Getting Started

The essence of AIsling is transformation. It's about how your character changes to meet the challenges facing him, no matter how ill-prepared he may be. Can the former accountant somehow defeat the 8 foot golem charging at him? Will the high school football player be able to hold his own in the complex world that is Plasm politics? How will these events change them, and will they be able to return to the closed and common world they once knew after? A character in Aisling therefore needs to be a normal human, but interesting. Someone with plenty of room to transform into a hero.

A hero because Aisling is also about saving the World, maybe literally, maybe not. The World might be the neighborhood that the character grew up in. It might be a particular relationship, and involve rescuing the damsel in distress. It could be finding your grandfather's watch, and it might be preventing the extinction of humanity. Whatever the World is, your character is going to have to save it, rescue it, or otherwise snatch it from the jaws of danger.

Creating your character is important, because it defines just what you can do in the game world, in explicit terms that make those abilities pretty clear to everyone. But in another sense, it's not; whatever you come up with is just a base on which all the future transformations and crises will lie. The fun of Aisling lies in seeing the ways in which your characters, and your friends' characters, change and become something more than they were. You get to watch and see what happens when someone's world explodes and expands.

The Rules of No

The Guide may place some restrictions on characters, as a way to provide some focus to the sessions to follow. She may require that all the characters are artists, or members of a military organization, or are passionate about ecology and animal rights. Or she may not.

The other players hold veto power over your character as well. If your snobbish academic will be annoying to them, they have the right to say "No." This is supposed to be fun for everyone, not just you. In the same way, you hold veto power over their characters too. Try to be fair, and give the other players the benefit of the doubt, keeping in mind that Aisling is about how those characters transform - the snobbish academic may become the humble wizard….

There is a final universal restriction as well; your character is Shoal, and as such, only has access to skills, education, and items found in this world, the Tell, among average humanity. But you know, that's still a universe full of possibility.

The Rule of Yes

Within whatever simple restrictions the Rules of No give you, and accounting for Shoal technology and knowledge, you are free to create whatever kind of character you'd like. You can have whatever skills you want, whatever items, whatever history.

Can she be an Olympic athlete?
Can he be the best hacker in the world?
Can she know the spiritual mysteries of the Tibetan masters?
Can he own a tank?
Can she be a trillionaire?
Can he be telekinetic?

Yes is the answer.

It's a very good idea to have the Guide handy when you create a character. Not because you need permission (generally, you don't, because of the Rule of Yes, and because any Nos have been explained already), but because the Guide can often help in turning the cool weapon or obscure skill into something clearly defined by the system in the simplest terms.

Broken Hearts

The other thing that you should know about characters is that the more broken they are, the more fun they can be as you transform them into heroes. Broken means that the characters are imbalanced, that they have paid a high cost for focusing on one aspect of their lives. Extreme intelligence and equally extreme shyness. Supreme combat ability, but dumb as a post. Traditionally, this is called min-maxing, and a lot of games out there frown on it. Aisling encourages it.

There are other ways to build broken characters. Characters obsessed with something or someone tend to be very focused, to the detriment of the rest of life. These characters miss out on some basic, functional skill which almost everyone has, to some degree. Other characters might be disconnected or alienated from the rest of society, being outcasts and loners for a variety of reasons; being a criminal is a good one. Broken characters might even have some sort of insanity or terminal disease.

Of course, given the Rule of Yes, you're not required to create a broken character. You may create a perfectly normal, mundane, and well-adjusted character too. Sometimes, they have the most to lose, and the most to gain, as they awaken and see the world for what it truly is. And that makes for interesting stories, powerful lessons, and lots of fun.

First Steps

The very first thing you need to decide is what your character is going to be. Is he going to be an office-working family man, an ex-con, or a doctor? Will she be a teacher, a scholar, or a waitress? Sometimes, coming up with specific background like this can be difficult. There are too many possibilities to choose from, and you just sort of freeze up, unable to make a choice at all. There's a list of concepts that may help you decide what kind of character you'd like to start with. The limitations of the kind of game you'll be playing will also help clarify your options.

Next: Building your Character

Since you now know some of the basic concepts used to describe your character, You can learn about character generation next, where you can learn about one of the few different ways to create them, by motes, by "growing" them over time, or on-the-fly-as-you-play. You could also peruse some character-related ideas, to see what inspires you.