Sunday, January 29, 2017

Character Creation: QAGS

Two chargen posts in a row, whaaaat. I have some time, and this'll put me caught up with my weekly character resolution. (Normally I'd stick a game prep post in there, but Night's Black Agents got cancelled yesterday and I already have my Feng Shui prep done.)

The Game: QAGS (Quick-Ass Gaming System), 2nd Edition
The Publisher: Hex Games
Degree of Familiarity: None. I don't think I've ever played this system.
Books Required: Just the one.

I got QAGS 2nd Ed in the Haiti bundle a really long time ago, and I've read most of it. It's near the top of my list and I think it's pretty simple, so that's a good choice for today.

My first hurdle, though, is that QAGS, like GURPS, is just a system. By itself it doesn't have a setting, but the book handily provides 10, and I just happen to have a 10-sided die right here (because +Michelle didn't put her dice away after Promethean last week). Rolling, I get 2. The 2nd genre setup in the book is...cinema verite. Um, OK. Interesting setup for something as light as QAGS, but I'll give it a shot.

I want to point out that Heathers, "all that Danielle Steel crap," and outright porn are in this list.
The sample campaign they give you for this is Dude, Where's My Cape, in which all the characters are sharing an apartment, all of the characters are superheroes with secret identities, and all of them are hiding the truth from others. I think that's sort of clever. I also think that maintaining that beyond a one-shot would be really difficult, but hey, maybe with the right group? The setup suggests that one of the characters be a super-villain, and hey, you know, that sounds like my jam.

So, let's see how character creation works. First thing I need, as usual, is a concept. Well, with our fairly thin set-up, and assuming I want to be a supervillain in our weird sitcom-ish cinema verite thing going on, and wanting to keep things light, my villain is call the Pedant. He's not really concerned about "good" and "evil" per se; morality is relative and the free market will sort it all out. No, he just wants everyone to be right. Have you considered the data? Have you checked your sources? You'd better have.

In his day job, he's a freelance writer and editor (magazines, mostly), and he makes a living (like most sitcom characters, he has an unrealistically fantastic apartment), but he's always hurting for extra cash. Hence, robbing banks and pulling heists, which supervillains don't do enough of anymore.

His secret identity is Maynard Milton (folks call him "Milt", which he hates, but recognizes that "Maynard" isn't much better). His concept/archetype is "Know-it-all." QAGS lists archetypes, like from Campbell, and I think "Threshold Guardian" fits the Pedant pretty well.

Now I start doing numbers. I had to dig around a little; the GM would decide the number of Yum-Yums players get to make characters (I'm not making this up), but there's a chart in the GM's section, and apparently 100 YY makes an average character. I have to figure that despite our powers, these characters are going to be mostly "average", given the genre (runs in my head there was a super-hero movie that kinda fits this, The Specials maybe?). Anyway, 100 Yum-Yums. You got it.

First, Body, Brain, and Nerve. I don't picture the Pedant as being especially fit. 11 is average, so I'll just do that.

Brain, though, that's where I'm a Viking. I want Pedant's Brain score at the top of the curve. Max is 16, so let's do that. I've spent 27.

And then Nerve. I guess 13, better than average but not amazing? That means I've spent an event 40 points.

Next up, Job. Writer/Super-Villain, sure. I'll say that Pedant is better than average at this, so the score is 10, which costs me 20 points. I've spent half my points.

Now I get a Gimmick. A Gimmick covers a whole lot of ground, and it's probably where my super-powers should come in. I could take something like "Remembers Everything" but frankly with my Brain score as high as it is, I don't really need to. Hmm. I feel like the Pedant should be a mind-controller or other form of psychic? Or, hey. There was a power in Shattered Dreams called "Reality Check" that let you impose the rules of "real life" on dreams. I want Pedant's power to be something like that, except we'll call it "well, actually" - he can shut down other being's powers and impose "reality" on the situation by explaining it. Gimmicks have ratings, which measure how often they show up in a session. It starts at 10, and I've got 50 freaking points left, so I'll pump 10 points into this and take my rating up to 15.

Now I get a Weakness, which is just like it sounds. Pedant's Weakness is that he's Easily Frustrated, in all senses of the word. I'll leave it at 10.

And then I get Skills. Skills aren't covered by my Job, they're things I do as a hobby, basically. I have, what, 40 points left, meaning I could take a bunch (they're three YY for a +1 and then 1 YY for every additional +1 after that, so I could take, what, 10 Skills at +2? That seems absurd. Howzabout I dump 6 more points into my Job, making it 13, which takes me down to 34 points to spend? Sure.

Skills, then. I think "Defensive Driving" sounds good; it's not what Milt is trained in, but it's become necessary. I'll dump 4 YY there for a +2, which leaves 30 points left, my goodness. I'll take "Fisticuffs" at +1, because I'm sure it'll come up. 27 points to go. I see Pedant as being decent at hacking, so I'll take Hacking at +4, which costs me 5 points (down to 22). Wow, 100 is a lot of points (though of course I can't know if this makes for a viable character). Oh, wait, something I missed: If you raise your Gimmick it automatically raises your weakness, so I would need to spend 15 to bring my Weakness from 15 to 10. Shit, sure. That means I have 7 points remaining. That's more better.

Well, my HP starts at 11, but I can raise it, so I'll put it to 13 (4 YY), which leaves me 3, which is fine, because having a few in play is a good idea.

Now a few little quirks: My tag line is "Um, no." Dumb fact is on the sheet, but not actually mentioned during chargen (anyway, Pedant knows all the dumb facts). WWPHITM stands for "who would play him in the movie?" I think Pedant is pretty obviously played by Patton Oswalt.

And there you have it! I think episodes of Dude, Where's My Cape? should all end with the characters playing a board game in Milt's apartment, discussing the events of the episode while the credits roll.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Character Creation: Strays

Much like last week, I let Sunday slip by without making a character, but I have a little time today, so I figure I'll do a quick character and then try and get another one done on Sunday so I'm caught up.

The Game: Strays
The Publisher: Wordsmith Games
Degree of Familiarity: Some. I've run it with my family and I'm familiar with the underlying system.
Books Required: The book is standalone, but I have Fate Accelerated if I need it.

So, Strays is a Fate Accelerated game in which you play stray animals. The book is mostly a rehash of FAE, and the author has caught some flack for that, but I dunno, I think it's pretty solid. Also my dog's in it.
See? Si! (Art by Jason Kerr)

So anyway, I'm gonna make a dog. He's a curly-haired terrier mixed, and he used to belong to a family, but then one day on a road trip he fell down an embankment and into a river, and got washed downstream. He's very confused and lost, but believes his people will find him someday. He's just gotta be patient. His name is Ruffles (because his fur looks kinda like ruffles, if you're a six-year-old girl, like the one who named him). He's mostly black but with some white bits, and he's got pointy ears. (Can't you just picture him? AW! RUFFLES!)

I need a High Concept to start us off. Let's say Lost Dog; I think that's nicely simple. For Trouble, I want Is That My Family!? Ruffles chases off after anyone he thinks might be his family, but he's invariably disappointed.

And then I need one more Aspect. Unlike a lot of Fate games, Strays doesn't ask that this be tied into anything in particular. I picture Ruffles as being very quick, maybe too fast for his own good. I'll take Runs Faster Than He Thinks as an Aspect.

The book states that I can add more Aspects, but I dunno if I want to or not. I think I'd like one to reflect his relationship with his human; Ruffles is the kind of dog that would let her paint his nails and put hats on him. I'll take "Human Children Can Do No Wrong."

So now Approaches! I've got six to split up Good, Fair, Fair, Average, Average, Mediocre.

Well, Ruffles is pretty obviously best at Quick, so I'll put his Good there. I'll put my Fairs into Forceful and Flashy (I am barky!), my Averages into Sneaky and Clever (I am...not terribly smart) and my Mediocre into Sneaky (I am barky!).

Now, Stunts. I get 3 Refresh and one Stunt, but of course I can spend Refresh to get more Stunts if I want them.

Let's see. I think my Stunt is "Because I am a mighty hunter, I get +2 to quickly overcome when I am chasing something." I'd kinda like something that doesn't play quite so strongly to my strengths, too, so let's see. "Because I am a good guard dog, I get +2 to flashily defend when threatened by mean humans."

And that'll do it, actually. I want to keep 2 of my Refresh. Ruffles is ready to go find his family and bark at things!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Promethean: Mmm, beignets

Monday was Promethean, and you'd think by now I'd know to do the write-up before Thursday, but it's been kind of a busy week. Anydangway!

Feather, Avalon, and Grimm arrive in New Orleans and head for Cafe Dumond - Feather wants to introduce the others to beignets. Matt, who was off on his own searching for his creator, catches up with them there. Enoch is missing; he had something to handle on his own before getting to New Orleans (also his player was out Monday). 

Feather and Matt look around the cafe for Pilgrim Marks. Feather finds one scratched into the ceiling meaning "atonement", while Matt finds one on a nearby bench by the river meaning "refuge this way" and pointing downriver. Feather, now following Plumbum and the Chronicler Role, decides to find this "refuge," and Matt (also Plumbum, but the Ascetic Role) goes with her. Meanwhile, Avalon goes into the city and visits a statue garden, while Grimm goes looking for trouble. 

Avalon's the one that finds trouble, though. One of the statues in the garden comes to life and leaps at her - a Pandoran! She uses the Flesh to Stone Alembic to stun it, but that won't last long, so she texts Feather for help. Feather, knowing she's too far away, texts Grimm and hesitates (earning her a Beat). Grimm, of course, is down for a challenge. He races to the statue garden and sees Avalon getting her hand chewed up, and grabs the thing and tosses it to the ground. It bites his shin, but Avalon petrifies it again and Grimm stomps it to pieces. 

Feather and Matt follow the river around to an inlet, still submerged after the hurricane. Feather, figuring there might be more Pilgrim Marks, dives in, and Matt follows. Feather dives deep, but Matt feels something swim by them. He peers close, and sees a creature with an alligator's head, a fish-like body, and two horribly human baby-legs on the back. It bites at Feather, but Matt grabs it and wrestles it. And then they feel Azoth call to Azoth - Skip?

On the bank, a gateway opens and Skip emerges. He says goodbye to Ellie (his guide through the Hedge, as depicted here), and looks around. He feels his throngmates and sees thrashing in the water, and jumps in, smashing the creature down into the muck. The three Prometheans swim for shore, not wanting to face this thing in the water (smart). They reunite with Skip, and decide to head back into the city to see the others. 

Avalon, meanwhile, has gone back to the place where the Pandoran-statue was and reads that the sculptor was someone named Parris Mick. Wondering if this person is a Promethean or just a very unlucky sculptor, she resolves to look them up. She and Grimm get back together with the others and they figure they need some juice. There's a power station across the river, so the characters look around and find a boat-tour still operating. On Sunday. At night. They pay a bit of money and the boatmen takes them across. Grimm makes small talk, and the boatman tells him that there's nothing over there but swamp and the power station; he seems strangely at ease with the notion of taking them to either place. During the conversation, Grimm uses a Luciferus Distillation to make himself more likable, and the man opens up a bit - he's obviously some kind of supernatural being (though he doesn't say what) and claims to be part of the "Bone Krewe." He talks a bit about the "troubles" that happened recently.

What troubles? Well, a few years back, the dead in New Orleans started getting up and walking around, and it was up to the various supernatural creatures to put them down again. The boatman was part of that. He wasn't sure what might have caused that to happen, but it was right after Katrina...Feather speculates that the storm that destroyed the "refuge" might have also raised the dead. Avalon and Grimm go to grab the power lines and heal up/refill Pyros, while the others continue chatting. The boatman seems curious about them, but is polite. Skip mentions that when he was in the Underworld, he met a man in black with a bunch of silver charms who said Skip should look him up. The boatmen strokes Skip's palm and flicks through his memories (he's already done this to Grimm, too) and says he knows the guy, and he'll pass a message along.

When they get back, Avalon finds the address for Parris Mick's studio, and goes to visit. She knocks on the door and Parris - a thin, pale woman with dozens of butterflies tattooed on her arms and shoulders - answers. They talk and she acknowledges the statue, but then gets spooked (Disquiet) and leaves. It's then that Avalon notices the carving above her door - the same one the throng found on Charles Rivers' body back in Chicago, "leave me in peace." Is Parris, then, a Redeemed Promethean? Maybe. That in mind, the throng decides to leave her alone.

They go and get dinner. While eating, they feel another Promethean arrive - this one is small, skinny, and immediately comes over and asks if he can finish people's plates. He introduces himself as "Sicky," and Avalon asks if that's what he wants to be called. He says no one ever asked him that, and that seems significant to him. Feather takes his Measure and figure he's on Cuprum at the moment.

Sicky tells the characters a little about New Orleans - seems there was a camp of Prometheans (the refuge), but the Wasteland built up and destroyed it. Sicky confesses that he carved the symbol above Parris' door and says that she used to be a Promethean, one of the folks in the camp. He says that most of the others have scattered, but a few still remain in the area - New Orleans kinda attracts weirdness. He tells them that vampires in New Orleans don't like the Created much (the throng says the feeling is mutual). Feather asks about the inlet, and Sicky says that the alligator-monster is a Pandoran, created by a Promethean named Barbara. The throng figures maybe they'll go back and deal with that thing tomorrow. 

Sicky recommends that they dampen their Azoth; there are things in this city that can track them. Feather does so with a Distillation, but the others have to do it the old-fashioned way, which is dangerous. Sicky offers the throng a place to stay, and after dinner leads them to an abandoned building where he crashes. The throng beds down - it's been a long day and night, and New Orleans is only going to get weirder. 

Movie #388: The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hood is the jaunty, swashbuckly, Robin Hood movie starring Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains, Patric Knowles, Eugene Pallette, Alan Hale, Melville Cooper, and Ian Hunter. It's another classic movie that you think you've seen even if you've never seen it.

The story is familiar enough; Richard the Lion-hearted (Hunter) is off killing Saracens and gets his ass kidnapped, and his dumbass brother John (Rains) declares himself regent. He squeezes the peasants for tax mother, using the Sheriff of Nottingham (Cooper) and Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Rathbone) as his minions. Of course, the noble Sir Robin of Locksley (Flynn) stands up to the prince and...kills a shitload of his guards, but also robs from the rich, gives to the poor, with his band of merry men, etc.

Like I said, familiar enough. Robin romances the prince's ward, Maid Marian (de Havilland) and does all the swashbuckling and archery and so forth. At the end of the day, it's basically a kid's movie; the violence is bloodless and the romance is pretty chaste. It's fun to watch Flynn swinging around in tights, and it's extra fun to watch Claude Rains being slimy and evil as Prince John. And of course Basil Rathbone is an awesome villain (though I'd never seen Guy as the main baddy; in every retelling I'd ever heard it was the Sheriff who's the real nemesis). Also Alan Hale as Little John, very fun to watch. Will Scarlett (Knowles) doesn't have much to do except wear red and look super gay; guess they added the "expert at throwing knives" thing to give Christian Slater something to do.

Generally it's inoffensive, but like a lot of classic movies it's been done and redone so many times that it just kinda feels quaint.

My grade: B+
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: It Follows, but probably not until after Oscars are over

Monday, January 23, 2017

Promethean Notes, yo

So, like, don't read this if you're a player.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Game: Chill 3rd Edition (Boise)

So, yesterday the group that was playing Headspace met up again, at last (it's been like 4 months). We decided that we'd rather start something new than continue with Headspace, but that's no knock against +Mark's excellent game, it's just that our schedules didn't synch up for freaking ever and we've kinda lost the thread.

I pulled out three possibles: Chill, Werewolf: The Forsaken, and Hollow Earth Expedition. My group went for Chill, which of course suits me fine. We pulled out SAVE and the Chill core (and some Edges & Drawbacks from the forthcoming Monsters book, sssh) and got to makin' an HQ.

The players liked the idea of dealing with the Unknown in a rural setting, but wanted to have the HQ set in a population center, so they chose Boise, ID as the HQ site. The Boise HQ is a ranch, long owned by the Adams family (not Addams Family), who have been part of SAVE for generations. Then, back in the 1950s, Eli Adams inherited the ranch and went whole-hog into the Red Scare. He leased much of the land to the government and they built a missile silo. Fast forward to now; the silo's been decommissioned, the HQ lost touch with SAVE during Project Lifeboat but has now reconnected using Nejem's methods (so it's a cell), and Eli's sister "Auntie Dee" Adams has inherited the ranch.

The ranch isn't really a functioning ranch; there are a few animals around, but they're mostly for show. The place acts as a very small B&B during the season, and employs a small staff. As for the SAVE part of things, it's got a panic room (the old missile control room), it's peaceful as hell (Tranquility Quality), it's well-appointed and has an on-staff masseuse (Darnell Stafford; he's a former EMT, Army medic, and he's dealing with ongoing PTSD from his time in Iraq), and Eli's daughter Ruth Adams and her no-account boyfriend Chet Barnes help maintain the place.

No shortage of Unknown issues out here, too! The cell has dealt with an abandoned orphanage; kids were playing out there, getting possessed by something, and going to recruit others. They resolved that issue, but they feel like the real issue hasn't been fixed. Likewise, there's a wolf out there that just won't die. It shows up near the ranch sometimes, someone shoots it, and it just comes back with new scars. Also, there's a sasquatch somewhere in the woods nearby that is still alive...

Into all this, we have a few active SAVE envoys (that is, PCs) in the Boise HQ:

  • "Auntie Dee" Adams: Played by Jess. No one's sure what he real first name is, and no one really wants to ask. Dee owns the ranch and the property, having inherited it from her brother Eli. She's in her mid 60s, but still very much an active envoy. Her Drive is for Jesus (and my past, but mostly Jesus). Indeed, she has a little whippet mix she calls "Baby Jesus."
  • Dylan Reeves, played by Mike. Dylan is from San Diego, and was visiting his brother in Boise while a college student. They went into the woods with some friends, and that's when the wolf attack, tearing a classmate apart in front of them. His brother has been missing ever since. He transferred to Boise, finished his degree, and got a job at Boise as a prof. His Drive, of course, is to find his brother
  • Edward Potter, played by Rob. Edward is a filmmaker. He made a horror movie about a vampire-like creature called a penanggalan, which did very well...until an actual penanggalan came after him. He shot it out of the air, but isn't remotely hopeful that he killed it. He wound up joining SAVE, because the Unknown brought the fight to me, now I bring it to them
  • Jeanette "Jeanie" LeClerc, played by Michelle. Jeanie is descended from French fur traders, and she's an outdoorsy sort of person herself. She drove off a sasquatch that was attacking hikers, and eventually found her way to SAVE. She takes care of a lot of the maintenance and repair on the ranch. Her Drive is that people need rescued
  • Basil "BB" Bottomley, played by Sarah. Our favorite lovable Australian bounty hunter made his way out here from LA chasing a jumped bailed and decided to stay a while. The rugged countryside reminds him a little of home, but with fewer deadly spiders. His Drive, of course, is that everyone deserves justice
And that'll do it! Next month: Our first case!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Movie #387: The Illusionist

The Illusionist is a period romance/drama starring Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, and Rufus Sewell. It was an Oscar nominee some years back (Cinematography) which is why I saw it originally.

In 1889 Austria-Hungary, a magician named Eisenheim (Norton) wows the crowds with his tricks, and gets a visit from the Crown Prince (Sewell) who is, as is required in these movies, a douchebag. He also meets Chief Inspector Uhl (Giamatti), who is fascinated with his tricks, but also wants to rise above his station and follow the Prince to greatness. Turns out said prince is also engaged to Duchess von Teschen (Biel), who is Eisenheim's childhood sweetheart. Prince Douchebag, of course, goes full-on jealous rage, shuts Eisenheim down, and then seemingly kills the Duchess, prompting Eisenheim to switch from illusion to necromancy. He calls up the spirit of the Duchess, she intimates that the prince killed her, the prince shoots himself, justice is served. Of course, it's all an illusion (HA!) because Eisenheim smuggled her out with the other "magic chemical that makes you seem dead" routine and plants evidence to frame the prince, which is probably, like, super illegal, but whatevs, they're in love.

So, I'm being flip, but the truth is this movie is enjoyable. It's slow and light, but it's pretty, and while you can see the "twist" coming a mile away if you pay attention, it's still a good show. Plus, it deserved it's nom for cinematography. Norton is decent, Giamatti and Sewell are better, and Biel is wasted as Girlfriend (seriously, you learn literally not one thing about her, but you don't learn that much more about Eisenheim; the character you come away knowing the best is Uhl). Really, this movie's biggest problem is that it came out the same year as The Prestige, which was better scripted, better acted, had a hugely greater budget and had David Bowie as Tesla (but we'll get to the Ps eventually).

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-low

Next up: It Follows

Monday, January 16, 2017

Character Creation: Action Planet

Sure, I've got time. I think.

The Game: Action Planet
The Publisher: Point of Insanity Game Studio
Degree of Familiarity: None.
Books Required: Just the one, which might be a free rules version, I'm not sure.

I got this game in a bundle some years back. It's a cute idea: Some very rich guy bought a planet and is using it to make movies. You play an actor in those movies, the extras are robots, and you can apparently be revived if things get a little too rough. I'm not crazy about some of the artwork, but the concept is neat (see also It Came From the Late Late Late Show).

So, I'm creating an actor, who would then be cast in a role by the Director (the GM). This is the far-future, so nothing says I have to be human. Actually, sure. I'm kind of inspired by Alan Rickman's amazing performance in Galaxy Quest (yes, he's human, but his character wasn't). So, my character is an alien from the planet Jerzy 4. This planet is big on acting and theater, and so they get along great with humans.

Jerzyians look more or less human, but they have a second thumb (which makes them nimble) and an extra set of vocal folds (which means they can harmonize with themselves). They have different skin tones than people, too; my guy's skin is a rich, golden color. His name is Gralpz Gazin (ethnic, but not too).

OK, I get 25 points to build this guy. I've got four Abilities (Comedy, Action, Romance, and Drama). Those cost 2-for-1, and even a score of 1 isn't terrible (and I start with one in each). OK. So I'll go for:

Action 2 (not really his thing, but he can fake it)
Comedy 3
Romance 4
Drama 3

That costs me 16 points, leaving me 9.

I need to buy Stamina, which costs 3 per 5 points. I start with 50. I'll spend 6, I guess, raise it to 60? Hard to know without playing it. I have 3 left.

I'll leave Health at 25, figuring that my character often "dies" before the end. I really want a big romantic lead role, though.

And then Perks. I want Attractive for 3 (which means I'm out and I'll have to take Cliches if I want more points, which I do), Exit Stage Left (once per movie I can automatically dodge an attack), and Specialist (I get a bonus when playing soldiers; got my start in a rom-com about the Space Marines). That means I'm 8 over, so off to Cliches I go!

Cliches are like drawbacks. I need 8 points. I'll take...oh, man, these are low in points, compared to Perks. This is gonna be hard. I'll take Squeamish (can't stand the sight of blood), Pacifist (I can use weapons, I'm just bad at it), Showoff, Oh Crit (I take extra damage if surprised), and Misfire (guns don't work well for me).

And that'll do, it I think! Ready for my close-up!

Feng Shui Prep!


Last session is here. Obviously we need to get Wildfire back, but beyond that, we must consider how long we wish this particular story to go on.

And now, time for the page break!

Changeling/Promethean: The More You Struggle

Yesterday I ran a Changeling: The Lost/Promethean: The Created one-shot, mostly to get Skip (+John's character) back to our Promethean chronicle.

So! We've got four characters. Ellie Graves, a Telluric changeling who was last seen here chasing werewolves; Skip, an Ulgan Promethean las seen here flying off a mountain; Whisperer, a Whisperwisp information broker; and Sabrina Rae, a Waterborn waitress.

We start off in New Haven, CT, at a diner. Sabrina works here, and Ellie works night stock in the grocery store across the street. Whisperer doesn't usually come to this side of town (near the university), but things have been weird lately.

To wit: The king (Mist) is missing, and he's not the only one. Changelings have been disappearing in the Hedge of late, and the Thorns have become close and dark. Some changelings report tiny glittering treasures on the path, as though luring the Lost off. Everyone's become a bit paranoid about it. So tonight, Whisperer is in the diner. Ellie walks in and sits with him, and they chat with Sabrina.

The changelings agree that Mist going missing is bad, and that this situation problem deserves some scrutiny. Whisperer isn't generally a fan of getting his hands dirty, but in this particular case, it's worth his while. They decide to go do some prep and meet back at noon to go a-Hedging.

During the interim, Whisperer makes some inquiries. He learns that some changelings have seen webs in the trees, which is, um, kinda scary. He also hears tell of a strange creature that apparently cannot be seen by the Fae or Hedge-creatures (though changelings can see it).

They do so, with some gear and some sandwiches, and Whisperer tells them what he's heard. This mysterious being was last seen near the truck stop outside of town, so they go there and enter the Hedge. Ellie uses Pathfinder to look for disturbances, and she finds a place where the Thorns have been beaten down into a path. Some of the thorns have a black, smoky substance on them that evaporates as the changelings watch. Sabrina calls into the hollow: "Hello?"

And Skip answers. "Hello?"

He emerges, and the changelings are confused; this thing looks human, but clearly isn't (because, well, it's here). They decide to take him out of the Hedge, and when they do, their miens fade, which confuses Skip some. They talk, and Skip tells them that the last he knew, he was on a mountain in Colorado, there was a storm, he went blind, something hit him, and he woke up in the Hedge. Whisperer takes this opportunity to use Visions of Strife to see Skip's most traumatic moment, and sees him getting stabbed and dying (it happened here). Whisperer also feels that he can't trust this thing; it's clearly not human.

They buy Skip some clothes and he goes off to change. Whisperer makes his concerns known, and the others concur; they aren't sure what this guy is, really, but he's not human and they've got other concerns. Skip comes back and they tell him he can be on his way, but he demurs - he wants to help them. And besides, he doesn't know where his friends are, and what if they're in the Hedge, trapped like he was? Ellie relents; the changelings need the help, and besides, they understand feeling trapped in the Hedge.

They open a new gateway (which earns Skip his projectio milestone: willingly reenter the Hedge), and they start towards New Haven. Indeed, the trees are dark and full of webs, and the path narrows to only one abreast. Up ahead, they see a hand on the path...Mists'. They have Skip break the thorns and pull him off, and Sabrina uses her token (a vial of water around her neck that can heal or put someone to sleep), mixes a drop with some coffee and gives it to him. He comes to enough to whisper "harvestman."

Ellie has heard of the harvestman, a Hedge-spider of immense proportions. They start going forward, to the nearest Hedge-gate...but then Ellie, in the lead, gets caught up in a net and yanked over the path. The harvestman tries to bite her, but she kicks at it. Skip, Sabrina and Whisperer climb up the tree to help, and Skip tries to punch it, but manages to miss on 15 dice, which is pretty absurd, but it happens.

Sabrina, however, is ready to go. The spider spits webbing at them, but she activates Armor of Elements' Fury and it falls off. Ellie does likewise (only her armor is sound). She falls to the path and the spider follows and bites her, poisoning her. Whisperer grabs Mist and uses Night's Subtle Distractions to confuse the spider, and Sabrina lands on it and kicks it, and Skip follows, knocking it off the path. The changelings run to the gate, and zip through into an office on campus.

Sabrina cures Ellie of the poison, and Mist starts taking volunteers to track down and kill the spider. Ellie, though, promised Skip she'd get him to his friends....but he isn't sure where they are. Since the man at the River of Death told Skip to look him up in New Orleans, that's where he decides to go, so Ellie takes him through the Hedge to the Big Easy. Almost immediately upon exiting, Azoth calls to Azoth. He's found his throng.

In a couple of weeks, we'll have that reunion! Ellie, meanwhile, heads home.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Misspent Youth: Celestial Bureaucracy - Episode 1

Yesterday we played our firs session of Misspent Youth. Characters and setup are here if you need a refresher.

Let's do this.
We start off, of course, with some Authority Figures for the episode:

  • The Comptrollers, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. They determine how long prisoners stay on Bardo and when they've burned off their Mojo.
  • Supply chains. Everything on Bardo is tightly controlled. Food and supplies are brought in from off planet, keeping everyone hungry. 
  • Julio, the characters' advocate. He's got the head of a crocodile. Prisoners on Bardo have "case workers" who advocate for them, but they're really not on the prisoners' sides. 
  • Cerberus, one of three giant, blobby, smoke-creatures that fly around the planet and attack people, to keep them terrorized and weak. 
  • Theo, the fitness instructor. Remember that all the skin-suits need to be kept fit and healthy. Theo works with them to make sure of that. 
And then we have some Friendship Questions:
  • Jacqui asks Alaska: "Whose picture is under your mattress?" Her answer: "Mine, of course."
  • Alaska asks Yasha: "How uncomfortable were you when I stopped sleeping with you?" Her answer: "Very, but we've got a revolution to plan."
  • Yasha asks Kshanti: "What annoys you most about me?" Her answer: "Your belief that you can make things better."
  • Kshanti asks Eli: "What do you have in your pocket?" Their answer: "Your mother's knife."
  • Eli asks Jacqui: "What did you give me for your first hit of Mojo?" Her answer: A sigil drawn as soon as the Mojo kicked in. 
Scene One: What's Up 

Alaska's player starts us off, and chooses Theo. We're in the gym, and Theo is mercilessly working the YOs. They talk telepathically (remember that they can do that), and they fantasize about humiliating Theo and getting away from this. They gripe about how they aren't allowed to do what they want with their bodies, and finally Alaska starts complaining out loud. Theo responds by intensifying the workout, and Jacqui starts a chant: "Let! Us! Stop!" Theo tells them that they'll just be here all day, and locks the doors, but Kshanti hacks the console of the machine she's on and unlocks them. Eli, for their part, drops weights on Theo's foot (accidentally but not really), but Theo, eyes now glowing, is not phased. Yasha tries to join the chant, to keep it going, but chokes and freezes up. The YOs lose, and the spend the day getting mercilessly exercised. 

Kickoff: This episode is about body sovereignty.

Scene Two: Fighting Back

Yasha's player sets us up, and chooses her question to Kshanti ("what annoys you most about me?"). The YOs are back in their dorms, about to get shipped off for their periodic beautification (this includes plastic surgery, though they can't ever seem to remove Jacqui's face birthmark). They talk about how the gods can go get fucked rather than control their bodies, and decide to give each other tattoos...using Mojo, so the tattoos are extra special. Eli supplies the tattoos. Jacqui gets one on her forearm, Yasha on her back, Kshanti on her chest, Eli on their bald head, and Alaska on her face. 

And then they're taken off to the hospital, and Eli is the first into the grinder. The staff at the hospital decide to remove the tattoos, and eventually wind up doing it; they use Mojo and an acid bath to strip it away. 

Beat: Reversal (losing the tattoos). Question: What is bodily sovereignty worth? 

Scene Three: Heating Up

Kshanti's player starts this scene, and chooses Julio, the YO's advocate. Julio arrives at the hospital and tells them that they're likely to get a bunch more time added to their sentences, but they could get their sentences reduced if they reveal where they go the Mojo. The YOs solidly refuse unless Julio sweetens the deal, and Julio tells them he'll try and renegotiate (the YOs, of course, have no intention of selling out Eli, but then, Julio probably has no intention of helping them get their sentences reduced). Kshanti says that this didn't work because they just got tattoos, and Jacqui says they need to go deeper: Ritual scarification. They should steal some drugs from the hospital, go on vision quests, and carve the symbols deep into their flesh. Everyone agrees, and Jacqui goes sneaking into a supply closet to steal drugs. Julio comes back looking for her, but Alaska preens and Yasha confronts him, and the YOs win on Jacqui's Sneaky Conviction. 

Scene Four: We Won

Eli's player kicks us off, choosing Kshanti's question to Eli (about the knife). It's the next day, and the YOs have had their vision questions. With their sigils in mind, they steal out to an abandoned barn after their (very painful) morning workout, and get to work. Eli pulls out the knife, and Kshanti recognizes it as her mother's - but her mother is Kali, the goddess (she says). Eli says it's a long story about how she got it, and they agree to have that conversation another time. Jacqui starts carving and Eli rubs the wounds with ink. 

They carve up Alaska's face, and then Yasha's fist. Yasha goes outside and sees the sky growing dark - something's coming. Is it a Cerberus, or just a passing ship? Inside, Kshanti carves a sigil into Eli's head, and uses the sigil that Jacqui drew for Eli some time back...which Kshanti has never seen. Kshanti's player rolls and loses, but sells out Smart to Pedantic. Kshanti, explaining the significance of the knife and the sigil, cuts Eli deep, but all the YOs get their scars. 

Scene Five: We're Fucked

My turn. I chose Cerberus, obviously. The smoke cloud envelops the barn, and the YOs feel their new wounds start to burn. The Cerberus itself - a skeletal wolf-creature - pounces at Yasha, who punches it, knocking it into the building and making it flash with light. It attacks Eli, who focuses and brings down the pain and the voices in their heads to make them all able to concentrate. The creature leaps down, mouth open, but Jacqui's player rolls and loses. She sells out Fast to Efficient, and flings the rest of the Mojo-laced ink at the wolf. It splashes over the creature, trapping it in a net. The sky lightens again; the YOs have escaped noticed. 

Beat: Discovery (the scars have empowered us)

Scene Six: Who Wins

Jacqui's player sets this up, and chooses Eli's question to Jacqui (about the sigil). The YOs experiment with their powers. They realize that Yasha punched a god-tech monster and damaged it, which is impossible. Jacqui concentrates on the blood streaming from Eli's head and makes it retract - sangromancy! Eli has greater control over the Empathy, letting Eli calm it down and focus it. Kshanti sits by the trapped wolf-monster and tries to manipulate the Mojo, but cannot control it. The wolf's gears strip and it falls apart. The mutations are unstable. 

The YOs lose this one. The Authority gains a new System of Control.

Scene Seven: Dust Settles

Alaska's player sets this up, choosing Jacqui's question to her (about the picture). They're at breakfast the next day, carved up and wounded, but the guards don't seem to be bugging them much. Alaska has her picture with her, and sees Theo...and then changes into him. She's pissed at him, and that seems to spawn her magic. Eli tries to calm him, but that just cements it more. Jacqui shows Alaska her picture, trying to spawn her to get back to her own face, but that doesn't seem to help. Eli focuses more, using their new power, trying to get Alaska's head in the right place (and wins on Eli's Mojo Provider Conviction). Alaska changes into herself, and the YOs get shuffled out for morning workout. 


The Authority doesn't seem to mind about the character's wounds. Indeed, they're doing some Mojo research of their own. I added Mojo Manipulation as a System of Control. 

One-shot Notes: Promethean/Changeling Hoedown

May not actually contain any hoedowns.

I'm running a one-shot tonight, so I should take some notes. This is involving Skip, the Ulgan Promethean from my ongoing game (The 7th Angel) and Ellie Graves, the Telluric changeling who was last seen in this one-shot. We've also got Sabrina Rae, a Waterborn changeling who bought her way out of Faerie, and Whisperer the Rat, a Whisperwisp who escaped by getting dirt on his former master.

So, where do we go with this? (Players stay out.)

Character Creation: Wizards of the Three Moons

I'd meant to do this last week and then I was writing, which I'm also doing today, among many other things, but I have a little time before my next obligation and this is quick.

The Game: Wizards of the Three Moons
The Publisher: Parenthesis Press
Degree of Familiarity: I've played it once, and chargen is pretty easy.
Books Required: Just the one.

So! In this game you're playing wizards, kinda. Really, you play one scene as the godlike wizard, but then you spend the bulk of the game playing the pawns of one of the wizards as they go on a quest. It's kind of a cool setup, though the execution doesn't work very well (but I'm writing a review, so it'll be up this month sometime).

Anyway, the first thing I do is grab my handy Tarot deck (same company as House of Cards, you see) and split it into Major Arcana, the face cards and the aces, and the numbered suit cards. I then shuffle the Major Arcana and draw three to determine my wizard personality.

I get Temperance, the Emperor, and Judgement. Seems like there's a theme. That gives me Fair-Minded, Blusterous, and Short-Tempered, respectively. Seems like my guy is a like a stern dad or something; he's loud and kind of shouty, but he's fair. On we go!

Now I draw three court cards to determine my magical stylin'. I get three Pages: Pentacles, Swords, and Wands. Checking that book that means I'm down with Crystal Magic, Air Magic, and Fire Magic. Wow, I'm kinda like Vitruveous from Lego Movie, I guess.

Now for the tough part: Pawns. I draw five cards from the last batch (which is all the numbered suit cards, 2-10) and make up a pawn based on each one. Not bad, but see, each one has an advantage for every rank, so if I draw a 10 of cups, I have to make up 10 advantages. It's not really a lot of fun and it eats so much time at the table. But I've done worse for this project!

I draw 7 of Cups, 7 of Pentacles, 2 of Swords, 5 of Cups, and 6 of Swords. Well, no 10s, at least. Let's get to work. I guess I should figure out a little about my wizards. Wizards use big long flowery epithets rather than their real names, so my wizard is called Manilus, the Themisite (after Themis, the goddess of justice). He's basically what you think of as "wizard" - big white beard, long blue and red robes, flies in a carriage limned with fire and pulled by crystalline horses.

My first pawn is the 7 of Cups. Those are healers, medics, and clerics. I think this pawn will be an apprentice wizard. Or rather, someone who's learning enough magic to do some basic stuff, but probably won't ever be a real wizard (look, I'm Fair-Minded, not Egalitarian). Her name is Bliss. Bliss has seven advantages, which are: sees the good in people, can mend flesh with magic, herbs & poultices, a pouch of magic crystals, three gryphon feathers, unshakeable faith, and clear sight. (See, it's not hard to do this once, but imagine getting all high numbers.)

Next, 7 of Pentacles. These guys are thieves and rogues and so forth. I think this guy is a con artist who has convinced Malinus that he's really a good guy. His name is Wen. Wen's advantages are: twin sleeve daggers, a piercing whistle, can see in the dark, honest face, gilded lies, can jump from any height, and a heart of gold. (Maybe Malinus really sees potential in this guy.)

2 of Swords. Swords are warriors, and I have two of them. I want this one to be a crystalline rock monster that Malinus made and animated. His name is Kyssh. Kyssh has two advantages: crystalline flesh and mighty.

5 of Cups, and we need another healer-type person. I admit the artwork is influencing me somewhat. This pawn is dour and sad; we'll say he's an exorcist or a spiritualist. His name is Malf. His advantages are has seen the evil of the worlds, refuses to die, cloak that carries the night, speaks all the languages of the moons, and feared by evil spirits. 

Finally, 6 of Swords, which is another warrior. She's going to be Ateni, the righteous swordmaiden of Malinus (her words). Actually, fuck it, that's her first advantage. Righteous swordmaiden of Malinus, armor of tiny crystals, eyes limned with fire, rides a crystalline horse, dazzling smile, and fearless in battle.

And that's me done! I'll try and do another character tomorrow so I stay on my "once a week" schedule.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Promethean: Return of the 7th Angel

Monday we all got together and talked about Promethean.

It's been a while since we played this game (last session is here; thread with the whole game is here). We generally take some time off between stories, but then we took a solid year off (partially because we had other games we wanted to play, partially because schedules got weird, and partially because I was waiting for the core book to be done).

But now the core book is done, and I even have copies! And I'll have Condition Cards before too long, which I'm so looking forward to, you have no idea.

Anyway, Monday we got together and did a step of character creation that didn't exist when we started: The Pilgrimage. I asked people to define some Roles and Refinements, and leave one for me to do. Some folks did the minimum, some folks want a lot more on their Pilgrimage. It's gonna be fun. I really wish we'd make the Pilgrimage a more player-facing thing in 1st ed, but hindsight and all.

In game, the characters are headed down to New Orleans at Feather's request. Matt decides he's going to try and find Lurch, his creator, first. He heads to Biloxi, MS, where Andrew Write said that Lurch was last seen (in a burning warehouse). Matt found a Pilgrim Mark, meaning "keep going." He's continuing to follow Plumbum, and working on the Ascetic Role for the moment because he wants answers about who and what he is. Plus he needs to re-ignite his Pyros. He's still a Promethean-without-Fire.

Notes: Clearly I need to get his Fire going again, and probably need to set up something with Lurch for a future story.

Everyone else takes trains and so on in a leisurely fashion down to New Orleans, with Enoch spending his ill-gotten money to finance the trip.

Feather learned about Rambles during the last story (reading Hank's Ramble was part of that), and is becoming fascinated by the idea. She's looking to hear others' Rambles and compose her own, so she's switched to Plumbum and is pursuing the Chronicler Role.

Notes: She needs exposure either to other Prometheans or at least to their Rambles. Since I ran a story sent in the Big Easy once before, I can mine that for contenders. Of note: Her Pilgrimage is high, so it'd be fun to have a step backwards (not like she'll be hurting to raise it and she can't attempt the New Dawn yet anyway).

Enoch is trying to master Mercurius, so he's moved on to the Explorer Role. This is purely an intellectual pursuit for him.

Notes: Enoch is a highly cerebral character and I want to engage him with humanity some more. His Elpis is Parenthood, FFS, which actually dovetails nicely with some of Feather's backstory. And, Matt and Michelle play nice together.

Grimm gets the distinction of being the first PC in this game to take up Phosphorum! He hooked up with Andrew Write and learned the Refinement not long after leaving Chicago; after being so staid and reserved he wants to cut loose.

Notes: I'm excited about this one. Not only have I never seen Phosphorum in play before, but it'll be interesting to see Matt playing Grimm not being so...well, grim. He needs to be able to take risks and thrill-seek, which shouldn't be terribly hard.

Avalon is off of Aurum and back on Mercurius, working on the Craftsman Role. She was doing art with Emile close to the end of last story and wants to focus on art to cope with not being around Emile (or Ollie).

Notes: I really like putting Avalon into relationships and watching her desperately cling to them, but it'll be nice to let her be a robot for a while. She and Enoch are both on Mercurius, so there's some alchemy happening here, but they're going in different directions with it.

Finally, we get Skip back. He fell into the Hedge, wandered around a bit, but wasn't able to really progress because the Hedge doesn't know what to do with Prometheans. He had an adventure with some changelings, which we'll explore a bit on Sunday in a one-shot. He pops back into the world somewhere near New Orleans. Ferrum/Solider, which is what he was working on when he went in, because hasn't really made progress. Nergal has gone away, replaced with the Benign Festering Merit.

Notes: So, the big thing here is Skip returning to the group, but also whether Avalon decides to tell anyone that Feather actually punched him off a damn mountain. Without Nergal I think Skip will be less trying for the group, but we'll see.

OK, neat. Now I just need to do some prep and a shitload of Milestones.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Feng Shui: A Trip Down the River

Monday began our new story arc in Feng Shui.

Last time, the Dragons lost another of their number: Johnny Archer was killed by ape-splosions. The Dragons trekked through the futuristic wastelands and came upon some kind of parley happening on a river's edge.

One group, the larger one, were on jet skis and a couple of boats. The other, one woman leading four men, stood around a couple of motorcycles and a souped-up car. As the Dragons walked into their midst, the folks around the bikes recognized Wu Tang and the red in Celeste's hair, and started chatting with them.

The leader of the other faction, a decked-out-in-bling pirate sort of woman, looked up, saw Wu Tang, and angrily demanded what he was doing here. The woman she was parley-ing with, wearing a faded Chili Peppers t-shirt and driving gear, didn't know.

But Tang recognized the pirate woman: She was Captain Belle Reaver, and there had been a little dispute over payment for river protection at one point. Belle, seeing Tang being all chummy with the other woman's faction, said that the "deal" needed to be revised - she'd just take the woman's car as payment, if she was running with Wu Tang.

The woman drew her pistol and cocked it - this wasn't happening. Her followers whispered to the Dragons that they ought to decide what to do when it all went down, 'cause it was about to. Wildfire took that to heart, and jumped onto Belle's boat, changing to beast form. The boats took off the down the river, and the Dragons jumped in vehicles as well. Celeste (who'd been shamelessly flirting with one of the bikers; he liked her whip) jumped on a bike, as did Bai. Tang hopped in the souped-up car belonging to the mysterious woman, and off we went!

The Dragons witnessed Belle slap something that looked like a smoke detector on Wildfire, and he shuddered and reverted to human form, dropped unconscious to the deck (+Matthew Karafa was out on Monday, so I had to sideline his character). The woman in the car kept pace with the boats, more or less, dropped behind and catching up, while the mooks on jetskis and motorcycles did...less well. Celeste whipped a dude off a jetski and took it from him, and Bai jumped from the motorcyle onto the back of a jetski, kicking the passenger off. Tang teleported to the back of Celeste's jetski (who was rolling Driving unskilled to keep up and doing a fine job of it), and then teleported to Belle's boat.

Belle, though, is a canny combatant, and dodged Tang's fists of fury. But then Bai landed on the boat and struck at Belle with his staff. BOXCARS.

The boat spun, and got lodged against the banks as the river narrowed. Wildfire was jarred off the boat and swept downstream, but Belle knew when to give up. She shrugged, and berated her minions for not doing a better job with this. "You OK, Dani?"

Dani - that is, Dani California, the leader of the other faction, was fine, and her car was undamaged, which is the important thing. She revealed that her real last name was Archer - Si's wife, Johnny's mother. She already had heard of Johnny's death, but was appreciative of the Dragons for helping her and looking after Johnny while he traveled with them.

But now the Dragons have another problem - Wildfire got swept over the falls, down to where the Psycho Siblings lurk in a cavern. That cavern is also a Feng Shui site, the one that Dani and Si had once guarded. Wildfire is in trouble.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Movie #386: A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth installment in the Die Hard series starring Bruce Willis. Also in this particular mess we have Jai Courtney, Sebastien Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic, and Cole Hauser.

Now, I haven't seen the fourth installment (Live Free or Die Hard), so maybe this movie is full of clever callbacks to that movie, but I can tell you that there are zero callbacks to anything in the first three movies (you know, the good ones) except that McClane (Willis) at one point half-heartedly says "yippee-kay-yay, motherfucker." But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The movie's set in Russia, with young Jack McClane (Courtney) working for the CIA and going through this really complicated exfiltration for an imprisoned billionaire (Koch) who's about to be put on trial, only he has a file that implicates his former partner Chagarin (Sergey Kolesnikov) in Bad Things, including causing the Chernobyl meltdown. Anyway, to do this, Jack goes undercover and gets arrested, McClane hears about this in New York and flies to Moscow to see if he can help, and immediately gets mixed up when the exfiltration goes sideways because there are bad guys led by said billionaire's daughter (Snigir). Only, of course, the billionaire (his name is Komarov, but let's just think of him as "Gruber lite") turns out to be in on it, so there's a rootin-tootin shootout at the Chernobyl plant, ending in helicopter crashes and father-son bonding.

So, I feel that we have to talk about the fact that what makes for a fun action movie has shifted in the, what, not quite 30 years since Die Hard. When you show scenes of crowded populated areas getting destroyed, some of us squirm in our seats a little because. The original Die Hard got around that because it was confined to a small area, but the 2010s grim, dour aesthetic feels strange applied to McClane, who is supposed to be quick with a one-liner.

But that's the other thing: McClane doesn't feel like McClane. He makes some jokes, sure, but they fall completely flat. He's out of element, yeah, but apart from a cab ride in which his inability to speak Russian gets highlighted, he never really feels like the fish out of water he did while walking around Nakatomi.

Plus, this movie just does not know how to build. It starts off with explosions and massive car chases and never lets up, so we never really get a sense of what the bad guy's plan is (even before the third act reveal, which is weak anyway) or why all of this is so important. Plus, the revelation that "OMG THE BAD GUYS DID CHERNOBYL" feels like a high school sophomore wrote it.

The other thing that bugged me was McClane laughing derisively when he discovers his son is in the CIA. Like...that's hard. You have to be smart and work hard for that shit. Inter-agency rivalry, sure, but he's a real dick about it.

I dunno. All in all, I kinda think this franchise needs to be left to die (hard), or we need to pass the torch. Hell, could we have McClane's daughter Lucy (Winstead) be the hero in the next one, while McClane takes on the Reginald Veljohnson role and watches from the sidelines.

My Grade: C-
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: The Illusionist

Monday, January 2, 2017

Feng Shui Notes: Sooo Sleeeepy

Thanks a sudden burst of anxiety last night before bed, I didn't sleep well, so I'm a little zombified today. I am, however, still going to run Feng Shui tonight, at least for a bit, and then we make fuck off and watch A Good Day to Die Hard. But before that!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Character Creation: Promethean: The Created, 2nd Edition

The plan is to do at least a character per week in 2017, and to set aside time on Sundays to do it. I fully expect to miss a few weeks (I'll be out of town at conventions and so far, f'rex), but I'm gonna do the best I can.

With that in mind, let's talk Promethean. I made a character for the first edition, of course. It was the fifth one I made for this project, so long ago that it's a post on Livejournal. Promethean remains my favorite NWoD game (Chronicles of Darkness, as it's now called), yes, even above Beast, because Promethean is much more geared towards the kind of storytelling I like. It's meant to be a long, sprawling tale in which we track the characters' arcs towards their goal (the New Dawn). You're supposed to question it. You're supposed to fight it. You're supposed to do terrible things and make awful mistakes. You hurt people because you can't not. You mess everything up whether you mean to or not.

Tell me you don't relate to at least some of that. I'll bet you do.

Promethean is the metaphor for the journey that we're all on. There's an end point, and it's a jumping-off point, and the next step is scary because we lose everything. One of the reasons I'm resistant to putting too much focus on playing post-New Dawn Prometheans is that it fucks up that metaphor. If we know what comes next, then, in my humble opinion, it takes something away from the journey. And really, the most important part of the Pilgrimage, both the one in the game and the real one that we're all bumblefucking our way through, is that we stand a much better chance if we don't have to go it alone.

I've fucked up my journey. I've hurt people without meaning to, and you know, sometimes deliberately. I've fouled up my own situation to the point that there are places I don't ever want to go back to, relationships I can't ever revisit. But I've also had people I've wronged forgive me, look past the man I was when I made those mistakes and see the man I am now, and only by being willing to make those kinds of allowances for one another are we going to make it.

Put another way, by a far better writer than I'll ever be: God damn it, babies. You've got to be kind.

Now then. The character.

The Game: Promethean: The Created, 2nd Edition
The Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: Very yes. I've developed or written everything for the line except the 1st ed core book (and I wrote some of that) and I think maybe an SAS?
Books Required: Just the one, though I'll grab Chronicles of Darkness if I feel like I need to.

So! I like to have theme songs, and one popped into my head when I was thinking about this.

I love superheroes, and man, I was thinking the other day that one of the problems with the MCU and the DCU films (aside from the DC ones being terrible) is that we're so saturated with superheroes that it's easy to lose sight of what I love about them. This is especially true in the MCU, where you just don't see superheroes helping everyday people very much (I fully except Spider-Man: Homecoming to fix this a bit). I kind of want to make a Promethean who's fallen in love with the superhero aesthetic. I take as inspiration both the above song, and this clip, which you probably can't watch without crying.

Ahem. Dusty in here. Anyway. I start off at Step One by creating a concept. I want my character to have a pretty optimistic view of humanity. That is, he feels that people are basically good, except for the bad ones, and the bad ones aren't really people. The bad ones are mostly just cowards or villains, and if you hit them hard enough, they go away. I'll just put "Superhero" as my concept.

Step Two is Attributes. Standard ChronD mix, 5/4/3. I obviously want Physical to be primary, and I think I want Social to be secondary because frankly this guy isn't all that bright. I'll put three into Strength and one each into Dexterity and Stamina (he packs a whollop). Over on Social, I'll put two each into Presence and Manipulation, which leaves Composure at 1, which I may regret. And the one each into Intelligence, Wits, and Resolve.

Step Three - Skills. Same drill, 11/7/4. Let's see now. I know I want Brawl and Athletics to be high, so I'm probably looking at Physical primary. Actually, I think probably the same spread as for Attributes.

For Mental, I'll put one each into Academics, Computer, Investigation, and Medicine. Kinda the standard superhero package.

For Physical, I'll put four each into Athletics and Brawl, one in Stealth, and two in Weaponry (in case I need to bean someone with a lamppost or something).

For Social, I'll take two in Empathy, three in Intimidation, one in Streetwise, and one in Socialize. I think this is significant; he's got no Persuasion because he's actually not great at communicating, but he's really good at scaring people (because let's be honest, superhuman people are scary, in horror games especially).

Step Four is Skill Specialties. I kinda want to specialize Academics in comics, but I do worry it'll be too limiting (I mean, I'm all for appropriate Specialities, but you want things you're gonna roll, too). I'll take First Aid as a Medicine Specialty, and I'll take Street Crime as a Streetwise Specialty. Kinda want to take "Punching" as a Brawl Speciality, but c'mon now. No, what I will do is take Heavy Objects as a Weaponry Speciality.

Now the fun bit. Step Five is "add Promethean template". So, Lineage. I guess I should think about where this guy came from. It's tempting to make him an Extempore, dreamed into life by a kid who was really, really into superheroes, but...ooh, no, I got a better one. Oof. Here we go.

So, I'm gonna say he's a Frankenstein. His demiurge was a man who owned a mortuary. He lost his son, Xavier, when the lad was 16; gang activity in the area got intense and Xavier took a bullet meant for someone else. The mortician grieved his son, but decided to prevent this from happening again. He took body parts from the mortuary, a few at a time, and pieced together a lean, strong protector. And then he gave the creature his son's heart, so that it would be kind and true. He brought it to life one winter's night, using heat from the crematorium to fuel the ritual, and named it Jefferson (after Jefferson Pierce, or Black Lightning).

Now, Refinement. Hrm. It's a toss-up between Aurum and Ferrum. I think I want to keep him focused on the physical for now, so let's go Ferrum. His Role really should be Soldier, but I'm gonna make it Exemplar instead.

Elpis and Torment are our Virtue/Vice analogs. Elpis is the quality of humanity that inspires Jefferson on the Pilgrimage, while Torment is the part of his own personality that threatens to drag him down. I think I want Fear as the Elpis. Jefferson sees humans as fundamentally fearful creatures, but that's because, as far as he knows, he's invulnerable. He's going to learn quickly that he should be afraid, too (and then he gets to learn about courage). His Torment is Naive. Jefferson is woefully unprepared for how the world really works.

Now I pick a Bestowment. Well, I don't want Spare Parts, which leaves me with Titan's Strength (I get an exceptional success on three successes instead of five when using the Strength Attribute).

Azoth is 1, unless I wish to burn 5 Merit dots to raise, which, I don't know, maybe. Pilgrimage starts at 1 and there are questions to answer which would help my hypothetical Storyteller determine some of my milestones. Sure, these are fun.

  • What sort of human do you want to be? A hero. (Jefferson has no idea what means, but it's important to him.)
  • How have humans taught you to fear and hate? Sometimes they yell at him or attack him even after he helps them. (Jefferson has no idea why someone would, for example, try to help someone who'd just been slapping them around.)
  • How did you split with your creator? His creator is dead. Jefferson went romping around the neighborhood busting up gangs, and someone followed him home and shot the place up. 
  • What keeps you on your Pilgrimage? Jefferson feels that it's his mission to protect people from "bad guys," and if he keeps doing that, he'll really become a hero. 
  • What would you give up to become human? Jefferson equates being "human" with being a "hero." That is, he feels that the Pilgrimage is leading him towards a kind of apotheosis (see also: Naive Torment). As such, he's quite prepared to give up anything he has - memory, name, identity - in order to fulfill what he sees as his destiny. 
Transmutations! I get two Alembics, one from Vitality and one from Corporeum. Well, obviously I'm taking Motus from Corporeum, to do the superhero leap. Likewise, I'll take Unconquered from Vitality, letting me throw trucks n' stuff. (I'm just putting them on the first page of the character sheet, rather than writing all the Distillations out. Look 'em up if you want.)

And then Aspirations. These are easy. My two short-terms are "stop a bank robbery" (those happen all the time, right?) and "fight a supervillain." He'd count a Pandoran, obviously. His long-term Aspiration is "receive a medal."

Step Six is Merits. I get 10 dots. I think I might want a fighting style, but the only one in Promethean is Brute Force (yaaaa all the core rules in one book and then publishing the core book anyway). I'll take Police Tactics from Chronicles of Darkness; seems like how he'd fight. I'll take all three dots. I'll take Driven, as well; seems appropriate. I'll take two dots there. Now, if I want Azoth 2 I need to stop. There are other Merits I like, but I don't think I need any others, so I'll take Azoth 2 and call it a day here.

Step Seven is Advantages. These are easy. Size is 5, Speed is 10, Willpower is 3 (ugh), Pilgrimage is 1, Heath is 7, Defense is 6 (built like a tank and hard to hit!), Initiative is 3 (also ugh), Pyros is 6 to start. 

And that's it! Jefferson is ready to hit the streets, join a throng, and learn some very unpleasant lessons in how the Chronicles of Darkness is not a superhero setting.