Quarks and Character Background Stories

Quarks (non-quantum)

(Because we didn’t want to get sued for using “quirks” to name this section)

(and while we’re on the topic, any mentioning of Star Trek characters is coincidental..)

So, assuming you’ve been following-along up to now making your character in a sort of linear progression, you’ve got base stats, sub-stats, a fighting style, weapon skill points, weapon skills, and even a set of background skills. Next, we’re going to give your character Quarks – some added detail that work in much the same way as beneficial and non-beneficial sub-stats, or the advantages and disadvantages of (many) other role-playing games. Most of these kinds of systems have a kind of point-buy setup, where you take so many points of bad stuff to “buy” the same amount of good stuff. In the Cinematic System (which pretty much stomps all over the ideology of “balance”), this process is entirely random, and entirely optional. Quarks evolved out of one of our campaigns based on a wild magical cataclysm – a kind of fantasy, post-apocalyptic setting in which anyone could be mutated by stray magical energy. Each character was able to roll on a mutation table, which had good mutations and bad mutations. You could roll as many times as you wanted, but you had to roll as many times on the bad table as you did the good table. Unfortunately for some, their characters ended up breathing methane and being as allergic to sunlight as vampires, while others escaped the mutation tables with mere tails and third eyes. Quarks aren’t that insane but they’re just as random – they can have some overlap with sub-stats (given that sub-stats are really open ended), but where sub-stats focus primarily on personality traits and common physical characteristics, Quarks deal with miscellaneous game mechanical add-ons associated with background story consequences. Thus, developing a set of Quarks adds detail to a character’s background story.

There are Positive Quarks and Negative Quarks, and yes – characters have to have as many of one as the other. You decide how many you want, and if you have a gambling problem you might want to listen to the advice of your fellow-gamers when they tell you to quit rolling them! The Quarks we offer are but a minute sample of what your group might develop: the document which contains the QUARKS has something like 452 pages of content! Even if two players were to randomly roll the same numbered Quark, there are so many sub-tables listed under each one it should be essentially impossible to replicate any one result in a given campaign. We estimate that with two Positive Quarks and two Negative Quarks rolled on our massive tables (what we recommend as the minimum to build a character background), the odds of getting the same exact rolls would be something like 1 in 97,679,063,832. As usual, we may have WAY overdid this element of the Cinematic System!

If you notice, page 9 of the Cinematic Character Sheets is entirely devoted to Positive and Negative Quarks – with room for approximately 5 Positive and 5 Negative Quark notes.

The Quarks are located here (please click on this): Quarks: Positive and Negative

While we are absolutely selling the massive list of Positive and Negative Quarks (to somehow make up for the time put into them..), we are offering a set of d1000 Neutral Quarks for free. This d1000 list includes entries such as (and I’m just going to randomly roll some..):

  • [Result 609]: “The thought of Chaos and disorder makes you smile inside.”
  • [Result 20]: You project your emotions to the point that people around you come to experience them.”
  • [Result 756]: Your birth was associated with great omens of success.”
  • [Result 196]: You once nursed a wounded animal back to health that other children were tormenting.”
  • [Result 324]: Your starting funds were acquired through theft and trickery.”

Based on results like these, we start to get a feel for the character – in this case we seem to be randomly rolling the history of someone who was Chaotic Good perhaps, a free-willed person willing to bend the rules but who has a soft spot for the weak – someone who grew up under tough expectations of grandeur and who maybe rebelled against them? Combining a series of Neutral Quark rolls with randomly-determined Sub-Stats, Background Skills, and Positive and Negative Quarks lays the perfect foundation for a rich character background!

We recommend rolling the Quarks before you select things like species, character class, and alignment because the Quark tables can influence all of those possibilities. We also recommend rolling the Positive and Negative Quarks before the Neutral Quarks.

If you notice, page 10 of the Cinematic Character Sheets is entirely devoted to Neutral Quarks and to the development of “Background Story Elements”.

For the free list of d1000 Neutral Quarks, please click here: d1000 Neutral Quarks

Background Narrative [and Appearance]

The Who What When Where Why and How of your place in the story

Creating a background narrative story (obviously we have the Opulent sub-stat) and detailing your character’s appearance is the final step in making your Cinematic System character. Obviously, if you’re following our process step-by-step we’ve left a lot out: at some point you have to decide upon a species, a character class, an alignment, and all that sort of standard-rules-mundaneness. The background story is something to work out collaboratively with the other authors of the story – your fellow players and the DM – it should be guided by the agreed-upon realities of the specific campaign (and game world), as well as the add-ons of the Cinematic System (sub-stats, fighting style, background skills, quarks). The degree to which you develop an interesting story based on all these factors – the ways in which you integrate the pieces into a holistic work of art – gives that much more life and meaning to your character (and therefore to the game itself). A Cinematic System DM should ask players to write-up their character’s background stories and to detail their appearances. These should be presented to the group, by each player, when the first game begins. The DM should evaluate the background stories and reward each player’s effort (with some thought to ability of course) with bonus special points, bonus starting XP, and bonus C.H.P. (Cinematic Hit Points) as well.

We have found that where character backgrounds are richly fleshed-out, players tend to role-play their characters in more-interesting ways. Characters with detailed backgrounds can grow into their main character roles by overcoming their pasts, by building on their strengths and transcending their weaknesses in ways the usual hollow-dungeon-crawling-stereotype wouldn’t dream of. Yes, this takes a LOT of time, but we think it is worth it.

Other Random Tables To Use During Character Generation

(A certain cure for Max-Maxing which stimulates creativity)

(A.K.A. a possible way to keep Keith from rolling up another elf..)

These work much in the same way as Quarks – players should feel free to roll on as many or as few as they like (unless the DM/GM has specific plans..). If the campaign is relying on randomly-rolled characters, we suggest giving players a certain amount of “Mulligans” to spend for re-rolls throughout the process of character generation (including Sub-Stats, Background Skills, Quarks, etc.). The number of “Mulligans” could be arbitrarily set to 3, it could be set by a d6 rolled by each player, it could be modified by a stat like Luck (or perhaps d4 + the character’s Luck modifier), or it could be set by a roll on the following table!

How Many “Mulligans” Do Players Get [roll d20]: [1] Absolutely none, @#$% off!, [2] three, [3] d4, [4] d6, [5] d8, [6] d4 + their character’s Luck modifier, [7] d6 + their character’s Luck modifier, [8] as many as their character’s Luck modifier, [9] as many as twice character’s Luck modifier, [10] the Dragon Maker (DM) decides the number right now, [11] none, but they can spend character points as Mulligans, [12] spending a Mulligan requires a DC 10 Luck check; if this succeeds another Mulligan is gained with a DC 11 Luck check [and so on..], [13] 2d4, [14] d6+1, [15] d4 + their character’s Charisma modifier, [16] each “Mulligan” costs a 12 pack of soda, a bag of chips, etc. for the group, [17] d4 + their character’s starting level, [18] d6 + their character’s starting level, [19] d4 + the number of players at the game table, [20] five!

Character Sex [roll d100]: [01-30] Female, [31-60] Male, [61-65] Intersex (see http://www.isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex), [66-70] Formerly Female polymorphed or transformed into a Male, [71-75] Formerly Male polymorphed or transformed into a Female, [76-80] Naturally neither Male nor Female and Sexless, [81-85] Something alien and wonderful – completely off the scale of human perception, [86-90] The character rotates through sexes naturally, becoming cyclically male, female, and sexless as they gain levels, starting with this sexual category (roll d3): (1) female, (2) male, (3) sexless, [91] The character’s species propagates asexually using a unique biological process, [92] Female with extra-exaggerated sexual features and a d4 bonus to Comeliness, [93] Male with extra-exaggerated sexual features and a d4 bonus to Comeliness, [94] Female with hyper-exaggerated sexual features and a d4+1 bonus to Comeliness, [95] Male with hyper-exaggerated sexual features and a d4+1 bonus to Comeliness, [96] Intersex and hauntingly gorgeous; d6 bonus to Comeliness, [97] Sexless and hauntingly gorgeous; d6 bonus to Comeliness, [98] The character’s sexuality is somehow Psionically attuned as the DM/GM will describe; character gains the Psionic Aptitude feat and roll again, [99] The character’s sexuality is somehow Magically attuned as the DM/GM will describe; there is a d100% chance the magic is arcane – otherwise it is divine in nature; character gains the Magic Aptitude feat and roll again, [100] The character’s sexuality is somehow influenced by Karma as the DM/GM will describe; character gains the Karmic Aptitude feat as well as a +1 bonus to Luck (and roll again).

Character Orientation [roll d100]: [1] Heterosexual, [2] Homosexual, [3] Pansexual (gains +1 character point), [4] Lesbian, [5] Gay, [6] Bisexual, [7] Transsexual, [8] Asexual, [9] Queer (gains 2d10 stat points), [10] Questioning (gains a +1 bonus to search checks), [11] Agendered (gains d6% magic resistance), [12] Androgynous (d2 bonus to Comeliness score), [13] Androsexual, [14] Aromantic (+d4 bonus to gather information skill checks), [15] Bigendered, [16] Bicurious (gains a +1 to knowledge checks), [17] “Butch” (gains a +1 to Strength), [18] Cisgender (if the character takes-on a Lawful alignment they gain a 5% bonus to XP), [19] Closeted (gains a +1 bonus to bluff checks and roll again..), [20] Cross-dresser (gains d4 ranks in the background skill coat wearing), [21] Demiromantic (gains 2d10 Charisma stat points and roll again..), [22] Demisexual (gains d6% psionic resistance and roll again..), [23] Dyke (gains +1 to Wisdom), [24] Gender-fluid (gains d6% magic resistance), [25] Genderqueer (gains +1 character point and +1 toughness point), [26] Gynesexual (gains a +1 to spot checks), [27] Undecided (gains +1 to sense motive checks), [28] Metrosexual (d2 bonus to Comeliness and a d4 bonus to any skill check involving aesthetics), [29] Polyamorous (and roll again..), [30] Skoliosexual (gains a +1 bonus to Charisma), [31] Third Gender, [32] Transvestite (maybe roll again if you want to..), [33] Two Spirit (character gains d6 background skill points), [34] Paraphilia – toward objects of some kind, [35] Exhibitionist (character gains a d4 bonus to one perform skill), [36] Paraphilia – dolls and mannequins (character gains d6 ranks in the puppetry background skill), [37] Sadomasochist (roll again, especially if it pains you to do so…and gain a d4 bonus to Fortitude saves versus pain), [38] Furry! (maybe roll again if the herd demands it…character gains a d4 bonus to disguise checks and starts with an appropriate animal costume), [39] Voyeurism (roll again and watch the die carefully…and gain a d4 bonus to spot checks), [40] Zoophilia – nonspecific (and gains a d4 bonus to one animal-related skill), [41] Zoophilia – specific (roll random animal; character gains a d4 bonus to die rolls in the context of that kind of animal), [42] Zoophilia – lycanthropes only (there is a d100% chance the character has a form of lycanthropy), [43] Fetish-Driven (something unusual), [44] They don’t care and prefer it never comes up in-game, [45] Necrophilia (d100% chance heterosexually so – otherwise roll again; +1 to DC with necromancy), [46] Sexual sadism (humiliation-based, +d2 to Will saves), [47] Abrosexual (gains a unique class skill nondetection allowing them to avoid detect alignment and similar effects), [48] Akoisexual (and gains d30 stat points in Wisdom), [49] Antihaemosexuality (character gains a +1 to Fortitude saves and a d4 bonus to smell checks), [50] Autosexual (if the character takes-on a Neutral alignment they gain a 5% bonus to XP), [51] Tri-Sexual (whatever that means to you; gain 3d10 stat points in Wisdom), [52] Ceterosexual (gains a +1 bonus to Charisma), [53] Desinoromantic (d4 bonus to consider checks), [54] Fictosexual (and the Matrix deepens; for no reason this character gains d4 starting character points), [55] Fraysexual (gains a +1 bonus to Luck), [56] Heteroflexible! (character gains 4d10 stat points to place as they see fit), [57] Iculasexual (character gains 1 toughness point), [58] Kalossexual (+1 bonus to mind affecting magic Will saves), [59] Gerontosexual (gains d4 background skill points), [60] Novisexual (if the character takes-on a Chaotic alignment they gain a 5% bonus to XP), [61] Omnisexual (+1 bonus to Constitution), [62] Pomosexual (+1 bonus to Charisma), [63] Quoiromantic (character gains 2d100 bonus XP for no reason), [64] Sapiosexual (and gains a d4 bonus to Intelligence), [65] Sensusexual (and gains d6, +1 bonuses to perception skills placed as the character sees fit), [66] Aliquasexual (gains +1 to Will saves), [67] Every time they gain a level they can roll on this table (and roll again..), [68] Only experiences Gender in fantasy and imagination (roll again to set the type and gains d10% psionic resistance), [69] Character feels sexual attraction to numbers of some personal significance to her (gains +1 to Intelligence and d6 ranks in the background skill knowledge (basic mathematics), but suffers a -1 to Charisma…Numerosexual?), [70] character is unusually naïve in regard to gender and sexuality and performs the stereotypical gender roles of children (gains the Childish Indulgences feat), [71] roll again, but only in regard to a random humanoid species, [72] roll twice more, combining the results, [73] roll again, but only in regard to humans, [74] roll again, but only in regard to a random kind of monster species, [75] Female to Male (FTM) with no physical modification (character gains +1 to d6 Charisma-based skills), [76] Female to Male (FTM) with physical modification (gain d4 toughness points), [77] Male to Female (MTF) with no physical modification (character gains +1 to d6 Charisma-based skills), [78] Male to Female (MTF) with physical modification (gain d4 toughness points), [79] Somehow, the character has no gender identity whatsoever (if the character takes-on a True Neutral alignment they gain a d12% bonus to XP), [80] Hyper-Gender-Nonconforming (character gains d4 bonus character points), [81] Transmasculine (gains a +1 bonus to Dexterity), [82] Transfeminine (gains a +1 bonus to Dexterity), [83] Because no one usually rolls “83” (really) this character’s gender identity is something completely alien to humanoid language and culture (gains 2d4 skill points to place in language skills), [84] Hijra (character gains a +2 to Charisma and a +1 to Luck), [85] Character relies on logic and rationality for their gender performance, believing that gender identity is illogical (gains a +1 to Intelligence; d100% chance they suffer a -1 to Charisma), [86] Intense Autosexuality (character gains +1 hit point and a d4 bonus to general perception skill checks), [87] Stoker-Sexual; character dresses and acts like a stereotypical vampire and is sexually aroused by the taste of blood (possibly roll again; +1 bonus to Fortitude saves due to exposure to pathogens), [88] Evil Autosexuality (deeply selfish and angry with the universe; if the character takes-on an Evil alignment they gain a d10% bonus to XP), [89] Juan the Ghetto Philosopher Sexuality; this guy actually existed on Earth (Columbus, OH), and was known to say “You need to just hit that @#$% if it look good…if it don’t look good then put a bag over it and see rule number 1” (after 88 of these I’m getting kind of loopy..); tends to objectify others; (if the character takes-on an Evil alignment they gain a 5% bonus to XP; gains a d4 bonus to consider checks), [90] Heterosexual, but only in theory and unusually stereotypical (gains a +1 to bluff checks), [91] Homosexual, but only in theory and unusually stereotypical (gains a +1 to bluff checks), [92] Character pretends to be whatever is rolled next, but is actually what is rolled after that, [93] Roll again, adding a Divine/Religious association (character gains a +1 to knowledge (religion) skill checks), [94] Roll again, this gender identity was bestowed by the direct actions of a Demigod; d100% chance the character actually interacted with this divine being – if so there is a d100% chance they are aware of this; in any case, they gain a d6 bonus to Comeliness and a +1 bonus to one saving throw category, [95] The character’s society severely punishes people who perform gender roles or gender identity; the character is Hyper-Asexual (rationally asexual in a dystopian sense), gaining a d4 bonus to listen checks, [96] Bi-Sexual, but only in theory and unusually stereotypical (gains a d4 bonus to perform (oratory) skill checks), [97] Goth (character gains a +1 to hide checks and d6 bonus background skill points to place in “Goth” background skills), [98] Character is into B/D (Bondage and Discipline), maybe roll again if master commands, obviously she-he gains a d4 bonus to escape artist checks, [99] Character is romantically interested in magic, and harbors a deep connection to it; d100% chance they gain the Magical Aptitude feat; d100% chance they gain a unique background skill sense magic, [100] Character is romantically interested in psionics, and harbors a deep connection to it; d100% chance they gain the Psionic Aptitude feat; d100% chance they gain a unique background skill sense psionics.

Character Alignment Randomly Done: [roll d20]: [1] LG, [2] LN, [3] LE, [4] NG, [5] TN, [6] NE, [7] CG, [8] CN, [9] CE, [10] roll a random alignment from an alternative-game-system!, [11] Pick something Lawful, [12] Pick something Chaotic, [13] Pick something organizationally Neutral, [14] Pick something Good, [15] Pick something morally Neutral, [16] Pick something Evil, [17] Roll a d10 on this table – you were this alignment as a child, and altered it by one step as you see fit, [18] Roll a d10 on this table – you were this alignment as a child, and altered it by two steps as you see fit, [19] You’ve transcended Law-Neutral-Chaos and merely are one of these: Good, Neutral, or Evil, [20] You’ve transcended Good-Neutral-Evil and merely are one of these: Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic.

Character Social Class: By far the best random social class table available is offered at this URL (at least as of 2017): http://www.easydamus.com/BasicD20SocialClass.pdf . Building on this author’s success, we offer the following take on this masterpiece..

Social Class

d100

Cinematic Class 18

Starting (gp)

Footnote

Your Campaign Specific Notes

Highest Upper

00

Upper

10d6x100

4,15

 

Mid Upper

98-99

Upper

6d6x50

4,15

 

Lowest Upper

94-97

Upper

6d6x10

15

 

High Middle

88-93

Middle

3d6x10

15

 

Mid Middle

77-87

Middle

2d6x10

17

 

Lowest Middle

71-76

Middle

2d4x10

17

 

Higher Lower

64-70

Lower

9d6

16

 

Mid Lower

57-63

Lower

7d6

16

 

Lowest Lower

50-56

Lower

4d6

16

 

Underclass

45-49

Lower

2d6

16

 

Criminal Underclass

40-44

Lower

3d6x10

13

 

Communist Leadership

39

Upper

4d6x10

1

 

Communist Worker

35-38

Lower and Middle

2d4x10

1

 

Utopian Advanced

34

All

None; d10 special items

2,3

 

Utopian Average

32-33

All

None; d6 special items

2,3

 

Utopian Basic

30-31

Middle and Upper

None; d4 special items

2,3

 

Purest Caste

29

Upper

6d4x15

9

 

Warrior Caste

27-28

Middle

5d4x15

9

 

Trader/Artisan Caste

24-26

Middle

4d4x10

9

 

Unskilled Caste

21-23

Lower

2d4x5

9

 

Untouchable Caste

19-20

Lower

2d4x3

9

 

Autarchy: Ruler

18

Upper

10,000

5

 

Autarchy: Officer

17

Upper

6d10x10

10

 

Autarchy: Secret Police

15-16

Middle and Upper

4d10x10

10

 

Autarchy: Public Servant

13-14

Middle

2d10x10

11

 

Autarchy: Citizen

10-12

Lower

d12x10

12

 

Autarchy: Enemy of State

08-09

Lower

2d6x10

13

 

Anarchy: The Strong

07

Middle

500

14

 

Anarchy: The Weak

05-06

Lower

50

14

 

Post-apocalyptic: Gang Leader

04

Middle

250

6

 

Post-apocalyptic: Gang Member

03

Middle and Lower

150

7

 

Post-apocalyptic: Survivor

01-02

Lower

50

8

 

1: Communist society provides d100 gp worth of common items that are never weapons, armor or alchemical.

2: Utopian characters select their starting equipment without needing to buy any of it.

3: Special items are masterwork; spend 2 selections to get an enchanted or psionic item (DM defined).

4: Gains the Upper Class feat as a bonus; begins play with 2d4 NPC servants and guards

5: Unspent gp is not retained except for d100 gp worth; there is a d100% chance the ruler was recently deposed and has only d100% of the 10,000 gp.

6: Gang Leaders get d6 free weapons, d4  free suits/items of armor, and d4 NPC gang members.

7: Gang Members have scavenged equipment with 75% normal hit points and durability.

8: Survivors have scavenged equipment with 50% normal hit points and durability.

9: They gain bonus religious items equal to 25% of starting wealth.

10: These characters start with a free uniform, the state’s suit of armor, and whatever state weapons the DM bestows.

11: They begin with an administrative uniform and d100 bonus gp worth of “tools of their state trade”.

12: They gain d30 gp worth of state-provided rations, propaganda, and tools.

13: As criminals they gain 2d6 bonus background skill points to spend in rogue-related background skills.

14: Anarchists have stolen most of their gear, receiving a 5% “discount” price per +1 of their Luck modifier.

15: They gain 2d6 bonus background skill points; d100% of them gain 1 free mount; d100% gain an NPC bodyguard.

16: Their family gave them a random kind of normal item to aid their journey; d100% chance this is somehow busted.

17: They begin with d2 random normal items and d6 bonus skill points to spend in profession (whatever).

18: This is only relevant to the character’s background skill options.

 

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