1 Character Creation
This chapter contains all the information you'll need to create human characters, including character traits, trait levels, and how to allocate them. For non-human characters - or characters with supernormal abilities (magic, psionics, super powers, cybernetics, etc.) - you will also need to read Chapter 2, Supernormal Powers, before your character will be complete.
Anything that describes a character. A trait can be an attribute, skill, gift, fault, supernormal power, or any other feature that describes a character. The GM is the final authority on what is an attribute and what is a skill, gift, etc.
Most traits are described by one of seven adjectives. These seven descriptive words represent levels a trait may be at. Characters created Objectively begin with "free levels", which are allocated to the various traits as the player wishes.
Any trait that nearly everyone in the game world has, in some degree or other. See Section 1.31, Attributes, for the attributes used in Mudge. In some ways attributes are just very broad skill groups. On a scale of Terrible ... Fair ... Superb, the average human will have an attribute at Fair. Note that some characters may have attributes that others do not- a mage might have Mana, a Jedi might have Force Strength, etc.
Any trait that isn't an attribute, but can be improved through practice. The default for most skills is Poor, though the GM may decide an easy skill defaults to Mediocre, and a hard skill defaults to Terrible. Some every specialized skills, such as Nuclear Physics or Burial Rituals of the Incas, have no default at all; you cannot use that skill unless you have been trained in it. Players are encouraged to create any skills for their character that are not on the sample list provided.
Any trait that isn't an attribute or skill, but is something positive for the character. Some GMs will define a certain trait as a gift, while others will define the same trait as an attribute. In general, if the trait doesn't easily fit the Terrible ... Fair ... Superb scale, it's probably a gift.
Like a gift, above, except negative instead of positive. Any trait that limits a character's actions, or earns him a bad reaction from other people.
Although technically powerful gifts, supernormal powers (magic spells, psychic powers, cybernetic, super powers, etc.) are treated separately, in Chapter 2.
Mudge uses ordinary words to describe various traits of a character. The following terms of a seven-level sequence are used, with one additional level above Superb for characters/NPCs of unusual ability:
LEVEL ROUGH FREQUENCY Legendary limit of human perfection Superb 1 in 10,000, extremely above average Great 1 in 1,000, very above average Good 1 in 100, above average Fair average Mediocre 1 in 100, below average Poor 1 in 1,000, very below average Terrible 1 in 10,000, extremely below averageThese levels are written on each character sheet for easy reference.
To remember the order, compare adjacent words. If, as a beginner, your eventual goal is to become an excellent game player, for example, ask yourself if you'd rather be called a Fair game player or a Mediocre game player.
IMPORTANT NOTE: not every GM will allow PCs to become Legendary. Even in games that do include the Legendary level, it is not recommended that any character be allowed to start the game as Legendary. Superb represents the 98th to 99.9th percentile of any given trait, which should be enough for any beginning PC. Of course, if a player character gets a bit overconfident, meeting an NPC Legendary swordswoman can be a grounding experience. . .
Traits are divided into Attributes, Skills, Gifts, Faults and Supernormal Powers. Not every GM will have all five types of traits in her game. These traits are defined in Section 1.1, Character Creation Terms.
Mudge generally uses 8 attributes, as described below. Many will feel this is too many, but they get the job done, and also serve as a sort of 'snapshot' of the character. Note that none of the attributes are tied to one another, or to any skills. If you want to make a character of genius IQ who can also bench press 300 pounds, you can; if you want a character who is very fast but otherwise a bit of a klutz, you can.
The basic Mudge attributes are:
How physically strong the character is, how much he can lift, how hard he can hit, etc.
How physically agile or nimble the character is, how acrobatic, etc.
How physically tough the character is, how resistant to pain, trauma, disease, etc.
How physically quick the character is, how fast he can move over a given distance
The Scale of the character's Strength and Mass, relative to others; these are rated on a numerical range, not along the Terrible...Fair...Superb level scale. The baseline race of the game (usually human) is Scale 0, and other races/characters are rated relative to that. See Section 4.58 Non-Human Scale in Combat for more information.
How mentally adept the character is, how quickly or well he can learn new things, remember details, solve mental problems, etc.
How mentally tough the character is, how well he can resist temptation, fear, mental domination, mind control, intimidation, torture, etc.
How mentally alert the character is, how keen his senses are, how aware he is of his surroundings
For certain genres or campaigns the GM may add additional attributes to this list, such as Sanity for horror games, Force Ability for a Star Wars game, Psyche for psionicists, Mana for mages, etc. There is space on the character sheet for these extra attributes.
Skills are not related in any way to attributes or their levels in Mudge. Players are encouraged to design their characters logically - a character with a lot of Good physical skills should probably have better than average physical attributes, for example. On the other hand, Mudge allows a player to create someone like Groo the Wanderer TM, who is very clumsy yet extremely skilled with his swords.
All skills are rated according to their difficulty to learn- Easy, Average, Hard, or Very Hard. The default for an Easy skill is Mediocre; for an Average skill, Poor; for a Hard skill, Terrible. Very Hard skills have no default at all (that is, if you are untrained in that skill, you can not use it). The skills, gifts, and faults in Mudge were largely bastardized from GURPS. Below is a list of sample skills:
This list may seem a bit long for a game striving for simplicity, but the more specifically skills are defined, the easier they are to adjudicate during gameplay. Also, all of a character's skills will be recorded on their sheet, so this list should not need to be referenced during the game.
Many skills are too broad to be useful, and must be further defined to a specific 'type' when taken. For example, taking the skill 'Driving' does not mean you can drive any kind of vehicle- you need to specify whether you can drive cars, motorcycles, boats, spaceships, etc.
The cost of buying skills in the Objective Character Creation system is summarized on the table below under Section 1.62 Skills.
A gift is a positive trait that doesn't seem to fit the Terrible ... Fair ... Superb scale that attributes and skills fall into. For any gifts chosen, the GM will discuss with the player exactly what game effects that gift provides.
Supernormal powers, such as the ability to cast magic spells, fly, read minds, etc., are technically powerful gifts, but are handled separately in Chapter 2. Likewise, traits above the human norm, such as a super strong fantasy or alien race, are treated by definition as supernormal powers. In general, if a gift isn't written on the character sheet, the character doesn't have it. New gifts can be added at any time, their cost and effects determined by the GM and players.
Below is a list of sample Gifts. Those which usually cost 2 levels instead of 1 in the Objective Character creation system are marked with *:
Faults are anything that makes life more difficult for a character. The primary faults are those that restrict a character's actions or earn him a bad reaction from chance-met NPCs. Various attitudes, neuroses and phobias are faults; so are physical disabilities and social stigmas. There are heroic faults, too: a code of honor and inability to tell a lie restrict your actions significantly, but are not signs of flawed personality.
Below is a list of sample Faults. Those which usually cost 2 levels instead of 1 in the Objective Character creation system are marked with *:
New faults can be added at any time, their cost and effects determined by the GM and players.
Players of Mudge are strongly encouraged to give some thought to their character's personality, habits, history, family, etc., to better understand the character they will be playing. A character questionnaire can often be helpful, and one is provided below. It is not necessary to answer each and every question- the questionnaire is provided only to assist in making your character 'come alive' in your mind. Even more character questions can be found in Section 6.7 Additional Character Questions.
Name: Age: Sex: Height: Weight: Skin Color: Eye Color: Hair Color/Style: Distinguishing Features: Characteristic Gestures: Home Dimension Description: Time in Cynosure: Family Background: Religion/Spirituality: Academic Experience: Military/Law Experience: Current Occupation: Past Occupations: Positive Traits: Bad Habits/Vices: Prejudices: Personality Summary: Favorite Pastime: Favorite Drink: Favorite Meal: Clothing Style/Favorite Outfits: Typical Quote(s): History/Background:1) In an abstract sense, what are some of the things that really matter to you? Is there anything you aspire to? Anything you are passionate about? Anything you would give your life for? (Examples: honor, equality, truth, compassion, wealth, power)
2) In concrete terms, what are some things you really want/desire? These could be material things, changes to you, changes to others, changes in the environment, whatever. Which one thing do you desire most? (Examples: to be mayor, to be rich, to own a laser rifle, to find a family member, to gain a rep)
3) For each thing desired, explain why.
4) How might getting what you want change you, particularly as relates to question 1? (Examples: you would be happier, you could stop searching, you could settle down and raise a family)
Meta points are meta-game gifts that may be used to buy "luck" during a game - they let the players fudge a game result. These are "meta- game" gifts because they operate at the player-GM level, not character-character level.
Each new character begins the game with three meta points. Further meta points may be awarded by the GM during gameplay, or (more commonly) purchased by players at the cost of six experience points (XPs) per one meta point (MP). In most games, no character can have more than 5 MP at one time.
Meta points can be used in many ways (each GM will define her own allowable uses of Meta points):
1. Spending a meta point may accomplish an Unopposed action automatically and with panache - good for impressing members of the appropriate sex, and possibly avoiding injury in the case of dangerous actions. The GM may veto this use for actions with a difficulty level beyond Superb.
2. A player may spend one meta point to alter a die roll one level, up or down as desired. The die roll can be either one the player makes, or one the GM makes that directly concerns the player's character. This can be announced after the roll is made.
3. A player may spend one meta point to declare that a wound isn't as bad as it first looked. This reduces the wound's intensity by one level (a Hurt result becomes a Scratch, for example, and a Very Hurt becomes a Hurt). A single wound can not be lowered more than three levels in this way (that is, no more than 3 MP can be spent to lower one wound).
4. A player may spend two meta points to get an automatic +4 result, without having to roll the dice. This use is available in Opposed actions (but does not count as a 'natural critical', i.e. it does not allow an additional 4dF to be rolled [see Section 3.6 Critical Results]).
Other options may be allowed at the GM's discretion.
Character creation assumes the players will design their characters, rather than leaving attributes and other traits to chance. In Mudge, a character with a trait at Fair will succeed at ordinary tasks 62% of the time - there is usually no need to create a superstar. In fact, Great is just that: great! Superb should be reserved for the occasional trait in which your character is the best he's ever met.
Any trait that is not defined at character creation will be at a default level:
For attributes: Fair.
Each player should expect the GM to modify his character after creation - it's the nature of the game. The GM should expect to review each character before play. It would, in fact, be best if the characters were made in the presence of the GM so she can answer questions during the process.
In Mudge you are encouraged to create a character you want to play, not one that might become the one you want to play given enough time. In other words, if you want to play a dashing knight, create a dashing knight; don't create a young squire who might one day be a dashing knight if he lives long enough (unless, of course, the transition from squire to knight is the thing about the character that intrigues you).
The easiest way to create a character in Mudge is to simply write down everything about the character that you feel is important. Any attribute or skill should be rated using one of the levels Terrible through Superb (see Section 1.2, Mudge Trait Levels).
The GM may supply a template of attributes she'll be using. See Section 6.3, Character Examples, for template ideas.
The GM may also tell the player in advance that his character can be Superb in a certain number of attributes, Great in so many others, and Good in yet another group. For example, in an epic-style game with eight attributes, the GM allows one Superb attribute, two Greats, and three Goods. In a more realistic game, this is one Superb, one Great, and two Goods.
This can apply to skills, too: one Superb skill, two Great skills, and six Good skills is a respectable number for a realistic campaign, while two Superbs, three Greats, and ten Goods is quite generous, even in a highly cinematic game. The GM may also simply limit the number of skills a character can take at character creation: 10, 15, or 20 are possible choices.
Gifts and faults can be restricted this way, also. For example, a GM allows a character to have two gifts, but he must take at least three faults. Taking another fault allows another gift, or another skill at Great, and so on.
These limitations help the player define the focus of the character a bit better: what is his best trait (what can he do best)?
A simple "two lower for one higher" trait-conversion mechanic can also be used. If the GM allows one Superb attribute, for example, the player may forego that and take two attributes at Great, instead. The converse may also be allowed: a player may swap two skills at Good to get one at Great.
Example: a player wants a Jack-of-all-trades character, and the GM has limits of one Superb skill, two Great skills and six Good skills. The player trades the one Superb skill limit for two Great skills: he can now take four skills at Great. However, he trades all four Great skills in order to have eight more Good skills. His character can now have 14 skills at Good, but none at any higher levels.
When the character write-up is done, the player and GM meet and discuss the character. If the GM feels the character is too potent for the campaign she has in mind, she may ask the player to reduce the character's power - see Section 1.9, Minimizing Abuse.
The GM may also need to suggest areas that she sees as being too weak - perhaps she has a game situation in mind that will test a trait the player didn't think of. Gentle hints, such as "Does he have any social skills?" can help the player through the weak spots. Of course, if there are multiple players, other PCs can compensate for an individual PC's weaknesses. In this case, the question to the whole group is then, "Does anyone have any social skills?"
Instead of the player writing up the character in terms of traits and levels, he can simply write out a prose description of his character. This requires the GM to translate everything into traits and appropriate levels, but that's not hard to do if the description is well written.
GM: "I see you rate Captain Wallop's blaster skill highly, and also his piloting and gunnery, but I'm only allowing one Superb skill - which is he best at?"
And so on.
In this system, all traits start at a default level. The GM then allows a number of free levels the players may use to raise selected traits to higher levels. Players may also lower certain traits in order to raise others even further. Finally, a player may opt to trade some levels of one trait type (such as attributes) for another (skills, for example). The whole process insures that no single character will dominate every aspect of play. For most games, each new Mudge character begins with:
6 attribute levels (max. 1 Superb, 2 Great)
The player can then spend two free attribute levels to raise an attribute from Fair to Great, for instance; or sacrifice a number of skill levels to gain a gift, or give his character a fault in return for levels to apply somewhere else. The trading "values" of various traits and trait levels are:
1 attribute level = 3 skill levels
All attributes are considered to be Fair until the player raises or lowers them. For most games, new characters begin with 6 free attribute levels; the cost of raising or lowering an attribute is:
Example: A player may raise his Strength attribute (which is Fair by default) to Good by spending one free attribute level. He could then spend another free level to raise Strength again to Great. When the free attribute levels have been exhausted, an attribute can be raised further by lowering another attribute an equal amount. (See also Section 1.64, Trading Traits.) From the previous example, Strength can be raised one more level (to Superb) if the player lowers the character's Willpower to Mediocre to compensate for the increase in Strength.
When a character studies a skill (puts a skill level into it at character creation, or experience points later in the game), the level he gets it at depends on how hard it is to learn. Putting one level into learning woodworking, for example, would get it at Mediocre, since it's of average difficulty to learn. Nuclear physics, on the other hand, would only be Terrible with one level put into it as it is a Very Hard skill. It would cost four skill levels just to get such a skill at Fair.
The cost of learning new skills is given on the following table:
See also Section 6.3, Character Examples.
Once all the free skill levels are used up, as many as 5 skills can be dropped one level from their default to raise another skill one level. (See also Section 1.64, Trading Traits). All choices are subject to GM veto, of course.
New characters begin with two free gifts. Any further gifts taken must be balanced by taking on a fault, or by trading levels. A player may gain extra trait levels by taking GM-approved faults at the following rate:
1 fault = 1 gift.
However, the GM may rule that a particular fault is not serious enough to be worth two attribute levels, but may be worth one attribute level or three skill levels. On the other hand, severe faults may be worth additional levels.
During character creation, free levels may be traded (in either direction) at the following rate:
1 attribute level = 3 skill levels.
Meta Points cannot be traded.
So a player with three free attribute levels and 30 free skill levels may trade three of his skill levels to get another free attribute level, or six skill levels to get another free gift.
After creation, each character will still retain two uncommitted traits. At some point in the game, a player will realize that he forgot something about the character that should have been mentioned. He may request to stop the action and define a previously undefined trait as being Good (or lower), subject to the GM's approval. A sympathetic GM will allow this to happen even during combat time.
Mudge does not use random character creation.
Obviously, character creation in Mudge can be abused. There are many ways to avoid this:
1. The GM can require that the character take another fault or two to balance the power. ("Okay I'll allow you to have all that . . . but you need a challenge. Take on another weakness: maybe some secret vice, or be unable to tell a believable lie, or anything that fits the character concept that I can use to test you now and then.")
2. She can simply veto any trait (or raised/lowered combination) she feels is abusive. ("I see you raised Battle-Axe in exchange for lowering Needlepoint. Hmmm.") This allows the GM to customize the power level of a game. For high-powered games, allow most anything; for less cinematic campaigns, make them trade equally useful trait for trait.
3. She can simply note the character weaknesses and introduce a situation into every adventure where at least one of them is significant to the mission. ("You'll be sent as an emissary to the Wanduzi tribe - they value fine Needlepoint work above all other skills, by the way . . .")
4. She can use the "disturbance in the force" technique of making sure that more powerful characters attract more serious problems. ("The bruiser enters the bar with a maniacal look in his eye. He scans the room for a few seconds, then begins to stare intently at you.")