Each character is constructed by assigning a point value ranging from negative two (-2) to positive five (5) for each of six Traits and a number of selected Talents. Negative point values are Weaknesses, while positive point values are Strengths. Weaknesses, though useful for defining a character, should be used sparingly. Traits represent the general health and aptitude of the character while Talents represent more focused knowledge or abilities the character may possess. Qualities are derived values that are the sum of two (2) Traits. There are three (3) major Qualities (Health, Reflexes, and Resolve) that are used both as passive defenses and as an abstract representation of a character’s heath, both physical and mental. The combination of these three groups of numerical values define the bulk of any character in the Archetype System.
The Strength and Weakness Scale
Each Trait is either a Strength or Weakness. Each Talent, when not Insignificant, is also either a Strength or Weakness. Simply put, a Strength is a benefit to a character and a Weakness is a hindrance to a character. A Strength is any positive value assigned to a Trait or Talent. A Weakness is any negative value assigned to a Trait or Talent. Weaknesses, though useful for defining a character’s shortcomings, should be used sparingly and typically do not exceed negative two (-2). An Insignificant Talent is simply any Talent with a value of zero (0). Traits can not have a value of zero (0) and are–therefore–never Insignificant.
All of this can be represented in a simple scale:
- -2 Severe Weakness
- -1 Moderate Weakness
- 0 Insignificant
- 1 Poor Strength
- 2 Average Strength
- 3 Good Strength
- 4 Exceptional Strength
- 5 Outstanding Strength
It’s important to note that this scale is not linear. the difference between a Poor Strength (1) and an Average Strength (2) is quite modest, while the difference between a Good Strength (3) and an Exceptional Strength (4) is significant. It’s also worth noting that even a Moderate Weakness has a major impact on a character’s capability. A Severe Weakness is nearly debilitating. This is due to the Two-of-Two mechanic and the averaging of the die pool results. To reflect this, during character creation and advancement, the cost to increase a Trait or Talent is exponential.
Six Traits, organized into two groups (Mental and Physical), define the natural–genetic–proclivities of a character. The three mental Traits are Insight, Reason, and Personality. The three physical Traits are Might, Vigor, and Celerity.
Might is a physical Trait that represents the muscularity, or brute power, of a character. Might can be abbreviated simply as ‘M’.
Vigor is a physical Trait that represents the stamina, fortitude, or doggedness, of a character. Vigor can be abbreviated simply as ‘V’.
Celerity is a physical Trait that represents the pure speed, or nimbleness of a character. Celerity can be abbreviated simply as ‘C’.
Insight is a mental Trait that represents the Intuition, or instinctive knowledge, of a character. Insight can be abbreviated simply as ‘I’.
Reason is a mental Trait that represents the logic, or analytical nature, of a character. Reason can be abbreviated simply as ‘R’.
Personality is a mental Trait that represents the social skills, or demeanor, of a character. Personality can be abbreviated simply as ‘P’.
Qualities have two game uses.
First, they are used as the difficulty against which other characters or creatures must succeed in order to target the character in some way. This difficulty is called a Passive Defense. Besides the obvious combat uses of the major Qualities (Health, Reflexes, and Resolve), these Passive Defenses can also be used to determine whether a character successfully notices something (Perception), or a character’s allure (Presence).
Second, the three major Qualities (Health, Reflexes, and Resolve) are used as an abstract representation of a character’s health, both physical and mental. As a character is injured, damage is subtracted from the targeted major Quality; and as a character absorbs damage from a major Quality, it’s Passive Defense is reduced in kind–representing fatigue.
Each point in a major Quality grants a character five (5) boxes in a Damage Pool associated with the Quality. The boxes in these Damage Pools are crossed off, or filled, as a character takes physical or mental damage. Every five (5) boxes in a Damage Pool that are crossed off, or filled in, also result in the temporary loss of one (1) point in the associated Quality. This temporary loss of a point, or points, in a Quality make that Quality easier to target.
On a character sheet, these three major Qualities and their associated Damage Pools could be represented as three grids. Something like the example below.
As an example, a character may have a Health of five (5), a Reflexes of four (4), and a Resolve of three (3). This would mean that the character has a Health Damage Pool of twenty five (25), a Reflexes Damage Pool of twenty (20), and a Resolve Damage Pool of fifteen (15). If this character were to be shot at by an opponent, the opponent’s roll might be Celerity + Ranged Weapons vs. Reflexes (Health). Let’s say the Base Bonus for the attack is four (4). That would mean a roll of zero (0) or greater would successfully hit; the character’s Reflexes is four (4). If the weapon in question did 1d6+2 damage and the opponent rolled a four (4), the resulting damage against the defending character’s Health would be six (6). This damage would be tracked by crossing off six (6) boxes from the Health Damage Pool, bringing the defending character’s total Health Damage Pool from twenty five (25) to nineteen (19) and is also enough to temporarily reduce the defending character’s Health score by one (1), from five (5) to four (4).
As a result of the example above, the targeted character’s major Qualities could be represented on the Damage Pools as shown in the example below.
Health represents the physical condition, or vitality, of a character. The Health value is determined by taking the sum of the character’s Might and Vigor Traits (M + V).
Reflexes represents the speed and ease with which a character interacts with, or responds to, his environment. The Reflex value is determined by taking the sum of the character’s Celerity and Insight Traits (C + I).
Resolve represents the strength of character, determination, or even mental health of a character. The Resolve value is determined by taking the sum of the character’s Reason and Personality Traits (R + P).
Perception represents a character’s awareness of his surroundings, knack for detail, or even sensitivity to nuanced behavior. The Perception value is determined by taking the sum of the character’s Insight and Reason Traits (I + R).
Presence represents the physical appeal, charm, or magnetism of a character. The Presence value is determined by taking the sum of the character’s Vigor and Personality Traits (V + P).
Talents are organized into four groups: Common, Professional, Systems, and Tactical. Common Talents are, as should be obvious, talents that are frequently used my all manner of character. Professional Talents often require more training, more education, and are often Untrained (more difficult to succeed at without point expenditure). Systems Talents reflect a character’s ability to manipulate, interact with, complex man-made machines, vehicles, and habitats. Tactical Talents are used during combat and reflect a character’s training, or natural ability, in weapons and self-defense.
Each Talent, no matter in which category it falls, is purposely broad in scope. In addition to each Talent either being a Strength or Weakness, as a Talent is developed, a player may choose focuses. When applicable, a Talent Focus provides Advantage to a character’s, or possibly Disadvantage to an opponent’s, Two-of-Two roll. Though each Talent description may suggest a number of focuses, players are encouraged to create their own.
A player may create a Focus for a Talent once the Talent in question has a Good Strength (+3). A second Focus may be created for a Talent once it has an Outstanding Strength (+5). A Talent Focus is simply a word or phrase that represents a particular area of expertise. Any resolution in which a Talent Focus could reasonably be a benefit to a character gains Advantage. If the Talent Focus could possible hinder an opponent, the opponent gains Disadvantage.
For example, a character could have a Good Strength (+3) in the Small Arms Tactical Talent and create the Focus “Trick Shots”. If, during a resolution, the player can describe how a focus in “Trick Shots” benefits the character, Advantage may be applied to the player’s Two-of-Two roll. The same character might also have a Good Strength in the Vehicle Operation Systems Talent and create the Focus “Evasive Piloting”. If, during a resolution, the player can describe how a focus in “Evasive Piloting” helps his character avoid being targeted by a chasing opponent, Disadvantage may be applied to the opponent’s Two-of-Two roll.
- Vehicle Operation
- Targeting and Gunnery
- Network and Communication
- Security and Surveillance
- Diagnostics and Repair
- Design and Fabrication
- Small Arms
- Heavy Arms
- Close Quarter Combat
- Exotic Weapons