The Game: Covenant
The Publisher: Realms
Degree of Familiarity: None, really. I'm reading the PDF, which I got from the Haiti relief bundle years ago.
Books Required: Just the one.
Covenant is a "game of failing conspiracies." Basically, there's this huge world-spanning Illuminati-if-it-wasn't-the-fever-dream-of-paranoid-idiots thing going on, and they were sure the world was going to end on January 1, 2000. It didn't. Now the conspiracy has schism'd, and everyone's unsure of which way to go.
The setting is deliberately loose; the schism is meant as a "kickstart" to provide some context for a game, but groups are advised to fill in whatever details they want. This book needs an editing pass, but I'm digging the core concept. Let's continue.
Ooh, so the first thing you do is define the conventions of the story, the cell's purpose (everyone is part of the same cell), and other backgroundy things. Well, you know I like that! You also know I don't have a group, so I'll be winging this.
Actually, there's a filled-out cell sheet in the book; maybe I'll use that? Oh, shit yeah. The motifs are "blood-spatted alleyways," "rotting urban slums," and "astrological motifs." I'm golden. The former purpose was "protect the society by expunging or reeducating people with deviant views." I like it.
OK, so now we actually get into character creation, so it's time to share our theme song, helpfully provided by +Rob Wieland.
That's "Beast" by Nico Vega. (It's a beastly kind of week, it seems.) It's a crunchy, angry, anti-establishment kind of song, I think, and that works.
In making a character, the first thing I do is come up with a concept, which includes a style and a focus. So I'm gonna choose "penitent manhunter." My guy was a bounty hunter pre-recruitment. He wound up tracking down an escaped member of the conspiracy who had jumped bail (trumped up charges; he was going to go public), but once he had the guy in custody, the cell found him and killed the traitor. Impressed at his skillz, the conspiracy recruited my dude, and he spent years tracking down "deviant thinkers" and, if necessary, taking part in the more brutal parts of reeducation.
But then Armageddon didn't happen, and it shattered everything he'd come to believe. All he knows now is that the conspiracy was the "deviant thinkers." And maybe that means they should be reeducated.
The sheet says these guys were based in Prague; I'm gonna fudge a little and say LA, because it works better with this concept.
Ooh, now I get three "truisms." These are kind of similar to Beliefs in Spark; they're things that, by saying them, I'm asking them to be challenged.
"Everyone runs, no one gets away." (His experience has been that this is true; if someone really wants to find you, they will.)
"No one's clean." (He had to tell himself this while beating people up.)
"Deus vult." (This is part of God's plan. It goddamn well better be, at least.)
Now we add characters to the center of the sheet, arranged by what part of the character they're important to. This is called the "crucible." Kind of a neat mechanic. Let's see. I have to include someone from the cell playsheet, and another PC or someone from their crucible. I can't do that last one, of course, but let's see what else we got.
Well, the sheet includes a guy called "The Jailer," to whom folks needing reeducation are sent. I think I worked for him more than once, so he goes under Faction. Outside that box, I'm supposed to write my faction's agenda for me, dramatic and urgent. I think I've been tasked with tracking down three members (an overseer and her two assistants) who rabbited right after the schism. Let's call her "Luz."
And then over under Self, I'm supposed to add someone that I care about personally. I'll add a guy named Diaz, a guy I tracked down after he jumped bail. He gave up without a fight, and I eventually said that he turned himself in and smoothed things out for him as best I could. He did his time, went straight, and is continually struggling to get his life on track. He's a friend, and he challenges my belief that no one's clean.
Society section, I'm supposed to put someone in who's my superior, like an overseer or something. Sure. I'll call my superior William Norman. Bill views me as his "ghetto dog," I go into the parts of LA he's afraid to. Right now my orders are to round up everyone still loyal to the cell and make sure they're ready for a cleansing.
Ok, then! Now, edges. These quantify the relationships that benefit me and the shit I'm good at. I get six, three have to be descriptors and one a relationship, but the other two can be either. Relationships can be left open to add in play, which I like very much.
Well, let's do descriptors, first. We'll say "knows everyone in the barrio." My guy is very hooked into the Mexican community in LA, and is as trusted as you can be when you're a bounty hunter.
"Street fighter." I want him to be good in a brawl. He can use a gun if need be, but he's not a great shot and has never really been trained.
"Expert in surveillance." Duh. Good with bugs, tracking, etc.
And then a relationship: "Grew up with Detective Monica Velez, LAPD." He and Monica are from the same neighborhood and dated briefly. She's his contact in the department. He thought about trying to recruit her; now he's glad he didn't.
I'll leave the last two open.
Now I get a consequence. This can be something immediate or something long-term. I'll take "ready to burn it all down." He's done with these fuckers, frustrated, hurt, betrayed. His faith is guttering.
Oh, wait, I need one more person, someone to go between two areas of the crucible. Um. Let's say that there's a beat cop, Officer Stephen Marks, who I suspect is hooked into the conspiracy, but I don't know for sure. He's a friend and occasional gopher for Monica, so I'm concerned for her safety if he is hooked in, but I don't have a way to verify it, especially now.
And that's actually me done. I'll have to read the rest of this more carefully, it's pretty interesting.
Oh, wait! My guy's name is Osmundo Caraballos.