Creating a Crystal Heart character
So, first off this guide is going to be intentionally a little vague. Its purpose is to give you just enough guidance to create a character in Crystal Heart if you happen to not have purchased the book or help you out a little if you have.
The best way to get started creating a character, is by using the Savaged.us character creator, but you'll need a premium account to use the Crystal Heart setting directly. Thankfully, that character creator is pretty flexible & you can still create a character using it on their free version, just set the Crystal as an Innate Weapon.
Table of Contents
This isn't required, but if download the free starter set on DriveThruRPG, it comes with 5 pre-made characters. This can definitely help you get a feel for how Syn Agents & Crystals work.
Building your character
The first rule of creating your character is this:
Keep the Crystal for Last: We suggest you choose your starter Crystal only after you've finished everything else.
This is important, because remember your crystal will change! If not right away, at some point it will. There are also Edges that allow you to change crystals more easily.
Basic character & setting rules
- No Money - Items & gear are obtained through Syn "requisition points".
- No power points or Arcane skills except Crystal Channelling (but Crystals aren't magic!)
- Humans only, but you can choose different backgrounds (this does come with the Adaptable perk of a Free Edge from the normal SWADE ruleset)
Start with a concept of why you wanted to join the Syn organization. Syn is both feared & respected, & sometimes loathed, in The Five Lands. Why did your character want to join? Was it the right thing to do? Did a Syn agent save your family once? Do you just want to fly or shoot laser beams from your eyes?
Not all traits exist in Crystal Heart, below you can learn more about what Traits are added & what traits are removed.
Along with the Free Edge of being Human, you'll also start with the following skills at d4, due to your Syn training.
- Athletics, Common Knowledge, Crystal Channeling, Fighting, Notice, Persuasion, Stealth
These are all free. Then Agents gain the usual 5 points for attributes & the usual 12 points for skills, as with most SWADE settings.
Unused traits: Electronics, Faith, Focus, Gambling, Hacking, Occult, Psionics, Repair, Science, Spellcasting,Weird Science
Crystal Channeling (Spirit)
The arcane skill used for Arcane Background (Crystal Channeling), with which one activates their socketed Crystal's powers. Channeling is a mental exercise practiced with biofeedback techniques. See page 56 for the full details.
And then a little more about it here:
Arcane Background (Crystal Channeling) does not use Power Points. Agents simply choose the power they want to activate, and if it requires a check, they make a Crystal Channeling roll.
More details about the different roll outcomes will be provided in the core rulebook or when you play your first game.
This skill is combined with Science to reflect specialized knowledge of all kinds. A check is required to know anything of importance regarding the Bygone Age or Crystals, including speculating on Crystal manifestations and abilities (see page 62). Note that this skill does not signify having access to Syn's full database; Syn has discovered many secrets it does not share with its Agents.
This skill combines Electronics and Repair into one. It's about practical application of technical knowledge, mainly to construct and repair devices.
By default, this skill doesn't exist as there's only one language in the Five Lands, called the Tongue. The occasional expert also knows some Old Tongue, the language of the Bygone Age. A character learns some basic Old Tongue when they take the Bygone Age Expert Edge.
There are also local dialects & things like that. You can learn more about that later.
There are Five Lands in this setting. Each has their own traits.
In addition to the free Edge you get for being Human, you also get one of the following depending on your background.
- Strength starting at d6.
- Names tend to sound sharp & strong, with hard B, V, & K sounds.
- Smarts starting at d6.
- Names use mainly SCH, Z, & F sounds, with sudden dips into D & N.
- The Islands
- Vigor starting at d6.
- Complicated names with lots of R, W, K, & A sounds, with interesting vowel combinations.
- Agility starting at d6.
- Names use many T & O sounds, with both hard & soft Ks.
- Spirit starting at d6.
- Names tend to have R & I sounds & usually kept short.
There are a number of added hindrances to this setting, as well as most of the ones from the core SWADE rulebook. Some are modified, which I will list, but for the most part they aren't significantly different.
Modified hindrances: Enemy, Obligation, One Arm, Outsider, Slow, Wanted
Unused hindrances: Doubting Thomas, Greedy, Illiterate, Poverty
Compulsive Behavior (Major)
Your Crystal's disposition has a powerful influence over you. When you are dealt a Heart as your Action Card, your Crystal's intrusive thought patterns take hold and you must devote one action this turn to satisfying your disposition. If you are unsure what to do, you can just waste an action in repetitive thoughts.
Someone or something is depending on your support. You asked Syn to provide that support, but the organization isn't a charity someone needs to pay for the service, and that someone is you. You start the game with one less Requisition (so you have zero if you're a Novice Agent) and must pay a point of Requisition every few months.
Harness Rejection (Major)
Your body and your harness don't get along, and pushing their connection too far isn't recommended. When you maintain a power you must make a new Crystal Channeling check every ten minutes to keep the power going. In addition, whenever you choose to take a level of Fatigue instead of failing a Crystal Channeling roll, you instead take two.
Lingering Disposition (Minor)
It's hard for you to shake off the effects of a Crystal you've socketed, even after replacing it. When you switch a Crystal, choose one Minor Hindrance (or a Minor version of a Major Hindrance) of the former Crystal. You keep this Hindrance until you switch Crystals again. You can make a Smarts roll to try and overcome this Hindrance when it comes into play. Even a starting Agent has a lingering disposition, from the Crystal they used during training; it can be any reasonable Minor Hindrance of your choice.
Just liked hindrances, there are modified & unused edges.
Modified Edges: Aristocrat, Command, Connections, Trademark Weapon
Feel free to inquire in Discord about any of the others, but the only one I feel is worth explaining is Trademark Weapon.
Trademark Weapon: All Syn issued weapons are custom-made, but that doesn't mean they're custom-awesome. An Agent with Trademark Weapon has either brought their own weapon from home, or undergone specific training with a special weapon which is always fancier looking than others of its kind. This does not require a Requisition roll.
Unused Edges: All Power Edges, Arcane Resistance, Champion, Chi, Linguist, Rich
I only need to list the Novice Edges, since that's what you need to make your character.
Requirements: Novice, Spirit d6+
People in the Lands tend to be fierce; you're an excellent example of that.
Once per day, when something you believe in is on the line, you can upgrade your Wild Die by one step (d6 to d8), or get a d4 Wild Die if you don't have one. This upgrade lasts for a scene. A mercenary won't be able to use this Edge simply for fighting, but she does get it when she fights a foe who opposes her belief that people should be free to make a living however they choose.
On the other hand, when retreating or avoiding a conflict in which your personal beliefs are challenged, you downgrade your Wild Die to a d4 (or get a -1 penalty on all Trait rolls, if you don't have one) for the next 1d6 hours, or until you come back and fight
All Agent teams have a supervisor, but you also have a personal mentor. They can be the same person or someone else in Syn. The two of you have a special relationship, not necessarily a nice one, but one based on mutual respect.
You gain a skill point (but not above the connected attribute) in one skill that is relevant to your mentor, their teaching style, or their relationship with you. You also increase your Requisition by 2 points, reflecting your mentor's connections and willingness to shift some things around for you.
See Appendix B (page 214) for a list of recommended mentors.
You'll need the book for the bottom part of that one. 🤣
Bogovian Fire Drill
Requirements: Novice, Bogovian
In the Land of endless mud and musty swamps, fire can be surprisingly danger- ous because nobody expects it. But you? You're ready for anything. You've been through too many jump scares and had more than enough people shouting at you to get going. You now show a fierce, almost narrow-minded devotion to the task at hand. When you recover from being Shaken, you gain +2 on your next Trait roll this turn.
Requirements: Novice, Fjordstadian
Fjordstadians are taught from childhood to assume the unknown and suspect the obvious. At best, they are cautious; at worst, paranoid.
This Edge counts as Danger Sense, except that the character rolls her Smarts instead of Notice. It can also be used to recognize non-physical sources of surprise. For example, if the baron at the party is giving a speech about Syn's magnificent achievements but is in fact about to mock the Agents, this Edge can be used to recognize that something bad is about to happen.
Because this Edge casts a wide net, it occasionally triggers for no reason. The GM is encouraged to call for a Fjordstadian Scrutiny roll at least once per session, and especially during times of calm.
If you already have Danger Sense, replace it with a different Edge.
Requirements: Novice, Islander
You know how to eat well, and more importantly, what and when. Even if your Land's fruits, grains, and meats aren't around, you'll find suitable replacements. You've gained healthy stores of energy, and your diet has guided your metabolism to access that en- ergy quickly and efficiently.
You are able to survive without food for two days (instead of one) before needing to roll Vigor for hunger. If given proper ingredients and appropriate tools, you can create a tasty and nourishing meal. Anyone who eats it while enjoying a relaxing atmosphere is able to ignore one point of penalties from Fatigue for the next 8 hours.
You can usually restock quality ingredients at Syn facilities (no Requisition roll required)
Maseian Rite of Passage
Requirements: Novice, Maseian
You went through a tough trial during which you learned to broaden your horizons and connect with the earth. You have the uncanny ability to notice small details that others seem to miss. This might be thanks to the spirits intervening on your behalf, or a result of being highly perceptive because of your belief that spirits are helping you.
Once per session you can Influence the Story without spending a Benny. This new detail must be a new feature or item that couldn't have been immediately obvious at the start of the current scene.
Requirements: Novice, Zingamaian
Zingama is the best! Be proud, Zingamaians! All the other peoples only believe in their families, tribes, cities. They don't really understand what's it like to be part of something larger, grander than themselves.
This Edge counts as Strong Willed and Brave. If you already have either of these Edges, replace it with a different Edge.
Requirements: Novice, Crystal Channeling d6+
When you keep still, everything is much clearer. If you don't move at all during your turn, you can ignore up to 2 points of penalties on a Crystal Channeling roll you make this turn.
Requirements: Novice, Crystal Channeling d4+
You can ignore one point of penalties from maintaining powers, in other words, you can maintain one power for “free”.
Bygone Age Expert
Requirements: Novice, Academics d6+, Engineering d6+
You gain +2 on Academics and Engineering checks made to understand and activate Bygone Age technology. You also know some basic Old Tongue, the language of the prehistoric people.
Requirements: Novice, Academics d6+, Healing d6+
You gain +2 on Academics and Healing checks made to analyze and understand Crystals, their manifestations, and Crystal-corrupted creatures. A raise can reveal the unique powers and weaknesses of such creatures. You also know by heart the themes, benefits, dispositions, and powers of all the Crystals in the Syn database (refreshed whenever you have a day to study in a Syn facility).
Requirements: Novice, Agility d8+, Notice d6+, Thievery d6+
Getting into ancient ruins is pretty easy; getting out alive is a different matter. You add +1 to Notice rolls when traveling in and around ancient structures, always on the lookout for common hazards and hidden traps. You also add +1 to Thievery rolls when disabling traps and unlocking barriers. Finally, your fascination with ancient tombs led you to study many tales and mythologies, so they're considered Common Knowledge for you.
Agents start with 1 requisition point. If you don't have the book you can't use this on gear or weapons. But you can use it to upgrade your Crystal.
The following is standard-issued gear for Novice Agents on Crystal Hunter teams. See the equipment tables on page 42 for details.
- One or two weapons of your choice, from any of the weapon lists.
- Three Syn suits, custom-made.
- A backpack with some basic, yet modern, adventuring gear. Think flashlights and thermal blankets.
- Basic Crystal capture gear: an empty Crystal container and gloves.
- Any assistive technology required by the Agent, such as a prosthesis or a wheel- chair. These are light and effective, but not powered.
|Syn suit||(torso, arms, legs)||+1||8|
You can find the full descriptions in the book starting at page 40. But below are the available weapons.
|Syn Knife||Str+d4||d4||1||-2 to be Noticed if hidden|
|Bogovian Charm Mace||Str+d6||d6||10|
|Bogovian Fourstaff||Str+d4||d4||8||Parry +1, Reach 1, two hands|
|Island Walrus (curved staff)||Str+d6||d6||8||Parry +1, two hands|
|Maseian Slash (scimitar)||Str+d6||d6||2|
|Zingamaian Snakebite (knife)||Str+d4||d4||1||Poison, not throwable|
|Zingamaian Whip||Str+d4||d4||3||Disarming, Reach 3|
|Syn Knife||3/6/12||Str+d4||1||1||-||d4||-2 to be Noticed if hidden|
|Syn Pistol||10/20/40||2d6+1||1||4||6||d4||AP 1|
|Fjordstadian Buzzer (shotgun)||10/20/40||1-3d6||1||8||2||d4||Nonlethal|
|Fjordstadian Palmspring (revolver)||3/6/12||2d4||1||1||3||d4||-4 to be Noticed if hidden|
|Island Whistle (boomerang)||4/8/16||Str+d4||1||2||-||d6||returns to thrower on miss|
|Maseian Wingspan (collapsible compound bow)||12/24/48||Str+d6||1||3||-||d6||AP 1|
|Zingamaian Dart||3/6/12||1d4||1||1||-||d4||Poison, non-recoverable|
Plus: Various grenades, flashbangs, acid bombs, & smoke bombs.
Just ask about those, because most have special damage instructions/types & really shouldn't be considered if you don't have the book. Table is on page 43 & descriptions are on page 42.
All agents start with a Novice Starting Crystal. If you don't have the book, then we will hopefully soon have a list of homebrew crystals to choose from, because we can't list that content here. But if you download the free Starter Set there are 5 pre-made characters with Novice Crystals!
AgentsOfSyn.com deviation from the core setting
Novice Crystals are not unique & are weak enough to be duplicated. So don't worry about using a Crystal someone else already has!
We'll have better lore about this later, but the rumor around the Syn Citadel is that there is a Agent who has figured out that a way to smash Novice Crystals into shards then regrow the original crystal infinitely. 🤫
You can also use your requisition point to upgrade your Crystal to Seasoned (but there are drawbacks from using a Crystal above your rank!) If you don't have the book, you'll have to wait till we get started before you can choose a Seasoned Crystal.
But that's it! If you need more help, just ask in Discord. There are a few PDFs there as well.