Happy Fourth of July! Since our country is spiraling towards apocalypse in a manner so absurd that sometimes it's funny, let's do a game that has some dark humor in it.
The Game: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Publisher: Eden Studios
Degree of Familiarity: I swear I've played this game, but I can't remember if it was at a con or in a friend's home game (+Matthew Karafa, have you ever run this?). I know I've never run it, but I've run other Unisystem games.
Books Required: Just the one.
So, my Buffy-fu is woefully lacking. I've watching most of the first season and then assorted episodes after that (yes, I've seen "Once More With Feeling") and I'm loosely familiar with the show's progression. And look, I'm generally kinda over Joss Whedon. I was talking with some friends the other day and I forget who said this but I agree with it: In the 90s, Whedon was doing some pretty innovative things as far as diversity and feminism and whatnot, but that's more a commentary on how fucked up things were than how progressive he really is. And he hasn't really progressed much since, and sure, it's hard to hear that about someone whose work you like. I love Firefly, but there sure could have been more Asians in the principle cast. I loved The Avengers, but did Loki have to call Black Widow a cunt? (Sorry, "quim.")
Anyway, all of this to say, if I were to play or run Buffy, it might look a little more like Monsterhearts and a little less like, well, Buffy. Maybe a little less graphic sex and a little more focus on killing vampires.
With all of this in mind, we start with Character Type. Well, I don't like to play cross-gender very much so I don't want to be the Slayer (interesting footnote: the game book allows for playing Buffy, playing a Slayer who replaced Buffy, playing a weird with multiple Slayers, or playing post season seven where the rules are different, but not "there's a single Slayer but it isn't Buffy Summers," which is how I've seen a lot of groups play this game). Let's assume that we're in season one, because that's all I've watched, and that my character is a student at Sunnyvale High, but recently transferred from Cleveland (since Cleveland, canonically, also boasts a Hellmouth). That lets him come in with some occult knowledge already. Not a Hero, though, definitely a White Hat. His name is Sung Liu (family is from China, dad worked at a bank while mom went to Case, and they got the hell out of "the incident"). Most folks in Sunnyvale call him "Lou," and he notices the differences in pronunciation, but what the hell, it's not like he says all their names right, either.
As a White Hat, I get 15 Attribute Points, 10 Quality Points, I can take up to 10 Drawback Points, I get 15 Skill Points, and I get 20 Drama Points.
Speaking of Attributes, I get 15 points to divide up among six Attributes. The book helpfully informs me that I can go 3 at 2, 3 at 3 (for a pretty well-rounded character) or I could bump one to 4 and have another at 1 (for someone more specialized). I suppose I could also got to 5 for one and 1 for two, but seems unwise, having played this game.
So, let's think about Liu. He's smart and his parents (both pretty academically minded) pushed him to hit the books, so he needs a decent Intelligence. I think that that's going to be something he struggles with, though; he feels like all this pressure he's getting to make grades doesn't ultimately matter, because holy shit there are vampires. He still folds to his parents, his dad especially, when there's pressure. So I'm gonna spread my points out more or less evenly: 2 in Willpower, Dexterity, and Perception, and 3 in Intelligence, Strength, and Constitution (he's been working out more since moving here).
I could do Life Points, but I think I'll Qualities first. I get 10 points, plus I can take 10 more in Drawbacks if I want.
Well, it's hard to justify not taking Nerd. That grants me +1 to two mental Attributes, so I'll embrace my destiny and bump Intelligence to 4 and Perception to 3. It also grants me +2 to Computers, Knowledge, or Science (but I'll cross that bridge later). That's 3 points.
Since I'm here, I'll take the Obligation Drawback to represent my parents' influence on me. I'll take it at "Important," so that just gives me a point. I think I pretty much have to take the Teenager Drawback, so that's easy.
I want something cool and supernatural, so I'll take The Sight (I can see and sense magical shit). I'll take Situational Awareness (never been sad about that), which is 2 points, and then 2 points of Hard to Kill.
I could take more Drawbacks, but let's see if I'll need them. I get 15 points in Skills; well, really 18 because I have 3 points in Drawbacks at the moment. Oh, and then I get 2 more levels to one of three nerd-skills. You know what, let's just put Computers at 4 right now. That's 2 from Nerd, and then one more, so I have 16 more points. I'll put 1 in Doctor (I know first aid), 2 in Driving (no racist jokes, thanks), 2 in Getting Medieval, 3 in Knowledge, 2 in Kung Fu (sigh), 1 in Languages (Mandarin), 2 in Notice, 2 in Occultism, 3 in Science, and 2 in Sports. That's a total of 24, so I need to take 4 points in Drawbacks to make that work.
I'll take Resources as a Drawback, why not. His family was decently well-off in Cleveland, and then his parents had a dinner party for some of his father's associates. Turns out that the "dinner" was a front to induct his parents (and maybe Liu himself, he never asked) into the demon-worshipping cult that the folks belonged to. Liu discovered this and, while he doesn't like to talk about it, the house caught fight, one of the cultists wound up in the hospital after getting pushed out the window, and his parents wound up nearly bankrupt. Between his mother's student loans, the legal fees, and the loss they took on the house, Liu saved his parents' lives at the cost of their livelihood. (Heavy, man.)
Ahem. All that I have to do now is go refigure Life Points. I have 34 plus 6 from Hard to Kill, which makes 40. I also have 20 Drama Points because I'm a White Hat. If I wished to go and copy Combat Maneuvers onto my sheet, I could (they don't cost anything), but I don't, so that pretty much puts me done!