May 02, 2011

Elaborating PC backgrounds in Gaia Gamma

On Grognardia James raised a very interesting point concerning the cover of Gamma World 1st edition: The cover shows a situation that is not possible given the rules provided in the book - a group of pure strain humans with high tech equipment is preparing to explore a ruined city. Such a setup is not possible with the given rules, which IMHO is a shame.

Gaia Gamma has been prepared to handle such things. Since release 3 there has been (a so far empty) chapter titled "Character Background". So far I never elaborated my ideas for this chapter. Now seems to be a very good time.

My idea for this chapter is to provide an additional option to customize characters. I will be using an idea inspired by the character generation process of later editions of Shadowrun: Each PC receives a total of 10 background points (BPs) that can be distributed among several options:
  • the tech level of the community from which the character hails (from I to V - the technology of the Ancients at level VI probably won't be available)
  • the size of the community from which the character hails (which will influence the availability of items, etc.)
  • the wealth of the character (and his parents), which again influences his starting equipment and further options
  • the inheritance of the character (he might own very special artifacts usually not available, etc.)
  • special benefits (followers, land, a mutation of particular strength, membership in a cryptic alliance, etc.)
  • great genes (more attribute points)
  • excellent education (higher skill points)
Higher point values in a background category will yield greater benefits and each category can receive between 0 and 4 points. Effectively this should move Gaia Gamma characters out of the rather limited background options effectively supported by the rules of earlier editions. While these editions also allow to "handwave" character backgrounds personally I am a fan of more complete rules systems that give GMs more tools to build a campaign according to his whims.

I also believe that this rather modern approach does not conflict with my goals of creating an OSR game. Although it poses one problem: Character generation probably will take somewhat longer. To compensate for that I probably will also include a random variant of this so that your background options can be determined with a couple of quick die rolls.

I'm currently also not quite happy with the categories mentioned above and suggestions for better / other ones are very welcome! Basically the categories should allow for a wide variety of character options without overpowering individual characters.

1 comment:

  1. No fair! Being an heir in ADOM doesn't get you an artifact!
    On a more serious note, I think these background points are a little too heavily geared toward starting items and equipment and a tad light on personal intrinsics and affinities. Will there be some mechanic for item damage/destruction to balance these areas?
    You could rename the Education background to Apprenticeship and create another Education background- similar to apprenticeship but functionally a broad bonus to all skills in a skill group instead of extra skill points to a few.