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This is futonrevolution, and welcome to the character creation process for the Dragon Age tabletop RPG, by Green Ronin Publishing (creators of such games, as the excellent Mutants & Masterminds and many more).
If you want to join in the campaign, discuss your character, have questions that aren't answered below, or anything else, don't be shy about using my email, facebook, and/or the wiki chat.
First off, the game mechanics. Unlike d20, where you roll a d20 + modifier and everything else is an exception to the rule... but there's 100+ pages per book of exceptions to the rule... Dragon Age is very simple. I set a Target Number for a task. You roll 3d6 (three standard dice cribbed from your dusty Monopoly and backgammon boxes), add the number for your relevant stat (Strength, Magic, etc.) and a +2 if you have a relevant skill. Simply put it's, 3d6 + Attribute + Skill. The only complication is that you should keep one of those dice separate: it's called the "Dragon Die" and is used for tie-breakers and special effects.
So, if Piotin Aeducan wanted to wanted to punch you in the nose (and, really, who wouldn't?), the Target Number would be your Defense score. That's a 10, because you're a noodly-armed geek who never made varsity. Piotin would roll three dice, add his Dexterity score of 1 (that's because his fist is a Brawling weapon; if he used his thunderhumping axe, his Strength score of 4 would be used), and another +2, because he has the Brawling skill. He rolls a 2, another 2, and the Dragon Die is a 5. That makes an attack roll of (2 + 2 + 5 + 1 + 2) 12, versus your Defense of 10. Since Piotin rolled doubles (two 2s) and got your nose, that separately-rolled die gives him 5 Stunt Points. Stunt Points will be covered later, but they can be spent on follow-ups to your action. In this case, he spends two points to Disarm your books to the floor, one point for a wedgie debuff to your Morale, and the last two to Skirmish you into a locker.
Want revenge? Well, now my friend, you've got a driving motivation and a character arc to fulfill. Welcome to your new life as a fantasy protagonist! Grab a notepad (or open Notepad) and let's get your character started.
An example of character creation is detailed on the bottom of the page.
The eight main Attributes are:
Strength, which affects damage, to-hit rolls with most weapons, lifting heavy things, and looking mean.
Dexterity, which affects your Defense, how fast you run, delicate operations, and all of the other weapons.
Constitution, which affects how much damage or alcohol you can withstand and tryouts for track & field.
Cunning, which is just as much of a catch-all category, as it is in Origins and that other game.
Willpower, which protects you from losing control of your character, the most boring status effect in any game.
Communication, which affects... communication, such as lying, inspiring other players, and knowing which fork to use.
Perception, which covers your six senses.
and Magic, for skill at casting magic and resisting Spirit spells. Shocking, I know.
Divide ten (10) points between those eight Attributes. The numbers you assign cannot be lower than -2 or higher than +3. Warriors and Rogues can generally ignore the Magic stat. Resist your urge to munchkin, however, and don't drop your Magic stat below 0.
WARRIORS start out knowing how to use four types of weapons (Axes, Swords, Daggers, etc.) and have the first level of Armor Training (letting them wear Light and Heavy armor without penalties to their Dexterity). They can also pick two more Talents for weapon styles, like Weapon & Shield granting a higher Defense bonus from shields or Two-Handed allowing you to fling enemies 2 yards, in any direction, when you hit. Rogues & Mages start out with only one Talent (though they have abilities, like Backstab, to make up for it) and most of the combat-specific Talents can only be picked by Warriors. Some Talents, such as Animal Training or Brawling, can be chosen by any class.
ROGUES start out being able to use Light Armor (but can never learn Armor Training for heavier armor) and may choose between the Contacts, Scouting or Thievery Talents. Scouting lets you reroll failed Stealth tests, Thievery lets you reroll failed Lock Picking tests, and Contacts lets you use Persuasion tests to turn any NPC into someone you happen to know (for example, the Dwarf Noble Origin uses this Talent, in Denerim, to turn an NPC merchant into an old family retainer; he won't take a bullet for the player, but he will give information and a discount). Scouting and Thievery are Rogue-specific Talents, but Contacts can be learned by any class. Rogues can also try to Backstab when moving next to an opponent, gaining a bonus to hit and damage; at level 4, a Rogue can Backstab enemies, that they're already adjacent to.
MAGES can't wear armor without incurring a Dexterity penalty, or use any weapon more complicated than a big wood stick with nails in it. However, they can shoot Arcane Lances that are almost as powerful as a short bow. The Talent to choose is Chirurgy (better at healing people, without using magic), Linguistics (is fluent in more language; at the second level, the player can pretend to be from that country), or Lore (gain more & better information from any Lore, they have a Focus in). They also start out with three apprentice-level spells, gaining another one at level two and four (after that, they start getting better spells). There is no stamina/mana regeneration, in combat, so you must be careful with when and how often you cast.
- There are eighteen (18) SPELLS available to apprentice Mages. There are four schools of magic: Creation, Entropy, Primal, and Spirit. (There are Talents you may choose, later on, that give bonuses to a school of magic.) You don't have to pick spells, within a certain school; they are listed this way for ease of reading.
- Creation has Glyph of Paralysis, Heroic Offense, Spell Wisp, and Heal.
- Entropy has Daze, Vulnerability Hex, Weakness, and Drain Life.
- Primal has Flame Blast (attack), Shock, Stonefist, Winter's Grasp, and Rock Armor.
- Spirit has Arcane Bolt, Mind Blast, Walking Bomb, Spell Shield, and Mana Drain.
Your background gives you some skills (which give you +2 to relevant tasks and the ability to do tasks that untrained characters can't - like lockpicking and training Mabari) and bonuses to your Attributes. Other than that, your fluff and character concept are wholly yours to decide. Your character automatically gains a +1 to an Attribute (that can bring it up to a 4) and a choice between two skills. There are two other bonuses, normally chosen by die rolls, but I'm of the opinion that player characters should be the players' characters.
To clarify, you pick a background, like Chasind Wilder or Human Circle Mage.
1) You automatically get a +1 to an Attribute, (which can bring it to a maximum of 4).
2) You must choose one of two skills. What each skill affects is pretty self-explanatory and the game plays fast and loose with what tasks would fall under which skills. Don't worry - whatever skills you choose, I'll try to make sure they're useful on a fairly regular basis (those with Animal Handling get a pet and so forth).
3) Pick a +1 to one of three Attributes.
4) Pick one of five skills.
There are a LOT of origins, so contact me if this wall of text is a bit too much to make sense of (or if you want a fluff description of an origin). It's altogether possible that I've made transcription errors, as well, since this is going from source material to typed notes to wiki blog. Weapon-based skills will be italicized.
ROGUES & WARRIORS (I'll divide this up by race - and roughly by how common they are in Ferelden - for what passes for easier reading.)
- Constitution +1 and choose between Stamina or Courage.
- (Communication, Willpower, or Strength) +1 and Self-Discipline, Animal Handling, Riding, Driving, and Swimming.
- Dexterity +1 and choose between Stamina or Courage.
- (Communication, Cunning, or Strength) +1 and Bargaining, Evaluation, Faith, Brewing, or Smithing.
- Strength +1 and choose between Military Lore or Intimidation.
- (Constitution, Cunning, or Dexterity) +1 and Heraldry, Etiquette, Riding, Leadership, or Historical Lore.
- Willpower +1 and choose between Might or Courage.
- (Communication, Strength, or Constitution) +1 and Leadership, Tracking, Self-Discipline, Jumping, and Stamina.
- Dexterity +1 and choose between Stealth or Climbing.
- (Cunning, Constitution, or Strength) +1 and Natural Lore, Tracking, Traps, Brawling, and Jumping.
- Strength +1 and choose between Animal Handling or Climbing.
- (Dexterity, Communication, or Constitution) +1 and Gambling, Swimming, Intimidation, Might, or Stamina
- Constitution +1 and choose between Stamina or Climbing.
- (Dexterity, Strength, or Perception) +1 and Running, Historical Lore, Tracking, Brawling, or Courage.
- Cunning +1 and choose between Evaluation or Bargaining.
- (Constitution, Communication, or Dexterity) +1 and Swimming, Gambling, Cultural Lore, Deception, or Legerdemain.
- Dexterity +1 and choose between Seduction or Acrobatics.
- (Willpower, Communication, or Cunning) +1 and Persuasion, Swimming, Brawling, Evaluation, or Climbing.
- Communication +1 and choose between Persuasion or Cultural Lore.
- (Perception, Strength, or Dexterity) +1 and Empathy, Heraldry, Deception, Riding, and Light Blades.
- Cunning +1 and choose between Persuasion or Research.
- (Perception, Strength, or Dexterity) +1 and Calligraphy, Etiquette, Historical Lore, Cultural Lore, or Self-Discipline.
- Dexterity +1 and choose between Brawling or Faith.
- (Communication, Willpower, or Constitution) +1 and Religious Lore, Crafting, Bargaining, Legerdemain, or Deception.
- Communication +1 and choose between Etiquette pr Intimidation.
- (Constitution, Strength, or Cunning) +1 and Leadership, Cultural Lore, Riding, Heraldry, or Persuasion.
- Communication +1 and choose between Bargaining or Navigation.
- (Cunning, Dexterity, or Perception +1) and Evaluation, Seduction, Persuasion, Initiative, or Hearing.
Raiders of the Waking Sea
- Dexterity +1 and choose between Acrobatics or Seeing.
- (Constitution, Perception, or Strength) +1 and Evaluation, Intimidation, Swimming, Navigation, or Rowing.
- Strength +1 and choose between Stamina or Brawling.
- (Perception, Constitution, or Willpower) +1 and Evaluation, Courage, Deception, Driving, or Animal Handling.
- Cunning +1 and choose between Leadership or Evaluation.
- (Communication, Strength, or Dexterity) +1 and Heraldry, Riding, Deception, Intimidation, or Cultural Lore.
Seheron Elf or Human Convert
- Willpower +1 and choose between Cunning or Self-Discipline.
- (Perception, Cunning, or Strength) +1 and Historical Lore, Might, Stamina, Persuasion, or Empathy.
- Dexterity +1 and choose between Stealth or Seeing.
- (Cunning, Perception, and Communication) +1 and Stealing, Evaluation, Initiative, Deception, or Bows.
Escaped Tevinter Elven Slave
- Strength +1 and choose between Hearing or Might.
- (Communication, Dexterity, or Willpower) +1 and Speak Elven, Deception, Brawling, Driving, or Self-Discipline.
- Willpower +1 and choose between Bows or Courage.
- (Communication, Dexterity, or Perception) +1 and Seeing, Hearing, Cultural Lore, Self-Discipline, or Riding.
Surface Caste Dwarf (Dwarfs enjoy a +2 to resist magic.)
- Constitution +1 and choose between Stamina or Bargaining.
- (Strength, Communication, or Willpower) +1 and Axes, Driving, Persuasion, Engineering, or Courage.
Low-Born Dwarf - Miner, Merchant, or Servant Caste (Dwarfs enjoy a +2 to resist magic.)
- Communication +1 and choose between Persuasion of Stamina.
- (Perception, Constitution, or Strength) +1 and Etiquette, Hearing, Bargaining, Drinking, or Might
Dwarf Duster Casteless (Dwarfs enjoy a +2 to resist magic.)
- Dexterity +1 and choose between Deception or Legerdemain.
- (Perception, Communication, or Cunning) +1 and Running, Searching, Stealth, Bargaining, or Evaluation.
High-Born Dwarf - Warrior, Smith, or Artisan Caste (Dwarfs enjoy a +2 to resist magic.)
- Strength +1 and choose between Crafting, Intimidation or Smithing.
- (Willpower, Cunning, or Constitution) +1 and Courage, Etiquette, Heraldry, Engineering, or Stamina.
Qunari Beresaad (Qunari suffer a -1 to resist magic and you'd better have a good reason to put me through the grief of GMing this.)
- Strength +1 and choose between Qunari Lore or Intimidation
- (Constitution, Strength, or Cunning) +1 and Stamina, Leadership, Military Lore, Historical Lore or Might.
Tal-Vashoth (Qunari suffer a -1 to resist magic and you'd better have a good reason to put me through the grief of GMing this.)
- Strength +1 and choose between Stamina or Intimidation.
- (Willpower, Strength, or Constitution) +1 and Courage, Running, Might, Swimming or Climbing.
- Willpower +1 and choose between Nature Lore or Self-Discipline.
- Human (Constitution, Magic, or Cunning) +1 and Stamina, Self-Discipline (cannot take twice), Healing, Riding, or Deception.
- Elf (Cunning, Magic, or Dexterity) +1 and Speak Elven, Cultural Lore, Self-Discipline (cannot take twice), Stealth, or Bows.
Circle of Magi
- Magic +1 and choose between Arcane Lore or Historical Lore
- Human (Willpower, Cunning, or Constitution) +1 and Self-Discipline, Etiquette, Heraldry, Stamina, or Religious Lore.
- Elf (Communication, Cunning, or Dexterity) +1 and Speak Elven, Healing, Seeing, Cultural Lore, or Bows.
- Magic +1 and choose between Leadership or Arcane Lore.
- (Communication, Cunning, or Willpower) +1 and Intimidation, Heraldry, Self-Discipline, Historical Lore, or Riding.
EXAMPLES OF CHARACTER CREATION
TONY is a simple man who knows the important things in life: blood and booze. He wants a character who reflects that, so he decides to go with a Surface Dwarf. He selects Stamina, to help hold his liquor. Then he picks Strength and Axes to help out in the blood department. You can probably figure out how he divvies up his stat points... 3 in Strength, Constitution, Willpower, and Dexterity. Oh, whoops. That's 12 points, and he only has 10. That's alright; Tony's character doesn't truck with no fancy book-learning, so he drops Cunning down to -2.
Tony's done! His character comes out as:
His skills are Axes and Stamina.
His Strength and Constitution are 4s, because he is a Surface Dwarf (Constitution +1) and picked Strength +1. When he swings his axe at someone (something he plans on doing, quite often), he rolls three dice, adds his Strength of 4, and adds +2 because he has the Axes skill. He's going to be splitting heads, like firewood. If he wants to solve a crossword puzzle, he rolls three dice, and "adds" his Cunning of -2. He's not in the running for a Nobel Prize. He's going to be a Warrior (duh), so all that's left is to pick two Weapon Styles he'd like to specialize in. Two-Handed and Weapon & Shield are the obvious choices.
MARTINIQUE likes to make bad puns, absurdist jokes, and funny voices. The idea of being an elven Orlesian Exchange Student and a Rogue gives her the opportunity and means, to go along with her motive. She picks Research to go along with her major (hasn't picked one yet), Communication (to talk circles around NPCs), and Historical Lore. For her stat points, she's putting 3 into Cunning, Communication, and Perception. The last point's going to Dexterity.
Martinique's done! Her character comes out as:
Her skills are Research and Historical Lore.
Her character isn't exactly a combat powerhouse, but that's kind of the point of her character concept. She's a Rogue, so chooses between Contacts, Scouting, or Thievery for what she'd like to specialize in. Scouting and Thievery grant rerolls, but Contacts is what she wants: it gives her a chance to bump into someone she knows, pretty much anywhere she goes. If she gets locked in a dungeon, one of the guards just might turn out to be the guy she went to prom with and can be talked into helping her escape.
FERNANDO plays the closest thing to a Renegade anti-hero option, at every opportunity, in every game. He also loves summoner/charm builds that let others do the dying, instead of his character. He gets frozen out of a lot of tabletop games, due to his backstabbing tendencies, making a solo play-by-email campaign a perfect fit for his roleplaying needs. Naturally enough, he wants to play a Tevinter Mage with lots of NPC minions to throw into harm's way. Flipping through the Set 2 books, Fernando isn't sure if he wants to specialize as a Blood Mage (because, well... it's Blood Mage) or a Spirit Healer (to keep his minions alive). Blood Mages need a Constitution of 3 and Spirit Healers need a Communication of 3, so he plays it safe and puts 3 points into both. Magic gets another 3, and the last point goes into Strength to let him use a morning star, instead of a simple staff (morning stars, basically a baseball bat with a bunch of nails on the end, do two more points of damage, than a quarterstaff does).
Fernando's done! His character comes out as:
His skills are Leadership and Intimidation.
His character is based around keeping his party alive and under control. Where Martinique uses words to solve problems with trickery and manipulation, Fernando uses words to rule through fear and brute force. He picks Chirurgy, over Linguistics and Lore; this lets him use a Heal action and cast a spell on the same turn. Looking over the starter spells, he picks the sadistic Entropy school ones, before realizing that Walking Bomb is likely to wipe out his entourage of slaves. He, instead, goes with Heroic Offense to buff his meat shields, Mind Blast to force enemies to lose their turn, and Rock Armor to keep himself alive. He can hardly wait to add spells, like Drain Life, to his arsenal.