XP up to 3,080).

Now, with each field you select, you'll have to go wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy later in the book, because someone decided that the best spot for half of the higher education tables was two sections later. Skip forward to page 81. If you are using a physical book, use bookmarks for both pages because you'll likely be doing a lot of flipping back and forth. Why did they do this? Iunno. Maybe having all the tables for higher education in the higher education section was intimidating to playtesters.

Anyway. Calculations for higher education get dicier, made harder by the fact they don't have the costs (or rebates) for each field of schooling in the actual field titles. How it works is, each field provides you 30 XP in each of a bunch of skills, and it charges you that much from your running total, but gives you a 6 XP rebate (effectively flexible XP, just add it back into the total) per skill. So, if you take Basic Training under Military skill fields (make sure to write down the postrequisites!), you gain 30 XP in Career/Soldier, Martial Arts, MedTech, Navigation/Ground, and Small Arms... but it only costs you 24 XP per skill to get those (120 total), or 30 XP apiece (150 total) with a 6 XP apiece rebate (30 XP back). You have to manually add up how many skills there are on a field-by-field basis, and multiply that out yourself.

I personally write the costs in a pen on my actual physical copy of the book, so that future players have that as reference material.

You have one more module to select, which if you're on the skill fields page means going BACK a half-dozen pages to page 74, where you select you real life module.

I should note that your real life and your higher education modules are both entirely optional. The reason one would purchase them is to minmax their character--you receive flaws and penalties for taking those, which translate to higher skills and more traits since you receive those costs as a bonus. The reason one would NOT purchase them is, ironically, ALSO to minmax their character: since your skills aren't spread around, if you just skip higher education and real life training, you can just buy the things you want and ignore the things you don't.

Anyway. At this point, you should have a number of XP left that hasn't been spent on anything (after family training, I think we were down to 2,960). Spend this on whatever you want. Look through the skill and trait chapters to find things you want or need. BTW, you NEED to meet all of your postrequisites at this point, and all of your attributes should have a minimum of 100 XP in them. 300-400 is average. Any less than 100 is not physically possible... not sure why they didn't just make 0 the minimum but... k.

After you've spent all of your XP, look at the table on page 85 (the XP costs table, not the skill fields table from the higher education section). It should explain how to turn all that XP you spent into actual skill ranks.

If you have 20 XP in a skill, you have a rank of 0. If you have less, you have a rank of... untrained... okay, don't ask me why they decided 0 should be trained and untrained shouldn't be a number. I know the reasons, has to do with forcing players to remember that 0 uses standard rolling modifier rules and untrained uses untrained rolling modifier rules, but I think it's silly and confusing for newbies.

If you have 30 XP in a skill, you have a rank of 1. 50 is 2, 80 is 3, 120 is 4. FYI, a skill your character is good at should be between 80 and 120, and if he's super-elite-awesome, it should be 170 or more.

On the same table is attributes (strength, willpower, you know the deal), which go up in 100 XP cost increments. So 100 is 1, 200 is 2, 300 is 3, and so on. Pretty simple.

Uhh... and that's about it. Note that if you are under the minimum number of XP required to get something (199 XP in strength, 50 XP in a talent, etc.) you do NOT receive the benefits of that something, it does not round up, 199 XP is 1 Strength and 200 XP is 2 strength, 50 XP isn't a talent, 100 XP is.

Aaaaand that's about it. There are some things about spending money on equipment, but that's pretty simple. What I highly recommend is that you go through and try to make the character as I've described (Crucis March->Farm->High School->Family Training (basic + mechwarrior)->maybe a tour of service), following along with me, and see if you figure out some of the holes in your knowledge on your own.

Sorry if this isn't the best guide... and sorry to everyone whose face is puffing out red because I skipped steps/combined flexible XPs into the normal pool/provided running commentary on the design choices. I'm just trying to make it simple and entertaining to a newbie, in a way I would explain it to someone at the actual table...

... if this system was simple enough to be TAUGHT at a table. Two week correspondence course, maybe.
Title: Re: How do I make a character?
Post by: monbvol on 21 April 2012, 22:48:13
Just a couple things that may either make it more complicated or less depending on your point of view.

I suspect they put the skill fields where they did simply because with the two different generation methods they provided and some Stage 4 Modules providing bonuses to Field Skills there would be some flipping between pages either way.

Something I think would be helpful is if the DTF version of the book came with tables of the Field Skills and the Traits that could be cut/torn out of the book on purpose.  It would also be super awesome if they could include a fully expanded skill rank chart on there somewhere with all the traits that alter the costs and how they can interact with each other.

Anyway something actually helpful for character creation.  One of the more confusing parts is optimization.

Optimization lets you reclaim XP to be spent else where.  Skills that are not sufficiently trained from the modules go back into your XP pool.  Likewise if you have say 95 XP on a skill you can reclaim that extra 15 XP.  Traits likewise need to be fully activated or reclaimed.  With some negative traits with multiple tiers this can actually cost XP as you have to bring it up to the minimum activated level.  The part that tends to trip up a lot of players is the extra 10% of starting XP pool (most often -500 XP) worth of Negative Traits you can pick up.  This limit is post optimization only for module build.  Module build it is helpful to remember the cost is for everything in the module.  The listed XPs to Attributes, Traits, and Skills are not additional costs to your XP pool but how the module breaks up the XP spent.

Point buy method self optimizes but gets the extra benefit of 20% of all XP invested in Field Skills is rebated.  This is actually the same percent of rebate as the module build.  As such when making a character this way a Field Skill with 120 XP would return 24 XP as rebate.

The next really brutal thing math wise is Fast Learner, Gremlins, Tech Empathy, Slow Learner, and Illiterate.  All these traits adjust the cost of multiple skills.  All skills in the case of Fast Learner and Slow Learner.  It is okay to skip these traits until you get comfortable with the system.