CHIMERA EXCERPT - Principles & Goals

Today I bring you an excerpt from the Characters chapter as it is currently seen in the playtest document my group has.

Choose Your Principles

Principles represent your character’s inherent beliefs, morals, and individual attitudes towards particular situations. Principles are not meant to be a straining jacket for your character, they are there to help you guide your character’s actions and define what is important to them and what isn't, however, principles are also there to be challenged. In play, you get rewarded if you stick to your principles and get to use Action Points to help you achieve whatever task you undertake that involves one of your principles.

Writing Principles

Principles make a statement about what your character believes, wishes to believe, or aspires to be (whether your character admits it or not, or is aware of). They are a tool for you to consult when you don't know how your character should act. A principle cannot contradict another principle, it cannot be too vague, it must be challengeable, and it must lead to action or refrain you from acting under certain circumstances. For example, on a fantasy setting you might choose to play a knight that is honorable to its core. You choose to write “I am always honorable” as a principle for your character but it is not a good one because it is too vague. Instead, let's distill what it means to be honorable. An honorable person is honest, just, and worthy of respect, so let's use these aspects to write down at least three principles for an honorable character: “I tell the truth, even if it puts me in danger”, “I am fair, even to my enemies”, and “I always keep my word”. These statements have all the requirements to be  good principles; they can be challenged during play, they are not too vague as to encompass too many aspects, and they spring the character into action, even when it is not advantageous to do so. Some racial traits can be useful when writing principles, you should take them into consideration when writing them.

Starting Principles

You start the game with up to 3  principles which you can write on your own or choose from the list below. If you write more than one principle (maximum 3), choose one of them as your core principle (see using principles). Always consult with your GM before writing principles.
  1. I abide to the local laws.
  2. I always keep my word.
  3. I always turn tail when things go south.
  4. I enact revenge on those who do me wrong.
  5. I bring criminals to justice.
  6. I defend those weaker than me.
  7. I don't betray others.
  8. I don't steal from others.
  9. I don't aid those weaker than me.
  10. I don't help those who help the weak.
  11. I don't help those who aid criminals.
  12. I don't harm those who are defenseless.
  13. I don't show mercy to criminals.
  14. I help those less fortunate.
  15. I am only loyal to my friends.
  16. I am fair, even to my enemies.
  17. I tell the truth, even if it puts me in danger.
  18. I ensure others take the blame of my actions.
  19. I put reason over emotions, even if it puts others in danger.
  20. I never allow others to take the blame for things i’ve done.
  21. I only steal to help those less fortunate.
  22. I only lie to help good people in need.
  23. I only break the law if it us unjust or to help those in real need.
  24. I only help those in need if it advances law and order.
  25. I only help those who help me.
  26. I only help myself.

Using Principles

Besides serving as a guide for the actions of your character, you also get rewarded when you stick to your principles. You start the game with 3 Action Points which you can use to lower the number needed to land a success on a by 1, this means that if you need a 4 or a higher to get a success, you only need a 3. You commonly use Action Points on an action that helps you stick to one of your principles. For example, if you have “I defend those weaker than me.” as a principle and an enemy is about to hurt an innocent bystander, you can spend 1 Action Point to lower the success rate on a Defend roll to shield the bystander or maybe on a Melee roll in the hopes of striking down the attacker before it harms the innocent bystander. The GM has the final say on whether an Action Point can be spent on a certain roll or not.

At the start of a new session, you reset your Action Points to 3 regardless if you had any previous unspent Action Points from the last session. In addition, if at the end of the session you stuck to you core principle, you get to mark 1 additional milestone in your character sheet.

Determine Goals

Goals help you determine the needs and wants of your character and they also help you establish how your character relates to the other characters in your group and what is the initial relationship between them. A Good GM will take your goals into consideration and weave them into the current campaign, so keep your goals meaningful and challenging for your character. They can be either personal, about relationships, or related to your current mission or quest.

Writing Goals

Gather with your group and talk about past experiences you have shared together, each character’s personality, and their principles. Once you have done this think about something your character wishes to accomplish for itself through the course of the game. Write a short statement about your goal in your character sheet and let the GM and those you deem relevant in your group know about it. This will be your starting personal goal. Then, think about how have you connected with at least one of the characters in your group in a meaningful way and write one statement about something you wish to accomplish related to them. This will be your starting relationship goal. Relationship goals are always about what another character did or is capable of doing, how that made you feel, and what you will do about it. You can use your principles as a guideline when determining how your character would react or feel about something another character has done. Finally, if the nature of your first mission or quest is known to you, write a short statement about something you wish to accomplish during the adventure. It could be related to the mission itself such as "I will capture the bandit alive", it could be related to someone in your group such as "I will make sure the mission goes according to plan", or it could be something personal you want to achieve in a short term such as "I will make sure to not be a burden to my teammates during this mission". This will be your starting mission goal. If there is no apparent mission or quest, you can write a second relationship goal instead or wait until an actual mission is given to you. Below you will find a list of example goals for each of the categories.

Since Joanna’s character is a mage, she  decides that her character wishes to find something magical during the game. She writes “I will find a piece of ancient arcane lore and learn its content.” as her starting personal goal. While speaking with her group, she determines that one of the characters had her character’s back in a recent pinch and she feels she owes them for it. She discusses this with the other player, and after both agree that it's a good goal, she writes  “Grovax had my back in the last fight and I feel indebted to him. I must find a way to pay him back.” as her starting relationship goal. The GM reveals they have been hired by the local lord to clear out a goblin-infested cave. Joanna remembers how Tibaldo described his character as a wildcard and writes “I will keep Jack out of trouble during this quest.” as her mission goals.

Personal Goals Examples

  • I will amass enough wealth to build a _________ business.
  • I will amass enough wealth to retire.
  • I will ascend to one of the top ranks in the organization I am in.
  • I will become a great ally to someone in power.
  • I will better the living conditions of those who live in _________.
  • I will bring _________ to justice.
  • I will destroy _________ and all they stand for.
  • I will discover who murdered my parents.
  • I will do a random good deed everyday for a month.
  • I will find a piece of important lore and learn its content.
  • I will make a name for myself.
  • I will reveal the corruption that is eating away the city/town/village/planet of __________.

Relationship Goals Examples

  • __________  didn't come through when I needed it the most. I will make sure they atone for it.
  • __________  doesn't trust me. I must change their perception of me.
  • __________ fears my powers and for good reason. I will prove to them that I have it under control.
  • __________ had my back in the last fight and I feel indebted to them. I must find a way to pay them back.
  • __________ has much to teach me about __________ . I must learn all I can.
  • __________  is cruel. I must teach them to be compassionate.
  • __________  is destined for greatness. i will help them achieve __________  goal.
  • __________  is impressed with my abilities and seems curious. I will teach them whatever I can.
  • __________ is weak. I must teach them how to be strong.
  • __________  owes me __________ . I will make sure they pay me back.
  • __________  seems capable. I will convince them to do __________  for/with me.
  • I blame __________  for __________ .  I will make them pay.

Mission Goals Examples

  • I will capture __________ alive.
  • I will guard __________  with all I've got.
  • I will keep __________ out of trouble during this mission.
  • I will make sure no civilians are harmed during this mission.
  • I will make sure __________ sticks to the plan this time.
  • I will make sure to not be a burden to my teammates during this mission.

Resolving Goals

At the end of a session, go over your personal and relationship goals and figure out if those goals are still relevant. If it is determined by you and the other players that those goals no longer apply be it because you achieved your goals during this session or your character's’ feelings have changed. You can erase that goal and write a new goal based on recent events during the game. Mission goals can be resolved while the characters have some downtime after a mission has been completed. For each resolved goal, mark 1 milestone in your character sheet.