Chivalry & Sorcery—generating a character

This outlines the generation of my first ever Chivalry & Sorcery character, putting into practice the learning I set out in my last post.

The steps in the process

The steps listed in the Character Generation chapter are:

  1. Select method
  2. Birth Horoscope
  3. Birth Omens
  4. Race and sex
  5. Background, class, status and intragroup status
  6. Sibling rank (and family structure)
  7. Family status
  8. Curse (if required)
  9. Special Talents or Abilities
  10. Flaws, Deficiencies or Defects
  11. Personal Attributes
  12. Size
  13. Body Points and recovery rates
  14. Fatigue Points and recovery rates
  15. Lifting and carrying capacity
  16. Jumping ability
  17. Movement rates
  18. Age
  19. Personalizing character traits

To these I add four steps from other crucial chapters:

  1. Vocation
  2. Tertiary skills
  3. Skill purchase
  4. Starting money and equipment

1. Select method

There is a point-buy system that’s applicable to most points of character generation, but I don’t know the worth of the different buyable characteristics, and I’m only making this character for practice so I don’t have a concept in mind to build towards. Therefore I will use random generation and I will roll dice for everything I can roll for.

I will choose the default best-2-of-3d10 for attributes, rather than the Lion Heart straight-2d10 method. But I will stick with the Historic tier so I won’t add any across-the-board bonus to attributes.

2. Horoscope

I roll a random birth sign of Taurus, meaning my character is born between 20 April and 20 May. Taurus favours the skill categories Athletics and Scientific Lore, and the attribute Strength, all of which I’ll come back to later.

3. Omens

Another roll tells me the omens of this character’s birth were Well Aspected. That means the favoured attribute (Strength) benefits from an extra 2 dice, so I can take the best 2 of 5d10. The character also has an affinity for magick (+10 Personal Magick Factor in all modes of practice if a magus, Magick Resistance 0%), can have a special magical ability, and may have a birth prophecy if desired by the GM (I won’t bother for this post). The character will gain +15% bonus to total Experience Points gained when using favoured (Athletics and Scientific Lore) Vocational skills (which turn out later to be Conditioning, Endurance and Stamina)

4. Race and sex

It’s a boy! I shall name him John.

(Reflecting their medieval society setting, the C&S rules make male characters the default, so I won’t depart from that yet. Also I won’t venture into any fantastical races.)   

5. Background, class, status and intragroup status

I guess if I were making John for a campaign the GM would already have told me the period, but this is the first step where it becomes relevant, so I’ll arbitrarily suppose that John is in a Late Feudal campaign, set in the mid-14th century or equivalent.

I roll on the Late Feudal social class table and get Freeman. Roll again for wealth: Destitute/Landless. Go to the Free/Destitute table for father’s vocation and get Hireling Plot Tender, which gives starting skills (basic knowledge) in Vegetable Crops, 1 Agricultural Skill and 1 appropriate skill of player’s choice. And a Base Status of 4, which is as good as you can get on this table. Later in the section I determine intra-group status and get Poor, for -2 status within a local group of people who personally know John’s father.

Note also at this stage John gets the universal skills: basic knowledge of Brawling, reasonably fluent in your native spoken language (let’s assume this is English), and actually six others that are listed later in the book. I’ll come back to skills.

6. Sibling rank (and other family details)

The dice give John legitimate parentage with a living father, a dead mother and a step-mother. He’s the only (surviving) child of his parents, but has a younger half-sister, the child of his father and stepmother.  

7. Family status

John is his father’s favourite. He gains double starting funds, though I’m guessing that’s not going to be worth much being in the landless class.  

8. Curse (if required)

Not required.

9. Talents/special abilities

I roll Select Any Desired. Cool! I decide to postpone this decision to later in the process when I have a clearer idea what will suit him.

10. Flaws, Deficiencies or Defects

Having a talent, it is required to roll for a flaw, and I didn’t get one.

11. Personal attributes

For John’s astrologically-favoured attribute (Strength, see step 2 above) I roll 5 d10s and keep the best 2. For the others I roll the default 3 d10s and keep the best 2.

Strength 15, which feels a little disappointing for best 2 of 5, but I can add 2 as a Peasant to reach 17. Consulting the Attribute Rolls & Success Chance table, I see that this gives him an 82% chance of success in Attribute rolls based on Strength.

Constitution 20 (90%) woohoo! Dexterity 8 (50%) ah. You can’t have everything.

Now I can do the first calculated score. Agility is the average of STR, CON and DEX  (15) plus a random element (+3), giving 18 (85%).

Intellect 9 (54%), Wisdom 9 (54%), Discipline 9 (54%). Not really a thinker, or even very self-controlled.

Ferocity is another calculated score. The average of STR, WIS and DIS (12 after rounding) with a random factor (+4, the best possible) giving 16 (79%). That should also help in combat and suchlike.

Bardic Voice 12 (66%), Appearance 9 (54%), Spirit 14 (73%)

And calculate Charisma as the average of WIS, APP and BV (10) with a random factor of 0, giving 10 (58%). Not the most prepossessing of individuals, but perhaps comes to life singing a hymn?

Those seem like the attributes of a tough guy who leaves most of the thinking and talking to others. So I’ll decide the special talent now. Herculean Strength is a rare and powerful ability which will enhance those warrior attributes nicely. As instructed in the talent description, I roll d10+2 (9). I add that 9 to Strength (and can with this modifier exceed the racial cap) making John’s Strength a phenomenal 26, with a 99% chance of success on Attribute rolls. I will also add the same +9 to Fatigue and Body when I calculate those. And John will gain +4 to damage rolls.

Note that the increased Strength affects the derived stats Agility and Ferocity, adding 9/3=3 to each of them. Agility would be 21 but now hits the cap at 20 (90%), and Ferocity rises to 19 (88%).

12. Size

Rolling on the table for human males, John is 69 inches tall (5’ 9”). There is a build bonus from his 20 Constitution and a penalty from his 20 Agility but they cancel out to zero. So build for a human male is a straight roll of d10+1 and I get 11. Chonky boi! I mean Massive Build, +30% weight. Weight is 10lbs plus 5lbs for every inch of height over 40 (69-40=29, 29×5=145, 145+10=155lbs). Times 130% = 201.5, round up to 202lbs. I could add useless weight by making him fat, but he can stay lean both for physical performance and fidelity to the circumstances of a medieval peasant.  

There’s a section here (p106) detailing a stat called Absolute Strength Rating, which depends on Strength and size, but it is calculated via Lifting Capacity, which is placed later in the book, so I’ll come back to this.

13. Body Points and recovery rates

Start with 22 from the Weight Factor chart. Add CON (20) and half of STR (13) for 55. Plus 9 from Herculean Strength and 2 from Conditioning (see above and below) for final total 66

John’s CON of 20 is described as Vital, and gives him Body Recovery Rates (BRR) of 9% (6 Body) per day of complete rest, 6% (4 Body) per day of light activity) and 4% (3 Body) per active day. He can survive negative Body of up to his CON (20)

14. Fatigue Points and recovery rates

Base Fatigue Points are STR+CON = 26+20 = 46, plus the Herculean 9 and 1 from Endurance (see above) for 56.

John recovers 9 FP in 10 minutes’ rest, then 2 FP for each of the next 5 10-minute chunks, for a maximum of 19 in an hour. If sleeping, he regains 13 FP per further hour, which means a tolerable night’s sleep (5 hours) should usually restore full Fatigue.

15. Lifting and carrying capacity

26 STR means John can lift 250% of his body weight, plus 5.  510lbs Lifting Capacity (LCAP).

Carrying Capacity (CCAP) is half that (255lbs) in the form of a pack or suchlike, or half again (128lbs) carried in hands.

Flipping back to page 106 for the rules, I can now figure out Absolute Strength Rating (ASR). This is the square root of LCAP, rounded down, making 22. This is used as a +22 modifier to Strength AR checks. However note that if two characters both win in an opposed Str AR, (and, I discover from the designers on the Facebook group, if they also tie with their crit die rolls), the character with the lower ASR wins.

According to p106, a character also gains a damage bonus of ASR/2 when using a medium or heavier weapon (so for John this is +11, but I’ll include the Herculean +4 here as well, since there isn’t otherwise a space for it on the character sheet, making +15). And the bonus when using light weapons is ASR/4 (round down for +5, or +9 with Herculean).

(Page 281 has a slightly different version of the strength damage rule, which I plan to return to in a later post.)

16. Jumping ability

Basic jumping is a quarter of STR+AGL, or 12. Plus 2 if you’re Human, for 14 base. John can make a running long jump of (14+½d10) feet, or half that without a runup. Subtract 1ft for each 10% of CCAP carried (21.5 lbs)

Anyone can jump 3ft in the air, and reach up to 7/6 of their height, so John can jump to reach 116.5 in from the ground (9’ 8.5”)

17. Movement rates

John’s Base Action Points are the average of Agility and Ferocity, rounded down = 19.

(That may not look like a movement rate, but as detailed on page 268, characters can spend Action Points for movement or other actions in combat. Humans spend them at a rate of 1 AP for 5ft normal movement or 20ft sprinting. So I think John can, by sprinting with all APs, run 400 to 580 feet in one 15-second round. or a more normal movement of about 100-150ft.)

18. Age

Random rolling, John is 21, giving him 6,500 exp to spend in the skill purchase stage of generation. Add d10 (6)% for being well-aspected, for 6,890.

19. Personalising character traits

As a man of the mid-14th C John would have shoulder-length hair. I think I see him with a beard, which seems in-period. Brown hair with a bit of ginger, especially in the beard. Average English complexion, often a bit weather-beaten. Grey eyes. I think he should have typical working man clothes with a hood against the weather.  

Interlude—Skills

I think at this point I need to list out and finish choosing John’s background skills, preparatory to choosing additional skills from his vocation.

Core skills

John has the eight standard core skills. He could add Accurate Counting if he had the brains, and he could swap out Brawling for more feminine accomplishments if he were a woman, but neither of these apply. I’ve specified English in the ‘own language’ slot.

SkillFree levelDFBCSAttributesCost to Advance
Alertness—Sight077%1000
Alertness—Sound077%1000
Spoken English0160%INT + BV300
Local Geography0160%INT x2300
Stamina0340%STR + CON500
Willpower0340%DIS + WIS500
Faith0 (but see below)520%SPR x2700
Brawling0340%STR + AGL500
Dodge0340%AGL + WIS500
Core skills (male, average or below Intellect)
Birthsign

I said back at step 2 that the favoured skill categories for Taurus are Athletics and Scientific Lore. I can choose 1 skill from each category or 2 from one, to gain 2 free levels in and Mastery, which grants +10 PSF%.

Scientific Lore doesn’t now seem like a good fit for John, but there are some fun Athletics skills for a strong lad, such as Boxing and Wrestling. Conditioning and Endurance don’t involve checks so would be rather wasted in these mastery slots. Jumping, Lifting similarly. Stamina would be a possibility. You make a check to keep going for 1 minute when you’re out of FP, or to ignore a stun or incapacitation result from a blow or system shock, so +10 on those checks would be nice. Swimming might be useful but I think is a bit unrealistic in a setting where few people learn to swim.

I think I’m going to say Boxing and Wrestling here. I can always Master Stamina in the vocation stage or in play.  

(Given John’s birth sign, build, Attributes and skills, I think I’m going to nickname him the Bull).

SkillFree levelDFBCSAttributesCost to Advance
Boxing M277%1000
Wrestling M277%1000
John’s birth sign skills
Background

Hireling Plot Tender, which gives starting skills (basic knowledge) in Vegetable Crops, 1 Agricultural Skill (Field Crops uses his Strength) and 1 appropriate skill of player’s choice: I’m thinking either Bargaining (surely everyone does a bit of that) or actually Blend Into Surroundings (as a boy he liked to goof off sometimes, or avoid his father when he was drunk, or something like that).

Also as a Peasant John can have 1 level in Conditioning and Endurance (accounted for in the calculations above but should be recorded in the advancement section as there’s a cap on your total levels in these competencies). And I can upgrade two basic skills to level 1. Say Blend Into Surroundings and Faith. I don’t really know what Faith does yet, but it’s probably something, and that might open up another side. Hmm, yeah, Acts of Faith, which are like magic spells for religious believers. Might be interesting, though I’ll have to see how much a single skill level makes possible.

SkillFree levelDFBCSAttributesCost to Advance
Conditioning1(5)n/a(Body points)700
Endurance1(4)n/a(Fatigue points)600
Vegetable Crops0250%WIS x2400
Field Crops0340%STR + WIS500
Blend Into Surroundings1430%WIS + AGL600
FaithNow 1520%SPR x2700
John’s background skills

20. Vocation

Now I get to John’s training for his adult career. I’m creating an adventurer so I can assume that life has enabled him to learn something other than his father’s trade of vegetable growing.  John doesn’t have the attributes to make a non-warrior, or even a semi-warrior like Forester, so I’m looking at the straight warrior vocations. And he isn’t born into a class that would allow him to train as a knight or even a serviens (mounted armored retainer). So he’s going to be a basic foot fighter (Guard/Retainer/Warrior). I could suppose he’s taken service as hired muscle with some minor lord or wealthy townsman.

Here we see the intentional unfairness of C&S character generation, as Knights and Foresters get all sorts of skill bonuses. But John will just have to work those muscles and make the best of what he’s born to.

The Guard menu for Primary skills is: any combat skills and competencies (except K Only ones);  Conditioning; Endurance; and Stamina. Cross-checking this menu with skills already gained, the core skills Brawling, Dodge and Stamina all gain the +10 PSF% Primary bonus. I can now add more Primary skills at Level 1. In total I can add 6 to 10 Primary skills, and the balance up to 10 in Secondary skills (also at level 1). At most 5 Primaries can be combat skills (but combat skills are also available as secondary so if they aren’t success-chance-critical, like armor, we can put them there).

[Edit: I have re-clarified on the Facebook group and it seems that the design team intend for the Combat skills limit to restrict total Combat skills from vocation, including Secondary as well as Primary. In which case I’ve chosen too many combat skills below and I’ll have to let something go. But I haven’t had a chance to decide what and edit it in yet.]

I could use these slots to add a level to Brawling or Dodge but I don’t think it is worth it since they get the Primary +10 PSF% anyway. Better to open more skills to the +10 and use experience purchase to add levels in existing skills.

Flails, mounted combat and heavy or battle armor are out because they are ‘K Only’ (only available to Knights and near-knights).

For now I think I’ll stick with basic commoner weapons for my primary combat five: Axes, Fighting Staves, Maces, Spears and Hurling Javelins. (Hurling Axes, Slashing Swords, Archery and Shield-play might also be desirable, but I’ll have to leave them for now.)

Also on the primary list are Conditioning, Endurance and Stamina. It seems like a waste to use a Primary slot on any of them, since the first two are non-check Competencies and Stamina is a Core skill and therefore benefits from the Primary +10 anyway. But I have to use at least one Primary slot to gain a level in something non-combat, so I’ll take the one that would otherwise cost the most exp to advance: Conditioning.

SkillFree levelDFBCSAttributesCost to Advance
Axes P1430%STR x2600
Fighting Staves P1430%STR + AGL600
Maces etc P1430%STR x2600
Spears P1340%STR + DIS500
Hurling Javelins P1340%STR + AGL500
Conditioning PNow 2(5)n/a(Body points)700
John’s skills from vocation (Primary)

So that leaves four more initial slots from vocation, which could be Endurance or Stamina, further combat skills, First Aid, Animal Riding, or additional background skills (which arguably includes anything I can justify narratively, since there’s an “any appropriate” slot in John’s background list). I did want First Aid and Animal Riding. Let’s say Archery then (for period accuracy as much as game effectiveness), and now I can pick up Bargaining. Rats, no, I’m forgetting armour and I should have some kind of protection. Wear Light Armour

SkillFree levelDFBCSAttributesCost to Advance
Animal Riding – Horse etc1340%STR + DIS500
Archery1520%DEX + WIS700
First Aid1250%INT + WIS400
Wear Light ArmourBK(3)n/an/a(500)
John’s skills from vocation (Secondary)

John can Master (adding +10 PSF%), and gain 1 free level in, 5 primary or secondary (including background) skills. (These 5 are additional to the 2 Masteries from birthsign.) At least two of his 5 must be combat skills. There’s a note that seems to discourage specializing in archery unless he’s actually an archer by profession. I’m going Dodge, Faith, Axes, Maces, and Stamina.

He can designate any one other primary or secondary skill as his next to be mastered, and he masters one new skill every 2 experience levels (that’s the fastest possible rate, thanks to his very high values in Str and Con, the primary attributes for his vocation). I’ll designate Javelins first. Maybe Staves or Archery next, though I’ll see what turns out to be useful in play.

21. Tertiary skills

John is not the sharpest knife in the drawer (INT and DIS both below 10) and so gets only one tertiary skill (aka hobby skill). It can be anything, and it takes a penalty. Optimization-wise, this would be a great place to take another free level in an expensive competency like Conditioning. But let’s be a bit more in the spirit of hobbies and take, um, Singing.

SkillFree levelDFBCSAttributesCost to Advance
Singing T0430%CON + BV600
John’s tertiary skill

22. Skill purchase

This comes after vocation in the character building sequence, though the rules are mainly on p42-46 of the rulebook in the Core Game Mechanics chapter.

Based on age and birth aspect, John has 6890 experience points to spend on skills, at prices determined by the skills’ difficulty levels (with an extra cost if you try to advance any skill to a level more than one beyond your current level, which starts at 1).

I can add levels to any of the existing skills, and/or buy basic knowledge and then levels in new skills if the GM agrees they are available for my character to learn as part of their pre-play career. For simplicity I’m just adding levels to existing skills here.

None of the following purchases take the total skill level (including free levels) above 2, so all are at normal price:

SkillPrice per levelLevels boughtCost
Local Geography3002600
Brawling5001500
Dodge5001500
Spears5001500
Hurling Javelins5001500
Longbow5001*500
Stamina5001500
Willpower5001500
First Aid4001400
Blend into Surroundings6001600
Total  5100
John’s skill level purchases, Experience Level 1

*Archery weapon specialisms are yes/no and don’t have numbered levels, but adding a weapon costs equivalent to one skill level.

Having spent over 5000 exp John is now at Experience Level 2, allowing the purchase of Skill Level 3s at normal price. So I’ll add levels to three skills that are currently at level 2.

SkillPrice per levelLevels boughtCost
Total carried over  5100
Axes6001600
Hurling Javelins500+1, making 2500
Maces6001600
Total  6800
John’s skill level purchases, Experience Level 2

John therefore has 90 unspent exp in his Accumulated Experience balance. And he has spent 6800 so that is his Total Experience. When he has spent more than another 3200 he will reach Experience Level 3, opening up normal-price purchases of level 4 in skills, and also gaining him Mastery of his designated skill Hurling Javelins.

So the combined table of skills with bought levels added is:

CompetencyDFCTABought levelsFree levelsTotal levels
Conditioning5700 22
Endurance4600 11
Wear Light Armour(3)(500)n/aBKBK
John’s competencies, all sources
SkillFree levelsDFCost to AdvanceBought levelsTotal levels
Alertness—Sight071000 0
Alertness—Sound071000 0
Spoken English01300 0
Local Geography0130022
Stamina PM1350012
Willpower0350011
Faith M25700 2
Brawling P0350011
Dodge PM1350012
Boxing M24600 2
Wrestling M24600 2
Veg Crops02400 0
Field Crops03500 0
Blend Into S1460012
Axes PM2460013
Fighting Staves P14600 1
Maces etc PM2460013
Spears P1350012
Hurling Javelins PM1350023
Animal Riding – Horse etc13500 1
Archery15700 1
-Longbow  500BKBK
First Aid1240012
Singing T04600 0
John’s skills, all sources

So now I can calculate the success chances for the skills. This table will transfer to the character sheet (basically; I’ve omitted or merged a few columns to save space).

SkillDFBCSAttributesLevelOtherPSFTSC
Spoken English160%-1 INT + BV0 -159%
Alertness—Sight77%0 07%
Alertness—Sound77%0 07%
Local Geography160%-2 INT x22  +6 +464%
Stamina PM340%+26 STR + CON2  +6PM +20+5292%
Willpower340%-2 DIS + WIS1  +3 +141%
Faith M520%+4 SPR x22  +6M +10+2040%
Brawling P340%+26 STR + AGL1  +3P +10+3979%
Dodge PM340%+9 AGL + WIS2  +6PM +20+3575%
Boxing M430%+26 STR + AGL2  +6M +10+4272%
Wrestling M430%+26 STR + AGL2  +6M +10+4272%
Veg Crops250%-2 WIS 20 -248%
Field Crops340%+15 STR + WIS0 +1555%
Blend Into S430%+9 WIS + AGL2  +6 +1545%
First Aid250%-2 INT + WIS2  +6 +454%
Animal Riding – Horse etc340%+15 STR + DIS1  +3 +1858%
Singing T430%+10 CON + BV0T -10030%
Axes PM430%+32 STR x23  +9PM +20+6191%
Fighting Staves P430%+26 STR + AGL1  +3P +10+3969%
Maces etc PM430%+32 STR x23  +9PM +20+6191%
Spears P340%+15 STR + DIS2  +6P +10+3171%
Hurling Javelins P340%+26 STR + AGL3  +9P +10+4585%
Archery520%-3 DEX + WIS1  +3 020%
Longbow +5 Spec  25%

23. Starting money and equipment

The standard money for a commoner is d10x4 pence, which John can double as the favourite child. Bah! A roll of just 2 gives 16 pence.

At least as a warrior he gets one free weapon for each of his Mastery skills that use weapons. They are Axes and Maces, so let’s have a Battle Axe and a Maul because the big ones are more expensive.

I guess spend most of that money on a War Axe for its speed of use, and a War Javelin to have something to throw. Leaving 3 pence.

It’s free to cut a Staff from the woods. And I get a free set of clothing, of average quality since I’m a freeman by birth, consisting of tunic, chemise, belt, breeches and sandals. I said John would wear a hood but it isn’t listed as starting clothes and I can’t afford one having bought those extra weapons. Maybe he left home without it like Bilbo Baggins.

I kind of wish I could have got armour (cuirbolli and a leather hood is the best he’s trained to use) an Infantry Spear, a Mace, maybe a Shod Staff, a bow and arrows. Various personal accessories. One day who knows a horse. Hopefully in play John could earn some money and invest in his kit.

I have some regret for not taking a sword skill that would give him a weapon worth a multiple of everything he’s now got. That, shield, better armour and the horse might be for the future if he earns money and status and trains with more knightly gear.

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