Sorry for the long silence all! I am afraid that I had to devote more time to getting Sageuk! Roleplay in Joseon to a releasable state before the end of the Five Powers Jam than I wanted. As a result, I ended up neglected the blog. Normally the blog entries on here take some research and I have been devoting that time to making sure Sageuk was a good a starting state as possible.
Today on the blog I will make up for that by doing a walkthrough of a character creation for Sageuk. Before you read this blog, it might make sense to read through the basic rules of the game if you have it, or look at some of my previous discussions of game mechanics to get a basic idea of what the flow of play looks like at the table.
What a Sageuk Character Needs
A character in Sageuk! is made up of a number of parts:
- 5 Approaches with scores between 1-3 (10 total points)
- A Profession & Background
- A total of seven Skills
- An Ability chosen from the character’s Background
- Five Drives
- An Aspiration
- A Supporter character (optional)
We are not going to address the Supporter today, but I will go through picking out all of the other elements for a character. If you like this character, then you are in luck! I will be including it in the pre-made characters for the Quick-Start pack that I will be releasing soon.
Please note that there is currently no real official way of creating a character. I am going going through my own personal method of character development that I use for lots of different systems.
The Seed – Profession & Background
Normally when creating a character for a type of setting I start with a Concept or an Archetype that I am trying to express. This could be an existing character from a story or a basic fundamental trait or profession I want to express.
In this case, I want to make a young, ambitious yeoriggun. Yeoriggun were brokers that acted as middlemen between shoppers and the major stores in Hanseong (Seoul) and would often make a living on the markup they get between the store price and the price they barter with the shopper. I talked about them some in this previous post.
Since this character has a clear skillset that they will need like Finance and Humanity, I will start with the Profession. A natural choice may be The Artisan, but I really want this person to be an expert at the being a merchant, not necessarily a manufacturer. Therefore, I choose The Expert. This gives us the starting skills Finance, Language (Literature), Humanity [this is for one-on-one socialization], and Focus.
Next, I will look at the Backgrounds. The one that is speaking to me the most for this character is Former Glory. This means that the character’s family believed that they had some special legacy to live up to or to try and regain. I am still debating what that might be, but the Ability to go with that Background I choose is Undaunted. This skill allows the character to instinctively know when something is not quite right and intervene when someone is about to fail. If the other character can be communicated with and is using a skill our yeoriggun is also skilled with, then they can reroll their dice pools using the yeoriggun’s Adaptability.
The Tools – Skills & Approaches
To finish up the skills, I need to chose a Survival skill and two additional skills that I feel best fit the character. For this, I will go with Survival (Urban) to reflect their humble upbringing in Hanseong. As for the remaining two skills, I will go with Tactics and Politics. This character is ambitious, so maneuvering among the lower levels of bureaucracy and factions of the wealthy merchants will be important for further advancement. Tactics might seem a strange fit. However, I intend on this character using Tactics not for combat but for group organization and logistics.
At this stage, I decide to take a look at the Approaches. If you have not looked at the book or the recommended article, the five Approaches are:
- Daring – Using courage & will to commit an action, following through to the end
- Understanding – Using learned information to inform your actions
- Sensitivity – Letting your senses and read of the situation guide your actions
- Subtlety – Accomplishing an action without notice or disguising your motives
- Adaptability – Adjusting to changes, new situations, and waiting for the ideal moment to act
As I mentioned with Undaunted, this character’s Adaptability score will be used for anyone who the yeoriggun is helping. This approach also seems to be quite ideal for a merchant-type character, so I will put that one at 3. With 7 more points to spread out, I will make their Approaches look like this:
- Daring – 2
- Understanding – 1
- Sensitivity – 2
- Subtlety – 2
- Adaptability – 3
Character Motivations – Drives & Aspiration
With that, I have made a decision on an interesting reason for the Former Glory Background. Maybe the yeoriggun’s family is descended from a disgraced reformist in the government who was an unfortunate casualty of one of the faction purges several generations ago. The yeoriggun may want to eventually justify their ancestor’s thinking, but they aren’t that good a book learning (Understanding 1) and therefore likely would not be able to pass any of the gwageo (civil service exam). Instead, they are really good at reading the moment and coming out on top when acting spontaneously. They might be able to build up enough wealth and influence to get their siblings & children the education to pass the gwageo.
This will help inform the character’s Drives, five words or phrases that act as guiding forces in the character’s life and can help in a critical roll related to the Drive. These are the five that I decide to go with:
As a player, I would get a better feeling for the type of character the yeoriggun is as we play, so some of these may change. A player is allowed to change some their character’s Drives at the end of each Story Arc.
Their eventual aspiration may be to become a gaekju, which was a form of independent merchant that acted as moneylenders, brokers, warehouse owners, property, and goods transportation for major producers and consumers. Basically the major movers and shakers of the Joseon Commercial Sector. However, that is in the distant future. For now, our yeoriggun’s Aspiration is “I want to get enough wealth to help my sibling study for the gwageo.”
And there we have it, a character! Again if you like this character, they will be available with a whole set in the Quickstart that will be released soon to anyone who gets Sageuk! Roleplay in Joseon.