Helgram Game: Character Creation
- Magical Abilities
- Items and Allies
The startup points are 65pt with the basics of shape shift (inherent crisis management plus the basic four forms), and 75pt without. All stats start at Chaos.
Characters will have been born either in the last days of the Bleys as Grand Duke (no earlier than 14,991) or since Ian Cushing-Helgram became Grand Duke in 14,995. As the current year is 15,031, that means that you are no older than 40, and probably somewhat younger than that. You are on your first assignment for the House, and are based out of the Helgram Zócalo. You may occasionally be asked to undertake tasks back in the House proper, or the Courts, but the focus of the game is the Black Zone.
There is an optional character quiz if you wish to fill it out to flesh out your character.
Back to the Helgram Game Main Page
All stats start at Chaos, and partial buy-ups and sell-downs between Chaos and Amber, or Chaos and Human are available: eg Chaos+5 would be better than Chaos, but not up to Amber level; Chaos-5 is worse than Chaos but better than Human.
The main difference for stats is that while Psyche, Strength and Endurance are as per the ADRPG, Warfare has been divided into Combat (your physical skill at weapons, self-defence, etc) and Presence/Command, which is your personal standing, as well as the ability to see the bigger picture, and encourage other people to do as you tell them.
PCs can buy Presence to a maximum of Amber + 10pt (i.e. pay 20pt).
Stuff is available, to a maxium of 5pt in each direction.
Full Logrus initiation is not available to starting Helgram Game characters, although PCs may acquire it during play, depending on circumstances.
However, Broken Logrus and Broken Pattern are options for almost any character (although as a Chaos-based character you’d need to come up with a REALLY good reason why you’d have Broken Pattern!), and most other powers are available. Items are handled by specific house rules, so Conjuration does not exist in the usual ADRPG form, although it is available as a class of magic.
As the Helgram Game is based in Chaos, the costs of shapeshifting are slightly different. For players who choose to take the 65pt version of character creation, which includes ICM + four forms at the start, then the cost of taking that up to full shifting is 20pt (a 5pt “Chaos discount”). However, if they just want to add elements such as facial features or animal forms, the costs are as below.
Likewise, for characters built on 75pt (i.e. they have an effective -10pt of shifting), if they choose to learn shapeshifting later, then the costs will be as per the table.
Shapeshift is split as follows:
|Inherent Crisis Management (ICM)||10||This level of shapeshift is the most basic, and the user has no control over their ability whatsoever. However, it will ensure survival from injuries and in hostile environments. with the proviso that it takes about 1 minute for this to kick in and work. So you need to avoid situations which will get you dead faster than that, or you will still die. This also allows the auto-shapeshift ability, which can cope with major injuries or rapidly changing environmental conditions, however auto-shapeshifting is not a conscious thing and can cause problems in and of itself.|
|Four Forms and ICM||15 or
5 + ICM
|The starting position from which controlled shapeshift develops. This lets the user switch between their human,
animal, demon, and elemental forms. Conservation of mass does not exist between these four basic forms. However, once you take one of them, then you are mass-restricted with other creatures of that kind.Once you have this level of shapeshift you can add any of the following, in any order, for 5pt each, until you reach full basic shapeshift (35pt).
|Shapeshift Wounds||+5||This is a conscious self-healing exercise. It can keep going till you run out of steam. Wound shifting is not instant – it
takes up to a minute to stabilise critical wounds, so if the shifter’s sub-conscious believes that such wounds will kill you, it may trigger auto-shapshifting.
|Modify Extremities||+5||Do you want a claw instead of a finger, or longer arms, shorter legs? This is the one for that.|
|Shift Facial Features||+5||Want to change what you face looks like? Here we go. It is risky to let this one loose without a mirror available – unless
you have practiced a particular shift before, it might not come out perfect first time.
|Animal Forms||+5||This ability lets you assume the forms of normal animals other than your avatar creature, of about the same mass as the form
you started with.
|Full Basic Shapeshift||35||Alternatively, you can choose to buy full basic shapeshift outright, as per the ADRPG.|
For player characters wishing to take their shapeshifting abilities beyond Basic, they must first learn all the segments of basic shapeshifting, unless agreed otherwise with the GM.
To become a Broken Logrus initiate, you need to have taken the 65pt character creation option for shapeshifting (four forms plus Inherent Crisis Management).
Broken Logrus is a down and dirty form of transportation. On the other hand, walking a Broken Logrus doesn’t automatically drive you mad.
|Broken Logrus||10||At basic level, Broken Logrus is very much a personal power: you can move yourself and what you’re carrying by extending a tendril to a specific location and pulling yourself and what you’re carrying to that point. It is also possible to extend a tendril and bring an item to you, although this will be a generic item (e.g. if you look for a chair, you might get anything from a plain wooden chair with four legs, a seat and a back, to a throne). Vision down basic tendrils is limited to a small area, and the range of tendrils is five to ten Shadows, depending on your Psyche. You can’t hear anything down a tendril.
Endurance required: at least Chaos + 5
|Advanced Broken Logrus||25||At advanced level, Broken Logrus is a bit more versatile. As well as moving yourself, you can move half a dozen or so other people, plus what they’re carrying, as long as they remain in physical contact with you. You can also be more specific about items that you look for. Vision down advanced tendrils has a wider field of view, and there is some auditory component. The range of tendrils is twenty to thirty Shadows, depending on your Psyche. In addition, at the advanced level, you can surround yourself with tendrils for a physical and magical defence, although you do need to concentrate to do this.
Endurance required: at least Amber (Chaos + 10)
Trump is reasonably well-known among the general population of House Helgram, and PCs can have had access to training within the Academy. Trump can be bought in the following stages:
|Draw People and Trump Defence||20||This is the basis of all Trump ability. Without this, nothing else can be done, but once you’ve taken it you can buy the following in any order.
Trump defence is the technique for concentrating on your own Trump, to defend against an arcane attack.
|Caller ID||+5||Lets you check through your deck to see who’s calling you, as long as you have drawn a Trump of that person.|
|Draw Places||+5||Allows you to draw Trumps of a place, rather than a person.|
|Trump Sketches||+5||Quick and dirty Trumps which take about twenty minutes to draw, but will only work once or twice. You can only sketch places, once you’ve taken the full “Draw places”.|
|Trump Scrying||+5||The ability to attempt to interpret a scrying of cards done in the manner of a Tarot reading.|
|Basic Trump||40||Alternatively, you can choose to buy full basic Trump outright, as per the ADRPG.|
For player characters wishing to take their Trump skills beyond Basic, they must first learn all the segments of basic Trump, unless agreed otherwise with the GM
All Helgram Game PCs would have enough reality to walk a Broken Pattern. As this is a Chaos-based game, however, any PC wishing to take this Power will need to persuade the GM that they have a good reason to have it! Costs are as follows:
|Broken Pattern||10||The specifics of how Broken Pattern works in the HelgramGame can be found here.|
|Advanced Broken Pattern||25|
Under the Sable Magic System, which I’m also using for the Helgram Game, mages are not taught specific spells, but instead will have a basic grounding in magic of all kinds. At higher levels they can have specialised in one, two or three specific areas, for example offensive magic, defensive magic or healing. Details of magic in House Helgram can be found Magic section of this site.
The Helgram Academy offers a full magical training to members of the House. Potential mages can leave the Junior Common Room with the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in Magic. Those who are invited to stay on into the Senior Common Room can increase that to either Master’s or Doctorate level. The costings are as follows:
|Batchelor (BMg)||15 + 2 for a spell rack||Pretty close to ADRPG sorcery, without the specific need for lynchpins. A mage’s signet can act as a racking item for c12 spells (but will cost 2pt). Racked spells do need to be maintained, which takes a couple of minutes per spell every evening. At this level, mages will have a general grounding in all the magical disciplines, but will probably not have begun to specialise, or if they have, it would at most be one “partial”.|
|Master (MMg)||20||The major differences here are that spells across the board only take 5-10 minutes to cast from scratch, with any areas the mage has better than basic in being at the lower end of that. In addition, spells can be racked mentally – thus dispensing with the need for racking items (and a refund of any racking item cost) – although c12 spells remains the upper limit of what can realistically be maintained. Mentally racked spells still need to be maintained regularly at this level, which takes a minute or so per spell every evening. Development of new spells is faster, and the mages have a lot more flexibility in what they can do. Masters of magic are likely to have either one discipline at “full”, but no partials; or a couple of “partials” but no fulls.|
|Doctor (DMg)||25||The mage is likely to have either one discipline up to specific specialisation level; or two at “full”. They may also have one or two at “partial”. The casting time for spells across the board is just a couple of minutes from scratch, with casting in the mage’s speciality areas, or their commonly-used spells, being faster than that (maybe a minute). Mental racking is available, with maintenance only taking a minute or so per spell per week. However, the spell limit still applies. Mages are also even quicker at working out new spells, or variations on old ones.|
In addition, PCs don’t have to take the whole mage course at once. A character taking 15pt Bachelor level could study further, pay another 5pts, and advance to the next level, although it would take the appropriate amount of downtime/gametime to do: ie roughly a year for Master level and an additional one to two years for full Doctorate.
In addition, with GM agreement, it may be possible to specialise in specific areas of individual magic classes, given the mage a higher effective level in that particular area of a magical discipline, without necessarily having the rest of a class at as high a level. For example, someone with illusion, may choose to become a theatrical mage, and have the equivalent of full specialisation in that area, but perhaps only have basic level in the other parts of illusory magic.
If you feel that being able to rack a dozen spells isn’t enough, you can buy an additional racking item for 5pt, which gives you another dozen spells. However, you still have to refresh and maintain the spells in the second item.
Conjuration can be taken either as a class of magic, as part of a magical degree (as per the Magic System), or the student can choose to forgo studying magic as a whole, and just concentrate on the conjuration of items from scratch, or imbuing living creatures with additional abilities. Potential conjurers still need to have enough Talent to have been accepted for a BMg.
At heart, Conjuration as a single discipline offers a different angle to mech-tech magic. While many of the techniques are similar to those involved in setting powering spells into items, conjuration involves the mage either enhancing an existing item, or creating an item from its basic, unworked materials and giving it purpose by imbuing it with the stuff of Chaos. At the Advanced level, a conjurer doesn’t even need the basic unworked materials to create an item. Conjuration of this style is easiest within the Courts, but is still relatively simple in the Black Zone. Beyond the Black Zone, the stuff of Chaos becomes thinner until you reach the Dancing Mountains, beyond which there are no longer enough loose strands of Chaos to perform this kind of Conjuration.
Once the item has been enhanced or imbued with its abilities, it remains enhanced in perpetuity, even if it is taken beyond the Dancing Mountains. This is in contrast to items made using magical Conjuration, where the enchantments on an item need to be maintained periodically at lower levels. On the other hand, magically conjured items do not have the limitation that they need to include the stuff of Chaos.
At the lower levels, Conjuration is not a discipline with instantaneous applications, but it can be very useful over time.
ADRPG High Compelling does not exist within the Helgram Game.
More details can be found here.
Occasionally, an individual has either an exceedingly weak Talent – i.e not strong enough even to train as the most basic kind of mage; or a flawed or unusual Talent, through which they can demonstrate some kind of unusual affinity or ability. This may be something they have from birth, or it may develop in later life due to specific stresses or experiences. These people are called Sensitives. What specifically makes someone a Sensitive, rather than leaving them with just a weak or broken Talent, is still a matter of great interest and investigation amongst the magical community.
Sensitive abilities can take a number of different forms: examples include the ability to feel magical or other arcane emanations, to unerringly spot black magic and its practitioners, being particularly empathic as far as feeling strong emotions in others, an affinity for the psychic without actually being able to cast spells, being able to seek for something or attune to something and know where it is thereafter, or have what is known in common parlance as Second Sight. There are even some mages who demonstrate the characteristics of Sensitives, which has led to further debate on the nature of this particular ability.
A Sensitive ability can be taken at character creation, although the nature of the Sensitivity needs to be defined at the outset. Occasionally, Sensitive abilities may be acquired in play but in that case, their nature will be defined by the GM.
For a non-mage, Sensitivity costs 10pt; for a mage, it is an additional 5pt over and above their chosen magical level.
The other unusual magical ability, which may itself be a form of Sensitivity, is Power Words. These are handled differently in the Helgram Game than in the ADRPG rules. When a character choose Power Words, they are buying the ability to form them, but it does not give you specific “words”. Instead, the character will have have two or three phrases or concepts. For example:
|“Don’t die!”||A shout of desperation to try to save someone or something you care about|
|“Dammit, I was supposed to look perfect!”||For when you really need to look your best, but fate is conspiring to stop that happening.|
|“Get away from me!”||The person you shout at gets somehow pushed away – for example, by a gust of wind.|
|“Work, damn you!”||A way of getting something which isn’t working, to start working there and then.|
New Power Words can be added during play, if circumstances allow – for example, a desperate situation, where the character ends up trying to dominate the surroundings in desperation, to try to make something happen. Once a Power Word has been formed, it is always available for the future. However, GM agreement is needed to add new words to the list.
Power Words cost 10pt, whether or not the character is a trained mage.
(With acknowledgement to Justin Parsler for the concept)
For the most part, the GM assumes that you will have the basic skills for your place of origin, such as language, knowledge of the customs and culture, history, etc.
If a PC wishes to be exceptional at something, they can buy one or more skills for 1pt per skill. As an indication of what that means, had they been trained in Shadow, they would probably be considered the best on the Shadow at what they do.
Suggestions for skills include: acting, administration, business knowledge, diplomat, etiquette, gambling, investigation, sense of style, tracking, weapons master, xenobiology, etc. Powers-related skills such as magic or a specific Pattern ability cannot be bought in this way.
- 1pt in a skill means you have gained a good grounding in that particular aspect at the Academy, and could persue it as a career.
- 2pt in a skill means that you’re an expert at that skill within House Helgram, and other members of the House may ask/pay for your services.
- 3pt in a skill means that you’re one of the best in the Courts, and people from other Houses may ask you to consult.
Helgram Game characters will be fluent in the House language (spoken and written) and Thari (primarily spoken, with written to at least ‘O level/GSCE/10th grade’ standard).
There is also a general Black Zone trade language which allows the inhabitants of different Black Zone worlds to communicate. This serves a similar purpose to English and Hindi in India, as the common second language among many different primary languages and dialects, and would have been studied to at least ‘O level/GSCE/10th grade’ standard, spoken and written.
A Clarification on Combat Skills
If a skill is bought in a specific weapon or combat style, then effectively the PC uses that specific weapon or discipline at an effective higher combat/strength (as applicable) to their basic stat. However, there is a law of diminishing returns. The benefit accrued by buying skills in the same weapon increases as follows: 1st skill level, 10pt benefit; 2nd, 5pt; 3rd, 3pt; 4th and 5th, 1pt each. Therefore the maximum benefit over the character’s base combat is 20pt if the character buys five skills in that particular weapon or discipline.
Items and Allies
Items are also handled somewhat differently within the Helgram Game, as Conjuration does not exist in its ADRPG form. Items are available in two kinds: Personal Items and Items of Power. Living creatures cannot usually be bought as items, except with GM agreement.
|Personal Item||5||This covers items of significance to the character, but without actual Power. Examples would include swords, parasols, armour, magical gadgets. Details of what they can do must be agreed with the GM.
Living creatures cannot usually be bought as items, except with GM agreement. Items purely for boosting stats are not allowed.
Mages can also buy ONE additional racking item for 5pt, which gives them instant access to an extra 12 spells.
|Item of Power||10||Items with actual Power in them, such as Trump or Shadow travel, or blades like Greyswandir and Werewindle. These are only available with GM consent.|
Allies, Family Friends and Devotees cost as per ADRPG. Non-family (i.e. 1pt) allies can have quantity multipliers applied to them; Family Friends and Devotees cannot.