Anyway, the basic component of a SotC character is their skill pyramid. That is, you've got one skill you're really freaking great at (that's the top of the pyramid), two you're just plain great at, and so on down to five that you're just average at (the base of the pyramid). 15 skills in total, chosen from this list:
- Sleight of Hand
So, you can see how picking 15 such broad skills means you can be good at a whole lot of stuff. And really crazy awesome at a narrower bunch of stuff.
But where things start getting really awesome, and really coming to life, is with the heart of the Spirit of the Century system: aspects. A character's aspects are basically just a list of ten things about that character. Almost any kind of thing: physical stuff, personality stuff, background stuff, relationships with other characters, signature possessions, running plot shticks, even catch phrases. Here's a list of examples, and you can also look at characters I've posted on this blog for more (they're mostly SotC characters, if not all).
Aspects make you better at doing whatever they logically suggest you ought to be good at. So if you've got a "Crusty Old Prospector" aspect, you can use that to get bonuses on rolls when you're trying to dig, look for water in the wilderness, appraise gold, and maybe even for stuff like drinking moonshine or driving strangers away from your property. The important limiting factor is that whenever you want an aspect to help you, you have to pay a "fate point".
The thing that makes this really cool is where fate points come from: You get them by following your aspects when they lead you into trouble. So if your Crusty Old Prospector pisses off a friend by being cantankerous, or gets distracted by gold, you'd get fate points for your trouble. On the other hand, if you want him to overcome his natural inclinations, you've gotta pay a fate point, instead.
So the game really rewards you for playing your character. And it's really important to make an interesting one, with foibles and weaknesses as well as strengths. Not only do they provide fate points, but they can really drive the game's plot.
Now, the final element of a SotC character is their stunts. These are like the feats of a D&D character: they let you break the rules in little ways, give you bonuses in specific situations, allow one of your skills to do more stuff than it normally does, give you things like allies, vehicles, or weapons, etc.
...But the list of available stunts is frigging huge, and it can really bog down character creation. So, personally, I'm kind of leaning towards the idea of just skipping stunts all together, and maybe using this stuntless rule variant. It just lets aspects do stunt-like stuff, and aspects are the coolest part of the system, anyway.
Anyway, here's where everybody should post ideas and questions about all their character concepts, and we'll figure out a way to get all your dudes tied together.