Saturday, October 31, 2015

Character Creation: Chill 3rd Edition

It's Halloween! Tonight, I shall walk around with kiddos begging for candy. One year ago today, I was at work, I think, because Halloween was on a Friday, but I was obsessively watching a Kickstarter. That would be the Kickstarter for Chill Third Edition which, now, a year later, is available in hardcover, PDF, and a special Boxed Set (while they last!).

But I'm also watching a Kickstarter, this time for our first Chill sourcebook, SAVE: The Eternal Society. I ran Chill like crazy in college, and it always bugged me that there was no sourcebook on SAVE. It sort of felt like a missed opportunity, especially since this was the 90s, which wasn't exactly a booming time for Spartan game design; everything tended to be defined and given its own system and so on.

So now, 25 years later, I get to be part of a sourcebook that shows what kind of people SAVE envoys are, why they do what they do, and what the impact of working for SAVE really is. It's shaping up to be a lot of fun, and I hope you'll consider giving us some money.

But that's only kinda why we're here.

The Game: Chill 3rd Edition
The Publisher: Growling Door Games, Inc.
Degree of Familiarity: Um. Very yes. I developed it.
Books Required: Just the one.

So, I've made and played a few Chill characters over the years. I did one for 2nd Edition here, and since I'm considering each new edition of a game separately for purposes of this project, I guess I should add in the 1st Edition somewhere. But in any case! This is 3rd Edition, so let's get crackin'. Let's see how long I can go without getting the book out.

I know that character creation is presented as having three options: you either pick a pre-gen, you pick a template and tweak it, or you take 80 Character Points (CPs) and build from scratch. I think I'd prefer option #3, thanks. (OK, I'll get the book.) As a point of interest, we don't have a specific step in which to do "concept;" I think because it's assumed that your concept will take shape over the course of character creation. I have a pool of 80 points, a cup of coffee, and about an hour and a half. Let's do this.

Step One! Attributes. 1 CP gives you a score of five, but my minimum is 20, so I have to spend at least four CP on each Attribute. I suppose I should think a little about what kind of character I want to make.

Well, my amigo +Bryce Perry gave me a suggestion for a theme song over on Twitter, which was this:

It's an interesting choice for a Chill character, but the lyrics themselves are intriguing, too; the singer is in love, but resists? Or are we hearing from two different people? It's hard to know. But I think it'd be interesting to play a character who was in thrall to a creature of the Unknown - not a minion per se, but maybe had a brain worm or was possessed or something? Yeah, that's fun.

So, my character is Clark Randolph. Clark was a sociology major at the University of Wherever This Game Is Set, and he got into urban exploration. He and some of his buddies went out to take pictures at an abandoned elementary school, and somewhere along the way, the ghost of a kid possessed him. He ran off into the dark and hunted/haunted his friends, preventing them from leaving, keeping them trapped in the building, until finally one escaped and wound up talking to a SAVE envoy. SAVE hastily put a team together, rescued the other college students (with one fatality) and managed to drive the ghost out of Clark and banish it. SAVE has never told Clark that he killed one of his friends, because strictly speaking, he didn't.

For Clark's part, he remembers very little of the experience, but what he does remember is terrifying. He knows that the thing that possessed him was once human, and it had some recognizable human emotions - fear, love, desire for succor and rest. But that was just the skin. Under all that, it had a rich, primal hate for humanity. It was that feeling that drove Clark to join SAVE.

OK, good start (I'll work in more detail as I go). So let's think about Clark's attributes. Clark is a reasonably fit guy. I picture him as in his late 20s, so probably in grad school. I think I want his AGL and STR to be at least 50; let's set his AGL at 55 and his STR at 50 even. His FOC can be a little lower; Clark is smart, but he doesn't memorize well. Let's set that at 45. I'll put his PSY at 60 because I like playing personable characters, and put his DEX at 40 because his hands still shake sometimes. His PCN is at 65, because if I suspect I may want to give him Sensing disciplines later.

So how does that look points-wise?

AGL 55
STR 50
FOC 45
PSY 60
DEX 40
PCN 65

Total all that up and divide by five and we get 63. I can live with that.

On to Step Two: Skills. Skills can either be untrained (in which case their target number is half the controlling attribute) or trained (in which case the target number is equal to the controlling attribute). Chill only uses nine skills; why we did that is explained here, if you're interested. Characters are automatically trained in Prowess, Communication, and Movement, I don't suspect I'll change that (you can take a Drawback to make any of those skills untrained for three extra CPs). So anyway, what do I want to be trained in?

Well, I want to be trained in Interview, because I see Clark as pretty good with that, especially with Unknown survivors. That's three CPs. I think I actually want to add a Specialization there, in "Unknown Survivors;" that is, people like Clark who have had traumatic experiences with the Unknown. I'll take that at Beginner, so that's one more CP. I've spent 67.

Now, I don't have to be trained in a skill to take a Specialization. So, for example, if Clark has done some skeet shooting so he knows how to handle a shotgun, but wouldn't know what to do with a bow or a pistol, I could take "Shotgun" as a Specialization in Ranged Weapons but not trained the skill. Hmm. Well, I know I don't want to be trained in Close Quarters Combat or Ranged Weapons, so I'll go ahead fill in the target numbers there (half the controlling attribute, rounded up). I do want to be trained in Research because I'm a grad student, so I'll burn the three points for that. I don't see any reason to be trained in Fieldcraft or Investigation; Clark's still new at this.

That means I've spent 70 points, so I'm still fine. I could take another couple of Specializations if I wanted. The obvious question is if I want a Specialization to reflect my academic background. I think it makes some sense, so I'll take Academic as a Specialization in Research. That costs 2 points; I've spent 72. I'll leave it for now, because I want points left for the Art and Edges.

And, hey, Step Three: The Art. I want to be attuned to the Sensing school of the Art. That costs me four right there. That also means that my Sensing the Unknown score is 33, rather than 13. I want a discipline, too. I like Postcognition; I'll buy that at Beginner level for now. Actually, eh, let's do Expert. I have the points.

Step Four: Edges and Drawbacks. Edges are fun little bonuses, Drawbacks give you points back. Usual drill. So I've now spent 78 points, meaning I have two points to spend yet before I even have to consider Drawbacks. Hmm. Well, I want Crisis Counselor. Seems appropriate. I'll take it at 3 points, since I'm doing OK on points. I can basically run group therapy for envoys mid-case and help them integrate Trauma which, let me tell you, can be useful. I'm now one point over.

Hopeful kinds seems appropriate, for some reason. I'll take 1 point there.

I also like Lucky. I think it's appropriate for Clark. I really like Natural Leader, but I don't know if it's a good fit for him. I think probably one or the other, though. Let's do Natural Leader, actually. Since the incident, Clark likes to be front and center and visible, partially because he's got some firsthand experience that a lot of envoys don't, and partially because if he gets possessed again he wants people to know it. I'll take the 2-point version. That puts me at 84 points, so I must take 4 points in Drawbacks. No problem.

A few different ways to go with this. I could take Mental Disorder, and have that be lingering trauma from his experience, but I don't think the system does the right thing for what it would mean for Clark. I like Burned Out better. Clark is a little damaged, and the effect of that is that he doesn't recover from mental stress quickly. That means I need one more.

Well, I could take a one-point phobia, I suppose, or I could take Marked. Oh, I like that better. Marked means every case starts with "my" token turned dark, which I think is appropriate. That puts me even.

Step Five: Drive and Envoy History. I've really done this already. Clark's Drive is "The Unknown hates us." I think this is actually why Clark doesn't have the Reluctant to Harm Drawback. Clark is very friendly and personable and kind, but this is war. Most people, even SAVE envoys, can't imagine the depth of hatred the Unknown has for humanity.

For my history, I get one takeaway, which in Clark's case is pretty obviously "possessed by a ghost for a week." That's an arcane takeaway, obviously, so I can use it to activate the Art without turning a token, once per session.

Step Six: Background and Finalizing. Again, I've done most of this. Clark is 27, he's trim, tall, and lean. He's started working out since joining SAVE, and has put on some muscle. He's got brown hair and brown eyes, and wears his hair long (the "man bun" has occurred to him).

Clark recently started dating a woman in one of his classes, another grad student name Caroline Adamsky. He hasn't told her about SAVE and the Unknown yet, because he isn't sure she'll believe it, and he isn't sure if telling her exposes her to any kind of risk. At the moment, he's trying to keep the relationship light on commitment, and playing the "well we're both so busy" card pretty heavily, but he's falling for her, and that's going to be a problem sooner or later.

And I think that's me done, actually!