The NC Role-playing and Character System

Copyright © 1996 Andrew C. Myers, all rights reserved

This document is available for the following uses only: personal viewing and the printing of a personal copy. Further distribution is prohibited without the permission of the author. This document is located at

Revision of July, 1989. Minor revisions for HTML distribution, November 1996

Other NC Role-playing System Documents

NC is a role-playing system which is designed as a collection of different "chunks". Some of the chunks are constructed in such a way that they can be used with standard fantasy role-playing systems. For example, the NC Combat System is one of these.

This particular chunk defines the statistics of a role-playing character, and how to generate that character: the NC Character System. Using the NC Character System will improve the quality of play, particularly with the NC skill system. However, using the character system also requires that you use the combat System and the skill System.

The NC Character System provides a nice compromise between systems which represent the character as a tiny list of attributes which are far too vague to actually mean anything, and those systems which require that the player spend hours generating minutely detailed lists of numbers.

An NC character has 6 major character attributes. These attributes are generated from 12 minor attributes. He also has 5 combat attributes, which are described in The NC Combat System. The process for determining the combat attributes is different for characters generated using the Character System.

This document will describe each of the major and minor attributes, how to generate them, and how to figure out the initial combat attributes. It will also describe how to obtain an initial set of character skills, similar to the description in The NC Skill System.

The Minor Attributes

There are twelve minor attributes. Most attributes range roughly from 1 to 10. A score of 1 would be a truly pitiful attribute; a score of 10 would be an excellent attribute. Each of these attributes will be examined in turn. The minor attributes come in pairs; each pair of attributes contributes to make a single major attribute. Unless specifically stated, the range of the attribute is from 1 to 10.


The value of Size ranges in humans from about 3 to 9. An average human male has a size of 6. Human females have an average size of 5. Size is basically a measure of how much the character weighs. It is a contributor to the major attribute of Strength.


Fitness ranges from 1 to 10, with 5 an average value. Fitness is a measure of how strong the character is, based on size. An extremely obese person might have a large Size, but a low Fitness. Fitness contributes to Strength. Certain physical skills can only be acquired by a very fit person.


Reasoning is the ability to figure out problems, to make logical deductions. It determines the ease with which the character will be able to acquire skills involving the reasoning process. It is a contributor to the major attribute of Intelligence.


Memory is a measure of how good the character is at remembering things. This is useful in learning certain skills, especially magic spells. It also helps when learning additional languages. It is a major contributor to the major attribute of Intelligence.


Ego is a measure of the self-concept of the character. It determines how self-centered the character is, and how much the character will seek to dominate those around him. It contributes to the major attribute of Willpower.


Fortitude is a measure of how mentally "strong" a character is. A character with high fortitude can withstand unpleasant situations and resist domination. It is helpful in resisting the effects of many magical spells. It also contributes to Willpower. A high fortitude will also increase the hit points of the character.


Coordination determines how able the character is to coordinate different parts of his body. Eye-hand coordination falls into this ability. Coordination is an important part of combat ability; a high coordination will make it easier for the character to strike an opponent. It contributes to the major attribute of Dexterity.


Knack is the purely manual aspect of dexterity. Characters with high Knack will be able to disassemble complicated mechanism, pick locks, and perform other difficult manual operations. Knack contributes to Dexterity.


Speed measures how quickly the character can move, particularly on foot. Characters with high Speed will be able to charge quickly into combat and (perhaps more importantly) run away faster. They will react quickly, dodging blows and missiles. Speed is a contributor to the attribute of Agility.

For each point of Speed, a character can move 3 feet per segment. A character with a Speed of 6 can move 18 feet per segment of time. Rounding this movement off to the nearest 5 feet/segment is fine. Most humans have a Speed between 4 and 8. Wearing armor will decrease Speed for the purposes of computing movement.


Balance indicates the character's awareness of his body's position in space. Learning to do acrobatic maneuvers will require balance, for example. Balance contributes to the major attribute of Agility.


Leadership measures the character's ability to understand and motivate his companions, to inspire them to great things. It also encompasses the ability to speak convincingly. It contributes to the major attribute of Charisma.


Fellowship is a measure of the character's likability: how easily the character makes friends, and what the initial reaction this character inspires is. It contributes to the major attribute of Charisma.

The Major Attributes

For normal humans, the major attributes range between (roughly) 2 and 20. A low attribute typically represents an attribute in which the character is less than spectacular; a high attribute represents an area in which the character is particularly excellent. An attribute value of 11 is average.

Fantasy characters should have at least one very high major attribute; otherwise, the character will be uninteresting to play.


Strength is a fairly obvious attribute. It represents sheer physical strength. Characters with a high strength will do extra damage when they strike an opponent, and will be able to lift heavier loads. This is a very useful attribute. Strength is computed from the minor attributes Size and Fitness in the following way: multiply Size and Fitness, and divide by 3, rounding to the nearest whole number.


Intelligence incorporates a number of different components of intelligence. For game-playing purposes, these parts of intelligence are encapsulated in the minor attributes of Memory and Reasoning. Intelligence is an important attribute for learning complex skills and magical abilities. Intelligence is the sum of Memory and Reasoning.


Willpower is crucial in resisting many magical effects. It is also an important attribute for characters interested in a religious career. Willpower is the sum of Ego and Fortitude.


Dexterity is the sum of Knack and Coordination. It describes how well characters are able to manipulate and use tools. It is an important skill for characters of all classes, and particularly thieves.


Agility is the sum of Speed and Balance. It describes how well characters are able to move their bodies through space. It is useful for acrobatic maneuvers, for dodging blows, and many other actions.


Charisma is the sum of Leadership and Fellowship. It describes how well the character is able to handle social situations, and to understand his fellow creatures.

Generating a Character

There are many ways to generate the attributes described above. Here is one: for each of the major attributes except Strength, roll 3 ten-sided dice, discarding the lowest die in each group. Add the remaining two dice to produce the major attribute. Based on the race of your character, modify these abilities according to the bonuses listed below for the races.

In general, it's ok to have one or two weak attributes, so long as some strong compensating attributes exist. It's more fun to play a character with a weakness or two than a perfect demigod fresh from the foam!

You may select any numbers for the two minor attributes which add to make this major attribute, so long as their sum is equal to the major attribute, and they do not differ by more than 6. Also, no minor attribute may initially be greater than 10 or less than 1. so long as their sum is equal to the major attribute rolled, and they

Now, select a size for your character. The standard size for characters of various races are listed here:

Race Size Bonuses
Human 6 None
Elf5+1 Reasoning, +1 Agility, +1 Fellowship
Half-Elf6+1 Fellowship
Dwarf6+1 Fitness, -1 Fellowship, +1 Fortitude
Halfling4-1 Ego, +2 Fortitude, +1 Knack, +1 Coordination
Gnome5+1 Reasoning, +1 Knack, +1 Ego, +1 Memory
Half-Orc7+1 Strength, -2 Fellowship, -2 Knack, -2 Reasoning
Orc6+1 Strength, -4 Fellowship, -4 Knack, -4 Reasoning
Half-Troll9+3 Strength, -4 Fellowship, -2 Knack

Selecting a size outside these normal limits should be accompanied by appropriate compensations in the character, as determined by the referee. A character with a size larger than 7 must have a compensating low fitness. Note that the maximum muscular body weight for a human male is approximately 220 pounds. Heavier individuals make up the difference in fat.

To determine Strength, roll three d10 and pick the two highest of the dice, as before. Add the racial Strength bonus, if any. Now, the character's Fitness can be determined. Multiply Strength by three, and divide by Size. Round off to the nearest whole number. The result will be the character's Fitness.

Hit points

A character's hit points can be determined from his Size, Fitness and Fortitude. Base hit points are equal to Size times 10. Now, multiply the modifier from the tables below for Fitness by 5, and add the result to the Base Hit Points. Similarly, multiply the modifier for Fortitude by 5, and add this result as well.

For each level (classed characters) or 1000 experience (unclassed characters), add an additional 2 hit points.

For example, consider a 5th level human fighter, with a size of 6, a Fitness of 8, and a Fortitude of 4. For his Size, he receives 60 hit points. For his Fitness, he receives 2*5 = 10 hit points. For his Fortitude, he receives 0 * 5 = 0 hit points. For his level, he receives 5*2 = 10 hit points. He has a total of 80 hit points.

Chance Level Modifiers

During the course of an adventure, characters will have many opportunities to perform actions that may or may not succeed. For many actions, an appropriate bonus or penalty will be appropriate, depending on some attribute of the character. The following tables describe what bonus should be added to the chance level of a roll which is modified by an attribute:

Minor Attributes

0: -41: -32: -23: -14-6: 0
7: 18: 29: 310: 4

Major Attributes

0-1: -42-3: -33-4: -24-5: -16-14: 0
15-16: 117-18: 219: 320: 4