D8s

Octas


Creating a Character

NOTICE: this is work-in-progress. I am pretty happy with it, but it still needs to go through the play-testing wringer, so things might still need adjusting.

Octas, like most Table-Top RPGs, involves role-playing a character. This character has a number of attributes that differentiate them from other characters, just like real-life people.

As a role-play-oriented game, Octas tends to focus on giving the player a lot of choice in what sort of character they generate, but it is important to remember that interesting characters tend to be flawed. It is those flaws that add variety to the game and make it more than a kill-monster-collect-treasure grind! Over-powered and faultless characters tend to get boring (and annoying) rather quickly.

Octas characters generally start out as relatively 'normal' people, with starting scores that are somewhat low. This allows a lot of room for improvement of your character as game-play progresses, which is important for a skills-based TTRPG system.

More experienced players may, by group consensus, start their characters in a more 'skilled' (and hence more powerful) state. Their own game-play experience is expected to be enough for them to work out a suitable balance for their own story-telling needs. Just remember that while powerful characters can be a lot of fun in their own right, building up relatively powerless ones can often be more rewarding.

It is recommended that you read (or at least skim) through the entire character-creation process described below once before you set pencil to paper as some things mentioned later may effect things that you choose earlier (though nothing critical, and you are using a pencil for a reason!)

And, yes, use a soft carbon pencil: B4 or softer is recommended (the higher the number after the 'B', the softer it is), and a soft eraser. Many of the things you write down will need to be updated as the game progresses and your character grows. .... Some of the boxes for recording information are larger than you may think you need. This is because that information is going to be getting erased and re-written a lot, so you are being given extra room to move about in before your character sheet's paper starts to wear through and you have to transfer your stats to a fresh sheet!

The default Octas world contains a number of different sapient species, from large-rodent Capybara to oceanic Orca, which can be played as characters. However it is strongly recommended that new players play a human character until they become familiar with both the game mechanics and the game world.

As such, the below information is specific to human characters, though much of it is applicable for other species too. For the additional information needed to create a non-human character, see the Sapient Species section at the beginning of the Menagerie.

You could, technically, even play a non-sapient species, but that would likely be quite limiting, though a really experienced or determined role-player could likely pull it off!


The Character Sheet.

On to generating your character.... You will need a copy of the main character sheet, two 8-sided dice, and the above-mentioned B4-or-softer pencil.

On to filling out the character sheet....

Octas character sheet

SVG version.   PDF version.

Name

Your character's name is entirely up to you. You can have a short simple name, or a long elaborate name including titles and honorifics.

You can change your character's name at any time, but it should be role-played as if your character is doing so within the game's world. Depending on where your character lives, there may be formal bureaucratic aspects to this process, or alternatively it might just be a matter of insisting everyone you know use your new name from now on.


Characteristics:

These define your character's most general attributes. They provide a layer of separation between the character and the player, making it easier to play a character who is fundamentally different to yourself.

The characteristics blocks are divided into two columns, of slightly different function.

The scores to the left are used in game-play to determine the success your character will have in performing various general tasks.

When you choose each left-column characteristic score, you write it in the smaller of the two co-joined boxes for each on the character sheet, the one labelled Base. This is your character's healthy and rested value for this characteristic. During game-play, certain things will cause some of these scores to go down (and even up, occasionally!) on a temporary basis. The often-changing temporary value is kept in the larger co-joined box, labelled Current. When your character has time to rest, or applies medicine, or other such things, the current score will gradually drift back towards the base value. Some things are so catastrophic - or good - that they can directly affect your base scores too, so these can change as well, but do so far less often.

The most common way to lose points of a base score, is to let the associated current score drop to zero. A zero current score will not result in immediate death, but subsequent damage then comes off the base score, causing a permanent disability to the character which cannot be restored via simple time and healing. If a base score reaches zero, then the character is dead.

When playing, keep your character's attributes in mind. For example, even though you (the player) might be a quite intelligent person who can see the answer to a problem immediately, is your character intelligent enough? Conversely, your character may be intelligent enough to solve a problem that you can't work out (in which case you may just be told the solution by the Game Master). The game-mechanics hooks tightly into your character's various statistics to make this somewhat automatic.... and so that hours-long arguments over what a particular character can or cannot do are - hopefully - avoided!

Physical is how much force can be applied to things, and for how long that force can be sustained (so this score rolls together both strength, and endurance). This is also the primary target of physical attacks, so you either want a high Physical score, or have other ways to protect yourself from damage (such as good armour, or being smart enough to avoid it in the first place)!

Mental is the general cognitive ability of the character. The Mental score factors into language skills, which in turn can factor in to ability to use magic. The temporary (Current) Mental score is drained by the use of magic by a character, so the more you have, the more magic you get to wield over a short period of time before your brain needs to recover from the effort.

Perceptual is awareness of surroundings, physical and situational. Attacks of confusion generally target this score.

Willful is how mentally strong your character is. Both in terms of how they resist the influence of others, as well as how strongly they are able to influence others themselves.

Generating Characteristics Scores:

The above four characteristics are determined in the following way:

Each primary characteristic starts at 8 points.

You have an additional 32 points which may be distributed to the four scores as you wish, to build your starting character with the balance of characteristics that best suit your play style and story needs.

If you don't have a particular way to build your character in mind, then you can optionally just roll 1D+8 for each score, and then structure your character around the purely random results.

Those familiar with other TTRPGs will notice that Octas is quite light on primary characteristics, with only four, when dozens are possible. Physical could, for example, be reasonably split into multiple sub-attributes such as strength, endurance, speed, dexterity. Likewise, Mental could be split into, at least, knowledge, wisdom, and creativity, as these attributes are very different and not necessarily linked.

The reduction of these core statistics to a bare minimum was primarily driven by the destructive stats system used in combat (where damage directly degrades abilities), which just becomes un-manageably complex if you are tracking too many variables.

Does a sword blow degrade your strength, or your endurance, or speed, or dexterity? Or a combination, in which case what are the relative proportions?! There is a good reason most TTRPGs instead use a stand-in stat of Health or Hit Points instead, but Octas didn't want to just repeat the work of others, so made its compromises elsewhere.

So the four primary stats are chosen for their game-mechanics utility over any other factor, and the finer parts are left to a combination of specific skills (below) or role-play.

So if you want to play a character who is very knowledgeable, but rather lacking in creativity, it won't show up in the mechanics much, but you should definitely role-play to it at every opportunity, and select their specific skills to match this.

Bonuses

Some calculations will refer to a 'bonus value' such as 'Physical Bonus' abbreviated 'Phy'. This is the higher digit of the relevant score, so if your character's Physical score is 23, their Phy is 2, and if their Mental score is 15, their Men is 1. If a score is single-digit, then the bonus is zero, of course.

Remember that your bonuses are calculated off your Current scores, which will change during play, so if your Current Physical goes down from your character being hurt, your Phy bonus will also go down to match. Likewise, if you cast magical spells, your Current Mental score will go down from mental fatigue, dragging your Men bonus down with it, effecting, amongst other things, future spell-casting.

Attacks on, or in some cases use of, Perceptual and Wilful scores may degrade those respective Current scores and so degrade Per and Wil bonuses.

Other characteristics

The right column in the characteristics block contain a more ad-hoc list of physical characteristics that are used in different ways during game-play:

Height is simply your character's height. Height is measured in a unit called lengths. A length is 335.6mm, or around 13 inches. It is close enough to 1 foot or ⅓ of a meter, that you can think of it as either for the purposes of game-play. Height is normally defined down to ⅛ of a length, a distance that is 42mm or close enough to 1½ inches.

For a human, the normal height is 5 lengths, plus 1D eighths, so if you roll a single dice and get a result of 3, then your height is 5⅜ lengths (1.8m or 5ft 11in). With group consent, a player may choose a shorter stature for their character, in which case choose 3 or 4 lengths as your major number, and again roll the fractional part for exact height. Same for an unusually tall character with a height rolled on top of 6 lengths.

In Octas, being unusually short, or tall, isn't considered a 'disadvantage' in terms of game-mechanics, as the pros and cons largely even out. Any differences are left to role-play.

Height normally does not change during game-play, so only one smaller box is provided for recording this value.

Weight is measured in a unit called blocks. One block is about 24kg, or around 48 pounds. Like the length unit of height, blocks are expressed to a precision of eighths, though in-game the fractional part is seldom, if ever, used.

Your character's Body weight (recorded in the smaller box) is their weight when they are not carrying anything. As active adventurers, characters are usually reasonably fit, and so tend to follow a fairly healthy weight-to-height ratio. By group consent you may certainly deviate from this to match your character idea.

When your character is carrying anything of substantial weight, such as heavy armour or equipment, the weight of everything they are carrying is recorded in the larger Carried weight box, which - unlike body weight - is expected to change somewhat frequently during game-play. To avoid bogging down the game in trivial details, Octas doesn't track the weight of things weighing less than 1 block, but you should be sensible regarding carrying unreasonable numbers of 'light' things.

To calculate a regular human character's body weight, multiply the major (non-fraction) number of their height by 6 for the major number of their weight (so it will usually be 5x6 = 30 blocks for all human characters of regular size) and use a 1D roll for the ⅛th fractional component.

⅛ of a block is around 3kg, or 6 pounds, just so you know, though as mentioned, this won't generally come up in game-play - the rules try to stick to whole numbers, and the units of measurement were chosen specifically so that those whole numbers will mostly stay fairly small and easy to work with.

For an irregular character, you should negotiate deviance from the norm with the playing group. Anything that can be reasonably justified should be allowed, but the reasoning must continue to be applied throughout the character's existence. Such reasoning should be recorded in the character's backstory notes.

Age: Your character's age isn't particularly important unless you are younger than 16 or older than 48 (for humans). An age in the early 20s is a pretty good place to start your character unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise.

See the section on Children and The Elderly in the Extended Rules document if your character is going to be younger than 16 or older than about 48 (for a human), as it does have some effect on the character statistics, either immediately or further down the line... if your character lives that long!

Hand: Your character can be left-handed or right-handed. Write 'Left' or 'Right' in the box. This normally won't ever change. You can decide to suit yourself, or if you want to randomise, left is 0 on a single dice roll, and right is any other number (for humans).

Being ambidextrous is a special case covered in the Extended Rules. And it will cost you!

Additional things such as gender, family, appearance and such are not part of the game mechanics, but entirely role-play, so are left to be recorded separately as part of your character's backstory (more on backstory below).

A specific note on race: It is, again, purely backstory stuff. In the default Octas/fallen fantasy world, racial characteristics do exist, in all the same varieties as on Earth. However they are expressed more along family-lines than across whole populations, which tend to be highly mixed for physical characteristics. These differences are not considered important within the Octas/fallen human population and discrimination on such grounds is not a thing - humans have the humanoid species known as Daemons to persecute for that (and the Daemons give as bad as they get, to be fair)! So definitely feel free to give your character whatever overt physical characteristics you like, with this in mind.

Same applies to gender-identity in the Octas/fallen fantasy world. Everyone is far too busy fearing and persecuting Daemons to have time to care at-all about normal human diversity!

As every human well knows, Daemons have red skin, tails, and horns! They are natural users of magic. They live in Hell and are baby-eating vegetarians. Seriously, what's not to hate there?!


Weapons and Armour

Weapons are what you attack others with. Armour is what you wear to protect yourself from such attacks by others.

Slots for 4 easily-accessible weapons and for 4 types of simultaneously-worn armour are provided on the character sheet. Weapons in these slots are considered immediately at hand, requiring no time-penalty to draw or to switch between them. Likewise, armour in these slots is considered currently-worn and in-effect.

A sample list of weapons and armour can be found in the Equipment Manual of your chosen genre-module.

Each weapon and armour item has its own set of characteristics, which are not unlike the character's own characteristics in function:

Wear/Charge is the current condition of the weapon or armour. The small 'Base' box is to record the maximum value, and the larger box is to store the current value. Wear is for physical weapons or armour and Charge is for projectile weapons (which includes most magical/energy weapons), but both types of weapon/armour work in much the same way.

Particular combat dice-roles, especially those involving high-sevens, may damage weapons in-use. For every point of damage taken by a physical weapon, it will loose a Wear point. Wear can be restored during rest times by repairing/sharpening/etc. As with Primary Characteristics scores, if the Wear reaches zero, the weapon will then take damage to its Base score, permanently damaging it. If the Base reaches zero, the weapon is rendered permanently broken.

For projectile weapons, the concept of wear is replaced with charge. This is the number of 'shots' the weapon has. The base is the maximum which it possibly can have loaded, and charge is the current number of shots left. Unlike melee weapons, projectile-weapons do not break when their charge reaches zero, they simply stop working until recharged/reloaded. Physical damage to a projectile weapon doesn't happen from its normal use, however if you start wielding it as a physical weapon, such as swinging your magical staff or bow around like a club, it will take relevant physical damage directly (and permanently) to its base value.

So don't do that: those things are quite fragile!

Depleted magical items must be re-charged with magic using specific spells or charging devices. Beware that re-charging magical devices does carry some risk of over-charge if one is not careful, and overcharge can cause catastrophic failure!

They can go BOOM!

Armour absorbs damage that would otherwise effect your character. For every point of damage absorbed by a piece of armour, it will loose Wear or Charge in place of that point-loss being borne by the character. For specifics on how much damage a particular type of armour can absorb, see the armour section of the Equipment Manual.

When armour absorbs damage, its own wear value is reduced by the number of damage points absorbed. Once the wear reaches zero, the damage points begin to be deducted from the Base value, reducing the amount to which the armour can later be repaired. If the Base value reaches zero, the armour is damaged beyond repair and should be discarded as scrap.

Or given to a museum, or made into a sculpture, or something!

For magical/energy based armour, the damage to base can vary:

For regular armour that is magic/energy enhanced, once the charge is depleted, damage is applied permanently to the base score as for regular physical armour.

For field-effect armour, such as a magic ring, or a shield-bracelet, where the risk of direct weapons damage to the device is small, the armour simply stops working until recharged.

Someone with a specific skill in using an item can generally be assumed to also have the skills needed for the kinds of basic maintenance that can restore Wear points during rest periods. As for weapons, recharging magical/energy based armour requires knowledge of appropriate spells, or access to a compatible power supply.

Item repair to Base scores requires very specific skills in repair beyond those available with use-skills, as well as much time, and often access to special materials. This is a service a character would generally have to find and pay a specialist for.

For simplicity, Octas' rules don't support combined physical and charge-based armour or weapons in the same slot.

This doesn't mean physical weapons and armour cannot be magical, or the technological equivalent: just that the magic/technology involved can't be charge-based, but likely continuous, for example: a sword with always-on self-guidance magic/technology to increase the chances of hitting an opponent is an entirely valid idea that does not rely on mixing charge with physical weaponry.

A sword that can also shoot fireballs, however, is out of scope for the Octas rules: just carry a fireball wand in another weapons slot, since there is no penalty for switching between weapons-slots.

Damage is how much damage your weapon (or what it shoots) does on a normal strike. It can be a static number meaning that the same damage is always inflicted on a successful strike, however far more often it will be expressed as a dice-roll formula such as 1D, +D, 2D+4 or similar. Record the dice formula with your weapon for easy reference. An abbreviation Phy in the dice-roll formula indicates that a Physical Bonus is added to the result (which is common for wielded weapons which rely on physical strength). The Physical Bonus is your Current Strength score's high digit (or zero if there is no high digit). Likewise, magical weapons may include Men, for adding a Mental Bonus, instead.

Pretty much anything you can reasonably lift and swing about or throw can be used as a weapon. Most non-weapon things simply count as a rock, if thrown, or a blunt club, if swung. The GM can rule unusual cases to equivalent actual weapons as they arise.

Protection is how much damage your armour can absorb per blow. It might be a single whole number, indicating it absorbs exactly that number of damage points per blow, however most often it will be a dice roll formula indicating the amount absorbed will vary somewhat each strike. If it absorbs all damage, write the word ALL in the box.

What happens to absorbed damage will vary with the type of armour. It might be taken as damage to the armour itself, dissipated somehow, or even reflected back at the attacker. Each piece of armour will describe how it handles absorbed damage in its listing in the Equipment Manual of your genre-module.

The long box is for the name/description of the armour item. It may be somewhat personalised (such as giving your sword a name) but should also contain the item's name from the equipment manual, in case you need to look up some additional details for that item at any time.

The Fav box is for use if the weapon or armour is designated a 'favourite' and is for storing the bonus value of this score (see skills, below, for all about favourite bonuses).

Weight is what your weapon or armour item weighs. It is added to the weights of everything else you are carrying at the time to determine your Carried Weight stat. As with all carried items in Octas, weights less than one Block are generally ignored, but don't be silly about carrying an unrealistic number of 'light' things.

Weapons and armour can also be carried in the general Posessions area of the character sheet, however this equipment is assumed to not be in use at the time, and will require in-game time to take out and use. Boxes for Base, Wear/Charge and Fav are provided in the Possessions section of the character sheet so these changeable values don't get lost in storage.

For examples of weapons and armour, see the relevant sections in the Equipment Manual. A starting character must purchase all their weapons and armour, using their starting Coin (see below for Coin). By intention, beginning characters won't be able to afford very good equipment, but can upgrade as the game progresses.


Possessions

Anything your character is generally carrying about that isn't in an armour or weapons slot is recorded here. The box on the main character sheet is a bit small, so this might just be what the character is carrying on them at the time. Alternatively, you might like to record possessions carried on a separate sheet, if you constantly cart about a lot. A possessions-only extra sheet is also provided, with slots for up to 80 items, use more than one if your character is a hoarder. And consider seeking help for them!

Extra character sheet for possessions: SVG version.   PDF version.

It is tempting to use the back of your main character sheet for extra possessions or general notes, but remember that eventually your sheet will wear out from all the writing-erasing-rewriting on the front, and everything on it will need to be copied over to a fresh sheet.

Items that are 1 block of weight or heavier should have this weight recorded with them and added to the Carried Weight stat of the character.

A range of example general equipment is provided in the Equipment Manual of your genre-module. Any reasonable additional items can be negotiated with the GM.

The main character sheet's possessions list also includes spaces to store base, wear/charge and favourite stats for items being stored there, these boxes are primarily intended for use when storing weapons and armour, however there is no reason the same systems cannot be applied to any item.

So your 16 lengths of rope might have a wear value that depreciates each time it is used (or just when it is used in a high-wear manner), and you may even make your rope a 'favourite' giving you a bonus when doing rope-related things with it, like tying knots that won't slip.

This is entirely optional and is only even suggested as it is a simple and logical extension of the weapons/armour system and not really a new rule requiring extra effort to learn, and the boxes are already on the character sheet. Do be aware that this may not be the most useful way to apply skill-bonus rolls, and also that doing it to excess may bog down game-play in more number-wrangling than many players will enjoy. However, used sparsely and appropriately, it may add an extra bit of value to game-play.

Characters are assumed to posses basic casual clothing (shirt, pants/skirt, shoes/sandals) for their home culture to start with and do not have to explicitly purchase these items at the start. They may be expected to purchase replacement or additional clothing as the game progresses, however.

Currency is for recording how much money your character has on their person. For simplicity, Octas assumes a single universal currency is in use, however advanced games should feel free to invent odd new regional currencies that are only accepted in some places or by some groups if this suits their narrative.

Characters, by default, start with 64 Coins. This can be used to purchase some starting equipment, weapons and armour.

The nominal Octas currency is 1 Coin (the name of the currency is 'Coin', capitalised), with a denominational usage equivalent to a dollar, or a pound, or a gold-piece. Their shape is a 21mm diameter by 2.6mm thick disk with no markings or features. They have a distinctive oil-rainbow surface sheen. The material of which Coins are made is indestructible and im-malleable, and in the default Octas/fallen fantasy world no-one actually knows where they originate as they have existed since before earliest historical records.

There are rumours of a mythical beast called variously a Cowch or So'fah which is reputed to excrete them about its body as part of its natural life-cycle, though no-one has actually ever seen such a creature or can even consistently describe what one may look like.

Octas currency can be divided down to an eighth of a unit for inexpensive items. People can physically cut a Coin into eight Pieces, if they need change. Bending a Coin with reasonable force will cause it to shatter neatly into eight identical triangular-wedge pieces. The triangles have no sharp or ragged edges on the breaks and the points are also not overly sharp. It's magic/technology!

In worlds with an appropriate magical/technological basis, if eight triangular pieces are arranged back into a circle on a reasonably flat surface, they will rejoin along the seams into a single coin. This particular magic/technology is so mundane, and essential to commerce, that is is often not even considered magical/technological by users of currency, so even peoples who are strongly anti-magic/technology tend to use the Octas currency, inventing whatever excuses they feel appropriate for the exception. (In non-magical non-technological settings, you might just dis-regard the splitting/joining convenience and just assume your characters and shopkeepers carry enough change).

This is exactly how certain old coins were treated in Earth real-history (except for the re-joining bit!). They explicitly divided them into 4 or 8, not 10 or 12, as it is easier to repeatedly divide by twos than have a physical division by 3, or worse a 5, in there!

The in-game word for split segments, Pieces, was derived from the expression 'Pieces of 8' as I initially believed that coin-splitting was the origin of the term. My subsequent research showed this to be wrong, so Octas' Pieces-of-eight idea as relates to coin-splitting is only a thing in the Octas game, not real-world history!

Coins are surprisingly light considering they seem to be made of some sort of metal.

The material's weight is comparable to aluminium, though that isn't at all what they are made of, in magical/scifi genres at least.

If you find you are getting so rich that the amount of Coin your are carrying about is a bit unbelievable, firstly, spend some of it!! The local economy will thank you! You can also move some of your Coin off your character sheet and on to a separate sheet (stored with your backstory notes) indicating that this currency has been left at home, or with someone you trust, or buried on a desert island under a big X, or in a public park under a big letter-W!

You can also do this with any other possessions you don't want to cart about but also don't want to get rid of. Though you will have to actually find the in-game opportunity to travel to wherever you are storing your stuff, or pay a trusted courier to deliver or retrieve it for you.

GM's who are into deep lore-making might also want to look into the early history of banking, for additional ideas.


Skills and Weaknesses

In addition to the general characteristics above, characters also have (and can develop more through game-play) skills. These are domain-specific and are added to the appropriate general score when in use. Note that skills can also be negative, indicating a weakness in that skill area.

During game-play, certain dice-roll results will allow you to improve your skills or to begin developing extra ones. There are also mechanisms to purchase additional skill points between games with in-game Coin your character has collected. This is framed as purchasing formal training in a skill (or sometimes therapy in the case of reducing particular weaknesses).

A starting character will have 4 skills by default. They may 'purchase' up to 4 more skills at the cost of also taking on the same number of weaknesses.

Be wary of deliberately selecting weaknesses in an area you feel you are unlikely to be actually-impacted, in order to gain more of other skills that you expect to benefit from often. An experienced Game-Master will just find creative ways to apply your detriments far more often than you might have expected! .... Conversely, choosing detriments with the intention of regularly playing to them can add a lot of interest to your character and fun to the game (consider Indiana Jones, and his issues with snakes). Well played imperfections make characters interesting, for both the one playing them, and for everyone else at the table.

For each starting skill you roll +D+1, so roll two dice and choose the higher result (+D) and add 1, for a result of 1 to 8 with a probability skew favouring higher results.

Note that once the character enters game-play, additional skills are developed one point at a time, from zero, without dice rolls: your initial skill rolls are to get your character started with more than a blank-slate to work with.

For any weakness chosen, you likewise role 2D-16, for a result from -16 to -2, with a probability skew favouring values in the middle of this range. Negative as this is a penalty in this field of ability.

Record a weakness in your skill list just like a skill, but with a negative number in the 'Ability' box.

Note that weaknesses are significantly more difficult to remove than their equivalent skill is to acquire from a zero state. If a weakness is eliminated, however, developing a skill in the same area attracts no penalty.

You may double-up on starting skills (and weaknesses!), so you may use two (or more) starting rolls up on a single skill/weakness to build it higher/lower. This is generally not a good idea, however, as it tends to over-specialise your character, so probably avoid this unless you have a well-thought-out reason for doing so!

Skill-stacking

Many skills can be stacked together, so you add them when using them in this way.

For example, you may have a skill with bladed-weapons, and a more specialised skill for two-handed-swords. When using a two-handed-sword, you add your bladed-weapons skill value to your two-handed-sword skill value. When using any other type of bladed weapon, you only use the bladed-weapons skill bonus alone, of course.

Why would you not put all your skill development into the more broadly-useful bladed-weapons skill in the above example? Because as a skill develops, it becomes increasingly difficult to develop it further and quickly adding skill to a different, but logically-stackable skill with a lower score can be a more effective use of skill-development rolls (more on skill development rolls coming up below).

To avoid the situation were players are tempted to stack excessive numbers of skills, the number of skills (and skill-equivalents such as Weaknesses, Favourites, and Dislikes) that can be stacked in a single roll is limited to four. So choose your stack wisely!

Favourites (and Dislikes)

A favourite is a bonus to a specifically named object/situation. To extend the above weapons example, you might have a favourite two-handed-sword. This bonus can stack directly on the bladed-weapons bonus, or on top of the bladed-weapons and two-handed-swords bonuses, for a 3-level stack. In this case, the idea is that you are good with two-handed-swords in general, but you are particularly accustomed to the balance of your favourite one, so can wield it especially well. If your 'favourite' sword is lost, destroyed or sold, the points allocated to this are permanently lost: you cannot transfer them to a new 'favourite' but must instead build up a new favourite from zero.

Favourites are the least versatile 'skill'. You do not start your character with any favourites defined, but may be given opportunities to add them as you play the game. The Game Master may also arbitrarily allocate favourite points to a particular weapon (or other equipment) if you are using it particularly often or well, especially as a reward for good role-play.

Favorites most often apply to equipment, so there is space in equipment (especially weapons and armour) lists for recording favourite values. For instances where a favourite is not a possession (for example: favourite musical style for playing on an instrument), you can store this kind of favourite in the skills list.

You may also have dislikes, (for example, your character has a weakness that they are afraid of cats in general, but also has an extra fear of the particular cat, named Mittens, that lives two doors down the street!) Unlike favourites, you may specify dislikes for a new character, but you will not receive any benefits for doing so (they are useful for character-flavour only). You may be allocated additional dislikes during game-play if the situation calls for it (for example, one day your character has a particularly bad encounter with Mittens).

Dislikes are recorded as per favourites, with a negative score either against a disliked possession or in the skills list.

Skill Levels

New characters generally begin with even their starting-skills at quite low values, so there is plenty of room for improvement as you play. For an idea of what a skill level means, the following table can be used as a guide:

Value Meaning
below -8 Unbelievably incompetent
-8 to -5 Complete klutz
-4 to -1 Accident-prone
0 No notable ability
1 Picked up a few simple tricks
2 to 3 Knows how little they actually know
4 to 5 Barely capable
6 to 7 Novice
8 to 15 Competent
16 to 31 Expert
over 32 Master

The above scores apply to stacked scores too, so you can be, for example, a novice with bladed weapons in general, competent with short-swords in particular, and an expert with your favourite short-sword, if the stacked scores add up that way. Most of the time, the higher levels of mastery would only be reached via such stacking of skills and favourites, as the in-game mechanic only accounts for individual scores up to 15 points (though you can slowly push them higher with exceptional luck on your learning-rolls).

A non-exhaustive list of skills:

The below list is to give a general idea. Some are only relevant for particular genres. More may be added by the Game Master, or by player consensus, as your game-story evolves.

There are no strict rules on how skill bonuses are applied and to what. To use a skill, you should identify an action your character is about to perform where that skill is likely to be relevant, then inform the Game Master of your wish to use that skill, and why you feel it should impact your success. The GM will then decide whether to factor the skill into the chances of action-success (they don't have to tell you if they did or not).

Tracking skills and notifying the Game Master of their potential use is the responsibility of the player. It is also good manners to keep an eye out for where any weaknesses may interfere with what your character is doing and role-play to them. The best way to neutralise a weakness is to role-play around (or through) it, and a good Game Master will try to find ways to reward you for doing this.

Also, when you play a weakness as part of a skill-check or combat session, the dice rolls may offer you a chance to reduce it by one point, so there is an actual benefit for keeping your character's weaknesses in play.

In combat, normally the Skill and Favourite scores for your weapon and armour are applied. If you can justify it, you may request additional bonuses to be applied as well. It is the GM's call if this is accepted, but any reasonable request should be.

Don't be silly with this - constant haggling over what bonuses should apply when, will bog down the game and bore everyone to tears. It is recommended to reserve it for exceptional situations where you really need it.

More about Weaknesses:

As mentioned, up to 4 weaknesses may be taken at character-creation time, and can be used to then select an additional skill for each. Most of the above skills can also be made into weaknesses simply by allocating them a negative value, indicating your character is particularly bad at that skill. The dice result for a weakness is unrelated to the skill it allowed you to add, so if you rolled a -2 for the weakness and an 8 for the skill, that is perfectly valid - lucky you! It is the taking of the weakness that gives you the right to another skill, not how detrimental vs beneficial each turns out to be.

When taking weaknesses to get more skills, be wary of careless mix-maxing! This is when you deliberately weaken your character in specific extreme ways in order to justify giving them extreme strengths in other areas. It isn't, in itself, a bad thing, but if done poorly it can break your character. Be a bit conservative to begin with, and let experience be your guide as you become more familiar with how the game works. Done well, min-max characters can be challenging and fun.

Another source of weaknesses that do not have a corresponding skill are strong phobias. We are not talking about a general aversion here: this is a panic-inducing, unable-to-move / involuntary-running-away / passing-out / throwing-up phobic reaction! An actual detriment to your character, which will seriously inconvenience them and they will have to work hard to overcome.

For example, nobody likes the idea of the re-lived (the undead of Octas/fallen) trying to eat their brains, but if you have a phobia against the re-lived, that phobia score will be an actual negative impact on your combat effectiveness any time you are fighting one. But more than that, you should also role-play a strong aversion to entering grave sites and crypts.

Languages

Note: Beginning characters can normally be assumed to have not wandered out of their native-language areas yet, so most of the language rules can be safely put aside for initial game sessions, reducing the rules-load a bit on new Players and Game Masters alike. Set up your languages on your character sheet in preparation for the future time when you may need them, but don't otherwise worry too much about them for now.

Except the Dæmonic language! Though it is not (initially, at least) important from a language perspective it is an integral part of the Octas/fallen magic system, and may also be important in other genres.

Languages are a special type of skill. They work more-or-less in the same way as skills, but instead of the stacking mechanism, they are divided into three sub-skills: Spoken, Written, and Signed.

As with general skills, language skills can be increased through regular interaction with the language (in the appropriate form) or by purchasing formal study if it is available.

Written language skill can be entirely independent of Spoken skill in value: you can be illiterate while very good with spoken words, and also you can learn to read and write a language even if you have no idea how it sounds, or you are physically incapable of making its sounds.

Signing skills are likewise independent of both spoken and written skills. They are also not limited to those with an inability to hear or speak - signing can also be useful for silent communication in a pre-combat situation, or even distance-communication or in a noisy environment. Signing also gives an ability at lip-reading in the same language, at half of the signing ability score, in optimal conditions.

Native Language

Every being capable of language has a native language. With humans, it is normally the language of the character's region of origin. There are no pre-defined languages in the Octas rules so you should make up the name of one. If all your characters come from the same geographic region, it is reasonable that they all speak the same native language, though this is not required, of course. If your characters do not share a language, then communication may be difficult!

Some non human character types (see Menagerie: Sapient Species) can't speak human languages, even if they regularly associate with humans - they lack the vocal physiology. But they might well be able to understand what is said around them.

Starting native language spoken fluency is equal to the character's Knowledge score plus +D (roll two dice, use the highest result).

Starting native language written fluency is the character's Knowledge score plus 1D (roll one dice, that's it!).

Starting native language signing skill is normally zero. You may re-allocate up to 16 points from your character's other starting-scores for the same language to the signing score.

You may also allocate a starting-skill roll to add additional 1D+1 points to any single sub-skill for a language on top of the above default scores.

Trade-lingua

In Octas, there is a 'common' language, but it is somewhat limited in what it can do, and is also not entirely 'common'. It is a Trade-Lingua and so is generally only well-known by people who are either travellers themselves or who regularly interact with travellers (eg: most merchants, many diplomats, some scholars, and the sort of people who hang out a lot in taverns that cater to travellers, even if they don't travel themselves). In any civilised area it should be pretty easy to find a reasonably fluent user of Trade-Lingua around somewhere. And some surprising other people or groups may turn out to also know the language.

As a pidgin type language, it is quite simplistic, making it impossible to express complex ideas, but the sort of simpler expressions with which to trade, obtain directions, seek general assistance, make threats of violence, and so forth are well within its coverage. Even songs and jokes, though only ones with simple themes and no complex word-play.

Trade-lingua ability is a 'free' skill for player-characters and always starts at half of the character's native language ability (round up) in the same spoken/written/signed sub-skill, as it is assumed that the characters have made an effort to learn it somewhat before setting off on adventures where they may eventually leave their native-language area. Trade Lingua can never be learned to a higher level than 16 points simply because it doesn't have the scope to function as a highly expressive language no matter how much you study and practice.

Dæmonic

Also referred to (in Octas/fallen, at least) as 'The Language of Magic', Dæmonic is a fairly simple language. Like Trade Lingua, it has a ceiling of 16 points maximum on each sub-skill.

'Free' (non-device) magic in the Octas/fallen world requires the use of the Dæmonic language in one or more of its sub-forms (spoken, written, signed). Which one(s) will depend on the mode(s) of casting available for a particular type of magic. A character's skill in the relevant Dæmonic Language sub-skill will firstly determine their ability to cast the magic at all in that mode, and secondly impact how well the magic performs.

Casting magic also temporarily drains a character's Current-Mental score (and their Base-Mental score if they get desperate and push it too far!) as using the language in the highly-precise manner necessary for magic is quite mentally tiring. Non-magical use of the Dæmonic language is somewhat looser and doesn't attract this penalty.

Dæmonic is not an automatic skill and you must use up a starting skill to acquire it immediately, or learn it from zero as you play. If you use a starting skill to begin with an ability in the Dæmonic language, then the starting level is rolled on 1D+1, but you get to roll this for each use-type (spoken, written, signed). You may choose which roll-result to assign to each of the three.

A weakness (negative scores) for the Dæmonic language may result in a character who thinks they are some sort of hot-shot magician but their attempts at magic will always end in disaster. .... Might be fun!

Additional languages.

You may start with additional languages to your native one (plus trade-lingua) by allocating one of your start skills. For this you get the full suite of Spoken/Written/Signed abilities (assuming the language in question has each form).

Any two of the sub-language skills (Spoken, Written, Signed) are rolled on 2D+2 each. The remaining sub-language skill may take up to 16 points from either or both of the other two.

Even if your non-native language score exceeds your native language score, it will still have an accent, unless it is of high enough proficiency to be 'Eloquent' (see below).

Private language: You may also use a starting skill to specify a private language exclusive for your character group (potentially useful for private communications in public places). Obviously, the other members of your group will have to do the same for this to be useful! This language will operate much like the trade-lingua in that it can never be more expressive than 16 points in any form.

A private language may also be useful even at a low score. For example, a signed-only language with a score of only 1 is sufficient to convey simple signals such as 'stop', 'follow', 'silent', 'danger', 'attack' within a group of people sneaking about.

Language Fluency.

The following table gives a general idea of what a language level means.

Score Meaning
negative Worse than no ability. Will probably insult someone, or worse!
0 No ability
1 Knows a few words
2-3 Can barely understand or be understood
4-7 Can get by for day-to-day stuff
8-11 General competence
12-15 Educated
16+ Eloquent, including accent-free for non-native languages

A negative language score is valid (if unusual). This ties into the game's mechanics, but in-story can be interpreted as the character being so bad at a language that they actively butcher it to the point of expressing the opposite of what they mean during attempted use!

For Dæmonic and Trade-lingua only, a negative language score can count as a weakness for the purposes of earning an extra starting skill, but only if at least two sub-skills are Rolled 2D-16 (so -2 or lower), the third sub-skill may be zero, none may be positive. Other languages, or individual sub-skill scores may start negative for role-play purposes but will earn no extra starting skills.

You cannot have a negative score in a language-type you cannot use.

For example: A human cannot mess-up any Spoken Elephant language because humans can't make or perceive the sub-sonic sounds required in the first place, so there is nothing to mess up! Elephants, on the other hand, can hear human language well enough, but cannot speak it, so a negative Spoken Human Language score is valid but would only be applied when listening, not when being-unable-to-speak-anyway. (Indian Elephants are a playable species, recommended for advanced players only, in the Sapient Species section of the Octas/fallen menagerie).

The game rules don't explicitly differentiate speaking/listening or reading/writing skill, but if you wish for your character to have a distinct difference between these, you can make it part of your character's backstory and role-play it.

Game-master-allocated skill points.

If a player is using a skill (including a language) particularly often, even if not as part of skill check rolls, the Game Master can grant them extra points for that skill/language arbitrarily. They are recommended to do this sparingly, however.

Backstory

There isn't a place for backstory on the character sheet: it should be recorded on a separate page. Or in a notebook, if you intend to go into that much detail.

If you do, that is great, but don't expect everyone else to want to read your novel!

Your character's backstory is free-form and entirely your choice (possibly with some negotiation with other players in your group, if you want some shared backstory elements). You should either write your backstory to fit your starting characteristics and skills, or match your starting characteristics and skills to your already-planned backstory.

Tip: Include some details in your backstory that your Game Master may be able to weave into the game-story: People you knew in the past that may re-enter your life; things you have done long ago that may have unexpected consequences - good or bad - in the future; family heirlooms that may turn out to have forgotten-significance. You don't have to specify the significance of such things yourself (though you might do so), but can just leave them as place-holders that you or your GM may hang some significance on at a later time as the game-story progresses.

Your backstory notes are also a good place to provide non-game-mechanic details about your character such as their appearance (draw a picture, or write as text), taste in clothes or food, attitudes and prejudices, and so forth. Such details may be useful for the role-play elements of the game.

You may also wish to use your backstory as the starting point to generally record your character's ongoing life as they progress through the game, so feel free to append notes about each adventure your character has as you play, ideally as told from the character's own perspective. These can also be useful for referring back to during a game: that particularly useful merchant you met last time you were in this town might be worth finding again, a task that will be far easier to do if you wrote down their name, and possibly even the address of their shop.

And if you save your GM the trouble of digging through their own notes from months ago for the same information, well, that has to be worth something, surely: In-game, being able to greet the merchant you haven't seen for several months by name could well put them in a good mood, price-wise!

Instant Backstory

If you are stuck for backstory ideas, you may optionally use the below table to randomly generate one using four dice rolls:

Roll Adjective Subject Verb Object (specify exactly what)
0 ambitious author/poet/artist avoiding a specific object
1 bored explorer escaping a particular person
2 idealistic farmer fighting for a location/place/region
3 lost healer investigating information about something
4 rebellious mercenary/soldier pursuing justice/revenge/closure for someone/something
5 sad/depressed noble/leader representing the end of something
6 vengeful scoundrel resisting enlightenment
7 mysterious teacher seeking wealth

Use the generated random phrase as a starting point and embellish with details.


Improving Skills and Favourites:

Whenever you roll a DD for a skill-check, keep an eye out for a zero on the high dice. If the skill-check was a success and the higher digit of the roll was also a zero then the roll was so successful that it was also a learning experience!

When this happens, the player may choose any one of the skill/favourite bonus scores used in that skill-check roll to try to improve.

Next, the player rolls 2D. If the result is equal or higher than the existing skill/spec/fav/lang score chosen, that score gets one point added to it. This point becomes immediately available (so the very next time the skill/favourite is used).

As such, skill-scores can even improve in the middle of combat: Now that's an immediate reward!

This means that lower skill/fav/lang scores are relatively easy to improve but improvement will progressively become more difficult, encouraging the spreading of improvement around amongst skills and favourites a bit. The player may have to decide if it is worth taking a chance trying to further improve an already high skill, or to have a better chance on a less-generally-useful, but lower-scored one.

There is undoubtedly a mathematically optimal solution to this, but as it is a role-playing game it is probably useful to let the story-needs of your character factor in to such decisions as well.

If the skill-check was 00 you do not have to roll for the point. You did so well it is yours automatically! (which is one - slow - way to get skill points already as high as 2D can roll can take them, to go even higher). Since you don't have to roll against a score, you will also know you have this automatic point before you choose what to apply it to - it just has to be something you used in the prior skill check roll.

Additionally, players may be allowed to buy additional skill/language (explicitly not favourite) point rolls in the form of 'training', normally in the time between adventures. There is no upper limit on how many rolls can be purchased, if you have the Coin, but the training time will have to be factored in. Before you start a new adventure, determine with the GM how much time has passed since the last adventure ended, and how much training (or therapy - see Reducing Weaknesses below) your character had time for. The following table can be used as a guide, though exceptions might be made where the game-story or common-sense apply:

Item Coins Time Notes
1 Skill Roll 4096 8 days Training by an expert/master in the field
Equipment variable Any materials or equipment needed for training
Food 64 8 days If not supplied by the character or trainer
Accommodation 64 8 days If not supplied by the character or trainer

You can normally only train for, at most, 2 things at a time. In this case, food and accommodation expenses would only occur once, and both types of training need to be available within an hour's travel of each other.

At the end of training, the player gets to roll 2D against the trained skill to see if they improved significantly. As with in-game-earned improvements, further success becomes harder to achieve as skill-level improves.

DevNote: Costs will have to be play-tested against character incomes and a reasonable rate of training-related improvement. This is not intended to be the primary form of skills improvement, so it should be expensive, but still attainable!

Note that "Any materials or equipment needed for training" does not include practice dummies, training swords or any such things a professional trainer is likely to have on hand for student use, and which the character will not keep after training is finished. For non-professional trainers, the character may, however, supply these or come to some other arrangement with the trainer. Consumable items used in training are generally expected to be paid for by the character, however.

As usual for TTRPGs (and life in general), exceptions can be made. For example, if the ruler of a land is explicitly requesting characters get some sort of training in preparation for a particular mission, the ruler might cover some or all of the bill, and possibly even reasonable extra expenses. They may do this as an act of good will, or to improve the chances of a mission-success that will ultimately benefit them even more than the cost, or they might agree to pay costs up-front but deduct it from the eventual payment for a successful mission.

Also, don't forget to increase your character's age to account for time spent between adventures (whether training or not), if appropriate.

You may also be allowed to partake in some types of training in the middle of an adventure if the GM permits it. For example:

Players can train other players. They can only train up to their own skill level -4. A player (or NPC) with a skill/spec level below 4 will actually mis-train someone and drop the trainee's score down towards trainer-skill - 8! What financial arrangements a player character makes is up to the Player, but the 8-day time factor per skill-improvement-roll trained is still present.

If training is happening on-the-road you are restricted to only training for one thing at a time, as you have a bunch of other stuff to do as well.

Favourite improvement is explicitly excluded from the concept of training. However players can create or improve a favourite score outside of skill-check rolls by making decorative customisations to their equipment. This may cost Coin or time, but the exact amount is going to be too variable to leave up to a formula or table, so the GM is going to have to wing-it! Generally the more (Coin, time, or player-creativity) put into favouring a piece of equipment, the more bonus points should be granted by the GM.

So gold-plating your sword is definitely worth quite a few favourite points, though it will likely need to be re-plated fairly often if you actually use it in battle, or the favourite effect will fade as it gets scrappy-looking! Doing something fancy with the hilt may be a less striking, but better-wearing, approach.

Favourites are the least versatile bonus, and also the only type that is prone to loss (if the favoured item is lost, broken-beyond-repair or sold, its favourite points are gone with it), so GMs can be a bit generous here and are encouraged to especially reward interesting ideas that tie into strong character backstory or in-game role-play.

If your rocket-propelled-grenade-launcher has daisies painted all over it, both the player and the GM should definitely be looking for opportunities to make a thing of that in the game-story. Favourites are not just for bonus points!

This type of customisation should be documented in the character backstory notes, for reference. You may even wish to make a special page for it in order to document any ongoing story relating to the item itself - it is one of your character's favourite possessions, after all!

Adding a new skill or language

You may add a new skill or language to your character sheet at any time. Unlike starting skills, these begin at zero. Even though the value is zero, it is still important to specify the score as part of your bonuses for a skill-check or combat roll, so that if the check-roll earns you a skill improvement roll, you may then choose the new skill as the recipient of that roll. Also, because of the way the improvement roll works, a skill with a score of 0 is guaranteed to get that first bonus point! - the important thing is that you must have actually tried to use the skill in the just-successful action in order to improve it.

The player can also arbitrarily add new weaknesses to their character, though you would generally only do this for ongoing-story reasons. Unlike at character-creation time, they don't gain you any extra skill points or other benefits. The GM may also allocate your character new weaknesses in response to extreme events in the story, though they should try not to be excessively harsh with this.

The GM is welcome to offer some sort of compensation to sweeten the deal if they really really want the Player to accept a new weakness, such as some valuable or powerful artefact; a big bag of Coin; a regular payment of a smaller quantity of Coin over time in the form of a disability pension; a new skill of equivalent benefit, especially if gaining the new skill can be in-story linked to dealing with the new weakness; or even a significantly stronger new skill learned as part of recovering from the weakness if a deferred reward is preferable.

Or, if the GM has a particularly interesting weakness in mind, the Player might just agree that the new weakness will make their character more fun to play and that is all the reward they need! In the end it is all just about having fun... and the friends you make along the way, of course!

Reducing Weaknesses:

In the above-mentioned high-dice-0 skill-bonus, if any of the scores used in the skill-check roll were Weaknesses, the player may choose to apply the skill-improvement roll to reducing one of their Weakness or Dislike scores instead. Roll against the chosen score (with the negative sign removed) and if the roll is lower, reduce the negative score by 1 (towards zero). As with Skills, for a 00 roll, you may reduce a Weakness score without a roll as long as it was part of the previous skill-check roll modifiers.

The idea here is that your astounding success, even with your weakness in play, has helped your character on the way to overcoming that weakness.

Since weaknesses are often a part of adding interest to a character, you may not want to mess around with them too much. Unless overcoming one or more of them is part of your intended character story-arc, in which case you will want to play your weaknesses a lot in your skill-check rolls, in order to increase the chances of wearing away at them.

You may also reduce weaknesses by purchasing therapy, which follows the same rules as purchasing training. The story-telling function of weaknesses in Octas makes this option rather undesirable for most role-players, but it is included for both completeness and for situations where the player feels it appropriate to their character's story-arc (or you may have just played-out the interest in a particular weakness).

Further-Degrading Weakness Scores

A skill-check roll with a leading digit of 7 that also fails will force an associated weaknesses (if any are in play) to become worse. If none such are associated with a particular roll, this is ignored.

We don't attack skills in the way we do weaknesses, even though we could easily implement such a rule, chiefly because punishing players for using their skills (in a skills-based TTRPG!) is just nasty and not much fun, and while everyone likes a bit of a challenge, no-one wants to play a game that makes them feel miserable (we already have the board game Monopoly™ for that)! Such a mechanic would also tend to result in character stagnation as the chances of skill scores going up or down would tend to equalise out, and the whole point of a skills-based TTRPG is getting to grow your character, not slogging along getting nowhere!


Death

Octas is a very story-focused TTRPG and goes a bit easy on the characters in terms of fatality. It is supposed to not be easy to die by accident, though dying by wilful risk-taking is very much a thing! The balanced aimed for is to let the players choose the risk level (and associated reward) they are most comfortable with.

Characters can still die, however, as without any risk, the excitement of the game becomes noticeably lacklustre quite quickly! There are a number of ways to deal with your character's death, some of which are addressed further below.

During game-play, various things will temporarily effect some of your scores. For example physical damage will reduce your Current-Physical score until you have time to heal-up, mental fatigue can impact your Current-Mental score, and some types of attack may effect your Current-Perceptual or Current-Wilful scores. If your temporary points in any area drop to 0, you don't instantly die, but then the points start to be removed from the Base-scores instead! Unlike temporary points-loss which can be recovered quite easily through rest and healing, damage to your Base-scores are permanent. It is best to avoid this, but it does allow a substantial buffer before death, but with a very harsh penalty, all the same.

Don't completely despair, though. As your character skils-up, the skills bonuses start to become more significant than the characteristics anyway, so you can compensate for any permanent losses by focusing on appropriate compensatory skills. The main problem with having lower Base-scores is it gives you less Current-scores to buffer you from attack. Though good armour can help compensate for this too, provided your strength hasn't been so badly depleted that your carrying capacity is too wiped out to use it! At which point your character should probably cut their losses and retire!

If any of your Base-scores drops below zero, your character is truly dead.

"They're day-ed, D-A-Y-E-D!" (said while wearing a comically-large cowboy-hat for best effect!)

It is actually quite hard to get down to zero in base-score, because as soon as you have any temporary score zeroed, you are unconscious, or as good as. You can still take damage if attacked, and so you can still be further damaged and ultimately killed, but being unconscious removes you from the main action and hence main risk. The biggest risk when unconscious is opportunistic attack from opponents who don't have any better targets, or if everyone else in your group also dies or falls unconscious, the enemy will have free reign to kill off anyone left, if they are so inclined.

Most animals will only kill an unconscious person if they actually intend to eat them, and intelligent beings might feel that taking them captive is more useful (or even just humane), so don't assume killing everyone left is going to be the norm. .... Except for the Re-lived (the undead of the Octas/fallen world) - leaving no survivors is part of their reproductive strategy!

Unconscious characters do, however, still get an attack round. This is because even when unconscious, they are present, and while the chances of that resulting in anything useful are very small (usually requiring a DD dice roll of 00, so a 1-in-64 chance), it can happen. Successful attacks from unconscious characters can be considered the results of circumstantial things such as the character deliriously mumbling some magic words that happen to work, a finger twitching on the trigger of a weapon that happens to be pointing in the right direction, or even a foe tripping over their unconscious body in the heat of battle! An unconscious character does not generally get any choice over the type of the attack or the target, and in the event of a success, the GM will roll or select something suitable for the situation.

What to do if your character dies.

Look for role-play opportunities everywhere, even in death.

Start anew.

If you are playing a "one-shot" game where your character was created specifically for the game session and isn't intended to be used after, you won't have any real attachment, so just re-roll a new character (for one-shots, it is common for the GM to have spare pre-rolled characters ready to go, as this type of game session is all about speed).

Even if it is a long-established character, you may be happy to let them go and start over to try something different. Again re-roll your character. If your game-group has a lot of skilled characters, you may not want to start a new character right at the bottom, but may instead adjust your scores and skills to be in the general area where everyone else is.

On the other hand, you may choose to start from the bottom and become the character-group's apprentice: the level-less nature of Octas character development makes mixed-ability character groups a little easier to manage than in some other TTRPGs: a low-skill character will be less capable and at higher risk hanging around with much more skilled adventurers, but they won't be insta-dead!

Careful selection of travel/combat-order and knowing when to hold back and let the 'experts' deal with something should get such a character through until they skill-up a bit. The more skilled group members might even let them have-at the easier challenges, choosing to skip combat rounds themselves unless things get unexpectedly dire, to give more on-the-job-training opportunities to the noobie!

If, like me, you enjoy creating new characters almost as much as you enjoy playing them, then you probably already have a few more ready to go and the hard part will be deciding which one to play next!

If you loved your character, consider laminating or framing their character sheet and hanging it on the wall, or making a little shrine to lost characters in the corner of your playing-room. Your characters, and you, deserve it!

Meet the family.

Your recently-deceased character just happens to have a sibling or cousin who is quite like them!

While it can be used as a weak excuse to revive a dead beloved-character, it can also be seen as a way to fill a specific your-character-shaped gap now present in the group.

If you are not attached to your specific character but to a character with a particular set of skills (that make life a nightmare for people like...), this is easier to justify as it is certainly credible that the surviving characters would seek out a replacement with a similar skill-set, to re-complete their adventuring party. Or an apprentice with the beginnings of such a skill set.

Probably don't make your new character a clone though (this isn't the TTRPG Paranoia!). For best results, have some notable differences, ideally ones you can surprise the other players with if they start treating your new character too much like their predecessor (something your new character would be well within their rights to resent, so role-play that too!). Weaknesses are a very obvious and easy place to start such character differentiation - try new and completely different ones!

Paranoia is a TTRPG that turns the traditional cooperative-play of these games on its head and is structured such that every player is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to discretely backstab the others, while trying to avoid the same fate. Coupled with a general theme of Kafkaesque incompetence, you tend to die so frequently - and often hilariously - that everyone gets 5 extra lives, in the form of delivered-to-your-point-of-death clones.

Dead to them.

If you really really really ...really... can't bare to part with your character, put them aside. Treat them as dead for the purposes of this game, but keep them for one day if you join a different playing group. Your character still lives on in a parallel time-stream, and you will one day play them again, just not in this universe.


Common character types

Follows is a general guide to what kinds of scores and skills a number of commonly desired character archetypes would likely have. Note that these are not hard-rules but only a guide for those who wish to follow a more structured path to a particular character build.

You might have specific reasons to ignore some of these suggestions. You might even be able to come up with some clever way to build your character to the same ends via an entirely different path!

As a skill-base TTRPG, Octas makes it relatively easy to change your character at any time. The cost is having to build up the needed new skills from scratch, just as you would with a fresh character, or in real life! Though with a career-change character you still get to use your old skills, when the need arises.

There are, of course, an effectively infinite number of other paths and variations that one can take. So most of all, be you!

Fighter

Fighters need Physical ability. Skills would generally focus on the use of weapons and armour, and you would want to be spending your money on buying good quality weapons and armour.

Marksperson

Here we need Perceptual ability, as a primary characteristic. Skills will focus on ranged weapons. You will want to spend money on good ranged weapons and their ammunition. The Dæmonic Devices skill could be useful, but is only needed if you intend making use of magical/advanced-tech. weapons.

Magician/Hacker

Mental ability is vitally important here as it affects both the number and power of spells you can cast. A strong skill with all aspects of Dæmonic Language is likewise essential, since without these, you cannot use 'free' magic so would be restricted to magical devices (assuming you have the Dæmonic Devices skill). You will also need to start investing quite heavily in the individual magical-spell skill from the Magic Manual.

A hacker would likely be the equivalent in a high-tech genre where magic is replaced by an ability with controlling advanced technology.

Thief

This type of character will likely need good Perceptual abilities, if they intend doing actual thieving, though if they intend to stick to con-artistry, then Wilful ability is going to be more important. Skills around traps, locks, deception, and so forth are where you are going to want to focus. And probably save your Coin for bribing your way out of all the trouble you are likely to be getting yourself into! A skill in Dæmonic Devices could also be useful, but is not essential. A special private language shared by other thieves of your region may be appropriate and useful.

Woodsperson or Survivalist

Key is Perceptual ability, with Mental ability as a useful secondary. Skills focus will be in the areas of survival and tracking. Some ranged-weapons skills can also be useful. A low ability with the Dæmonic Language can give access to less-powerful magics/technologies useful to this character type.


What now?

So... you have a character. And, hopefully, so do a few friends. Everyone other than the GM needs one!

It's now time to throw your poor unsuspecting character into an adventure!

How? On to the Playing an Adventure guide we go. Onward ho!


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