Well, today was supposed to involve running this game, but I was feeling rather under the weather, so that didn't happen, and then there was drama the likes of which just makes you do a double-take (no, I'm not elaborating publicly), and so now I'm going to make a character instead and run it next week. So.
The Game: Chariot
The Publisher: Room 207 Press
Degree of Familiarity: None; I've read it.
Books Required: Just the one.
So, Chariot is based on stories of Atlantis, which I've never read. But really, the game is about altruism - you're playing characters who are effectively indestructible, so the stakes are never "or else your character dies." Misspent Youth does this, too, and I like it, for a couple of reasons.
For one thing (and you might find this massively hypocritical because of curse the darkness, but hear me out) character death is never that big a threat anyway. Players who enjoy the moment of drama that the death of a character causes will enjoy it regardless, and players who get uncomfortable when their character dies will get uncomfortable. The threat in a game isn't "we could die" unless there's been a lot of investment in a character and in the game itself, 'cause otherwise you just make a new character and carry on.
But in Chariot, you're playing one of a handful of people who are Fated to die in the Catastrophe - like, the "Atlantis sinks beneath the waves" kind of thing. Until that happens, you don't die. The game does advise playing through that point, but it would take at least a few sessions to do right and I'm just gonna run a one-shot. In any case, though, it looks fascinating and I'm hoping that my lack of familiarity with the subject matter doesn't make me miss too much.
Anyway, making a character is pretty straightforward. Just requires a Tarot deck (oh, right, the game uses Tarot as the resolution mechanic and is therefore my catnip).
I first pick a Culture. I can be Lemurian, Muvian, Atlantean, Rmoahal, or Tlavatli. Of those, I like Muvians and the Tlavatlis the most. I think we'll go with Muvian, just because their approach to love and sex appeals (basically, obviously you have sex with your friends, there's no such thing as exclusivity, and when children happen everyone raises them). I add 3 points to Will for being a Muvian.
Now I pick Social Station. I kind of want to be a Noble. This game asks players to examine privilege and attitudes toward entrenched bias and acceptance of societal evil in a collapsing society, and I think it'd be interesting to play someone who has benefited greatly from Things Being How They Are, and in the face of knowing that it's all gonna end...what? Muvian Nobles were officers in the military and know how to use sky-chariots, which is awesome. I can see my character looking down upon armies clashing and directing troop movements, but just seeing dots. I add 2 to People, 2 to Will, and 2 to Machines.
Next I pick a Fate. This tells me which of the 20 Fated Witnesses I am, my special power (all the Fated are superlative in some way) and how I'll eventually die. I'll pick this randomly, but that means I have to pull the Major Arcana from the deck (less the Emperor, Empress, Tower, and Death). Just a moment. OK, I draw the World, which means I'm the Lover (and means that if I draw the Lovers or the World in a conflict, I automatically win).
The Lover is all about understanding people, spiritual joining, empathy. I die when I meet my true soulmate, and then we join into a Rebis and pass into the collective unconscious forever. That sounds nice. My Boon is that I can sway people's hearts, which in game terms means I can swap Relationships around. I can change friends to enemies and so forth. It's an interesting direction for this character, actually. Kinda like it. I get to add 3 to Hands, People, and Psychic.
Now I do Suits; Cups, Pentacles, Wands, and Swords, just like you'd expect. I get 20 points to divide between them (minimum 2, max 10). Let's see. If we figured that this game is starting off when my character is still a soldier or an officer, which I like, then Wands (violence and conflict) should be high. But as the Lover, I feel like Cups (fixing things, feelings) should be decent, too. I'll put 7 into Wands, 4 into Pentacles, 5 into Cups, and 4 into Swords.
Attributes, then. There are 9 of these. I start off with +5 in Will, +5 in People, +2 in Machines, +3 in Hands, and +3 in Psychic. And then I get 3 more points to put anywhere. Hmm. Well, I feel like I should be better physically, so I'll put them into Body.
I know magic, too, since I have points in Psychic. Magic is divided into 10 Techniques, but I can only take two of them (Vril and Qlippoth) if I know all the others, which I won't (I only get three since I have Psychic 3). Hmm. Well, because of how magic works, I want to pick Techniques that resonate with Suits I have good scores in, so that's Wands and Cups again. My four choices there are Harnessing (moving, controlling, contain elements); Withering (hurting living things); Nurturing (healing living things) or Unleashing (BOOM!).
I'll take Harnessing, Unleashing, and Nurturing. He doesn't have Withering because hurting people directly isn't his thing. Military action is all about making people dead, not killing people.
Finally, Relationships. This is neat: You've got 16 Relationship slots, and during the game, if you've got an open slot, when the GM introduces an NPC you can say "he's my Knight of Cups" or whatever and establish a preexisting relationship. I, as the Lover, can shuffle them around more than most characters, but I still start with three open Relationships. I have Page of Cups, Knight of Wands, and Knight of Pentacles open (which are a younger friend, a contemporary comrade, and a contemporary rival).
Neat! So now I just need a name. There's a handy list, and I like "Aumec."
So: Aumec is descended from a famous Muvian general named Myne. He was given his first command fairly young, and befriended the troops, inspiring (manipulating?) loyalty. His campaigns have been successful, large because his troops feel like they know him. His own cohort, as far as the love/sex/friendship thing that Muvians have going on, though, is with other officers. He's not opposed to fraternizing with the rank and file, but he needs to be able to send them to their deaths.
But now he's caught a glimpse of the future, and the future, for everyone, is death, fear, and pain. And he's not going to be riding the chariot when that happens, he'll be down among the troops, naked and bleeding, just like everyone else. And the thing he can't figure out is why that doesn't scare him, but rather, feels right.
That's me done, then!