The Game: Apocalypse Prevention, Inc
The Publisher: Third Eye Games
Degree of Familiarity: None
Books Required: Just the one, though there do seem to be quite a lot of sourcebooks.
I got this game, like many others, in the Haiti bundle, long ago. I don't think I shall ever see the end of it, but I shall persevere.
I'm more familiar with Third Eye's more recent offerings, including Mermaid Adventures and Part-Time Gods. This one...well. +Stew Wilson made a character a while back (a while? sweet jesus, 2 years!), and wasn't especially complimentary, but I happen to know +Eloy Lasanta (the author) and I know his writing has improved considerably since this game was published (five years? JESUS. TIME.).
Anyway, mostly I felt like doing some werewolf-related today, so here we are.
In this game you're a member of the titular organization, fighting against the demons ("demon" here is a blanket term that includes vampires, mutants, and so forth). The game promises "action horror with a slice of humor," though one of the examples of humor given is that scepter might be shaped like a dong. I...don't find that especially funny, as presented, but let's soldier on. I'll come back to the topic of humor in gaming later, maybe.
The list of playable races includes "Wolf People: Werewolves of unknown origins." OK, then. I want to be one of those.
Moving on. We have a letter from employee services telling us that we cannot contact former friends and family (though since my origins are unknown I don't know if that affects me), and that I can contact Hazel about my 401K. See, that's funny.
OK, we start off with Step One: Concept, Passion and Race. I know my Race already (Wolf People), so I'll write that in. Well, reading the write-up for the Race, it says that other agents kind of regard them as children with behavioral problems, and there are some lingering issues because a Wolf Person "went rogue" not long ago. While it's clumsily phrased, I like that notion - I work with a lot of kids with behavioral problems, and a lot of it is not really under their control. I want my Wolf Person to be crazy smart. Like, turning into a werewolf was the worst thing that ever happen to him, because not only did he become a monster, but he started becoming a jock. But before that: very smart, but uncontrollable in class. After the Change hit (puberty, so pre high-school) his parents and the school tried to keep him under control with meds and an IEP and all, but by his junior year he was about fed up with this bullshit. He graduated early and started trying to get into college, but API found him first.
So there's some background. Now what? Passion. Passion isn't especially well explained (and there are some subject-verb agreement issues in the first sentence that make me twitch), but it's a lot like Nature/Demeanor. Actually, I think a more relevant comparison would be Drive from any of the more recent Gumshoe games. Anyway, I'm torn between Questions and Rebellion. Questions is often fun to play, but I see this guy as young and kind of stupid (with regards to how the world really works). I think we'll do Rebellion, with the understanding that if I was actually going to play this character, his Passion would change to Questions later).
Right, now Step Two: Attributes. 30 points to split among Power, Agility, Vigor, Intellect, Insight and Charm, with an even split putting me at average (5). I actually like that; Stew's reasoning is that it should be a number that doesn't divide easily and forces me to make a hard choice, but I like the option to create someone who's just generally competent and then use other facets of chargen to make myself stand out.
Anyway, I know I want a high Intellect, probably a low Insight and Charm, and decent physicals. Let's do this:
Anything over 8 costs an extra point, so I'll leave it like that for the moment. Now, I'm on to Step Three: Skills. I get 30+IQ points, or 38, for Skills. Same point costs. Also pick a Specialty for Standard Skills at 4, 7, and 10 and some other fiddly bits that I'll deal with as necessary. I suppose there's a Skill list. Is it on the sheet? NOPE. Balls. Oh, but it's on the chargen quick reference page, which I printed, so that's good. OK, Skills I want:
Perception (WHY IS THIS A SKILL)
Nice thing about making a younger character is that I don't have as many skills to care about. Although...oh, Combat is separate. Argh. Oh, and, levels of fighting styles add to things like Initiative and Dodge, but are otherwise unremarkable, until you add the Techniques. So it's kinda like the combat system from Fireborn, maybe? Eh. I can't do anything without Fighting Style: Basic, anyway, so let's just add that in to the mix, and we come up with:
Athletics 5 (Running)
Beast Handling 3
Computers 6 (Research)
Fortitude 4 (Pain)
Intimidation 4 (Intense)
Knowledge 4 (Occult)
Perception 4 (Smells)
Stealth 4 (Hunting)
Fighting Style: Basic 4
Next up, Step Four: Bonus Points. I get 10 because I'm not human. And of course I can take Drawbacks to get more points, so I shall. I can take up to 10 points (I already have two, Lunacy and Silver, but they don't give me points). So let's see. Is "20-year-know-it-all" a Drawback? No, but Big Mouth is. I'll take that. Also Curious.
Man, there's some stuff in here that makes me wince. A gay character in San Francisco doesn't get to take the Minority Drawback, because being gay doesn't hurt you there? Tell that to Harvey Milk.
Anyway, moving on. I don't see a lot of other Drawbacks I like. How about Poor Hygiene? I'll take that at 3. It's not that he doesn't bathe, it's just that he smells kind of gamey no matter what he does. That's 8 extra BP, hopefully that's enough.
So what do I want to buy? Well, I could buy cybernetic implants, but I think they're kind of dumb for werewolves (how would I shapeshift?). I'll spend some on Attributes and Skills, how about? I'll boost my Insight to 4 (costs 2, leaves me with 16) and my Fighting Style to 7 (costs 3, leaves me with 13). I could buy a more advanced Fighting Style, but eh. I want to look at magic.
Yi. Magic is...involved. It looks interesting, but it's a spell list, and from there you can upgrade multiple elements of a given spell. Which is cool and lets you customize your spells, but boy, you'd need players that want to keep up with that level of number crunching (read: not mine).
As it is, because my guy is a Wolf Person he gets Animalia magic and that doesn't count against the number of Paths he can know, which doesn't really help me learn it. But there is a spell I want off that path, so...how do I do that? Oh, it's pretty simple. I can learn up to five different Paths (counting Animalia) because my IQ is high. I pay 1 BP for first circle spells, 2 for second, 3 for third. I have 13 BP left, but I don't want to burn them all on spells. Let's see. I know I want Beast Senses, which lets me make my sense all animal-y. That's one BP (12 remain). I like some of the spells from the Path of Augmentation, so I'll take Hyper-Jump, Iron Fist (for claws in human form) and Nightvision. Those are all level 1 spells, so I have 9 left. Let's look at Gifts.
Oh, whoops, I need to take Open Inner Circle so I can have those spells. Blargh. OK, that's 3 points. 6 remain. None of the other Gifts really excite me, so I'll dump the other six points in Attributes and Skills. I'll boost my Insight up to 5 (4 left), my Agility up to 6 (2 left), and my Vigor up to 6.
Now, derived traits! Um. I total them all up. Yep! Note that doing the Fighting Style ones would drive me nuts if I'd decided to make a real combat character.
I could do gear, but eh. That always bores me, so I'll skip it. I just need a name, then. Since I love making my names refer to other werewolf properties (did you read the Moon-Cursed section of the Forsaken Chronicler's Guide?), I'll call him Jack Talbot. Wait, have I seriously never named a character in this project Jack before? Wow.
I think "Jack" is actually his given name; it's not short for John. He hates it. To him, "Jack" sounds like a redneck name. He prefers to go by his last name.
And that's me done!