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 Identity
Your Identity as an Aether character is a combination of a few elements: your past life events that led you to awakening your various Aetherborn powers, how you choose to present yourself now, and elements of what events you are fated to face in the future. Character generation starts with your past in order to help you develop a Destiny, Omen, Goals, Values and Understandings
Your past draws almost entirely from leading questions associated with your backstory, 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.
You start your Identity with selecting a few Traits, which are skills, abilities or physical aspects of your character that are unique to you. After choosing them, you have a starting point to begin answering the questions associated with your Identity, with the main framework being to answer questions like why do you have these particular Traits.
Traits are a starting point for character building that give you just a little bit more flexibility to work with in terms of what you can do as a character.
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 come pre-set within the game text and have a secondary mechanic that allows you to generate Potential (which you spend to improve your skill checks)
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 can be learned by spending Experience.
Your future is noted through your Omen, your Destiny 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 an event that, in general, would make your character see themselves as heroic if they manage to overcome it. It throws your character into turmoil when it happens in game, and overcoming that turmoil is a step towards your character growing into their own. They tend to be single sentence statements, which happen in three escalating stages over the course of play.
Destinies are like Omens, except they are generally more positive events that wind up causnig your character to be viewed as a hero by others. Succeeding at one’s Destiny is their way of announcing to the world that they are here and coming into their own as a member of a community. Like Omens they can also occur in escalating stages, though they may be more fluid since they’re more of a core story thread for characters.
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.
Arcana and Emblems in Aether represent how the power of your soul manifests. They are optional character archetypes that recommend a collection of Skills to you in order to narrow down what skills you might want to pick for a particular playstyle. They are very much a “choose your own playbook,” style of character creation, in which you pick one Arcana which narrows the list of Combat, Utility and Social skills, and one Emblem which narrows down the choices of Arcane, Innate or Esoteric magic you have in order to help you create a character tailored to your play style.
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 cards you play for skill checks, and do various fantastic things like controlling fire, shaping light and darkness, and various other things.
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.