Mr. Christie's Ready-Baked Characters: A Quick Start to Our Pleasures in ArcanumEdit
For those lacking the patience to endure the long and complex process of creating a Character of one's own, the makers of this fine Game have provided a means of escaping this unwelcome tedium. Yes, gentle Player—you can begin your sojourn in Arcanum with all haste! For your personal convenience, a variety of pre-fabricated Characters have been made available, thus avoiding the muss and fuss of making one from scratch!
From the main menu, select "Single Player", and then choose "New Game" and "Pick Character". You will find yourself presented with a list of possible dramatis personae for your adventure. You have only to click on each name in the left panel, and a brief life history for all persons listed will be at hand: this information appears in the panel on the right. Upon finding one that will serve, press the bottom right arrow to begin Arcanum with a perfectly serviceable and ready-made identity.
If, on the other hand, you find that the desire to create your own Character is greater than the desire to begin the Game without delay, you may also select the "Create Character" option, and then press the bottom right arrow.
The wise player will read the rest of this chapter before proceeding any further, however! You may select ESC to return to the previous menu.
In addition to beginning a New Game, the menu also allows one access to a previously saved game (see "Load Game"). One may also leap directly to the most recent save game by pressing "Last Save". (For more information on save games, see section 3-8.) Lastly, the option marked "View Intro" will replay the kineographic entertainment we have devised for the opening of our game. Note that pressing ESC will return us to the main menu.
From the main menu, we can instigate or join a multiplayer game ("Multiplayer"). See Chapter 5 for more information on multiplayer games in Arcanum. By pressing "Options", one may set a variety of game, video and sound features to suit one's personal preference. See section 3-8 for more information on these options.
Evolution in Action: A Brief Overview of How Characters Are MadeEdit
The Character creation system employed by Arcanum is based upon points. In practical terms, this means that every Statistic, Skill, Magical Spell and Technological Discipline in the Game will cost the player one of his or her allotted "Character Points" to purchase. All Characters begin with certain Statistical values by default, but during the process of Character creation the player can spend Character Points to increase a Statistic, to raise Skill ranking, or even to buy Technological Disciplines and Magical Spells before the Game begins.
In addition to those alterations made by use of Character Points, a player may also choose a Race or a colorful Background story for his or her Character, and these also will affect the abilities with which that Character begins the Game. Whenever the aforementioned Character gains a new Level of Experience, he or she will gain further "Character Points", which the player will also spend in the improvement of his or her Character, raising the level of many helpful traits and Skills.
A Unique Privilege: Choosing One's Own Name and FaceEdit
The intrepid player's first step must be to select an appropriate Portrait for his or her Character. A number of images appropriate to the Character's Race and Gender will be provided, naturally; browse through these by use of the arrows on either side of the currently displayed Portrait. Regardless of the choice made, the Portrait chosen will be reserved for this Character's use only, and no "Non-playing Character" in Arcanum will appear with this Portrait in the course of the Game. More creatively inclined players may also add their own Portraits to the Game (see the documentation on Arcanum User Editing).
The player must also provide his or her creation with a Name, before the journey into Arcanum can proceed. This is achieved with a simple click in the Name Window; the player then has only to type in a Name worth having. The aforementioned Non-Playing Characters in the Game will refer to your Character by this cognomen.
The Importance of Good Breeding: Or, the Right Choice of Gender and RaceEdit
The player's choice of Gender is not without some far-reaching implications. This delicate decision will, of course, determine how one is addressed by the courteous folk of Arcanum, but regardless of whether one's Character is a "sir" or a "madam", there will also be a more practical side to the matter! Gender has a direct impact upon a Character's personal Statistics, and in the course of the Game, certain Quests may arise which will be available only to ladies, while others will be reserved for the gentlemen. In some cases, there may even be Quests which have two different solutions, these depending upon the Gender of the Character pursuing them.
Once the matter of one's Gender is settled, there are other accidents of birth to which we must attend. The choice of Race will modify some of the Statistics, Skills and other attributes of a Character, including how Non-Playing Characters will react to his or her presence. In the main, however, Arcanum is playable with any combination of Gender and Race: pray do not concern yourself over-much with being unable to complete your adventure, should you choose an unfortunate combination! The adjustments to Statistics and Derived Statistics which result from one's selection of Gender and Race are displayed in the right-hand panel of the interface, so one can easily see how these choices are affecting one's Character. Do note that changing Race or Gender will change the Portrait selection as well, since Portraits are specific to sex and species.
For information on the different races, see Appendix 2.
Scarred for Life: Or, the Tragical History of One's Character...being A Few Words on the Subject of BackgroundEdit
Having selected the most desirable combination of Race and Gender, the player may now choose a "Background" for his or her Character. A Background, of course, is a description of the Character's life history to date, describing those formative events which have significantly altered him or her in some manner. One's Background always has its positive and negative aspects, naturally, and these positive and negative aspects will generally balance one another. Bear in mind, however, that the selection of one's Background, Race and Gender are the only possible way to lower some of a Character's Statistics or Abilities: in the Character Editor, it is possible only to raise these attributes.
Of course, Backgrounds are entirely optional and not at all required! If we select "No Significant Background", the Character will not be modified in any way: it can be assumed that his or her childhood was perfectly normal and satisfactory in every way. A last word to the adventurous: many Backgrounds are Race or Gender specific, and will not appear unless one has selected the appropriate combination of the two.
A Player's Constant Companion: The Character EditorEdit
Finally we press the right arrow, and we come at last to the bulk of our duties in creating a Character, and see for the first time a screen to which we will often return in the course of our Game. This is the Character Editor, wherein the player can change those Statistics, Skills, Spells and Technological Disciplines of which his or her Character is possessed. The strongest among us may quail at the sight of this complex Interface, but do not despair, Gentle Player! Those uninterested in purchasing any specific attributes for a Character may ignore these complex matters entirely, and employ one of Earnest J. Lazyman's simple "Auto-Level Schemes" instead. (See below) From thence one can simply move on to our final words for the chapter, on "Buying Equipment".
The most important rule of the Character Editor is simply this: every attribute in the game costs 1 Character Point, or CP, to raise. Every Statistic, Skill, Spell or Technological Discipline will cost 1 CP, no matter its current value. Keeping this in mind, it should not be unduly difficult to decide where points should be spent, and a wise player will also be able to plan future purchases.
We recognize that learning to use the Character Editor Interface may seem a daunting task, at first. To assist you in this difficult area, however, your Electro Dynamo has been provided with a helpful gremlin, which will give you hints on how to proceed. When you hover over any area of the Character Editor, a brief message will be displayed explaining the Statistic, Skill, etc. upon which you have alighted. In addition to a description, the gremlin's message will also reveal any prerequisites which may be necessary in order to possess this Skill. Technological Disciplines, for example, require a minimum value of the Intelligence Statistic!
Struck with Amnesia? General Information and Where One May Find It on DisplayEdit
In the unlikely event that one has already forgotten the decisions one made just moments ago on a Character's most general description, there is no need to panic. Within this area, the player is given the most basic information concerning his or her Character. These attributes include Name, Portrait, Race, Gender, Level and Points. This area also displays the Age of the Character (Gentlemen, please avert your eyes if the Character is a Lady!). All Characters start the journey through Arcanum as a young adult, but this Age of Majority will be different for each Race.
The Eight Basic Statistics: A Subject of Some ImportanceEdit
Any given Character is possessed of eight Statistics, four of these being Physical and four being Cerebral. In both categories, the Physical and the Cerebral, the Statistics fall into four groupings, these four being Power, Skill, Resistance, and Appearance. Thus the Power of the body is its Strength, while the mind's Power is Intelligence. The body's Skill is its Dexterity, and the mind's Skill is revealed in one's Perception. The body's Resistance is known as Constitution, and the mind's Resistance is the Will. And the body's Appearance is Beauty... while the attraction a mind may hold is called Charisma.
These Statistics cover a broad range of characteristics in the Game, but they can be described briefly as follows:
Being the raw muscle power of a Character, Strength determines how much physical damage the Character can inflict with a blow, as well as how many blows he or she can withstand; how many items he or she can carry; and how far any given item can be hurled. Some weapons have a minimum Strength requirement to operate them effectively; a person without sufficient brute Strength will be unable to wield them. The abbreviation for Strength is given as "ST".
Being the overall bodily coordination of the Character, this Statistic affects the Character's performance in more Skills than any other. The abbreviation for Dexterity is given as "DX".
Being the body's limit of endurance, this Statistic determines how easily a Character will become fatigued, the rate of healing, and his or her resistance to poison. The abbreviation for Constitution is given as "CN".
Being the cosmetic appearance of the Character, this Statistic will determine whether the first response of ordinary persons, before the Character has a chance to speak to them, will be attraction or repulsion. The abbreviation for Beauty is given as "BE".
Being the measure of a Character's Cerebral power, Intelligence has an impact on several Skills, as well as being the limiting factor in the learning of Spells and Technological Disciplines, and for maintaining Spells. Also, a Character's verbal acuity is based primarily on his or her Intelligence. A person of low Intelligence has distinctly limited choices in dialog. The abbreviation for Intelligence is given as "IN".
Being the Character's general sensitivity and alertness to the immediate surroundings, Perception has a significant impact on a Character's ability to use ranged weapons effectively, among other things. The abbreviation for Perception is given as "PE".
Being a measure of the Character's mental toughness and ability to resist mental influences, Willpower controls the availability of Spells and also determines a Character's aptitude for haggling, as well as his or her resistance to the effects of certain Spells and Skills. Willpower also contributes to the Character's hit points, and has an impact on his or her level of fatigue. A strong Will allows a Character to ignore some small measure of suffering, be it physical damage or sheer exhaustion. The abbreviation for Willpower is given as "WP".
Being the sum of a person's personality and charm, the Charisma of a Character affects his or her ability to persuade others, and also determines the maximum number of Non-Playing Characters who will follow him or her willingly. The abbreviation for Charisma is given as "CH".
Each of these eight Basic Statistics may range in value from 1 to 20 (or more). The Human average for any given Statistic is 8. Nonhuman races, however, may exceed the standard limit of 20 in those Statistics in which they receive a Racial bonus. By way of example, Dwarves receive a bonus of +1 to Strength and Constitution, and accordingly a dwarven Character may have a value of 21 in these Statistics. A halfling receives a +2 bonus to Dexterity and may therefore reach a value of 22!
At this point, the Character's Statistics may be raised above the default levels, so long as one never spends more points than one currently has in the unspent points total. Clicking upon the plus or minus buttons next to the Statistic will raise or lower it accordingly.
Having a Statistic reach the maximum value of 20 or higher is a rare event, and such extraordinary prowess is rewarded in Arcanum. A special ability or bonus is associated with each Statistic, and the Character which reaches this lofty height will benefit as follows:
|Statistic||Bonus for a 20 or higher|
|Strength||Double damage bonus|
|Dexterity||Speed is 25 (+1 per point over 20)|
|Beauty||Reaction modifier is +100% (+10% per point over 20)|
|Intelligence||+10% to the success rate of every Skill|
|Willpower||Immune to any Spell resisted by Willpower|
|Charisma|| 100% loyalty: followers will never flee from your side|
and will only leave you if you ask them to, never of their own accord
These special bonuses are applicable only while the final value of the Statistic in question remains at 20 or higher. A Character with a natural Beauty of 20, upon suffering a scar which reduces Beauty by 1, will lose the bonus reaction modifier until healed. Note that this also means that certain Races will never achieve certain bonuses, due to racial modifiers— unless they receive some other improvement to the Statistic in question. A half-orc, for example, will never enjoy the bonuses associated with Beauty or Charisma, because these Statistics are reduced by his Race. By contrast, a half-ogre will derive the special bonus for his great Strength quite easily, because he receives a large Strength bonus from his heredity.
Putting Two and Two Together: An Enlightening Discussion of Derived StatisticsEdit
Every Character is possessed of certain Statistics which are derived from others. These derived Statistics begin at a default value which is based upon the value of the parent Statistic. Most such Statistics cannot be directly modified; the exceptions to this rule would be Hit Points and Fatigue, which a player can buy directly. To raise a derived Statistic, however, one must generally raise the basic Statistic from which it is derived. The derived Statistics of the Game are as follows.
From Strength we derive:
This is a measure of the Character's current physical well-being. Any person begins with a number of Hit Points based upon the values of his Strength and Willpower, and loses some portion of those Hit Points when his or her body is damaged. In the regrettable circumstance that the Character's number of Hit Points reaches 0, he or she will shuffle from this mortal coil. Hit Points are recovered at a rate determined by the derived Statistic known as Heal Rate (below). Extra Hit Points may be purchased with "Character Points", if the player uses the plus and minus buttons to the right of the Hit Point display.
This is the maximum weight that the Character is capable of carrying. (The unit of measure for weight is "stones", as defined in Appendix One, the Glossary.) The greater the Strength of the Character, the more he or she can carry. See the rules for Encumbrance, in Chapter 3, for further discussion of this matter.
A person of great Strength can inflict a great deal of punishment in any unarmed or melee attack. There can also be a penalty—which is to say, a negative adjustment to damage—for Characters with a lower measure of Strength. A halfling's fist does far less harm than that of a half-ogre!
From Dexterity we derive:
Armor Class AdjustmentEdit
Armor Class (AC) is a measure of how likely one is to be seriously harmed, should one suffer an assault upon one's person. A higher AC is more desirable than a lower AC, naturally.
This is the base quickness of a Character; the higher one's Speed, the faster one moves and the more attacks one can make in a given period of time. Logic asserts also that one's Speed is necessarily reduced by the weight one carries, and that attack speed must also be affected by the Speed Factor of one's chosen weapon. Speed can never be lower than 1.
From Constitution we derive:
This Statistic gives us a measure of how much exertion a Character can endure before requiring rest. If Fatigue reaches a level of 0 or lower, the Character will lose consciousness until Fatigue reaches 1. Spells cost the Character a certain amount of Fatigue both to cast and to maintain, and carrying a heavy physical burden has the same general effect. (Again, please see the Encumbrance rules of Chapter 3 for further elucidation upon this subject.) Characters recover from Fatigue at a rate proportional to the derived Statistic called Heal Rate (below). More Fatigue can be purchased with Character Points, if the player makes use of the plus and minus buttons to the right of the Fatigue display.
This derived Statistic is somewhat self-explanatory; the Character's body heals at a rate proportional to this number. A Character recovers from Fatigue continuously; Hit Points return only during sleep.
Poison Recovery RateEdit
When poisoned, the Character's body will eliminate a number of units of poison proportional to this number every few minutes. (These will be subtracted from his or her poison level: see "Game-Acquired Statistics" below). If the Character rests, the number of units eliminated every few minutes will double: a body freed from other distractions will devote all available resources to purging itself of the offending toxin.
From Beauty we derive:
This is the superficial and sadly inevitable response which may be occasioned by one's physical appearance. The Character receives this bonus, or penalty, upon his or her first meeting with any "Non-Playing Character".
From Charisma we derive:
A Character will never have more willing followers at any given time than this number allows. Please do note, however, that it is also possible for Characters of low Charisma to have followers of a sort! It is more than possible to gain followers through Quests.
Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip: Or, the 5 Resistance StatisticsEdit
Resistance Statistics are displayed in the bottom middle of the Character Editor Interface. Any Character begins with 5 basic Resistances, which will range in value from 0 to 95%. Most Races begin with a 0% in each Resistance except Poison, which starts at a level based on Constitution.
Damage — A general measure of one's resistance to damage caused by weapons and physical attacks.
Fire — A measure of one's resistance to damage caused by heat, smoke, and flames.
Electrical — The extent of one's resistance to damage caused by electricity and lightning, regardless of whether these are generated by Force Magic or by Technological Devices.
Poison — A resistance to damage caused by any kind of poisoning, be it natural venom, man-made toxin, or a contagion created by means of Black Necromancy.
Magic — This is one's innate resistance to Magic, and is similar in nature to that immunity which is provided by Technological Aptitude. (In fact, a creature with both faculties simply adds the two together, when Magic is directed against his or her person.) Unlike Technological Aptitude, however, innate resistance to Magic does not affect one's own use of items or spells.
A final caveat: Armor, Background, Race, Technological Therapeutics and Magic can modify any or all of these resistances.
The Self-Made Man: A Brief Discourse on the subject of Game-Acquired StatisticsEdit
Certain Statistics cannot be modified before the Game begins; they change only in the course of play, as a result of one's experiences in Arcanum. These Game-Acquired Statistics are as follows:
A new Character begins his or her sojourn in Arcanum at Level One, and gains additional Levels through the acquisition of Experience Points. With each new Level, a new milestone in the Character's development is reached, and in recognition of this achievement the player is rewarded with Character Points to spend on the purchase of Skills, Statistics, and Spells. The maximum Level any Character may achieve in the course of the Game is 50; the current Level of the player's own Character is displayed at the top of the Character Editor Interface.
Any Character begins life as a fresh-faced stripling with 0 Experience Points (abbreviated as "XP's"). As these XP's are acquired, the Character advances in Level. The number of XP's necessary to achieve the next Level are displayed at the top of the Character Editor.
In the spirit of fair play, all Characters begin the Game with a neutral Alignment, and through their own actions will evince an inclination toward either Good or Evil. This Alignment will determine how kindly the Character is regarded by certain Non-Playing Characters, and it may also restrict the use of certain Spells or magical items. Regrettably, it must be noted that an Evil Alignment is a slippery slope of sorts: while the slaughter of a Good creature is always viewed as an Evil act, the slaying of an Evil creature is only considered a Good deed if the Character is less Evil than his or her victim. The Alignment of one's Character is indicated by the meter on the left-hand side of the Character Editor Interface.
This Statistic is given in the plural because a Character may enjoy more than one Reputation at a time. All Characters begin the Game with no Reputation to speak of, but a certain notoriety may be acquired in the course of play. Like Alignment, a Reputation of any kind is based upon one's actions, and the two Statistics are closely related. Both can be determining factors in the reception one receives from Non-Playing Characters, but while Alignment tends to shift continuously as the Character performs deeds both good and bad, Reputations tend to stick permanently. Reputations are reported to the player in his or her Logbooks (see our section on "Interfaces" in Chapter 3 for further details).
All Characters begin their adventures in Arcanum with 0 Fate Points, but through the completion of heroic quests these Fates Points can be earned. They are spent during the course of the Game at those crucial moments when events must be altered in the player's favor. By way of example, a player may spend a single Fate Point to insure that the next attack of his or her Character will result in a critical hit, or even that the enemy's next attack will critically fail. Damage or injury can be negated with Fate Points, and Spells can be resisted successfully. In short, Arcanum rewards its heroes with a bit of good old-fashioned luck! This heavenly reward for earthly deeds can be distributed at the player's discretion. Fate Points are displayed along the top of the main interface bar. (For more information on this subject, see Chapter 3, and the section entitled "Playing the Game".)
Character Points are acquired at each new Level of Experience, and can be spent to raise Statistics and Skills or acquire new Spells. The current number of Character Points available for the spending is displayed at the top of the Character Editor.
Thankfully, all Characters begin with a perfectly healthy Poison Level of 0, but this may change if one's Character is bitten by some manner of poisonous creature or struck by an envenomed weapon. See Chapter 3, and the section entitled "Combat", for a few words on the consequences of being thus poisoned, and be aware that if a Character has been poisoned, his or her Hit Point bar will turn yellow as an indicator, while Poison Level is displayed as an overlay.
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