I remember looking at the rulebook for Modern Age before buying it and I was impressed. Within a few minutes of looking at the book, I knew the basic concept of the system. It bugs me when I have to flip past 20-50 pages just to find the basic rules in a rulebook. Remember publishers, players want to find the details quickly and not have to go through a ton of fluff to find it. Yes the setting is important, but it shouldn’t overshadow the rules. So I’ve elected to use this system for my latest entry into the Character Creation Challenge.
Speaking of setting, Modern Age is a system that can be used for any type of setting from pirates on the sea to the industrial revolution to current times to near-future. The system is also used for The Expanse RPG so you can go into some science fiction settings as well. There is a “World of Lazarus” setting included with the rules, but what caught my eye was the Agents of ACRONYM in the Modern Age Companion book. Creating another spy? Yes please.
So let’s make Raymond Ray, freelance intelligence agent that started out as a member of the CIA before retiring from the agency in the 1960’s. He held a brief position with UNITY’s North American branch before deciding that he could help more people by being an independent. While the goals of UNITY and the CIA were noble, they tended to focus on the big things (and they still consider him an asset to use). Ray noticed that smaller governments, organizations and even individuals needed assistance in the modern world just about to enter the new decade.
Modern Age characters start out with nine abilities with scales ranging from -1 to +4 with 1 being the average for PCs. These are Accuracy, Communication, Constitution, Dexterity, Fighting, Intelligence, Perception, Strength and Willpower. I’ve noticed that I haven’t been defining a lot of abilities in my character creations/reviews. So if there is an ability that isn’t very obvious and I fail to define it, please let me know. In Modern Age, you can add the total of a 3d6 roll and compare the results to a chart and take them in order, or you can arrange them how you see fit or you can buy abilities (all attributes are 0 and you have 12 points to spread throughout with no attribute higher than 4 or lower than 0). Because I like rolling the dice I’m going to randomly roll then assign them to attributes. As the character creation process continues my character will earn Ability Focuses. Specialized items under an ability (example Accuracy could have a focus of thrown weapons) will gain +2 bonuses to rolls when using the focus.
The next step is determining Ray’s background. I rolled Middle Class-Suburban. While there are different backgrounds, they all give the same bonus. +1 to an ability score, select two focuses and two talents (which haven’t been explained yet) and roll on a benefits table. I selected Investigator for Ray’s profession. He was studying to become a detective when the CIA recruited him out of college. This profession brought about another round of items filled out on the character sheet. After this was the character’s Drive, or what motivates them to act. Some of these in the basic book are good. The companion book only had info on making custom drives. So I’ll select Survivor. Ray survived his time in the CIA and UNITY and knows that things may get worse if he doesn’t prepare better.
Next came sections on resources, health (already determined from the steps above), defense (10+Dex) and speed. I lost track of the process from here as things started going in different directions. So I buckled down and wrapped up the character by selecting some equipment I thought a freelance intelligence agent would have. I think I got everything, but there are still a few blank spots on the character sheet (beyond the background or description). A quick look at the index didn’t help (ugh). I think I’m done, so here is the sheet.
While I’m glad that I have the books in PDF format (and I used multiple books for this character), I really wish that I had them in a dead tree version. I find that flipping pages and setting bookmarks is a lot easier when trying to learn a new game or create a character for the first time.
For the most part, the process moved smoothly. A little better explanation of talents before you had to start choosing them would have helped. Living on the Edge in the character creation process was not listed in the actual talents, but Living on the Fringe was. So? The Same?
I think this book deserves more of a deeper dive than just cracking it open and trying to put a character together. I’m sure there is some good stuff in here, but a little jumbled up. Not as bad as some other games, but enough that I got frustrated with the character creation process. If I was participating a game (and I really want to try this system) I’d probably see about writing up a character creation guide with a little bit more focus for new players. This is a sandbox game (which is good) but it really needs the GM to confirm a few details before creating a character.
I had the owner of the Subplot Kudzu blog contact me via Facebook to let me know that they were participating in the #CharacterCreationChallenge. Thank you, I’ve added the blog to the list of participants. On the RPG.net forum thread, someone mentioned that we’ve already surpassed the page count from the 2021 challenge.
Coming Up Next:
Farscape Role Playing Game