Gold’s Guide to Character Creation

How to Build a Character in Ishanekon World Shapers – A Beginner’s Guide

Hello! I’m Gold Zephzellian, and welcome to my guide on how to build a character in Ishanekon World Shapers! This game is very special to me, so I wanted to give back with my own take on how I handle character creation! 

Before we begin, note that my guidelines for character creation are NOT the only way to handle it. It’s possible to modify this and find success. I just believe these are the best OVERALL guidelines for a new player. With that being said… let’s go!

Step by Step

I believe the best way to teach something is through steps and showing an example. Therefore, I split my method of Character Creation into steps, and I’ll be showing off how I build an example character. Here are the steps:

  1. Purpose of Character, Type of Game, What’s Allowed, and Starting Level
  2. Concept
  3. Key Talents, Abilities, Traits, Path, and/or Features
  4. More on Filters
  5. Selecting Archetype and Sub-Archetype
  6. Select Primary, Secondary, Evasion, and Starting Stats
  7. Skills and Weapon Proficiencies
  8. Abilities, Talents, Features, Traits, and Paths
  9. Starting Items and Upgrades
  10. Planning Ahead (Optional)
  11. Character Background

Yeah, there are a lot of steps. But I’ll break them down one by one. Before we get into it, a useful resource for all new players is the Character Builds page. This contains useful information on the various playstyles and general descriptions of a handful of Archetypes (I even helped work on it, so it has my seal of quality). It’s a MUST-read if you’re looking for more character-building tips.

Part 1: Character Purpose

This seems like a rather silly place to start, but it’s true! The purpose of your character MATTERS! We can break this down into smaller steps:

  1. Are we building this for ourselves or for a Game?
  2. What is the Type of Game we are Building this Character for?
  3. What is/isn’t allowed?
  4. What is the starting level (and, if applicable, level cap)?

Let’s go over them!

For a Game or For Fun?

Making a character can either be done for a game you’ll be doing or for fun! Character building can be an actual mini-game within the game itself for some people trying to accomplish some sort of goal! Either way, it’s important to know this, as it can influence what choices you make for your character.

What is the Type of Game we are Building this Character for?

If we are building for a game, what’s the genre and (if applicable) alternative leveling method for the game? These’ll generally be told to you by the GM if you are building for a game, but if you aren’t sure, be sure to ask! If the GM doesn’t mention anything about Alternative Leveling Methods, just assume the GM is using the standard leveling method. This can influence which of the character sheets you use or even if you need a custom one!

What is or isn’t Allowed?

This is where we start to get into the stuff that requires actual mechanical explanations. Some of these may not matter if you’re doing it for Fun. 

Generally, so long as you can justify your character having an Ability or Talent that fits the setting of your game and you could take it, you can likely have any of those so long as you meet the requirements. The game does a pretty good job of balance (though it is receiving balance changes pretty frequently), and Abilities and Talents are some of the most balanced parts of the game. Some may have the “GM Permission” prerequisite, however, and require GM permission to use. Be sure to ask!

Next on the docket are Traits. Not all GMs may allow Traits, as they are an optional rule that can easily break a game if misused. Even when I do character creation for fun, I tend not to use these. Don’t be mistaken, though; they can be EXCEPTIONALLY useful for representing varying species and peoples of varying types. Just know that they are optional, and even then, you’ll have to justify your choices to your GM and avoid metagaming the system.

Finally, your GM may not permit the use of certain Abilities, Talents, Traits, Weapons, or even whole Sub-Archetypes if they don’t think they’ll fit the game. Keep this in mind when building your character.

What is the Starting Level (and, if applicable, the planned Level Cap)?

Finally, and this is the big one, what is the starting Level of your character? This will determine the level you build your character at initially. Level 1 is pretty popular, but I’m actually a huge fan of Level 6 as a possible starting point for characters. Why? Because Level 6 is a good middle ground between having a good number of Talents, Features, and Abilities. You aren’t going to be unstoppable, but you are going to be very capable.

Example: Jason is planning to play in a game of Ishanekon World Shapers GMed by one of his best friends, Anna. Anna states that it will be a High Fantasy Game with no Traits and following the Standard Character Creation Rules, starting at Level 1, planning to go up to Level 6. She doesn’t ban any Abilities, Talents, Weapons, or Sub-Archetypes outright so long as Jason can justify them.

Part 2: Concept

Okay, great! You’ve got all the information about the game you’re playing in (if you’re not doing this for Fun), and you have the restrictions in place for your character. Nice! Now you need a concept for your character. Sometimes this can come BEFORE the purpose of your character, but in general, it’s a good idea to have an idea of what you want your character to be.

Don’t be afraid to be detailed about your character idea! It can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be at this point. Heck, if you know the kind of character you want to play, don’t be afraid to describe it and go from there!

Example: Jason knows one of his friends wants to play a classical Mage, while another wants to play a Rogue, so Jason figures he wants to play a chivalrous knight with some light healing magic but primarily focus on being a front liner with a classic sword and board playstyle.

Part 3: Key Talents, Abilities, Traits, Path, and/or Features

Ah, this is the fun part! I find it easiest to start with the key stuff you’ll need to make your character concept WORK! Sometimes, it is rather easy to find what you’re looking for, especially if it’s a straightforward character concept. However, it can get a bit awkward for some other character concepts. I have a few helpful tips, however!

Keep it Simple

Having too many Key Talents, Abilities, Traits, and/or Features can muddle a character unnecessarily. Aim to have at most 4-5 core choices to build your character around. Less is okay!

Remember that Multi-Sub-Archetype Exists

You don’t necessarily need to be in an Archetype to have one of its features! Multi-Sub-Archetype can allow you to steal a Feature from another Archetype at the cost of Greater Talents. This can get expensive for Higher Tier Features, though. Probably stick to T1 and T2 features for this and get higher-end features through your actual Sub-Archetype.

Filters, Filters, Filters

Filters are INCREDIBLY useful for finding stuff that fits your character concept. Make sure to make judicious use of them!

Example: James’ Knight is a pretty simple character concept, but he wants a few things. First, Shield Mage will be necessary to mitigate the downside of wielding a Shield. Then, he wants to take Light Shield Expert to help mitigate attacks that are thrown at him and swing back. Finally, he’ll take Battle Medic to allow him to cast his Healing Abilities quickly.

Part 4: More on Filters

I mentioned Filters earlier, but now we’ll go more in-depth with them and how you should use them to make your life easier! In particular, I want to go over three types of filters that you’ll see reasonably frequently: Ability Categories, Role, and Complexity. There are many other useful filters, too: Archetypes on Abilities, Items on Upgrades, and Trait Points on Traits, but the three I am going over are perhaps the most important to understand as a new player. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the Filters; they are VERY useful, but these are the ones you should probably be most aware of.

Ability Categories

Ability Categories cover the various types of Abilities you’ll see. Each one has expectations of what they will accomplish as a part of that category. Here’s what each category represents:


Buff Abilities are the temporary but potent boosts of the Ishanekon world, buffing many stats, but they also can have many other uses as well! Most characters will usually want one of these in their toolkits. Just keep in mind you can only have one of these active at any given time!


Control Abilities are a varied group of Abilities that do one thing very well; make the enemy’s life difficult! Whether by reducing their damage, applying Status Effects, or even boosting your own defenses, Control Abilities are great for making sure the opponents can’t get anything done.


Damage Abilities have one goal; killing the mans. These are Abilities that are DIRECTLY capable of dealing damage in any form, including upcasts. This notably does NOT include damaging conditions, at least not by themselves (upcasts or straight-up damage from the Ability itself will make it a Damage Ability). This also generally covers any Abilities that modify Weapon Attacks and will likely have Maneuver as well.


Whereas Buffs are the boosts, the Debuffs are the hindrances. These excel at causing enemy(s) to become more vulnerable, often quite a bit more vulnerable! These can require DRs, but this isn’t a requirement. Some of the best ones don’t have DRs! Like Buffs, you can only have one active at any given time.


Healing Abilities are the opposite of Damage Abilities; they are intended to keep the mans alive! These Abilities keep a character alive, whether by removing Status Effects or Debuffs, restoring Vitality and granting Temporary Vitality, and even resurrecting the dead! These are the only Abilities that can never become “free” through traditional means; only if something says so!


Maneuvers are a rather unique set of Abilities, generally characterized by either being a physical act or by being a part of a Weapon Attack. The latter has its own unique rules behind it, basically requiring you to declare it before the attack and only permitting the use of one per attack. These Abilities are not able to be made into consumables, but in exchange, they carry no additional cost while wielding Shields.


Summon Abilities focus on the spontaneous but temporary creation of objects or creatures. The latter can act on their own accord, but can be Commanded as a 1AP action (or for free with Subconscious Command!). Like Buffs and Debuffs, you can only have one instance of a Summon Ability (regardless of whether it’s an Object or Creature) active at a time.


Transform Abilities allow you to transform yourself or another target into something else! This can be used to make something stronger, make something weaker, or even eventually bring life into Objects! You may only have one active Transform Ability at a time.


Utility is a catch-all category used when any other category doesn’t fit. These usually include Abilities that fill a more situational purpose, interact with the surroundings in an interesting fashion, or do something out of what the other categories handle. 

And that’s all of them! Many Abilities will fall into multiple of these categories, so it’s up to you to experiment and find out what works for your character!


The single most common filter alongside Complexity, the Role defines what kind of “niche” Abilities, Sub-Archetypes, Paths, Upgrades, and Talents fill. There are 11 of these, so let’s go over them quickly!

Melee/Ranged Weapon User

Melee and Ranged Weapon users are quite similar, so I’m lumping them together. They both use their weapon type frequently and have similar desires, usually wanting to increase their accuracy and damage output. The major difference is in the utility both of them usually want; Ranged Users usually want more flexibility in how to use their weapons at more ranges, while Melee Users typically want more reactive options, mobility, or longer reach. 


Defensive covers anything that improves your survivability but also improves the party’s general survivability. Many of these Defensive choices may not increase your survivability by themselves, but when used cleverly with other choices, they can significantly increase your chance of survival in an overall day.

Damage Abilities

Damage Abilities is all about… well, dealing damage with Abilities. Not very surprising, but hey! SOMEONE’S GOTTA DO IT! These guys generally like seeing an increase in the accuracy, damage, and overall utility and consistency of their Damage Abilities.


Support is all about keeping your team going or making them overall stronger just by being around. This is usually done through Buff and Healing Abilities, but some Features and Talents may grant alternative ways to support your team, especially from Sub-Archetypes.


Control is… actually a lot like Control Abilities! It’s all about making the enemy’s life difficult, restricting their movement, lowering stats, inflicting Status Effects, and anything that doesn’t outright kill them, but prevents them from being effective. Sub-Archetype Features and certain Talents can also help provide Control as well in ways Control Abilities simply cannot handle. Many of the Advanced Combat Actions, like Blind, also have a Control component.

Creature User

Creature Users are all about those Summon Abilities, using them to great effect. Many Creature User choices improve them directly, while others improve them indirectly by improving your casting prowess, allowing them to stick around longer.


Transformations are all about Transform Abilities! Much like the Creature User, many Transformations choices directly improve the transformations, but others improve them indirectly by improving your casting prowess, allowing you to use more powerful transformations more frequently.


Utility is a category based around not only Utility Abilities but also Skills and other niche options that don’t fit elsewhere. Utility options tend to improve Skills and overall efficiency or flexibility.

Ability Generalist

Ability Generalists, unsurprisingly, are all about using Abilities. They get choices that either give them more Abilities, allow them to use Abilities more, or just give more power to their Abilities. It’s a very straightforward role but one with significant flexibility.


Crafting is the oddball of the bunch; not really lining up neatly with any Abilities. Instead, they are more focused on improving their Crafting Skill(s) and using them to make items, whether they be Consumable, Gear, or Ability Items! Their choices tend to make things cheaper and faster or provide more options to boost their effectiveness while crafting.

That’s all of the Roles! Most choices usually fall into a few of these, and Roles AREN’T EVERYTHING. A Melee Weapon Attacker, for example, could be a Ranged Weapon Attacker under the right circumstances. These are simply suggestions, good for helping you make choices!


One of the best things about Ishanekon World Shapers is that it allows for a WIDE range of character complexity. This is represented by the complexity system, which has 6 Tiers. Let’s go over them!

1 – The Fundamentals

1 contains all the fundamentals. Stat Increases from Talents? Check. Straightforward Abilities? Check. Very Straightforward Effects? CHECK! These are RARELY a bad choice; these are often fundamental stuff that causes many builds to run. Even more complicated builds will often have a number of these; they are NOT a bad choice. Sub-Archetypes with a 1 are typically VERY straightforward, usually providing mostly passive benefits, with the active benefits being VERY straightforward to understand.

2 – The Slightly Nuanced

These choices are a little more detailed than 1, but are still reasonably straightforward to understand. These usually want to synergize with one or two other things to see the best effect but are otherwise really straightforward in their approach. Sub-Archetypes with a 2 usually have an active benefit or two that can benefit from synergies but usually work plenty fine on their own or have an obvious build they want. They may also have choices to make, but they’ll be pretty straightforward.

3 – The More Complicated Choices

Now we’re getting somewhere! 3 contains the more complicated choices and a good chunk of these have a set niche or are complicated in such a way that they cause you to think for a minute about their overall impact during gameplay. Sub-Archetypes with a 3 usually are more niche, having a dedicated playstyle that demands your attention, and their active benefits are generally more critical than 2. Many of these usually focus on a core centerpiece of a feature, which is worth keeping an eye out for.

4 – The Complex Stuff

The most complex stuff, 4 contains the most niche options and situational effects and also the most complicated to understand mechanics. When understood, though, these effects can be EXCEPTIONALLY powerful. Sub-Archetypes with a 4 usually have a VERY complicated set of features that must be used together for success (or are Summoners or Transformers). They often require you to think about how to use them together for the best effect.

Beginner – Great for Players New to TTRPGs

The first of the sub-categories, Beginner contains a good chunk of straightforward but effective choices. These are Complexity 1 or 2 choices and follow most of the stuff you’d expect from those categories. It is an overall great choice for those new to TTRPGs as a whole.

Core – Great for Players Familiar with TTRPGs

For those familiar with TTRPGs, Core has what you are looking for. It contains more options than Beginner, adding in Complexity 3 and some of the more complicated Complexity 2 choices, which should all be understandable to those with more knowledge of TTRPGs.

And that’s the basic filters! There is PLENTY to do with filters, but with these three big groups, you should have a good idea of where to go from here with your filter usage.

Part 5: Choose Archetype and Sub-Archetype

This is one of the most important steps of Character Creation. Your Archetype determines your starting Vitality per Level, Willpower per Level, Skill Points, Abilities per Level, Proficiencies, and Primary/Secondary/Evasion Stats. Each also confers a special feature unique to that Archetype. Archetypes are generally split into three categories: Fighter (Weapon Users), Hybrids (Weapon/Ability Hybrids), and Casters (Ability Users). Here are what categories they fall into:

Fighter: Bulwark, War

Hybrids: Cunning, Demolition, Nature, Technology, Unarmed

Casters: Creative, Mental, Reality

While Archetypes grant you your general stat line, Sub-Archetypes grant you your features, one for each Tier up to Tier 5, starting at Tier 1. These Features can make a build FAR more potent. Therefore, I will be going into a short 2-3 sentence explanation for each of them. If you want more in-depth explanations, I am on the Ishanekon World Shapers Discord if you want to chat! Who knows, maybe one day I will make a more in-depth guide in my own style!


Bulwark as an Archetype is more focused on defenses than any other Archetype, best described by their innate Heavy Armor proficiency, the only Archetype in the game to start with this proficiency. Their feature is Bulwark’s Defense, greatly improving your base defenses and even granting you the ability to switch a Weapon Primary or Secondary Stat (if it’s Strength or Dexterity) to Constitution! Many of their Sub-Archetypes are Defensive in nature, or at the very least forcing a theme of denying or discouraging enemies from attacking their buddies.


Primarily a user of the Absorb series of Abilities, allowing you to absorb various flavors of damage for cheaper and even gain power from doing it! Keep in mind you only have 2RP, and these abilities cost 2RP to use until Tier 4, so getting more RP or having high Evasion or Armor can help mitigate the need for these Abilities when needed.

Armor Master

The masters of a specific type of armor, getting benefits and a special reaction depending on the armor type they specialize in. This one is pretty varied; worth looking into if you want to specialize in a particular type of armor style.


The most reactive Sub-Archetype in the game, largely thanks to Defensive Stance granting an additional 2RP on use, which you can use on your various Reactive Abilities or other features. The rest of the Archetype buffs the reactive style, making it incredibly efficient at its job.


A controller based around using attacks to smack enemies around the battlefield into disadvantageous positions and keeping them there. It doesn’t come with any innate defensive potential, but it can be potentially highly devastating when it comes to battlefield control.


An Ability Defender hybrid that discourages targeting your allies. If they do, your allies will slowly become harder to harm, eventually getting to the point where targeting them is… pointless. You’ll need to build defenses to make up for the fact that you have no innate defenses, but if you can, a Guardian can be a highly effective tank.


Pure bulk personified, coming with many useful but straightforward defensive tools that can keep you alive in combat situations. It doesn’t come with any pressure; you’ll need to build your own with this one.


A Control or Support that makes use of Presence skills to support their allies or weaken their enemies, eventually allowing this Presence to be permanent, affect themselves, and even get two going at once! This Sub-Archetype does best when used with another more straightforward playstyle, allowing you to support/control and do whatever else you are doing at the same time.


The Protector takes a reactive approach in defending their allies, taking the hit for them! They have no innate defenses but come with plenty of innate Taunt. Having a good range of defensive upgrades can help a Protector a lot.


The only Bulwark to not really follow the theme with any of its features, Retaliators WANT to be attacked, getting benefits whenever they are targeted. A mix of Taunt and Defensive options can make Retaliators excellent offensive tanks, or it can be played as a more traditional Melee Weapon user who gets stronger the more they are attacked.

Shield Master

Shield Masters are the masters of shield usage, even using them as a highly effective weapon! This can easily be used as a standalone combatant or made into a very potent tank.


The Shielder is capable of generating Temporary Vitality for themselves and makes that Temporary Vitality a tool to become more defensively capable. This creates an excellent self-sustaining tank that doesn’t need a ton of help to keep themselves alive.


The only Sub-Archetype in the game to focus on Power Sources, the Warden excels at countering a specific Power Source with the Counter series of Abilities. It’s pretty niche, needing the right campaign to work, but it can be VERY potent when used right.


Creative is the Archetype with the most FLEXIBILITY in terms of what they do. They not only start with 2 Abilities per Level and 9 Skill Points, but they also get their Feature: Creative Improvisation. This grants an additional 2 Abilities at every tier, which can be from ANY Archetype. Creative is a pretty flexible bunch for their choices of Sub-Archetype, but they are generally Ability or Skill focused in some way.


The Artist is the single most versatile Ability user, thanks to having the most Abilities in the game. It comes with many generic Ability Improvements, as well as the innate capability to learn any Ability. It works great for any Ability user.


A weapon-based attacker with a significant damage buff from T2 Dancing Weapon. Despite being weapon focused, the Chassis of Creative makes this an interesting Weapon and Ability hybrid with the ability to go big a few times a day.


A debuffer focused on hitting opponents with negative effects and making it hurt even more with additional debuffs on top! This gets more powerful as time goes on, and goes well with any build that wants to “hit” foes with attacks or Abilities.


The Designer is a generic crafter based on Skill rolls to get the best results. It can eventually rig these rolls to get natural 10s whenever it rolls and make the benefits of succeeding on those rolls even better!


The thematic opposite of the Demoralizer, buffing their allies whenever they hit their opponents with negative effects. Like the Demoralizer, this goes well with any build that wants to “hit” foes but support their team as well.


The Gambler LOVES to bet on a roll’s success or failure, gaining benefits or losing WP or your owned tokens, depending on whether you were right! Eventually, it becomes possible to bet on more things and even gain more tokens! It requires a bit of luck (or maybe you’ll rig things in your favor?), but the benefits can be very worth it! 


Another part of a duology, the Inspirer excels at giving their allies advantage in various situations. This benefit lasts longer and grants more benefits as time goes on. It goes well with any playstyle, really!


The Multi-Talent is the Skill generalist, excelling at using any Skill effectively even if you don’t invest in it! It’s great for those who want to be the ULTIMATE Skill Monkey.


The Polymath is the sole Sub-Archetype capable of doing almost anything, though not all at once. It eventually gets the flexibility to change its Path and Talents and even get a whole second Path in the final Tier!

Problem Solver

The Utility Ability User with one for every situation, gaining the most Utility Abilities in the game (in theory). They also got stuff to make Skills easier.


The negative half of the Inspirer, the Tormenter excels at debuffing their enemies with disadvantage. Like the Inspirer, this gets more brutal and lasts longer as time goes on. Like the Inspirer, it’s good for when you’re looking for something straightforward to debuff enemies with.


Virtuoso is an Ability/Skill Hybrid that uses their skill in place of a Primary or Secondary Stat, gains additional benefits from using their Skill with their Abilities, and even makes your chosen Skill easier to use. It can be very potent for Ability builds, especially when mixed with Expert’s T1.


Cunning is a Hybrid Archetype with a general focus on being great at Skills, but are also quite capable Weapon Combatants. They also have a flexible set of choosable Primary, Secondary, and Evasion Stats. Their Feature is Cunning Skill, granting an extra d4 to any Skill Check you roll so long as you have at least 1 level in it.


The Agent is a Sub-Archetype that wants to avoid being seen to gain the most benefits from their Abilities. They are also pretty good with Skills, but staying out of sight and landing their key Abilities are their main trick.


Ambushers want to end combats quickly, gaining massive benefits on round 1 of a fight (even going first to boot!), but their effects become useless after that first round. They typically want to pick off key targets and deal massive damage to them in the first round using their Weapons.


The specialized Skill user with a higher Skill Level than anyone else, gaining more benefits the higher level the skills they use are, up to a maximum of Skill Level 6. Great for Skill Users who want to have a select few Skills they are amazing at.


The Exploiter excels at opening up the enemy’s weak spots through their signature action, Expose, which lowers Evasion, Armor, and DRs. You become better at exposing weaknesses as time goes on, which can make you really good at weakening a powerful foe.


The best user of Advantage and Weapon Critical Hits, making attacks with either of these quite devastating. These only become more devastating as time goes on, just adding more damage to the pile!


Scouts are incredibly mobile and evasive targets with excellent Basic Movement and (later) Evasion. They otherwise have no identity, making them a great choice for characters looking to be fast but wanting to build their own identity other than that!


Shadows are the ultimate user of the Hide action, becoming borderline INVISIBLE after using it, even granting a good burst of movement afterward. Later, their Hide action becomes even more potent, even becoming STRAIGHT UP INVISIBLE later.


Snipers are the masters of their unique action, Taking Aim, and granting significant Armor mitigation, damage, and other benefits as you go along. Great for all Ranged Weapons attackers looking to attack from very long range and not move that much.


Specialists are the middle road between Experts and Multi-Talents, specializing in a specific STAT (2 later with T4) of Skills and gaining benefits depending on your chosen Stat.


Where the Rogue is the Weapon Critical User, the Spell-Knife is the Ability Critical User, able to crit with DR forcing Abilities and being able to eventually straight up force criticals. They’re great for when you want to go for a build where when your spells go big, THEY GO BIG.


Swashbucklers are the Multi-Attack specialist, excelling at hitting multiple times in succession in a highly effective fashion. They get more attacks the more they attack, so keep up the pressure! The Swashbuckler really appreciates extra damage from various sources to increase the effectiveness of their large number of attacks.


The Wanderer is a Weapon/Skill Hybrid that can use their Skill to greatly improve the effectiveness of their weapons by replacing the Primary or Secondary Stat of their weapon with that skill. They get even better at using their Skill and Weapon as time goes on, making it a great choice for users of a specific Skill and their weapon of choice.


Demolition is the Area of Affect (AOE) specialist, excelling at clearing a whole battlefield of a threat. This is best described by Bigger Demolition, their Feature, which increases the area of effect of anything that hits multiple targets, and removes Reload from AOE weapons. Otherwise, they’re surprisingly varied, having a wide range of different roles they play into.

Barrier Master

The Barrier Master is all about the Barrier series of Abilities, providing their allies with a large amount of Armor to keep them safe. This becomes easier to do with time and more potent as well.

Blast Gunner

A specialist in hitting a clump of enemies with a ranged weapon, the Blast Gunner makes their Maneuvers that affect their weapon attacks EXPLODE, dealing damage in an area. This becomes easier to spread as you level up, eventually making your Abilities in this way very cheap.


The Blaster is the dedicated AOE Ability specialist, gaining more power the more enemies they hit, which they can expend on making their Abilities more powerful. This becomes easier to do and more powerful as time goes on.


The Bombardier is able to convert Single Target Abilities to AOE Abilities, eventually blasting whole cubes of space with your upcasted Single Target Abilities.


The Challenger excels at getting the attention of large crowds with Taunting effects, becoming tougher the more creatures they have Taunted and heavily discouraging ignoring the taunt. They probably need some outside help to become more durable, but they can be a powerful defensive force when the stars align.


The Chemist can create dangerous zones from their T1 Lasting Gas, allowing them to control the battlefield with giant AOE zones that are risky to walk through. These zones become more potent as you go up the Tiers, eventually locking enemies right into the zones if they move in them. Just be careful; your friends can be affected too!


The Conjurer is the multi-minion master, creating hordes of enemies to fling at foes with reckless abandon with their T1 Horde Attack, getting some utility to make that easier as time goes on, with a side focus on flinging giant AOEs at foes as well.


The Destroyer is an archetype with just generalist improvements to AOEs, allowing you to tack on additional benefits to them. It also has a side theme of blasting objects and material creatures to dust, making it a GREAT cover buster. 


The Grenadier is an AOE Weapon specialist, taking AOE weapons and making them even better! It has the unique ability to apply Maneuver Abilities to AOE weapons as well, and can eventually straight up NEVER MISS with AOE weapons.


The Infuser is all about supporting their team with AOE Abilities! Whether through Healing or Buffs, they make their allies stronger and keeps getting better at it!


A highly unique Sub-Archetype focused around Mines and setting up for fights in advance, though not necessarily! It can easily perform its Mine placing in combat too, and it can be quite effective when used well.


The Melee Weapon AOE user, the Whirlwind focuses on Cleave and Whirlwind Attack to hit multiple enemies at once, but it can eventually use any Ability that uses Melee Weapons to great effect! They’re surprisingly nimble and survivable at later Tiers as well.


The Ability users par excellence, the Mental Archetype gives up Armor Proficiencies in exchange for a STACKED Ability Casting chassis. They can keep it going, too, thanks to their Feature, Mental Recharge, which DOUBLES all forms of WP recovery. Naturally, this Archetype’s Sub-Archetypes are focused on Abilities in one way or another.


The specialist in casting personal Buffs, the Channeler makes their personally cast Buffs on themselves more powerful and can spend that Buff when they need a significant power boost on an Ability. Both the passive effects and active effects get more potent with time!


The Controller is the defacto Control Ability user, coming with everything you’d want a good controller to have. Movement and Stat manipulation alongside advantage and disadvantage later, the Controller is a great choice for straightforward Control Ability users.


The Devotee is the damage type specialist, choosing one damage type and making it INSANE. Damage, accuracy, and even straight-up ignoring resistances and immunities, the Devotee excels at just BLASTING their problems away with a single damage type.


The Enhancer is the most straightforward user of both Debuffs and Buffs, allowing them to serve as both a Support or Controller. Their Features serve to make them stronger and cheaper, allowing Enhancers to be one of the most valuable party members when used well. One tip; I’d recommend focusing on either Buffs or Debuffs, not both, and taking their respective Path! Works better that way.


The classic archetypical “hit enemies until they die” Ability attacker, the Evoker blasts enemies with consistent, powerful Abilities and can cast more big Abilities than anyone per rest later on. It’s straightforward, but pretty useful!


The Healer… is the best Healing Ability User. Go figure! It gets better healing over time and is a good choice for any form of Healing Ability user, thanks to its Features generally working on both Temporary and Regular Vitality.


The Maniac is the inconsistent but potentially VERY powerful Ability user with high highs and low lows, primarily due to their T1 Unstable Overcharge. This becomes riskier but more potent as time goes on.


The Polymorpher is an unusual Transformer that allows their Transform Abilities to still retain some of the core identity of the original form of their target. You can retain more as you go up in Tier!


The Sorcerer is the Ability Combo Caster, specializing in casting more than 1 Ability per turn and making every subsequent Ability more powerful. More effects become available over time! Be careful, though. Casting more Abilities means you will run out of Willpower faster. Be sure to have some form of Willpower Recovery!


The Summoner is the classical Summon Ability archetype, making their Summons far more potent with every Tier that goes by! They are a great choice for those who want to rely entirely or almost entirely on their Summons.


The Thinker is the Utility Ability user with a focus on Efficiency. Their Utility Abilities are able to be used cheaply, both in the AP and WP department, especially as they go up in Tier! They’re a good choice for players who want a large toolbox of cheap, reliable Utility!

War Mage

The War Mage is the best user of Defensive Reactive Abilities, gaining extra Temporary Vitality just for using them and being able to use that Temporary Vitality for powerful benefits. They make excellent side tanks or even primary tanks with the right setup.


Nature is an Archetype built on variety and being well-rounded, but with a general focus on the ideals of Nature. Their Feature, Master of Nature, is equally varied, granting better movement and one of a few Lesser Talent choices. Their Sub-Archetypes are a mix and match of lots of different roles, just like Nature itself!


The Beastmaster is all about fighting alongside a Summon from a Summon Ability! The Summon is permanent and becomes more durable, and later you get some neat things you can do besides your Summon to work as a team.


The Druid is about using a mix of Damage and Healing Abilities, with inconsistent power depending on the day but with great potential on a good day. It also comes with some interesting utility later as well, making it a good choice for those looking for a different flavor of Ability User.


The Hermit is that one Pacifist character in your party… but is actually quite useful! They primarily focus on avoiding dealing damage, but in exchange, gain GREAT Ability efficiency, eventually just being able to cast them for free. They can still choose to deal damage, though! Don’t think this is an excuse to NOT take some damage.


The Hunter excels at dealing with specific creature types and can switch to deal with other Creature Types on the fly when necessary. They become more potent at dealing with their creature types as time goes on.


The Infector excels at spreading Status Effects and Debuffs, making them more devastating to enemies and more beneficial to allies, even completely removing the downsides of inflicting them on allies later! They require some foresight to use well but can be VERY potent when used with the right team.


The Leecher is all about using Leech Seed or Leech Attack to not only drain their enemies of life but get more healing and damage from them too. You can eventually share them with more of your allies!


The Predator is all about gaining benefits from dealing and taking damage, gaining benefits when either occurs. It’s a straightforward Archetype with a brute-force approach!


The Ranger is all about improving Maneuver Abilities by tacking on Status Effect infliction, eventually being able to apply nearly any Status effect (except Madness and Exhaustion). It’s a great choice for Maneuver users looking to tack on a bit of extra utility onto their Maneuvers.


The Shepherd is uniquely about the Summon Pet ability, granting that Pet significant benefits and eventually being able to either make that pet incredibly strong or gain multiple pets with this power. It’s a good choice for Summon Ability users looking for a unique playstyle.


The Shifter is the archetypical Transform Ability user with access to many features that make their Transformations on themselves better. It’s a straightforward Sub-Archetype for first-time Transform Ability users.


The Tracker is pretty much the guy with a backpack with a ton of tricks that knows the wild. In short, they gain a lot of niche Utility that can be useful in the right situations whilst also being quite good at Skills.


Whereas the Rigger is all about giant AOE mine explosions, the Trapper takes a more measured approach with Control and Debuff abilities. It still is all about preparing for fights in advance, but more focused on Control rather than sheer damage.


Reality is a primarily Caster chassis with the worst Proficiencies in the game alongside TERRIBLE Skill Points, but in exchange, they have dice manipulating abilities innately thanks to their feature, Reality Warper, which grants them one of each die type you can use to replace rolls once per full rest. Their Archetype is primarily Ability focused, but they have some weird, unique Archetypes that match their Reality Manipulation theme.


The Anomaly is all about occasionally getting an additional fully upcasted Ability cast (that ignores limits) for free whenever you cast an Ability that costs WP. This becomes more consistent, controllable, and powerful as you go up in the tiers.


The Cartoon is an oddball that breaks the laws of physics through its core feature, Cartoon Physics. This can be used to pull off all sorts of tricks, and you gain more hilarious Cartoon style reality breaks as you go up in the tiers.


The Co-Narrator can turn back failures and see the future of the game, providing a lot of utility! Their features are generic enough that they can fit into any playstyle!


The Displacer is all about Teleportation, moving themselves, allies, and enemies around to places that are advantageous to them. They make excellent Control and Support characters who want a lot of character placement manipulation.


The Disrupter is all about placing Rifts and using them to cause a lot of pain to their foes, even being able to detonate them to great effect! This offers a great deal of Control to otherwise Damage Ability users, making it a great choice for Control/Damage Ability hybrids.

Fate Weaver

The Fate Weaver is the ultimate use of Narrative Momentum for dice rerolls. Not only do they gain more Narrative Momentum to use, but they are great at using it cheaply for dice rolls to boot! A great choice for those who want to manipulate dice rolls frequently.


Whereas the Fate Weaver is the Narrative Momentum user for dice rolls, the Protagonist is all about using Cinematic Actions! They can use Cinematic Actions cheaply and more easily than anyone else and are a great choice for when a player wants to do lots of high-flying action stunts!


The Seer is the Vision specialist, gaining more Visions than anyone else. They can see more than anyone else and can see pretty far, too, at later Tiers. It’s great for when you want to bring a lot of Utility to a party.

Space Warper

The Space Warper is a highly unusual archetype based around manipulating Ability range and movement, increasing or decreasing it in a reactive (or eventually passive) manner. 


The Technomancer is all about using Willpower to make Crafting cheaper and faster! They can do this for less WP and keep making stuff cheaper and faster as the tiers go on! Great for more “effort” focused crafters who can make things in an instant.


The Timetwister is all about initiative, dice, and even TURN manipulation later on. Their features otherwise are pretty standalone, making the Timetwister a good choice for those who want to build Time-Based characters.


The Trickster is all about making use of Transform and Summon Abilities, with a general focus on the Summon Item Ability, allowing them to summon various items and just be a general nuisance by playing Tricks on the enemy in various ways. 


Technology, much like Nature, is a versatile Archetype with a well-rounded Archetype stat-wise. It leans towards Crafting, though, thanks to its Feature Technology Crafter, which allows you to craft and upgrade items like you were 1 Tier higher than normal! Don’t worry if you don’t, though; you get a couple of free Tier 1 Items on Character Creation! They have a good variety of Sub-Archetypes in a ton of different roles, but they are also home to most of this game’s Crafting Sub-Archetypes and also a good number of Creature Users.


The Alchemist is the master of Consumables and Ability Items, crafting them better than anyone else. They get a few free consumables each day later and get benefits to make crafting them cheaper/faster or just straight up better. They even get the sweet ability to make Consumables and Ability Items using any Ability they could learn!


The Armorer is all about gaining energy whenever you are hit or missed (eventually both), then expanding it on powerful bursts of defenses. This boost of defense can save your life when used well and can be rationed out as necessary!


The Artillerist is all about infusing an Ability(3 Abilities later) into an item and gaining a few uses of that Ability(s) at full charge, kind of like Path of Healing, but for every Ability! This item also gets some minor improvements, and any rest will recover these charges, making the Artillerist a surprisingly consistent source of Ability output!


The Artisan excels at making any non-consumable, non-Ability items and upgrading them. They can also use their crafted gear pretty effectively themselves later on, making them a good choice for Combat/Crafter hybrids.


The Battle-Engineer is all about building energy with their Abilities, which they can then discharge with Weapon Attacks for large bursts of damage! They can build these charges with any Ability and discharge with any Weapon attack, allowing for a versatile range of builds!


The Inventor excels at creating and using Equipment, even being able to risk your upgrades on your Equipment for potent rewards! You can even eventually wear multiple Equipments at once, which can be INCREDIBLY powerful for casters.


The ultimate Vehicle Summoner, the Pilot can make better use of Vehicles than anyone, getting additional “oomph” out of it! It’s pretty simple in theory but requires knowledge of the Vehicle mechanics to get the most out of it.


The Roboticist is a Summon user with a focus on making their Summons DIE horrible deaths… for fun and profit! They want their summons to die to cause additional damage, great for those who want short-lasting but potent summons.

Soul Forger

The Soul Forger excels at making gear only they can use, but making that gear EXCEPTIONALLY powerful. It’s great for when you want potent gear at the cost of being unable to give it to anyone else.


Where the Soul Forger was about personal gear improvement, the Supplier is all about improving the gear of their allies. These boosts can be exceptionally powerful, but they cannot help themselves.


The Supporter is the support-based Summon user, based around making their Summons excellent supportive units, allowing yourself to fill whatever role you wish. It’s best used in conjunction with Healing Bot if you want your summons to be the primary source of healing.


The Tinkerer is capable of making Utility Ability Consumables and Ability Items without having to spend anything, though this is limited by the features to T1 initially (eventually T2 and T3 as well). In addition, only you can use them, but they are very flexible when it comes to solving problems when they have time in advance to plan.


Unarmed is a generally weapon-focused archetype based around their feature: Unarmed Fighting Arts, providing many benefits to whatever weapon they wield, even starting with one of the Weapon Style talents! In exchange, they start with no Armor proficiencies and are a Hybrid, meaning they’re squishier than normal weapon combatants. However, they’re a surprisingly versatile Archetype, capable of filling many different roles when built well.


The Acrobatic is all about strong movement and Evasion, gaining improvements to all forms of movement and general evasiveness. They’re very flexible in how they can be built, as their features don’t force any play style.

Bar Fighter

The Bar Fighter is a cheap fighter who makes use of many Dirty Fighter techniques, such as Shoving or Blinding, to get off more attacks than they should. They can even do more damage or Stun with these attacks later!


The Breaker excels at taking advantage of enemies being weakened by Status Effects or Debuffs and hitting them while they are down. This can cripple them even further or cause even more damage, and you can even spread the Debuffs and Status Effects around!

Drunken Master

The Drunken Master is an unusual Sub-Archetype focused on taking advantage of being inflicted with Status Effects and Debuffs by, paradoxically, becoming STRONGER with them! It’s very high risk but very high reward if you can work around these Status Effects and Debuffs.


The Guru is a straightforward archetype that can use their Melee Weapons as decently ranged Ranged Weapons and also gain some decent defensive utility as well! It’s great for those who want a versatile style of play.


Probably my favorite Sub-Archetype in the game, the Kensei is all about summoning gear better than anyone else! They can use whatever they summon with no problem, and they excel at switching them on the fly! It’s great for when you want to constantly switch up your game plan from moment to moment!

Martial Artist

The Martial Artist is all about hitting an enemy with potent melee combos, forcing DRs on them with sufficient attack hits. Later, they can get a powerful final hit if they land all their previous attacks! 


The Ninja is the classic sneaky attacker, doing best when they strike from where they were previously unseen. This becomes more potent as you gain additional features.


The Psionic is an RNG heavy Sub-Archetype that fluctuates in potency depending on your roll from its T1 Feature Psionic Flow at the start of every turn. The rest of their features make the higher rolls even better and eventually make it more consistent.


The Sage is another Weapon/Ability hybrid archetype, based on weaving their Abilities and Weapon Attacks together, gaining benefits for one when they use the other. The weapons and abilities are not strictly defined, allowing you to use whatever you want.

Stance Fighter

The Stance Fighter is an Archetype heavily based around its T1 Feature Monkey Ox Viper, which provides three different but very good stances and is encouraged to switch between them for different benefits. Eventually, you can even take up multiple of these stances at the same time!


The Wrestler excels at grabbing their foes and surviving their attempts to escape. Not a whole lot to say; just grab your foes and slam them around!


War is the Archetype with the largest focus on Weapons, having the best Weapon Proficiencies in exchange for poor WP and a limited Starting Stat selection. Their feature, Ready for War, grants a Lesser Talent and allows you to either add the full Secondary Stat of a Weapon to the Hit Bonus or add half of the Secondary Stat of a Weapon to the Damage Bonus. This plays nicely into the weapon-centric nature of War’s Sub-Archetypes, but it does have some role variety mixed in.


The Armiger is all about selecting a weapon group and getting the most out of it. Each weapon group excels at something different, ensuring that each type of Armiger will play differently than the others in some ways!


The Berserker is the ultimate self-buffer, gaining increased benefits while they have buffed themselves. It’s a great way to play a character who can power themselves up better than anyone else!


The Blooddrinker is all about sustaining themselves by landing attacks, and gaining Vitality on successful ones. It does best when it has Bolstered Healing or Greater Healing to help boost its effectiveness!


The Brute hits things. REALLY HARD. They take a single Heavy Smash that deals all of its damage at once and hits harder than normal attacks, gaining additional effects as the Tiers go on.


The Champion is all about using Abilities alongside your Weapon, not needing to overly rely on either! It’s a great choice for a straightforward spell sword build.


The Duelist is the Maneuver Ability specialist, gaining additional benefits when using them. Later, they even get the elusive way to apply two to an attack at the same time!


The Leader is a unique support-oriented Sub-Archetype that supports its team with the non-Will Mental Stats! Each one provides its own benefits, and it is possible to build for multiple if you’re smart!


The Rider is the ultimate mounted combatant, summoning a mount and gaining significant benefits while you remain mounted. You can mount on anything, though, including your friends if you want (can)!


The Rusher excels at rocketing around the battlefield, smacking foes with harder-hitting attacks if you do so! It’s a great Sub-Archetype for mobile melee combatants.


The Trooper excels at making use of Cover. They gain increased offensive and defensive presence while they remain in cover, especially later on!


The Vindicator gets stronger the more their allies are hurt. They can be played either as a highly vengeful attacker or as a defender who discourages attacking allies, lest the enemies face higher damage from the Vindicator!


The Warrior is the most straightforward Sub-Archetype in the game, getting very straightforward bonuses to Weapon Attacks. Not much to say; they’re straightforward bonuses that help you out a lot!

That’s ALL OF THEM… whew, tired yet? Don’t worry about knowing EVERY Sub-Archetype; that will come with time. Choose one that best fits your character concept, and let the Archetype fall where it may at first. You can be more picky about that later once you are more experienced.

Example: James looks through all the Sub-Archetypes and falls on a few possible options. Shield Master would lean into that sword-and-board identity pretty well, but it would limit his offensive pressure. Warrior would allow him to focus on his one-handed weapon but would limit his defensive presence. In the end, he ends up on Armiger, which allows him to apply offensive pressure while still being defensively capable, especially when he hits Tier 3 for the big final fight!

Part 6: Select Primary, Secondary, Evasion, and Starting Stats

OKAY! We’ve reached the fun part; actually creating the character! But where do we start? Well, first, open up your appropriate Character Sheet and create a New Character. I suggest beginning by selecting your Archetype, Sub-Archetype, and your Primary, Secondary, and Evasion Stat. These Stats are based on your Archetype. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to try and overlap either your Primary or Secondary Stat with your Evasion Stat. You won’t ALWAYS be able to do this, and it’s okay if your character concept doesn’t do this, but this will offer you greater flexibility.

Example: War doesn’t have a whole lot of choices for Starting Stats, so James selects Strength for Primary, Constitution for Secondary, and Strength for Evasion.

Once you’ve selected your stats, it’s time to allocate them! This is where things get INTERESTING. Generally, you’ve got a few things to consider when selecting your Stats:

Do you want to use Ability Hit or DR Power?

Many Abilities will rely on either Ability Hit or DR Power to work, and both of those scale off of your Primary Stat. Ability Hit also scales off of your Secondary Stat, though only to half as much as your Primary Stat. 

Are you going to be using Weapons, and what Stats do they have?

Every Weapon has a Primary and Secondary Stat associated with it. Generally, capping both of your Stats to use a Weapon effectively is a good idea, but ESPECIALLY the Primary Stat of a Weapon, since it scales both Damage and your Hit Bonus. The Secondary only scales the Hit Bonus and only half as effectively as the Primary.

The Evasion Cap – Cap or Nah?

You’ll probably want to wear some sort of Armor, or at least Clothes. These all come with an Evasion Cap. Both Dexterity and your Evasion Stat influence your Evasion Value, and generally, you’ll want to hit the Evasion Cap of your Armor. Shields can also influence this Evasion Cap, increasing or decreasing the required Stats to hit the cap. For this reason, leaving Dexterity and your Evasion Stat both at 10 at a bare minimum is a good idea.

What Else Do Stats Increase?

Both Constitution and Will will increase your Vitality and Willpower, respectively. Both will ALSO increase your Temporary Vitality. If you have extra points after handling your offensive and defensive situations, these are safe bets.

Charisma will increase your Narrative Momentum, allowing you to perform more Cinematic Actions or Dice rerolls. Intelligence will grant you more Skill Points for more Skills. Instinct increases your Basic Initiative, helping you go first in combat more frequently. Strength will increase your Carry Capacity, which can be occasionally useful.

In general, I’d recommend doing the following:

  1. Try to cap out your Primary Offensive Method of Damage To-Hit and Damage.
  2. Cap out your Evasion Cap, if you can. This will protect you far more than you think!
  3. Put into other Stats, probably prioritizing Constitution or Will.

Example: James wants to use a One-Handed Sword as his Primary Weapon, so he caps out his Knight’s Dexterity and Strength at 13. This also conveniently caps out his Armor Cap at the same time! This leaves a lot of wiggle room for other stats, since he isn’t planning on using Abilities to attack directly. Despite this, he still wants to cap out his Constitution at 13 to make himself as sturdy as possible. He then puts Will, Instinct, and Intelligence at 10, leaving Charisma at 8. He figures he isn’t going to need that Narrative Momentum.

Part 7: Skills and Weapon Proficiencies

Alrighty! We’ve got our Stats set. Next, let’s handle some Miscellaneous Starting Choices and our Skills. First, if your Archetype allows for you to pick Weapon Proficiencies, you should select those now. Each weapon category specializes in specific stat(s) generally:

Simple: Varied (as it is available to everyone!)

Medieval: Strength/Dexterity, more towards Strength

Military: Dexterity/Strength, more towards Dexterity

Tech: Intelligence

Mind: Charisma

Unearthly: Instinct

Example: Since James wants his Knight to use a One-Handed Sword, he’ll take Medieval. As for his other one, he takes Unearthly. He thinks his Knight has some mild connection to the Gods of this High Fantasy World…

Next, Skills! Your Character Sheet should tell you how many Skill Points you have on the right of the Stat Calculator Page, and you should allocate them. Try to match the theme of your character, and don’t do anything… unreasonable (for example, Computers wouldn’t fit in a High Fantasy setting without any Technology!). If you got a few leftover Skill Points after grabbing your core Skills, here are a few helpful Skills to keep in mind:

  1. Endurance/Perseverance: Both are excellent, granting access to a Master Talent at 4 Skill Points that increase Vitality by 4 per Level and Willpower by 2 per Level, respectively. They also increase their respective Stat’s DR. GREAT Skills.
  2. Raw Force, Nimbleness, Psychology, Presence, Intuition: All of these increase their respective Stat’s DR. Excellent if your DR is looking a little weak in a Stat, you put a bit low.
  3. Perception: Generally useful in a wide range of situations, Perception may allow you to notice things others wouldn’t and avoid surprise in combat, which can potentially be NASTY.
  4. Athletics, Quick Fingers, Analysis, Grace, Improvisation: All of these increase your Initiative, which can allow you to go first more frequently.
  5. Luck: Hey, lil’ luck never hurt nobody, and it also increases your Narrative Momentum! It can be useful to put a point or two in it.

Example: James imagines his Knight as pretty strong with a good presence on the battlefield while being tough, so he puts 3 Points in Athletics, Endurance, and Presence. He also puts 2 Points in Perception and Intuition. He puts his spare point in Perseverance. This leaves him with a pretty well-rounded DR with a weak spot in Intelligence.

Part 8: Abilities, Talents, Features, Traits, and Paths

Now onto the MEAT of your Character: the Abilities, Features, Talents, Traits, and your Path! 

Path – Consistency Given Form

Your Path is basically the source of your consistent output or a very powerful benefit. There are a few key paths I’d recommend to new players:

  1. Path of Attack: Path of Attack is intended for dedicated attackers, those who will likely want to use the Attack action every turn, or at least, more frequently than not. Every Tier beyond the first makes your Attack Action MUCH stronger. It is assumed within the Math of the game that Attack users will take this or one of the other two Attack-based options. This is probably the most consistent.
  2. Path of Flash Attack: Whereas Path of Attack is for consistent Attackers, Path of Flash Attack is for Ability/Attack hybrids that are okay with sacrificing part of their Attack’s potential. You can attack for only 1AP, but at half damage at first, and you scale only half as quickly as Path of Attack. BUT! In exchange, you got the flexibility of casting 2AP Abilities and still attacking in the same turn. This is the most likely to run out of gas, though, since it doesn’t scale at full speed, you’ll end up being weaker on average without any WP.
  3. Path of Maneuver: The option for more SOPHISTICATED Attack users that want to attack using Maneuver Abilities that affect their attacks. It plays a lot like a Caster in many ways, improving the damage as you go up in Tier for ALL of your Maneuvers and even giving you a free one you can cast (albeit 2WP lower than your max upcast and at half damage) at starting at T2. The primary downside is that in order to use your Maneuvers at their best, you’ll need to cast them manually.
  4. Path of Damage/Control/Summons/Utility/Healing: For you Casters out there, these Paths allows you access to a single T1 Ability (multiple for Utility, 1 per Tier that can be any Utility that Tier or below) to fully upcast (except Utility) once per turn for only 1WP (or for nothin’ if you got no WP left, or if it’s Healing or Utility). These are a CONSISTENT source of output for casters. Even though the damage is halved on Path of Damage, the effectiveness of Summons is cut significantly, and you only have a limited number of heals for Healing. 

The rest of the Paths are overall more niche but can be useful in the right situations. Despite some of them sacrificing consistency, that CAN be worth it under the right circumstances! Don’t be afraid to experiment, especially if you’re only building for Fun.

Example: The choice of Path is pretty easy for James’ Knight; he wants to attack! He takes Path of Attack as his Path option, which requires nothing else of him starting at Level 1. 

Features – Significant, Unique Power

Features are the meat and potatoes that your Sub-Archetype brings to the table. Archetypes will also grant a single feature unique to them. Now’s a good time to review them to make sure you make any choices associated with them, or if nothing else, be familiar with their effects for when you move onto Traits and Talents. 

One quick note; there is a Greater Talent called Multi-Sub-Archetype that can allow you to obtain the features of another Sub-Archetype, as well as getting access to the Abilities of that Archetype. Only one catch, you generally need to have the previous Multi-Sub-Archetype if you go above Tier 1 (only Hybrid Sub-Archetypes like Sage or Champion break this rule, and only at Tier 2), and you must be at least the Tier of the Sub-Archetype’s feature you want to steal. Regardless, this is INVALUABLE for gaining access to Features from Archetypes that you otherwise couldn’t.

Example: James’ Knight has a T1 feature with a choice; Weapon of Choice. He selects Medieval, granting him +3 Armor until his next turn whenever he lands an attack with a Medieval Weapon once per turn. His Archetype gives him Ready for War, which gives him two extra Lesser Talents to work with.

Talents – Your Biggest Choices

Talents are arguably one of your biggest choices during character creation. They provide a SIGNIFICANT power increase, and there are FAR too many to go over here. I’ve got a few tips for helping you pick, though!

  1. Select Key Talents first whenever possible! Since your Key Talents are likely some of the most important to your build, getting them first is probably a good idea.
  2. Flat Value Increase Talents are really good. Like, REALLY good. Precise, Evasive, Durable, Hardened Armor stuff that increases your core stats is EXCELLENT. These come in both Lesser and Greater variants. In particular, I’d like to point out Overcharge, which increases your upcast and round WP limits. This doesn’t seem like too big a deal, but it also JUST BARELY pushes your Abilities into a Tier higher than they would be fully upcasted normally. Highly recommend it!
  3. The Weapon-Wielding Talents! These are Multi-Wielder, One-Handed Precision, Two-Handed Attacker, Versatile Grip, Quick Draw, and Immense Grip, and all improve weapon-focused builds of various sorts. You can pick up ALL of these (except Immense Grip and Quick Draw) with a Greater Talent Weapon Polymath, but you’ll usually only need one or two. There are more of these, but these are the most general ones.
  4. Quality of life Talents! Stuff that makes your life easier is often worth spending a Talent on. Close Combat Shooter, Footwork, Cover Piercer… stuff like that!
  5. Filters! Remember to use them! They can help you find things that might be useful.

Example: Being the War Archetype, James’ Knight gains three Lesser Talents. He begins by taking Shield Mage to grab that Key Talent, but from there, he’s got choices to make. He takes Attack of Opportunity to make running away from him a bad idea and Extended Arsenal (Mental) to gain access to some Healing Abilities.

Abilities – How You Do Cool Stuff

Abilities are one of the bigger choices you have to make during character creation, especially for casters. These can grant you Utility, Combat abilities, and so much more! Like Talents, there are far too many to go through here, so here are some helpful tips:

  1. BE SURE TO SET THE FILTERS TO ONLY CHOOSE ABILITIES FROM YOUR ARCHETYPE (and other archetypes you can access)! This will save you and your GM from frustration later down the line.
  2. Grab your Key Abilities first (if any) whenever possible. They’re your Key Abilities, after all!
  3. If you are a caster, it’s generally a good idea to take one of the basic Projectile or Bolt spells as your primary damaging method. You don’t need to ALWAYS use it, but it’s nice to have. You’ll likely be doing this anyway if you took Path of Damage!
  4. Think about what your character would do in and out of combat, and look for Abilities that match that sort of flavor first. 
  5. That being said, most characters should take a Movement Ability. These are the holy trinity of Charge, Grappling Hook, and Teleportation. These offer you a burst movement option that isn’t just gaining extra Basic Movement that costs a bit of WP.
  6. Remember there is a limit to how many Buffs, Debuffs, Summons, and Transforms you can have active at any given time (1 at base for all of them). For this reason, you usually don’t want too many of any of these unless you are dedicated to one of these or have some way to break that cap (like Path of Buff for Buffs)
  7. Remember that you can gain access to more Archetypes of Abilities using Extended Arsenal, or better yet, Multi-Sub-Archetype into Artist T1 to get all of em at once!

Example: James has 3 Abilities to choose at Level 1, one from his Extended Arsenal (Mental). He decides to take Charge as a way to close in on enemies, Taunt to get enemies off his teammates, and Ranged Heal from Extended Arsenal (Mental) as his primary healing option. 

Traits – Optional, But Fun

Traits are an optional mechanic, as mentioned in Step 1, but they can be a lot of fun! In essence, they provide a way to play as someone that isn’t the standard human but instead a variant of a human or a whole other species!

Like Talents, there are SO MANY Traits that I can’t go over them all. However, it’s important to ask yourself, “What is the Max Trait Point Sum?” In general, this will either be 0 (standard game where you ask for GM permission) or 4 (games with the optional Background rules), but this can vary. 

Here are some helpful tips to follow:

  1. DON’T METAGAME. Seriously, Traits are probably the most subject to cheesy metagaming strategies. Instead…
  2. Build for what would be accurate for your character and their species. If your character has no Left Arm, for example, then you could take the trait Missing Arm and give them some sort of advantage in another way! Generally, a good GM in a Background campaign will have a list of Species you can choose from with their Traits already chosen for you, but you might have to build your own sometimes!
  3. If you have to build your own Background or Species, I’d recommend writing down the core Traits of that Background or Species, then giving them weaknesses to compensate for their strengths that would make sense.
  4. FILTERS! I cannot stress how useful filters are in this guide. Use them liberally!
  5. Remember that even if your GM allows Traits, your GM will need to look at your character’s Traits and give permission to use them. Y’know… to prevent Metagaming?

Part 9 – Starting Items and Upgrades

Okay, we’re getting there! Let’s talk about your starting items and upgrades now. You usually start with 300 Credits, a Bag, an Equipment, an Armor Set, and 1-3 Weapons (though at higher Tiers, you start with more). Let’s go over some of em, shall we?

Weapons – The Core of an Attacker

Weapons are probably the single most important choice for Weapon Users, as they determine your range of engagement, damage, properties of your attack, and your key stats. Each weapon also has a Greater Talent associated with it. I won’t go over ALL of them, as we don’t have all day, but in general, here are some considerations:

  1. One-Handed or Two-Handed? One-Handed offers more versatility for your other hand in exchange for damage, while Two-Handed is typically more consistent on the damage front, especially with Two-Handed Attacker.
  2. What Weapon Proficiency? As mentioned in Part 6, each Weapon Proficiency has a general Stat they like, but they also have different damage types they prefer! Simple, Medieval, and Military are Physical, Tech is Elemental, Mind is Psychic, and Unearthly is Mystic.
  3. What Stats? Generally, it’s a good idea to line up your important stats with the weapons you use.
  4. What Taxes? Some weapon properties confer a “tax” of sorts. These are Reload and Heavy, both of which can require you to either take an Upgrade or a Lesser Talent to mitigate it (especially Reload), or else you’ll have to deal with the consequences. In exchange, these weapons tend to be on the stronger end.
  5. What Range and Damage? This is the important part and will likely influence your decision. Weapons have varying damage and range depending on how they have allocated their budget.
  6. What is their Greater Talent? This can matter depending on the Greater Talent associated with the weapon. Each weapon has one (or shares it with other weapons), and it’s worth considering if you’ve got Greater Talents to spare.

Shields ALSO count as a Weapon and come in Light, Medium, and Heavy varieties. In general, Light is good for those with Evasion Bonus to spare, Medium is good for those that have their Evasion Cap already good, and Heavy is good for those who want a good chunk of Evasion without investing heavily in either their Evasion Stat or Dexterity. Either way, they all provide +2 to Evasion at the end of the day and CAN be used as weapons (though Heavy Shields require two hands to use as such). Just keep in mind they incur a 1 WP Tax on any Non-Maneuver Ability without Shield Mage

Finally, it’s generally a good idea to keep a ranged AND melee weapon around, even if you aren’t going to be using the other much. Sometimes, you just CAN’T get in/out of melee range, and you’ll have to rely on your backup weapon.

Example: James knew he already wanted a One-Handed Sword for his Primary Weapon, so he takes that! He also takes the Light Shield for his planned Light Shield Expert Greater Talent. Finally, he takes a Heavy Throwing Weapon for his backup weapon, which also happens to be Flexible and Medieval, which fits his playstyle nicely! 

Armor – Stay Swift, or Bulk Up?

Armor is another important choice for your character. Remember when I mentioned “The Evasion Cap” back in Part 6? Well, this is where that comes in! There are five core armor types: Unarmored, Clothes, Light, Medium, and Heavy. Each armor type (except Unarmored) has a Greater Talent as well. Let’s talk about them! 

Unarmored – The Oddball

Ah, so you’re THAT kind of player. I see how it is. You want to go against the grain? Fair enough, I get it! Going Unarmored does have its advantages: you don’t have an Evasion Limit to worry about, and you don’t have to worry about the weight of your Armor. The bad news is that you cannot upgrade your armor… ever, and you are stuck with a NASTY -1 Armor for your entire character’s life unless you increase it through Talents (or Traits!). Also, some GMs may prohibit this sort of playstyle altogether because… welllllll… y’know. I wouldn’t recommend this for first-time players, but if you know what you’re doing, this can be powerful with the right build.

Clothes – The Practical Choice for Most Casters

The first PRACTICAL choice, Clothes, is the baseline choice for most Casters or anyone who doesn’t have any other choices. Very high base Evasion Cap in exchange for a 0 in Armor. Clothes of the Mage provides a constantly regenerating source of WP in Combat. It isn’t much, especially in early Tiers, but it can add up to an extra cast or two! It’s an overall great choice for characters who aim to avoid getting hit too much or for those who spend a lot of Willpower.

Light – An Excellent Choice for Most Evasion Users

Light is the designated Evasion Armor, with a great base Evasion Cap and a backup 1 Armor in case you do get hit. It also has a strange amount of synergy with critical damage, largely thanks to Lightly Armored Assassin, which provides you extra Critical Chance and Damage just by evading. It’s a good choice for Evasion-focused characters who want a bit of a backup plan in case they get hit or for crit-focused characters looking for a good way to jack up their critical rate and damage at the risk of their life.

Medium – The Middle of the Road

Medium is the middle-of-the-road option, having a good mix of both Armor and Evasion Cap. It’s good for front liners who still want a good chance at evading stuff, best described by Soldiers Armor, which provides either Evasion or Armor whenever you are hit or missed until the opposite happens, providing a significant boost in survivability. Overall, it’s a good choice for anyone looking to survive whatever is thrown at them, Evasively or with Armor.

Heavy – Decked Out in Steel

The most well-armored out of all the options, Heavy has a poor Evasion Cap and Disadvantage on Stealth checks in exchange for an EXCELLENT 3 Armor. This is further reinforced with Heavily Protected, allowing you to DOUBLE your Armor’s Armor value whenever you are hit for only 1RP. This is a great choice for Armor-focused characters looking to be as beefy as possible.

Example: James decides to go with Medium Armor as his option. His Shield will help make up the deficit in Evasion and will help allow his Knight to take hits too.

Equipment and Bags – The Stat Stick and the Utility

Okay, maybe that title is a LITTLE mean towards these two, but your Equipment and Bag are pretty important! When upgraded (more on that in a bit), they can prove to have helpful Utility and Stat granting effects! Not much more to say. Every character should have one of each of these! One thing; you can flavor the Equipment and Bag as whatever you like. They just represent what you use to use your Abilities and your bag of assorted goods that help you on adventures!

Example: James naturally takes the free Bag and Equipment.

Upgrades – Making your Gear Better

If this is your first character and you’re starting at Tier 1 without any of the Natural Talents, skip this section for now. Upgrades aren’t relevant for your first adventure, at least. If you are starting at a higher Tier, though… welcome to Upgrades! These are basically the “Magic Items” of Ishanekon World Shapers, but that isn’t an entirely fair comparison. These are customizable bonuses you can put on your item through either Crafting or Spending Credits. Each item type I have mentioned can be upgraded in this way. I’ll quickly describe what the specific upgrades for each category focus on:

  1. Weapons – Bonuses to improve the weapon’s stats, generally accuracy or damage improvements, but also multiple utility upgrades.
  2. Armor – Bonuses to improve the armor’s stats, generally Evasion Cap, Armor, and Evasion, but can also increase DR and provide other utility as well.
  3. Shields – Bonuses to improve the shield’s stats, generally the Evasion and Evasion Cap of the Shield, but can also increase DR and Armor, as well as other utility. Can also take Weapon upgrades.
  4. Equipment – Bonuses to a large array of stats, including Ability usage, Initiative, and even Vitality and Willpower! Also provides other utilities.
  5. Bag – Primarily boosts interactions with your Inventory or Ability Items.

In general, prioritizing your Armor and either your Weapons/Shields or Equipment (depending on your type of offense) first for upgrades is a good call. As always, make use of Filters to improve your search! The Beginner tag has a lot of good starter choices if you’re uncertain about what to pick.

Example: James is building his Knight initially at Tier 1, so he doesn’t have to deal with Upgrades right now.

Part 10 – Planning Ahead (Optional)

This step is optional. If you want to let your character grow naturally, then you are done! Skip to Step 10. However, if you’d rather have your character’s level-ups planned in advance… Then you’ve come to the right place! 

Planning your Character in advance can be REALLY fun. It involves all the steps we’ve discussed up to this point but in smaller packages rather than all at once! It comes with its own unique challenges, though. Let’s go over what you get when you level up:

  1. Stat Increase – Obviously! 1 per Level. Keep in mind Stat Caps when allocating, especially in the Tier you originally created your character. Once you hit higher Tiers, you’ll probably be spending these on your Key Stats at every level.
  2. Skill Points – You get 1 every level, except on Tier increases, in which they grant you 2 instead! Use these to increase your Key Skills or skills that might be useful. Remember my list of helpful skills in Part 6 if you aren’t sure what to increase.
  3. Abilities – The number of these you get per level depends on your Archetype. Fighters get 1 every even Level (2, 4…), Hybrids get 1 every Level, and Casters get 2 every Level! These can pick up any Ability available to you of up to a Tier equal to your Tier, so keep that in mind!
  4. Talent – One of the biggest benefits of each Level up. Every odd Level is a Lesser Talent, while every even Level is a Greater Talent. These can be EXCEPTIONALLY powerful, be sure to consider them carefully! 
  5. Tier Increase – Every 3 Levels, you get a Tier increase! This provides multiple benefits:
    1. Increased Stat and Skill Cap – This is a big deal! Your Skill and Stat Cap both increase by 1, increasing your maximum potential.
    2. Increased Upcast and WP per Turn Limit – Both are increased by 2! It allows you to use more WP in general, which is good, given you likely have more than the last Tier! 
    3. Feature – Every Tier grants you a new Feature from your Sub-Archetype to play with up to Tier 5. Be sure to review these!
    4. Path Improvement – Varies depending on your Path Choice, but some Paths offer you choices at Tier increases. Be sure to review these features!

As a general rule, I’d recommend Exporting the current character of every Level of your planned character, not only to have them to refer to but just in case the Character Builder breaks. It has for me in the past, and I’ve lost a lot because of it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or make changes later down the line for a planned character, either! Sometimes you’ll find out something that is better for your character.

Example: James decides to plan his Knight up to Level 3. For Level 2, he increases his Instinct by 1 and Perseverance by 1. For his Greater Talent, he picks up Battle Medic as he planned to do, which will greatly improve his Knight’s action economy. For his Ability, he takes Weakening Presence, which will weaken attack rolls from foes, useful for particularly dicey fights! 

For Level 3, he increases to Tier 2! He increases his Strength by 1 and increases both his Presence and Endurance by 1 as well. He receives the Reactive Weapon Choice feature, granting him an Attack of Opportunity against foes who try to hit allies within 3 m of his Knight that deals an extra d12 of damage! He also has a Path of Attack upgrade, which he chooses to take an Extra Attack with, making him attack once at 100%, and again at 50%. He doesn’t learn a new Ability at this Level, but he takes the Talent Precise to increase his attack rolls by 1.

Part 11 – Character Background

All the mechanical stuff is mostly done now! All that’s left is giving your character a name and figuring out their flavor, fluff, and background! There is one last small mechanic, though; Power Sources! Your Character can associate their Abilities, Features, and Items with the four power sources: Supernatural, Technology, Biology, and Technique! On their own, these don’t mean anything, but some Features and Abilities do interact with them. Knowing what they are is important!

Example: James decides to name his Knight Theon! He was a Devotee to a Church of a god until he got forced into service as a fighter, where he eventually became a Knight due to his incredible work. He regrets being unable to forge as strong a connection with his god, so he decided to go adventuring to try and connect back with it. Most of his Abilities and Features are pure Technique, but his Ranged Heal is Supernatural, with him calling upon his limited connection with his god. He is now ready to play!

That’s All, Folks!

Ey! You’ve made it through! Hopefully, now you’ve got a better idea of how to make a character in Ishanekon: World Shapers! I hope this guide has been helpful. If you’ve got any questions, I am Gold on the official Ishanekon: World Shapers Discord! I’d be happy to help you out. Thanks for reading! (Oh, and if you want Theon, give me a shout! I can send you his Character File)