I like lifepaths, so what the heck. Family chargen night.
The Game: Mechwarrior 3rd Edition
The Publisher: FASA Corp
Degree of Familiarity: None. Haven't even read it. Gonna wing it.
Books Required: None but the core, I hope.
OK, so, Michelle's summary of this game is "interplanetary war in big fighting machines." I can't help think there's probably more to it, but here we go!
So, the first step according to the book is to come up with a concept, but Michelle says this is unnecessary if we're using the lifepaths, which we are. So! We'll skip ahead to affiliation.
I don't have much of a preference, here, so I roll a die (excluding one I don't like) and come up with the Capellan Confederation, House Liao. Looks kinda communist. I need a minimum of SOC 3 to be a citizen, whatever that means, and I get Martial Arts/Gung Fu +1, Language/Any Capellan Secondary +1 as Bonus Skills. Oops, I do have path restrictions, too. I need to be a citizen to take certain lifepaths, so I'd better make sure I have that, whenever it becomes relevant.
And now, the Life Path. We proceed in four stages: Early Childhood, Late Childhood, Higher Education, and Real Life.
So! For my Stage One, I take White Collar. That gives me SOC 4 as an Attribute Minimum, STR -1 as an Attribute Threshold, Wealth as a Trait, Skills: Academic/Any +1, and Language/Affiliation +1. And then I roll for my event. My diplomat character's parents dragged him from world to world, which gives me SOC +1 (that's handy), Contact 2, Wealth, Language/Any +2, Protocol/Any +1, Zero-G Operations +1. My choices for my next Path are High School, Prep School, or Military School. I'll do the latter, sounds fun.
Stage Two, then. I get WIL 3 as a minimum, CHA -1 and SOC +1 as Attribute Thresholds, Promotion as a Trait (if what I take next is Military Enlistment or Academy), Academic/Military History +2, Computers +1, Leadership +2, Rifles +1, Martial Arts/Military +1. For my event, I made friends with the Commandant (I get Contact). For Stage Three, I'll take Military Academy.
That gives me INT 3, WIL 3, and SOC 3 as Attribute Minimums, RFL +1, BOD +1, WIL +1, and SOC +1 as Attribute Thresholds, Promotion and Well-Equipped as Traits, Basic Training as a Field, and Academic/Military History +2, Leadership +1, Protocol/Affiliation +2, and Swimming +2 (wtf?). Then I have to take Advanced Individual Training as my next path. For my event, I spend too much time doing desk work; I get Rifles -1, Martial Arts/Military -1, Computers +1, Administration +1).
From there I go into Advanced Individual Training subpath, which takes me two years. I get Promotion, again. I get Leadership +1, and I can add 1 to three Basic Training Skills and 1 to any other Skill. I pick a Field, too. Hmm. I'll take DropShip Pilot. I have an idea about where this is going. My next Path, then, is Special Training.
Special Training takes me 3 more years, making me 22 when I get out. I add one to an Attribute Threshold of my choice, I get Leadership +1, +1 to three Basic Training Skills, +1 to half my AIT skills rounded up, and +1 to any other Skill. I get Promotion, Wealth, and Well-Equipped. I'll take JumpShip Pilot, and my next Path has to be Tour of Duty.
That's be Tour of Duty (Inner Sphere): It takes me 2 years. I get +2 to any three Skills from Military Fields, and +1 to two other Skills. For my event, I am gallant in the field! (And my superior buys it.) I get Brave, Commission (Rank 1), Good Reputation. I'll go back and do another Tour of Duty, which means I just double all that shit, and then I'm off the chart and high on life. Oh, I get an event. Uneventful garrison duty; I get a +1 to any Skill.
So now I synthesize all this crazy shit, figure out my skills, and so forth. But first, a bit of concept. My character was the child of diplomats, and got dragged around world to world when he was a kid. He wound up going to military school as a result of fascination with the military and his parents' security escorts, but wasn't really enamored of the "fighting and killing" bit, preferring to do administrative stuff and not really deal with the hard stuff. That got him in trouble, though; one of his superiors got him reassigned to DropShip duty. But then during a battle, that same superior got himself killed and my character piloted a damaged DropShip out of fire, earning himself a commission and a cushy job...up until now, when he's (hang on) 26. Pretty young to be an officer, but c'est la guerre.
Now I figure out Attributes, Traits, and Skills. I guess I figure out Minimums and Thresholds; let's see.
STR Min ; Threshold -1
BOD Min ; Threshold +1
DEX Min ; Threshold
RFL Min ; Threshold +1
INT Min 3; Threshold
WIL Min 3; Threshold +1
CHA Min ; Threshold -1
EDG Min ; Threshold
SOC Min 4; Threshold +2; +1
I also get a +1 to a Threshold of my choice. Now, what? It looks like I have to spend my 50 points to raise Attributes, but raising them past their Thresholds costs extra. My Thresholds kind of suck, though, and I'm not seeing anything that sets a starting value. Hang on. Oh, OK, I see; they all start at 6, except Edge, which starts at 8. So my Thresholds are:
STR Min 2; Threshold 5
BOD Min 2; Threshold 7
DEX Min 4; Threshold 6
RFL Min 2; Threshold 7
INT Min 5; Threshold 6
WIL Min 3; Threshold 7
CHA Min 2; Threshold 5
EDG Min 2; Threshold 8
SOC Min 4; Threshold 8
OK, so I'll put my extra point into Charisma. And then I get a free +1 in SOC, I guess. So now I get 50 points, which cover Attributes and Traits, and I have to buy up my Attributes to their minimums. OK, well, after doing that, I've spent 26 points, and most of my Attributes kind of suck. I really want 5, minimum, across the board. Can I afford that? I can, it would cost me 45. Hmm. Well, let's do this. Let's leave Strength at 2, and pump Edge up to 8, and (since I have a free point in SOC), that means I've spent 44.
So, then Traits. I better figure out what I have from the Life Path:
Commission (Rank 1)
Man, I got no negative traits at all. Well, I'll combine my Contact traits to reflect the Commandant; he was an old friend of the family and looked after my character as much as he could. He's retired now, living off his commission and doing very well for himself, but still has a lot of pull in the military.
With all my Promotion, I was a Squad 2nd when I got a Commission, but now I'm a Lance. I have 10,000 C-Bills to start with, and Well-Equipped changes the availability of gear, but since I'm unlikely to shop I don't think that matters. Well, let's maybe take some negative traits. I'll take Poor Hearing 2 (DropShip engines are loud) and Stigma 2 (he's widely regarded as someone who lucked into his wealth and commission, which isn't entirely fair). That gives me four points back, which means I have a total of 10. I'm actually pretty happy with my Traits, I think. Well, maybe I'll take Well-Connected 2, and G-Tolerance. That leaves me 7 more points. I'll put them into Attributes. I'll pump SOC to 7 (4 points remaining), RFL and Will to 7.
Now Skills, for crying out loud. Let's total 'em up!
Martial Arts/Gung Fu 1
Academic/Military History 5
Martial Arts/Military 3
Zero-G Operations 4
Now I figure bonuses.
Martial Arts/Gung Fu +0
Martial Arts/Military +1
Zero-G Operations +1
I have 12 points remaining (because a score in a Skill translates to a bonus, but only at certain levels, and then you total the remainders...jesus, game design has progressed since this). Going from a +0 to a +1 costs 2 points, which means I could do that a few times. Hmm. I'll put Administration, Computers, Career/Pilot and Navigation/Space up to +1, and that leaves me with 5 points. Going from +1 to +2 costs four points, so I'll put Zero-G Operations to +2.
And that's all the number-crunching, unless I wish to shop, which I do not. My character's name is Chu Ziao. He's in his mid-20s, and he keeps himself in good shape, though his combat skills are mostly theoretical. He's a decent pilot, but he's mostly coasted on luck so far. That's maybe about to change.