Character creation in RtA consists of several steps – determine Background (Unemployed, Working Poor, Rural, Blue Collar, White Collar, Professional or Entrepreneurial), which has some impact on how costly it is for characters to purchase some skills; Age (Teenager, Young Adult, Adult, Experienced, Veteran), which determines Ability and Skill points available … then choose five of the six Abilities (Health, Cunning, Aptitude, Deduction and Command) and roll for the sixth (Luck), on a 1-7+ scale (normal human maximum is 6, and the normal characteristic level is 3-4); choose Quirks (Positive or Negative, costing Ability Points), which are character defining … well, Quirks, and which are limited byCareers (see below) … including such favourable things as Ambidextrous, Internal Compass, (Military) Rank and Reputation and such unfavourable things as Clumsy, Fugitive, Pacifist, and Thousand Yard Stare.
Abilities are refined by the use of Focuses, which normally add +/- 1 or +/- 2 to a specific area of an Ability. So, for example, you could haveCunning (+1 Emotional Reading, -1 Hearing and Interpreting Sounds).
After the basic Character is thus fleshed out, you proceed to choose from a wide variety of Careers, both those that are primarily Civilian and those that are primarily Military, as well as crossover ones that link the two such as Armed Forces Reserve or Military Academy. These packages specify Skills related to that career (which cost 1 SP per level at creation – other skills cost 2 SP per level) and Mustering Out Benefits (Money, Quirks [from a Career specific list] and Equipment you start the game with). Each broad Career usually has more than one Skill List to choose from – for example, an Army Career has Support Personnel and Combat Personnel lists.
Once your Career is chosen, you choose Skills (and there are rules to cover the use of your Career as a Skill, or sorts, to cover situations where someone from your career background would obviously have some familiarity, but where your character doesn’t have a specific relevant skill) and any Specialisations within them. Skills normally range from Basic (2) to Unique (8) – gaining the Basic skill grants a Basic (2) in all Specialisations … however, increasing a Skill beyond that means the character must specialise eg Riding (2), Riding/Camel (3).
If your character has a high enough level in the right package of Skills they may learn Techniques, which offer enhancements that basic skills do not. They allow a PC to do very specific things in very specific ways … for example, Infiltrator Technique allows the PC to ‘win’ tied Opposed Rolls and to reroll any Calamity so as to misdirect any response to their failure (the guards will still be more alert … but in the wrong direction, hopefully!) amongst other things.
More on the Game System in a later post.