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.