CHARACTER CREATION / EVOLUTION
Characters in PENDULUM are composed of various traits that represent what they are more naturally gifted at and tend to lean on when they approach situations, as well as what they do for a living and any additional individual areas of learning that they have amassed over the course of their life.
Exiting Character Creation, a new Player Character should have a combination of the following traits:
Attributes, which represent the character's natural lean and approach towards doing things. The four Attributes in the game are Athleticism, Insight, Intellect, and Will. These apply to any Roll a Player ever makes in the game, and act as a form of resource management.
Affinities, which are pulled straight out of the character's Concept and define what circumstances, activities, etc. act as a source of confidence and/or comfort for the character. Where an Affinity applies, it benefits the Roll result and increases the likelihood of getting a Critical Outcome.
Profession, which denotes what the character does for a living; i.e. this isn't a hobby. A Profession acts as a combination of different skillsets and forms of know-how and can often be used broadly for Rolls. A character may have more than one Profession, but this increases the cost of improving any one of them.
Expertise, which are areas of knowledge the character has amassed separate from their Profession. These are simpler to improve than a Profession but are also more narrow. There will be examples in the game, but these examples are in no way all-inclusive. Players should work with their Guides to make up new ones if/when they don't find what they're looking for.
Ambition, which is a long-term aspiration the character has for the future. This is used as a North Star for deciding on Personal Goals that, when completed, not only lead towards satisfying the Ambition but also earn Experience for evolving the character over time.
Gear, which are Items, Weapons, etc. that the character is carrying on them when the game begins. 'Gear' is always defined as whatever is on the character's person and immediately accessible to them.
In addition to the above, Players should walk away from Character Creation with their character's current and total Experience, as well as what their character's Vigor is. Experience is used in the process of building your character to pay for improvements. Vigor is determined by the character's total Experience and represents their capacity to do things. Any Damage taken by a character subtracts from their Vigor, whether it is physical, emotional, psychological, etc., and leads to Injuries at set intervals.
In PENDULUM, there are two forms of Character Evolution: Sequential Evolution and Dramatic Evolution. The former will likely feel familiar, so we will tackle defining that one first. The latter, however, is likely new to most people and warrants further explanation.
Over time, the character will complete Personal or Shared Goals, with each Goal granting them 1 Experience. As it accumulates, Experience leads to increases in Vigor and makes the intervals for Injuries larger. But it also acts as a form of currency to enhance existing traits or gain new ones.
In essence, the use of Experience to make numbers bigger is referred to as Sequential Evolution; i.e. it is largely predictable and plannable.
Dramatic Evolution is less predictable, even if it may be aspirational. In Dramatic Evolution, the Player's character gains special abilities, tactics, or methods called Arts. Arts are actions that are quite possibly unique in the world, only usable by that character, and allow them to perform feats that are staggeringly impressive.
Arts can be spontaneously discovered within Conflict or earned when the character's Ambition has been achieved.
What are some examples of Arts from popular media?
When Link does his spinning slash in The Legend of Zelda.
When Legolas slides down stairs on a shield and fires arrows at enemies.
When Naruto pulls off his multiple version of the Shadow Clone Jutsu.
When Edward uses alchemy without a transmutation circle.
In other words, Arts not only give a character the ability to do something almost no one else can, they act to define the character's identity and reputation within the world.
I hope this sneak peek into aspects of Character Creation and Character Evolution was interesting and informative of what Players can expect from the game. Essentially, all of these things are there to make characters progressively more and more unique - not only in their group but globally - and give indicators to Guides of what Players most want to do with their characters.
It might be good to follow up this post with something about Guiding the game, for those people likely to Guide for others or plan to play the game solo in Self-Guided mode. Yes, the game will be fully playable solo. It's 2023, folks.