- Buying Ability Scores
- Example of Buying Ability Scores
- Optional Method: Ability Quick Picks
- Optional Method: Rolling Ability Scores
- Ability Descriptions
- Ability Modifiers and Ability Checks
- Leveling Up and Ability Scores
- Health and Resolve
- Hit Points and Stamina Points
- Resolve Points
- Good Versus Evil
- Law Versus Chaos
- The Nine Alignments
- How To Use Alignment
- Leveling Up
- Step 1: Apply Any Ability Increases
- Step 2: Add New Class Features
- Step 3: Add New Feats or Theme Benefits
- Step 4: Invest Skill Ranks
Your character has six ability scores that represent her basic attributes and raw potential: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. These scores are factored into nearly all of your character’s capabilities—for instance, Dexterity determines her agility and the steadiness of her aim, Intelligence represents education and reasoning ability, and so on. (For more information on what each ability represents, see Ability Descriptions.) Ability scores generally range from 3 to 18, and an average score is 10.
Different abilities will be more or less important to you depending on what sort of character you want to play, and each class has a key ability score that is central to that class’s features to help you make sure you get the right abilities to succeed in that role. Table 2–3 lists the key ability score for each class; each class entry also lists the class’s key ability score, as well as other abilities that are helpful for that class, if not quite as important.
Presented below is the default method for generating ability scores, referred to as the buying ability scores system. These rules allow you to customize your abilities to build exactly the character you want. Additionally, we present two optional systems: ability quick picks lets you choose from several predetermined arrays for speed and convenience, while advanced players may be interested in the rolling ability scores system, which gives you the fun of randomly generating a character, sometimes with dramatic strengths and weaknesses. You need to use only one of these systems—check with your GM to see if she has a preference for which one you should use. When in doubt, use the buying ability scores method.
Buying Ability Scores
In this method, you customize your ability scores by “buying” them using a pool of points. Since the purpose of this system is to help you build exactly the character you want, before starting to customize your ability scores, first decide what you want your character’s race, class, and theme to be. Once you’ve got those firmly in mind, follow the steps below in order.
Step 1: Start with a score of 10 in each ability. On your character sheet or a piece of scratch paper, write down all six abilities— Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma—and put a 10 next to each of them.
Step 2: Add and subtract points for race. Races are often naturally gifted in some abilities and less so in others. Each race entry lists these advantages and disadvantages in terms of points you add or subtract from specific starting ability scores; you can also look at Table 2–2 to see all the racial advantages and disadvantages at a glance. For instance, a shirren starts out with +2 points in Constitution and +2 points in Wisdom, but –2 points in Charisma (meaning you’d add 2 points to your starting Constitution and Wisdom scores, but subtract 2 from your starting Charisma score). Some races, like humans, are so versatile as a race that they get points they can put in any single ability. Once you know your racial modifiers, add or subtract those points from your starting scores of 10.
Step 3: Add points for theme. Each theme gives you a single ability point to apply to an ability score. For instance, choosing the ace pilot theme gives you +1 point in Dexterity, while the themeless option lets you apply an extra point to any ability score you choose. The points granted by each theme can be found in its description or on Table 2–2. Once you know your theme, add that point to the designated ability.
Step 4: Spend 10 points customizing your scores. Now that you’ve got your baseline scores, which incorporate modifications for class and theme, you get a pool of 10 extra points to assign to your ability scores as you see fit. You apply these to your existing ability scores on a 1-for-1 basis—if you have a Dexterity score of 12 and you add a point from your pool, you now have a Dexterity score of 13. You can divide these points up however you want, but you can’t make any individual score higher than 18. (Later on, as you level up and gain ability-boosting gear, your ability scores may rise above 18, but 18 is the highest value any character can start out with.) Be sure to spend all 10 of your ability points—you can’t save them for later.
Step 5: Record ability scores and ability modifiers. Once you’ve spent all your points, you’re done. Write your final ability scores in the appropriate boxes on your character sheet, then check Table 2–1 to find the corresponding ability modifier for each one, and write those down as well. Modifiers are explained in Ability Modifiers and Ability Checks.
|Ability Score||Ability Modifier|
|Class||Key Ability Score|
|Soldier||Strength or Dexterity|
Example of Buying Ability Scores
You start out with 10 in every ability, like any character. You already know you want to be a vesk, and looking at Table 2–2, you see that her race grants her +2 points to Strength and +2 points to Constitution, but –2 points to Intelligence. You apply those to your starting scores of 10, so now your scores look like this:
So far, you’re spot on for your concept—plenty strong but not particularly bright. Now it’s time to take your 10 discretionary points and assign them. Table 2–3 tells you that a soldier’s key ability score is either Strength (for fighting hand-to-hand) or Dexterity (for shooting projectile weapons). You’re imagining her charging into combat with a big assault hammer, so you go ahead and spend 5 points to get her Strength from 13 to 18, the strongest anyone of her level can be. At the same time, though, you know there will be situations where she wants to use guns, so you spend 4 more points to bring her Dexterity up to 14. With 1 point left to spend, you consider adding it to Intelligence to offset her racial disadvantage there, then decide it’s more fun to add it to Charisma—she may be a brute, but she should be charming in her own way. So these are your final scores:
You write those down on your character sheet, then locate the appropriate ability modifiers on the table above and write those down in the boxes marked for them next to each ability score—an 18 equals a +4 modifier, a 14 equals a +2, and so on. Now you’re ready to move on to the rest of character creation!
Optional Rule: Character Flaws
The buying ability scores method makes sure that your character is always at least close to average—your race might push you slightly below the average of 10, but you won’t be severely hampered. Sometimes, however, it’s fun to play a character with a major flaw. If you want to reduce any ability scores for your character below what this system would normally allow, that’s fine—playing a brutish soldier with an Intelligence of 5 or a noodle-armed technomancer with a Strength of 4 could allow for some fun roleplaying opportunities—but you don’t get to reassign those lost ability points elsewhere. Beware making your scores so low that your character can’t keep up with the rest of the party!
Pro Tip: Ability Modifiers
Ability modifiers are the values you’ll use most often in gameplay to modify rolls and checks—positive modifiers add to your results, while negative modifiers subtract. As you can see on Table 2–1, however, ability modifiers increase only with each new even ability score you reach. While odd scores are still good to have—they can enable you to qualify for feats and get you that much closer to the next ability modifier threshold, making it easier to achieve higher scores when it’s time to level up—some players try to customize their ability scores to have as many even ability scores as possible, thus making sure they’re not “overpaying” for a particular ability modifier.
Optional Method: Ability Quick Picks
Sometimes you’re making a character in a hurry and don’t care about precisely customizing your ability scores. If that’s the case for you, you can pick one of the arrays and assign each value to the ability score of your choice—for instance, if your array is 18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 10, you put the 18 in one ability score (probably your class’s key ability score), the 14 in a different score, and so on until they’ve all been assigned. Under this method, choices like race and theme don’t affect your ability scores—you just choose which score goes in which ability, and you’re good to go. The Focused array creates a specialist, the split array makes someone with multiple talents, and the versatile array makes a jack-of-all-trades.
|Focused||18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 10|
|Split||16, 16, 11, 10, 10, 10|
|Versatile||14, 14, 14, 11, 10, 10|
Once you’ve chosen which abilities to put your scores in, write them down in the appropriate boxes on your character sheet, then check Table 2–1 to find your corresponding ability modifiers and write those down as well—they’re explained in Ability Modifiers and Ability Checks.
Example of Ability Quick Picks
Let’s say you’re making a ysoki technomancer with the outlaw theme. With the quick picks system, you don’t need to know anything except which abilities are most important for your character. Fortunately, all the classes offer guidance in this regard in their Key Ability Score sections—you can find a quick summary on Table 2–3.
In this case, let’s say you decide you want your character to be fairly specialized, so you select the Focused array, and the technomancer class advises you to put your best score (18) in Intelligence, and your next highest (14) in Dexterity. You decide to put the 11 in Constitution, to help you better survive the rigors of adventuring, and put the three remaining 10s in Strength, Wisdom, and Charisma. and that’s all there is—you write those values down on your character sheet, look at Table 2–1 to jot down the corresponding ability modifier for each ability score, then move on to the rest of character creation.
Optional Method: Rolling Ability Scores
The buying ability scores method works great if you want to create a perfectly customized, balanced character. But sometimes you want to inject a little randomness, and let the dice decide what kind of character you’re going to play. For that, you can use this alternative ability rolling method. Be warned—the same randomness that makes this system fun also allows it to sometimes create characters significantly more (or less) powerful than the buying ability scores system does or other rules assume. Check with your GM to make sure she’s okay with that possibility before employing this method.
To begin, roll four six-sided dice (4d6) and discard the lowest die result, adding the three remaining results together and recording the sum on a piece of scratch paper. Repeat this process until you’ve generated six numbers, then assign each of these totals to one of your ability scores, distributing them as you see fit—these become your starting scores for those abilities (rather than the standard 10).
Once this is done, go ahead and follow steps 2 and 3 from the buying ability scores method, adding and subtracting points for your race and theme. The only difference with this method is that instead of starting with a 10 in each ability score, you start with whatever value you rolled and assigned. You still can’t have any single ability score higher than 18. If points from a race or theme would push you over that amount, you still just get the 18, and those additional points are lost; they can’t be assigned anywhere else. Once you’ve done this, skip straight to Step 5 and record your ability scores and modifiers—you don’t get any discretionary points to assign.
Example of Rolling Ability Scores
First, you roll your starting scores. Your first roll is excellent: a 6, two 5s, and a 1. You discard the 1, for a total score of 16, and write that down. You repeat this process five more times, and ultimately end up with scores of 16, 16, 15, 14, 13, and 5. Above average in almost every way, but with one big shortcoming!
Table 2–3 tells you Wisdom is the key ability score for mystics, so you put one of your 16s there, and assign the other to Charisma—you want your shirren to be a leader and be good at making friends with aliens. You put the 15 in Constitution, 14 in Dexterity, 13 in Intelligence, and 5 in Strength (you really should’ve hit the gym more after all that time in zero-g). So now your scores look like this:
Now it’s time to make adjustments for your race and theme. You already know you want to be a shirren, which grants +2 points to both Constitution and Wisdom but –2 points to Charisma. So you include those modifications and the scores become:
You also choose the priest theme, because you like the idea of a bug-headed missionary, which grants 1 point to Wisdom—but you’re already maxed out, so that point would disappear! Instead of letting it go, you opt to go back and swap the initial placement of the 16 in Wisdom and 15 in Constitution, then go through the steps again. Now your race and theme make you hit that 18 Wisdom perfectly, and your Constitution is 1 point higher, like so:
Those are your final scores—there are no points to spend. Note that through rolling, this character ended up with both higher and lower scores than the vesk soldier from our buying ability scores example. That’s the risk of the rolling system—this mystic is going to be excellent at Spellcasting and using other abilities relying on Wisdom, and still pretty great in most other areas, but severely hampered by that low Strength score when it comes to how much he can carry or his ability to deal damage in hand-to-hand combat.
Each ability describes a distinct aspect of your character and affects different capabilities and actions.
- Melee attack rolls and attack rolls made with thrown weapons (such as grenades).
- Damage rolls when using melee weapons or thrown weapons (but not grenades).
- Athletics skill checks.
- Strength checks (for breaking down doors and the like).
- How much gear your character can carry.
- Ranged attack rolls, such as those made with projectile weapons and energy weapons, as well as some Spells.
- Energy Armor Class (EAC) and Kinetic Armor Class (KAC).
- Reflex saving throws (for leaping out of harm’s way).
- Acrobatics, Piloting, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth skill checks.
- Stamina Points: Stamina points represent the damage your character can shrug off before it starts to be a problem. If this score changes enough to alter its modifier, your character’s Stamina Points increase or decrease accordingly.
- Fortitude saves (to resist diseases, poisons, and similar threats).
Intelligence represents how well your character learns and reasons, and is often associated with knowledge and education. Animals have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2, and any creature capable of understanding a language has a score of at least 3. A character with an Intelligence score of 0 is unconscious. Your character’s Intelligence modifier is factored into the following:
- The number of bonus languages your character knows at the start of the game. Even if this modifier is a penalty, your character can still use her starting languages unless her Intelligence score is lower than 3.
- The number of skill ranks gained each level, though your character always gets at least 1 skill rank per level.
- Computers, Culture, Engineering, Life Science, Medicine, Physical Science, and some Profession skill checks.
- Bonus technomancer Spells. The minimum Intelligence score needed to cast a technomancer Spell is 10 + the Spell’s level.
- Will saving throws (for defending against things like magical mind control).
- Mysticism, Perception, Sense Motive, Survival, and some Profession skill checks.
- Bonus mystic Spells. The minimum Wisdom score needed to cast a mystic Spell is 10 + the Spell’s level.
Charisma measures a character’s personality, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and appearance. A character with a Charisma score of 0 is unconscious. Your character’s Charisma modifier is factored into the following:
- Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate, and some Profession skill checks.
- Checks that represent attempts to influence others, including the envoy’s Extraordinary abilities.
Ability Modifiers and Ability Checks
The right-hand column in Table 2–1 shows the ability modifier corresponding to each ability score. This modifier is applied to die rolls related to your abilities, such as skill checks, attacks, and more. Nearly every roll is affected by your abilities in some way, often with additional modifiers from other sources, but they generally involve your ability modifier rather than your actual ability score. When you determine your ability scores, make sure to note their respective ability modifiers on your character sheet. If a change to an ability score ever alters its modifier, be sure to adjust any statistics that rely on that modifier.
Sometimes, a situation or ability might require you to attempt something called an ability check. In such instances, instead of attempting a check involving both your abilities and other factors (such as skills or saving throws that reflect your training and expertise), you attempt a check using just 1d20 + your ability modifier. This represents you trying to use your raw, untrained talent for that particular ability, such as attempting a Strength check to kick down a door.
In the rare instance that you need to determine ability modifiers beyond the numbers presented in the table, such as for extreme high-level play, ability modifiers can be determined by subtracting 10 from the ability score and dividing that result by 2, rounding down if the final result is a fraction. For example, an ability score of 41 would have an ability modifier of +15 (since 41 – 10 = 31 and 31 ÷ 2 = 15-1/2, which rounds down to 15).
Leveling Up and Ability Scores
Every 5 levels (at 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th levels), you get to increase and customize your ability scores. Each time you reach one of these level thresholds, choose four of your ability scores to increase. If that ability score is 17 or higher (excluding any ability increases from personal upgrades), it increases permanently by 1. If it’s 16 or lower, it increases permanently by 2. You can’t apply more than one of these increases to the same ability score at a given level, but unlike at 1st level, these increases can make your ability scores go higher than 18.
You might decide to increase your Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, and Wisdom. Because your Intelligence is 17 or higher, it would increase by 1 to a score of 19. The other three scores would increase by 2, giving you these final scores:
The next time you can increase your ability scores, you could decide to increase those same abilities again, or you could pick a different subset.
Health and Resolve
This is an adventure game, which means that two very important qualities are key to your survival: The amount of punishment you can take without dying, and your ability to stick to your convictions in the face of adversity. These are tracked through three different systems of points: Hit Points (HP), Stamina Points (Sp), and Resolve Points (RP).
Hit Points and Stamina Points are tightly intertwined: while Stamina Points represent how many bruises and dings you can reliably shake off without suffering any lasting damage, Hit Points reflect how many actual injuries you can sustain while still staying upright and conscious. In contrast, Resolve Points (RP) are more of an indicator of your willpower and gumption, and this pool measures your ability to overcome your physical limitations as well as to employ core tenets of your training, even when the odds seem long.
Each system of points is described in detail below.
Hit Points and Stamina Points
Hit Points (HP) measure how robust and healthy you are—a reduction in Hit Points represents physical wounds, illness, or another serious physical impairment. Stamina Points (Sp), by contrast, measure your readiness and energy, and they replenish more quickly and easily. When you take damage—whether from an attack, a Spell, a disease, or some other source—it reduces your pool of Stamina Points first, and any damage beyond your remaining Stamina Points comes out of your Hit Points. Think of Stamina Points like your ability to shake off a punch; the first one may not do any lasting damage, but eventually you get worn down and start hurting. If your Hit Points ever drop to 0, you are dying and must become stable, or you might die for good (see Injury and Death).
You replenish your Stamina Points by spending 1 Resolve Point and taking 10 uninterrupted minutes to rest and catch your breath. Up to once per day, you can regain some Hit Points and all of your Stamina Points after 8 full hours of uninterrupted rest (see Regaining Daily-Use Abilities and Spells; an 8-hour rest counts as a 10-minute rest to regain SP), but you can also regain them through the use of magic or technology. Sources of magical and technological healing state in their descriptions whether they restore Hit Points or Stamina Points. Usually, healing can restore points you’ve lost, but can’t raise your total capacity, though certain types of magic may temporarily ignore this restriction (see Temporary Hit Points below).
Calculating Hit Points
At 1st level, you gain the number of Hit Points listed in your race entry + the number of Hit Points listed in your class’s description, reflecting the overall durability of your race as well as the hardiness you’ve gained from your training.
At 2nd level and at every level thereafter, you gain the number of Hit Points listed in your class’s description, reflecting the greater influence your training and experience has played in your toughness.
Calculating Stamina Points
Your Stamina Points are determined by your Constitution score and your class. At each level, you gain a number of Stamina Points equal to the SP value listed in your class description + your Constitution modifier (even if your Constitution modifier is negative, the total amount gained can never be less than 0).
Temporary Hit Points
Some forms of magic can give you temporary Hit Points that last for only a limited amount of time, and can even exceed your normal number of Hit Points. If you have any temporary Hit Points, whether or not they exceed your maximum, you lose these temporary points first before you lose Stamina Points. Temporary Hit Points can’t be restored through healing.
Let’s say you’re making a brand-new 1st-level character: a human soldier. You find the entry for humans and see that a human receives 4 Hit Points at 1st level. You then look at the soldier, which tells you that a soldier gains 7 Hit Points at each level, giving your character a total of 11 Hit Points at 1st level. The class entry also tells you that a soldier receives Stamina Points equal to 7 + his Constitution modifier at each level. You go back and check your abilities. Let’s say that after rolling and applying your soldier’s racial traits, he has a Constitution score of 14, which means his Constitution modifier is +2. So your soldier has 9 Stamina Points (7 + 2) at 1st level. Remember, you’re adding only his ability modifier (+2), not the ability score itself!
Once your soldier has gone on a few adventures and gained enough experience to advance to 2nd level, he gains additional Hit Points based on his class. In this case, he gains 7 more Hit Points—remember, your character gets Hit Points from his race only at 1st level! For his Stamina Points, you do the same thing you did at 1st level, adding 7 Stamina Points from his class and 2 Stamina Points from his Constitution modifier. So your soldier now has a total of 18 Hit Points and 18 Stamina Points.
As a hero, you have resolve—an intrinsic reservoir of grit and luck tied to your talents and often enhanced by your class. Your pool of Resolve Points (RP) allows you to carry on even when everything seems lost.
Calculating Resolve Points
You have a number of Resolve Points equal to half your character level (rounded down, but minimum 1) + the modifier of your key ability score (the ability score that is most important to your class). Even if you have a negative modifier, you always have at least 1 Resolve Point.
For example, let’s say you’re creating a 1st-level mystic (whose key ability score is Wisdom) with a Wisdom score of 16 (a modifier of +3). Half your character’s level rounded down would normally be 0, so thank goodness for that minimum of 1! Add in the 3 from your Wisdom modifier, and your mystic has a total of 4 Resolve Points.
Spending and Regaining Resolve Points
Resolve Points can be spent in a number of ways, and many classes let you spend them to activate class features and regain resources. Some abilities don’t require you to spend points, but are active only as long as you have a minimum number of Resolve Points available—for instance, an envoy with at least 1 Resolve Point remaining in her pool can use her expertise class feature to roll an extra die on Sense Motive checks without spending the point. Your Resolve Points can never drop below 0. Dying causes you to lose Resolve Points. If you would lose Resolve Points due to dying and don’t have any remaining, you’re dead. (See Injury and Death for more information.)
Up to once per day, characters can regain any spent Resolve Points by getting a full 8 hours of uninterrupted rest.
General Uses for Resolve Points
Besides expending Resolve Points to activate class features, they are useful for a few key general purposes. Any character with Resolve Points can use them to regain Stamina Points, to stabilize after sustaining grievous wounds, or to rally and stay in the fight, as described below.
Regaining Stamina Points
You can spend 1 Resolve Point to regain lost Stamina Points, up to your normal maximum. Using this ability requires 10 minutes of uninterrupted rest—if you’re interrupted partway through this process, you neither regain your Stamina Points nor lose the Resolve Point. You must take 10 consecutive minutes of uninterrupted rest to use this ability and cannot simply rest in intervals that total 10 minutes.
If you are dying and you have enough Resolve Points, you can spend a number of Resolve Points equal to one-quarter your maximum (minimum 1 RP, maximum 3 RP) on your turn to immediately stabilize. This means you’re no longer dying, but you remain unconscious. If you don’t have at least 3 Resolve Points remaining when you are dying, you lose Resolve Points as per the dying rules (see Injury and Death).
Staying in the Fight
If you are stable and have enough Resolve Points, or if you were knocked unconscious from nonlethal damage, you can spend 1 Resolve Point at the start of your turn to heal 1 Hit Point. You are no longer dying, you immediately become conscious, and you can take your turn as normal. You can spend Resolve Points to regain Hit Points only if you are at 0 Hit Points and are stable, and you cannot heal more than 1 Hit Point in this way. You cannot spend Resolve Points to both stabilize and stay in the fight in the same round.
Alignment is a quick way to characterize an individual’s personality, morality, and predilections. It encompasses two axes: good-evil and law-chaos. Each axis works as a spectrum, with a neutral option in the middle, and the two axes can be combined in any form, resulting in nine alignment combinations.
|Good||Lawful Good||Neutral Good||Chaotic Good|
|Neutral||Lawful Neutral||Neutral||Chaotic Neutral|
|Evil||Lawful Evil||Neutral Evil||Chaotic Evil|
Good Versus Evil
The good-evil axis describes a character’s sense of morality. A good alignment implies altruism, desire to help the innocent, and respect for the life and dignity of sentient beings. An evil alignment implies selfishness, willingness to harm and oppress others for fun or profit, and lack of compassion. Neutral characters might see themselves as outside the moral spectrum or simply lack the commitment to make personal sacrifices to help others.
Law Versus Chaos
The law-chaos axis describes a character’s flexibility and adherence to rules. A lawful alignment implies keeping one’s word, respecting authority and tradition, following laws or a personal code, and judging those who fail to do the same. A chaotic alignment implies desire for freedom, making one’s own decisions, and distrust of authority. Neutral characters fall between these extremes, with no inherent compulsion to obey or rebel. Note that lawful does not necessarily mean obeying the laws of a given society—a lawful character may have a strong personal sense of honor at odds with his society or might adhere to the practices of his native planet instead of those of a planet he’s currently visiting.
The Nine Alignments
These descriptions are just suggestions, and different characters may act more or less in accordance with their alignments. While player characters can be of any alignment, it’s usually easiest to have everyone in a party be good or neutral, as mixing good and evil characters can create unwanted conflict and frustration.
You act as a good person is expected by society to act. You’re honorable and compassionate, you keep your word, and you fight injustice in a disciplined fashion. You believe that rules and structure are necessary for a healthy society, but only if they help people do the right thing. Other alignments may see you as simplistic and as valuing ideological purity over progress.
You believe in doing the right thing and helping others, but you don’t bother enforcing an ideology. You have little time for self-righteousness from either law-keepers or rebels, and you don’t care if others think of you as inconsistent or detached as long as you’re working toward the greater good.
You follow your conscience and make up your own mind. You resent anyone’s attempt to limit you, and you know that sometimes you have to break the rules to do what is right. While you generally have good intentions, people can sometimes find you difficult to work with and unpredictable.
You follow a code, and don’t willingly break it, whether that’s societal law or a personal ethos. You feel that order and organization are the only things holding society together, and while you believe in authority, you don’t confuse it with morality—the system may hurt as well as help, but it’s better than no system at all. Others may resent your inflexibility, but at least you’re dependable.
You may hold an aloof philosophical commitment to balance and neutrality, but more likely you simply don’t hold any particular inclinations toward other alignments. You likely prefer good to evil, but don’t go out of your way to uphold it. You act in your own self-interest and may be keenly aware that the universe considers mortal beliefs to be irrelevant. Nonsentient creatures are always considered neutral, as they lack the self-awareness to make informed choices and simply act on instinct or programming.
You follow your whims and don’t worry about the consequences. You resent attempts to control you, and you act in your own self-interest. You’re not committed to spreading anarchy—that would require too much conviction—and your actions aren’t random, but merely unconstrained. You don’t enjoy hurting others, but you don’t worry overmuch about protecting them. You believe in living for the moment and reinventing yourself as necessary.
You believe that a civilization supported by laws, hierarchies, and social contracts is inherently preferable to chaos. At the same time, you believe in using those rules to get what you want, regardless of whom it hurts. While you’re always thinking about how to get ahead, you’re willing to serve and rise through the ranks if necessary. You keep your word and obey the letter of the law, and you care about tradition, loyalty, and order—but not freedom, dignity, or life. While you may cite the greater good, ultimately your actions are meant to benefit only you.
You’re the embodiment of amoral self-interest. You do whatever you feel like without remorse, and have neither a fondness for order nor a need to create conflict. You lack empathy and may harm others just for the fun of it. Though you’re capable of long-term planning and working in a group, you turn on allies instantly if it is to your benefit.
You adore conflict and destruction, as it gives you the chance to show your strength. You follow your greed, hatred, and lust without restraint, making you brutal and unpredictable. You don’t really understand loyalty and would rather be feared than loved. You have an instinctive desire to smash anything that tries to restrain you.
How To Use Alignment
Alignment is a descriptive tool meant to help describe a given character’s personality, rather than a straitjacket determining what someone can or can’t do. A good character can still do evil, and an evil character can do good. In some cases, a GM may decide that an action is drastic enough to result in a shift of alignment (see Changing Alignment below). More often, though, it simply reflects the fact that alignment is not absolute—no mortal character is perfectly good or evil, lawful or chaotic. Differing cultural practices and belief systems, combined with the fact that even people (or gods!) who share similar values rarely see eye to eye on everything, mean that an alignment can encompass a wide range of contradictory beliefs and actions. A character might be generally kind, generous, and law abiding, yet hold some belief or prejudice that other characters find abhorrent. Another character might decide that killing one innocent in order to save many is a sad but acceptable course of action. Whether these characters could be considered lawful good is left up to you and your gaming group—and as with all rules, the GM is the ultimate arbiter of what it means to be a given alignment.
In addition to its use for individual characters, alignment is also listed in stat blocks for creatures and races. The listed alignment doesn’t represent something hard-coded into a creature’s genes, but rather the most common alignment found in the species or society. With the exception of outsiders like angels or devils who are literally physical Manifestations of certain alignments or ideologies, individuals of any species can be of any alignment, and under the right circumstances, an individual creature from a race normally described with one alignment may buck the trend and turn out to be quite different.
Alignment, like the moral philosophies it attempts to represent, is messy, uncertain, and culturally relative, but the ultimate goal is to have fun. If you don’t enjoy the interactions facilitated by the alignment system, feel free to ignore it altogether.
While certain forms of magic may operate differently depending on a character’s alignment, and gods rarely grants Spells to worshipers whose alignments oppose their own, alignment is primarily a storytelling aid rather than a rule. If a GM feels a player’s actions aren’t reflecting his character’s chosen alignment, she should let him know—and if the divergence is extreme enough, she may allow or require the player to change his character’s alignment accordingly. Likewise, if a player wants to alter his character’s alignment to reflect shifts in his character, he should talk with his GM about making that change (though frequent changes likely represent a chaotic alignment).
Occasionally the rules dealing with alignment refer to “steps”—this means the number of alignment shifts between two alignments (as they appear on the Alignment diagram above). Note that diagonally adjacent alignments are separated by two “steps”; a lawful neutral character is one step away from a lawful good alignment and three steps from chaotic evil.
As player characters overcome challenges, they gain experience points (also called “XP”) as a quantification of everything they’ve learned and practiced. As the PCs attain more experience points, they advance in character level, gaining new and improved abilities at each level. Characters advance in character level (or “level up”) when they earn specific amounts of experience points—the Experience Point Total column of Table 2–4: Character Advancement shows the experience points needed to reach each level. Typically, leveling up occurs at the end of a game session, when your GM awards that session’s XP, or between the end of that session and the start of the next.
The process of advancing a character works in much the same way as generating a character, except that your previous choices concerning race, ability scores, class, skills, theme, and feats cannot be changed. Adding a level generally gives you new class features; additional skill ranks to spend; more Hit Points, Stamina Points, and Resolve Points; and possibly an additional feat or theme benefit, or even extra ability points (see Table 2–4: Character Advancement).
Follow the steps below to advance your character.
Step 1: Apply Any Ability Increases
Every 5 levels, you get to increase and customize your character’s ability scores. Each time he reaches one of these level thresholds (5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th—see Table 2–4), choose four of his ability scores to increase. If a chosen score is 17 or higher (excluding ability increases from personal upgrades), it increases permanently by 1. If it’s 16 or lower, it increases by 2. You can’t apply more than one of these increases to the same ability score for a given level. Unlike during character creation, ability score increases gained from leveling up can push your character’s ability scores above 18.
If an ability score increase results in a change to an ability modifier, don’t forget to adjust any statistics that rely on that modifier, such as attack bonuses, saving throws, total skill bonuses, Resolve Points, Stamina Points, and the DCs of class features and Spells. Note that ability score increases are effective retroactively; when your character’s ability score increases, it increases his total number of ability-based statistics—things like Resolve Points, Stamina Points, or skill ranks—as if he had the higher value at previous levels as well. For example, a mechanic with an Intelligence score of 17 has a modifier of +3, and thus gets 7 skill ranks to spend at each level. If at 4th level he increases his Intelligence score to 18, he’ll have a modifier of +4, and thus get 8 skill ranks to spend from this level forward—but he’ll also get 3 additional ranks to assign, reflecting the ranks he would have received if he’d had an Intelligence score of 18 at his first 3 levels.
Step 2: Add New Class Features
Your character’s can either advance to the next level of his current class or take a level in a different class (see Multiclassing below). Increase your character’s Hit Points by the number that his class grants him, increase his Stamina Points by the amount specified in the class plus his Constitution modifier, adjust his saving throw and attack bonuses, and integrate the class features he gains at that level (including choosing any new Spells he has gained if he’s a spellcaster). In addition any new class features he gains, some class features he received at lower levels may improve at higher levels, so be sure to check whether his existing class features have gotten better.
Step 3: Add New Feats or Theme Benefits
Your character gets a new feat at every odd-numbered level. This is in addition to any bonus feats he might get from his class. When choosing a new feat, be sure to check the prerequisites to make sure your character qualifies for it.
Your character gains a new benefit from his theme at 6th level, 12th level, and 18th level.
Step 4: Invest Skill Ranks
Whenever your character levels up, he gains a number of new skill ranks based on his class and his Intelligence modifier; as noted in Step 1, he may also gain skill ranks as a result of his Intelligence modifier increasing. Invest these new skill ranks in skills (he can invest in existing skills or new skills), keeping in mind that his ranks in any one skill can’t exceed his character level. If any of his ability score modifiers increased in Step 1, don’t forget to adjust those bonuses to his skill checks.
|Level||Experience Point Total||Ability Increase||Special|
|1st||—||—||1st feat, theme benefit|
Most characters continue to advance in their chosen classes for their entire careers, gaining ever more impressive abilities. Sometimes, however, you might want your character to cross-train and pick up some of the abilities of a different class. When such a character levels up, instead of gaining the next level of his existing class, he can add a level of a new class, adding all the 1st-level class features of that class to his existing class features. This is referred to as “multiclassing.”
For example, let’s say a 5th-level soldier decides to dabble in the magical arts and adds 1 level of technomancer when he next advances in level (such a combination of levels is commonly written “soldier 5/technomancer 1”). Such a character retains the class features and abilities of a 5th-level soldier—his bonus feats, style techniques, armor and weapon proficiencies, and other class features—but also gains the class features and abilities of a 1st-level technomancer, such as the ability to cast 1st-level technomancer Spells and the technomancer’s Spell cache class feature. He adds all of the Hit Points, Stamina Points, base attack bonuses, and saving throw bonuses from the 1st-level technomancer on top of those gained from being a 5th-level soldier, and is still considered a 6th-level character (his character level is 6th.)
It’s important to keep track of which effects and prerequisites rely on a character level versus class level. For example, feats might require a minimum class level or character level, while almost all class features are based on the character’s level in the class that grants that feature. Casting Spells is an exception—when determining caster level, a character adds together his levels from different Spellcasting classes (such as mystic and technomancer).
A multiclassed character can have more than one key ability score. For each class, your key ability score remains the same as normal for that class (and for the class features that rely on that score). For any key ability score calculation not tied to class, such as determining your maximum Resolve Points, use whichever key ability score has the highest value (and therefore the highest modifier).
You can take as many levels of as many different classes as you want, but while it might seem tempting to be a dilettante, spreading yourself thin comes with a cost. Since you always start at the ground floor with a new class, it’s easy to end up with a bunch of low-level abilities that can’t compete with the higher-level abilities of a single-class character of the same level. For instance, an envoy 3/soldier 4/technomancer 3 may be well-rounded, but she’s going to get stomped into pudding by a 10th-level soldier, and she will be consistently outperformed by the other 10th-level characters in her party.
In general, decisions made about your character when leveling up are permanent; you can’t go back and change his ability scores, feats, skills, and so forth later on. For characters who desperately want to change their past and replace abilities, however, there is a technological solution: The mnemonic editor, a device by which old knowledge and abilities can be edited out of your character’s brain and permanently replaced with new ones, thus allowing you to partially rebuild your character—with your GM’s permission, of course. For more information, see the device’s description.