Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura Wiki

Comprehensive details of everything below can be found in the Arcanum Player's Manual (pdf) and the Official Strategy Guide


The Player (also called the Living One) is the protagonist of the game. The Living One is the appellation given to the player, particularly by Panarii adherents such as Virgil. According to Panarii religion, it is said that "And the spirit of Nasrudin would be reborn on wings of fire in hills shrouded in fog, and would fight the final battle with the evil one" . It is also said that there would be something unusual about Nasrudin's reincarnation, though what that unusual thing would be is never stated.

Character Creation[]

The player needs a character to start the game. This can be done in a few ways:

Pre-Generated Characters[]

There are a number of Pre-Generated Characters that they player can start with, should they wish to skip custom creation. Simply select the character that you desire and then the game starts. The Auto Levelling Scheme function allocates all of your earned Character Points for you.
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Semi Customized Characters[]

Players may wish to customize their character's Name, Race, Gender, and possibly Background, but still desire to automate the distribution of their earned Character Points to a specific scheme as they gain Experience Points and Experience Levels. To that end they can select an Auto Levelling Scheme on their character sheet that suits their needs.

Fully Customized Characters[]


The name may be 22 character long at most and may contain spaces, numbers and special characters.


The player can choose which protrait will represent the character. The portrait selection is purely cosmetic and does not alter the gameplay in any way.


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, abilities, and how NPCs may React To You.
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  • Humans - These are the baseline race with no modifications to Statistics other than that which comes with Gender.
  • Dwarves - These are short, stocky, bearded people who traditionally live in and under the mountains. 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 typically prefer to live near forests and rivers. Elves can be rather arrogant to all races, but they especially disdain dwarves and Half-Orcs. 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-elves - 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 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 tend to live in isolated communities and are generally well liked by other races. 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-orcs - 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. Most races 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-ogres - 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 one-hand guns.


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. The Tomboy background can neutralize that.

Character background (optional)[]

Your Backstory can add depth when roleplaying in Arcanum. Your character's background can affect your skills, stats, and your general approach to the game world. There are 64 backgrounds from which to choose.


Stats define how well a character performs skills and interacts with NPCs. There are eight Basic Stats evenly divided into two subgroups – physical stats and cerebral stats. Note that the Derived Stats on your character sheet are simply attributes that are calculated using your Basic Stats.
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  • There is a struggle in Arcanum between Magick and Technology, and this is reflected by a sliding scale of a Character's Aptitude.
  • The most powerful mages have a Magickal Aptitude of 100 MA, while the most learned Technicians have a Technical Aptitude of 100 TA. In the middle is a Neutral Aptitude of 0.
  • Races and Backgrounds can effect Aptitude.
  • Learning Spells raises MA (or lowers TA), while earning Degrees and/or learning Technical Skills will raise TA (or lower MA). See More Below.


Skills are a character's abilities. They are defined and limited by a player's Basic Stats and Training. There are 16 skills divided into 4 groups. Three of the groups are neutral in Aptitude. One group is Technically inclined.

Magick Spells[]

Spells can be learned from the 16 Spell Colleges.

Technical Degrees[]

Degrees can be earned from the 8 Technological Disciplines.

Additional Attributes[]

Once your Character is picked or created, certain attributes can change independent of how your Character Points are allocated.


Depending upon your actions (and even sometimes dialogue choices) the player's Moral Alignment can be viewed by NPCs on a sliding scale from being a paragon of virtue (100 Good) to that of a diabolical fiend (100 evil), and anywhere in between. This value is always in flux and changes over time. This can affect how NPCs React To You, so be careful about what you say and do.


Reputation‎‎s are permanent and are gained by preforming notable and/or notorious actions, (usually by Quests) throughout your travels. These can also affect the way that certain NPCs will React To You, so keep track of them in your Logbook and be especially careful as they cannot be reversed.

Special Gameplay Notes[]

Blessings and Curses[]

Blessings and Curses are similar to Reputations, but they can sometimes be negated, and they generally affect Statistics and Skills rather than the player's Reaction Modifier directly. These are acquired either by certain direct actions or through offerings to the Ancient Gods.

Fate Points[]

Fate Points are earned when the player completes certain Quests in a particularly noteworthy way. Fate Points can then be spent to perform actions not normally possible by the player. Save these for very special opportunities and/or difficult situations.


Quests are errands that are given by NPCs that can be simple tasks, or long and drawn out affairs. Rewards are usually Experience Points(exp) and/or Gold(gp), but they may also in involve Fate Points, Reputations, Alignment, Statistics, and even potential Followers.

Final Thoughts[]

On Jan 1st 1885, the airship IFS Zephyr was shot down and crashed near the town of Shrouded Hills, leading Virgil and his mentor, the Elder Joachim to believe that the disaster's lone survivor was the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Whatever differences there may be between various iterations of the player's character, one thing is always certain: the Living One boarded the IFS Zephyr in Caladon and was the only survivor of the crash. That is, aside from a supposed gnome who lived just long enough to warn of an impending danger, and pass on his signet ring with instructions to "find the boy" that starts The Main Quest.

Beyond that, the Living One's character and destiny is largely defined by how their character is played. Both the journey and the eventual final destination is now in your hands.