Friday, September 11, 2015

Character Creation: Werewolf: The Forsaken (2nd Edition)

I waffled a bit, at the beginning of this project, about whether a new edition of a game would count as a "game" for purposes of chargen, but I ultimately err, as usual, on the side of what will keep this project going in perpetuity.

Well, I'm being flip, but really, I'm interested in how games change between editions. Sometimes the differences are minor, but sometimes they're subtle but important, as has been the case in the New World of Darkness lines. The system changes aren't so huge, really - you're adding Conditions, and that's the single more important thing. But looking at the difference the first and second editions of Requiem, we see added mechanics that focus on a the living world a vampire leaves behind, Disciplines that have gotten some serious conceptual rethinking for the first time since, like, 1992, and slimming down of concepts that are interesting but ultimately kind of weak. And yeah, we lost bloodlines, which was stupid, but you can't have everything.

So tonight, I'm making a character for Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd Edition, partially because I wanted an excuse to get my brain around the system changes because of upcoming events in my Beast chronicle, and partially because I have a theme song in mind and I thought it would be interesting to apply it to an Uratha character. Here's the song:

The Game: Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd Edition
The Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: Quite a bit. I wrote the auspices section, but I haven't actually run this version.
Books Required: Just the one, ostensibly. It's handy to have the World of Darkness Rulebook to actually play the game.

As before, character creation proceeds in eight steps.

Step One is Concept. I want to play a werewolf who Changed late in life. Like, he's in his 70s. Assuming a contemporary game (2015), he was born in 1941. He fought in Viet Nam, came home to his wife and kid, got divorced, took work as a mechanic (let's say that was job in the Army, too), grew older, transitioned to office work and management, grew older, developed cataracts, retired, saw his children get married, buried his ex-wife, and was waiting to die. His life had been...if not happy, exactly, then at least interesting and fulfilling. His body grew frail, and he was ready to check out.

And then Luna visited him under the moon, and he found himself out in the woods, blood on his lips and the songs of spirits echoing in his ears.

The next morning, he could see clearly. He could walk without pain. He doesn't need the vast number of medications he used to. He can taste food again, stay up late again, and feel passion he barely remembered. He's got a pack, now, and a tribe, a new, young family, and for the most part they don't judge him for his age because he can keep up.

But he this good? Does he deserve it? Hell, does he want it? He thinks of starting over and it all just seems...exhausting. His body can handle it. Can his soul?

I'll name this guy Robert McTeague. For Concept, I'll phrase it as "Tired Old Man".

I need three Aspirations, two short-term and one long-term. For the short-terms, I'll choose "Swim in the ocean" (something Robert always wanted to do and never got around to) and "learn to cook" (he's going to be very sad if he manages to raise his Primal Urge high enough that he's an obligate carnivore). For the long-term, I'll choose "find a cure for lycanthropy." Robert doesn't want this life, not really, but the pack instinct is strong, and he does like having family again.

OK, now Step Two, which is Attributes. Well, I think Physical probably shouldn't be primary. Tertiary? Hmm. I don't know. I'm thinking the ravages of age are most obvious in Robert's body, not his mind (though that's getting out there, too). I'll make Social secondary, Mental primary, Physical tertiary. I'll put three dots into Resolve (he didn't go completely mad when he became a werewolf at his age) and one each into Intelligence and Wits. I'll put two into Strength, one into Dexterity and nothing into Stamina; his pretty tough, but that's mostly because he doesn't know his limits anymore. And then for Social I'll put one into each and the extra into Presence; Robert's got a quiet dignity and command to him.

Step Three, Skills, ahoy! Hmm. I'm thinking breadth over depth; Robert knows a lot, but he's forgotten a lot, too. Let's make Social primary, Physical second and Mental tertiary.

I get four dots in Mental Skills. I'll put two into Crafts (he was a mechanic), one into Academics and one into Medicine.

For Physical, I'll put one into Athletics (always put a dot in Athletics), one each into Brawl, Drive, Firearms, and Survival (Army training) and two into Stealth (people ignore the old man).

Finally, for Social, I'll put one each in Animal Ken, Socialize, and Subterfuge, and then two into Empathy, Expression, Intimidation, and Persuasion. Robert's always been a quietly sociable type. I see him as pretty introverted, but good in social settings (that is, he can do it well but it takes a lot out of him).

On to Step Four, Skill Specialties. Hmm. I think I want "Mechanic" as a Crafts Specialty. I'll take "Easily Ignored" as a Stealth Specialty, and "Quiet Authority" as a Persuasion Specialty.

Now, Step Five, I get to be all werewolfy. I want him to be a Bone Shadow; I like the idea that Luna tapped him because there's some spirit out there, maybe something that came back to the States from Viet Nam, that maybe he can help hunt down. But what auspice? I kinda want him to be to be Rahu. I think that works, actually; it's part of why he hasn't just dropped out and ignored his werewolf side, and why he's not a Ghost Wolf. Purity is important to him.

So, as a Rahu, I get a free dot in Brawl, Intimidation, or Survival. Hmm. I think I'll take it in Brawl, making Robert a more effective combatant. I also get a dot of Purity. And then as a Bone Shadow, I get a dot of Wisdom. I get a third dot of Renown wherever I want it (the book says I can't take a third dot in a single Renown, but that would only matter if my Renown from tribe and auspice were the same, which they aren't). I think I'll wait and look at Gifts first, since which Renown I take will influence what Facets of Gifts I get.

Let's do Blood & Bone first. Blood and Bone are this game's analog of Virtue and Vice. Blood is when I'm on the hunt, whereas Bone is my comfort zone. One of the examples of Blood is Soldier, and actually I think that fits Robert nicely. When he's on the hunt, Robert is back at war, training that he thought he'd lost decades ago merging with animal instinct. Bone, though, I'll take Elder. Robert is old, and even if his bones don't ache anymore, he feels like they should. He's wise and experienced, and people should listen to his war stories.

Now, Touchstones. These are kinda like for Vampire, except I've got a flesh Touchstone and a spirit one. One keeps Robert grounded in the physical world, one draws him to the Shadow. For the flesh one, I choose Lizzie, his granddaughter. She's 12 now, his oldest (and favorite, not that he'd admit it) grandkid. His absolute favorite thing about being a werewolf is that it's given him the energy to spend more time with her. Of course, he worries about succumbing to Rage, too. For the spiritual Touchstone, I'll choose The Dead. Robert saw a lot of people he knew die in battle and from illness and from age, and he doesn't fear Death. Hell, he was almost ready to join them in the hereafter when Luna came calling.

Gifts and rites! I get two dots in rites, and then I get the first dot of a Moon Gift from my auspice, and a Facet of two Shadow Gifts from my tribe or auspice, and then if I have two dots in my auspice Renown, I get the second Facet from Moon Gifts, or if I don't, I get a Facet of a Wolf Gift? Which means I wind up with four Facets? (This, by the way, is why it's really helpful to have an example of character creation, folks.)

Well, let's try and suss this out. I know I start with the first Facet of Full Moon's Gift, which is Killer Instinct. I get 8-again on Brawl and Weaponry for a scene if I spend a point of Essence. And then I can pick two Facets from Dominance, Strength, Death, Elemental or Insight. Hokay.

Each Facet corresponds with a Renown type, so I can take Wisdom or Purity (and then I get one more dot of Renown that I haven't chosen yet). Well, I kinda like the Wisdom Facet of Insight, which lets me tell where my prey is likely to go. The Purity Facet of Strength is fun, too, and I think having a second dot of Purity (thus adding my Purity to my Strength for a scene) would be cool. That does make Robert pretty combat-focused, though. Oh, holy cats, the Purity Facet of Death lets me gnaw bones to gain information about the person who's dead. That's pretty cool. I think I'll do that.

And then I'd get a Wolf Gift. I don't like very many of them. Rather, I do, but a lot of the ones I like are Purity, and if I take a second dot of Purity, I don't get one (seriously, this could be explained better in the book, guys, with examples). If I do take a second dot of Purity, I get the second Moon Gift, but then I miss out on a Shadow Gift Facet, whereas if I bought up Purity in play, I would get both, which is kinda weak. What I don't know is if I can take a dot in, say, Glory, but take a Purity Facet in a Wolf Gift. It doesn't say I can't, just that I can't take a Facet for a Renown category in which I have no dots. OK, well, then I'll take a dot of Glory, but I'll take The Father's Form, letting me take Gauru form without going into Death Rage.

For my free two dots in Rites, I'll take Bottle Spirit. Except I have no Occult. Blah. Ah, fuck it. Means I'm gonna be bottle very small spirits at first, but in play Occult is the first thing I'd buy anyway.

Whew, that was fun. Now Step Six, Merits. Of course there's a larger list of Merits in God-Machine Chronicle, and instead of being smart and keeping the core rules in a separate book, we half-assed them into the core 2nd ed books, meaning things are spread out. Blah. Well, anyway.

I'll take a dot of Resources. Robert has a pension and his apartment is cheap. Holy shit. Totally taking Embodiment of the Firstborn. Robert, in Urhan form, is a dead ringer for Death Wolf (who's usually depicted as female, but whatever). I get a free dot of an Attribute. I'll take Resolve, pushing me to five dots. That eats a bunch of my Merit dots, but it explains a lot about the character, I think. I would take Totem if this were a real game, but since it's just me I won't bother. I could take Indomitable, but which Resolve 5 it's almost redundant. I don't have the pre-reqs for most of the fighting Merits, so they're out. Let's check GMC.

I'll take Patient; it seems to make sense. This is weird, but I'll take Choke. I think with the ability to enter Gauru and not immediately go for the kill, it might be interesting, plus I like the idea of the old man being able to choke someone out by being patient about it. For the last dot, I'll take Contacts (Military); not everyone from his old unit is dead, and some of them only retired recently. And then I get First Tongue for free.

Finally, Step Seven, is just derived traits. Easy enough. Oh, wait, gotta do Kuruth triggers, too. Apparently I pick a set (this isn't in the chargen section, it's just listed on the chart). Hmm. I'll take the Wounds set; plays into the idea that Robert is Death Wolf incarnate, and that he has some crazy destiny that he knows not of.