FS3 takes a simple approach to abilities and highlights skills that are relevant to gameplay. The goal is to get players through character creation and reviewed as quickly and easily as possible.
Table of Contents
FS3 takes a narrative approach to character creation, emphasizing description over mechanics. This works best when you have a clear idea of who your character is before you begin. Only then will you be able to decide what skills they should have given their background and experience.
Ability Points (AP) are a way of measuring the sum total of your character’s abilities. Every ability you pick and every rating you choose contributes toward your total AP rating.
The system is designed so that abilities central to the game’s “action” cost more than other abilities. A Navy SEAL will probably have more action-oriented skills than a master cook (unless the cook is also Stephen Seagal or your game is centered around baking). They’re both great at what they do–one just needs more AP to get there because their skills are likely to be more useful in clutch situations.
Each game will determine the maximum AP you can spend. There may also be limits on how many abilities you can have at high levels, and how many skills you’re required to take.
Think of AP as an upper bound, not a “pool” of points that you should spend. It’s perfectly fine–common, even–to finish character creation without spending all possible AP. This is especially true for young, inexperienced, or non-action-oriented characters.
Some characters will end up with higher AP totals than others. That’s okay. Characters in FS3 have equal opportunity, but ultimately you choose what kind of character you want to play.
Why would you want to play a lower-powered character? Why not maximize your allowable AP rating?
Dice are fun, but story is the most important thing. Telling a story about a wide-eyed young recruit or sidekick can be fun. John McClane in Die Hard wasn’t particularly powerful, but he’s one of the most badass action heroes ever.
FS3 is designed so that you don’t have to be awesome to succeed. Even characters with modest ratings can still contribute to the story.
Abilities are assigned a rating. The higher the rating, the better the character is at that ability. Different types of abilities use different rating systems, which are explained in the following sections.
Action Skills, for instance, have a wide range (1-8) to allow more fine-grained comparisons between characters. Background Skills, which are less critical to the story, have a narrower range (1-3) for simplicity.
For skills, FS3 has two special ability ratings, named Everyman and Incapable. If you have one of these ratings in a skill, it means your character is untrained and you are limited in how you can use that skill.
If your rating is Incapable, that means you are completely incapable and/or ignorant in the subject. Typically you will only encounter this on games that have mixed tech levels, significant cultural differences, or abilities that require some kind of innate trait to use. For example:
If an ability is rated Incapable, you cannot use/roll it at all.
Often, an untrained person still has at least some basic knowledge in a subject, even if it’s just from basic schooling and/or popular culture. This is represented by the Everyman rating. Everyman reflects the knowledge/ability of the Average Adult Layperson in the game world. For example:
If an ability is rated Everyman, you can use/roll it as long as it makes sense for a layperson to have a chance of performing the task. Doing CPR? Sure. Brain surgery? No. Just no.
The following sections will guide you in determining your Abilities.
Attributes represent basic abilities that everyone has to some extent. Attributes give a boost to related skills when making ability rolls. Someone with Reflexes:3 would get an extra die on all reflexes-related rolls compared to someone with Reflexes:2.
Attributes also come into play when you don’t have a skill on your sheet. You can assume that your character has an Everyman rating, which gives Attribute+1 dice to roll.
Attributes are rated from 1-4.
|1||Poor||You are below average. (less than 40th percentile)|
|2||Average||You are about average. (40-60th percentile)|
|3||Good||You’re better than average. (60-80th percentile)|
|4||Exceptional||You’re considerably above average. (more than 80th percentile)|
|Reflexes||Reflexes, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination.|
|Brawn||Physical strength and toughness.|
|Wits||Practical intelligence, inventiveness and creativity.|
|Grit||Willpower and determination.|
|Perception||Senses and general awareness.|
|Presence||Charisma and beauty.|
You receive Average in all Attributes for free. Each additional rating costs 2 APs. You don’t gain any points back for taking a rating 1 in an Attribute.
You may spend at most 12 APs on Attributes. You may not have more than 2 Attributes rated 4.
Action Skills represent your training/knowledge in areas that are likely to come up in action/conflict situations during the game.
The Action Skills list is a social contract between the the game admins and the players. The admins are saying: “These are the skills important to the game.” That doesn’t mean other skills are useless. You never know when your character’s knowledge of 18th century literature might crack open a mystery, or your rock climbing skill might get you out of a jam. It’s just probably not going to come up on a regular basis.
Action Skills are rated from 0 to 8, based on your training and experience.
|0||Incapable||You grew up in a cave or something and know absolutely nothing about this.|
|1||Everyman||You know what the Average Adult Layperson in the game world would know. See Ratings for details.|
|2||Fair||You’ve still got a lot to learn, but you can handle easy stuff.|
|3||Competent||You have competence at a junior-professional level, but lack finesse or experience.|
|4||Good||You are thoroughly competent at a general professional level.|
|5||Great||You understand nuances and shortcuts, and can handle even challenging situations with ease.|
|6||Extraordinary||You are an expert, and can pull through even in dire circumstances.|
|7||Amazing||You have mastered your field and few can compare. Example: an All Star athlete or world-renowned scientist.|
|8||Legendary||You are one of the best that’s ever lived. Example: Einstein or Beethoven.|
If the descriptions in the rating table above aren’t enough, you can use the Detailed Ratings as a guide.
|Action Skill||Linked Attribute||Description|
|Alertness||Perception||Noticing things and being aware of your surroundings|
|Athletics||Brawn||General running, jumping, climbing, etc.|
|Composure||Grit||Coolness under pressure.|
|Demolitions||Wits||Blowing stuff up.|
|Gunnery||Reflexes||Vehicle and heavy weapons.|
|Medicine||Wits||Tending to the ill and injured. Requires Specialty: Doctor, Surgeon, Nurse, Medic, Other|
|Melee||Brawn||Fighting with fists, knives, and hand-to-hand weapons.|
|Technician||Wits||General mechanics/electronics and fixing things.|
Some Action Skills are so broad that you need to pick a specialty. For instance, your paramedic’s “Medicine” skill might be really good, but it doesn’t cover brain surgery.
If you take a specialized ability higher than Fair, you must choose a specialty. Ratings below Fair do not have a specialty, because the foundations of those skills are the same no matter the specialty (otherwise they would be separate skills).
You automatically get the Everyman rating in each Action Skill for free. Each additional rating costs 1 AP. You don’t gain any points back for taking a rating 0 in an Action Skill.
If you have a specialized ability higher than Fair, you must choose a specialty. The first one is free. Every additional specialty costs 1 AP.
You may spend at most 40 APs on Action Skills.
You may have at most 3 Action Skills rated 5+, 2 rated 6+ and 1 rated 7+. These limits are cumulative, so if you have a 6 and a 7, that counts as both 1 at 7+ and 2 at 6+.
Background Skills represent arts, sports, hobbies, professions and any other skills your character possesses that are not already covered by Action Skills.
The Background Skills you choose for your character are a social contract between you and the game admin. It’s you saying: “These are the skills important to my character (that aren’t already covered elsewhere).” Nobody’s going to care if you say you played Little League even if you don’t have the baseball skill. You can just default to Everyman Athletics. But suddenly claiming to be an expert Egyptologist with nothing on your sheet to back that up is breaking the social contract.
Background Skills have a compressed rating system, so you don’t have to fret about the specific number attached to your hobbies and interests.
Background Skills can be broad, within reason. “Electrical Engineering” is sufficient for a degree in engineering; you don’t need to take individual skills for Math, Physics, Statistics, etc. Just avoid super-broad things like “Art” or “Science”.
You must take at least 1 Background Skill. You can have up to 6 rating points of Background Skills for free. There is no maximum to how many Background Skills you may take.
Languages represent the languages that your character can speak and/or read.
Like Background Skills, Language Skills have more descriptive ratings.
Your reading level is assumed to be on par with your speaking level, unless otherwise specified.
The specific list of Language Skills will vary from game to game.
You get 3 rating points in languages for free, which typically you’ll use to buy Fluent in your character’s native language. Additional Language Skill ratings cost 1 AP each.
Advantages are used on some games to represent things a character has that are not skills–resources, rank, connections, etc. Valid Advantages will vary from game to game. Some games may not use them at all.
Advantages have compressed ratings like languages and background skills. The precise meaning of each rating should be set by the game admin, since advantages mean different things on different games.
Advantages cost 2 AP per rating.← Previous | Next →