Building Custom Archetypes

By Robin Laws.

The lack of a build system is not an accident. The types were created and balanced against one another not according to some overarcing numerical system, but through a) eyeballing and b) playtesting.

In order to create solid types through eyeballing it, I suggest playing for a while and getting familiar with the system, then applying common sense. Not any kind of numerical rules system; these can always be hosed.

Here are some rules of thumb, though:

  1. Make sure the character is based on a cinematic stereotype. Many proposed types will fail this rule.
  2. Make sure this character concept really needs a new type, instead of some simple tinkering with an existing type. (See the Wild West thread; the example of doing an undead gunslinger by substituting a few things in the Ghost type is a good example.)
  3. Make sure the new type doesn't outdo the standard ones in their main areas of expertise.
  4. Combat AVs of 15 or more for new types are a bad thing. 14s need to be rigorously justified.
  5. Make sure generalists have lower AVs than specialists.
  6. A type with a combat AV lower than 13 had better have some mondo huge compensating factor to keep it alive.
  7. When testing a custom type, the GM should reserve the right to fiddle any stat at any time in order to bring the character into balance with the rest of the party. If the player isn't happy about ceding this extra degree of control to the GM, said player should use one of the standard types instead.

Last modified: June 27, 1996; please send comments to