Sunday, January 27, 2013

Character Creation: It's a Dog's Life

It's not easy making all these characters, y'know. It's not like the movie project, where I don't have to read anything or grok rules or swallow my distaste for d20.

But anyway, I'm running this game (making characters tomorrow), and chargen looks quick. Also, this:

The Game: It's a Dog's Life
The Publisher: Beyond Belief Games
Degree of Familiarity: None. I've read it, gonna run it. Michelle likes prairie dogs.
Books Required: Just the one.

OK, so the "dogs" in the game are, as you may have guessed, prairie dogs, and they have this quasi-Native American culture going on, complete with feathers that they use as status. There's a substantial amount of the book dedicated to their legends, which I think is cool, and their kewl powerz are barks, which is neat.

My first step in making the character is to roll for my Attributes. I'm not usually a fan of random chargen, but what the hell, we'll try it. Since I actually have dice handy, I'll use them. I roll:

Size 6
Agility 2
Wisdom 3
Spirit 5

I'm evidently a pretty plump little dog. OK, now I choose what physical or social feature is most prominent. Well, with Size 6 and Agility 2, I think it's that I'm fat.

Now I choose dreams. No slot on the character sheet for those, tsk, tsk. My dog's dream is to find the Blue Grass. He dreamed it one night, this grass with a slightly blue tinge that is so delicious and so filling that everyone can eat for a year off a single patch. Plenty for everyone!

Feathers: I just get one, because I'm a starting character. That's easy.

Wound points: Size + 6. I'm built like a tank and hard to hit.

Now I choose a Role. Kind of my "splat", if you will, my place in dog society. A quibble, here: There are prerequisites to have these from Attributes, but you roll your Attributes. A pool of points might be better? Eh. Oh, wait, now that I read it, the only one that has a pre-req is Wildling, and the pre-req isn't stated up front, it's buried in the text. BOOOOOO.

Anyway, for my chubby little dog's role, I pick...oh, wait. God dammit. If my Attribute totals are less than 16, I get to make up the difference. Well, shit, might that not have been a good thing to point out under the section? GUYS. As it happens I have 16 exactly, so that doesn't apply. Moving on.

Speaker appeals, but actually I think my guy will be a Sentinel. He's fine with staying in one place and watching...he just tends to nibble while he watches. That gives me the Ability of Watching and the Bark of Warning.

Oh, for fuck's sake. The character sheet is wrong. There's actually no Spirit Attribute. And, there are minimum Attributes for the Roles, but they're not listed under the roles, they're listed under the Attributes. GUYS. STAHP. BAD GAME WRITING.

OK, no worries. Cross off Spirit, fill in Alertness, and that gives me a 5 in Alertness which is, as it happens, the Attribute I need at 4 or better to be a Sentinel. Christ.

Anyway, now I do Abilities/Barks. I have Watching, Critter Lore, Bark of Command and Tribal Bark at 1. I then get 4 points to split among those, so I put one into Watching and Critter Lore and two into Bark of Warning. And then I get 4 more points to put into those or any freely available Abilities or Barks (which took me a while to figure out; the book is not clear, though there is an example of chargen, which is what cleared it up). So I put two into Tooth & Claw (gotta be able to fight if someone does roll on the colony) and two into Bark of Stunning.

Right, now I need a name. My prairie dog's name is Boulder. Yes, it's a fat joke. No, he's not offended.

OK, so, another annoyance: As written, this game has you roll a d20 and roll under your Attribute + Ability or Bark. So let's check. If I'm rolling, say, Agility + Tooth & Claw, I have a 4. I'm not gonna succeed. But then my Agility sucks. How about Alertness + Watching? There I've got a 7! I have almost a 50% chance.

Yeah, fuck that. When I run it we're using d10s, not d20s. Seriously, did you people playtest this at all? Or were the players those weird d20 player people who think that having starting characters that suck is fun? (It's not.)

Anyway, here's Boulder: