Character generation for the Aether RPG is designed to walk you through clear steps for developing core pieces of both your character’s backstory, as well as what you would like to happen to your character over the course of the game. As Aether is designed with multi-session or campaign-length play in mind, many of the decisions you make when creating your character have long-term implications for the story surrounding your character.
Crafting Your Aetharia
An Aetharia is Aether’s concept of a soul. Almost every naturally-occurring creature in Aether is considered to have a soul-song, an Aetharia, that acts as both a representation of their potential in life, and upon death as record of their deeds. Aetherborn, the heroes of Aether, are people that are capable of tapping the pure power of their Aetharia and using it in various ways. Over the course of an Aetherborn’s life, their Aetharia will draw them towards potential future events, and even hit Apexes that allow them to access new, amazing abilities.
It’s also just a cool, in-game concept for creating your character and leveling up. Character Creation is, in game terms, determining parts of your character’s Aetharia, including a combination of past events and possible future goals, deeds, and problems they might face.
Your past draws almost entirely from leading questions associated with your ancestry, and will give you some ideas and inspiration for your character’s origins. It’s also, most likely, what you will base the Present and Future portions of character creation on as well.
Ancestries are an important first step to character creation: they will give players a general idea of how their character looks, and it will also have specific leading questions to help answer where they come from, why they’re adventuring and other details that can help spark ideas for character backstories and adventures.
Each Ancestry will also grant a small bit of general lore to collaborative worldbuilding in Session 0, and players each receive one Passive ability and either one Attack or Power based on their choice.
Throughout the course of character creation and later Session 0 materials, you’ll encounter a number of leading questions. These aren’t strict guidelines, answering them is intended to help spark brainstorming and ideas for your characters, party and the in-game world at large before play begins.
Your present self consists of Goals, Values and Understandings. Each of these elements covers something your character currently desires, holds dear or uses to understand the world around them.
When making your character, you’ll be asked two create two Goals: one Short-Term and one Long-Term. These goals should be clear, short statements that have definitive end-points for when they might be resolved, such as “I want to steal an airship,” or, “Get revenge on (X) character from my backstory.” These are meant to be something you and the other players can work towards together in game.
Resolving a character Goal earns the entire party Experience to spend on abilities as well!
Where Goals can be resolved and change over time, Values are meant to stay fairly consistent over the course of your time playing in an Aether campaign. Values are different from Goals however in that they stem from something your character holds dear as a model of behaviour, and have to be kept to in order to earn Experience.
Values are short statements such as, “I talk my way out of fights,” or, “I do good, even when doing good is difficult,” which your character will have to stick to in times of great duress. Values also have a Value Tracker, which the Narrator can tell you to mark off during moments where it seems sticking to your Values is extremely difficult. 5 marks on your Value Tracker earns all players Experience.
Understandings the way your character understands the people and creatures around them. They are a mix of languages, history, behaviour patterns, lore and general knowledge that allow your character to use the Social Encounters and social skill mechanics of Aether to interact with specific creature types, allowing you to make new allies and talk your way out of problems instead of having to fight. Everyone starts with the Humanoid understanding, while others such as Beasts and Undead are learned through class abilities.
Your future is noted through your Omen, your Prophecy and your Secret. Each of these is an element of your character that you want to occur to, or be revealed about, your character over the course of the story, and resolving each one can earn players Experience.
If you’ve played tabletop roleplaying games before, an Omen might sound familiar as, “that one thing in my backstory I know my game runner will use to tear my heart out.” The major difference with Aether is that you as the player get to decide what exactly the Narrator gets to use against you, and it’ll earn you some Experience if they do.
Your Omen is a generally negative event that you decide will inevitably occur to your character at some point during play. Omens come in the form of simple, single-sentence statements that have negative implications for your character. Examples of Omens might include, “I have a bounty on my head,” or, “A family of rival nobility will attempt to remove me.” As a player, you set the initial statement, which the Narrator will extrapolate into 3 stages of escalation.
The key to Omens is the Omen Tracker, which has 5 segments. Rolling a Tragedy (critical failure) advances one segment of the Omen Tracker. The Narrator is not allowed to invoke any stage of your Omen until/unless the Omen Tracker is filled. The Omen Tracker stays filled until the next stage of the Omen is invoked, and after it is invoked the Tracker resets, needing to be filled again before the next phase can be invoked. Once all 3 phases of the Omen are resolved, the party gains Experience and you select a new Omen.
Where Omens are negative events and challenges you create for your character to experience, Prophecies are the opposite. Your Prophecy is a simple, single-sentence statement with an overall positive outcome for your character that you create and hand off to the Narrator. Like Omens, Prophecies are inevitable, but they tend to be aspects that help achieve a goal that your character doesn’t necessarily expect.
Some examples of Prophecies include, “I will fall in love,” or, “I will rediscover a lost secret.” A key element of Prophecies is that they describe a specific event, but they give very little detail or context so that they can be more flexible in how they appear in-game. A major difference between Prophecies and Omens however, is that you as a player have more control over your Prophecy. You may choose to change your Prophecy at any point, which will reset its Track. You may also choose to adopt an in-game event as a part of your Prophecy, as long as your Track is filled, resetting it and starting the next phase (this is mainly to account for those moments that happen in-play that are significant for your character, and may relate to your Prophecy directly, but were unplanned by you or the Narrator).
Prophecies have their own 5 segment Prophecy Track, occur across 3 escalating stages, and advance whenever you roll a Triumph (critical success). When you fully resolve your Prophecy, all players earn Experience and you create a new one.
Secrets are exactly that: something your character keeps from the other characters at the table and doesn’t want revealed. When a Secret gets revealed is up to the flow of gameplay, and can be caused at any point by the Narrator or the Player. All player characters earn Experience whenever one of their Secrets is revealed. After a Secret is revealed, players are welcome to create another one, however it is not required if they feel there isn’t anything appropriate to consider a secret.
There are three major stats in the Aether system: Acuity, Affluence and Athletics. Acuity represents your deftness, intelligence, mental fortitude and precision. Affluence is a representation of your wealth, social and political capital, how well you understand and communicate with others. Athletics is everything related to vigor, strength, feats of martial prowess and your general level of health.
When creating your character, you assign 1d4, 1d6 and 1d8 to Acuity, Affluence and Athletics in any order. The aspects of your character that follow, such as Morale, base Defense and starting Wealth are determined by what stats you assign these three types of dice to. Assigning dice also determines what type of dice you roll for your Attack and Skill checks involving those stats, and automatically gives you 1 Die of that type to start your dice pool.
If you’re familiar with other RPGs, Morale is Aether’s version of HP (Hit Points). It’s a measure of how much physical, mental and emotional stress your character can take before falling unconscious. However, a major difference from other systems is that certain class abilities will allow you to use Social Skill rolls (detailed in the next section) to help lower Morale in combat.
Your base Morale at first level is determined by the max value of your Affluence die plus the max value of your Athletics die. Whenever you level up, add the max value of your Affluence and Athletics dice to your maximum Morale.
Defense is the value that enemies have to roll over in order to succeed on Attacks and Skill Checks against you to damage your Morale or succeed with abilities. Your base Defense is equal to the max value of your Acuity die plus the max value of your Athletics die. If your Acuity or Athletics die increments (increases by one or more sizes), your base defense is recalculated using the new maximum value(s).
Your Wound Track notes how many hits you can take after falling Unconscious (0 Morale) before you are considered Comatose or Dead. The total number of Wounds you can take is equal to half the max value of your chosen class’s Primary Stat Die (Primary Stats are noted at the beginning of each Class). Multiclassed characters use their highest Primary Stat die among their classes to determine their maximum number of Wounds.
After dropping to 0 Morale, any damage taken counts as 1 Wound. When your Wound track is full, you are considered Comatose. If you take 1 Wound after your Track is full, you are considered Dead.
Luck is a point system that determines just how lucky you are. Players and the Narrator start each session with 1 point of Luck, players can only have 1 Luck at a time, and Luck resets at the beginning of each session unless otherwise stated by a class ability. Players can regain spent Luck by resolving part of their Omen, Prophecy or Secret in a session.
Players and the Narrator can spend their Luck at any point in order to reroll the lowest die value they roll on an Attack or Skill Check. Players with 0 Luck can also Push Their Luck, taking the reroll but giving the Narrator 1 additional Luck to spend that session.
Favor is a point system that represents how well known you are, how well liked you are by others, and how many favors you can call in for information or other needs. Some class abilities will give you other ways to earn and spend Favor as well.
Overall, Favor can be spent by any player in two ways: you can spend 1 Favor to gain a +1 die Bonus to a Social Skill roll (maximum 5 dice in the pool), or you can spend 1 Favor to ask a question of the Narrator and have in answered (within reason). These questions could involve finding clues for investigations, finding information about people or creatures, discovering nearby rumors, or even calling in favors from allies. However, the Narrator may choose to increase the Favor cost depending on how difficult the answers would be to find.
Wealth is an abstract measure of your character’s overall coin, assets, property etc., and your starting Wealth is equal to half the max value of your Affluence die. Wealth is a point system, of which you can spend points to purchase equipment and various services such as nights at an inn or hiring help for adventures.
Generally, basic and necessary gear for adventuring costs no Wealth to ensure that, when starting out, every character has what they need to begin their adventure. Living expenses, magic items, vehicles, and other services or goods will cost a variety of Wealth, as determined by the Narrator.
Wealth is most often a reward for finding loot or completing adventures and jobs that help other characters and NPCs.
Classes in Aether represent how the power of your soul manifests. So pick one you feel suits all of the elements you’ve created so far! It’s usually recommended that you pick a class that has a Primary Stat that aligns with whichever stat you assigned your 1d8 to, since the Primary Stat determines the type of dice used for certain class abilities.
After you choose your class, choose one of the Tier 1 abilities available from its Sub-classes. Sub-classes act more as themed sets of abilities to choose from, and you spend Experience to learn these new abilities. However, picking a Sub-class doesn’t prevent you from choosing abilities from other Sub-classes you have access to within your class, so feel free to mix and match abilities!
Multiclassing is also a possibility, however it costs a significant amount of Experience to do so, and you must have at minimum a d8 assigned to the class’s Primary Stat that you wish to multiclass into. However, once multiclassed, you can choose Abilities from any class you have access to as long as you have the Experience available to spend.
The last part of character creation is choosing your skills. Basically, what are some of the things your character is good at? Your Skills are what allow you to increase the number of dice in your die pool on Skill Checks and Attack rolls. When creating your character, choose two Social skills, two Utility skills and two Weapon skills that all start out giving you a +1 die bonus to Skill Checks or Attacks involving the related Skill.
Except where otherwise noted, The Aether RPG System and The Aetherscape Setting materials by Eldritch Crow Gaming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
You are free to use any information from the Aether RPG system or the Aetherscape setting for your own games or projects as long as you credit Eldritch Crow Gaming for the used material.