Checking in: Aphelion chargen development

​I’m staying in, socially distanced, and continuing to work on projects – Aphelion being my main focus. Character generation has been coming along, and here’s what it looks like right now:

You draft tarot cards and assign them to your three major traits (Vocation, Drive, and Distinction). If you take an action that directly draws upon one of those traits, use the value you assigned to it.

Vocations give you your skills and equipment; instead of having their own ratings, you get to pick three skills from a list of in-class options, which give you more flexibility when taking an associated action. Example: I’m a Scholar 6, so I use that as the target number when I draw randomly from the deck to determine success or failure on knowing or doing scholarly things, but if I’ve got a related skill, then I get to draw twice and use the better result. Thinks of skills as specializations.

Drives give you personality traits, which offer several levers to pull. First, I get to resist psychological influence if it would conflict with my Drive. If my Scholar has the Drive Skeptic at 4, then fear checks, checks to overcome pain, etc. use that trait rating. Second, once per session, if I choose to put yourself in danger in pursuit of my Drive, I get a ±1 point​ shift (whichever direction is advantageous) on any cards drawn to perform actions that help me accomplish my Drive. Third, each Drive has a crisis point which causes me to break from my previous attitude and reevaluate my priorities. I can declare a crisis point, renouncing my Skepticism in the face of whatever I’m dealing with, in order to earn a Respite scene (more on that later), and change my Drive to another one, but I only get to do this once, ever.

Distinctions are something unusual about the character. My Scholar, let’s say, is Augmented with cybernetics at rating 8. Doing something with my cybernetics uses 8 as the target number. The exact nature of my cybernetic augmentation gives me a power with three levels: a Passive (always on) ability, a Charge ability, and a Burn ability. I have to mark off a Charge or Burn when I use them, but they’re more powerful. Charges come back if you draw a Surge (a critical result) from the deck, but Burn abilities require spending Downtime to regain. (Downtime is a quantified resource in the game that can only be spent during the aforementioned Respite scenes; the group starts with only one Respite scene, and to earn more requires either a crisis point as above or someone choosing to get rid of a random card from the deck, which could be pretty bad, since deck management is part of the plot-driving engine.)

I’m hoping to have a preview document up soon. Stay tuned!