The classic character creation sequence, where the Gypsy gives the player a quiz of the Eight Virtues to determine starting Profession is featured in later Ultimas. It originally appeared in Ultima IV, where she used tarot cards and an abacus to show whether a given virtue was eliminated (black stone) or retained (white stone).
In Ultima V, the Avatar claimed to remember this, but this time the symbols of virtue were shown in strange mist rising from bowls (although the questions are still the same). This changed further in Ultima VI, where the gypsy mixed a potion with 8 smaller potions colored after the virtues. These technicalities aside, the creation is always the same mechanism.
The creation of the character happens in an elimination-system that goes as follows: The gypsy asks seven questions in total. The first four have all eight of the virtues in them. Four of these virtues are now eliminated, and the remaining virtues again compete against each other in the second round. The two virtues then left, go to the final question, where the favored virtue is determined.
The most important thing to know is that the final virtue chosen is not the only important one. Each virtue that survives a round contributes to the stats of the character, meaning that careful selection of the virtues, which in the end still can be eliminated, can shape the character accordingly. In the picture example, Honor is chosen as primary virtue. However, not only the three choices of Honor contribute to the stats, but also the choices of Honesty, Justice and Spirituality.
Here how each virtue contributes to the stats each time it is chosen:
- Honesty: +3 INT.
- Compassion: +3 DEX.
- Valor: +3 STR.
- Justice: +1 DEX and +1 INT.
- Sacrifice: +1 STR and +1 DEX.
- Honor: +1 STR and +1 INT.
- Spirituality: +1 STR, +1 DEX and +1 INT.
- Humility: Contributes no stats at all.
This tells us several things. Those aiming to maximize their beginning stats will want to avoid choosing Humility, as it gives no bonuses at all. The virtues of Justice, Sacrifice and Honor also have proportionally smaller stat bonuses than those of Honesty, Compassion, Valor and Spirituality. However, those simply answering the questions as intended -- to create a character with virtues as close to the player's own moral leanings as possible -- shouldn't worry too much about these choices.
In two of the main Ultima games, there exist deviations, where something extra is also determined with the final virtue chosen.
In Ultima IV, the final virtue chosen determines the player's character class, while from Ultima V onwards, the player is the Avatar. This has a very serious impact on the game, since numerous things are determined together with the final choice:
- Starting location
- Starting equipment
- Which of the Companions cannot join
- Magical ability
- Forbidden weapons and armour
Ultima IXUltima IX is very different from other installments in the series. While the question system is the same, only the final choice of virtue determines the stats of the Avatar. Also, the system has totally changed and stats are divided in 4 levels (1-4), starting with each stat at 1. Also, Karma -- which is analogous to mana in Ascension -- is given in the process and the starting equipment is determined.
As a rule of thumb, each class gets two stat-level raises (of the same or of different stats) and one karma raise of five points. The exceptions are the ranger, who gets one level for each stat but no karma, and the shepherd, who gets no stat-levels but a hefty +15 karma bonus
Note that this means that a shepherd can never maximise his stats, since stats are only raised 8 times, and there are 9 possible levels.
Worlds of Ultima Games
As these two installments do not take place in the standard Ultima universe, they do not concern themselves with the main character's standing in the eight virtues. Instead, each game presents its own unique method of determining the player's statistics:
At the beginning of Savage Empire, Intanya asks the Avatar a series of questions (beginning with the hero's chosen name), which closely resemble those given by the Gypsy in the character creation sequence of the mainline Ultima installments. These questions determine the player's starting attributes in a similar manner.