Saturday, April 1, 2017

Character Creation: Helix

As I'm looking over the top-most games in my list, I'm interested to note that most of them are games I want nothing to do with. Mostly, that's because they're D&D clones that came in bundles I bought, and as I'm looking through the PDFs, trying to decide which game to focus on today (since I have nothing else pressing on my time and I can do a character that's a little more involved, system-wise), I just find myself going "ugh."

Like, OK. I know you're sick of hearing this, but I didn't start with D&D, I started with Marvel. As such, I have never been a part of D&D gaming, but I'm learning that it's completely different than other sectors of gaming. It is, like Hamilton, a host unto itself, and it's pretty insular. So it's amazing to me that there are RPGs (and so many of them) that start off with the assumption that you're going to dungeon-delve...and that's it!

Anyway, I'm not doing one of those games today.

The Game: Helix: The Post-Apocalyptic, High Tech, Fantasy, Western Roleplaying Game
The Publisher: Adam J. Weber (game seems defunct, can't find any online support anywhere)
Degree of Familiarity: None.
Books Required: Just the one.

Well, the title of the game kinda tells you what you're in for. And I have to say, while the opening section is badly in need of an editor, I do appreciate that it sets up the games, gives us the relevant history, and lays out the stakes for the PCs (lots of war, city-states are starting to gear up for more war, the Umbrea Corporation is the bad guy, what are you gonna do about it?) all in a few pages. And then we get right into character creation.

So, we start off with Archetype. I've got five choices, here: Average Joe (just...a dude), Cyber Mystic, Code Slinger (both magic-types, and reading it I don't get a strong sense of what they mean), Mutant (with a picture of a faun, which is weird) and Gun Jack (smartlinked firearms! woo!).

Well, I like magical characters. Code Slinger seems to be "alter the source code of reality," which is hard a new concept, magic-wise, whereas Cyber Mystic is more "teach other people to magic." I think I'll go with Code Slinger, because I don't really have a strong preference.

Not crazy about the artwork.
That gives me Mental of 8, Para-coding quality, and a free Standard Comp Deck, whatever all of that means. My stigma is that I'm hunted by Umbrea, though interestingly, Cyber Mystics are hunted and feared.

Next, there's a list of Concepts, which are more like occupations, but there's no mechanics associated, so I don't now if I have to choose one or what. There's a slot for it on the sheet. I dunno. I guess I'll pick one and let it guide me. Without knowing much about the magic system so far...oh, wait, this is weird. Gun slinger is on the list of Concepts, but like, Gun Jack/Jill is  Some of these Concepts also don't seem very PC-friendly, but who knows. I think I'll skip it for now.

Attributes. I roll 2d6 four times and take the highest three to assign to Physical, Mental, and Social. Well, that's nicely simple. Scuse me a minute. 8, 7, 7, 5. Dropping the 5, I'll put the 8 into Mental...oh, wait, hang on. I have a Mental of 8 from my Archetype. What does that mean here? Hang on. Oh, that's a prereq. Doy. OK, well, that means 8 in Mental, 7 in the other two, which is where I was leaning anyway.

Qualities, which are basically Skills, I think. You've either got standard (can go up to 6 or half the level of the controlling Attribute) or capped (level 1 or level 2). The book recommends that if this is my first time making a Helix character, I start with Physical. OK, then.

You know, this would be easer if I understood the mechanics. This is why they're up front in Chill. Hang on.

Ok, I've looked it up and I rather wish I hadn't. When you do a Quality check, you roll 1d6 and try to roll under your Quality level. That means that Qualities lower than 4 have a less-than-50% check of succeeding, which is ass. Also ass: This skill list (sorry, Quality) is huge and is granular enough to include Erotic Dancing. But my Physical is 7, which is an average roll, and means that I can't put more than 3 points into a Quality. If I spread the points out, I can have 7 Qualities that I'll succeed on if I roll a 1. Whee. FUN.

Well, anyway. This'll be quick, at least. Fuck it. I'll put 2 in Erotic Dancing, 1 in Gun (Hand), and 3 in Acrobatics. Oh, 1 more. I'll put it in Dodge.

Oh, hey. Gotta show you something.

Also, "Dancing" is a different skill, so my character can dance suggestively with a 30% success rate, but cannot do the hokey-pokey.

Anyway, on to Mental. I'll put 4 (the max) in Para-Coding, 2 in Psychology, and 2 in Computer Hacking. Other Mental Qualities include Cooking, Data Analysis, Listen,, that's the level we're at, here.

An aside: Let's say I'd rolled a 12. I would then have 3 skills out of that list that I could succeed on, unmodified, 50% of the time. PLAYTEST YOUR GAMES, PEOPLE.

Anyway. Now Social. I have 7 points. I'll put 2 each in Know a Guy, Innuendo, Seduction (WHY ARE THEY SEPARATE SKILLS) and one into Smooth Operator.

And then Flaws. Oh, wait. This is weird. Remember those rolls from before? You don't ditch the low number, it becomes your Flaw Attributes. Mine is 5. I'll take Kleptomaniac 2 (I have to try and steal something twice per week), Reckless 2 (I have to do something stupid and reckless twice per week), and Talentless 1 (I can't ever get the hang of...let's matter how hard I try. How fucking dumb is this.)

Oh, wait. And then I get 5 free points. I'll buy the Attractive Quality for 2 and then put the other 3 into Carousing.

I get 21 hit points (Physical x 3)...and there's a bunch of other derived stuff that I've done on the sheet but I'm not gonna type because it's boring.

Magic! Here we go! I get 40 Magic Points, which I'm sure isn't enough to do anything cool, because that's the minimum I could have. I start with 2 spells (yep) though my deck can hold more.

OK, so, looking at this, it looks like you have to write your own spells (there's a list of examples, but it's short), and then when you actually cast a spell, it disappears from your Deck. Which is dumb, but it does mean that you can code your own spells in every day or whatever. And then you spend magic points to cast them.

I think I'll make up one spell to test out the system a little, because as badly realized as this game is, I'm a sucker for DIY in RPGs.

So, clearly my character is an exotic dancer. I picture him as working in a Magic Mike kind of situation; working for tips in one a bar for people who like to watch nubile men dance. And then he took up with a grizzled fella who came in for a lap dance, and wound up offering to teach him the ways of the Code Slinger. My dancer agreed; he still dances, but he's also learning to sling Code around.

I want a spell that lets him throw out a dazzling, hypnotic lights display. Possible? Let's see.

Duration: Instant (0)
Range: 1 yard (0)
Radius: 6-yard radius (-2)
Targets: area (0)
Damage: 0(0)
Effects: Lights flicking from caster's body, disorienting any onlookers (-1)
Limitations: Spell cost 5
Total: -2 (1 hour to code)

Well, that's actually not hard. I could, if I wished, design one more spell, but I do not wish.

The last section of this is to spend Credits, but you know how I feel about shopping. I shall instead simply do a little description.

My character's stage name is (now) Binary (yes, it's a pun). He's slim, tanned, half his head shaved and the other half dyed blue, and he tends to wear clothes that are colored on one side and black (or white) on the other. He carries a gun when out and about, but he's not a good shot and would rather throw magic at people...except he's not great at that, either. He knows the sort of people who come to the club looking for a lap dance from a pretty young man like himself (which is where I'd use the Know a Guy Quality).

I kinda like the character, shame the system seems weak.