Beginning in Ember

For this campaign, we’ll be doing something a little different than our normal method of rolling up characters. The concept is that your characters are quite extraordinary, but still recognizably of the same species as your non-player-character counterparts.

On page 16 of the Core Rulebook, in tables 1-1 and 1-2, you’ll see a point cost chart and a table of play styles and the number of points that go along with them. We’ll be playing high fantasy, which allows a twenty-point buy. Your character starts with all 10’s. This is average for a typical person of your race, when modified for any racial adjustments. Keep in mind that most of the people we know are chalk full of 10’s. A person could have all 10’s and nobody would ever think they were lacking.

With a twenty-point buy, you could have a character with one 18, three more points on other scores and the rest 10’s, or you could have a character with two sixteens and the rest tens. You could have a character with one sixteen and two fourteens, or one with four fourteens. Fourteen is a significant improvement over average.  Think of it like this:

  • Someone with an eight is somewhat lacking in that attribute, and the lack is noticeable, but not really remarkable.
  • Someone with a twelve is somewhat better than normal. Again, not very remarkable.
  • Someone with a fourteen is significantly better than others. People think of them as strong, tough, quick, smart, wise or charming.
  • Someone with a sixteen is extraordinarily good. Most people who are known for an attribute are in this range.
  • Someone with an eighteen would be famous for their attribute. People would marvel at how powerful or dexterous or brilliant they are. It would be a frequent topic of conversation in any village or town such a person lived in.  Of course, an elf with an eighteen in dexterity is no more remarkable among elves than anyone else with a sixteen, and these things are automatically factored in when people interact.

So your characters will be quite impressive compared to others, though they might seem weak compared to what you’re accustomed to. Keep in mind that they exist in a word that uses the same philosophy. Monsters will be more challenging as a result, but others of civilized races will be toned down as much as the characters are (usually more). The idea behind this approach is to force you to make choices. The old way allows you to have everything, with even the lowest scores being twelves or fourteens. Certainly, some are better than others, but all are superhuman, and that makes them both exceptionally durable, and at the same time they find comparatively less utility in level-appropriate magic.

You may also remove points from a score to free up points for another. Reducing a score to 6 would free up five points. Please refrain from reducing any score lower than six after racial adjustments. A person with a six is significantly worse than normal with regard to that stat. Words like weak, frail, slow, stupid, sucker and boorish would be used. Take care with such tactics and make sure you work them into your character’s background and personality.

You may use any class in the Core Rulebook or APG. Let the world back-story be your guide. A teacher for any class can be found in Dunmar.

Mind your skills. They may well be put to use more often than you’re accustomed to. Where characters are generally weaker, their skills, feats and equipment tend to play a more important role. I am giving you survival and two knowledge skills to add to your class skills. If you already have survival among your class skills, you may chose three knowledge skills instead of two. You will receive one extra skill point at first level to put in each of these extra class skills. If your class has all knowledge skills already, you receive six extra skill points (instead of the three) to bolster survival and five of those knowledge skills. This represents the benefits of your learning at the academy.

Your feats are equally important, but you should know that I intend to allow characters to swap out one feat at 3rd, 6th, 9th, etc. levels.

Your equipment is critical. You may have the maximum amount of starting gold for your class, but I expect you to do the best you can to improve yourself. I think it will save a lot of hard lessons early on if nobody assumes it’s safe to hold out for something a little better down the line. Your maxed-out funds are a reflection of the resources available in Dunmar. Don’t die for lack of a bit of armor with a bunch of cash in your pouch.

Please do not make an evil character. The Masters at Dunmar academy are not fools, and would not allow someone with a rotten heart to achieve power through their instruction, or to consume food needed for others for that matter. Curiously, all of the really bad kids didn’t make it through that first, brutal winter. What are the odds?

In Ember, all races reach adulthood at about 17 to 19 years, although they live the normal spans for their race.  You will begin adventuring at 18 years, eight full years after your journey to Dunmar, so there won’t be any old-age hijinks.

I’m likely to throw some grappling, tripping, dragging and pushing at you, so be prepared.

I cannot promise not to change some house rules that we’ve grown accustomed to, but I won’t allow a character to be cheated by it. Death will be final, at negative your constitution. Revival is not possible, but preventive contingency spells are allowed.

You will each receive up to two traits. Traits are an optional rule that I believe will be an interesting tool in character building. You don’t have to use traits, and you can use just one if you wish, but you’ll soon see that they add something to your character that will improve him. The books says they are about half as powerful as a feat, and my review of the traits in the book seems to bear that out. Please decide which traits you’ll use, if any, before creating your character’s back-story. You traits will help shape your character.

Do not worry about any crystal-based skills or weapon training. The principles are similar to a a crossbow and anyone who can use one of those can use an energy-based weapon. There are no crystal weapons in Dunmar and none of the Masters has any experience in them or anything but contempt and disdain for them.

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