Character development in Arcanum happens in many ways. There is, of course, the racial aspect of a character, which will affect him every time he speaks to anyone in the game. Different races react to other races with varying degrees of humor or disdain. Then there are the players choices in his statistics. If a player is charismatic, he gets more followers; if she is beautiful, people's reactions to her are always better. And then there are choices in skills - concentrate points in your skills, and you'll be better in that area, while someone who wants to be a diplomat should spend more in the social set. Finally, a player must choose which side of the magic/technology line he is going to reside on. Any points spent in the technological disciplines not only makes you more knowledgeable in that area, but also raises your technological aptitude, which in turn makes it more difficult for you to cast spells. The same applies for studying the colleges of magick.
And, of course, the choices you make while playing the game will be the most tangible way to develop your character. Kill a few too many people in Tarant , and you gain a bad reputation in that city. Remove a band of bothersome thieves and become the town hero. Your followers will react to the kind of person you are, and the choices you make. There's not an aspect of this game that doesn't affect how a player views himself, or how the game environment views him. There is also number of pre-generated characters to start with:
- Merwin Tumblebrook – halfing tech thief
- Horace McGinley – half-elf mage thief
- Ke'ree Melange – half-elf techno-mage diplomat
- Victoria Warrington – human beauty/mental based diplomat
- Solomon Doone – human necromancer
- Lugard Bloodstone – dwarf fighter technologist
- Godfrey Castleburger – gnome socialite technologist
- Clarisse Vorak –half-orc physician technologist
- Merik Luggerton – half-orc fighter
- Muck Evil Eye – dumb half-ogre brawler
- D'ren Le'lor – elf mage archer
- Bel'an T'Seraa – elf charismatic melee mage
- The Living One – create your own character
Character Statistics & Abilities
- Primary Statistics
- Derived Statistics
- Skills List
- Spell Colleges
- Technological Disciplines
- Fate Points
Choosing A Race
A character can start as a human or as one of the non-human races. Selecting different races will have an effect on the character's stats and abilities. Also the Median Races offer a choice of playing as Male or Female. Playing as Female results in a 1 point gain in Constitution and 1 point loss in Strength.
- Humans are the baseline race with no modifications to Statistics other than that which comes with gender.
- Dwarves - These are short, stocky, bearded people who tend to be miners and builders. Dwarves dislike elves but are respectful to humans and gnomes. Dwarves have a 15% bonus to technical aptitude, gain 2 points in each technical skill, start with a +1 bonus to both Strength and Constitution, and have a -1 penalty in both Dexterity and Charisma. And for any Dwarven character wishing to cast spells, they will find that the fatigue cost for casting said spells are doubled.
- Elves - Elves are slender and pale and prefer to live near forests and rivers, although dark elves live underground (but not by choice). Elves can be rather arrogant to all races, but they especially disdain dwarves. Elves start with a 15% bonus to magickal aptitude, have a -2 point penalty to each technical skill, gain a +1 bonus to Dexterity, Willpower, and Beauty, but lose -2 points of Constitution and -1 point of Strength.
- Half-elf - In build and appearance, they resemble their human parents more, but some half-elves possess the pointed ears and pale, delicate features associated with their elvish parents. Half-elves are generally well-liked by everyone. Half-Elves start with a 5% bonus to magickal aptitude, have a -1 penalty to each technical skill, gain a +1 bonus in both Dexterity and Beauty, but lose -1 point of Constitution.
- Gnomes - Short with very big noses, gnomes tend to be a hard-working people. They are equally at home in cities, underground or in the forest. They make good merchants and traders and often act as go-betweens for the other races. Gnomes start with a +2 bonus to Willpower, but have a -2 penalty to Constitution. They also gain +2 points to the Haggle skill, and gain +10 to any negative reaction.
- Halflings - Halflings are short people, smaller even than gnomes and dwarves, although they tend to be overweight. They live in isolated communities in large underhill homes and try to stay out of the politics of the bigger folk. They are regarded as lazy by the other races, but despite this reputation, they are generally well liked. Halflings have bonuses of +2 to Dexterity, +2 points to the prowl skill, +1 point to the dodge skill, and gain +5% chance for critical hits. This comes at a cost of -3 to Strength.
- Half-orc - Most half-orcs can pass as full humans (albeit ugly ones), but they usually have some trait that identifies their orcish blood (upturned nose, hairiness, foul temper) to the careful observer. People usually discriminate against them when they discover their race. Half-Orcs start with +2 points in both the Melee and Dodge skills, have a +1 bonus to both Strength and Constitution, and gain a +10% resistance to poison. This comes with a cost of -2 to both Beauty and Charisma.
- Half-ogre - Half-ogres are very tall and heavy, and therefore most other races feel a little uneasy around these huge creatures. However this also means that there usually is not any open discrimination towards them. Half-Ogres start with a bonus of +4 to Strength, and a +10% resistance to physical and fatigue damage. This comes with penalties of -4 to Intelligence, -1 to Beauty, and a loss of -2 points to the prowling skill. They also are unable to use pistols, revolvers and other hand guns.
For more information on how the different races are viewed with Arcanum, visit the Races of Arcanum essays within The World section.
Past is prologue when roleplaying in Arcanum. Your character's background will affect your skills, stats, and your general approach to the game world. Fortunately, there are dozens of colorful backgrounds from which to choose. What other game lets you step into the shoes of an arsonist, escaped lunatic, or a coddled youth?
The following are examples of what you could be within the world of Arcanum.
- Super Model
- Escaped Lunatic
- Idiot Savant
- Nietzche Poster Child
- Dark Elf Follower
- Nature Mage
- Day Mage
- Night Mage
- Sky Mage
- Sold Your Soul
- Afraid of the Dark
- Magick Allergy
- Only Child
- Frankenstein Monster
- Bride of Frankenstein
- Mad Doctor
- Miracle Operation
- Dark Sight
Within the world of Arcanum, there are hundreds of characters you will encounter. These characters populate the towns and cities of the world, or may be found wandering on their own adventures throughout the game. Many of these folk are prime sources of information for you in your travels, and some may even join you for a time on specific quests or errands. Of course, some may not always have the best interests of your party at heart either, and trust can be hard to come by in Arcanum at times.
- Brother Joachim
- Gilbert Bates
- Arronax the Destroyer
- Kerghan the Terrible
- The Molochean Hand
- K'an Hua
- Stennar Rock Cutter aka "Preston Radcliffe"
- Adkin Chambers
- Alexander, the First Acolyte
- Bane of Kree
- Doc Roberts
- Captain Edward Teach
- Franklin Payne
- Hieronymous Maxim
- Stringy Pete
- "Sir" Garrick Stout
- Randver Thunder Stone
- William Thorndop
Holding A Conversation
Dialogue in Arcanum reflects the best aspects of the quest system and character development in general. They tried to make the characters as realistic as possible. The dialogue is conversational and flowing, and when possible we avoid standard banks of the same old questions, and allow the player to pull the information he wants from the character, letting him direct the conversation, and the mood. And remember, you are getting feedback after EVERY response, so conversations can turn around rather quickly depending upon how you decide to treat your partner in conversation.
For more information on how the different races are viewed within Arcanum, visit the Races of Arcanum essays within The World section.