Character Creation and Advancement

Character Creation

When players create their characters, they should proceed through the following steps in order:

  • Freebies:
    • 3 dots in your native language
    • 1 dot in Commonwealth Standard
    • 1 Luck
    • up to 2 Milestones
  • Pick your Race
  • Choose your Aptitudes
    • Each of your aptitudes begins with a rating of 15.
    • First, add your racial Aptitude modifiers.
    • Then, distribute +20 points between your various aptitudes.
    • Then, distribute -5 points between your various aptitudes.
  • Pick your Background
    • The bonuses granted by your Background “apply” now.
  • Spend your creation points (CP)
    • Player-characters get 800 CP
    • Pick a wealth level (see table)
    • Skill Points:
      • 30 ranks or fewer → 1 CP
      • 31 ranks or more → 2 CP
      • Proficiency Skills get free proficiencies at 10 / 30 / 50 / 70 ranks; additional proficiencies cost 5 CP
      • Specialization: 5 CP
    • Trait: 10 CP
    • Class: 10 CP
    • Power: 10 CP
    • +1 Luck: 15 CP
    • Items: see table
      • 1 CP → minor-cost item
      • 5 CP → moderate-cost item
      • 10 CP → major-cost item
      • 20 CP → extreme-cost item
    • 5 CP → a dot in a language
  • Pick your motivations
    • see Motivations

Character creation limits:

  • no more than 50 ranks in a skill
  • no aptitudes higher than 35 or lower than 5
  • at least 100 CP spent on skills with the combat tag
  • at least 100 CP spent on skills with the knowledge tag
  • no more than 10 Luck (global limit)

More information is given below.


Every PC gets the following for free:

  • 3 dots in your native language (your choice)
  • 1 dot in Commonwealth Standard
  • 1 Luck
  • up to 2 Milestones

Picking Your Race

Your character's race will determine a number of mechanically-important statistics about your character, including their racial aptitude bonuses; their Durability (DUR), Strength (STR), and size; their senses and movements; and more.

Note that you're just picking what species your character is, not what region or culture they're from. You'll determine where your character is from when you pick their Background.

Choosing your Aptitudes

To determine your character's final Aptitudes:

  • Each of your aptitudes begins with a rating of 15.
  • First, add your racial aptitude modifiers.
  • Then, distribute +20 points between your various aptitudes.
    • You could add 5 to SOM, 10 to WIL and 5 to COO, for example.
  • Then, distribute -5 points between your various aptitudes.
    • You could subtract 5 from your COO, for example.
    • You can subtract points from one of the aptitudes that you added points to.
Why Add 20 then Subtract 5

Why distribute +20 points to your aptitudes, then distribute -5?

So you can choose to have a "dump stat" or not. You can subtract 5 from an aptitude that you added 5 to, so that you will in effect have just distributed +15. Or you can apply the -5 to an aptitude that you didn't boost, so you will have more boosts to your good stats at the price of having a bad stat.

Why Not Boost Stats with CP

Eclipse Phase lets you buy Apt boost with CP, so why don't we?

One reason is that it arguably doesn't work very well in Eclipse Phase — although the reasons it doesn't work in Eclipse Phase don't really apply to us.

The relevant reasons are, one, to keep the character creation process simple, and two, to make your race selection important (the more free-form your ability to move Aptitude points around is, the less your race's specific aptitude bonuses matter, and the more races that have lower aptitude bonuses — like Shifters — suffer in comparison to the others).

Picking your Background

You gain the bonuses from your background as soon as you pick it. Notably, this means that, if your background grants you ranks in a skill, then you will have those skill ranks before you spend CP later. (Skill Ranks granted by your background are normal skill ranks, and work exactly like any other skill ranks.)

So, if your background gives you 10 ranks in Barter, you can buy 20 more ranks for 20 CP (1 a piece), and then 20 more ranks for 40 CP (2 CP a piece). Then, you would have the (character-creation) maximum of 50 ranks in that skill, for a total cost of 60 CP.

Background Skills Apply First

It might seem a little odd that your background gives you skill ranks, and that those skill ranks apply "first." Here's our reasoning:

  • If it where a bonus rather than ranks, then some backgrounds would be better than others at certain builds, in a way that you couldn't ever compensate for.
  • If we didn't specify when the ranks "applied," then character creation would be under-specified.
  • If the ranks applied last, then their impact would be variable, because they would give you either 10 CP or 20 CP of benefit depending on how many ranks you bought.

Note that a member of any race can be from any background; a Drake character can be form anywhere, and you don't have to be a Drake or a Human to be from the Dragonshire.

Spending Your CP

Now you'll spend your creation points (CP). Ordinarily you'll get 800 CP to spend, although GMs may sometimes have players build their characters with more or fewer CP.

How you spend your CP has the largest impact on your character. At this stage, you'll acquire the skills, traits, classes, and more than will define your character's role and capabilities.

For some people, this can be a daunting process, especially if you're new to the game. Unlike a class-based game, the free-form nature of the points-based "à la carte" character creation requires a very clear character concept, a good idea of the mechanical role you want them to be able to fill, and a clear plan for functioning in that role. In turn, this requires a fairly good understanding of how the game is going to work, which new players obviously do not have. Some guidance is provided in Building Characters, but we also recommend that you have no fear about working with your GM and the other players in your group — especially if they're more experienced.

Spending CP is fairly freeform; subject to a few limits, you spend your CP however you want. Costs are given below:

Skill Rank1 CP for your first 30 ranks, 2 CP for the 31st rank and after
Skill Proficiencysome free with ranks; 5 PC for additional
Skill Specialization5 CP
Positive Trait10 CP
Negative Trait-10 CP (you gain 10 CP)
Neutral Trait0 CP
Class10 CP
Power10 CP
+1 Luck15 CP
Language Dot5 CP
An ItemVaries

The cost of skill ranks changes as you buy them: your first 30 cost 1 CP per rank, while from 31 on they cost 2 CP per rank. Combined with the free ranks from backgrounds, this can be a little tricky (or a little tedious), so we've provided the following table for target number-of-ranks and CP costs below. (Of course, you don't have to buy ranks in units of 5, and Backgrounds don't have to provide ranks in units of 10s and 20s; this is just the common case.)

Desired Total RanksCost With No Free RanksCost With 10 Free RanksCost With 20 Free Ranks
5 Ranks5 CP××
10 Ranks10 CP0 CP×
15 Ranks15 CP5 CP×
20 Ranks20 CP10 CP0 CP
25 Ranks25 CP15 CP5 CP
30 Ranks30 CP20 CP10 CP
35 Ranks40 CP30 CP20 CP
40 Ranks50 CP40 CP30 CP
45 Ranks60 CP50 CP40 CP
50 Ranks70 CP60 CP50 CP

You get some proficiencies as you purchase ranks in proficiency skills. You get a free proficiency at the 10th, 30th, 50th, and 70th ranks. (Note that you can only buy up to 50 ranks in character creation, but you can buy up to 70 when spending RP.) You can purchase more proficiencies for 5 CP.

To purchase a specialization, you must have basic proficiency in a skill (that is, you must have 10 ranks in that skill). You may only purchase one specialization for any given skill.

Item costs are given in the table below; note that we don't track the cost for trivial-category items, since those are usually best acquired as part of a skill kit and don't need to be tracked individually.

Cost CategoryCP Cost
Minor1 CP
Moderate5 CP
Major10 CP
Extreme20 CP

While spending CP, you'll need to pick a wealth level. (Note that you'll only do this once; wealth isn't something you can buy over and over in this step.) Wealth Levels and their CP costs are given in the table below:

Wealth LevelCP Cost
0 (no possessions)-10
1 (peasant)-5
2 (local artisan)0
3 (merchant)5
4 (local wealthy)10
5 (noble)20
Getting Gear Without Paying

Consider Lady Katarina, the wealthy Ratfolk noble and crime-lord. Ratfolk aren't strong or large, so she can't rely on strength in combat; instead, she uses poisons and throwables (like scour) to amplify her damage-dealing ability. A dose of poison or a can of scour are both Cost: Medium (see Alchemical Items in Items); if she buys these things during character creation, each one will cost her 1 CP. During character creation, her creator might decide to spend 10 CP to get 5 doses of poison and 5 canisters of scour.

But, as soon as the game starts, she can craft any one of these items, using her skills; since we don't normally track raw material consumption during crafting, she effectively gets these items for free. If she gets some Down Time, she can potentially make dozens of them. Or she could just buy them: with level 4 wealth and good Protocol, she can potentially get a lot of Low- or Medium-cost potions before she depletes a wealth dot!

So, does it make sense that she should spend a scarce, valuable resource like CP to acquire a thing that she might be able to get for free an hour later — especially given that that thing is single-use? Probably not!

At the GM's discretion, players may be allowed to acquire items (or, rarely, features) without paying CP, if there is some compelling reason that they are able to do so; this might include an item you could have crafted, or whose cost is much lower than your wealth, or that would likely be provided to you by a guild or organization that you're a member of.

Players shouldn't attempt to get large amounts of items this way. (We are deliberately not specifying what the upper-bound for "a large amount" is; if we said that "players shouldn't get more than k CP of items without paying CP," then every character will be sure to find one way or another to get k CP of items for free.) Players also usually shouldn't get expensive (or important) items this way — if a special, magical staff is central to your character concept, you can specify that you constructed it yourself, but you should still pay CP for it (since it's probably a Cost: Major item).


Finally, pick your motivations; see Motivations and Milestones.


Some limits apply to character creation:

  • no more than 50 ranks in a skill
  • no aptitude higher than 35 or lower than 5
  • at least 100 CP spent on skills with the combat tag
  • at least 100 CP spent on skills with the knowledge tag

There are also a few global limits, defined in Representing a Character:

  • no more than 70 ranks in a skill
  • no aptitude higher than 40
  • no more than 10 Luck
  • no more than 50 DUR or STR

Character Advancement

As characters operate in the world (and especially as they complete adventures), they will gain Rez Points (RP). RP is usually awarded at the end of an adventure, and RP rewards are the primary method by which characters advance. Characters can spend RP to advance during down-time, using the same rules by which they spent CP during character creation, with two exceptions.

First, When spending RP, the character-creation limits no longer apply, although the global limits still do. For example, when spending RP during down-time, characters can buy more than 50 ranks in a skill (the character-creation limit), but not more than 70 (the global limit).

Second, the GM may require that a character's advancements be reflected in-game. For example, in order to advance a skill, the GM might require that either the skill be one that the character used substantially in the previous adventure, or that the character spends time practicing it during down-time. This would also mean that some traits cannot be acquired (without modification) during down-time, like Congenital Defect or Illiterate. (Of course, what "makes sense" is subjective, and special cases and unusual situations are always possible. These should be worked out between the player and the GM.)

See also the “Buying Off Negative Traits” optional rule.

Rewarding Players

As a GM, how should you reward your players, and when should you give them their rewards?

To take the last question first, we find that long-running games are usually broken into self-contained adventures, most of which take 6 sessions, give-or-take. Loosely, we call these “chapters”. Chapters are usually separated by a few months of down-time, where characters can travel, spend rewards, and live their normal lives. The end of a chapter is usually the right time to hand out player rewards (of which Rez Points are often the most important).

How many rewards should you give? Unlike some other games, this has some dependence on the player, and generally varies based on how each player did. We often give out a (relatively large) base reward that is the same for the entire party, and then smaller per-character rewards based on how the game went.

In Renaissance, Rez is likely to be the most important reward that your players receive — a situation that might be very different from some other games you have played. We typically give a base reward of 2 Rez per session (so, if a chapter took 7 sessions, everyone would get 14 Rez at the end). The party may receive a rez bonus or penalty, based on whether they far exceeded their goal (+3), or fell well short of it (-3). (Even in the case of catastrophic failure, the party should get some rez.)

We usually find that it’s a good idea to give all members of the party the same base rez, even if a character dies and is replaced, or a new player joins; this eases bookkeeping, and it helps keep the party on roughly the same level of power.

Individual characters can earn bonus rez under certain circumstances, and can suffer a rez penalty under others; consult the following list for examples.

  • Character achieved a major success pertaining to one of their motivational goals: +2 Rez
  • Character suffered a major failure pertaining to one of their motivational goals: -2 Rez
  • Strong technical play: +1 Rez per instance.
  • Good role-play: +1 Rez per instance.
  • Help and Support: +1 to +5 Rez. (No wise GM is above bribing their players to help with book-keeping, drawing maps or hosting.)

Traits and Milestones are another common source of reward (or punishment, in the case of a negative trait). (Not everything that earns you bonus rez earns you a trait or milestone, but most of the things that earn you a trait or milestone also earn you a rez bonus — or penalty!)

Of course, players may also receive wealth, fame, titles, magical items and the like. These kinds of rewards can be a little tricky, because of Renaissance’s abstracted wealth system — while you can give your players 500 Gold per, it integrates poorly with the game’s other systems. We suggest awarding players with other assets — like an investment (see Wealth and Income) or property (as a major item, see Gear). The granting of a title can also be represented by awarding a character a class. Players can also be rewarded with the services of local artisans, to craft whatever the players want; this both makes sense, as a reward that even a poor manor might be able to provide, and it gives players a fair degree of freedom in what form their reward finally takes.

Magic items make particularly bad rewards in Renaissance — which might require some adjustment for people coming from other game systems. In Renaissance, gear is a small part of what defines a character, and in particular gear is not designed to advance in power or straddle very disparate power-levels. This means that there is no analog to the trusty +2-better enchanted weapon of D&D and friends. This problem is exacerbated because Renaissance quite deliberately provides very little guidance on what can and cannot be a magical item, instead preferring to leave it up to individual player’s preference and creativity to decide what kind of magical items they might want and then design it themselves (with your help, of course). Similarly, we provide no guidance (and in particular, no limits) to the kinds of things that players can make with their own skills, resources and time. Taken together, this means that there should be no magical item that a player character could reasonably have, but could not have acquired during character creation (or made during down-time) if they wanted it.

This doesn’t mean that you can never give your players neat magical items as rewards, especially if they express a desire for some; but it does mean that you should not rely on advancement in magical equipment as a mechanism for character advancement. Don’t think you have to give players magical items, and don’t think that your players have to get magical items from you!

Conversely, one very thematic reward that Renaissance offers is a boon from the spirits. Remember that, while many spirits are aloof and mysterious, some spirits cooperate happily with mortals. If a hero where to perform some service for a temple or shrine to Uncle Haw — or to a people who live by the river, that he cherishes — they might earn the great spirit’s favor, which could be a powerful benefit indeed.

NPCs and Followers

NPCs and Followers use slightly different rules. As opposed to Player Characters (those characters that are controlled by the Players), Non-Player Characters are controlled by the GM and used to populate the world. Most NPCs will not have complete statistics; instead, they will only have stats appropriate to their role, such as a shop-keeper only having a Barter skill, a Protocol skill and a certain number of Trade Goods. “Major NPCs” are those that are prominent in a campaign — a friendly noble who gives the players their mission, for example, or the arch-villain of the campaign. Finally, Followers are “friendly” characters associated with a player, such as an assistant or helper. It is generally advised that players be allowed to control their Followers, although the GM may prevent a Player from having a Follower do something completely unreasonable (like mortally wounding themselves, or giving the Player Character all their material wealth.)

The GM does not need to follow the character-creation rules to build NPCs; abilities and skills can be freely assigned appropriate to the NPC’s role. The following restrictions apply to NPCs and followers:

  • Major NPCs receive 1 Luck for free like PCs, but cannot purchase additional Luck.
  • Minor NPCs do not receive Luck, cannot purchase Luck, and start with only 10 in each Aptitude.
  • Followers do not receive Luck, cannot purchase Luck, and receive a lower number of Creation Points. The feature that is granting a Follower will specify how many Creation Points they receive, and might specify other limits as well.