Character Creation

Creating a Free Rad is quick, simple and can even be done at random, to explore characters you wouldn’t otherwise play.

  1. Determine your attributes. Assign 2d6, 2d8, 2d8 and 2d10 among might, agility, will and wits. You can assign them according to your preference, use the process described below, or roll 1d4 twice to assign your highest and lowest attributes at random, re-rolling duplicates.
  2. Choose a day job. Select from law enforcement, driver, bureaucrat, medic, tradesman, performer, criminal, journalist, or roll 1d8 to assign at random. Note the talents you gain.
  3. Choose your Powers. Select a gift from warding, illusion, wildspeech, compulsion and divination, or roll 1d6 to assign at random, re-rolling on a 6. Note the Powers you gain.
  4. Choose a combat speciality. Select from brutal, tough, alert, strategic, speedy and unconventional, or roll 1d6 to assign at random.
  5. Choose two tactical moves. Select from advance, delay, aid, sabotage, quicken, slow, flurry, savage, counter and protect, or roll 2d10 to assign at random, re-rolling duplicates.
  6. Write them up Put your character’s details into a character sheet, along with their starting Energy (24), movement (6 spaces, unless you have the ‘speedy’ combat speciality) and name (up to you!).

The resulting character will look a bit like this:

Name George Tiller
Energy 24
Movement 6 spaces
Attributes Might: 2d8
Agility: 2d6
Will: 2d10
Wits: 2d8
Cover Medic (talents: triage, CPR)
Gift warding (Powers: alarm, sanctify, repel)
Combat Speciality tough
Tactical Moves protect, slow

What makes a good RADS character?

Free Rads come from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Feel free to create a rich other life for your character, bearing in mind the following:

Are there any characters you can't play?

As well as being a game, an RPG is an engine for cooperative storytelling. RADS is designed to tell a certain kind of story, and pushing to tell a different kind of story during a game could undermine the enjoyment of everyone else at the table. The above passage describes the kinds of characters who suit the stories which RADS is designed to tell. Some character concepts just don’t fit into this mould.

Pacifists or weaklings who can't or won't engage in a physical fight; lone wolves or loose cannons who don’t play by the rules or work with others; or contrarians and conspiracists who think that civilians aren’t worth protecting, that demons shouldn’t be kept hidden, that “the government is right” or that “the Free Rads are the true demons”; stories about these characters might be exciting, nuanced and well worth exploring, but they’re probably best explored elsewhere.

With all that having been said, this is a book. It has no power to stop you from playing those characters if you want. Just discuss it with your GM and the rest of the table first, and caveat ludio.


Your attributes

Characters in RADS have four attributes: might, agility, will and wits. When you attempt something that uses an attribute, you’ll roll two dice and add the results together. The size of the dice rolled is determined by how capable your character is with each attribute.

You can assign 2d10 to one attribute, making this your character’s strength, 2d8 to two attributes at which you’re moderately competent, and 2d6 to the attribute your character is worst at. You can assign these values however you like or do so at random, but if you’re struggling, or want to create a character who fits into a more archetypal role, use the following process:

Your attributes begin at 2d6 and can increase to 2d8 or 2d10 depending on your choices. To determine your attributes, you must answer two questions.

  1. Firstly, is your character more proficient with their body, or their mind?
    1. If body, increase the size of your might and agility dice.
    2. If mind, increase the size of your will and wits dice.
  2. Secondly, does your character prefer to use force, or finesse?
    1. If force, increase the size of your might and will dice.
    2. If finesse, increase the size of your agility and wits dice.

This method of calculating attributes means that a player character’s highest attribute determines their lowest attribute as well: a mighty character is always less witty, while a wilful character is always less agile.

Your day job

Between missions, a Free Rad lives a normal life and works a fairly normal job. In the course of a mission, your character can use the skills and demeanour they’ve developed in their everyday existence, as well as using their day job as a cover to conceal their true purposes to other people they interact with.

Your day job grants you the following benefits:

  1. You have two talents, which allow to automatically succeed at certain tasks that would be incredibly difficult or impossible to anyone untrained in your field, no roll required.
  2. When you’re attempting an action that would be easier for someone with the experience and skills in your day job, you get a +1 bonus to the attribute roll.
  3. While interacting with people, you get a +2 bonus to any attribute rolls relating to covering up your true motives and other relevant social interactions, as long as you’re behaving normally for someone with your day job. This is called a cover bonus.

When you create a Free Rad, you can choose from the following covers and flesh out the exact details of what your character does, choosing from the example jobs given or coming up with your own. You gain the associated talents, which don’t require a roll.

Day job Talent 1 Talent 2
Bureaucrat Typo: Once per scene, you can automatically spot a mistake, omission or deception in any paperwork or documentation. Chapter and verse: Once per mission, you can convince a civilian by citing obscure regulations or producing forged paperwork, ID or records.
Criminal Case the joint: Once per scene, you can identify camera blind spots and security weaknesses in even the most heavily fortified area. No questions asked: Once per mission, you can acquire an object worth up to $100.
Driver 10-4: Once per scene, you can radio a fellow driver and automatically find out something useful about the local area. Eat my dust: Once per mission, you can shake off even the most determined pursuer in a vehicular chase.
Journalist Wheedle: Once per scene, you can convince anyone to tell you their side of the story. Red herring: Once per mission, you can trick a civilian who’s getting close to the truth to follow a false lead.
Law Enforcement Pull the files: Once per scene, you can give a name to your contact on the force and automatically find out any criminal records they hold. Mirandize: Once per mission, you can safely restrain a civilian or knock them unconscious.
Medic Triage: Once per scene, you can automatically identify injuries and diseases, as well as medicines, drugs and their effects. CPR: Once per mission, you can staunch a fatally injured person’s wounds, keeping them at the edge of life until they can get to a hospital.
Performer Character study: Once per scene, you can automatically tell when someone is lying and what emotion motivates them to deception. No autographs: Once per mission, you can leverage your minor fame to a civilian, enlisting their aid or convincing them of the need for secrecy.
Tradesman Breaker: Once per scene, you can automatically disrupt or repair any utility supply to a building. Cordon off: Once per mission, you can make civilians evacuate an area by convincing them that they’re at risk from an environmental threat.

Breaking cover

If you fail a roll while benefiting from a cover bonus, or if you’re caught acting in a manner that obviously deviates from normal behaviour for your day job, any person who is observing you at the time will become suspicious. You no longer benefit from your cover bonus when interacting with this person, and depending on their disposition and what you’ve been doing, they may actively work to thwart your efforts. Failing an attribute roll that benefits from a +1 bonus from your day job doesn’t raise suspicion in this way.

Your Powers

All Free Rads have Powers, gained after their exposure to gamma radiation. All Powers bend reality, and each gift is useful to a Free Rad in a different way, with its own unique rules and restrictions on its use. Unless otherwise specified, Powers can affect civilians, Rads and demons alike.

Illusion

An illusion twists the senses, casting doubt and sowing confusion. An illusion affects the mind of a select group of creatures, making a target disappear for them, making them see a target differently, or making them see a target that doesn’t truly exist. The target can be an object or a creature.

Characters with the gift of illusion are called illusionists; they gain the following illusion Powers:

Power Effect Resist
Conceal Affected creatures cannot see or hear the target. Wits
Transform To affected creatures, the appearance of the target is exchanged for a creation of similar size and shape. Wits
Conjure Affected creatures perceive a being or object which does not exist in the target area. Wits

The rules of Illusion

Illusions have no physical presence and are purely visual manifestations, having no affect on sound, smell, nor do they affect temperature or airflow in a space. To create an illusion, you must be touching the target of the illusion or the target space where the illusion will appear. They can be of any size.

When you attempt to use an illusion Power, choose which creatures you wish to be affected. You can choose specific individuals who you wish to affect, or specify some group, for example “the next three people to walk past this doorway”, and you can exclude creatures as well, for example your fellow Free Rads.

The cost of an illusion Power is twice the number of affected creatures.

While you are using an illusion Power, the target is faintly lit up with shifting colours and patterns.

An illusion placed on a static object, or a static illusion on a fixed location, lasts for 1 hour. Moving illusions last for 5 minutes. When you create an illusion, you can choose to double the length of the illusion; doing so causes you to lose 1 additional Energy. You can do this multiple times, doubling the length each time, up to a maximum of length of 24 hours.

If the target of your illusion is an unwilling creature and they are aware that an illusion has been placed on them, they may attempt to resist it once using Agility. If they fail, they cannot attempt this again.

If any creature affected by an illusion is presented with evidence that the effect they perceive is fake, they can attempt to resist it. If they succeed, they no longer see the effect. If they fail, they do not suspect the truth and continue to believe that the effect is real until the illusion is out of sight or ends. Illusions affect creatures independently; one creature could overcome an illusion and cease to perceive the effect while another continues to be affected by it.

Wildspeech

Wildspeech is the ability to communicate with animals. Both greater and lesser than language, it allows for a mutual respect and understanding beyond words, but not the translation of complex concepts.

Rads with the gift of wildspeech are called wildspeakers; they gain the following wildspeech Powers:

Power Effect
Roam Designate a location within a minute’s travel for the animal. The target will travel to the location; as it does so, your own senses are suppressed and you perceive what the target perceives.
Urge Describe a single action the target can complete within a minute. The target will perform the task, provided doing so will not put it in immediate danger.
Recall Ask the target 3 questions about events in the last 48 hours, within a distance of your current location that the target can travel in a minute.

The rules of wildspeech

When you attempt to use a wildspeech Power, you draw an animal to you from the surrounding area (within a minute’s travel for the animal), choosing to call either a beast of the sky, the land or the water to be the target of the miracle. You will always have to provide an offering of food to the animal.

The cost of using a wildspeech Power is determined by how far you are from true wilderness. In complete wilderness, the cost is 2. If you can see a human-made structure, the cost is 4. If you are stood on human-made ground, the cost is 6. If you cannot see the sky because of a human-made covering, the cost is 8.

While you are using a wildspeech Power, your eyes glow faintly green, the air around you moves with a gentle breeze, and a faint smell of fresh pine permeates the vicinity.

Wildspeech temporarily imbues animals with a sense of trust, respect and cooperation toward the wildspeaker, but not improved mental or physical abilities. Wildspeech cannot cause an animal to fight or risk its own life.

Animals cannot attempt to resist the effects of wildspeech.

Compulsion

Compulsion warps the minds of living things, putting them at the mercy of another’s will. Where illusion touches the senses, intercepting the message between eye and brain, compulsion magic can affect personality, if only for a while. Compulsions affect beliefs, actions and intentions.

Rads with the gift of compulsion are called mesmerists; they gain the following compulsion Powers:

Power Effect Resist
Mislead The target believes a false statement. They will ignore any evidence which would disprove this statement, and go to any lengths to justify their belief if questioned, though any challenge to their false reality will exacerbate the side-effects of the compulsion. Wits
Command The target follows a single order. They will go to almost any lengths to carry out the order, save injuring themselves or their loved ones. Might
Incite The target feels one emotion, very strongly. They are practically consumed by this emotion. Will

The rules of compulsion

The cost of using a compulsion Power is the target’s will score.

While you are using a compulsion Power, the target is unaware of anything unusual happening. Anyone else present hears an unnatural resonance to your voice and sees your hands moving gently past the target’s face in hypnotic patterns.

At the moment you finish using a compulsion Power, you utter a single sentence which changes the target’s mind. A compulsion can make a target believe, feel or do almost anything, save injure themselves or their loved ones, but a target compelled to act against their nature becomes pale, glassy-eyed, clumsy, dim-witted and slow. The further the target strays from their nature, the more obvious the effects.

A target remains under the effect of the compulsion for 1 hour. When a compulsion would end, you can choose to extend the duration of the compulsion by another hour if you and the target can see one another. Doing so causes you to lose 2 Energy for each hour the compulsion has already lasted, up to a maximum length of 24 hours. If a compulsion ends naturally, the target remembers nothing unless encouraged to recall and given ample insight into what happened.

A target cannot freely attempt to resist a compulsion. However, a target submerged in running water automatically resists the compulsion. If a target successfully ends the compulsion in this way, they remember everything.

Warding

Warding divides the world into inside and outside, reinforcing material barriers and creating powerful spaces. Wards are invisible magical barriers at the perimeter of a clearly defined target space. Wards separate outside from inside and affect civilians, demons and Rads who enter, occupy or leave the space.

Blades with the gift of warding are called wardens; they gain the following warding Powers:

Power Effect Resist
Alarm When a creature enters or leaves the warded space, you know that they have done so and get vague impression of what they look like, enough that you would recognise them on sight but not enough that you could meaningfully describe their appearance to another. Agility
Sanctify While inside the warded space, aligned Rads gain a +2 bonus to all attribute rolls, while demons and enemy Rads suffer a -2 penalty to their attribute scores. Other beings are unaffected by this. Will
Repel When a demon attempts to enter the warded space, they must roll to overcome the ward or be unable to enter. When you create this ward, you can choose to repel humans (excluding Rads) instead of demons, or choose to lose 2 additional Energy in order to repel both. Wits

The rules of warding

You can ward any single target space, regardless of size, as long as its perimeter is clearly defined by solid barriers such as walls and a ceiling. The space must be one single area within; a room is an acceptable target, a building with multiple rooms within is not. A gap in the perimeter larger than 2 metres in any dimension makes a space impossible to ward. To ward a space, you must be touching its perimeter.

When you use a warding Power, the cost is equal to the number of openings in the perimeter of the target space through which a human being could comfortably pass with ease. Include unlocked doors, windows or passageways out of a room.

While you are creating a ward, the target space feels physically warm and emits a faint glow. Once created, alarm and sanctify wards are imperceptible; repel wards will be apparent to anyone affected.

A ward persists for 24 hours. A space cannot be warded with multiple wards.

A creature who is affected by a ward automatically attempts to resist it when they enter a warded space for the first time. If they succeed, the ward ceases to affect them permanently, but continues to exist for other creatures. Whether they fail or succeed, they won’t be aware that the ward exists if it is a sanctify or alarm ward. Wards affect creatures independently; one creature could overcome a ward, while another still feels its effects.

Divination

Divination grants insight into things far away, things long gone or things still yet to transpire, if you have the insight to unpick the visions you receive.

Rads with the gift of divination are called diviners; they gain the following divination Powers:

Power Effect
Revisit Describe an event that happened in the space you currently occupy. You see a vision of that target event.
Locate Describe a target object, or creature. If the target is within 8 miles, you gain a momentary sense of its current location in relation to you and a vision of its surroundings.
Predict Describe a course of action you wish to take in the future that would require a roll to achieve. If the target action is doomed to failure, you learn why. If it has a chance of success, you see something that would improve your odds and get a +4 bonus to the roll to achieve this action.

The rules of divination

To use a divination Power, you need a reflective surface, such as a mirror or a pool of still water, which you gaze into as you contemplate the subject of your divination.

The cost of using a divination Power is set by fate: roll a d8 to determine the cost.

While you are using a divination Power, the air around you grows cold and the reflective surface into which you gaze appears darkened to all others. Other creatures who look at it for more than a few seconds experience a piercing headache.

Divination effects are instantaneous and cannot be resisted.

Your combat speciality

Player characters each have a combat speciality reflecting their unique training, skills and experience. These bestow small passive benefits which change the outcome of certain roll results. You choose one combat speciality when you create your character.

Combat Speciality Details
Brutal +1 bonus to your attack rolls.
Tough +1 bonus to your defence rolls.
Alert +2 bonus to your tactics rolls for turn order.
Strategic +2 bonus to your tactics rolls for tactical moves.
Unconventional +2 bonus to attribute rolls during combat.
Speedy Your movement is 8 instead of 6.

Tactical moves

When you create your character, you choose two tactical moves that they can use in combat. Each round, you can choose to perform one of your tactical moves, at the cost of losing 1 Energy.

Tactical Move When usable Effect
Advance When you roll tactics for turn order Roll tactics twice and add the results together to determine your turn order result.
Delay When you roll tactics for turn order Roll tactics twice. You take the higher result and an opponent of your choice takes a penalty to their score equal to the lower result.
Aid At the start of your turn Choose an ally. You roll tactics and they roll defence. If your result meets or exceeds theirs, your ally gains a +2 bonus to all rolls of an aspect of their choice for the remainder of this round or the duration of the next round.
Sabotage At the start of your turn Choose an opponent and roll tactics against their defence score. If you succeed, the opponent takes a -2 penalty to one of their scores of your choice for the remainder of this round or the duration of the next round.
Quicken At the start of your turn Roll tactics. You can move additional spaces this turn equal to the result.
Slow At the start of an opponent’s turn Roll tactics. The opponent can move fewer spaces this turn equal to the result.
Flurry When you make a successful attack roll Make an additional attack against any opponent in range, using your tactics die in place of your attack die.
Savage When you make a successful attack roll Roll tactics. The target loses additional Energy equal to half the result, rounded up.
Counter When you make a successful defence roll Make an attack roll against your attacker, using your tactics die in place of your attack die.
Protect When an ally fails a defence roll Roll tactics and half the result, rounding up. Your ally gains a bonus of this value to their defence roll. If the defence roll is still a failure, you lose the same amount of Energy as your ally, using the revised defence score to calculate Energy lost.