Character Creation (Paradox Rules)


The following rules are for players creating characters for games using the Paradox Rules system. For other games, please use these Character Creation rules instead. To create a character using Paradox rules, each player creates a character to play (otherwise known as their player character or PC). The process is shown step–by–step and then explained more thoroughly below:
1. Create a character concept.
2. Pick Problems.
3. Pick a Drive.
4. Distribute 21 points amongst 9 attributes.
5. Distribute 21 points amongst 24 skills.
6. Define Relationships to other PCs and NPCs.

7. Select Anchors.
8. Pick an Iconic Item.

Step One: Character Concept


Choose a Background

First, create your character’s concept. To help get a handle on your character’s identity and motivations, come up with a short, two– or three–word description of them. This usually, but not always, includes some idea of a career (e.g., night-stalking journalist, depressed trucker, psychic orphan, petulant gambler). Further develop your character by considering how the character looks, dresses, thinks, speaks, and acts. Come up with a character name.

Make a Character Page

Copy the character sheet that’s posted here. Create a wiki page for your character. Create an Obsidian Portal account, too, if you don’t already have one.

Post a physical and psychological description of your character, along with a piece of artwork for their portrait. Portraits must be black and white photos. I am quite picky when it comes to artistic additions to the site, so I will be happy to propose, vet, or edit your portrait if asked. Biographies are optional but encouraged.

Since competition between PCs is allowed in this game, we keep PC stats secret between the player and GM. Click the “Add Player Secret” button and paste the character sheet there. Don’t paste it in the biography section, or anyone will be able to read it. Similarly, if there are parts of your character’s background or psychology that you do not want players to initially know, place them in the ‘secret’ section.

Step Two: Problems


Next, decide what often gets your character into trouble. These could be a personal weakness, a recurring enemy, or an important obligation—anything that makes your life complicated. You should choose Problems that you want to explore during the game, as they help your GM understand the types of stories and Challenges you want to have. Over time, a character’s Problems may change–or multiply.

Characters must begin with at least two Problems. One Problem must be the specific type of parasomnia your character suffers from, at least while in Witiko Falls. Any other Problem can be anything of your choosing (so long as it fits the above criteria).

Example Problems (non-Parasomnia): The Falls High football captain has a crush on my sister–and he’s a jerk, I have polio-crippled legs, I live with my schizophrenic aunt, the Coyote Child is stalking me, My parents are divorcing, I’m an alcoholic, Talking to strangers gives me panic attacks.

Example Problems (Parasomnia): somnambulism (sleep–walking), somniloquy (sleep–talking), confusional arousal, sleep terrors, narcolepsy, nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder, sleep paralysis.

Step Three: Drive


Your Drive is the reason why your character exposes themselves to dangerous and difficult situations to solve mysteries with the other player characters. It helps you to understand your character, and provides part of the motivation or rationale for why your character would personally explore new mysteries. Over time, a character’s Drive may change. Sometimes, a character’s Drive and Problem may be related (e.g., Everybody in town distrusts my family and I’m going to clear my family’s name), but this is not always the case, or needs to be.

Once per game session, when your character is acting in accordance with their Drive, you can gain an automatic success on a dice roll. You can use this ability after a failed roll, or even after a successful roll in order to get an extra success.

Example Drives: I hate secrets–that I don’t know, I love puzzles, I need something to distract me from problems at home, I know there’s a conspiracy–but that won’t stop me, Life is too short to be afraid to try new things, Nostrum’s up to no good–and I’m gonna prove it, Other people might suffer like my dad if we don’t find out the truth, the Spooks won’t get away with it.

Step Four: Attributes


Now you set your character’s basic capabilities. Attributes are fundamental traits divided into Mental, Physical, and Social categories. Mental Attributes include Intelligence, Wisdom, and Resolve. Physical Attributes include Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina. Social Attributes include Presence, Manipulation, and Composure.

Attributes range for 1 to 5, at least for humans. One point represents someone who is below average in that capability, while two points represent someone average. A character with three or four points in an Attribute is above average or extremely talented, respectively, while five points represents the peak of human ability.

To create your character, distribute 21 points in the above nine Attributes, with at least 1 point and no more than 5 points in each Attribute. Below is a description of all nine Attributes.

Mental Attributes (Intelligence, Wits, Resolve) represent a characters mental resilience, intellect, and acuity.
Intelligence is your character’s book smarts and ability to process data. It represents memory, general knowledge, and ability to solve complex and difficult problems.
Wits represents quick thinking and improvisation. A character with a high Wits responds quickly to new information and situations. It also represents perception and the ability to notice details and subtle tells.
Resolve represents your character’s patience, concentration, and determination. A high Resolve allows a character to focus despite distractions or discouragement.

Physical Attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina) reflect a character’s body control and fitness.
Strength is a character’s muscular power and ability to use the force of her body. It is used for a large number of physical tasks, and is important for most applications of violence.
Dexterity represents hand-eye coordination, agility, and physical speed. A character with a high Dexterity has fast reactions, a good sense of balance, and accurate control of physical force.
Stamina is your character’s general fitness and health. It is used for sustained effort, as well as determining how much physical punishment your body can take.

Social Attributes (Presence, Manipulation, Composure) reflect your character’s ability to navigate social situations and deal with others.
Presence is a character’s raw charisma, assertiveness, and ability to command. Characters with a high Presence dominate a room and are adept at changing people’s thoughts and moods.
Manipulation represents your character’s ability to choose his words, mask his intentions, and convince others to go along with his ideas.
Composure is a character’s ability to keep control of her emotions and resist others’ manipulations. It also represents poise, dignity, and the ability to keep a level head when under fire.

Step Five: Skills


Skills are learned and practiced abilities, rather than the innate abilities that Attributes represent. Skills reflect a character’s origins and interests, and can be acquired in many ways, from institutionalized learning to hands-on experience. Like Attributes, Skills are divided up into the Mental, Physical, and Social categories.

Having no points in a Skill means that you have no training with it, and are barely capable. One point means you have cursory training or dabble in the Skill, while two points means that you can use the Skill at a professional level. Three points represent excellent training or experience, four is outstanding, and five points mean you are one of the world’s absolute best in that skill.

Distribute 21 points among the following Skills in whatever way best fits your character concept. Below are all twenty four Skills by category.

Mental Skills

Academics: Academics represents general higher education and knowledge of arts and humanities. It covers topics like history, language, literature, law, and economics. It is a very broad Skill that covers general knowledge in all of these areas. The Academics Skill often represents the amount of schooling a character has. However, some characters are self-taught or have learned a great deal about relevant topics without actually setting foot inside a didactic classroom. Also, some people with advanced degrees pay no attention to topics outside their area of expertise, and have a low rating in Academics.

Computer: Almost everyone in the modern day can turn on a computer, use the internet, and perform basic searches. This Skill represents a character’s ability beyond that level. Having the Computer Skill allows the character to develop programs, diagnose and repair major software and hardware problems, and perform more carefully focused and effective searches for data. It can also be used for things like digging into a file system, finding hidden or encrypted files, cracking encryption, hacking into computer systems, or sabotaging computer networks.

Crafts: The Crafts Skill represents a character’s knowledge of repairing, designing, and creating things. It covers tasks like rebuilding a car engine, laying a foundation for a house, or sewing clothing. It also has some overlap with Expression for purposes of creating paintings or sculpture. In general, Crafts should be used when you are trying to make something that is accurate (a scale model, an eye-witness sketch, or a reconstruction of a damaged manuscript) or useful for a specific task, as opposed to something that is being created to be beautiful or convey emotion. A character using the Crafts Skill will generally need specific tools and materials. They have the knowledge to make something, but they usually cannot do it with their bare hands. However, this generally should not cause them problems unless they are in a situation where the tools or materials are rare or difficult to access.

Investigation: Investigation is a character’s ability to find and put together clues and solve mysteries and puzzles. It represents the ability to think laterally and make useful intuitive leaps, find meaningful patterns in confusion, and draw conclusions from the available data.
Unlike passive perception tasks (which are generally represented by Wits+Composure), Investigation is a Skill that the character actively uses to find clues and information and create a more concrete picture of the situation.

Medicine: Medicine is a character’s knowledge of the human body and the medical techniques used to keep it healthy. It represents a practical and applicable knowledge of biology, anatomy, and chemistry. A character with the Medicine Skill can use it to treat wounds and diseases, diagnose illness, apply first aid, or even perform surgery.

Occult: The Occult Skill is a character’s knowledge of myth, folktales, and urban legends about the strange things that exist in the dark corners of the world. Occult can help a character separate fiction and myth from fact and determine which stories are likely to be actual supernatural events and which are just rumors. That said, there are a lot of strange things out there, and many of them defy easy categorization. The Occult Skill doesn’t necessarily give a character a line on the absolute “truth” about what’s going on, but instead represents an array of knowledge about encounters and theories that others have had, and the ability to build on those theories herself.

Politics: Politics represents a character’s knowledge of political bodies, figures, and issues. It helps a character to navigate bureaucracies and play the political game to get what he wants. He knows how to follow the money and how to play rivals off each other. A character with this knowledge may have run for office, worked for the government, or may simply be a follower of local politics.

Science: Science is a character’s understanding of the natural and physical sciences. It includes subjects like biology, physics, chemistry, geology, and meteorology. Science is useful for understanding how the world works. It also helps characters make excellent use of resources and helps with the design of and theory behind many items that can be made using Crafts. A character with a high Science Skill can explain what chemicals and proportions are needed to make an explosive, or determine the best materials for making a cage to hold a strange creature.

Physical Skills

Athletics: Athletics broadly covers a number of different areas of physical ability. It represents training in specific sports, from kayaking or parkour to professional sports like basketball or football. It can be used with any general application of physical power and coordination, such as running a marathon, jumping between buildings, climbing a fence, or dodging threats. It also determines a character’s ability with thrown weapons in a fight.

Brawl: The Brawl Skill is the fine art of hurting another person with no weapons other than the character’s own body. It can represent martial arts training, bar fight experience, or simply a bad temper and a willingness to hurt others. It covers throwing punches and kicks, but also things like grappling, throws, head butts, and blocking in hand–to–hand combat. Brawl is generally rolled with Strength in a hand–to–hand fight, but Dexterity is also common.

Drive: Drive is a broad Skill used for the operation of any motorized vehicle. It is used for maneuvering and controlling automobiles, motorcycles, and even boats. It’s assumed that pretty much any modern character can perform basic driving under safe conditions, even without this Skill. However, if a character gets involved in a high–speed chase or tries to elude a tail, Drive is used to determine how well they handle themselves. The Drive Skill is needed when the character is in a dangerous or stressful situation, is trying to do something tricky, or is driving at very high speeds.

Firearms: Firearms represents a character’s familiarity and comfort with guns. It reflects her ability to shoot, maintain, and identify any type of personal firearm. This Skill cover pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, and other weapons that can be carried by one person. The Firearms Skill also covers the use of weapons like bows and crossbows. This Skill can represent formal training provided to the police and military. Criminals, hunters, and gun enthusiasts are also likely to have the Firearms Skill, due to hands-on familiarity.

Larceny: Larceny covers the generally-illegal skills of breaking and entering, lock picking, pickpocketing, safecracking, and similar activities. There usually aren’t schools for this sort of thing. Larceny is learned “on the job,” one way or another. In addition to criminal applications, Larceny is used by magicians and illusionists for sleight of hand. Most locksmiths will also have at least a little bit of knowledge of Larceny, as they understand how to open locks. This Skill includes most of the tasks involving actually defeating physical security, or the sleight of hand required to pick a pocket or palm an item. It does not cover sneaking around, hacking and digital crimes, or the social aspects of running a con or distracting a mark.

Stealth: Stealth is a character’s ability to stay hidden, unseen, and unheard. It covers sneaking around in the shadows, blending into a crowd, using a disguise to appear as just another bystander in the background, or taking advantage of an appropriately timed distraction. Any means a character uses to avoid being noticed by those who are looking for her will use this Skill.

Survival: Survival represents a character’s experience and ability to “live off the land.” He knows how to find shelter, gather food, and endure harsh elements and environments. He can use the Survival Skill to find clean drinking water or hunt animals for food, build simple structures, and build a fire. The Survival Skill is not limited to wilderness or rural locales. It can also be used to survive in an urban environment when you have no other way of getting food or shelter. The Survival Skill does not cover dealing with animals beyond hunting. The character can track an animal, but without the Animal Ken Skill, doesn’t understand much about the animal’s behavior. He wouldn’t have much luck trying to calm a bear that found its way into his campsite.

Weaponry: Weaponry is the ability to fight with hand–to–hand weapons. A character with
this Skill can wield knives, swords, baseball bats, or even things like a length of chain or
a chainsaw. If you are using a tool (other than a gun or bow) to do violence to someone, Weaponry is the appropriate Skill to use. While guns are generally more dangerous, there are definitely times when you do not have access to one. You can almost always find something that you can use as a hand weapon, even if it’s just something like a screwdriver or a broom handle.

Social Skills

Animal Ken: Animal Ken represents a character’s understanding of animal behavior. A character can use this Skill to train animals, calm frightened or injured animals, or cow violent and aggressive creatures. Characters with Animal Ken understand how animals think and behave, whether through intuition and respect for animals or analytical observation.

Empathy: Empathy is a character’s ability to read and understand others’ feelings and motivations. It can represent careful observation of body language, tone, and other cues, or it could be an instinctive sense that the character isn’t even entirely aware of. It can help the character detect deception or uncertainty, as well as discern her target’s mood. It does not inherently mean she is agreeing with or even behaving in a friendly fashion towards her target. The Empathy Skill is simply the ability to understand and work with the emotions that someone is feeling.

Expression: Expression is the character’s ability to communicate his thoughts and emotions. It covers writing and spoken communication, art like painting or sculpture, and performances like acting, music, and dance. A character can use this to compose a song or poem, write a book, or put together exactly the right words for a rousing speech.
There is some overlap between this Skill and the Crafts Skill. Expression is generally used when trying to create a piece of artwork specifically for aesthetic or emotional reasons, as op- posed to making an accurate copy or model, which uses Crafts.

Intimidation: Intimidation is the art of using fear to convince others to do what you want. A character can use this Skill for threats, interrogation, subtle implications, or even a direct show of force. It can convince characters to back down from a confrontation, reveal information they don’t want to share, or get them to cooperate against their better judgement. It can’t change their minds, but it can certainly change their behavior.

Persuasion: Persuasion is about using influence, charm, and careful arguments to change minds and influence behavior. It can involve logic and reason, fast talking, or appealing to emotions or baser instincts. Unlike Intimidation, Persuasion doesn’t just involve forcing a character to change how they act, Persuasion is about changing their mind and how they want to act.

Socialize: The Socialize Skill is the art of small talk, polite gestures, and fitting in. It represents your ability to interact with people in a variety of social settings, from dive bars to state dinners. It covers dealing with groups of people and behaving with the right balance of sensitivity, friendliness, etiquette, and dignity for the setting. A character with a high Socialize is the life of the party, or at least able to meet almost anyone she wishes who is at an event.

Streetwise: A character with the Streetwise Skill understands how life on the streets works, and is adept at surviving and thriving by its rules. He can navigate the city, knows who to go to for information or help, and knows where he will be safe. Streetwise characters can make use of the city’s unique resources, buy and sell on the black market, or find out secrets. It’s an important Skill for any character that needs to avoid the law, navigate the dangers in the city, and keep from ending up on the bad sides of the wrong people.

Subterfuge: Subterfuge is the fine art of deception. With Subterfuge, a character can lie convincingly, recognize when she is being lied to, or convey hidden meaning in what she says. She can hide her own motivations and emotions. Generally, this Skill is used to trick others, but some characters learn it in order to avoid being tricked themselves.

Step Six: Relationships


You should determine your character’s relationships to the other player characters. This is best done together with the other players. For example, if one character wants the Relationship “Older sister” to another player character, the players need to agree that their characters are, in fact, siblings. None of the characters should be enemies, but it’s fun to have some tension in the group: love, envy, mistrust, etc. The Relationships can be changed between game sessions as the characters are affected by what happens.

You should also choose two Relationships to non–player characters (NPCs). If you want to write your own Relationships and NPCs, you need to do it together with the GM, so that those NPCs can easily be connected to the game. The NPC Relationships are meant to be a connection between the player characters and the strange things that will start happening as the game is played. NPC Relationships can flesh out antagonists, allies, rivals, mentors, etc. During play, your character’s relationships with likely to grow and change as they interact with these and other NPCs.

Example Relationships: I owe Deputy Lowder for not telling my family, Vice Principal Schoening thinks I’m a slacker, I found out Marvin Swenson is a peeping Tom the hard way, Beatrice Worwood and I trade gossip, Byron Blackplume just gave me a job at the Wigwam Coffee House, Wilson Perry sells PCP to my brother, Mayor Swicegood hates my family.

Players may wish to review extant NPCS (see Personae) or talk with the GM about creating new NPCs.

Step Seven: Anchors


All characters have at least two Anchors, a person or place that you can go to for support, comfort, and care. If a person, it can be a friend, a parent, a teacher, a neighbor, or similar NPC. It cannot be another player character. If a place, it could be a treehouse, a private bedroom, a favorite fishing spot, a family graveyard, or similar location.

If you suffer from one or more Traumas (see Paradox Rules), you can spend a scene with your Anchor and heal any one Trauma. During this scene, you must engage with the Anchor with the appropriate mental or physical closeness (e.g., you let your mom clean and bandage where the Grey Devil bit you, you rest on your grandmother’s porch-swing until your anger passes). If you engage in Challenges during this scene, you do not heal any Traumas. Certain supernaturally–induced Traumas may require more extended or specific actions to resolve.

Step Eight: Items


Some items can be useful to overcome Challenges. Depending on its quality, applicability, and/or necessity, an item can give a penalty or bonus to a dice roll, respectively subtracting or adding extra dice to roll. Most items and character possessions are narrative props or everyday things that are described to give atmosphere but don’t affect dice rolls (e.g., unless you’re a psychiatric runaway or plane crash survivor, you can assume your character has multiple changes of clothes even if they aren’t listed on your character sheet). In other words, you typically don’t need to list or track mundane possessions.

One notable exception is Iconic Items. Your character starts the game with one Iconic Item. This special item gives a bonus die in a situation where it can be used to help you overcome a Challenge. This bonus may represent the item’s exceptional quality, familiarity, or some other more esoteric aspect. In most cases, the item’s bonus only applies to your character–or in some instances, only your character can use their iconic item. Either way, iconic items help define your character, highlighting their interests, talents, history, and/or aspirations.

Character Creation (Paradox Rules)

Witiko Falls: Disillusion Parasomniac Parasomniac