Step 1: Decide PC Race
My best understanding of C&S is that the system prefers a human-centric milieu, with the option of “outsider” PC “Races.” Because of the mention of Elves and Dwarves, it appears that these outsider Races are what can be expected.
Notes such as these suggest the sorts of fictive qualities that this game might emulate: fairly realistic medievalist societies wherein folk belief is validated but actual experience largely consigned to the fringes of human interaction. I would describe such a genre as historicized versions of the Matter of Britain and “low-magic” fantasies such as A Game of Thrones (at least as it is presented early in the book series).
I prefer human-centric games anyway. I elect to be a Human.
Step 2: Select a Character Creation Method
From my first read-through, it appears that, whenever relevant in C&S, gamers have the option of randomly generating a character aspect. Personally, as a player, I would choose this every time. I’m always excited about giving up control of these choices, being handed some features—just as the real world does to the real us—and making the most of them. This “Wheel of Fortune” worldview contributes particularly well to the feudal society setting implicit in a C&S game.
But, as awesome as this is, I see this presenting the most difficult obstacle for—of all people—the GM, because this is an emulation of a feudal society. The game makes great pains to clarify that the Middle Ages is not a democracy, that serfs were little more than slaves, that they had no rights, that it was fully expected of them to obey, without question, the whims and will of their superiors. So… you can “do the math.” What kind of a player dynamic will it be in a campaign wherein all the players have randomly generated characters from the lower classes? Though the random class table (soon to be seen) is weighted towards a preference for Rural Freemen, it’s possible that you’ll get a spectrum of classes. Some PCs will have to be subservient and deferential to others. To me, this sounds cool, rich with roleplaying possibilities, but all the players will have to be on board. Such a game will be an experiment in exploring a unique, collective narrative, not escapist heroism (at least not for some).
Step 3: Divine the Birth Omens
Now I get to make my first roll. Looks like I’m Neutrally Aspected, the most likely result (a d100 roll of 16-85). If I were Well or Poorly Aspected, I would be supported by either Good or Evil supernatural forces that would affect my Magickal (yep, I “spelled” that right) affinities. Depending on either Aspect, my character would lose or gain 10 PC (Player Character) points, respectively.
Looking ahead, though, and having elected the random generation method, I see that PC points will not be tracked during character creation. All PC point values are for point-buy generation exclusively. Also, in case it wasn’t clear earlier, once Random selection is decided upon, all possible rolls will be random. The other options are point-buy and default selections.
Step 4: Determine Personal Attributes
This gets interesting. For Attributes I roll 2d10 eleven times and record the results, discarding the lowest two values. Then I assign them, by choice, to my nine Attributes. If I were doing the point-buy system, for the Human character I have selected there are Minimum and Maximum scores of 02 and 20 (for Historical campaigns), 22 (for Heroic campaigns) and 25 (for Super-heroic campaigns) respectively.
In the explanation of Attributes we get a first glimpse of C&S’s core mechanic. Each of these Attributes can be translated into a percentage roll. It’s a “roll under” system, so to test an Attribute I would roll 3d10 under its percentage score. Two of these tens determine the percentile. The third is the Critical Die, with a 1 denoting a Critical Failure (if the percentile test failed) and a 10 being a Crirical Success (if the percentile test succeeded). Precisely what these Critical results might mean will be detailed later in the rules.
Here are my rolls: 18, 16, 14, 10, 9, 8, 12, 12, 11, 17, 9.
Regardless of the choices to come, I’m beginning to imagine a Knight with a strong leaning towards the priestly crafts. As with most games, Appearance appears to be an attractive dump stat. We shall see if ever I learn to rue this choice.
Note: The nine Attributes are interesting to me. For almost a year I ran Le 7eme Cercle’s/Cubicle 7’s Northern culture game Yggdrasill, which organized Attributes into nine designations under the three macro-stats Mind, Body and Soul. Outside of the consonance with Old Norse numerological symbolism, I still find this a neat formulation of a sentient, physical being. RM”s ten stats make sense to me because of its consonance with the decimal system, but I think they’re more than is needed for game utility.
It’s interesting that Attribute values are to be assigned before Social Class is resolved, another deterministic aspect of the game, I suppose.
Step 5a: Determine PC’s Social Class
I get to roll again!
As you can see, the point-buy method necessitates that the higher classes be purchased with PC points, whereas choosing the lowest classes award PC points. A random roll most likely will result in a Rural Freeman.
I roll an 81. I have landed a Landed Knight. Sweet!
Whether or not the historical accuracy of this game is in question, it is features like this result that make C&S simply a joy to read. Turning to the section on the Gentry, I learn that “[c]ontrary to modern popular opinion, not every manorial lord was a knight. Some English manorial lords even tried to avoid knighthood because they did not want the extra governmental responsibilities or the hazardous obligations of personal military service.”
As a Gentle, my character enjoys +3 Action Points and -1 DF to the Skills Courtly Love and Renown. Right now I’m not certain what these terms might mean, but I’m sure that they’ll be explained anon.
Basic Chivalric Training includes Riding, Riding a Warhorse, Mounted Combat, Cavalry Lance, 2 other Combat skills, Wearing Armour, plus Courtly Manners. He might also have Reading if the INT requirement is met (this is usually due to instruction by a Priest who notices the character’s promise or at the orders of the Lord).
Step 5b: Determine Father’s Vocation and Social Status
It appears that, no matter what method of character creation is being used, the Father’s Vocation and Social Status always is rolled randomly. There is an individual table for each of the distinct Social Classes. This is in keeping with the rigid, hereditary caste system of feudal society.
I roll a 03. It appears, then, that my Father was a very minor Knight, with a feudal holding of 4 square miles. My Father’s status grants me, the PC, the Basic Chivalric Training package already described above, one more Combat Skill and a Social Status of 25 (undoubtedly to be better understood later).
Before I leave behind Part the First of C&S’s Character Creation, it appears that I have one more intriguing option as the offspring of a Landed Knight.
I shall have to mull over this.