We're gonna use the "as-you-go" character creation method described in the HQ:G rules starting on page 34, with some adjustments from Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes. Basically, we'll define some core aspects of your character and then you'll have some additional abilities and increases to abilities that you can decide now or later as we play.
I'll explain each step in more detail shortly, but first a quick summary of each step:
To get started, create a blank document in the shared folder for characters. When you choose abilities during this process, you can just write them on a line with their rating. Or you can format it differently, however you'd like, as long as you can easily find your ability ratings. :)
Okay, this is just a quick basic concept of the core idea of your character. You may want to look at the example occupation or clan keyword descriptions for inspiration. One good approach is to start with a noun representing your occupation or area of expertise and then add some adjective to it distinguishing your character from other thanes, or other farmers, or whatever. Here are some examples:
You don't have to stick with that format, though, if you've got a different idea. Whatever you come up with, write it at the top of your character doc.
A good chunk of your character's abilities are going to come in the form of keywords, which are umbrella abilities that cover a broad area of expertise or capabilities. You'll get to use the keyword as an ability for anything that reasonably fits under its scope: your clan keyword, for example, would cover all the various things that everybody learns growing up in your clan.
Each keyword, and non-keyword abilities as well, will have a numerical rating from 1 to 20 with higher being better, sometimes with one or more masteries that let the system scale up past 20. Those are marked with , the Mastery Rune, or you can just use a W or M since they're easier to type and say. For example, rather than 21, an ability would be rated at 21; rather than 45, 52.
Your characters are all going to start with two keywords (and three Runes, which also act like keywords): the clan keyword and the occupational keyword.
For this campaign, you get a clan keyword called Member of the whatever Clan with whatever replaced by whatever we decided to call the clan. It starts at 13. Write "Member of the whatever Clan 13" somewhere on your sheet.
Basically it covers all the basic knowledge and skills everybody in your clan picks up, speaking Sartarite, knowing the basic myths of the Orlanthi pantheon, fighting with weapons or fists, including in the fyrd militia, relating to your clan, etc.
Here's the description of the clan keyword for Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes:
You are a member of one of the roughly 200 clans that make up the kingdom of Sartar. Your clan is the focus of your life; it forms your kin, your family; in short, it is your community. You can always turn to your clan for help. They would die to defend you and you would die to defend them. You are marked with the tattoos of your clan and of your gods.
You are independent and proud; your honor is vital and you respond with violence if provoked. You know how to fight with weapons or with your fists, with the fyrd or in close combat using your spear and shield.
Life in Dragon Pass is hard and much of the land is wilderness. You have to know how to find shelter from the storms, make a fire in a howling gale, and trap small game, all just to stay alive. Winters can be bitterly cold, especially in the mountains and high hills, and during the cold, you walk in snowshoes, or skate along the frozen rivers to move about. Your folk are farmers and herders; you know how to herd livestock and have worked in the fields since you were a child.
You worship the Orlanthi gods and your initiation into that religion made you an adult member of your clan. Orlanth is king of the gods, and his wife Ernalda the source of life. You know their myths and stories, and you have experienced many of them in the holy day ceremonies at your temple. You speak Sartarite (a dialect of the ancient tongue spoken by humans since the Gods War). You are familiar with the customs and traditions of the Sartarite people; at least enough to avoid being killed by unintentionally offending or insulting other clanspeople.
Your clan has enemies who you hate, allies who you trust, and bonds of friendship with elder peoples. Most likely, you hold these same prejudices. If you do not, your kin may distrust you! Your clan is better than all the others, and your people have skills of survival and making that you have inherited. Your clan has secrets that make you better than other people. As a member of the clan, your hero knows these secrets; they are part of them. Your hero would never tell anyone these secrets, although they might say, “That is just the way my clan is.” They probably never even think about it, but rather know that it is just a part of them, like seeing and running. Your clan profile tells you what makes people from your clan different.
For Durulz (Duck) characters, your clan keyword will include your duck-ness as well, so it'll instead be either something like "Member of the blabla clan of the Durulz" or, if you're part of the human PC's clan, "Duck member of the whatever clan". Here's a description from HeroQuest: Glorantha of the ducks, although much of the cultural description of the other Sartarite clans above does still apply:
These small (around 3 feet tall and weighing some 75 pounds), feathered humanoids have the heads, bills and webbed feet of ducks. Their plumage comes in a wide variety of different colors. They reside mostly at Duck Point (in Sartar), around the Upland Marsh, and along the River of Cradles river valley. They are accounted one of the tribes of Sartar. The ducks were cursed by the gods during the Great Darkness for not joining with them to fight versus the forces of Chaos. It is unknown whether they were originally human and became feathered and web-footed, or originally ducks cursed with flightlessness and intelligence. For arcane reasons, they tend to join certain Air or Death Rune Cults as other cults have a tendency to treat them with distrust. They are excellent swimmers, though they cannot fly, having arms instead of wings. Most metal armor is too heavy for them. Duck fight with slings and short swords suited to their small size. They are expert sailors of small river craft, including reed boats.
Occupational keywords are more flexible. Chances are this one is somewhat implied by your character concept. There's a list of examples, although you can adjust the name to be more specific (which might get you a bonus sometimes when the specificity is specifically relevant), or you can potentially do something else entirely, though in that case run it by the GM.
Your occupational keyword starts at 17, so add its name and rating to your character sheet.
There's a fair number of examples, so I've got them on a separate page. As noted there, some of the occupations have notes about gendered divisions of labor in e.g. farming, which is broadly accurate for men and woman, but doesn't speak to other genders since they're more variable.
Runes are also going to be keywords. They more than anything so far define your character as a person. They're going to shape your personality, your temperament, your very soul. They're also going to be the root of any magic that you do and will be relevant to any cults you're involved with. You're going to have three Rune keywords. In truth, every person has ties to almost every Rune, but these are going to just be the ones that are most dominant in you. Sometimes you might even have to overcome them with your other abilities to act contrary to them.
You may wish to look at the cult appendix to help choosing your runes based on your desired cult.
Your culture believes that people have five souls, one for each of the five elemental Runes, but one of them is dominant. When you die, your souls will separate and the dominant one will go on to join your gods. They also tend to have implications for your personality.
These are the five elemental Runes and their associations, pick one but don't assign a rating yet.
It's also possible in HQ:G to have the Moon Rune as your Elemental Rune, but Orlanthi don't believe it to be an element and it's associated with the Lunar Empire so it's not ideal to have strong ties to in any but the most pro-Lunar clans. Probably don't worry about this unless you did some reading about the setting and have a clear idea of what the deal with it is already.
The Power Runes come in four opposed pairs, and your culture sees them as being present in people as the Eight Temperaments. Pick one of them to have a strong affinity with. As with the Elemental Rune, we'll assign the rating in a bit. You will not be able to choose the opposite Rune to the one you choose now as your third Rune.
You get to have one more Rune as a keyword. This third Rune is not as restricted. It can be any Rune, except for Elemental Runes and the Power Rune opposed to the one you picked above. Here are a few examples, but ask if you have other ideas or want to know if there's a Rune for something already.
Now that you've picked your Runes, you can assign ratings of 1 to one, 17 to another, and 13 to the last. Write down your Runes and their ratings on your character sheet.
Write down your distinguishing characteristic as an ability, either at 17 or at +1 if it's a breakout ability from a keyword.
Now you get to choose five additional abilities. These can either be independent abilities or "breakout abilities" that are specializations within a keyword. Independent abilities start at 13, breakout abilities at a +1 relative to the keyword. On your character sheet, you'll list breakout abilities under their keywords with their rating as a +whatever relative to the keyword, and do the adding when you actually use it.
If you already have some ideas, you can go ahead and write down however many of the five you've already figured out. You can save the rest to define during play. If you've got any leftover additional abilities, add a note near the top of your character sheet saying how many you have left and remember to update it when you add them later.
An ability is basically just anything you'll be able to use to solve problems or overcome obstacles during play. Some common kinds of abilities include:
There are some special rules concerning some sorts of relationships, so I'll go into a bit more detail about those now.
The two major categories of characters you might have a relationship with are independent supporting characters under the GM's control, and followers who accompany your character regularly and are mostly under your control.
With supporting characters, generally, when you use your relationship with them as an ability, you're doing a simple contest where if you're victorious they will successfully help you solve whatever the problem is. Consequences of defeat might potentially end up as harm to the supporting character or as harm to your relationship with them. You usually won't be able to use your relationship ability in situations where you can't communicate with the character.
Supporting characters you have a relationship will often have expectations of you as well: an ally of a similar level of accomplishment and status might expect a favor later in return for the ones they do for you; a higher-status patron might ask you to perform tasks for them, and you might face a higher or lower difficulty when using the relationship ability based on what you've done for them lately; a specialist contact is likely to expect information or small favors in trade and unlikely to stick their neck out for you.
Followers are more closely tied to you and are largely under your control. They might also be a spirit, an aware magical item, or a well-trained animal rather than a person. They're further divided into two categories: companions and retainers.
Companions are specific secondary characters under your control with their own abilities. They start with three abilities, one rated at 17 and two at 13. These abilities may be keywords and at least one should indicate something about their personality. You also get to allocate 15 additional points between the abilities, spending no more than 10 on any one of them. You can improve their abilities later with Hero Points just like your own. They may potentially be killed or leave your service permanently as a consequence of defeat. If you lose them, you can replace them with a new companion without spending a Hero Point, but you'll need an explanation for how the new companion became your follower.
Retainers are more or less anonymous servants or helpers, who may be a single character or, if appropriate, a larger staff. If you treat them unusually poorly, the difficulty ratings for using them might be higher. Combat-oriented retainers such as bodyguards are likely to provide augments to your own abilities rather than participating more directly in contests.
Now you get 12 points you can use to increase your abilities. You can spend at most 10 of them on any one ability, but otherwise use them as you like, spending them one-for-one to increase any ability's rating, including keywords.
You can save some of them, just like with your additional abilities, but after we start playing, increasing Runes and keywords will cost 2 points to increase the rating by 1, so you might want to go ahead and bump those up now if you're going to do so. Write down however many points you have left somewhere near the top of your character sheet.
You can have up to 3 flaws. They're things that define your character not by how they help you solve problems but how they cause problems or interfere with you solving problems. Some common kinds of flaws include troublesome personality traits, physical impairments, social problems, and magical curses. The way they will show up in gameplay is either by providing a penalty to your rolls or by producing an obstacle that you'll have to roll against with one of your abilities if you want to overcome the flaw.
Your first flaw has the same rating as your highest ability, your second the same rating as your second-highest ability, and your third the same rating as your lowest ability. Some keywords also include flaws, which don't count against the three-flaw limit. Flaws past the third still have the same rating as your lowest ability.
A flaw will never be helpful in a contest during play. There is literally no mechanical advantage to having a flaw. But sometimes it can be good for defining your character anyway.
Many Orlanthi names combine prefixes and suffixes as per below; the prefixes and suffixes usually relate to the names of gods or ancestors. Use them to create your name or pick a finished name from the lists. Orlanthi identify themselves by the name of a well-known parent (e.g. Vasana Farnan's Daughter). Names often alliterate (start with the same sound) or share a prefixes or suffix from parent to child (Eringulf son of Brolarulf, Harmast son of Hardrinor, Saronil son of Sartar) or from sibling to sibling (Orgar and Orstandel, Fingmanar and Finganvar).
There are lists for men and women; the way I'm choosing to interpret that is that naming is more variable among the other genders recognized by Orlanthi societies. A vingan or a nandan might have a masculine-sounding name or a feminine-sounding one. A helering might have either or might well have more than one name that they use at different times or in different contexts.
Write down your name at the top of your sheet once you decide on it.
Prefixes: Andrin, Andror, Avent, Bar(n), Ber(es/ en), Bro, Dar, Der, Des(tor), Din, Enjos, Erin, Fin, Gar(in), Hantra, Har(an), Hed(kor), Hend, Jar(star), Kor(l), Korol, Kul, Lon(d), O(r), Orl, Orst, Orvan, Rasta, Ros, Sar(o), Sen(ren), (S)tark, V(a/e)n, Varan.
Suffixes: ‐alor. ‐(al)des, ‐and, ‐angian, ‐arl, ‐aventus, ‐brast, ‐dath, ‐daral, ‐dovar, ‐drinor, ‐dros, ‐durev, ‐en, ‐estan, ‐fin, ‐gandi, ‐ganvar, ‐gor, ‐gradus, ‐harl, ‐kar, ‐kos, ‐(l/v)anth, ‐lakar, ‐larant, ‐(l)or, ‐makt, ‐manar, ‐(m)arl, ‐mast, ‐niskis, ‐onil, ‐orth, ‐rik, ‐rolar, ‐serian, ‐staval, ‐tand, ‐tar, ‐(g/l)ulf, ‐veste, ‐venos, ‐vil.
It is common for men to take the name of gods or heroes (Barntar, Durev, Elmal, Harmast, Hendrik, Heort, Orlanth, Silkinister, etc), great kings (Hofstaring, Saronil, Tarkalor) or of ancestors (Garan, Korlmar, Ulanin, Straval, etc) as a prefix or suffix.
Male Names: Andrin, Argrath, Aslandar, Ashart, Broyan, Dorasor, Farnan, Harmast, Gringle, Jarstakos, Kalf, Maniski, Ortossi, Robasart, Saronil, Sarotar, Tarkalor, Venharl.
Prefixes: A(r), Dara, Ent, Erin, Ernal(da), Esra, Esrol, Har, Ivarn, Jareen, Jarnarn, Jen, Kall, Ken, Leika, Lon(d), Mern, Natal, Ondur, Onel, Oran, Sen(ren), Yan, Yerest.
Suffixes: ‐a, ‐ala, ‐ale, ‐arios, ‐(er)landa, ‐(d)essa, ‐(d)estra, ‐(d)inna, ‐(d)rella, ‐(d)urisa, ‐(i/y)r, ‐ran(d)a, ‐renava, ‐sin, ‐sulva, ‐vale
It is common for women to take the name of goddesses or heroes (Ernalda, Ivarne, Kev, Uralda, Voria, etc) or of ancestors (Orgorvale, Serias, Vestene, etc) as a prefix or suffix.
Names: Beneva, Berra, Dorasa, Dushi, Erissa, Erynn, Insterid, Ivarne, Jareen, Kallyr, Leika, Lismelder, Morganeth, Onelisen, Sora, Yanioth.
It is common for Heortlings to have nicknames too. Some nicknames are poetic, others are prosaic. Some are badges of honor, others of mockery and ridicule. A nickname should reflect an ability or a past event that you choose for your player character. A Distinguishing Characteristic is a good source of a nickname and should be put on your character sheet.
Examples: Bald, Barefoot, Belly-Laugh, Dour, Glum, Greybeard, Handsome, Hairy, Long-nose, Lucky, Many-Kin, Red, Raven-Tresses, Restless, Short, Strong, Sure-handed, Swift, Swimmer, Tall, Troublesome Poet, Unadvised, Ugly, Wideread.
Canonical sources don't describe durulz naming conventions, so I'm relying on this fan-written material and the accompanying list of example bloodline names.
The short version is, newborn ducks are given a hatching name, and then receive a family name from whichever parent they most resemble when two or three years old. Some will also accrue a personal nickname over time.
Hatching names are highly variable, feel free to go for real-world names, Sartarite names as described above, or something a bit sillier like "Quackjohn". Many durulz treat hatching names as a fairly intimate and informal manner of address, to be used mostly by family or close friends; strangers using their hatching name would be perceived as rude and presumptive.
Family names, much like European surnames, originated as individual descriptive nicknames. Nowadays they are inherited. They are usually physically descriptive. There is a great diversity in physical features among the durulz, and usually a child will resemble one of the other of their parents more than the other in their namesake traits and will be given that parent's family name. Double-barrelled names are occasionally used when it is especially difficult to decide. It's neither uncommon nor at all rude to refer to a duck by their family name alone.
Nicknames for individuals are also common; they are usually descriptive, although as likely to describe the duck's deeds or occupation as their appearance. Most of the less physiologically-based family names originated as cadet branches of an older bloodlines, inheriting the nicknames of their founders as family names.
If you've got any other details or notes you feel like including about your character, feel free to note them down somewhere. Feel free to format the sheet as you will. It's your sheet, make it however you like and think will be useful!
Add a spot to keep track of how many Hero Points you have. And then one last thing you should include near the top is a space to keep track of lingering benefits and consequences of defeat. These are basically bonuses and penalties you might get that'll stick around for a while as a result of winning or losing contests.
You can look at the cult sections of the source books for a more detailed look at these cults, but as a quick summary of prominent Orlanthi cults here with page numbers for the full writeups (S:KoH refers to Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, SC refers to the Sartar Companion and HQG points to the HeroQuest: Glorantha core rulebook, page numbers are according to the numbers on the page, might be off-by-one from the PDF numbering).