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Playing the Hero

The Hero is the most important character in the story. He or she is the main character, and the plot that unfolds will focus on him or her and the significant role he or she will play events that transpire. The Hero’s destiny is to journey toward the resolution of the plot while changing and growing along the way. It is the choices and actions the Hero makes that will determine the outcome of the story.

Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker is the prototypical Hero. He starts off as naïve farm boy and grows to become a powerful Jedi capable bringing salvation to his father and destroying the power of the evil Galactic Empire. But not all Hero’s are so squeaky clean, and not all stories are so black and white.

So why wouldn’t I want to be the Hero?

First, playing the Hero is much more restrictive than playing a Support Character. While the only prerequisites inherent to all Support Characters is that he or she be of a certain power level, be a student at the Two Rivers School, and have an intimacy that ties him or her to the Hero or Master Li, the Hero is much more encumbered. I have many requirements for our main protagonist that relate to the plot of the story, and the player playing the Hero will have to abide by them during character creation.

Second, the Hero will begin play as a Heroic Mortal and not an Exalt. That means he or she will be much less powerful than the other characters. Much less. And while the Hero may not stay a Heroic Mortal, I do not promise that he or she won’t. If you’re playing the Hero you’re going to have to accept that you might be the weakest character for a good portion, if not all, of the game. You’re going to have to rely on the support characters for quite a lot, and there will be things that they can do that you just can’t.

Third, just because you’re playing the Hero doesn’t mean you’re going to get more playing time than anyone else. You’re character may be more integral to the story than the others, but that doesn’t make you the focus of everything or even the most useful character. Playing the Hero can be an ego trip, but don’t forget that this game will balance the needs and egos of all the players, just like in every other game.

Finally, as the Hero your fate is not entirely in your hands. There are going to be things related to the plot and the Hero’s journey that happen to you that you may or may not like. Your character, our Hero, is going to have to deal with these things, and your challenge is to make this work and enhance the story. This heavy load isn’t for everyone.

Character Creation – Hero

You will be using the Heroic Mortal template for character creation, although there are a few modifications.

Be sure to see my Houserules and those employed by Prax and the Black Orchid Society for changes I will be employing in-game.

Step I – Choose Concept

Choose Archetype, Concept, and Motivation.

All normal rules to concept and motivation apply, except playing the Hero means abiding by several prerequisites to your background and concept:

  • The Hero is Master Li’ favored pupil. You may define why you think this is, although the truth is known only to Master Li.
  • The Hero has been at the Two Rivers School of Enlightenment and Martial Arts for as long as he or she can remember. The Hero has no memories of his or her parents or where he or she came from or of any life before the School. The Hero was raised among the students at the school, and his or her life has been immersed in Martial Arts training. It should also be noted that no one, with the possible exception of Dawn Star, has been at the school as long as the Hero.
  • The Hero is young, but not so young as to be useless—Twenty years old is an appropriate age.
  • The Hero has really reached the end of his or her training, and as a non-essence user cannot learn much more.

Other than these prerequisites you are free to define the Hero as you see fit, and in fact are strongly encouraged to do so. Choosing a strong concept is key to an interesting, three dimensional character. Select Motivation as normal, but realize it will not be as grandiose as those of the Dragon-Blooded.

In addition, all characters in the Isle of Jade will have an archetype that defines his or her role in the story. The Hero must take Hero Archetype, as that is his or her primary role:

  • Hero – The essence of the hero is not bravery or nobility, but self-sacrifice. The hero's journey is a path from the ego, the self, to a new identity which has grown to include the experiences of the story. The hero must learn in order to grow. Often the heart of a story is not the obstacles he faces, but the new wisdom he acquires, from a mentor, a lover, or even from the villain.

Step II – Choose Attributes

Prioritize Attributes as normal for a 6/4/3 Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Attribute spread. While not as powerful as the Exalted, this is still much more powerful than a regular mortal (4/3/3).

Step III – Choose Abilities

Assign 25 points to Abilities, and none may be higher than ooo without spending bonus points. You must begin play with Martial Arts as your single Favored Ability, and you must assign ooooo to Martial Arts (representing the tremendous time you’ve been studying and the rare skill Master Li has instilled in you). Taking a fifth dot in any Abilitiy costs double, although not in the case of the Hero’s Martial Arts. Unlike the support characters, you are not restricted regarding Specialties.

Step IV – Choose Advantages

I have modified the rules for some Advantages. See below.

  • Choose Backgrounds (5—use Backgrounds from Exalted Core and from Scroll of the Monk; Mentor ooooo is free; Artifact and Manse are not permitted; no background other than Mentor may be higher than ooo without spending bonus points; taking a fifth dot in any Background costs double).
  • Choose Virtues (5 - none may be higher than ooo without spending bonus points).
  • Choose Intimacies (Up to starting Compassion. You must have an intimacy focused on Master Li, and you are strongly encouraged to consider intimacies focused on the Two Rivers School, one or more of the Support Characters, and/or some of the other students.)

Step V – Finishing Touches

Record Essence (1), Willpower (sum of character's two highest Virtues) and health levels (7).

Step VI – Assign Bonus Points

Assign 21 Bonus Points in anything except Essence and Charms.


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