Card Types and Creating a Character in Untold

Ashy returns with another installment discussing “Untold,” the card-based RPG game from Wandering Men Studios. Be sure to read the first post in the series!
In my previous guest blog here at Livingdice.com, I explained in detail the answer to the first question we at Wandering Men Studios often get about Untold: the question of what Untold is, exactly, and how it is alike and yet drastically different to other RPG’s. This article, however, will allow me to attack the second most asked question that we get about our new, revolutionary card-based RPG, or CBRPG: how do I create a character?
The answer is much simpler than one might anticipate; Untold is a point based game: all of the cards cost a certain number of Untold Points, or UP. When you start play, the GM will set a number of UP for you to build your character from. You can play cards to create your character until the total of all of their UP equals the Untold Points that the GM provided. So, at its core, creating an Untold Character is easy as picking the cards you want and adding their cost.
But before we talk about creating that Character, first let’s talk briefly about the types of cards that you’ll be dealing with. The cards are:

  • Race Card
  • Aspect Card
  • Power Card

Race Card

First, we’ll talk about the Race Card. Race Cards are red in coloration and it is the most important card in Untold – you can’t play without it. And when taking damage, as soon as you flip your Race Card, your character is dead. A Race Card defines your character race. The back has a picture of a common member of the race, while the front has all of the rules information that you need to play the race.

On every Race Card, you’ll find the following information:

#LabelWhat’s’it Mean?
1NameEr…the name of the Race
2Swap IconThe swap type needed to play this card.
3Cost (UP) IconCost of the card; you must pay this to add it to your character deck.
4Body*The Body bonuses of the Race: Body Attack (Body ATK), Body Defense (Body DEF), and Body Boost.
5Mind*The Mind bonuses of the Race: Mind Attack (Mind ATK), Mind Defense (Mind DEF), and Mind Boost.
6Soul*The Soul bonuses of the Race: Soul Attack (Soul ATK), Soul Defense (Soul DEF), and Soul Boost.
7PictureWhat the race looks like – flip the card over and see even more snazzy art!
8Vitality (VIT) Icon*This adds to the Total Vitality (VIT) of your character.
9Attributes**Denote how long to activate the Integral Power (IP)** of the Race, who it affects, and how long it lasts.
10Magnitude Icon**Displays the magnitude of this card.
11InformationDenotes special information about the race; gives you some “racial flava” to boot!
12Boost Info*If shown, this denotes what type of boost this card receives.

* – Please note that the following items MAY or MAY NOT appear on your Race Card, depending on the nature of your Race.
** – Each Race has an Integral Power, it is noted in the bottom information area with an “IP:”, and the Magnitude and Attributes of the Race are linked to this Power.


Aspect Cards

A yellow color sets Aspect cards apart from the other cards in the Untold pack. There are three Aspects in all each representing a facet of his/her core being that they may focus on:

  • Body – your character is generally good at physical activities and grants them bonuses to physical Power Cards()
  • Mind – your character is generally good at mental activities and grants them bonuses to mental Power Cards()
  • Soul – your character is generally good at spiritual/supernatural pursuits and grants them bonuses to supernatural Power Cards()

Aspect cards are not required to play Untold, but they are HIGHLY recommended! Aspect cards are one stop shops for Aspect Bonuses and Vitality – these bonuses increase your characters ability to use Powers, resist damage, and they can actually enhance Powers as well. The three aspect bonuses are:

  • Attack(ATK) ()
  • Defense(DEF) ()
  • Boost ()

Some powers require that you roll a d20 in order to hit the target, and that’s where ATK and DEF are used. Each card also provides Vitality (VIT) which is not tied to the Aspect and increases the character’s ability to handle damage.

Boosting
Boost has far more broad reaching applications. Boosting is a core mechanic of Untold – it is the ability of your character to enhance the effect of any powers tied to that Aspect. How do you know? Remember the Boost information that we mentioned previously?

Since this Aspect gives you 3 Body Boost, that means you can add 3 to the Magnitude (MAG) of the Power.
I.E. “For every 2 Boost Add 3 to MAG”, and we have 3 Boost so we can add 3 MAG. 1 Boost is “left over” but it is not usable in this case.
This gives the Power a total MAG of 11 (i.e. 8+3 = 11)!

NOTE: Many of the power cards can be enhanced by Boosting, that’s why Aspect Cards cards are pretty important!

The Aspect requires varies from power to power – so it is up to you how focused or broad you want your character to specialize. And even if you don’t have the right Aspect to boost a power – don’t worry, you can still use the power as written.

On every Aspect Card, you’ll find the following information:

#LabelWhat’s’it Mean?
1NameEr…the name of the Aspect
2Swap IconThe swap type needed to play this card.
3Cost (UP) IconCost of the card; you must pay this to add it to your character deck.
4Body*The Body bonuses of the Race: Body Attack (Body ATK), Body Defense (Body DEF), and Body Boost.
5Mind*The Mind bonuses of the Race: Mind Attack (Mind ATK), Mind Defense (Mind DEF), and Mind Boost.
6Soul*The Soul bonuses of the Race: Soul Attack (Soul ATK), Soul Defense (Soul DEF), and Soul Boost.
7Vitality (VIT) Icon*This adds to the Total Vitality (VIT) of your character.
8Information*Denotes special information about the Aspect.

* – Please note that the following items MAY or MAY NOT appear on your Aspect Card, depending on which Aspect Card it is.


Power Cards

It is likely that you’ll have more Power Cards on the table than any other type of card. Power cards represent everything that your character can do: from skills, to spells, to weapons and items. Because of this the cards have a number of effects: they could enhance your Aspects, give you more Vitality, do damage, turn another character insane, create light – in short: ANYTHING! The mechanics text in the bottom box is key to knowing how a power works. Remember, you don’t have to reference a book, all the rules are right there!

We’ll keep the description of Power Cards brief, because when we step through building a character – we think that will help explain more.

On every Power Card, you’ll find the following information:

#LabelWhat’s’it Mean?
1NameEr…the name of the Power
2Swap IconThe swap type needed to play this card.
3Cost (UP) IconCost of the card; you must pay this to add it to your character deck.
4LevelThe Level of the Power.
5Body*The Body bonuses of the Race: Body Attack (Body ATK), Body Defense (Body DEF), and Body Boost.
6Mind*The Mind bonuses of the Race: Mind Attack (Mind ATK), Mind Defense (Mind DEF), and Mind Boost.
7Soul*The Soul bonuses of the Race: Soul Attack (Soul ATK), Soul Defense (Soul DEF), and Soul Boost.
8PictureA lovely artistic interpretation of the Power in action, or a symbol depicting the type of Power!
9Vitality (VIT) Icon*This adds to the Total Vitality (VIT) of your character.
10AttributesDenote how long to activate the Power, who it affects, and how long it lasts.
11InformationDenotes special information about the Power; be sure and read this!
12Magnitude IconDisplays the magnitude of this card.
13Boost Info*If shown, this denotes what type of boost this card receives.

* – Please note that the following items MAY or MAY NOT appear on your Power Card, depending on what type Of Power Card it is.



Now that you’re familiar with the three basic Untold card types, let’s see how simple it is to create your Character. The process starts with you developing the concept for a character and discussing it with your GM. If you get the OK, then he tells you how many UP to use.

Let’s say that we really want to play a big and brawny Churl warrior, and the GM has given us 50 UP to build him with. We already have our race card picked out: Apoc Churl, and we put that on the table. Our warrior is brawny, and he’s imbued with the power of the volcanoes of his homeland, but he isn’t any smarter than the average. That gives us an idea of his Aspects: we decide on Body 3 and Soul 1. Why did we decide on Body 3 and Soul 1? Well we looked at how many UP they cost, because we only have 50 UP to use we wanted to make sure you have UP left over for Powers!

Speaking of powers, now the fun begins. We’re building this character from the Iconic Character pack: Toa, that is available on the website, so we’re going to focus on those Power Cards, but you could use ANY power cards that you want as long as your GM approves and you have the UP to play them. But, before we play any Powers, we should talk about Swapping first.

Swapping

Swapping is another core mechanic of Untold – it is how you can put a card into play. It is an in game requirement that you, or your character must meet before you can put the card on the table and your character can use it. Remember the Swap Icon in the top left, just beneath the card’s name? That tells you what the Swap Type of the cards is, and there are 4 types:

  • Story () – you must tell a story why your character has that power and how it is integral to them.
  • Site () – your characters must visit a site that thematically matches the power in order to obtain it – think of it like a quest. The actual site is determined by the GM.
  • Time () – Your characters must make the conscious decision to ready, equip, or bring the power along. Think of items, equipment, and rituals.
  • Hot () – These cards can be played at the drop of a hat – there is no requirement except that you have enough points to play them.

Once put into play, all of the cards may be picked up at will except for Hot Swap cards. If in combat, they must remain in play for the full round that they were played, and they can be picked during the next round. Remember, once you pick up the cards you have to meet the Swap type requirement to play them again. It is up to the GM whether or not you have to tell a story in order to pick up cards, but we think that adds to the roleplaying fun of Untold.

Sorry for that aside, but it was important because we’re going to separate our Power Cards into two piles: a Story, Site, and Time Swaps pile, and a Hot Swaps pile. Because Hot Swaps can go in and out of play so easily we’re not going to put them in play yet, but we’re going to pick Powers from the other deck to play now. We going to pick: “Large” and “Mountain’s Blessing” because they best fit our character’s story. And “Club of the Ancestors,” because Toa’s father gave him the Club after he completed his rite of passage, and it’s fun to bash things with a giant crystal encrusted club.

Now we total the UP cost of all of the cards on the table.


5+9+2+10+3+5 = 34 UP!

34 UP that is what we call our Character Deck. The difference between the Character Deck and the UP granted by the GM is (50-34=16) 16 UP and that is our Hot Swap Buffer. That means we have 16 UP to play any number of Hot Swap Powers as long as their total cost is 16 UP or less.

If you decide you want more or less UP for Hot Swaps than its a simple matter to increase or decrease your Aspects, or remove a power from your Character Deck. There – you’ve built a character! It really can be that quick!

A Quick Reference Card (QRC)

Now that you’ve created the character, we’re going to show you a step that is optional for Untold, but we think very handy. In untold there are 12 numbers that you may need to reference as you play. They’re all readily available on your cards, but it can be very handy to have them all in one location for quick reference. That’s where a Quick Reference Card could come in handy. One comes with a pack when you buy an Iconic Booster Pack, and we also have some FREE Quick Reference Cards available for download.

The 12 basic numbers are:

  • Mind Attack
  • Mind Defense
  • Mind Boost
  • Body Attack
  • Body Defense
  • Body Boost
  • Soul Attack
  • Soul Defense
  • Soul Boost
  • Vitality
  • Character Deck
  • Hot Swap Buffer

And if you don’t have a Quick Reference Card you could also use a 3×5 note card or a simple quarter piece of paper. Here’s an example of all that you need for the Churl Barbarian that we just built:

Total UP:50
Character Deck:34Hot Swap Buffer16
ATKDEFBoost
Mind000
Body3310
Soul111
Vitality7

Where do the numbers come from? Well, any Aspect bonuses will be found along the top bar of all the cards – primarily the Aspect and Race cards, but some power cards can add Aspect bonuses.


For Toa, the bonuses come from: Apoc Churl, Body 3, Soul 1, Large, and Mountain’s Blessing. While Vitality will always be in the left hand bar, and any card type may add Vitality.

Finally, we computed the Character Deck and the Hot Swap Buffer when we built the character in the last step. Now that the character is built and you have the numbers calculated, it’s time to play! And yes, it’s really that easy to create an Untold Character, but don’t let that fool you! This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Untold Character Creation and alteration. Remember, with our unique swapping mechanics, you can change your character at any point in a game, even in the middle of a combat round!
And that, my friends, is the subject of my next Untold post: tune back in soon to learn all about Transforming your Untold Characters!

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trask

Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.