Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Character Creation: Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies

Back at it! Boo-ya!

The Game: Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies
The Publisher: Evil Hat and Atomic Sock Monkey
Degree of Familiarity: None. I've read it.
Books Required: Just the one, though the PDQ system has a free download somewhere.

So, this game is a bit of a heartbreaker for me, for much the same reason as Ehdrigor is. It's got a really awesome premise, a compelling story and a richly detailed world...which means if I ran it, I'd spend 75% of the time info-dumping to my players.

I may have mentioned this before, but I have really, really awesome players in general. Sure, there are a couple of people I'd like to throw their cell phones in a sink, but on the whole, they're great players and they can roleplay the shit out of a game. Predilections vary; my Monday group is not the group I'd want to play Questlandia with, but my monthly group (which was playing Better Angels for a while, and then Epyllion, and is now between games, though I suspect we'll just go back to Dragonia when the book comes out) is totally down with the weird indie stuff. My other monthly group went from Atomic Robo and now is going to start playing no-bullshit-Great-White-Book Nobilis. And then my last monthly group (yes, I game a lot, cope) has been playing Night's Black Agents for a couple of years now.

But you know what almost none of my players are willing to do? Read a gaming book. Like, I regularly game with (hang on, math) 13 different people. Of those, maybe four would read a book (that I know of).

Now, I don't begrudge anybody this, I want to make that perfectly clear. A lot of gaming books are boring as shit to read, and not everyone's a reader. I'm not, actually. I love reading, but it's time-consuming and I don't get hooked in easily, so finding games like Swashbucklers that actually read well is a treat. All this means is that when I'm choosing games, I need to pick games that either have collaboratively built settings (which is why Fate is popular), games that are based on properties that everyone at the table knows (rare, but it happens), or have modern and easily-explained settings. I can just about get away with World of Darkness games, but I definitely feel the lack of familiarity that the players have with the source material, and it limits what kinds of stories I can tell. But games with deep, complex settings where you need to know terminology or, heavens forfend, history? Fugeddaboudit.

Ah, well. On we go. Swashbucklers posits a world that's mostly clouds and cloud-islands, with an immense expanse of Blue down below. You can be a pirate, an alchemist, a fencer, a musketeer, a koldun, a ruq-rider (ruqs are giant birds)...holy shit, the list is endless, and I seriously am not sure what I'd want to do if I were actually going to play this game because there's a lot of stuff that appeals. Faced with fantasy games, I usually make a magic-user, but do I wish to do that here? I mean, there are folks called "wingmen" who can flap around in special wing-suits. Maybe I like that?

Well, let's just go through chargen and see what happens. I start with Name. My character's name is Bomani. His mother was from the Zultanate of Colrona, and his father was a native of the city of Crail, which is also where he grew up. His mother died in an accident when he was a boy, and his father fell back into some bad habits - Bomani grew up learning the streets, learning crime and grift, and eventually led a gang a cargo ship while it sat in harbor. His father took the fall for him, telling him that Bomani's life to that point had been his fault, but he would own that and let Bomani make his own way going forward.

So that's a pretty good start. Now I pick a Foible. I think Bomani's big conflict is the guilt he feels over his father's imprisonment, but I don't want him to be a straight-arrow, either, he's just not an active criminal anymore. So I think is Foible is Honor My Father's Sacrifice; since it's a Foible and not a Motivation, it's something Bomani struggles with.

Speaking of Motivation, that's my next one (now we're into Fortes, which are basically just my traits). You can go really basic like "Freedom" or "Wealth." I think we'll take Freedom for my Father; so it's tied into my Foible and would figure heavily in Bomani's story.

Next is Nationality. This is easy, I'm from Crail.

Next up, Past. Also pretty easy; Bomani is a Petty Crook.

Now the fun bit! I get a Swasbuckling Forte. This is the one I'm super-good at; when I buy Techniques (which are kinda like feats or stunts), they're cheaper if I chain them off this. Hmm. So now I have to make a decision about what Bomani is doing to get his father out.

Well, I want him to still be a criminal, I think. He's fairly sure he's never going to be able to buy his dad out, so he needs to break him out. But for that he needs a crew. I don't want him to be a pirate; he's not motivated by wealth as pirates generally are. I could take Rogue or something, but actually, I think I'm gonna take Spy. Bomani works as a freelance intelligence gatherer - there are a lot of different factions in the 7 Skies and not all of them like each other. Bomani will gather secrets for you, if you pay him. Really, he's just looking for contacts and information himself.

Now I get three more Fortes, which I can also use to pump up existing Fortes. I'll take Alchemist, which sounds fun. I'll also take Wingman (couldn't resist, it's too cool) and Skysailor.

Now I get five Techniques, which are cheaper if they're "chained" to my Swashbuckling Forte. I gotta figure out how these work, 'scuse me. OK, got it. If they're chained, they have to be used with a given Forte. So, I get 5 points, but if a Technique is chained to another Forte (other than Spy) it's 2 points, and if it's unchained it's 3 points. Sod that.

I'll take Clandestine (an Idiom, chained to Spy); Poisons (Tool, likewise), Convince (Maneuver), Dagger (Tool) and Eavesdropping (Maneuver). And y'know what, I'll also drop Alchemist as a Forte (it was cool but my concept didn't go that way) and chain an Escape Maneuver to my Wingman Forte.

I don't start with any Ephemera because I'd get that in play, so I'll skip to Miscellany.

Bomani is olive skinned, with black hair and green eyes. He can't pass as any nationality, but he can do OK in the Zultanate, in Crail, and in any mix of Skysailors. He's just building up a network of contacts, so he doesn't know a lot of people yet, but he knows how to handle a wingsuit and he knows how to get away when things go wrong. His ultimate goal is to find a way to break his Dad out of prison...but of course, that assumes his Dad will want to go.

Hey, that's funny, the last time I made a ship-based character, I made one that could fly, too.

Anyway, I'm done!