1) Create a character concept (chapter 3). Give your character a name, occupation, and a quick explanation of why he’s (or she’s) a hero or will be a hero. He’ll start as a level 2 character.
2) Add attribute scores (chapter 3). Your character gets three attribute scores: physical, mental, and metaphysical, 10 in each. If you’d rather roll, put 3d6 in each. Then add two points to one score, or one point to two scores. You get one point of “attribute bonus” for every two points that your score exceeds 10.
3) Add skills (chapter 4). Pick two things that your character does well, and give him a skill point in each. Choose these from the Skill Archetypes sidebar in the Skills chapter. There are three defensive skills, and each defends one attribute: defend (parry) for physical, defend (concentration) for mental, and defend (willpower) for metaphysical.
4) Add perks (chapter 5). Pick two things that make your character interesting, but aren’t an ability or skill. Choose these from the Perk Archetypes sidebar in the Perks chapter.
5) Get hero points (chapter 3). Hero points allow you to do things better. Twice a day, you can add d6 to your contest to improve the result. You can regain hero points by roleplaying well or getting a good night’s rest.
6) Buy some gear (chapter 6). Ask the GM for whatever gear your character would have. On average, his gear should allow him to do as much damage and protection as the other PCs can.
7) Get special abilities (chapter 7). If there’s still something cool that your character can do that hasn’t been covered yet, trade one of your skills for one of the spells in the Magic chapter. The new skill is called “magic (spell name).” The “magic” rules can represent any supernatural power, not just magic.
8) Roleplay. Tell your group what your character says and does, and remember that these rules are flexible to allow you lots of room to interpret your character. Decide what each element (attribute, skill, perk, hero point) means in terms of your character as you play the game.
9) Contest! (Chapter 8) When the GM doubts a character’s ability to do something, he’ll ask for a contest. Roll d20, add the bonus of your attribute needed to perform the task, and add the skill points of a related skill if you have one. This is your contest result, or just your “contest.” If it’s higher than the GM’s opposing contest, you get a favorable outcome, or a Pro. If it’s lower, you get an unfavorable outcome, a Con. A Tie can go in favor of the PC if he’s been roleplaying well or has other advantages.
10) Battle (chapter 8). If you’re getting into a conflict that will take more than one contest, roll an initiative contest (d20 + your highest attribute bonus) to see how quickly you spring into action. You can use one action to respond to any action when it’s not your turn. On your turn, you can combine actions, doing things that take a bit longer, or take more than one action, to accomplish. You get three actions each round.
To attack an enemy, roll a contest using a fight skill, and roll the damage die of your weapon. Tell the group how you attack, and the GM will describe your opponent’s defense.
To defend yourself, respond to an enemy’s attack with a defense action. Roll a defend (parry) contest and roll your armor’s protection die. Describe your defense. You’ll take damage if your defense is a Con or if you don’t defend. When the GM gives you damage, subtract your protection from the damage, and add the difference to your physical damage pool. If the damage in that pool exceeds your physical attribute score, you become Mostly Dead (not completely dead)!
11) Cast spells (chapter 7). If you took a spell in step 7, you can cast that spell. During your turn, spend the actions listed in the spell’s “actions” entry. Roll a magic contest for each casting action, keep the highest*, and apply the spellcasting difficulty to your result. Then, roll d8 and add the spell level. This is the metaphysical damage you take in exchange for making the spell manifest. Then your spell happens.
12) Defend against spells (chapter 8). If someone casts a spell at you, the GM will tell you which defense to use. If you have an action available, you can use it to defend against the caster’s contest. If you roll a Pro, you don’t suffer the spell’s effect; instead, you suffer the half-effect. If the caster maintains his spell, you can end the half-effect with a total number of successful defenses equal to the spell’s level.
*See combined actions for a complete description of which roll to keep.