This guide is intended to walk you through the process of creating a new character on OutremerMUSH. It may seem a little on the lengthy side, but we've tried to anticipate as many potential questions and problems as possible, and most of it you'll only ever need to look through once.
It is not OutremerMUSH policy for there to be categories of PCs with innately different potential and abilities. Here, these things are determined by the quality and tenacity of a player's roleplay, not by labels slapped on them right out of the box. However, we do find it useful to sort characters into a few basic types, according to what is required (or not) of their players.
Historical vs. Fictional
Historical: These characters are intended over the lifetime of the game to be gradually phased out in favour of fictional characters created by players. They are mainly played by staff, or by invitation from staff. But if there is a historical figure of the right period whom you would particularly like to play as a PC (with the understanding that such characters must be played in accordance with what is known about their past), please submit a +request explaining which personage and why. We are receptive to detailed and convincing proposals.
Fictional: These are the majority of PCs on OutremerMUSH. Their pasts as well as their futures are open to be whatever your heart desires.
Plot vs. Colour
Fictional PCs are divided into two sub-types as follows.
Colour: These minor yet vivid threads in the tapestry of Outremer do not have activity requirements; as long as you log in every ninety days, you're golden. They are most suitable for roleplaying daily life and romance.
Plot: These PCs are considered to be more closely involved in the ongoing story, and often have other PCs depending upon them for regular interaction; thus they come with activity requirements. They are most suitable for political roleplay and the holding of high office.
Birth is not a defining factor; a PC who has risen from low origins may be intimately concerned with Plot, while a noble PC may be uninterested in politics and exist solely to provide Colour. A Colour PC may transition into being a Plot PC via roleplay. Of course, the reverse is also true. If you would like to have your character's type reviewed, please submit a +request. It may also happen that a staff member will contact you to let you know you're on the verge of making the transition. This should be construed not as a punishment for becoming too important, but as a sign that your contributions are being noticed and admired, and that we consider you one of our roleplay leaders.
Thus a PC's options are to be Historical, Fictional Plot, or Fictional Colour.
Local vs. New Arrival
One of the many advantages of our theme is that it provides ample excuse for any number of PCs to be newly-arrived in Outremer, as pilgrims or crusaders, and to start off in the game ignorant of local people and places. This may come as a relief to experienced MUSHers who have in the past tried to start off in new games as players of characters who had, ICly, been present in the background all along and ought to know everyone and everything.
Just because it's easier, we usually recommend that new players start off with a character only lately arrived in the Holy Land (temporarily or permanently, according to taste), and add any desired local alts later on when they're more familiar with the theme and its personalities and possibilities.
But if your heart is set on a local character, and you're up for assimilating the necessary background information, we won't discourage you. We wish above all things for you to be happy with your character and find him or her a delight to play; and in these early days of the game, we are in a sense all newbies.
Incomer vs. Poulain
The two major factions at the court of the Kingdom of Jerusalem are the Poulains and the Incomers. If you're creating a Historical or Fictional Plot PC, one of the first decisions you'll wish to make is: which faction?
You need not be recently-arrived to be an Incomer, or locally-born to be a Poulain(e).
Your alignment may be a matter of sympathy for a certain point of view, of loyalty to a particular family, of tradition in your own family, or of the shrewd calculation that you'll be materially better off on one side than on the other. Colour PCs need not necessarily belong to either faction, but Plot PCs who wish to be unaligned, or to keep their true alignment a secret, will require solid reasons.
It is stressed that this is an OOC designation, for the convenience of players and staff, rather than something which might be spoken of in such terms ICly. Your character won't say, "I abominate those boorish Incomers," but unless he was found under a gooseberry bush just yesterday he'll have a good idea of who at court is friend and who is foe.
All alts must be registered (see the +help +alts command on the game). The maximum number is four.
You may apply for your second, third, and fourth at two-week intervals after your first. The rationale for this is threefold: to give players a settling-in period with each new character; to discourage them from taking on, too quickly, more characters than they can realistically keep active; and to allow new characters to be thoughtfully planned.
If one of your alts is not working out and you would like to retire him or her and create another, a staff member will work with you to determine what happens next. If you are a player in good standing who has been active on four alts over a period of time, and you don't feel that's enough, it may be possible to arrange something more for you.
Much new blood is brought into Outremer by crusaders and pilgrims, but the local noble houses are variously, inextricbly intertwined. In such an environment the problem of avoiding alt conflicts is, as you may imagine, a delicate one, not always susceptible to being governed by hard and fast rules. We have developed instead some simple guidelines.
To start with you may have a Plot PC allied to each of the two major factions: the Category:Incomers and the Category:Poulains. If you wish to add a third and/or a fourth Plot PC thereafter, staff will work with you individually to find a niche you'll enjoy with a minimum of alt conflicts.
Generally speaking, Colour PCs are subject to few such restrictions, the main one being that they should not be placed where they might be expected to come into regular contact with any of your other alts -- because, of course, they mayn't.
If you have two characters, one may hold a significant political or religious office. If you have three or four characters, two may hold such offices. If you are a member in good standing over a period of time and you wish to do more ICly, something extra may often be arranged.
The possible answers to this fundamental CG question are less limiting here than on many a medieval MUSH, for the women of Outremer enjoyed considerable freedom, power, and romantic opportunities. Please see Women in Outremer for details.
Typical concepts for male characters: knight, pilgrim, nobleman, monk, merchant.
Typical concepts for female characters: pilgrim, noblewoman, nun, courtesan.
In this theme you're middle-aged at thirty-five, and officially elderly after fifty. Your PC must be at least fifteen years old, and we recommend the ages between twenty and forty as the most versatile.
It is normal for a man destined for knighthood to become a page in a noble household around the age of seven, then a squire at fourteen or fifteen. When he is knighted depends upon his own prowess but also upon events, e.g. whether there was a convenient battle in which he might distinguish himself. We will almost certainly not accept any applications for knights younger than twenty.
Women have a higher life expectancy than men, in large part because they don't participate directly in the Holy Land's constant ongoing conflicts. However, the higher a woman's rank, the younger her probable age at the time of her marriage. If you wish to start off as an unmarried noblewoman, you should be eighteen or younger, or have a good IC reason why you are not yet wed.
Please consider your age carefully, as it will have a considerable effect upon your future roleplay.
For instance, the younger a knight the greater his opportunities for getting out and about and slaying the infidel, while mature characters are likely do more political manoeuvering sitting comfortably in the shade.
For an introduction to the different nationalities in our theme, see Nationalities.
At present we encourage French, Flemish, English, and Provençal characters in particular.
Characters on OutremerMUSH must have names both authentically historical (if not from the precise period of the game then from an adjacent period) and suitable to their nationalities. To that end we have compiled a brief list of resources to guide you in the right directions when choosing yours.
English, Norman, Celtic, Greek, Latin, Norse, Saxon: http://www.gaminggeeks.org/Resources/KateMonk/England-Medieval/
Byzantine, Frankish, Italian, German, French: http://www.gaminggeeks.org/Resources/KateMonk/Europe-Medieval/
A few more for good measure: http://www.hyw.com/books/history/legitima.htm
Please bear in mind that during the medieval period a handful of names, with variations, were repeated across a vast percentage of the Christian population. It's perfectly reasonable to have the same first name as another PC; you can just add _Surname or _of_Place to your username to differentiate yourself.
Most persons of common birth did not have surnames; members of the local nobility will probably surnames drawn from the family trees listed (here), and nobles arriving from other countries are encouraged just to look through wikipedia's articles concerning the right time and place until they find something they like. In the case of some characters Firstname of Place is more suitable than Firstname Surname.
If you're not sure whether to have a surname, or would appreciate further guidance in naming yourself, please ask a staff member.
Nine hundred years ago, people were slightly shorter than they are today. The average was brought up by the wealthy and/or the nobility, who had the advantage of growing up with superior nutrition, but brought down by peasants, who could be counted upon to be relatively low to the ground.
Scholarly opinions vary with regards to what the average really was, but it is as well to note that at 6'6" Richard the Lionheart was a well-known giant, and at 5'5" his brother John was considered shortish.
The average height of male characters on the game is thus intended to remain around 5'8", and the average height of female characters around 5'4". Of course you may go up a bit or down a bit according to what suits your vision, but depending upon how many extra inches you add we may occasionally ask you to take a few of them off again in the interests of maintaining relatively consistent definitions of "tall" and "not tall".
Knights are artificially selected for tallness, and should be above the average.
The local Christians and Saracens talk of the Franks as golden-headed with raw pink flesh that burns quickly, but this is, of course, over-simple.
The aristocrats of Outremer, settled in the east for nearly a century now, have acclimatised well to their surroundings, so that knights fresh from the west describe them as resembling Greeks or even Saracens. In general northern Europeans (Normans, Germans, Flemish, English) have light hair and skin, and southern Europeans (Italians, Provençals, and those from the west of Aquitaine) are of swarthier cast. Red hair -- a characteristic of the House of Plantagenet, rulers of England -- is very rare indeed.
These guidelines are merely to give you an idea of what is normal, so you can decide whether or not to be normal. If the colouring you would like doesn't match the nationality you would like, it's simple enough just to give yourself one foreign parent.
Stats and Skills
OutremerMUSH uses Faraday's FS3 System for character generation. It comes in the following parts, dealt with by this guide in the order with which you will meet them during CharGen.
- Attributes: Your character's innate capacity in different areas.
- Action Skills: Those considered relevant to the "action" of the game.
- Background Skills: Largely free-form, for fleshing out your character's unique capabilities.
- Language Skills: The languages your character speaks.
- Quirks: Distinctive personality traits. Free-form.
- Background: The freest form of all, as long or as short as you like.
It is unrealistic to expect a mere character sheet to encapsulate everything your character knows and could do in a pinch. Instead, the focus should be on the skills which are important to your concept -- the things you'll do often ICly, or pride yourself upon, or be passionate about. Some numbers to bear in mind:
- Your base number of points is 76.
- Characters may not begin with more than three skills at or above eight points, and a skill at ten points will be a rare thing in CG.
- When you've completed CG, extra skill points may be alloted to you depending upon your age and life experiences. Please don't count on this, however: just make the best disposal of the ones you have.
If you would like to know more about FS3 and how it works in practice, please consult the Player's Guide and/or the Storyteller's Guide.
You may put a maximum of 18 points in the following six attributes. They are regarded as innate and fixed, should represent your character's highest attainable level in each area (i.e. not adjusted for age), and cannot be adjusted after your character is approved. One point indicates Poor, two Average, three Good, four Excellent. Each attribute must have at least one point.
- Strength: Physical power and stamina.
- Speed: Agility and dexterity.
- Appearance: Physical beauty.
- Personality: Wit and charm.
- Intellect: Intelligence and creativity.
- Discipline: Composure and will.
A guide to which number equals which degree of proficiency, with examples relating to swordsmanship.
0 – The ability is not necessarily unknown to you or impossible, but it is untested and difficult. A boy picking up a weapon in earnest for the first time.
1 – A little skill or practice but not both. A typical peasant levy-man after only one or two confrontations.
2 – The basics and potential to do better. A youth on the cusp of passing from page to squire.
3 – A seasoned but unspectacular grounding. A squire, a Turcopole, most rank and file Saracens.
4 – A full professional training. The average western knight or Turkish warrior.
5 – Noteworthy proficiency. A worthy captain, a very hardened fighter, a natural swordsman.
6 – An artist among the profession. A fearsome opponent, capable of winning a melee outright on his best days.
7 – An authority in their field, and one for some time. A famous warrior whose very name is coming to be a weapon.
8 – A superbly skilled and experienced practitioner of the ability with very few equals and a handful of superiors, most likely also with access to the best trainers. A frequent winner at tourneys, a noble with a long, distinguished and brave martial career.
9 – A prodigy from youth with the best training almost every day, constant experience, and innovative contributions of their own to the field. A tourney and melee favourite, a hero on the battlefield.
10 – Generally recognised as among the best at an ability in Outremer. An inevitable tourney champion, a duellist of deadly repute, a miracle of nature. Richard the Lionheart would score this in swordsmanship.
11 – The acknowledged master of a discipline in the known world. William Marshal and Guillaume des Barres would score this in swordsmanship.
12 – Legendary to a degree that is considered impossible in this fallen world. King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Sir Gawain, Charlemagne, Roland and Oliver, Rustum, Sohrab, Ali, Hussein, and Judas Maccabeus would all score something like this in swordsmanship. As far as anyone knows. This tends to be a reputation among the long-dead rather than a factual accomplishment; Godfrey of Bouillon is approaching this level of renown after a hundred years, and perhaps Richard I will in another hundred. 12s are not permitted in CG. If you have the points to upgrade to 12, consult staff with a good reason before you act...
You may put a maximum of 42 points in action skills.
- Alertness: Being aware of your surroundings.
- Archery: The use of bow and arrow.
- Artillery: The use of the trebuchet and such incendiary devices as Greek Fire.
- Bludgeons: The use of hammers, clubs, axes, and similar.
- Horsemanship: The competent management of our equine friends.
- Instruction: Passing on your knowledge to others effectively.
- Knives: The use of knives, hand-to-hand and/or throwing.
- Medicine: Care of the sick and wounded, and knowledge of the various uses of herbs, poultices, et cetera. Levels five and up indicate one is a professional physician, or an unusually educated and inquisitive amateur.
- Spears: The use of spears and polearms.
- Stealth: Passing through the world unnoticed.
- Swordsmanship: The art of swordplay.
- Unarmed: Fighting with your hands, feet, teeth, and whatever else God gave you.
Female characters are encouraged to put points in Alertness, Stealth, Medicine, Horsemanship, and Instruction; but as a rule of thumb they should not have more than five points in total in weapons skills.
Virtually all male characters of noble descent will have received a degree of training in the arts of war (the only exceptions being those with serious physical weaknesses, or who were destined from boyhood for the church); commoners will have picked up what they can where they can, in a fashion systematic or not depending upon their backgrounds. All these variously dangerous fellows should take a mixture of martial skills rather than min-maxing their stats in order to obtain a decisive advantage in any one discipline. Please, be careful of this.
You must have at least four background skills. They are free-form and you are encouraged to make up whichever new ones you feel would suit your concept. By typing +sheet playername you can see which skills are in use by other players and at what levels, and get an idea of what is normal for concepts similar for yours. Below is a list of skills commonly employed and how we define them.
- Chivalry: Knowledge of protocol and etiquette as well as the various great houses of Outremer. Important for those who serve the nobility, or deal with them in business, as well as nobles themselves.
- Dancing: How not to trip over your own feet.
- Hawking: How to hunt with a raptor.
- Hunting: How to hunt generally (works well in combination with Archery).
- History: Knowledge of world history, inasmuch as it is known. This is a rare skill.
- Law: Knowledge of local laws and the drawing-up of contracts.
- Literacy: At three points you can read and write with reasonable fluency, at five and up you're a fluent and witty correspondent.
- Merchantry: How to run a business and sell things to people.
- Music: Knowledge of the theory of music and its composition. For a specific instrument, use its name instead of or in addition to this skill.
- Needlework: A valued skill for women of all social classes at a time when most clothing was produced in-house.
- Politics: The ins and outs of courtly and international intrigue.
- Religion: Knowledge of the beliefs and rites of a particular faith. Please put Religion-L for the Latin church, Religion-G for the Greek, Religion-S for the Syriac, Religion-A for the Armenian, Religion-H for Judaism, Religion-I for Islam, and Religion-C for that weird Cathar heresy (shh!).
- Singing: How to carry a tune.
- Stewardship: How to administer a noble household and its lands, or, at higher levels, a princely state.
- Troubadour: How to write really great ballads. Must be combined with the Provençal language (the latter being free if one is a native of that region).
- Warcraft: Strategy and tactics.
Members of religious orders must have at least four points in their religion, six or more if they hold any sort of religious office. (This does not apply to the Military Orders, whose members are promoted for fighting prowess more than learning or piety.) Religion-I will be vanishingly rare among Frankish characters, though they may otherwise be well-acquainted with local culture.
Noblewomen should be sure to include Literacy, Chivalry, Religion, Stewardship, Needlework, and Dancing and/or Singing. Noblemen should be sure to include Literacy, Chivalry, Religion, Stewardship, and Warcraft.
Hawking and Politics are excellent for both sexes; Warcraft and Troubadour more common among men.
These do not exist in degrees: either you speak a language or you don't.
All characters begin with Langue d'oeuil, which is spoken by most PCs and can be replaced in CG if it is antithetical to your concept. Other languages are free or must be paid for with points depending upon the nationality and background of the character in question.
Add the languages you would like to speak to your sheet in CG. taking care to mention in your background how you came by them; and once you've been approved a staff member will contact you about any possible refunding of points.
Quirks may be anything which is distinctive about your character.
They have no coded effects, but exist rather to encourage you to define different aspects of a well-rounded PC, and to provide you with roleplay hooks. You are required to have at least two quirks, but you may have up to four. One must be negative.
Negative quirks are qualities which might put you at a disadvantage in certain situations, or cause others to look unfavourably upon you; possibilities include, but are certainly not limited to, a noticeable physical blemish, a profound phobia, an unattractive personality trait, a recurrent illness, a vow which limits your actions, or a vice you have trouble controlling.
Ah, now we're getting to the fun part.
Your background may be as long or as short as you feel necessary. You may stick to the basic facts of your life and how you got to where you are today, or tell a long and detailed story of all that has befallen you since first you emerged from your cradle.
Please take care to be specific about the important dates in your life, and to work in mentions of the languages you speak, any special training you've undertaken, and any skills which may be considered unusual for your concept.
Once you have submitted your background using the +bg/submit command, please be patient while it is reviewed by staff.
If you find you need to go back and make changes to your background or your sheet, you can use the +bg/unsubmit command, and then +bg/submit again once you're happy with it. Please use this command sparingly, though.
The Post-CG Guide has a few suggestions to help you pass the time.