01 – A/C System Basics d20
The Advantage/Compensation step in the character generation system of Star Wars d20 fits in just after Selecting Feats. More Feats can also be bought with this system, but many other advantages can too, that effect so much more of the character. However, there are certain procedures that should have been taken before the first steps of character generation. These steps are necessary to use this Advantage/Compensation system to its fullest.
These steps can be summarized in one easy term: fleshing the Character out. Fleshing a character out entails coming up with a background story. In that background story, you create a concept… a character concept. To develop a character concept and in turn a background for the character, you have to ask yourself questions, like:
- Where/when was my character born?
- What did my character do as a child?
- What unusual experiences did my character have?
- Why did my character ‘choose” to become the character he/ she is now?
- What was my character doing right before the game begins?
There are, of course, other questions you can come up with, though these are among the most common. As you go through these and other questions, do the following:
- Brain-storm on each point, jotting down ideas
- Expand on the ideas
- Highlight the high points
- Come up with your own ideas of advantages and disadvantages the character might have as a result of these occurrences in his/her life.
- Browse the Advantages and Compensations to get more ideas
The SystemEach Advantage & each Compensation have a point value. Depending on the type of character the player is playing, the character can have a certain amount of points to spend to buy Advantages, which in turn need to be balanced out with an equal or near-equal amount of Compensations. Any points left over are lost. The player can spend three more points over his limit on Compensations or not spend 3 points in Advantages, but no more than 3 can be left over.
Depending on what species the player chooses for his character, there is a set amount of points. Because some species already start out with special abilities, they have to be compensated for. The following table lists the amount of Advantage Points a Character receives using this system:
There are basically two types of Advantages/Disadvantages (A/D) you can buy with this system: Background and Species. Background A/Ds are strictly gained through the character’s history. These can include mutations, and other physical changes. Species A/Ds originate from the species of the character itself.
When a player chooses a human, they have a wide range of A/Ds to choose from. However, when they buy any kind of Species type A/Ds, this carries the Human character over into the Near-Human category – a being that is only slightly different from the human physiology.
Published Aliens are a category that covers any aliens published in source material. This can include web published. They get fewer points because most aliens already have advantages and/or disadvantage built into the Special Abilities. It is important to note that any new advantages or disadvantages should not reflect any special abilities defined in the published aliens descriptions. All factors are already counted in the published alien with respect to existing Special Abilities. However, like the case of Near Humans, if the player chooses A/Ds that could be considered related to the Species while not repeating existing Special Abilities, then the character is categorized as a Variant of the Published Alien, attributing the new Special/Alien Abilities to mutations.
Home-brew or homemade aliens start out a blank piece of paper and a concept in the player’s head. Totally starting from scratch, the player has to first create the Species abilities using this system. Then any Background A/Ds can be considered. It’s important in this case to discern between the two because most Species based A/Ds can not be ‘bought off‘.
As stated, the points spent on Advantages subtracted from the total point spent on Compensations must be <=3. Most Advantages and Compensations have a game effect but they all should be role-played, and part of the Character Concept.
At some point, your character may want to get rid of a Compensation. Compensation points are only supposed to be used and kept track of during character generation – once the game starts, nothing has to add up ever again. Although it is assumed that the player doesn’t expect to get rid of all his Compensations at once or the that the GM doesn’t let it happen, after a while, certain Compensations may become more annoying than fun.
Most Compensations can be gotten rid of fairly simply though it may take time. “Enemies” and “Pursuers” may be killed, bought off, or pacified. “Debts” may be repaid. These are all part of the story, which of course is the most important thing.
However, some Compensations are seemingly here to stay.
For example, if you start playing a Human mutant who has a really ugly appearance (and incurs “Alien Prejudice”), it may be very hard to get rid of that. Major surgery might do it, but then again, it might not. But, role-playing the character might be the better way to go. Perhaps the character becomes so well known or accepted that the prejudice is nullified. If, however, you want to “target” a Compensation that has grown annoying, simply tell your game master. Maybe he or she has some ideas that can be worked into the campaign – that is the best way to “buy off” Compensations.
Naturally, as your character adventures, he is going to pick up “stuff.” These are not “new Advantages” that have to be kept track of – they are just parts of the role-playing experience. Don’t worry about point costs. The same thing goes for gaining Compensations. If your character does something to bring down a “Compensation,” that’s all part of role-playing. The “A’s” and “C’s” are meant as a role-playing “jumping off point” they aren’t all your character is or all he or she is going to be. Keep track of your character’s story – not points.
One last note about Background Generation. Often, especially when you are constructing an alien character, you may want to “enhance” the description of the character or the background of the character to make it more interesting. This is a special effect.
Special effects are those little additions that make a character different. None of these characteristics actually have any game effects (though they do get the 1 point “Alien Prejudice”), so they don’t cost points. More simply, if you want to play a really big, really small, really “handsome” or “beautiful” character – or one that has pointy ears and green skin – unless you pick an additional game modifier, it is just a special effect. Of course, the game master may insist that certain SFX have game effects, but a lot can be taken for granted.
D20 Notes – FeatsAdditional Feats can be purchased with Advantage Points, at a cost of 1 point per, but now more than 3 additional Feats can be purchased. These feats also must be Compensated for. Some Feats covered old Masterbook Advantages, so for simplicity, those Advantages were left out.