Your CharacterAs a player in the Forest of Doors, you must, of course, have a character. A character in a LARP is a "role" in the sense that an actor's part in a movie or play is a role (hence "roleplaying"), except that there is no script to go by. Instead, characters have histories, personalities, and motivations that are unique to them, as created by you, the player.
Because forest of doors is a Live-Action Roleplaying Game, characters are also represented by a set of out-of-game statistics and traits. A character in the Forest of Doors has traits and abilities to simulate things that they can do in this fictional world, as distinct from what you, as a player, can do. For instance, characters can wound other characters, conjure magical effects, perfectly gauge someone’s emotions, or know things that the player does not. The rules, in a sense, are there to allow characters to do heroic and powerful things that their players cannot (either for safety reasons or because it isn’t possible in the real world).
The steps of character creation are relatively simple. First, you must come up with a concept for what the character will be. Second, you choose Traits that fit the character’s natural capabilities. Thirdly, you choose the skills that the character is capable of. Fourthly, you calculate your character’s Mastery (magical power) and Prowess (combat power). Lastly, you create a history for the character to flesh it out and give you a distinct role to play in game.
A character concept is the central idea of what you would like to portray in game, and it should be something that can be summed up fairly easily. Remarkably good characters can develop from very simple, concise concepts such as “Merchant” or from something as complex and multi-layered as “Faithless Imperial Executioner." Your concept will govern how your character acts, what their abilities will be, and what stories they will get involved in. To a great degree, your concept will define your experience once you are in game, so it is important to put a lot of thought into it.
There isn’t a specific measure of what makes a good character concept, but there are a few common threads that separate the good from the bad. Good character concepts fit the player; they draw on the player’s skill, interests, and capabilities. A character that requires skills a player doesn’t have will never be as successful as a character that draws on a player’s capabilities. A player who cannot memorize a spell’s verbal incantation shouldn’t be a magic user, nor should a player who cannot dance play a belly dancer. More importantly, if the character doesn’t represent anything the player is interested in portraying, then boredom will ensue.
It is important to remember that your character should be someone you can play for a long period of time. Character concepts based around single jokes, gimmicks, or tricks should be reconsidered. These things often lose their appeal after a few games, leaving the player bored and everyone else underwhelmed. It really goes without saying, but characters should never be based on getting revenge on other characters (or players).
Your character concept should be solidly rooted in the setting. Although Forest of Doors is a game that welcomes many different styles of fantasy roleplaying, there are a lot of things that are simply inappropriate. All characters must be from one of the eight home worlds. The character doesn’t have to be a typical character from a particular world, of course, but they have to be from there. Frankly, a character that is appropriate to the setting will likely find more adventure, story, and roleplaying opportunities than character that is out of place in the setting.
Concepts that involve the character having already lived a life of adventure or nearing the end of their life are not terrifically appropriate. The reason why characters are given the traits and abilities they have is because they are talented individuals beginning their grand adventure. Characters who were veterans, great leaders, elder magicians, or other concept that involves being old and/or powerful should be avoided. In time, characters can become these things, but it is inappropriate for characters to start this way. It may be cliché, but it is especially true in a LARP that the journey is more important than the destination.
Certain concepts are expressly forbidden. No player character is allowed to have traveled to any other world during their life, nor can they have met people who have traveled to (or are from) other worlds. The character’s adventure into the Forest of Doors is considered their first travel into another world. The gates to the Forest of Doors have only begun to open six months prior to the start of the game, and there are no direct doors between the home worlds. On a related note, this is why the magic styles of other worlds are expressly forbidden to characters at character creation.
Player characters in the Forest of Doors must also be heroic, although not necessarily perfect. Characters that are distinctly “evil” are not really appropriate for this game. Your concept does not have to be a virtuous follower of the straight and narrow, however. The world works in shades of grey, and player characters need be no different. Lots of petty criminals, lowlifes, and shady figures seek the Forest of Doors as a refuge, and these types are acceptable player characters. Characters that cross over into outright evil, however, should be avoided. Through in-game means, characters that become too morally corrupt can be turned into non-player characters under storyteller control (although played by the original player) in order to prevent player versus player conflict. If you just want to fight against player characters, we suggest you ask to become a full-time NPC. To put all this really simply, Falstaff = Good concept, Iago = Bad concept.
Your character’s home world will have a profound effect on them in terms of cultural assumptions, personality traits, and their reaction to their new situation. It will also, from a purely systematic perspective, alter how many character points they spend on certain skills and which style of magic they can begin the game with. Most concepts will clearly be more appropriate for a particular setting, but if you have trouble deciding on which world your character will be from, just choose the one that you find most interesting. The costume you want to wear (or can tolerate wearing), your character's philosopy, and the magic style (if any) you want to practice should all be considered. Note that characters from some of the worlds do have specific makeup requirements, though these are balanced by certain advantages and resistances.
(Note: Forest of Doors uses point-based character advancement, along with a unifed Trait and Skill system. Simply put, characters will earn character points at the end of every event, and these can be used to increase their abilites directly).
In this step, you choose three Traits that fit your character.
Traits are capabilities your character has, simply by their nature, and they grant a number of abilities. All of them have activated powers that can be used once per day, as well as passive abilities that are always "in effect." Purchasing a Trait multiple times allows you to use activated powers more than once per day, while also potentially increasing its passive bonuses. Traits are divided into Mental Traits (Learned, Perceptive, Willful), Physical Traits (Agile, Strong, Tough), and Spiritual Traits (Attuned, Charismatic, Empathic).
Every character begins the game with three different Traits of their choice. Later, (either after an event or later in the character creation process) these first three Traits can be increased by spending character points on them. Should you desire it, you can also buy a single level in a fourth Trait at a later time. This bonus Trait cannot be increased beyond its basic level, however.
In this step, you get 30 character points to spend on Skills or additional Traits.
Skills are divided into three types: Combat Skills, General Skills, and Magic Skills. Combat Skills give characters special abilities they can use with a specific weapon type. Although every character can pick up and wield most weapons, only a character who has a Combat Skill for a specific weapon can do combat maneuvers with it.
General Skills give characters capabilities related to a specific discipline, such as Craft or Diplomacy. Magic Skills are divided between the seven schools of magic (one for each world that uses it), which give access to spells and rituals, and Occult, which grants more generalized magical abilities.
All Skills have a buy-in cost, which is simply the cost to purchase it at level 1. This initial cost can be higher or lower depending on the complexity of the Skill, ranging from 5-20 CP. Characters receive reduced (-5) buy-in costs for certain Skills depending on their home world.
All Skills progress at the same rate beyond level 1. Specifically, you simply multiply the skill's current level by 5 to arrive at the cost to increase it to the next level. Level 2 in any Skill costs 5 character points and level 3 costs 10 character points, as examples. Skills can be increased as high as the player wishes, as long as they have the character points to spend, and some of the highest levels offer mysterious, unknown abilities. Because Skill costs are the same price at character creation as they are in game, players should not feel pressured, during this stage, to buy every Skill they think they need; as their character matures, they can always branch out.
Traits may also be increased at this stage of character creation, though they are much more expensive than Skills: you must spend 20 x the Trait's current level in CP to gain the next one (Trait 2 = 20cp, Trait 3 = 40cp, etc.). Like skills, Traits are not explicitly limited in how high they may be increased, but anything over level 3 in a Trait is quite unusual.
Finally, you may also buy a fourth Trait (known as a Bonus Trait) for 20 character points, but this Trait can never be raised, as it represents your character training themselves in an area in which they have no natural ability.
In this step, you calculate your Prowess (which allows you to perform combat maneuvers) and your Mastery (which rates the power of your spells). If your character has no Combat or Magic Skills, then you can probably skip this entirely.
Prowess is spent to fuel combat maneuvers, in the thick of fighting. A character’s maximum Prowess is equal to their highest Combat Skill plus their level in the Strong trait, if any. Characters begin each game with their maximum amount of Prowess, of course, but it is also restored after 10 minutes of rest. This means characters can begin most encounters with a full pool of Prowess to draw upon.
Mastery is a measure of a character’s magical power. Every spell’s strength is governed by the caster’s Mastery. For instance, the spell Heart Seeking Shards (from The Naming of Things school) gives the caster their Mastery in packets that do 1 damage when they hit a target. A character with a Mastery of 4 would have four packets every time they spent a Charge on this spell (more on the Charge system later). Mastery is equal to the character’s highest School of Magic, plus any levels they have in the Willful trait. Also, the Occult Skill grants an additional point of Mastery at levels 1, 3, and 5.
For more detail on the spells available please see the Magic Rules
Every character has a history. Even though each world may have a different accounting of time, no character is without a story of some sort. A character history will help to give a sense of depth, as you will be able to speak of where you are from in game, and what your life was like before you came to the Forest of Doors. A history also sets the tone for your character’s current circumstances; even if they are no longer in their home world, the events of their past will likely have an affect on their new life. To put it bluntly, your character history will often dictate some of the story lines you can get involved in.
Take some time and write a character history, but remeber that brevity is the soul of wit: one page should be enough. We recommend that you read the Setting Packet for the world your character comes from before setting your history down. This will give you a detailed background on the world, allowing you to hook yourself into storylines already present in the setting.
Also, as if writing the background wasn’t reward enough in itself, we offer additional character points upon its completion. After the end of the event in which we receive, and approve, your character history, you receive an additional 5 character points.