Rarely do people enjoy playing a character whose abilities are all mediocre. The following advice is meant to give an idea of how to avoid the worst pitfalls of character creation in the Fading Suns mechanics.
Pick only a small number of skills (maybe a half dozen) and put a lot of points into them (5+ each, with *at*least* one or two getting the full 8 points). Don't neglect natural skills!
Put points in observe.
Put points in a combat skill (fight/melee/shoot). Shoot is probably the most useful unless you are making a combat oriented character.
If you aren't gonna put at least 3 points into a given (learned) skill, don't even bother with it at all (with the obvious exceptions of language skills and spacesuit!)
Check which trait the skill gets paired with and put points into that as well. It's no good having a 5 in tech redemption if your tech rating is 3. Try to make sure all your goals are at least 10 or 11, with at least one or two that are 15 or 16.
Skills commonly used in the campaigns I've played in: Academia, Beast Lore, Drive (beast, land, space), Focus, Inquiry, Knavery, Lore: Peoples and Places Seen, Physick, Remedy, Science: Terraforming, Science: Think Machine, Stoic Body, Stoic Mind, Streetwise, Survival, Tech Redemption (Mech, Volt, High-Tech), Think Machine.
Another author considers the list of "most crucial" skills to be: all the 'natural' or adventuring skills (the ones you start with three dots in), plus: Academia, Survival, Inquiry, Remedy, Physick, Ettiquette, Streetwise, Search, Knavery, Empathy, and Tech Redemption. (The difference between this list and the above is: less emphasis on Beast Lore, Drive, Lore, Focus, Terraforming, Science (Think Machine), Stoic Mind & Body, and Think Machine, and more emphasis on the 'nataural' skills, Ettiquette, Search, and Empathy.)
The majority of rolls to use skills will be based on Wits (~33%) or Dexterity (~27%). Having all eight points in one or both is a very good idea. Putting no points in either is sure to disappoint.
In particular, if your character has a lot of points in Survival, Inquiry, Ettiquette, Streetwise, Remedy, Physick, Bureaucracy, Lore, Tactics, or Academia, and if you want to be good at these, you should max out your Wits rating.
If your character has a lot of points in combat skills (which many will and should), Sleight of Hand, Sneak, Lockpicking, Vigor, or Drive, a maxed out Dex rating is indispensible.
Next most important is Perception (~13%). Especially if your character relies on Observe, Search, Empathy, Tracking, Xenoempathy, or Disguise, you'll want points in Perception.
If your character has significant points in Knavery, Acting, Leadership, Performance, or Impress, this characteristic is crucial. But it is less frequently applicable (~9% of rolls) than it might seem at first glance seem.
If your character works a lot with technology, naturally you'll want a high Tech stat. As a specialization, it's worthwhile, but recognize that it (at ~6% of rolls) is not as broadly applicable as things like Dex, Wits, Perception, and Extrovert. It also determines what level of technology you can "code" and invent. Which might be something that interests you.
If you want to be a creative artist/writer/etc, and/or a deeply meditative sort, consider a few points in Introvert (~4% of rolls). But bear in mind your Introvert + Extrovert cannot exceed 10... so that you have to choose anyway between being a great artist and a great performer. If you just have to be a deeply meditative, profound, creative artist type, you'll need a good Introvert score. Otherwise, skip it.
Faith/Ego & Calm/Passion?Edit
Passion, Calm, Faith, and Ego, are difficult traits in the Fading suns system. Few of them have any application in practical skills. One of them will determine how many "wyrd" points you have to spend, however, and that can matter, whether you're an Occultist or not. If you are-- psychics start with wyrd equal to their Ego. Theurges start with wyrd equal to their faith. Everyone else starts with Wyrd equal to whichever is primary: Passion or Calm.
A few minor uses of these stats do crop up, however: Passion + Charm is your roll to seduce, and Passion + Oratory is your normal roll to give a moving speech. Calm + Stoic Mind & Body is the roll for Stoic Mind/Body, so Calm can have application here. And finally, Faith + Alchemy is the alchemy roll, so if you intend to be a brilliant non-theurgical alchemist, you'll still need Faith.
Aside from the above, these four stats have very little use. You still have to make two of them primary, of course. If you're a non-occultist, consider a couple points in your primary Passion/Calm. If you ARE an occultist, put several points in your primary: Faith/Ego.
Strength & EnduranceEdit
These two stats are taken for reasons much different from the other 10. They have a lot of bearing on how hard you hit and can be hit, in a fight, as well as other things like how heavy are the things you can lift, how resistant you are to disease & conditions, etc. It's not easy to make a decision about balancing points into these two stats alongside the other 10, so they're often treated either as an afterthought, or in the case of fully battle-oriented characters, as mandatory.
If you are taking occult powers, select those skills that go along with the powers. That is, choose your occult powers first and then your skills second based on your choosen powers. Look at what sort of skills and traits you'll need for new powers later on as you increase your psi or theurge rating, and put points into those skills as well. Don't wait until after you gain that ultra-cool new mega power of doom to discover you only have a goal of 3 with it...
If you do go occult, it is better to go "all the way". Take 5 or 6 levels worth of occult powers to start rather than 2 or 3. You'll be much happier with the result. If you are willing to spend ALL of your extra points on occult, you can take your primary path up to level five and a secondary path up to level four. Alternately, take your primary up to level six!
You can use any or all of the 40 'extra' points for benefices; you aren't just limited to the 10 benefice points from the benefice step.
Don't forget to save at least 3 points for a rank!
Use benefice or extra points to get lots of money. I consider 2000 starting firebirds to be minimum (7 points cash or 11 assets). Energy shields alone start at 500FB! And you wouldn't even THINK of going out without an energy shield, would you? And even a lowly revolver can run you a few hundred. You can easily spend 1000+ firebirds on just armor and weapons alone, and you haven't even started on the gear.
And don't forget to retain some firebirds as cash! You'll probably want to save a minimum of 10 FB, and possibly much more depending on your affiliation, social status and starting location.
Pay attention to the armor/energy shield interaction. The standard energy shield doesn't work with most types of armor! (though it does with polymer knit (kevlar) and synthsilk...)
Energy Shield/Polymer Knit/Medium Autofeed Pistol+10 clips = 980FB! This should be considered minimum for most guilders. Engineers may subsitute a laser pistol instead (1000 + cost of fusion cels).
Muster characters will probably want an actual rifle instead of a pistol - 260FB for an imperial rifle w/10 magazines (weak - no autofire), 410FB for a SMG w/10 magazines (recommended - has autofire!), 1040FB for the mighty assault rifle w/10 magazines! (fantastic if you can afford it). That's 760/1110/1740FB if you include the shield and kevlar.
For the noble types, a dueling shield + rapier is over 700FB. A light revolver (also for dueling) is 100 + cost of ammo. You're looking at 820+ for a noble on just weapons and armor alone.
Priests can probably get by on less, but if you're playing a healer type priest, a good med kit is expensive too! A med pac with elixir plus a surgery kit will run you 270. An expedition medpac adds an additional 80 firebirds. And the nanotech medpac is a whopping 1000! (Ask your GM first before you buy one.) Add a shield (500FB) on top of that and you're still running up a sizeable bill!
Handy reference of prices for common adventuring gear: Basic Gear Bundle Pack: Knife 2 FB Backpack 4 talons Blanket 6 talons Flint and Steel 3 talons 20 Candles 20 talons Lantern 5 talons Sewing Kit 3 talons Electronic Wristwatch, waterproof 7 talons Grappling Hook 2 Hawksaw 1 Hammer 1 50' silk rope 2 --------- 14 FB -------------------- Bundle Pack for the low-income: Fusion Torch (TL5) 25 FB MedPac 20 Wrist Squawker (TL5) 80 2 Fusion Cels 20 ------ 145 FB -------------------- Bundle Pack for the middle-income: Grenade 50 FB Fusion Torch (TL6) 30 MedPac w/5 doses Elixir 70 Whisper Pin (TL5) 100 5 Fusion Cels 50 ------ 300 FB -------------------- Bundle Pack for the wealthy: 2 Wire Grenades 160 FB Fusion Torch (TL8) 40 Expedition MedPac w/5 doses Elixir 150 Whisper Pin (TL5) 100 Wrist Squawker (TL5) 80 10 Fusion Cels 100 Low Light Goggles 50 ------ 680 FB -------------------- Specials: Mech Tools 5 Volt Tools 7 Hi Tech Tools 5-10 per piece (as a GM, I'd say 8-10 pieces are required to avoid penalties on hi tech redemption rolls, but ask your GM for his ruling on this. Be prepared to spend on the order of 50-100FB total for a full tool kit!) Forgery Kit - TL2/4/7 30/300/3000 Makeup Kit (TL4) 5+ Plasma Grenade 100 Rad Baffler Grenade 200 Demolition Rig 200 Nanotech MedPac 1000 Radiation Serum 300 per does Vorox Poison 20 per dose Plox Blade Venom 25 per dose Grixi Poison 50 per dose Vorox Killer 200 per dose Starlight LRCD (TL5) 300 Scrambler Pad (TL6) 100 Muster Chains 300 Wet Jacket 600 Thermasilk 500 -------------------- Weapons: Light Revolver 100 110.8 w/60 slugs (10 loads) 10.8 Medium Revolver 200 218 w/60 slugs (10 loads) 18 Heavy Revolver 250 304 w/60 slugs (10 loads) 54 Light Autofeed Pistol 150 173.4 w/130 slugs (10 magazines) 23.4 Medium Autofeed Pistol 250 280 w/100 slugs (10 magazines) 30 Heavy Autofeed Pistol 300 372 w/80 slugs (10 magazines) 72 Assault Rifle 500 1040 w/300 slugs (10 clips) 540 Imperial Rifle 200 260 w/200 slugs (10 clips) 60 Shotgun 300 331.5 w/70 rounds (10 loads) 31.5 Shotgun 300 363 w/70 slugs (10 loads) 63 SMG 350 410 w/200 slugs (10 clips) 60 Sniper Rifle 700 835 w/50 slugs (10 clips) 135 Hand Crossbow 7 29.5 w/30 bolts 22.5 Medium Crossbow 10 25 w/30 bolts 15 Heavy Crossbow 15 30 w/30 bolts 15 Hunting Bow 5 10 w/20 arrows 5 Long Bow 10 15 w/20 arrows 5 Light Machinegun 750 1650 w/500 slugs (10 clips) 900 Rocketeer 400 625 w/10 rockets 225 Grenade Launcher 500 1085 w/10 grenades 585 Missile Launcher 800 1700 w/10 missiles 900