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1.5.3 Character Advantages

Advantages are things that work in your favor: status, wealth, contacts, reputation, and inborn abilities. In the Manual, advantages are presented in relatively broad categories, such as `Physical advantage'. As a part of the character generation process, you specify what precise form the advantage takes. Some advantages will be pre-defined by the MUCK's Argo staff: they will have preset costs, and will be detailed in the online manual. These `coded' advantages may have 'triggered effects'. That is, purchasing the advantage may cause automatic beneficial changes to your Stats or Abilities. It is also possible to take `uncoded' advantages: you specify what precise form the advantage takes, and how many points it costs, using the guidelines below. Note, however, that an Argo system parameter may be set which restricts players to only selecting coded advantages.

The following sections concentrate on uncoded advantages... that is, on how to create your own advantages. Even if your MUCK uses coded advantages, these sections are relevant, for they explain how advantages should be implemented, whether in coded or uncoded form.

The cost of an advantage is based on how frequently it comes into play, and how great the benefits are; the more frequent and beneficial the advantage, the more points it costs. Advantages can cost from 1 to 6 points. The precise form and degree of the advantage will need to fit the theme and emphasis of the world, so it's very helpful to discuss the advantages you have in mind with a Monitor.

The following guidelines determine the cost of an advantage (examples are provided in the discussions of the different categories):

Seldom (roll 8 or less, once per game session): 1 point
Frequent (roll 11 or less): 2 points
Reliable (roll 14 or less): 3 points

Slight: 1 point
Significant: 2 points
Great: 3 points

`Slight' in this context means `helpful but not necessary'. `Significant' means `can make a significant difference in doubtful situations.' `Great' means `can dramatically alter the course of events'.

The command for buying advantages is +advantages. Type the command and respond to the prompts, giving a name for the advantage and its point value. If the advantage you specify has been defined, then its cost will automatically be deducted from your Available Points, and any triggered effects will be automatically applied. If it is an uncoded advantage, you will need to input its cost. Normally, advantages can only be taken during character generation. Once your character is approved, the character generation programs won't let you take additional ones, but IC developments might make exceptions necessary. If a brave young peasant lad performed some great feat and were made a knight, several social advantages would logically follow. The Monitors of the MUCK would temporarily unapprove the character and make arrangements for him to be able to purchase Status and any other advantages his new position in society would require.

Advantage Categories:

Mental Advantage

A Mental Advantage is some unusual and beneficial mental ability, such as Sense of Direction, Acute Perception, Affinity with Animals, Photographic Memory, etc.

Example: Alastain has the advantage `Acute Hearing'. Strictly speaking, this would be a 4-point advantage (Reliable, with potentially Significant Benefit). However, Alastain and the Monitor he's working with both feel that this is a bit high. With the Monitor's approval, he sets it as a 3-point advantage. They decide that the best way to implement this advantage in game terms is to allow Alastain two INT rolls to notice sounds or overhear muted conversations, rather than the normal single roll. Alastain will make a note to this effect in his Private Background (discussed below). The Monitor will probably also use a staff command to make a separate note about this.

NPC Advantage

An NPC Advantage is a NPC who will provide direct or indirect aid to the player character. NPC Advantages include Contacts, Patrons and Allies. Usually the NPCs will be individuals, but it is also possible to define a group or organization as an NPC advantage.

Contact: a Contact is an NPC who will provide the character with helpful information. (Usually a puppet controlled by the Monitors is the most straightforward way to represent a Contact.)

Patron: a Patron is a highly placed NPC who will aid and sometimes enlist the aid of the character. (Again, a puppet or NPC char serves as a good way to handle Patrons.)

Ally: an Ally is an NPC who will directly aid the character, accompanying or intervening for him in difficult situations. The player will need to confer with a Monitor about just how the Ally will be played and handled. Possibilities include using puppets, NPC characters, or conceivably other PC characters to represent the Ally. If none of these options seem workable, consider redefining the Ally as a Contact or Patron, which are easier to run than an Ally.

Example: Denali, a bounty hunter, has a very good friend — Rameriz — who's a highly placed beureaucrat in SIB, the intelligence branch of Star Force. Rameriz takes his job seriously, but is also a devoted friend: if it's truly important, he'll poke around in SIB's extensive computer records and pass information along. Often, though, he just can't: his snooping would leave a trail that would land him in serious trouble with the Branch. Given Denali's occupation, this information is usually extremely useful (Significant Benefit), but he can't count on Rameriz being able to help (Frequency of Seldom). This Contact is a 3-point NPC Advantage.

Physical Advantage

A Physical Advantage is some unusual and beneficial physical ability or characteristic. Examples include things such Immunity to Diesease or Double Jointed. Nonhuman characters may be able (and required) to take an advantage that reflects characteristics of their species: Night Vision, Sonar, Flight, Flame Resistant, etc.

Example: F'Lon is an Evanar, a sentient humanoid from Rigel. Evanar have the ability to `phase out' of corperal existence. When phased, Evanar can pass through solid matter and are impervious to physical harm. Phasing takes time and concentration — so it's not necessarily a means of defense in combat — and cannot be maintained indefinitely, but nonetheless the Benefit of phasing would be defined as Great. It's also Reliable, so F'lon's Phasing is a 6-point advantage. (A race such as the Evanar would probably need to be defined by the MUCK administrators. Ideally, numerous aspects of Evanar culture would be developed, along with templates that give starting Stats, Skills, etc., for the race. The template might include a disadvantage that offsets the cost of Phasing: perhaps Evanar have the Social disadvantage of being Mistrusted, because phasing makes them superb thieves. Depending on how important the Evanar and their phasing ability are in the game world, soft-coded commands that let them teleport and unlock exits and objects with special permission levels might be provided as well.)


The Reputation Advantage means that you are well-known and in your society, even by people you haven't met. Sometimes this will act as a disadvantage (it's not always helpful to have people recognize and remember you). Nonetheless, if the nature and extent of your Reputation is such that it usually works in your interest, it should be defined as an advantage (it's also possible to take Reputation as a disadvantage).

Example: Barley has a reputation as a brave and skillful sailor. Sailors in his town would know this, but the odds are that people outside this group wouldn't. The player and Monitor decide that for most encounters (people other than local sailors), Barley's reputation can come into play on a roll of 8 or less, or `seldom'. That's one point. If people are aware of Barley's good reputation, it could help him out, but probably won't dramatically alter the course of events. That's a `slight' benefit, worth another point, for a total of two points. If sea travel, life around the waterfront, and so forth are an important part of the game world, two points would be about right. If these are not especially central to the game world, the Monitor would most likely authorize it as a 1-point advantage, even though by literal interpretation of the rules an advantage has to be worth at least 2 points (at least one point for Frequency and one for Benefit).

Social Advantage

A Social advantage is some quality or aspect of your background that confers social benefits unrelated or indirectly related to your Status. Perhaps the Fairies live apart from the human society that dominates the game world, but are nonetheless highly regarded. Being a law enforcement officer does not necessarily confer high social position, but nonetheless confers a number of advantages.

Example: Alise is a Priestess of Ilas, and the sect exercises a great deal of influence in the city state... exercises it rather ruthlessly, in fact. Though being a member of the sect does not give one a high position in society (if anything, it does the opposite), there are a number of benefits to membership, especially for someone as highly placed as Alise. She has only to reveal herself as a Priestess for others to realize how dangerous it would be to harm or detain her, and she can call on the sect's resources at will. So this is a Reliable advantage, which is worth three points. In any situation with social repurcussions, the benefit would be at least Significant, more likely Great. Some situations won't fall in this category, however, and there are definitely times when her position will work against her, so the Monitor and Alise's player decide that Significant, for two points, is the most appropriate level. Alise's Priesthood is a 5-point advantage. (Like the example of the Evanar and Phasing, a group like the Sect of Ilas works best if it is a developed part of the game world, rather than something the player decides on independently as part of the chargen process.)

Antar's character conception hinges on his being an insider to affairs of court. The Court Influence Skill will be a big factor here, but while reading background materials on the MUCK's website, he sees that court affairs are largely determined by intrigue between two factions: The Earl of Wosley and his backers, and followers of Warwick, a confidant and advisor to the king. (Both are NPC characters, played by staff members as needed). Antar has met a few players in Warwick's faction, and he enjoyed their company. And, it looks like he will have to side with one faction or the other, regardless. He will spend points on the Court Influence Skill, but he decides it's also worth spending 1 more point on an NPC Advantage, defined as having Warwick as his patron. Clearly, he won't get a lot of practical avantages from just spending 1 point, but it does give him an entree into the world of Court.

(The fact that he is a Courtier, a lesser noble, active in affairs of court, means that his Status is above the norm. Antar will also need to spend points on the Status Advantage. See Status and Wealth.)

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