Sunday, August 28, 2016

Character Creation: Headspace

Doing chargen for PtbA games is always a little weird, because chargen is designed to happen in a group, but hey.

First thing's first, though:

What is the Game You Are Most Likely to Give to Other? Probably one of the ones that I wrote or publish.

What Makes for a Good Character? A lot of things, but here are some of the most important, IMO:

Sticky. The character needs to have a reason to be involved in the story and, in particular, with the other characters. This is why I encourage group chargen; if you make characters separately, then you're asking the GM to come up with a reason for a bunch of disparate people to hang out (which works OK in some games and really not at all in others).

Conflict. A good character needs to have something to struggle against. I don't (always) ask players to get meta enough to think about a character's arc, but it's worth considering what, at the start of a game, is driving the character and what problems they're having.

Mistakes. This is a personal one, but I think it's useful to consider what kind of mistakes a character makes. Fate highlights this with the "Trouble" Aspect; when this character gets into trouble, what drives that?

What Hobbies Go Well with RPGs? Cooking. You know how to cook, you can make for happy, well-fed gamers.

Most Unusual Circumstances in Which You've Gamed? Um. I think summer camp a loooooong time ago, where we didn't have dice and simulated that by pulling scraps of paper with numbers written on them out of a hat.

Thing You'd Be Most Surprised a Friend Had Not Seen or Read? This is a weird question; what does it have to do with gaming? I'd be surprised if most of my close friends hadn't seen Firefly, but only because that's the kind of crowd I run with.

Right, now then.

The Game: Headspace
The Publisher: Green Hat Designs
Degree of Familiarity: Some. I ran a session a month or so back, and we're playing again once we beat the schedule-weasels into submission.
Books Required: Just the one.

So, Headspace is, apparently, a lot like Sens8, which I haven't watched yet, so I don't know how accurate that is (my players tell me it is). It's cyberpunk by way of Leverage, insofar as the characters are hypercompetent and plugged into each other's brains. It's pretty baller.

To make a character, I'd first choose a setting (there are a few pregenerated ones in the book). I think I'll just go with Vancouver Aftermath since I'm familiar with it; it's the one my group is using.

Now I choose an Operator. There are six to choose from, and if I had a group, any Operators not accounted for would be Ghost Operator (present, but dead, in the Headspace). My natural inclination is, of course, Runner, because Parkour is awesome, but let's do something a little different today. Let's do Infiltrator. Being all martial-artsy and sneaky sounds fun.

First thing I do is name my infiltrator. I can pick a name or make one up. I'll call him Jones. It's not his name, but I like the idea of the Infiltrator being scary in a nondescript, could-be-anybody kind of way. Plus I'm still salty at White Wolf for changing the name of the Jones bloodline in Ancient Mysteries, but never mind.

Next, I define my Skills baggage. Skills in Headspace key off of emotional baggage, because it's not whether you succeed, it's how much your action ups the tension. This includes answering a question about how I used that Skill in past, which normally would involve another PC, but as it's just me, I'll just wing it.

For Martial Arts, the question is "Who was the only one who stood up against you?" I'll say that it was the Whitecoat. He saw the toll that assassination was taking on Jones and advised him to stop trying to shunt all his guilt away; it wasn't working and it was going to kill him or change him irrevocably. "Guilt" isn't one of the choices, but "Grief" is, so I'll put that under Martial Arts.

For Security, it's "Whose family did you forge documents for that allowed their escape?" I'll say it was the Ronin. The trade-off was that the Ronin come work for our team for a predefined period (of course, joke's on me, now I'm in the Ronin's head and can see how pissed she is at me). Sounds like Rage fits.

For Stealth, it's "Who did you witness doing something that still puts you off?" It was the Handler. She's willing to sacrifice us to finish the job. That's not plan A, but it's closer to A than Z, and that makes Jones a little nervous; surely there should be some attention paid to getting the team out safely? Fear fits here.

Now, normally I'd fill in the baggage from the other characters on the right side of my sheet, but since it's just me, I don't have any way to do that. Instead, I progress to the next step, which is Choose a Sub-culture. Jones feels pretty Corporate to me, but maybe that's too easy? Let's say he's a Net-head. He's the ghost in the machine. He's a "guest user."

Now I do my look. My eyes are focused, my hair is bald with retro net-ports (lots of folks have them, and it makes my tech look older than it is), my body is average, my clothes are second-hand, and my avatar, quite apart from the usual highly customized look that Net-heads go for, is a simple, generic, default guest avatar that a lot of systems use.

Next step: choosing my Disciplines. I get +2, +1, 0, -1, and -2. I'm meant to put higher scores in emotions I can deal with more easily. OK, then. I think Jones has a good grip on Fear and Rage, so I'll put my +2 and +1 there, respectively. I'll stick my 0 in Ego; it's kind of a wash for Jones (he's good and he knows it, but he's learned humility and he doesn't like to take credit). I'll put -1 into Grief, since he still grapples with guilt. That leaves the -2 for Need, which is perfect; Jones doesn't like to admit that he needs anyone or anything, but now there are people in his head.

Next would be defining Ghost Operators, but that's another "I need a group" thing, so I'll skip it.

That brings me to "Define Your Regret." What did Jones do for a Corporation that he now regrets? Well, I think that Jones is the kind of person you call if you need someone disappeared, not just dead. He can kill you and wipe out your 'net presence, up to a point. So I think that he was called in to take out a young idealist. She was interested in actually following AO's mandate of bringing information to the people, even if said information was scary or unpredictable, and she had ideas that were actually fresh and new. AO's suits couldn't handle that, so Jones was called in not just to kill her, but make her work look...ordinary. He can live with killing, but snuffing out real innovation still eats at him. Her name was Sinnead.

That leads into the next step, which is Drive. I can have a Vengeance or Redemption Drive, but Redemption sounds better. Jones' Drive is "get Sinnead's unedited work into the 'net."

Edges! I pick two from a list. Let's see. I'll take Registered as a Lethal Weapon (extra Harm in unarmed combat, though really tracking Harm doesn't seem to matter much) and Identity Thief. I have lots of backup IDs and related files ready to go. It's stored digitally, in the servers of some little company that has more computing power than brains.

And I get an upgrade. Oh, it's the "Potato Head Disguise Kit;" I can remove my features and mix-and-match them. I'm not thrilled about that (there are optional rules that let me pick a different one, but I'm not going to bother). I just think it's silly.

And that's it!