Theory Thursdays #2: Starting Character Points

The official rules on the wiki suggest 40 character points for a starting character. Of course, like any other tabletop roleplaying game, this is just a suggestion for starting characters. In reality, 40 character points should be thought of as “level 1″ for the Pirates vs. Ninjas RPG. A good place to start for long term campaigns, but possibly too low for people seeking more high-powered campaigns. After all, a good number of example heroes can run over 100 points. While the fact that these characters typically work alone speaks for why they’re so high-powered, some PCs might want to play over fight these characters in combat. So, for this week’s Theory Thursday, let’s crack open starting character point totals and see what they mean and what character at certain power levels are typically capable of.

40 Character Points
At 40 character points, a character can obtain 1 ability for each level and 1 extra high level ability or 2 mid-level abilities. They’ll typically have their starting attribute points. Characters at this level will usually focus on one concept and lack the character points to have situational abilities for multiple occasions unless they buy mostly level 1 or 2 abilities. These are typically the lowest a character should start at. This represents a character at the beginning of their adventuring career, and most monsters and opposing enemies will present a severe threat.

60 Character Points
At 60 character points, a character has learned a lot. At this point, a character will either be significantly powerful in their fighting style of choice or will have achieved a few side abilities outside their normal combat role for specific situations where their normal tactics aren’t useful. Characters at this level may have spent the extra character points for 1 extra attribute, and as such, abilities around the 7 or 8 mark become much more frequent. Most mundane adventurers and soldiers should be around this area.

80 Character Points
At this point, a character should either be solidly specialized and a deadly force in their fighting style of choice or should have enough side abilities to deal with situations in which their main tactics aren’t effective. 80 Point character start becoming capable of taking on T-rexes and the more Life-heavy bosses in the game (certainly not the Kraken tough). Characters at 80 points are considered veterans and are around when a character is making a name for him or herself. This is typically the earliest a character will see an attribute at a 10 (although, it will be at great cost). 80 Point characters make decent villains for starting 40 point characters provided they have back-up or are taken on by a 2-3 person party.

100 Character Points
At 100 character points, a character should have gained almost every ability they’ll want in their faction, and, if they haven’t already, will typically start looking at other factions or sides for abilities. Characters that specialized their character will either start spend upwards of half of their character points on attribute scores at this point or will start branching out into contingency plans from here on out. A well-built 100 point character should be able to take on a team of 4-6 40 point characters. In teams of 2-3, 100 point characters are more than enough challenge for 60-80 point teams. As PCs, 100 point characters will start running into either real monstrous creatures or will start fighting adventurers that have their own custom technique named after them. Fighting Ebbin Flow is unlikely at this point, but characters will frequently run into the inventors of level 1-3 techniques.

120 Character Points
At 120 points, a character is usually considered a master of their faction. While not experienced enough to teach Level 5 abilities to random passerbys, the character should garner some respect inside their faction of choice. Higher ups in the faction may actually ask these characters from help. Many characters retire around this point range as little short of the big names of the universe can stop them successfully at this point. If a character does not have an ability named after them at this point, they likely will now. Having an 8-10 in your favored attribute is not only common at this point, but generally expected unless you have a more even build. This is typically the highest a starting character should ever really be allowed at. Anything beyond this point, and bad guys start having to become significant to pose any challenge to the PCs. Either that, or the PCs need to start fighting multiple fights in a row without any rest or time to recover. Killing T-rexes should be fairly mundane for most parties at this point, and a few specialized builds may even be able to take one out solo at this point. Level 6 abilities might start showing up on PCs at this point as they’ll have direct enough connection with the original masters or will be powerful enough to invent their own.

150 Character Points
At 150 points, a character has typically become one of the higher ups in their faction or has found some incredibly dangerous calling to keep them busy. PCs at this level can actually take on the big names of the Pirates vs. Ninjas universe and win. People with abilities named after them will actually have to fight in groups to give the PCs a challenge. Solo bosses will actually need to be supernaturally strong to take on the PCs. It’s possible for a character of even 300 points to be take down by the PCs at this point with enough awesome points and teamwork. GMs should start looking into sending severe world-ending threats after the player at this point or should make them assassination targets for other factions. Most PCs at this level will probably have at least 1 level 6 ability. It is HIGHLY not recommended to allow players to start at this point. Characters that advance much further than this begin to break the system itself as they just have too many abilities and too high of ability scores.

200+ Character Points
Almost exclusively saved for Big Bad Evil Guys and regular villains for large parties over 120 character points. These are the totals you save for solo bosses that attempt to take down the entire team by themselves. These are also the ranges that the actual grand masters of style sit at. They vary wildly in how powerful they are, but if a character is fighting someone with this kind of total, odds are they really made someone mad. A full party of character at this kind of level are actually powerful enough to potentially take on the Kraken or one of the legendary heroes and win fair and square. So yeah. Avoid getting this far.

I hope this quick guide has given you an idea of what point totals mean in characters and give it careful consideration before deciding where to start your players. Of course, if someone ever manages a 20 point campaign at some point, I’d love to hear about it. Any way, send us an e-mail, twitter Captain Pegnose, or leave a comment below about what you think. Any and all input is valued.

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