Sinai Player Guide v5.0: 9.0 - Character Creation Guidelines

Sinai Player Guide v5.0

9.0 Character Creation Guidelines
  • 9.1 Before You Begin
  • 9.2 How to Spend Points
  • 9.2.1 Disadvantages
  • 9.2.2 Experience
  • 9.2.3 Easy Come, Easy Go
  • 9.2.4 Gen's Character Creation Walk-Through
  • 9.3 Skills, Knowledge, Hobbies
  • 9.3.1 Combat Skills: Weapon, Fighting
  • 9.3.2 Covert Skills: Disguise, Burglary, Stealth, Sleight of Hand
  • 9.3.3 Healer Skills: First Aid, Herbary, Poisons, Healer
  • 9.3.4 Woodsman Skills: Animal Handling, Riding, Tracking, Trailblazing/Climbing, Traveling, Survival
  • 9.3.5 Other Skills: Bureaucracy, Gambling, Etiquette, Art
  • 9.3.6 Minor Skills: Mechanics, Electronics, Lore, Linguist, Airship Operation
  • 9.4 Wealth & Equipment: Wealth, Equipment
  • 9.5 Status & Contacts: Status, Contacts
  • 9.6 Physical Abilities: Strength, Reflexes/Agility, Armor/Toughness, Natural Weapons, Flight, Running, Senses, Regeneration, Shape-Shifting, Immunities, Sustenance, Sleep, Temperature, Coordination, Memory, Speed Reading, Breathing, Spell Resistance, Magic Sensitivity
  • 9.7 Magic
  • 9.7.1 The Ability to Work Magic
  • 9.7.2 Levels of Magic
  • 9.7.3 Magical Talent
  • 9.7.4 Held Spells
  • Pros and Cons
  • Manifestations
  • Holding Multiple Spells
  • Role-Play Considerations
  • 9.7.5 Spheres of Magic
  • 9.7.6 Sinai Clergy
  • 9.8 Disadvantages
  • 9.9 Examples
  • 9.9.1 Generic Archetypes
  • 9.9.2 Mages
  • 9.9.3 Knights Templar

  • 9.1 Before You Begin

    Before you begin writing a character, you will need to decide several key things:

  • What kind of plots do you enjoy, and what kind do you think you will not do well in? Examples include but are not limited to:
  • Violence Preferred: You like plots with plenty of combat action.
  • Non-Lethal Action: Chase scenes, barroom brawls and exploding airships are fine, but you'd rather not actually have to kill anybody. Keep it light-hearted.
  • Peaceful: You'd rather not deal with fights and chase scenes.
  • Thinking Required: You like figuring out puzzles and mysteries.
  • Loves Emoting: You want to show off your character's personality and explore relations with other characters, both PCs and NPCs.
  • Silly: You want a certain degree of comedy or off-beat stuff in a plot.
  • Active: You're willing to lead the way, and take decisive actions when tackling some sort of problem your character or others are facing.
  • Reactive: You're not comfortable making the decisions and would rather be a sidekick or an assistant.
  • These are not mutually exclusive, but you should give us an idea what your character would like to do most of the time. If you can give some examples of favorite plots, this will be a big help for GMs -- and it will also give you a better idea what kind of character you will enjoy playing.

  • What kind of risk are you willing to take?
  • None: Your PC should never be in truly risky situations, and certainly never in a hopeless situation, regardless of your PC's actions.
  • Angst: You don't mind your character being embarrassed or having tragic losses of some kind.
  • Hurt me: You don't mind your character being injured or possibly killed.
  • While this isn't essential to creating a character, if you want a character who can go through combat and action plots without being hurt, you might put a few points into Toughness/Armor, for instance.

    Despite the "None" entry above, no PC can truly be guaranteed protection from the consequences of his or her actions or of those of other PCs absolutely, though if we know that a player really doesn't want to be at risk, GMs will usually try to warn a player if they're taking unnecessary risks or entering a dangerous situation, thus giving the player a chance to back out. Being a "low-risk" character doesn't mean that you can tackle all of Sinai's big bad guys (or good guys) with impunity, and it certainly doesn't mean you can pick fights with other PCs without fear of repercussions. It just means that GMs will make sure not to deliberately put you in risky situations.

  • How do you want to fit into role-playing?
  • Solitary: You don't mind interacting with other PCs, but you'd like to be the star of your own storyline.
  • Ensemble: You'd like to interact on a regular basis with other PCs, but you're capable of going off on your own.
  • Sidekick: You're not comfortable making your own decisions; you'd rather hook up with someone else and develop your character in his or her shadow.
  • Additionally, you should let us know whether your character deals well with large groups or not -- and what you consider to be a "large group". For some people, having two or three PCs working together is as large a group as they'd ever want.

  • How does your PC get involved?
  • Personal Motivation: You as a player may read through the Encyclopedia, watch the Rumors, talk with other PCs, or otherwise find out about what's going on in the world, and then your PC actively seeks to explore some particular place, or wishes to right some social injustice, or goes off to find adventure in some distant land. Your PC goes and finds adventure. He or she doesn't wait for it to come calling.
  • Reluctant Hero: Your PC is an "average joe" with a regular profession, or perhaps an old and cynical retired warrior, who wishes the world would just leave him alone. If your PC is presented with a choice of a quest to go on, he'll pass it up. However, you as the player expect your PC to just be forced into some adventure, and you'll be having a blast, even though your PC is griping and grumbling the whole way.
  • Adventure of the Week: You rely on a GM to come up with a quest for your PC, or perhaps a number of choices to decide upon, either IC or OOC.
  • Light Interaction: You are perfectly happy to have your PC run into some miscellaneous other PC(s) in the Bazaar, Freedom Park, or some other "neutral" location, without much involvement from the GM. Your PC may have a mysterious back-story to share with other PCs, for instance, or maybe your PC likes to come up with silly songs and poetry, or flamboyant performances. The GM need not provide some "adventure" - You're quite capable of entertaining yourself, so long as there's someone else to join the fun.
  • What touchy subjects do you want to avoid?
  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Slavery
  • Murder
  • Magic
  • Deism
  • There are numerous topics in Sinai that are treated in a non-PC way. The GMs are or attempt to be quite moral, but they also try to be at least somewhat realistic -- Sinai is deliberately an imperfect world and thus its inhabitants will also, at times, enslave each other, kill, discriminate against race or gender, blackmail, and otherwise struggle to raise themselves up at others' expense. The "bad guys" may have socially redeeming qualities or a sense of honor, whereas the "good guys" may have some distinct flaws in their moral code. Certain people or organizations may reflect certain belief systems found in the real world ... or perhaps a caricature of such systems, with a few basic facts twisted askew.

    Note: You should not specify a touchy subject you want to avoid and then take a hatred of that subject as a Disadvantage. This is unfair to the GM, because Disadvantages are meant to be used.

    Many characters can be created with the guidelines below that may, nevertheless, not be suitable for Sinai or may strike the GM as not fun enough to be played or handled. Here are some tips:

  • No "Personal Furries". Don't play yourself. It's okay to play a character that may well be based off of an idealized version of yourself -- After all, it's almost inevitable that any PC will reflect in some way the player. However, we've found that "Personal Furry" characters carry a lot of emotional attachments and baggage. This makes it especially hard for the player to handle any difficulties, since any setbacks are taken personally. You have to be able to distance yourself from your PC, at least to a certain degree. By all means, take pride in the successes of your PC, but if your PC is set back (perhaps unfairly so), you shouldn't take it as a personal condemnation of you as a player.
  • Make your character distinctive. He or she shouldn't be just another fighter. There should be quirks or other features that make your hero stand out.
  • Provide a reason that your character will get involved. We've had (and done poorly with) characters that tend to stick to the status quo, refusing to go out of their way for adventure. The concept of the "reluctant hero" can be taken too far. After a while, we stop trying.
  • Give your character a goal. It needn't and shouldn't be something that your PC is so obsessed over that he will pursue it to the exclusion of all other concerns. It may very well be that your PC may never attain this goal, and you as a player should be prepared to deal with that. This is especially the case with more ambitious goals. (e.g., "Wants to be ruler of Babel," or "Wants to overthrow the Temple.") A GM won't always dictate to you what your adventures are. You may, on occasion, be asked between adventures, "So, what does your PC want to do now?" If your character has some goals, you might be better equipped to give an answer.
  • Don't play an "innocent" who isn't. We've had some bad experiences with players who choose to play a "child" PC, or male players who choose to play a female, apparently on the assumption that they'll get nicer treatment from the GMs. Don't count on it, especially if your "little kid" PC is a mean little combat monster. While we've had some interesting logs with "child" PCs, this really only works if the player is willing to play a child ... not a warrior or mage or what-have-you that merely appears to be a child. Because of these repeated bad experiences, and the tendency of even "silly" Sinai plots to run into serious subjects, "child" PCs are strongly discouraged.
  • Stick to continuity. Most sapient species on Sinai have certain stereotypes that should not be violated lightly. Certainly, player characters are, by definition, different from the average person, or else nobody would want to play them. However, do not break rules so often that the rule becomes the exception. Playing a Savanite that can talk, an Aeonian who can lie, a long-lived Kavi, a Vartan mage, and so forth would be examples of going so against the grain of a given species archetype that you might as well just play some other species.

  • 9.2 How to Spend Points

    Your character begins with 20 points. This is enough to make your character really good at one or two things, or good at several things, or adequate with a wide range of things. You can buy skills, knowledge, hobbies, wealth and starting equipment, social status, contacts in important organizations, physical abilities, or the ability to use magic.

    You can add up to 4 points by taking Disadvantages. These may be things like psychological problems, physical disabilities, or bad situations.

    The average NPC is built on 12 points, give or take a few. Most NPCs have "average" skills at what they do best.

    If you choose to start with one of the native races (your best bet), you'll wind up with some points already pre-spent for racial abilities, and some Disadvantages already specified.

    These pre-determined abilities and disadvantages do count against your starting points. For example, if a race has 4 points of required abilities, and 1 point of required disadvantages, that would subtract 4 from your starting points, leaving you 16 starting points left to spend on abilities (plus the 1 point you gain from the disadvantage). In addition to that, you could have up to 3 more points in disadvantages (bringing you up to your maximum of 4).

    Regardless of whether your race has predetermined abilities and/or disadvantages, or not, you will always have a total of up to 20 starting points, plus an additional 4 possible through disadvantages, making a maximum starting total of 24.

    9.2.1 Disadvantages

    Please note that Disadvantages are optional, unless they are specified by your chosen race. In practice, Disadvantages should not be chosen solely as "a way to get extra points". A GM's duty (among other things) is to make sure that those "Disadvantages" are, in fact, disadvantages, after all. At the very least, they should provide the GM with plot hooks. (That's why we give points for them.)

    It is best to pick a Disadvantage that meets one of two criteria: It should be either absolute, or under GM control.

  • Absolute. An "absolute" Disadvantage would be one that can be defined in terms of "If this happens, my PC will do this," or else "My PC will always do this," or "My PC will never do this."

    A Disadvantage of this sort helps the GM predict how your PC will react to a given situation. If your PC is "insatiably curious" or he "never turns down a job offer", the GM can know that he can probably make an adventure where the PC is given a chance to go questing for treasure, despite several traps and monsters. If your PC "always responds to a cry for help, despite personal risk," then the GM knows that if he wants to start off an adventure, having a damsel in distress would be a sure bet.

    PCs are normally unpredictable. The GM can never know whether or not you'll catch onto a clue -- or, even if you do, what you'll do with this information. (share it with others? keep it secret? ignore it?) The GM could write up a big adventure, then in the first log where the PC is presented with a chance to go adventuring, the PC says, "Naw, sounds too risky. I'll pass it up."

    That, of course, is a perfectly legitimate (and perhaps reasonable) thing for a PC to do ... but it means that the GM now has to come up with a "Plan B" to entertain the PC on some other quest more to his liking. If a GM can have one less unknown risk to deal with, it's well worth giving the PC that extra point for the Disadvantage. (It means a little less work for the GM.)

    On the flip side, consider the case of a PC that has a Disadvantage of "Hates magic". The PC encounters another PC who happens to be a mage. They get along perfectly fine. In the course of an adventure, the first PC gets wounded. The second PC, a Life Mage, offers to heal him. The first PC accepts. All right, so maybe the first PC just hates evil magic.

    Well, who wouldn't? This just isn't really much of a Disadvantage -- The PC doesn't seem to be compelled to behave in any way that is distinct from how any other PC would act, given the situation ... and certainly not in a fashion that would be detrimental to his personal interests. He might grimace a little when a fellow introduces herself as a mage, but that's hardly cause for a Disadvantage.

    If a player picks a Disadvantage like this, and seems to shrug off situations in which this Disadvantage might be tested, the GM is fully in rights to penalize the player/PC in some way. If nothing else, the GM may insist that since this Disadvantage isn't a significant drawback, that this month's experience point must go toward buying it off.

    Word such Disadvantages carefully. Make sure that it's reasonably clear how your PC will react, and under what circumstances. If, every time the GM presents a situation that is meant to "set off" your Disadvantage, and you just shrug it off, the GM is likely to feel that you're not playing it up.

  • Under GM control. This is a Disadvantage that the PC doesn't really have to worry about. It's in the hands of the GM to handle the effects. Examples would be "Kavi reputation" or "Hunted by enemies" or "Susceptible to magic". Maybe the PC might do things on his own initiative based on those Disadvantages, but it's ultimately up to the GM to decide when it is or isn't going to affect the PC. There's little concern for the PC to have to worry about whether he's properly playing out his Disadvantage or not.

  • 9.2.2 Experience

    During the course of playing on Sinai, your PC will accumulate Experience Points. These are points that can be spent to buy off Disadvantages, to improve existing skills or abilities, or to gain new ones. In certain cases, you may get additional points (usually a "half point", which isn't very useful until you get another one) as bonuses for completing adventures or for really good/clever role-play in the opinions of the GMs.

    The basic rule of thumb is that, for every month in which you appear in at least one role-play log, you will get one experience point at the end of that month. GMs have the discretion to override that rule in certain cases: For instance, if your sole appearance in a given month is to show up for a few lines, then drop off unexpectedly in the middle of a log, the GM might not count that as a valid appearance ... particularly if you make a regular habit of this. (This isn't something we regularly have to deal with, thankfully.)

    Experience points can, for the most part, be spent the same way your original points were spent. You can add them to existing skills/abilities to get better skills and abilities. You can buy new skills. The limitation is that you need a good reason why your PC was able to gain these skills. Adding a new language that you've come into contact with during role-play is a lot easier to justify than your PC suddenly sprouting a pair of wings. Gaining the ability to use magic generally requires that your PC study with the College Esoterica. Suddenly becoming an Inquisitor would be unlikely if you're on the run from the Temple. A GM has the right to veto any such expenditures.

    Experience points can also be used to "buy" things your PC already has acquired during the course of role-play, with permission of your GM. For instance, your PC may have acquired a bit of wealth. In order to help ensure that this will be a long-standing development, rather than just "easy come, easy go", you decide to spend points to raise your PC's Wealth. This doesn't guarantee that your PC will never fall on hard times, but it helps to establish the stability of your PC's situation.

    9.2.3 Easy Come, Easy Go

    During the course of role-play, your PC may acquire magical items, treasure, friends, status, new jobs, and so forth. For things you acquire in the course of role-play, you don't necessarily pay for with points. However, these things may come and go -- What things you have paid for in your character statistics represent the "normal" state of your character. In theory, things will eventually go back to the way they were ... unless you spend points to maintain the status quo.

    This is nothing that is carved in stone. Quite often, PCs will, by their actions, earn benefits ... just as they can, by their actions, earn new enemies. It ultimately depends upon the playing style of your GM.

    However, that does not mean that things you have paid points for are yours forever -- It just means that if you lose something (such as, say, a magical sword), then the GM is likely to provide some way for you to get it back. (It might end up being the goal of an adventure, for instance.) And if that isn't possible, you may get something of equal or greater value ... or else you'll just get your points back to spend on something else as if they were experience points.

    On the flip side, you can also gain the equivalent of "Disadvantages" during role-play, which you don't get points for, and which you might not necessarily get rid of. For example, if you charge an army of barbarians, seeking to single-handedly engage them in melee combat, you could very well end up dead. That's definitely a disadvantage you won't get any points back for! However, it's possible that the GM might allow you to survive such an encounter ... but with a "reminder" that will stick with you. Perhaps you lose an arm. Perhaps you lose an eye. Perhaps you suffer some severe wounds that leave you Weak. Or, perhaps you escape, but you now have a pack of angry barbarians as your newfound enemies.

    You do not get any Disadvantage points for this. If you rob from the Temple, you do not get a new Disadvantage point for "Hunted by Temple", if this happened during the course of role-play. You can suffer consequences for your actions without some sort of "compensation". On the plus side, if you should take actions during the course of role-play to overcome this Disadvantage (you later become leader of a small nation, raise an army, and defeat the barbarians, so they won't bother you anymore) you don't have to turn around and spend experience points to "buy off" this "free" Disadvantage.

    The flip side of this is that, if you have an experience point extra, that doesn't mean that you can get out of trouble by spending it to "buy off" this Disadvantage. The GM might perhaps allow that, if you combine it with a good excuse ("I hire a Life Mage with the gold I got from my last adventure, to restore my strength to normal.") but it ultimately depends upon the GM's discretion.

    Another case of "easy come, easy go" would be with "free" skills and perks awarded to you by the GM. Sometimes, in lieu of an experience point (or fraction thereof) as an added reward for completing a long adventure, you may be given some sort of bonus that applies to the results of your adventure. For example, this might be 2 points of Wealth or Status after saving the country, or perhaps the GM decides that after having so much hassle trying to pantomime concepts to the natives, you finally learn their language at no points cost.

    This wealth, status, etc., costs you no points, and therefore, if for some reason it should be taken away during the course of role-play, you don't get any points back for the loss. (It'd be pretty hard for you to forget a language, at least.)

    9.2.4 Gen's Character Creation Walk-Through

    Gen, one of the major GMs on SinaiMUCK, has written up a Character Creation Walk-Through to show one way of going through the whole process.

    9.3 Skills, Knowledge, Hobbies

    All skills, knowledge areas and hobbies are defined as Major, Minor, or Trivial. These are in graduating scales of how useful -- and thus how expensive -- the given skill is. It wouldn't make any sense, after all, to charge the same number of points to be an expert gambler that one would have to pay to be an expert fighter.

    The cost for each Rank in a given skill is as follows, dependent upon the type of skill:


    The character's ability to accomplish a task is rated as follows:

    Chance to perform a task that is

    Taking extra time, having abundant materials and tools to hand, and being without distraction will increase the chance a person has to complete some task. Having to complete something in a hurry, working with inadequate materials, or working in a fight or other high-stress situation will decrease it. The figures above are rough and may not match the probabilities that some GM has determined for a task.

    9.3.1 Combat Skills

    (minor / trivial) Weapon Skill. A character can be proficient in knife-fighting, thrown knives and shurikens, staves, bows, crossbows, handguns, ship's guns, unarmed brawling, or any other weapon that can be found in Sinai. The first weapon-skill the character takes must be paid for as a minor skill; each additional weapon-skill can be paid for as a trivial skill.

    Vandenburg decides he wishes to be a good fencer, but only so-so with throwing knives. He pays 3 pts to be good with the rapier (a minor skill), then 1 pt to be average with throwing knives (a trivial skill).

    (major) Fighting. A character who has been trained to use several weapons well can purchase this as a "package deal". A novice fighter may choose two weapons with which he fights as a novice, an average fighter one more than that, and so on. In addition, the character is able to wear armor without being encumbered. (The character is assumed to be able to fight at his full ability. This doesn't mean that he won't sink in water if he's wearing plate mail, however.)

    RankCostNumber of Weapon Types

    Note: If a character buys armor with points, they are assumed to be familiar with their armor and thus not encumbered, even if they do not purchase the overall fighting skill. The fighting skill allows characters to pick up armor in the battlefield or from armories and wear it without penalties.

    9.3.2 Covert Skills

    (trivial) Disguise. Limited in effect on Sinai because it is difficult to convincingly disguise a character as being of another species. Nevertheless, a character good with disguise can make himself or another look like almost anyone else of the same or physically similar species.

    More Details on Disguise Skill

    (minor) Burglary. This skill includes lock-picking, finding hiding places where people are likely to put things, and recognizing and defeating security systems and traps. It does not include stealth; many thieves get by just fine breaking into houses when no one's home and the neighbors are either gone or don't care.

    (minor) Stealth. Allows a person to move quietly and escaping notice, or to spot others who are attempting the same thing. A stealthy person can follow another person without being caught, and can find the best place on which to eavesdrop on a conversation in progress. Also allows a person to detect those following them.

    (minor) Sleight of Hand. Allows a person to pick someone's pocket, place items there, switch things without others noticing, and cleverly arrange things to 'look' undisturbed. This is a useful skill for street-conjuring "magicians" as well as for thieves.

    9.3.3 Healer Skills

    (trivial) First Aid. Covers the basic skills to keep someone alive when they are injured or sick, splint bones, bandage wounds. Advanced first aid allows primitive emergency surgery such as amputations or removing burst appendices.

    (trivial) Herbary. A familiarity with herbs found in the wilderness and cultivated in gardens which have medical effects. This overlaps somewhat with knowledge of poisons. A useful skill for those in the wilderness as it includes recognition of which plants are poisonous and which are not. It does not include the ability to diagnose illnesses.

    (trivial) Poisons. A familiarity with chemicals that have poisonous effects and how they may be refined; also, a knowledge of antidotes to such poisons.

    (minor) Healer. Includes first aid, herbary, and poisons as well as the ability to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medicines, perform surgery, and research cures for as yet unknown ailments.

    9.3.4 Woodsman Skills

    (trivial) Animal Handling. Knows how to handles animals, feed them, diagnose some rudimentary problems they may be having. Animals will be friendlier to someone who is skilled in animal handling to the point that one may be able to calm savage wild beasts.

    (trivial) Riding. Can ride a variety of animals (the number increasing with one's skill) and perform feats of riding such as leaping from their backs to speeding carriages or shooting weapons while riding.

    (trivial) Tracking. Can follow long-dead trails, determine what kind of creatures lived or passed through an area, identify species of animals or people from smell and other clues, and stalk wild game.

    (trivial) Trailblazing/Climbing. Able to climb sheer slopes, break trail in uncharted jungles, pilot small and crude boats down whitewater rivers, in essence, a trained trailblazer can go anywhere in the wilderness faster and without the sundry annoyances that would befall untrained people. In the city, a trailblazer is adept at climbing buildings and getting through tight spots more easily.

    (trivial) Traveling. Indicates familiarity with one or more countries. Within a country with which one is familiar, one is able to find good places to eat or sleep, knows taboos and suggested customs of the country, can find one's way if one becomes lost. Also eases the process of learning about another country, as one is already "experienced" with typical problems of traveling.

    More Details on Traveling

    (minor) Survival. Includes climbing/trailblazing, tracking, and herbary. A person trained in survival can be dropped anywhere in the wilderness and make their way out to somewhere friendly, given time. This does not include traveling; they may be able to guess general direction, but without familiarity with some area, they won't know if they're heading toward a city or not.

    9.3.5 Other Skills

    (trivial) Bureaucracy. Knows who to bribe, where to go in an office, and who's on top. An exceptional skill may even be able to reverse unfavorable decisions.

    (trivial) Gambling. Knows how to not only play but cheat at games of chance and strategy, and can spot others cheating at such games. A highly skilled gambler can make cards and dice virtually walk, talk, and sit up and beg -- without other gamblers being able to detect this.

    (trivial) Etiquette. Able to get by in high or low society and earn the respect and help of others. This is not exactly acting; it entails "knowing the rules" for polite behavior, so the player would be advised by the GM what should and should not be done in a social situation. It must be supported by good PC-role-playing.

    In other words, if your PC is a totally rude snob, no amount of etiquette in your statistics is going to stop another PC or NPC from thinking that he or she is a jerk. If you have this skill, though, the GM may warn you that your PC is breaching etiquette, and it'll be up to you whether your PC continues to do so anyway.

    (trivial) Art. The character is skilled in one of music, painting, cooking, or other forms of art, to such a degree that others would pay for it.

    9.3.6 Minor Skills

    (minor) Mechanics. A person with this skill can repair or invent machinery that works on a purely physical basis. For example, this might include siege engines, clocks, or water mills. A high mechanical skill is required to work with very small or sophisticated machinery such as miniaturized watches. Sinaian mechanics are more likely to understand the problems presented by Quantum Uncertainty, and how to make redundant systems that hold up better. Abaddonian mechanics, on the other hand, might be dealing with combustion engines, hydraulics, and more complex machines, but conversely may not have as much experience dealing with the quirks of how things function on Sinai.

    (minor) Electronics. A person with this skill can repair or modify machinery up to the level of the Expedition. Their understanding of why something works the way it does will be necessarily limited, and in many cases, disguised by levels of dogma.

    (minor) Lore of Sinai. Includes general geography (not specific) of Sinai and some degree of familiarity with the legends of the Temple, Rephidim (island and city), the Expedition, and the First Ones. Laymen will know very little about any of these; someone with adept knowledge might know or have conjectures about many of these. The GM may choose to use knowledgeable PCs to relay useful information. Exiles may not start off with this skill. Provided that your PC is reasonably well-situated on Sinai, having an average rank in this skill is sufficient to know most of the entries in the Encyclopedia that are not specifically listed as being only "common knowledge" for a limited geographic area.

    (minor) Lore of Gateway Worlds. Includes a broad knowledge of the Gateway Worlds and exploration thereof. Laymen who don't have this skill might possibly know the names of the planets and a rough idea of what's on them. (Abaddon has lots of metal. Ashtoreth has lots of water. Morpheus has something to do with dreams.) Someone who already has Lore of Sinai will know this much and a bit more. This particular skill, however, specifically covers arcana of the Gateways and the planets themselves. This skill is most appropriate for a PC who starts play as someone who has already explored one or more of these worlds, and thus may have some useful survival tips or something to offer on the known cultures, wildlife, etc. It may also allow for a few hand signs and phrases of use for dealing with some of the other societies found there, though it doesn't give any free languages. Specifics vary with character background.

    (trivial) Lore of (Area). This is a much more narrowly focused version of Lore. On Sinai, it would be Lore of a specific region on Sinai. (The broader the region, the less specific the information about it.) Typically, this would be Lore of a specific nation or territory, such as Gallis, Chronotopia, Bromthen, Aelfhem, etc. Off of Sinai, this could be purchased to represent a general knowledge of a single planet. Having at least Average knowledge in this would entitle the PC to know the bulk of the sub-articles on the appropriate planet or country detailed in the "Locations" and "Who's Who" sections of the Players' Guide. This particular skill has significant overlap with the "Traveling" skill. It should be noted that the "Traveling" skill would represent more of a concern with bare necessities to get by when passing through this area and others. "Lore" reflects a deeper concern with actually living in a specific place, and knowing things that the "average person" there wouldn't necessarily know.

    Note: It is automatically assumed that you will know the basics of your "homeland". That goes hand in hand with the "native language" you get. Your PC's "homeland" might be Rephidim, or Himar, or Sylvania ... or it could be the Great Abyss of Ashtoreth, or New Zion on Abaddon. You needn't purchase "Lore" to know the basics of your homeland. That's a "freebie". It's just that you may want to purchase this if you are playing a particularly scholarly character who should know unusual details about that area.

    (minor) Linguist. By default, all PCs start with one "native language" and Rephidim Standard -- Exiles may have to acquire this as they play, by being Processed at the Rephidim Temple or by learning it the normal way.

    More Details on Linguist

    (minor) Airship Operation. Skilled in the operation and navigation of airships. A minimum of good Airship Operation is required to be a captain of an airship. Expert and adept airship captains and crew can accomplish extraordinary feats with airships, maintain ship crew morale through difficult situations, purchase needed supplies or obtain difficult to obtain equipment at amazingly cheap prices, and bring back a heavily damaged airship or build a new one.

    9.4 Wealth & Equipment


    CostApproximate Funds per Plot
    0None; struggling to get by
    150 shekels
    2100 shekels
    3200 shekels
    4500 shekels
    85000 shekels

    Note: Items purchased with Wealth during a plot tend to be easily lost, since they are not "part of a character's legend". While it is also possible to lose items that you have paid points for (see below), it is generally expected that you will either get them back eventually, or else that you'll "get the points back" in some manner worked out with the GM.

    Equipment and Possessions:

    Please note that characters are not expected to spend points for things as basic as the clothes on their backs, or equipment that may be particular to their jobs. Points are only expected to be spent on starting equipment when they are particularly unusual or special items that contribute to the character's identity.

    1tools of exceptional quality, armor, quality weapons
    2rare and expensive items such as handguns
    4+technological artifacts, enchanted items
    CostAirship Examples
    6small airship with a crew of up to eight
    8standard small freighter with a crew of up to twenty
    10standard large freighter or small frigate (four mounts for ballista or cannons) with a crew of thirty
    CostProperty Examples
    1a poor shop in Darkside or the Bazaar; struggling to get by
    3a shop in Scholar's Quarter or a prime location in the Bazaar; includes 2-pt wealth and an assistant
    8a shop in the Nobles' Quarter or Temple quarter; includes 4-pt wealth, attendant prestige, and several assistants

    Note: On the surface, it might seem that getting a shop or an airship might be a greater bargain than buying personal equipment. In some ways, it is. However, having a shop or an airship assumes a certain degree of responsibility -- the GM may make use of your business concerns as a "hook" for a given plot -- whereas if all you've got is weapons and armor and nothing to tie you down, you're pretty much free to roam as you please. In a sense, you're getting a "discount" for having a shop or store, because it gives the GM a potential motivation to exploit for the sake of a plot, and because most of what you own will not have a direct bearing on how things happen "on camera" during a plot.

    9.5 Social Status and Contacts

    Contacts: (Trivial)

    1contacts who provide information
    2contacts in important places (e.g., Temple, Darkside) who can do small favors
    3contacts in important places (e.g., Temple, Darkside) willing to do large favors (i.e., a patron)

    Status (Major):

    2a member of some guild or association which provides small services such as information or regular jobs -- e.g., the Bard's Guild, or an apprentice of the Mages' Guild
    4a high-ranking member of some guild or association, thus able to command more resources or place embargoes or otherwise inconvenience others
    4a full member of some prestigious association or guild, able to use this to impress and possibly coerce others -- e.g., a fully-paid member of the Mages' Guild
    6a high-ranking member, able to use resources that guild would have access to -- e.g., if justified, can muster equipment or men for help as well as getting information from the guild (2-pt wealth)
    8a high-ranking member of some prestigious association or guild (4-pt wealth)
    10noble or rich merchant (includes a small manor, servants, 4-pt wealth)
    16high noble (includes a large manor, servants, 8-pt wealth)
    CostTemple Examples
    2Acolyte; no authority, but has access to libraries and certain Temple resources pertaining to area of training
    4Investigator (minor Inquisitor), Technopriest or other junior Temple position; can act without supervision, but must answer for actions; commands one or two flunkies
    6Inquisitor or other Temple position; can act without supervision, commands four or more flunkies; can commandeer supplies (2-pt wealth)
    10senior Inquisitor or other high Temple position; commands a department and can commandeer supplies (4-pt wealth)
    16Arch-Inquisitor or other exalted Temple position; includes vast influence and power; 8-pt wealth

    9.6 Physical Abilities

    Strength (Major):

    CostRankStrengthCasual Carrying Capacity
    0NaturalAverage100 lb.
    2NoviceStrong; can lift a normal person200 lb.
    4AverageHeroic Strength; can throw a normal person, force doors300 lb.
    6GoodBrute Strength; has chance of bending metal objects500 lb.
    10ExpertGiant Strength; can bend thick metal1000 lb.
    16AdeptMonstrous Strength; can bend armor plating2000 lb.

    Reflexes and Agility (Major):

    0NaturalAverage; uncoordinated
    2NoviceFaster on the draw; alert; able to respond to sudden attacks; able to make difficult leaps; generally limber
    4AverageNimble; can avoid slow physical traps; highly acrobatic; can perform stunts like backflips to gain advantage
    6GoodCat-like; better chance to dodge blows; always lands on feet
    10ExpertCan catch or block slow thrown objects; can land from great heights
    16AdeptCan catch or dodge speeding arrows; kung-fu movie style action


    0NaturalEasily cut; thin fur or skin
    2NoviceResilient; not easily knocked unconscious
    4AverageLightly armored (leathery skin, scales)
    6GoodHeavily armored (chitin or heavy scales)
    10ExpertRock-like body
    16AdeptIron-like body

    Weapons and Natural Defenses (Minor/Major):

    CostRank (Minor)Examples
    0NaturalOrdinary dull claws and fangs
    1NoviceSharpened claws and fangs
    2AverageKnife-like claws and fangs
    3GoodSword-like claws and fangs
    5ExpertChainsaw-like attack
    8AdeptVorpal claws
    CostRank (Major)Examples
    4AveragePoisonous stingers/fangs; induce sickness
    6GoodPoisonous stingers/fangs; induce instant sleep or paralysis
    10ExpertPoisonous stingers/fangs; lethal
    CostRank (Major)Examples
    2NoviceSkin has porcupine-like quills; cannot be fired
    4AverageCan fire quill up to 8 feet accurately
    6GoodCan fire quill up to 20 feet accurately
    10ExpertCan fire quill up to 100 feet accurately
    CostRank (Major)Examples
    6GoodWeak dragon breath; torch-like; 8' long
    10ExpertMedium dragon breath; blowtorch-like; 16' long
    16AdeptStrong dragon breath; flamethrower; 32' long

    Flight (Major):

    2NoviceMinimal; can hover or glide
    4AverageBasic flight; can lift self and fly about
    6GoodChoose from aerobatic flight, heavy lifter (carry a person), high speed flight, or long-range flight
    10ExpertVery fast and able to carry another person easily
    16AdeptRemarkably fast due to unusual means of flight

    Note: actual flight characteristics should be defined by the player, but this represents what one could reasonably get for a certain number of points. Flying is a major skill because it radically expands the character's ability to get around places.

    Running (Minor):

    You can spend points on both maximum speed and endurance:

    CostMaximum Running Speed
    04 mph
    110 mph
    220 mph
    350 mph
    580 mph
    8120 mph
    CostMaximum Running Time at Top Speed
    05 minutes
    11 hour
    23 hours
    31 day

    As an example, 2 pts running might be 20mph speed for 5 minutes or 10mph for 1 hour.

    Enhanced Senses (Minor):

    CostType of Vision
    0Normal; cannot see well at night
    1Low-light; can see adequately by Ring light, but not indoors
    2Infra-red; can see things that give off heat
    1Hunter's vision; can track small animals moving at 100 feet
    2Keen vision; can track small animals moving at 1000 feet
    3Hawk-like vision; can track small animals a mile away
    5Telescopic vision; can read a book a mile away
    CostType of Sense of Smell
    1Hunter's nose; can track hours-old trails
    2Keen nose; can track a days-old trail
    3Blood-hound's nose; can track a weeks-old trail
    CostType of Ears
    1Sharp ears; can pick up whispers nearby
    2Cat-like ears; can focus on a spoken conversation across a noisy bar
    3Fennec-like ears; can listen through thin walls
    5Bat-like ears; can track moving objects by sound only
    8Telescopic hearing; can pick up whispers up to 1000 feet away

    Regeneration (Major):

    0takes days to heal wounds, months to heal broken bones
    2bleeding stops within minutes; knife-wounds close within hours
    4knife-wounds close within minutes, severe wounds heal within days
    6severe wounds heal within minutes, bones knit within days
    10flesh and bones knit within minutes
    16flesh and bones knit almost instantly, but cost energy which must be replenished quickly or else risk unconsciousness

    Shapeshift (Major):

    2One additional form only slightly changed from original; character is still recognizable in either form (e.g., Lacinus ability to walk on two legs or four; retractable wings that can sprout out when one wishes to fly)
    4One additional form distinctly different from the original

    Note: shape-shifting does not give you new abilities; you must purchase these separately, or else a special arrangement must be worked out with the GMs for certain physical abilities that are "traded off" for other abilities of equal cost in the alternate form. For example, a six-limbed Rokuga with minor shape-shift ability that has 2 points of running while in "six-on-the-floor" form, and then 2 points of "extra limbs" while in "biped/four-armed" form.

    When you purchase this ability, you must determine whether the transformation is a natural process, or a magical one. Magical transformation allows you to change mass as well as shape, but takes four times as long on Rephidim and in the air, and does not work away from Sinai.

    Immunities (Trivial):

    1Resistant to disease (e.g., scavenger ability to eat carrion)
    1Resistant to certain poisons (e.g., Nohbakim immunity to toxin-laced foods in the Himaat Desert)
    2Immune to disease
    2Immune to poison
    3Total immunity to disease and poison

    Sustenance (Trivial):

    1eats very little, and cheaply
    2stores food and water, can go for long periods (weeks) without sustenance
    3does not need to eat or drink

    Need for Sleep (Trivial):

    1light-sleeper; easily awakened by any sign of danger
    2can get by with just a few hours of sleep per night without decrease in health or alertness
    3never needs to sleep; can be constantly alert

    Temperature Resistance (Trivial):

    0insulated: resistant to effects of cold environments, but intolerant of heat
    0cold-blooded: resistant to effects of heat, but intolerant of cold
    [please note, this isn't as severe as taking "cold-blooded" as a Disadvantage]
    1resistant to effects of cold environments (e.g., polar bear)
    1resistant to effects of hot environments
    2"Ice Elemental"; immune to normal weather extremes; resistant to cold-based attacks
    2"Fire Elemental" or "Dragon"; immune to normal weather extremes; resistant to hot/fire-based attacks
    3Immune to extreme cold and hot environments; resistant to ice/cold and fire/hot attacks

    Coordination (Trivial):

    1ambidextrous; can use left and right hands equally well
    2prehensile tail or extra limbs; can hold and even manipulate items with extra limb; e.g., four- or six-armed Rokuga
    3myriad limbs; cannot be restrained by ordinary methods; e.g., centipede or squid-like being

    Note: If you buy flight, you do not also need to buy extra limbs in order to have arms.

    Memory (Trivial):

    1Limited eidetic memory; can hold no more than the equivalent of a page of text or photograph at any one time; good memory for directions
    2Eidetic memory, can remember the contents of an entire novel-sized book, given time to read; can remember everywhere one has been
    3Living camcorder; can remember entire shelves of books

    Note: this ability does not allow one to pick up entire knowledge skills; the information absorbed is still essentially just text (or pictures). To be able to use them effectively, for instance, making repairs to machinery, still requires experience, i.e. one must still buy mechanics or electronics.

    Speed Reading (Trivial):

    1can flip through a novel in mere seconds (particularly obscure or difficult to read texts or complex diagrams may take longer) and retain it as if one had spent a normal amount of time to read

    Breathing (Trivial):

    1Can hold breath for five minutes
    2Can hold breath for hours
    2Amphibious; can breathe underwater
    2Can enter a "suspended animation" death-like state, using very little air
    3Does not need to breathe; can survive in a vacuum

    Natural Spell Resistance (Trivial):

    0Normal willpower; no bonus to resist magic that affects the mind, i.e., mind magic, mental illusions, dreams, shadow obfuscation, or evocations of the spirit
    1Strong-willed; approximate 20% chance to resist mind-based ritual magic; can be voluntarily lowered
    2Psychic defense; approximate 50% chance to resist mind-based ritual magic; can sense such magic being used against self
    3Strong defense; approximate 80% chance to resist mind-based ritual magic can sense such magic being used in the area
    5Living magic null zone; cannot be directly affected by magic, good or ill; can still be affected by indirect effects (e.g., a mage cannot hypnotize the PC, but could levitate a rock to drop on the PC's head); can still be affected by physical attacks (e.g., fireball); this level of resistance is total: it cannot be lowered (e.g., to receive healing)

    Note: With the exception of total resistance, this can be lowered voluntarily, but the resistance (or lack thereof) is unilateral. A PC lowering his defenses to receive a beneficial spell will also be vulnerable to any offensive spells used on him during that time. Percentages are approximate, and do not reflect what GMs may assess as actual chances of resistance for any given situation.

    Magic Sensitivity (Minor):

    0NaturalCannot sense magic
    1NoviceCan sense high levels of magic such as a Forbidden Zone, or a golem that is not magically "hidden"
    2AverageCan sense spells being worked nearby (within 20 feet)
    3GoodCan sense in which directions magic is stronger or weaker; chance to identify Sphere of magic used
    5ExpertSensitive to fluctuations of magic in a two-mile diameter area; chance to identify spell type in Sphere of specialization
    8AdeptSensitive to fluctuation of magic in a 100-mile diameter area in which the PC has made his or her home; good chance to identify what sort of magic is being used (power level, what Sphere, possibly even spell or general intent of magic)

    Note: The above "Magic Sensitivity" is identical to the sensitivity gained with Magic Talent, described below. This generally represents some natural ability to sense magic, though perhaps enhanced by proper training.

    Note: All physical abilities above, if not common to the race from which a character originates, must be justified.

    For instance, a Khatta may be able to justify resistance to hot weather conditions like deserts due to living in such an area, but could not be completely immune to the effects of heat as a dragon might be able to.

    Also, these costs assume that anyone familiar with the character's species or who takes a moment to scrutinize the character may have a fair guess that the character has such an ability. Flight is usually possible with wings. Characters with fennec-like or bat-like hearing typically have fennec-like or bat-like ears. Knife-like daggers or fangs are, of course, knife-like in size as well as damage. Strong characters look big and muscular. If the character has a remarkable physical ability but overtly has no sign of it, the cost may be slightly increased at the GMs' discretion, based on how this may impact plots.

    9.7 Magic

    Note: Magic is not recommended for first-time characters. It is complicated and there is a definite "feel" we want for Sinai magic. On Sinai, spellcasters do not fire off spells instantly the way that they would in a D&D or Fantasy Hero game; they take lengthy amounts of time to work their spells, up to hours for full-fledged rituals, but achieve powerful results once such time and energy is invested.

    9.7.1 The Ability to Work Magic

    Characters who are able to work magic have or develop "magical talent". This allows them to sense magic, and more importantly, to work it. A character with a high amount of magical talent can cast spells more easily or get more power from the same amount of time spent.

    There are four ways to justify an advance in a character's abilities with magic:

  • The character can be taught magic by someone who already knows how to do it.
  • The character is exposed to a high level of magic that is not completely controlled, in the same way radiation can make materials radioactive.
  • The character practices magic enough to become more familiar with its working.
  • The character has always had this ability, but has not recognized it for some reason.

  • 9.7.2 Levels of Magic

    Each successive level of magic is geometrically more powerful than the last, but also requires a much longer casting time. (For more on the differences between Cantrips and Rituals, see 5.5.1 Cantrips and Rituals.

  • Cantrips: These spells have trivial effects such as lighting candles or creating small breezes. They take five to thirty seconds. (The "average" cantrip takes fifteen seconds when cast on the surface of Sinai, or one minute if cast at sky island level.) For some cantrips, the effect can be made constant by continual chanting. Such spells are the regimen of the Collegia Esoterica's apprentices, who must practice them constantly in order to gain better understanding of the powers they command.
  • Minor Spells: These spells are more powerful than cantrips, with such effects as floating candle-flames, wisp-like phantasms, and spells to detect lies. A cantrip can be converted to a minor spell so that the effect is continuous for up to an hour's length without the spellcaster having to chant throughout the duration. A minor spell takes five to fifteen minutes to cast. (The "average" minor spell takes fifteen minutes when cast on the surface of Sinai, or one hour if cast at sky island level.) Apprentices are taught these spells as a stepping stone to the rituals which they must master, chaining cantrip to cantrip with a framework of magical power.
  • Rituals: These spells are the mainstay of the working mage, and can achieve powerful effects such as a brisk wind to push airships about, mind-reading, magical healing of broken bones and deep wounds or illnesses, the raising of spirits, lasting illusions, rains of fire upon enemy siege weapons, or scrying at a distance. They take anywhere from an hour to a day to cast, depending on the power and duration of the spell and the GM's opinion, and require material components, magic circles and other preparations. (The "average" basic ritual takes one hour when cast on the surface of Sinai, or four hours if cast at sky island level.)
  • Major Rituals: These spells usually require helpers and costly materials and special times or places to perform -- they can be worked without these, but the spell's effects will be reduced. They can take days to perform. (There's no such thing as an "average" major ritual, so there isn't an "average" casting time, per se, except that it will take longer than a day, even if the spell caster is at Adept level.) Such rituals can cause earthquakes, blast armies, raise armies of the dead, even look into the future.
  • Note: Spells take longer to cast on Rephidim and in high mountainous places that are weak in magic. On Rephidim, the time it takes to cast a spell is multiplied by four. In other words, a cantrip might take twenty seconds to two minutes.

    9.7.3 Magical Talent

    Levels of Magical Talent (Major):

    0Naturalcannot sense or work with magic
    2Novicecan sense high levels of magic such as a Forbidden Zone; able to cast cantrips and minor spells; however, minor spells take longer to cast, and there is a higher chance of a mistake
    4Averagecan sense spells being worked nearby (within 20 feet); able to cast cantrips, minor spells, and rituals; can hold a ritual; chance to recognize spells of one's own sphere if being cast in area
    6Goodcan sense in which direction magic is stronger or weaker; chance of determining sphere of magic being used; can hold a ritual; can cast minor spells as if they were cantrips
    10Expertsensitive to fluctuations of magic in a two-mile diameter area with which the caster is familiar, such as the caster's home town; can work major rituals with the help of others; can cast basic rituals at 1/4 the normal time requirements (e.g., a ritual normally taking 1 hour to cast now takes 15 minutes)
    16Adeptsensitive to fluctuation of magic in a 100-mile diameter area in which the character has made his or her home; can work major rituals by self; can cast basic rituals at 1/12 the normal time requirements (e.g., a ritual normally taking 1 hour to cast now takes 5 minutes)

    Note: Magical talent only needs to be purchased once; as many spheres as desired can then be purchased. The magician may not purchase a higher level of spells in a sphere than his or her magical talent. In other words, to be good in a sphere of magic, the magician must have good magical talent.

    Note: Spells being held are cast with what information the magician had "at the time of casting". The more general a spell must be, the weaker it will be, because the magician must use generalities such as "the person at whom I point" or "the spot on which I stand".

    Spells in a Sphere of Magic (Major):

    0no ability in this sphere of magic
    2able to cast cantrips and minor spells
    4able to cast basic rituals
    6able to cast major rituals
    10can enchant places and items with minor spell-level powers
    16can enchant places and items with ritual-level powers

    9.7.4 Held Spells

    The typical use of a spell is that the mage spends a certain amount of time preparing for and casting a spell, and then, once all that is done, the effect of the spell takes place immediately. However, there are a number of spells for which this simply isn't practical. A spell meant to be used for putting out fires isn't of much use if it takes a few hours to cast it, while the fire burns a house down. With a bit of preparation, it is conceivable that -- should a mage be assigned to help a city's fire-fighting brigade -- a mage might cast the aforementioned spell, up to the last phrase, then "hold" the effect for up to a few hours, releasing it when desired. Pros and Cons

    The obvious benefit is that the mage can have a near-instant effect fired off when he wants it, provided that he is able to invoke the last phrase of the spell. However, there are a few drawbacks, some of them quite significant, depending upon the situation:

    1. If a mage is holding the maximum number of spells allowed, he cannot cast any further spells without breaking his concentration required to keep those "held" spells.
    2. Certain events that might cause the mage to lose his concentration can cause the held spell to either fizzle or misfire. In the case of offensive spells (fireballs, lightning bolts, etc.), it is more likely that the spell will go off at random, or backlash against the caster. In the case of spells that would require a specific target to have any effect (such as something meant to read a mind, create an illusion, etc.), the spell is more likely to just fizzle harmlessly.
      Events that might cause the mage to lose the concentration required to "hold" a spell include:
    3. Losing consciousness (or worse!)
    4. Being physically injured
    5. Being affected by another spell
    6. A magical disturbance (such as being in a Forbidden Zone)
    7. Persons sensitive to "active" magic will be able to pick up the presence of the mage with the "held" spell.
    8. The energies used to "hold" a spell are visible even to persons without special sensitivity, in the form of a "manifestation". This is typically some sort of apparition appropriate to the Sphere or the effect of the spell, hovering over the caster's hand or head. The more powerful the spell, the more obvious the effect. A mage cannot simply walk about with a "held" fireball spell without people getting a good clue that he's "loaded".
    9. A "held" spell can be affected by dispelling and warding magic just as if it were already active. Therefore, the longer one goes about with a "held" spell, the more opportunity some other mage (especially of Chaos, Spirit or Shadow), has to dispel the effect before it can be activated. Manifestations

    Held spells are accompanied by a "manifestation", typically appearing as a small glowing ball of energy that hovers above the caster's head or hand. For a Fire Mage, this may appear to be a flickering flame. For an Air Mage, this could seem like a sphere of swirling clouds, or perhaps ball lightning. For a Water Mage, it might look like a hovering ball of water, or perhaps a slowly rotating snowflake.

    The exact particulars may vary according to the individual spellcaster, the Sphere of the spell, and the power level of the spell. More powerful spells have more visible and powerful-looking manifestations. Even non-mages will have a pretty good clue that a man in red robes walking around with a ball of flaming lava hovering over one hand is a source of potential trouble.

    One side effect of manifestations is that they usually cast light. (Actually, the manifestation itself can be useful as a source of light!) They do not have any physical existence, however, and while they might cause sensations of heat or cold in the immediate area, physical contact with the manifestation will not cause any noticeable effect. The "ball of flaming lava" will not burn anyone, nor will it be put out by rain.

    More a reflection of the mindset of the mage than anything else, some manifestations take on anthropomorphic properties ... They may seem more like little spirit creatures serving the caster, taking off to perform their tasks when the "held" spell is released. Despite appearances, however, these "creatures" are not sapient or self-aware. This is merely a "special effect". Holding Multiple Spells

    More experienced and powerful mages can "hold" spells long enough to prepare another ritual, and muster the concentration required to hold it. In order to be able to "hold" spells, a mage must have at least 4 points of Magical talent as well as at least 4 points of knowledge in the Sphere of the spell being held. Having more points in both Magical talent and Sphere ability may allow the caster to hold more than one spell. (The titles listed to the left are not definitive, but only a rough idea of the likely title associated with a mage of this power level.)

    Apprentice2 points in eachCannot hold rituals.
    Journeyman4 points in eachCan hold one ritual.
    Alumnus6 points in eachCan hold two rituals
    Master10 points in eachCan hold three rituals
    Adept16 points in eachCan hold four rituals Role-Play Considerations

    The ability to "hold" spells can considerably increase the usefulness of a spell-casting character in adventures. Since adventures so often involve big surprises and dangers that the heroes can't realistically plan ahead for, and which require mere seconds at times to react to, a mage isn't much use, if he has to sit down and spend several hours in order to have any effect! This way, with a little bit of planning ahead for the possibility that dangers may arise, the mage can have one or more spells "on hand", just in case something happens.

    However, care should be taken not to abuse this. Spell-casting characters should remember the limitations of held spells. Plus, a held spell is not instantaneous. You still have to follow the usual "protocol" when using a spell: Namely, the PC can make a pose indicating that he's going to cast his "held" spell ... but there is still the chance, however small, of the PC being interrupted. Furthermore, the GM still determines the outcome. While it may seem that mages are kept on a tighter leash than warriors ... it's probably because, for the most part, it's true!

    Furthermore, if a character is going to have a "held" spell, the PC must inform the GM before role-play starts. If you are an Air Mage, and a fire breaks out in a plot, it is not fair for you to go, "Oh! By the way, I 'held' a spell that can put out fires, just in case something like this might happen." No way. You should warn the GM ahead of time. If you're afraid that you might forget for a given session, then you might want to establish with your GM a "standard" plan for your PC. Maybe, unless the GM hears from you otherwise, if you're a Water Mage, you always have an "water blast" handy, just in case. (Something like this should be written down in your Notes, for easy reference.)

    Held spells are not meant as just an excuse for mages to be able to instantly fire off spells without any prior planning.

    9.7.5 Spheres of Magic

    There are twelve recognized Spheres of Magic. There is a certain degree of overlap of effects between the Spheres, and some "sub-spheres" (specializations) are recognized.

    Elemental Spheres:

    Earthearth, rock, ground, terrain, plant life, dowsing for metals
    Specializations: Dirt/Sand, Nature/Plants, Stone, Metal
    Airwind, weather, lightning, St. Elmo's fire
    Fireignition, plasma, explosions
    Wateroceans, dowsing for water, rain, ice
    Specializations: Ice
    Lightscrying, illumination, detection, location, introspection
    Shadowconcealing, obfuscation, darkness
    Mindmind-detection, reading, controlling, mental powers
    Specializations: Reading, Control, Telekinesis
    Dreamdreams, visions, prophesy, nightmares
    Illusionable to create images affecting one or more senses
    Lifehealing, modification of the body
    Specializations: Healing, Disease, Transformation
    Spiritnecromancy and dispelling, spirit-raising
    Specializations: Necromancy, Warding
    Chaosprobability, blessings, curses, dispelling

    9.7.6 Sinai Clergy

    Not all spellcasters are of the College Esoterica, despite the best efforts of the Mages' Guild. Certain orders, typically of a religious bent, have mastered limited uses of magic. These "priests" call upon "miraculous" powers in the same way as mages, although their "cantrips" are "prayers", and their "rituals" are, well, rituals, only of a "religious" rather than "magical" nature.

    This is not to claim that all religions on Sinai are shams, and that there are no higher deities. It's just that there are a number of religious orders that practice a limited form of magic in the service of their respective deities. They either claim that their powers are miracles granted by their patron or matron deities ... or else they see their powers as "tools" to use in the furtherance of their beliefs. (It should also be noted that it's possible to play clergy who do not display any sort of Magical Talent.)

    The primary difference between the actual powers of a priest of this sort and that of a College-trained mage, is that, instead of learning a broadly defined Sphere of spells, a priest or priestess learns a select set of powers that could very well come from entirely different Spheres, though they should still fit within the "domain" of his or her deity.

    The Temple, despite its religious trappings, does not practice such magical feats in its priesthood, and for the most part such priests would be shunned by the College Esoterica and the Mages' Guild as "hedge wizards" and renegades. The respect they command may vary greatly depending upon what company they keep, and how far they venture from their homelands.

    More Details on Sinai Clergy

    9.8 Disadvantages


    Base ValueFrequency
    0.0Uncommon; circumstances do not happen normally
    0.5Common; circumstances show up frequently in role-play
    1.0Constant; always affects the character


    Base ValueSeverity
    0.0Nuisance; effects can be ignored through willpower or easy remedy, or do not directly affect the plot
    0.5Inconvenient or embarrassing, but not lethal; difficult to control
    1.0Hazardous; potentially life-threatening in times of danger
    1.5Restrictive; greatly restricts PC abilities

    Examples of psychological hindrances:

    ValueExample (Frequency/Severity)
    -0.5Overconfident; takes on battles one can't win (Uncommon/Inconvenient)
    -0.5Afraid of Insects (Common/Nuisance)
    -1.0Code of Chivalry/Honor; must champion the weak and needy, even against the odds and at personal risk (Common/Inconvenient)
    -1.0Weak-Willed; easily persuaded, susceptible to mind-control cantrips (Uncommon/Hazardous)
    -1.0Distrust of Magic; will not use or willingly be the subject of magic, beneficial or not (Common/Inconvenient)
    -1.0Cannot Lie; under no circumstances can tell a lie (Uncommon/Hazardous)
    -1.5Hatred of Templars; will attack anyone affiliated with the Temple on sight, even if they're "nice" (Common/Hazardous)
    -2.0Death Wish; no will to live, seeks glorious death (Constant/Hazardous)

    Examples of situational disadvantages:

    ValueExample (Frequency/Severity)
    -0.5Persecuted; hassled in a non-lethal way by some group or organization; e.g., under surveillance by Temple; business sabotaged by rivals (Common/Nuisance)
    -1.0Destitute; must steal or work to get the next day's food; usually hungry or mildly sick (Common/Inconvenient)
    -1.0Hunted; pursued by some group or organization (Uncommon/Hazardous)
    -1.0Bad luck; nature goes out of its way to embarrass the PC (Common/Inconvenient)
    -2.0Marked for Death; constantly fending off an endless number of enemy agents, ninja assassins, vengeful zombies, etc., that pop up in every session, seeking to bump off the hero (Constant/Hazardous)

    Examples of physical disadvantages:

    ValueExamples (Frequency/Severity)
    -0.5Hobbled; has a limp, cannot run (Uncommon/Hazardous)
    -0.5Nocturnal; always sleepy in daytime (Common/Nuisance)
    -0.5Color-Blind (Uncommon/Inconvenient)
    -1.0Weak; can barely lift twenty pounds (Common/Inconvenient)
    -1.0Fragile; easily knocked unconscious (Uncommon/Hazardous)
    -1.0Partially Mute; cannot speak, but may make some sounds (Common/Inconvenient)
    -2.0Mute; will not vocalize (Common/Restrictive)
    -2.0Blind (Constant/Hazardous)
    -2.0Diminutive; a small creature such as a fox or a mouse, unable to manipulate things effectively (Common/Restrictive)
    -2.5Beast; unable to speak or to use writing or sign-language of any sort to get around the problem (Constant/Restrictive)

    9.9 Examples

    Most of the following are presented as examples of "ordinary NPCs", most of them built on a 12 point scale. However, they can also be used as guidelines when attempting to come up with a PC that fits into one of these roles.

    9.9.1 Generic Archetypes

    Simple Mercenary (12 pt, NPC)

  • 4 - Fighter (Major, Average): sword, crossbow, brawling
  • 3 - Fighter's Equipment: chitin armor, chitin sword, wooden crossbow
  • 2 - Status (Major, Novice): belongs to guild of fighters who provide information, jobs
  • 2 - Survival (Minor, Average): includes trailblazing/climbing, herbary, tracking
  • 1 - Riding (Trivial, Average): able to ride standard mounts
  • Simple Zelak Warrior (12 pt, NPC)

  • 2 - Fighter (Major, Average): chitin sabers, brawling
  • 3 - Natural Weapon (Minor, Good): sword-like chitin wrist-sabers
  • 6 - Armor (Major, Good): chitinous armor; hard to injure
  • 1 - Sense of Smell (Trivial, Novice): hunter's nose; can track hours-old trail
  • 0 - Very literal, no imagination or self-awareness
  • Note: Zelaks do vary from hive to hive in design. Some may be more powerful or more capable and thus, more expensive.

    Simple Thief (12 pt, NPC)

  • 2 - Weapon Skill (Minor, Average): daggers
  • 2 - Burglary (Minor, Average)
  • 2 - Stealth (Minor, Average)
  • 2 - Sleight of Hand (Minor, Average)
  • 1 - Equipment: thieves' tools
  • 1 - Equipment: chitin or obsidian dagger
  • 2 - Status (Major, Novice): member of thieves' guild, who provide information, jobs
  • Simple Traveler (12 pt, NPC)

  • 2 - Weapon Skill (Minor, Average): sword
  • 2 - Traveler (Minor, Average)
  • 2 - Survival (Minor, Average): includes trailblazing/climbing, tracking, herbary
  • 1 - Rider (Trivial, Average): can ride standard mounts
  • 1 - Etiquette (Trivial, Average)
  • 1 - Linguist (Minor, Novice): one extra language, plus Rephidim Standard and native tongue
  • 2 - Equipment: chitin sword
  • 1 - Equipment: camping gear
  • Simple Scholar (12 pt, NPC)

  • 5 - Lore of Sinai (Minor, Expert)
  • 3 - Linguist (Minor, Good)
  • 1 - Bureaucracy (Trivial, Average)
  • 2 - Status (Major, Novice): belongs to some university which provides grants, information
  • Simple Temple Technopriest (12 pt, NPC)

  • 4 - Status (Major, Average): Technopriest, provided with tools and supplies as needed
  • 2 - Lore of Sinai (Minor, Average)
  • 3 - Mechanics (Minor, Good)
  • 3 - Electronics (Minor, Good)
  • Simple Airship Crew (12 pts, NPC)

  • 4 - Fighter (Major, Average): sword, crossbow, brawling
  • 2 - Airship Knowledge (Minor, Average)
  • 3 - Fighter's Equipment: chitin armor, sword, wooden crossbow
  • 1 - First Aid (Trivial, Average)
  • 1 - Traveler (Trivial, Average)
  • 1 - Gambling (Trivial, Average)
  • Simple Archaeologist/Ruin Plunderer (12 pts, NPC)

  • 2 - Weapon Skill (Minor, Average): sword
  • 4 - Wealth (Major, Average): enough to afford sword, basic equipment, etc.
  • 2 - Burglary (Minor, Average)
  • 2 - Lore of Sinai (Minor, Average)
  • 2 - Contacts (Trivial, Good): has contacts in Rephidim bureaucracy to overlook small looting in exchange for a cut of the profits

  • 9.9.2 Mages

    These "archetypes" represent the "average" apprentice or mage, but they also represent the minimum requirements for becoming an Apprentice or a Journeyman Mage with the College Esoterica. Although there are a few "hedge wizards" and "priests" to be found on the surface who may practice a bit of magic, if you want a PC spellcaster who can get along in polite society, you pretty much have to go through the College Esoterica and meet its requirements.

    Simple Rephidim Mage Apprentice (8 pts, NPC)

  • 2 - Status (Major, Novice): student of College Esoterica; prestigious; has extensive library
  • 2 - Lore of Sinai (Minor, Novice)
  • 2 - Magic Talent (Major, Novice): can sense high concentrations of magic (such as Forbidden Zones); can cast cantrips and (with some difficulty) minor spells; cannot hold spells
  • 2 - Cantrips in One Sphere of Magic (Major, Novice): can cast cantrips and minor spells in one sphere of magic
  • 1 - Some Related Skill - e.g., "healer" if a Life Apprentice, "stealth" if a Shadow Apprentice, "herbary" if an Earth Mage
  • Simple Rephidim Mage Journeyman (16 pts, NPC)

  • 4 - Status (Major, Average): Alumnus of College Esoterica (prestigious, has extensive library, widely respected)
  • 2 - Lore of Sinai (Minor, Average)
  • 4 - Magic Talent (Major, Average): can sense spells being worked nearby (within 20 feet); able to cast cantrips, minor spells, and rituals (but not major rituals); can hold one spell
  • 4 - Rituals in one Sphere of Magic (Major, Average): can cast cantrips, minor spells and rituals (but not major rituals) in one Sphere of Magic
  • 2 - Some Related Skill

  • 9.9.3 Knights Templar

    There are few enough Knights Templar that each one should be distinct, but here are some guidelines for a Knight Templar NPC, which also include suggested minimums for any PC of this group. It should be noted, though, that Knights Templar comprise a fairly controversial group, and at times their loyalties may put them at odds with PCs -- perhaps even to the point of armed conflict. Being a Knight Templar means that you can end up dying for the order, even if you do everything "right". Certain species simply don't work as Knights Templar. (For instance, it's really hard to armor a bat properly.)

    Simple Knights Templar Lancer (12 pts, NPC)

  • 6 - Fighter (Major, Good): sword, pistol, lance, brawling
  • 1 - Rider (Trivial, Average)
  • 1 - Etiquette (Trivial, Average)
  • 4 - Status (Major, Average): Knight Templar Lancer; limited law enforcement authority
  • 0 - Lancer Equipment: riding mount, heavy armor, weapons
  • 0 - Obligation to Order of the Bounded Star and Anchor, and to the Rephidim Temple
  • Simple Knights Templar Elite (Champion) (16 pts, NPC)

  • 10 - Fighter (Major, Expert): sword, pistol, lance, brawling, extra weapon
  • 1 - Rider (Trivial, Average)
  • 1 - Etiquette (Trivial, Average)
  • 4 - Status (Major, Average): Knight Templar Lancer; can arrest suspects, can slay those who resist arrest
  • 0 - Lancer Equipment: riding mount, heavy armor, weapons
  • 0 - Obligation to Order of the Bounded Star and Anchor, and to the Rephidim Temple