Thursday, March 22, 2018

Character Creation: Cartel (Ashcan)

I'm cooking oxtails tonight, which is groovy, but they take a while and I got a late start, so I'ma make a quick character while they get tender.

The Game: Cartel (Ashcan version)
The Publisher: Magpie Games
Degree of Familiarity: I played it this past weekend at Breakout, and I'm pretty familiar with the PbtA system in general.
Books Required: Just the one.

Cartel, now Kickstarting and crushing it, as the kids say, is a Powered by the Apocalypse game of "Mexican Narcofiction."

This is a somewhat controversial decision - the author, Mark Diaz Truman, is of Mexican-American descent, but he's caught some flak for making this explicitly Mexican RPG about the drug cartels. And, like, fair enough - that's a controversial decision. Likewise, playing this game with a table full of white dudes (or at least, non-Mexican folks, which is what happened when I played at Breakout - several POC but no Hispanic or Latin folks, to my knowledge) runs afoul of questions of appropriately and sensitively portraying someone not of your own race. Put a different way, I have been playing horror games set in urban environments for a long, long time, and I've seen way too many folks put on a Speedy Gonzalez accent to play a Mexican "gangster" when they wouldn't ever dare try and speak AAVE to portray a black one. Also, there comes a question of glorification - when is it appropriate, if ever, to take a real situation in which people are suffering and dying and make entertainment of it?

I do not have answers to these questions. I am white as fuck, anyway, so I'm really not the one to be answering them anyway. I do have some experience with putting out difficult subject matter and saying "here, roleplay this," but who knows how successful that's been (and it's about very different topics anyway).

But my general opinion is that games like this have a place, and PbtA is a good place for them, because those games are explicitly about a conversation. This subject matter is hard, yes, but that's not a reason to avoid it. It just means that safety mechanics, and focusing in on what the game is really about (to wit: it's violent, but it's not about violence in the way that, say, D&D is) are important.

With all of that in mind, I should make a fucking character and stop jabbering. I downloaded the Quickstart to get the awesome artwork on the playbooks, and now I gotta pick one.

Hmm. I played El Cocinero at Breakout, and that was OK (really, there were some issues with that game, but I think it was mostly down to the environment and the nature of one-shots and players who aren't familiar with PbtA). I think this time I would like El Halcón.

El halcón (the hawk) is the errand runner and guy who does stuff out on the street. I think I want to play a character not unlike Henry Hill at the beginning of Goodfellas (I know, wrong organized crime group, but bear with me) - he fell into service at a young age and he's really not old enough to understand the weight of his actions. I'm gonna name him Toño.

For his look, I pick tired eyes and street clothes. He's got a destitute lifestyle (for now!).

For stats, I'll add my extra one to Hustle. That puts me over to llaves (keys). I'll take Ambition (I mark XP when I get someone to give me a job that was supposed to go to someone else) and Naiveté (I mark XP when I enter a dangerous situation unprepared).

I can't really do los enlaces because that would require a group, so I'll skip it.

Moves: I get Hermano (I lead my little gang) and then two more. I'll take Vendedor (I can mark stress to make someone pick a different option in making a deal if they pick one I don't like) and Matador (I can fill my stress track to kill a motherfucker). Clever readers will notice this gives me multiple ways to fill my stress track, which will reward the kind of roleplaying I enjoy (better to burn out than fade away!).

Tu Pandilla: I have three loyal buddies that came up with me on the streets. They're named Azul, Nacho, and Lola. Of those three: Nacho is always ready to cheer me up when shit goes down, Azul is a dick but I don't seem to be able to get rid of him, and Lola is always ready to kick ass when need be.

I get two features for mi pandilla. Oh, this is easy. We're down to fight and we're down to party. I can roll on Hustle to get lost in a substance or to rough someone up if we all do it together. Shit, yeah.

But then I get two vulnerabilities. Well, addiction, obviously. And then I think I'll take turf war. That sounds like it falls in line with Toño's general vibe.

OK, then. Toño is tall, slim, and dirty, but he hates being dirty. It's just that water is expensive and he had a lot of brothers and sisters, and he never got to wash up as much as he wanted. As soon as he makes it, man, he's getting a house in that new section of town they're building, and he's getting one big-ass shower put in.

And that'll do it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Promethean: Day Two in the Parp

It's "parp" now. It'll always be parp.

Last time, the throng got stuck at the parp while Enoch worked on the RV's engine. The rest of the throng collectively discovered that something that local spirits called the "All-Bane" had followed them there, and so they were understandably concerned about that bit. They went to Enoch to include him in the conversation (now that his player was back), and Grimm took him to see the weird-ass tree with the swiped-off Pilgrim Mark. Enoch studied and noted that it contained Flux and Pyros in almost equal measure, but zeroing in on either was impossible - the signature seemed to shift. It wasn't the work of a Centimanus (which Enoch would have recognized). Maybe a mage?

The Prometheans regrouped and talked a bit about it, and about their next moves. They made the connected between the mysterious "All-Bane" and Rock, the weird not-human guy that Enoch had spoken to some time back in the hotel. Matt figured that the guy he'd seen running through the woods might be Rock, but he hadn't gotten a good look.

They realized that Virgil was not among them, but they could feel him - he was just a little ways off. Matt followed him into the woods and found Virgil standing by a creek staring into the water, but there was a second set of footprints next to him. Matt asked about it, but Virgil was standoffish and reticent, and said he needed to be alone for a bit. Matt accepted this, but then dampened his Azoth and followed at a distance. He saw Virgil talking to a man sitting on a fallen tree, and the man encouraged Virgil to leave the throng behind. "They're much farther ahead than you," said the man. When they were done talking, the man collapsed in on himself and vanished.

Matt talked to Virgil, and Virgil told him that he needed to split from the throng for a while. Matt told him he was always welcome back and to send up a flare if he needed them, and Virgil walked off. The others had felt Matt's fire dampen, and since there's a bad history with that, everyone except Avalon went off to find him. They found him, and Matt told them what had happened, but it didn't go well - Matt didn't mention the strange man he'd seen talking to Virgil and the others assumed that Matt had told Virgil that it was OK to leave, and while they understood the impetus to be alone, they were upset that Virgil hadn't said goodbye. Some harsh words were exchanged, Enoch socked Matt in the head so Avalon wouldn't have to, and the throng split up.

In the meanwhile, though, Avalon had been hanging around outside the RV. A young man walked up and asked to play with her cats, and then when he touched one, its fur poofed up - much like when Skip does it. Avalon talked to him, and he dropped some fairly cryptic hints, making her figure him to be a qashmal. He said he didn't have a name and wasn't likely to need one; he would be recycled when he was done with this little mission. She said it was important to have a name - maybe he'd remember it. He told her that she wasn't Deviant-ing very well, and she said she knew, but she was having a hard time figuring it out. He said that the laws of humans weren't really something she had a lot of familiarity or connection to, but Prometheans had their own "laws" (norms, really) and maybe transgressing against those was better? She'd been told to avoid Ollie, for instance, after that whole debacle. Avalon agreed and thanked him, calling him "Milo." Milo collapsed in upon himself and vanished, and Avalon called Ollie (she got his voicemail and left a message).

Feather got back to the RV and talked to Avalon, and told her what had happened with Virgil. They tearfully talked about their experiences with throng members leaving and coming back - Feather said she hadn't been sad about Skip flying off the mountain or the throng splitting for a time or Grimm going off alone or even her time by herself, but she was sad for Virgil because she didn't really believe he wanted to be alone. In the midst of this conversation, they felt Virgil break the throng-bond.

Skip, meantime, went over to the playground to give Avalon and Feather some space (he's not great with people or emotions) and wound up talking to a little boy with a video game...who almost immediately implied himself to be a qashmal. He asked Skip what he was going now, where he was going on his Pilgrimage next, and Skip said he was going to go out among people and try Aurum. The qashmal said that he was apparently ahead of the curve, then, and collapsed in upon himself and vanished.

Matt went walking angrily in the woods. He found a set of footprints - big ones, boots - and followed them kind of half-heartedly. He found someone (far too small to be the one leaving the prints) waiting for him, carving an angel into a tree. He watched for a minute, and then laughed, saying that this was perhaps a bit on the nose, and the man spoke to him ("Finally!"). The man had cat's eyes, and Matt guessed he was the cat from before, which the man confirmed - it became clear that the man (or qashmal?) couldn't offer information so much as confirm it. They talked and the man confirmed that the thing that had been talking to Virgil was the "All-Bane," not a qashmal - he had been the qashmal but had been disrupted, and now was in this form and limited in what he could do. He led Matt through some questions and conclusions, notably that he was different in some way than the others, and that difference might hold the key to figuring out how to beat the All-Bane. At one point he offered information and his hand burst into flame as he wept - offering information directly cost him. He reminded Matt that he hadn't told Virgil to leave - that had been the All-Bane. When they were finished talked, the qashmal burned, collapsing forward and burning to ash.

Matt walked on, following the footprints, and found a makeshift hut. Inside, he found Lurch (his Azoth also dampened). They talked momentarily, and Lurch told him that he'd followed the Refinement of Phosphorus after finding an Athanor teaching it, but had failed to understand it and was losing hope. Matt realized that although he'd looked up to Lurch - regarded him as a creator and kind of parent - Lurch was hurting, confused, and lost, and Matt was in a much better place. In that he found his projectio milestone (Confront Lurch), and brought him back to meet the throng.

Feather, meantime, we in the RV, feeding the cats, and found herself talking to a man in a yarmulke who called himself Isaac. Feather expressed distrust - she used Heed the Call to take his Measure and found that instead of a Pilgrimage, he had the opposite of that, just a cold, dark pit instead of any relation to humanity. Isaac asked if he gave her some help achieving a milestone if that would help her trust him, and she agreed (it was more than most qashmallim did). He told her to think about her experiences with faith and community and apply them.

The Prometheans regrouped, and decided to find Virgil and make sure he wanted to be alone. Grimm tracked him through the woods, and they found him in the cardboard recycling dumpster outside a local Popeye's. He agreed that he didn't really want to be apart, but the man - the All-Bane - had convinced him. The throng took him back, and they bought a bunch of food and beer and went back to the RV. Feather gave a toast and said a prayer (achieving a milestone: lead a Isaac's advice kinda panned out), and the throng ate, reunited. They offered Lurch to join, but he said he had some things to figure out. He wanted to talk to Grimm, for one, since Grimm had achieved a Role on Phosphorum.

More to come!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Blades in tha DAARRRRRKKKK

Look, I've had a shit week, I'm tired because I'm not sleeping well, I'm feeling better today so my brain is overcompensating and that means you get some silly shit sometimes. DARRRRRKKK.

Anydangway. Last time, the scoundrels robbed a church (or rather, the catacombs beneath said church). This time, they get the payout and deal with the fallout.

(We just did the downtime, because I was depressed and exhausted and one of the other players we sick, so it was a short session. I swear Blades is the new Wraith: Fun, innovative, but fucking cursed.)

The scoundrels head to Charterhall, except for Copper, who is in custody. They meet with Penderyn, who gives them a bunch of silver for their trouble, after exacting a promise from Cage never to break into his office again. They then head back to the lair to divvy up the loot and rest. Except, again, for Copper - the crew's Heat level has gotten a little too high again, so Copper does a month or so in Ironhook to cool things off. She gets off a lot better than Cage did; she makes friends with some of Ulf Ironbeard's crew inside and gets a claim (bribed guards).

The others go about their usual downtime things - training, indulging their vices, and suchlike. Cage works on finding Gargoyle, but isn't quite there yet. Once Copper gets out, they start talking about their next move, and they decide that this whole "Siren has a spirit-well in her head" is an issue. They head to the Veil and talk to Nyelle, their spirit trafficker contact.

After doing some shots of a lovely red liquid that makes them see pretty colors (remember this is One-Eye's hangout/drug den), Nyelle listens to the story and opines that having Kotar in one's head is potentially a problem - the legends about Kotar are inconsistent but they all agree that he's powerful. Siren mentions that she knows that spirit wells absorb spiritual energy and sometimes explode, disgorging demons, and that's not something she wants happening to her head. The crew decides they need to get an expert to look into this, but not someone motivated by faith (like the Circle of Flame, which is almost certainly already aware). Nyelle mentions the Dimmer Sisters, and says she can probably set up a meeting with Roslyn, their rep.

In the meanwhile, though, Copper mentions that she'd like to take a smuggling job - just to get back to what the crew is good at. Nyelle mentions that there's a shipment of Iruvian glass bottle coming into Gaddoc Station. These are effectively "virgin" spirit bottles; spirit bottles wear out after a while if they're used too much, and these are new ones. But the problems on the Void Sea are making imports in general, and that makes these bottles extra valuable. Nyelle points out where the shipment is coming in, and mentions that if the crew were to jack it before it reaches the station and gets split up, that's a bigger payout, but will be much harder. Wait until it's split up and jack a shipment on the canals, that's an easier (but smaller score).

The crew starts running it down, and we'll see what happens next time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Chill: Beware the Car

Sunday I ran the first session in a new case of my Idaho-based Chill game.

First thing: three of the players made new characters. Two of the players had already done this, both to have a more robust selection of characters and to give folks some backups in case something awful happens to one of the existing ones (which happens, y'know, it's Chill). So we wound up with:

  • Blake Wheeler, the animal control office from Couer d'Alene. that had his first rather graphic encounter with the Unknown here. He has now joined SAVE because Nothing is scary if you know what it is.
  • Annie Crawford: Annie showed up in the last case. She's Dee's lawyer, and has, in her capacity as a lawyer to a SAVE office, wound up seeing some Unknown activity. She joined SAVE because I'm not my father's daughter.
  • Luther Bryson is a former cop, current PI, and a friend of Edward's now-deceased son. He joined SAVE to Protect the innocent
So, on this particular day, Dee gets a call from Rosalita Clemmons, the cardiac nurse at St. Paul Hospital, saying a body was just brought into the morgue that seemed strange. The envoys can check it out, but they're on the clock. Dee calls up Luther (a former cop, remember), Blake, Willa (in case there's ghosts) and Jeanie (since the body was discovered in a rural area) and they head to the hospital. 

Blake, Willa, and Luther check the body while Dee stands guard, and discover that the man (Doug Fuller) was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. That's not the interesting bit, though. The interesting bit is that he's got hundreds of tiny wounds to his face and hands - he was pecked by a flock of good-sized birds. Blake notes that this is not normal animal behavior, and also that the man was alive when they started pecking him - crows are scavengers and they'll cheerfully eat a person's eats, but not while they're alive. Dee senses the Unknown and confirms it - this guy wasn't killed in a normal accident. 

The envoys head out to where his body was found, passing a logging operation. They find the site and investigate, realizing that Fuller rolled down a hill into a ditch by the side of the road. There's a gravel driveway leading up the hill, and the mailbox has been knocked down. It's got blood on it, but it's not the murder weapon - the wood has softened, indicating that it was knocked down some time ago. Dee and Jeanie, being local, recall that this property belongs to the Loomis family. Mrs. Loomis died of cancer some time back, but neither of them can recall hearing from Mr. Loomis recently. 

Doing a bit of mental math, the envoys realize that the Loomis land borders the logging operation on the east side. Figuring that Fuller might have something to offer, Willa has the others lock her in a big dog cage in Blake's truck and uses Voice of the Dead to summon him (she is now Master level at this discipline, meaning she witnesses the conversation). 

Fuller speaks through her, initially terrified of the birds. He tells them that he got lost - he was at the logging site getting a job, was walking back to his car, and went left instead of right. The envoys note this, and then ask what he remembers. He doesn't remember much (he's barely a ghost), but Willa notes that he saw a NO TRESPASSING sign, overgrown with weeds. They ask if he has any unfinished business - any pets to feed? "No," says Fuller. "My wife took the cat." 

Luther, Willa, and Jeanie head back over to the logging operation, while Dee and Blake stay put with Blake's truck. They find a fellow outside the managerial trailer with his arm in a sling, who directs them to the foreman (who's out on site). The foreman is willing to talk to them about Fuller, but doesn't know much - he hired Fuller the other day, Fuller had some experience doing work kinda like this before, seemed a decent enough guy, that's it. The envoys also ask about Loomis, the guy who lives on the property bordering the site. The foreman says that he knows of the guy - he used to come out to the fence surrounding his property and watch the loggers at work. No one ever really had any problem with that. 

The envoys also talk to the guy with his arm in a sling, who is able to recount that some months back, the foreman fired like five guys at once. He's not sure why; he wasn't working that day. 

Meanwhile, Dee and Blake start trudging up the hill. They see a house, and a garage, and in the lawn area in front of the house, a big tree with a tire swing and a firepit. They walk over to the garage and peek in - pickup truck, workbench, bookshelf, but it's too dark to really see anything. No lights on in either the garage or the house.

The others drive Jeanie's jeep up the driveway to meet them. Jeanie gets out and goes to talk to them as they cross in front of the jeep to walk to the house...and the jeep springs to life and lurches forward. Jeanie rolls, but gets clipped on the arm. Blake gets splayed across the hood and feels ribs break, and poor Dee gets nailed right on the hip (but twists to protect Sweet Baby Jesus, riding in her purse). Willa, sitting in back, tries to grab for the wheel but misses and face-plants onto the gearshift, knocking her head pretty good.

The envoys get out of the car and pick themselves up. The sun is setting, and a flock of crows is perched on the house, looking down on them. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Character Creation: Glimpse the Beyond

It's Saturday night and I'm ready to par-tay! And by "par-tay" I mean "make a character."

The Game: Glimpse the Beyond
The Publisher: Aegis Studios
Degree of Familiarity: None.
Books Required: Just the one.

I think I got this in a bundle, because I only have it in PDF. I also think there's a second edition now available, but that's not the one I have.

Anyway, Glimpse the Beyond is a game in which the world seems the same as ours, but there's magic(k) in it. I would be tempted to say that setup is cliche as hell, but really, I still find it compelling and I'm hardly the only one; there are dozens if not hundreds of games that have the same basic idea (including Chill, if you squint).

I am, however, not crazy about the artwork in this game.
An example.
But I'm not here to judge, I'm just here to make a character.

Character creation is basic point allocation; you get X points to divvy up into various areas, and then 10 "General Points" that can be spent anywhere but aren't necessarily one-for-one. Simple enough. Let's skip ahead and look at some of the world-building stuff so I have more of sense of the game than "like real, but magick."

(Ugh, the art does not improve. There's a sexy nurse.)

We've got list of madnesses, that's pretty 90s.

The magick system seems to indicate that when you do magick, you're building the spell and giving it flavor based on your Affinity, which is pretty cool. Magick is, by default, ritual, though you can fast-cast. And then there's another scantily clad fantasy Everquest cosplayer art piece (thought this was a modern-day game, so why are the women dressed like that? The occasional menfolk in the art aren't, BTW).

OK, then a chapter on supernatural creatures...and the book ends. That's it. Where's the setting? OK, so this is just Witchcraft or Mage with some questionable art? Righty-ho-ho.

Well, in some ways that makes me life easier. Let's just think about concept, then.

I've been listening to a lot of murderfolk lately - Amigo the Devil, Dead South, and suchlike. I think I shall use the following as a character song:

The lyrics are about love, violence, and death. The video does this neat thing where the setting jumps but the performers keep doing what they're doing, which seems pretty magic(k)al. Hmm.

The book says that I can learn magick however; study, freak occurrence, whatever. So we'll say that Miguel Baez learned magick through time loop. His future self came back and started him learning magick, and his present-self has learned that sometimes future-Miguel just pops out of nowhere and says "eh, Miguel, you need to study up on banishing spells" and present-Miguel has learned that shit, he'd better, because he's gonna need to banish something.

I like the idea that Miguel isn't supernaturally or magickally inclined (at least, he didn't think so), but he's got a job that makes him meticulous and detail-oriented. Not sure what yet.

I get 15 points for Statistics, and I've got six of them. Stats indicate how many d6s I'd roll, then I take the highest die and add the Skill I'm using. That makes sense, I think. Well, I picture Miguel as being sharp, quick, and a smooth talker, so I want a high Intellect, Charisma, and Grace. I'll put 3 in each of the those, and 2 in the other 3 (but I'm probably gonna raise some of these with general points, I think).

18 points in Skills; now I gotta think about what Miguel does. Let's say he's an electrician. Not an engineer or anything fancy like that, he's the guy you'd call when you've got a short and you need your box rewired (I, myself, have zero knowledge of electronics, so there'd be some hand-waving here). I'll arrange my Skills thusly:

Athletics 2
Close Combat 2
Computer 2
Drive 1
Electronics 4
Linguistics 2 (side note: I hate it when games make me spend points on languages)
Occult 3
Perception 2

That's 18, so I'm definitely gonna need some more points here.

And now I get 12 points for Resilience...things. Wounds, Critical Wounds, Sanity, Critical Sanity, and Resolve. These start equal to various values, but then I get points for them, but I can increase the values of the things they're based on with General Points, and I can increase these with General Points. This is kinda bad design, I think; rather, it's not bad, but it does require me to keep some plates spinning while I make a character.

Well, my basics are thus: Wounds starts at 2, Critical Wounds at 1, Sanity at 2, Critical Sanity at 1, and Resolve at 2. I get 12 points, and Wounds and Sanity cost 2 while the others cost 1. Or, wait. Check this out. We get this:
And then two pages later we get this:

That's like...those are opposites, right? Well, I'm gonna go with the first one. That means I'll put four each into Wounds and Sanity (raising them both by 2, taking them to 4, and therefore taking their Critical versions to 2), and putting two into Resolve (to 4) and one each into Critical Sanity and Wounds (to 3). Jesus.

OK, now we're over to General Points! (I gotta say, I'm not crazy about this game generally but at least this process is quick.) In addition to boosting the already-described traits, I can buy Merits Edges Advantages Boons with General Points, or take Drawbacks Disadvantages Hindrances Flaws to get some back. I think I shall.

Well, the pickings are pretty slim, but I'll take one level of Unlucky for 2 points, and I think I'll take a "Madness." I could get into why I don't think it's appropriate to list real mental illnesses and psychological disorders and then say "this happened because magic," but eh. I'm gonna take Insomnia as my "Madness", because I figure it'll be easy enough to play, and then hey, maybe Miguel can meet my character from Don't Rest Your Head.

So that gives me 15 General Points. Everything costs one-for-one, except Stats are 2-for-1. I want to look and see if any Boons jump out at me first.

OK, I'm gonna spend 4 points and buy Ally to represent my future self. Sounds good. Then I shall spend four points to raise Spirit to 3 and Will to 3 (which, in turns, ups my Sanity and Resolve by one, to 5). I have 7 points left. I'll buy Persuasion 2, Ritual Magick 2, and Stealth 1.

So, the only blank on my sheet is Affinity, which...seems pretty important. Let's see what I can find.

OK, it's not mentioned until the magick section, and it's basically just you pick whatever you want and if you can include it when you cast a spell, the GM can lower your difficulty. Well, that's nicely uncomplicated. Miguel's Affinity is Time.

Otherwise, let's just describe him a bit? Miguel is Mexican-American (first generation). He's a little on the heavy side, but he's in shape; he plays softball in the season. He's got black hair, brown eyes, and sleeve tattoos on both arms, but nothing above the collarbone (he promised his mom). Miguel has worked hard to lose his accent in English, or at least be able to - white people treat him differently if he talks like them. He's articulate and clever in both languages. He wears glasses to read, but hates them; he looks like his uncle Ricky when he wears them and Ricky is persona non grata in the family these days. Miguel has no idea how future-Miguel (who looks about 50, maybe?) got into magic or where the loop started, but he figures he'll find out.

And that's done! I have to say, I'm not terribly impressed with the game but I do like this character.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Promethean: A Day at the Parp

I'm a fan of Allie Brosh and Hyperbole & a Half in general, but this is one of my favorite of her stories because it highlights something I say to/about parents a lot: listen to your kids. Know what you agreed to. Do not agree to something because it'll shut the kid up in the moment, because kids will remember that shit. Best case scenario, you have to deal with a disappointed kid, but if you say "we're not doing thing" rather than "we'll do thing if you can do other thing," the kid will make every attempt to do other thing if first thing is important.

(That sentence was fucking salad, but what do you want from me, I'm not a professional writer.)

Anyway! This is obliquely related to gaming because it dovetails nicely with my GMing philosophy of never asking for a roll if I'm not prepared for the result. And we gamed on Monday, and the game was set at a park, which is spelled "parp" at that strip I linked OMG FULL CIRCLE.

Last session, the characters rescued Virgil from TFV, stole an RV, and headed to a park that Virgil had overheard had some Lurch sightings. Please note that I had completely forgotten those last two things happened, so they weren't in the write-up, so I didn't plan based on them. But that's fine.

So, we're at the park. Avalon takes the kittens and goes to sit under a tree. Feather starts looking around for signs of Prometheans. Grimm, a tracker, looks for signs of a campsite, and Matt goes looking for Pilgrim Marks and the like. Enoch and Virgil start working on the RV's engine, which seems to have something wrong with it (Enoch's player was out, so he get sidelined).

Skip stays in the RV, not wanting anyone to recognize him. He's dropped back to Ferrum so that he can create an Athanor. He carves scars onto his body and focuses his knowledge of excellence and endurance, and makes a Refinement Furnace - he can access the Transmutations of Corporeum and Vitality without fixing them. This in turns gives him some Vitriol back, which he uses to boost his Azoth (side note, Refinement Furnace seems really broken, but that's only because it is).

Meanwhile, in the woods, Matt finds a cat! The cat has sparkly Azoth-y eyes, so Matt figures it might be leading him somewhere, but as he follows it, it vanishes mid-leap. This correlates with a pop from the RV as Skip's Azoth increases, so Matt and Grimm keep looking. Grimm finds something weird - a section of a tree where the wood has been swiped like it was wet cement. He checks it with Vitreous Humour and confirms that there was a pilgrim mark (for "leave me alone") in there, but Matt notes that Alchemicus Transmutations don't work on living matter so what the hell.

Matt sees someone in the woods and follows, and Grimm follows him. Matt sees that guy is slim with black hair, but that's as much detail as he notes. Grimm looks at spirit-stuff and notes that spirits seem to be leaving the area, not fleeing exactly, but just shunning something. They need Skip for this shit.

Out in the main areas of the park, Feather tries to suss out where Lurch might be, but can't figure it. Avalon has been joined by a couple of little girls who saw the kittens, and then the girls' mother. Avalon and the mom chat a little, and Avalon realizes that this is a perfect nice and normal conversation to be having...which is totally not in line with her current Refinement. She tries to flirt a little, but before she can really get into it, Matt and Grimm appear from the tress and kinda interrupt things.

This does seem to throw the groove off. In fact, she notes that the woman seems to jump a stage in Disquiet immediately, and she packs up her girls and heads off. Avalon is confused - it shouldn't happen that fast. Avalon heads to the playground to flirt with some hot dads, just to check and see if she still can without Disquiet flaring. Meanwhile, Matt, Grimm, and Skip head back toward the woods. Skip turns on Ephemeral Flesh and talks to a deer-spirit, which acts skittish (it is a deer-spirit), but refers to something called an "All-Bane." This worries Skip; all spirits have Banes, but this thing is repelling everything. Worse, the deer-spirit says that Skip (rather, the throng collectively) brought it.

Avalon talks to some folks at the playground and gets some fairly normal responses, so it's not like she's just engendering Disquiet like crazy. The Prometheans fall back to the RV and talk a bit. They speculate that maybe TFV might have done something or put something in Virgil that's screwing with things. Someone brings up the weird person(?) that Enoch was talking to, Rock, and asks if that's who Matt saw. Matt confirms that it looked like it could have been him.

Skip goes to where people are working out and stretching and talks to a competition-spirit (conceptual spirits tend to be smarter). It confirms that the All-Bane came with the Prometheans and it's centered on the RV. Matt uses his Bestowment to grant Feather a vision, and Feather sees herself tossing a coin into a well. The coin bounces and echoes, but then the echoes get louder and a skeletal hand appears in the well. A man (well, a skeleton) crawls out, grows flesh and blood, and turns into Rock, and sits there smiling. Feather thinks about how she'll know when she's completed her current Role (Pilgrim), and realizes she'll know when she sees the end of the Pilgrimage. That seems a bit of a tautology to her, so this is probably worthy of further consideration.

Next time, when we have everybody.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Character Creation: Angel


I don't know. I'm very tired and a little punchy.

The Game: Angel
The Publisher: Eden Studios 
Degree of Familiarity: I don't think I've ever played Angel specifically, but I've played Buffy and All Flesh Must Be Eaten and so on.
Books Required: Just the one.

Now, while I'm more or less familiar with the premise of the show, I've never actually watched Angel. At the end of the day, though, it's a procedural/supernatural drama, and I can get behind that. I was reading through the book the other day and there are creatures called revenants that are basically ghosts of murder victims that possess corpses. If they die, they possess the nearest body of someone who died by violence. As such, the person they really are isn't the person whose body they're in. I have a kind of concept already.

Marvin S. Draper was a fairly popular and well-regarded actor for a few years in the 90s. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for a film set in WWI called The Trench (very low budget, minimal sets, he played a young soldier from Idaho how breaks down before going over the top and gets shot by his CO). A year later, one project he was attached to fell through and another one was delayed, so he took a job on a TV shoot to fill the time and pay the bills. Walking back to his car after the shoot was finished, Marvin got grabbed by a vampire, drained dry, and thrown into traffic (the vampire may have thought he was covering his tracks?).

The weird circumstances of the death of Marvin S. Draper occupied the media's attention for nearly a full day, but if they only knew what happened next! Draper woke up in the body of Kim Veidt, a young woman shoved out a window by a demon. Draper wants to hunt down the vampire that killed him and the demon that killed her, but what he doesn't yet realized is that they two events are connected (I'd let me hypothetical GM play with that).

Sounds good! Over to the stat-bits. "Revenant" is a 17-point Quality, but I still have to pick my character type. I think he works best as a Champion. That gives me 20 points for Attributes, 20 for Qualities, a max of 10 in Drawbacks, 30 Skill points, and 10 Drama points.

Attributes first. I get a +2 bonus in Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution and a +3 to Willpower (these are all perks of being undead). I get 20 points here, meaning I could put all my Attributes at 3 and still have two left over. I think I shall put everything at 3 except Intelligence (2), and then put the extra points into my physicals, so that means Strength, Dex, Constitution, and Willpower are all 6, Perception is 3, and Intelligence is 2.

Qualities are supposed to be next. My Revenant Quality includes Regeneration (1) and Unique Kill (5), but also the 3-point Psychic Visions Drawback. I get 3 more points in Qualities, and then of course I can take 10 in Drawbacks if I wish (I guess just 7, actually). So! I'll take Artist (adds 1 to any two Mental Attributes, so I'll add to Perception and Intelligence), and 1 to the Art Skill. That's two points. And I'll take Situational Awareness, which means I get a bonus to notice things, but that also puts me in the hole one point, so I'll need a Drawback. I'll take Adversary at 3 (the vampire/demon thing somehow, but I don't know the details yet). That gives me 2 extra points, of course. I'll take a Natural Weaponry Quality - Draper's hands carry the Chill of the Grave, which does 3xStrength damage on a Grapple.

Skills, then! I get 30 points. I shall take 3 in Art (for a total of 4), 3 in Acrobatics, 2 in Crime, 2 in Driving, 4 in Getting Medieval, 3 in Gun Fu, 5 in Influence, 3 in Knowledge (Hollywood), 4 in Kung Fu, and 1 in Notice. Most of that is just instinctive stuff he's picked up now that he's a walking corpse, but some of it is retained from his life.

Last thing, I guess, is Life Points. I get 58. Undeath points, really.

So, Marvin is still in Kim's body, but he's Marvin - he calls himself Marvin, uses he/him pronouns, and dresses and presents pretty masc. He can play up his body's appearance if he needs to (he's an actor, after all), and honestly he's not really concerned about gender anymore - he's dead, gender isn't the most pressing issue. Kim was a black woman in her mid-20s, dark skinned with short hair (it doesn't grow so Marvin doesn't have to do much with it). Marvin favors black cargo pants and an army jacket. He carries a gun that he stole off someone, but if he needs to do violence, he prefers up close and personal, letting the chill of the grave do the work.

Marvin is still having visions about Kim's life, and he's avoided digging into it because he doesn't want to make things painful for her family, but someone pushed Kim Veidt out that window for a reason.