FS3.3 - Character Creation

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.


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

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.

Point Restrictions

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.

AP Disparities

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:

  • In Star Trek, a character on a primitive planet might have Incapable for a tech-related ability. They lack the context to even know what a computer is, let alone how to use one.
  • In Star Wars, a character might have Incapable for force-related abilities if they’re not force sensitive. They just can’t use the force, period.

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:

  • Everyman Athletics: You can run and jump and climb and throw a ball. You probably played some little league or intramural sports when you were younger.
  • Everyman Firearms: You know how to point and shoot a gun. You might even remember to take the safety off.
  • Everyman Medicine: You know to put ice on a sprained ankle and apply pressure to stop bleeding. You know some basic drug facts (antibiotics, narcotics, etc.) You could mimic CPR from the movies.
  • Everyman Demolitions: You know what TNT and C4 are and understand the basic principles of how a pipe bomb works.

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.

Choosing Abilities

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.

Attribute Ratings

Attributes are rated from 1-4.

Rating Summary Description
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)

Sample Attributes

Attribute Description
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.

Buying Attributes

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

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 Skill Ratings

Action Skills are rated from 0 to 8, based on your training and experience.

Rating Summary Description
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.

Sample Action Skills

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.
Firearms Reflexes Shooting guns.
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.
Piloting Reflexes Flying aircraft.
Stealth Reflexes Being sneaky.
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).

Buying Action 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

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 Skill Ratings

Background Skills have a compressed rating system, so you don’t have to fret about the specific number attached to your hobbies and interests.

  • Fair - Interests and casual studies. For example: a bar league or backyard athlete, a hobbyist, some college.
  • Good - Professional or semi-professional competence. For example: a minor league or college athlete, a serious hobbyist, an advanced degree.
  • Exceptional - Notable expertise in your field. For example: a Major league athlete, a renowned expert.

Sample Background Skills

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”.

  • A science - astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, etc.
  • A humanity - history, literature, psychology, philosophy, poetry, etc.
  • A profession or trade - cook, waitress, bartender, accountant, programmer, carpenter, brewer, blacksmith, etc.
  • A game - chess, roleplaying, poker, etc.
  • An art - sculpting, painting, sketching, photography, etc.
  • A form of expression - acting, singing, dancing, playing an instrument, writing, etc.
  • A sport - baseball, football, gymnastics, etc.
  • A craft or hobby - gardening, basketweaving, knitting, etc.
  • An unusual interest - detective novels, game show hosts, etc.

Buying Background Skills

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.

Language Ratings

Like Background Skills, Language Skills have more descriptive ratings.

  • Beginner - You know tourist-level common phrases like “my name is” and “where’s the bathroom”. Rolled as Fair (2).
  • Conversational - You can get by, but your phrasing is sometimes awkward and your vocabulary incomplete. Rolled as Good (4).
  • Fluent - You are fully fluent in the language. Rolled as Exceptional (6).

Your reading level is assumed to be on par with your speaking level, unless otherwise specified.

Buying Languages

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.

Advantage Ratings

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.

  • Fair
  • Good
  • Exceptional

Buying Advantages

Advantages cost 2 AP per rating.

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