Saturday, December 31, 2016

Character Creation: Our Last Best Hope

This is the last chargen post of the year. I wanted to do it last night, but I wasn't sure what game to do and I was tired. Today, I should be writing, but I like the symmetry of doing a last character of the year/first character of the year, and I already know what I want as my first character creation post of the year (tune in tomorrow!).

The Game: Our Last Best Hope
The Publisher: Magpie Games
Degree of Familiarity: Some. I played it at...Origins? GenCon? a few years back, and I keep meaning to run it with my players.
Books Required: Just the one.

I was looking over my bookshelves trying to choose a game to be the "last game of 2016." I was thinking something horror- or post-apoc related would be good, but I've already done a lot of the games in those genres that I know well, and I didn't have time to read a big thick book (which is why I put Dystopia Rising down for now). And then today, I saw Our Last Best Hope on the shelf, and that clicked.

Our Last Best Hope was Kickstarting at the same time as curse the darkness, and indeed, +Mark and I ran a cross-promotion for the campaigns (there's a curse the darkness mission playset in Infinite Shadows). Our companies have gone on to bigger and better things; Magpie has Epyllion and Masks and Bluebeard's Bride, and we have Chill and A Tragedy in Five Acts (and, like, other things in the works, but mostly it's been Chill for the past few years). But Our Last Best Hope resonates with me - like curse the darkness, it's a weird little indie game. Like curse the darkness, the rules are maybe just a bit obtuse. And like curse the darkness, it's fundamentally about people pushing back against extinction.

I had actually taken Our Last Best Hope off the list because character creation is so tied in to the group collaboration (same reason Tragedy isn't on my list). But in reading over it again, I think it'll work. No character sheet, though.

So, the first step would be picking the Crisis. There are three mission playsets in the book; I'll go with the Snow Mission. Normally we'd pick a specific Crisis, here, but since it's just me, I'll say that a freak superstorm has frozen most of the northern hemisphere. There's a device at a Canadian research lab that could (somehow) reverse the process, but only our team has the proximity and the know-how to get to it and activate it in time; if we miss our window, the process is irreversible (like my raincoat!).

Now, in making a character, I first choose a Role: Engineer, Scientist, Soldier, or Doctor. I think I played a Doctor when I played this before, but I honestly don't remember. Today, I think I'm more interested in playing a Soldier, though I'm not literally going to make him military ("Soldier" is an archetype).

Amos Bracken is an outdoorsman. Never served in the military, but has done more than a lot of guys. He's worked as a crab fisherman, a trucker, a bounty hunter, a mechanic, a hunting/fishing guide, and finally he came into some money (he won't say how) and fucked off to live in the woods in Alaska somewhere. When this all went down, the team used his home as the base camp before setting off into the storm. Sounds good.

I need to define what I'm bringing with me and what I'm leaving behind. I'll say Amos is bringing his knife belt. He made a harness that holds five hunting knives, made it out of leather from some animal he killed and skinned. He's leaving behind his money. He's got a floor safe full of cash. It's not much good now.

Now I'd do story cards. Two of these rely on other characters (one character keeps me sane, the other drives me crazy), but I don't have a group, so I'll skip that. I can, however, do the Secret and Fear cards - one is a Secret that Amos keeps and one is a Fear he harbors. His Secret is that he and a buddy stole and armored car - that's where he got his money. He left the armored car and his buddy's body out in the middle of nowhere (it'd be cool to have the team take refuge in it during the mission). His Fear is becoming paralyzed or trapped. He's active and mobile, and being unable to move on his own scares the hell out of him.

Next, I create and Asset; this is something that the team has to benefit them. I'll say we have a speedboat modified for over-snow travel, kinda like a big snowmobile. I also need to create a Threat, something that we could face and maybe have to kill during the mission. Since as the Soldier I do better against Threats I can shoot (or stab), I'll make a starving, crazed grizzly bear as a Threat.

Finally, I draw a Death card. This isn't necessarily how Amos will die, but if the dice say I die during Act I of the game, I can play the card and cheat death (or confirm it, if it works with the card). I don't actually have cards, but there are eight deaths, so I just roll a d8 and call it a day. I get to prove you care, which is, um, not the first way I'd have seen ol' Amos going out, but I kinda like it.

And that's it! Like I said, no sheet, so no picture of a sheet. Amos is ready to accompany his team into the frozen wastelands to reverse the new Ice Age and, hopefully, save the world. I, likewise, am going to go make tea for myself and +Michelle. Probably that won't save the world, but it's a start.