Before I get too much further in other things, I’d like to lay out what makes up a character.
The default form of character creation in Dual20 is not as rigid as D&D nor as unstructured as a point buy game like GURPS. Instead you can think of it as having several distinct areas of point buy with their own pool of points.
In order a character will get Attributes, Foundation (race and stuff), Stats, Classes and Talents, Tweaks, and Feats and a Game Breaker.
The first things, like most all RPGs, are the attributes. Being somewhat derived from d20…. very loosely at this point, there are 6 main stats, but not the classic Str, Dex, etc. instead I’m borrowing (with permission) a set of stats created by Morgenstern from the Crafty forums here.
I’ve not decided on what sort of values will be a typical range for the stats, but for now I’ll use the same range and modifiers as d20.
The next part to add is the character’s Foundation, which includes things such as the Race, Culture, Background, Specialty, and Fate of the character. Except for Fates and Specialties each of these different elements provides a sets of related “packages” with each having a Base Package and a number of Optional Packages, so for example Elf you can play a plain old elf with using just the Base Package, it has the essential stuff, or you can add on the High Elf package to be that. This is how subraces are handled, as well as half-races, want to be a half elf? Take the human Basic Package and an Elf Package. Cultures and Backgrounds also have Basic and related Optional packages. Specialties and Fates are all stand along packages.
Each package takes cost a certain number of points, and Race (and maaaybe Background) is the only one that is mandatory to have. So if you play a particularly powerful race, such as a dragon, you may have to cut out one or more of the others. Or if you just want to pass on a particular kind, you can. The GM/gaming group can decide on an amount of Foundation points each player has to spend, as well as a maximum number of points to spend in any one area.
These are all chosen at character creation and do not change as the character levels up.
Stats and Skills
Next up is the advancing stats and skills. These are like the stats you’d gain from class levels in D&D or Pathfinder, but they are not tied to a specific class. Instead, you again have an amount of points to allocate among them. You can buy them in grades of 1 to 3, though they can get up to grade 4 if you pick a Foundation element that causes that. For most of these it is how quickly they advance, though some have static values. Buying grades of Skills instead grants you a number of points to buy skills in a similar fashion as Stats, and if a Skill is a collection of similar sub-skills, that likewise gets you further points to spend on them.
The stats at present are:
- Attack, this added to various attack checks in a straight forward manner
- Defense, likewise for defense
- Speed, this modifies how quickly you can act.
- Improvise, this stat is for doing things not otherwise handled by the rules, it doesn’t have values as good as skills, but it is a reminder and means to always think outside the box.
- Health, along with Fitness this determines wounds and vitality
- Stamina, it’s similar to Health but for energy to do things.
- Will, determines how indomitable you are, as well as powering certain kinds of magic.
- Skills, determines how many points you can allocate to skills.
- Lifestyle, this determines how well off your character is, outside of income sources such as adventuring or holdings, and can be used in some social situations.
- Notice, how good your character is at seeing the unobvious or hidden things.
- Presence, how impressive your character is, good for certain social situations or magic
Speed, Health, Stamina, Will, and Notice also determine saves, similar to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will from d20. Lifestyle might also have a save associated with it, for use in “social combat”.
There is currently no defined skill list. I should note that the social stats and social skills will compliment each other. A character with high presence will be better at both intimidate and diplomacy for example.
Classes and Talents
Finally you will take your first level you will pick a class (there’s currently 8 arch-classes, 4 mundane and 4 magical, and 28 classes, 16 mundane (or a little magic) and 12 magical). Each time you take a class level you’ll get a certain number of points to spend on talents for that class (or for talents not attached to any class, such as ones to enhance a Foundation element further, but you must spend at least 1 point on a class talent). The number of points you get to spend is determined by the character’s overall level. The first level a character will get several points to spend, significantly more than later levels (approximately a 5 to 1 ratio).
Taking a level in a class also provides the character with resources that the class uses, if any, such as the various magic points. In addition, all class levels grant the character a number of Awesome points, that can be used in place of any other class resource, or for special things.
Tweaks are small changes to existing game rules or character options and are the closest thing to feats in other d20 games. Each Foundation element, Talent, or Feat may have some Tweaks associated directly with it (very much like feats from 13th Age). A character gets a Tweak at every level.
Feats, and Game Breakers
Finally, Feats in this game are always new actions the character can use and are significantly unique and special. A character gets only a few over the course of their career. Game Breakers change or ignore or bypass (with a limit) a common rule in a significant way, and a character will only ever get one later in their career.
These are those things that a first level character can’t obtain.
And that’s all that makes up a character. So how many levels can a character obtain? Well, that depends, which track are you talking about? Stats, Feats, and Game Breakers are on one track, that goes as high as level 12. Class and Tweaks are technically unbounded. You can keep leveling in them as much as your group wants. Both can advance independently as well.
You can play a stricter game, where the Class and Tweaks are in sync, and you might advance them together one to one, or maybe increase a Stat level once for every five Class levels obtained, or other such thing, it all depends on what you’re group is after.
You can divide them up into different leveling tracks even further, the Class track, the Stats track, the Tweaks Track, the Feats track, and the Game Breaker track. Even add in some other tracks if you want like a Legendary Item track.
You can go the other extreme, there aren’t levels or tracks, instead the character has to learn everything IC from someone who will teach them.
Or do something in-between those. The goal is to design the game such that there’s a nice large spectrum of ways to create and advance a character. You will want to start off with the default character creation and advancement or a stricter one perhaps, before you go trying to “break” the game in still playable ways. You want to play a game where everyone starts with a Game Breaker and a couple of feats but still level 1? I won’t stop you, and instead I’ll give you advice on how to do that… once the game is much further along and tested out, of course.