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Thoughts on Aria: Canticle Of The Monomyth and Collaborative World-building: Part 2–Character Creation

So from my first post on Aria we discovered that Aria’s Mythmaking is based on 3 key concepts, MetaDesign, Playable Realism, and Myth Creation.  For Aria, Playable realism is made up of equal parts Detail, Possibility and Believability.

Within the character creation section we get a heap of detail, as  “The creation guidelines for both persona and narrative environments are extremely detailed.

Aria character creation is done in 9 Steps, Persona Concept, Heritage, Kinship and Status, Characteristics, Vocation and Expertise, Background Aspects, (Personality) Traits,  Equipment and Wealth, and History. I have made notes on each below.

Character Creation in Aria is done in two stages, Prep and Creation

  • Prep includes creation of the narrative environment and individual societies and cultures within it. (I will be covering the Heritage template and Narrative Environment creation in my next post)
  • Characters are designed from within an Individual creation environment, a small ‘social module’ of any size a character can develop within.
  • Creation environment only contains areas within Background and Early Development occurs (part of lifepath system) – Creation environments primarily determine what vocations are available and what expertise can be learned (i.e the skill system and available professions are set by creation environment)
  • Can use 1 of 2 systems, Narrative Determination (Choose what you want)
  • Or Interactive Determination system. Have # of Interaction points which they can spend each year of development. (points are spent to buy attributes, aspects and expertise)
  • 3 levels of Points Spartan/Average/Generous 5/7/9 respectively
  • System is age based system, older characters get more points, but suffer aging effects. (Thinking may use this idea in O:CotEC – age is brutal, yo. This is also system used in Traveller’s life path system. Watch out for Old people!)
  • Personas can also apply Windows of Opportunity, let them change Situational, Vocational, Developmental  circumstances. These Let them change situation (renown, status, personal freedom) or Vocational training available,
  • Character Creation Process
    • (1) Persona Concept broad idea of character
      • Social/Cultural Foundation – affected by cultures Heritage Orientation, societies’ philosophical orientation.
      • Abilities Foundation
      • Psychological Foundation- Can be represented by Personality Traits, Motivations, Passion, Obsession, or Renown Aspect
      • Fictional Foundation – modeled on character from fiction/myth
      • Challenging Persona – Saddled with weakness/Disadvantages
    • (2) Heritage – choose available Heritage Template –
      • Include Developmental considerations – Inherent and recommended Expertise, Profile and Attribute Restrictions
    • (3) Kinship and Status
      • Hierarchy of Social Estates and Status Foundations for a narrative environment
      • Unusual Kinship patterns
      • Define Family Concept, possibly Family Members, Family motivations and background aspects.
      • Family Status – Choose Status Archetype for family, based on Person Concept and Family Concept.
      • Legitimacy-
      • Family Orientation – similar to cultural orientation to areas of stuff
        • Sibling Rank affects costs of family related aspects/advantages
        • Estrangement
        • Inheritance
        • Family Renown
        • Reacton Orientation
        • Innate Renown
        • The all affect costs of family related advantages/background and reaction by people in society.
    • (4) Characteristics (attributes and related abilities)
      • Roll up basic attributes, determine height/weight, physique derived attributes. (VERY detailed height/weight/physique setup based on racial/cultural norms, costs more to increase. Important as trauma resistance number (soak is based on mass)
    • (5) Vocation and Expertise
      • Vocational Setting – Specialization level, Prominence and internal/external potential. — What could character have studied in this setting. Internal is max # of expertise per year from vocation, external max from Setting/Status (Thus you can have a school of hard knocks or an ivy league in which to learn. Education just like in life is important)
      • Vocational Path are followed within a vocational Setting, Vocational path follows into Vocational Cluster which defines skills available.
        • Two classes of skills available – Internal development set by Families Vocational Cluster, and External development developed by the Environ class (urban, rural, isolated) and Status Archetype (Ruling, Privileged, Professional)
        • Status archetype also sets limit on max ranks developed in these skills.
        • Skills are of 3 types, Talents, Aptitudes, and Disciplines, representing harder skills to master and more points/effort to learn.
      • Vocational Clusters (One of best ideas of game) types of skills available in that ‘profession’
        • Fringe Cluster (criminal/untouchable/outlaw)
        • Unskilled Labor Class
        • Warrior Cluster
        • Artisan Cluster
        • Merchant Cluster
        • Skilled Professional Cluster
        • Ecclesiastical Cluster
        • Academic Cluster
        • Bureaucratic Cluster
        • Arcane Cluster
        • Political Cluster
        • Arts Cluster
    • (6) Background Aspects
      • Interesting and colorful Social, Material, Physical, Mental, Psychological, and Spiritual traits (Advantages and Disadvantages) Background aspects can be initial or developmental.
    • (7) Traits
      • Qualities that effect character’s interaction with environment.
        • Charisma (interacting with others)
        • Faith (Strength of belief)
        • Insight (Magical ability)
        • Social Traits (influence and leverage pools)
        • Renown – Specific renown are reputations overall renown
        • Personality – Can apply personality traits of various strengths – Much like PenDragon’s opposed pairs and passions/etc (I like this for loosely coupled characters, makes them a being unto themselves)
    • (8) Equipment and Wealth-
      • Character gets equipment based on his Status Archetype, Inheritance, and any Background Aspects.  Character is assumed to have average equipment for a person of his status in his society. He is also assumed to have wealth average to his status, being cash on hand and liquid resources.
    • (9) History
      • The player generates a detailed history based on all the previously determined details paying attention to his creation environment, vocational environment, and kinship and status archetype. It should be noted that the use of a Window of Opportunity to change an element of the character always requires an explanation in the character’s history.


So yep that is a LOT of detail, and it is couched in the same heavy writing style with a lack of good organization and cheat sheets.  The whole character system is like Gene Wolf’s Earth of the New Sun in style and feel.

In my next post I will be covering the Setting Creation and Heritage Template creation rules from Aria.

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