Here we go!
The Game: Alas for the Awful Sea
The Publisher: Storybrewers Roleplaying
Degree of Familiarity: None yet, though this game is on my list for 2018.
Books Required: Just the one.
Alas for the Awful Sea is a low-fantasy PbtA game set in the remote British Isles around the turn of the century (19th to 20th, that is). It's meant to explore why people hate and what they're afraid of, conflict between tradition and progress, poverty, starvation, fishing, myth and legend, that kind of thing. I'm looking forward to running it, though I suspect that played well it's going to be very sad. I like sad RPGs, though.
Anyway, like most PbtA games, my first order of business is to choose a playbook and print it. Also like most PbtA games, this is going to be quick because the real meat of chargen happens with a group, and it's just me for this project.
So, for my playbook, I'll choose...hmm. I don't think I want the Captain. I know I don't want the Boatswain because I played something very much like that in a Savage Worlds game some time ago. Likewise, I don't want the Cook; I've played cooks (or at least made them for this project). Scholar's out for the same reason. Merchant, Strider, Old Sea Dog. Hmm.
I kinda like Strider, especially if I spun it more towards navigation and reading the stars. Yeah, I think I'll go with that.
Going in the order laid out in the book, I'll start with a name. I don't much like the name options here, so I'll name my Strider Diarmid Craig. For appearance, I'll circle man for gender, faraway for eyes, honest for face, reedy for body, and versatile oilskin coat for dress.
I think Bonds is the next thing, but that requires a group so I'll skip it. Stats, then. Unlike the other playbooks, the Strider gets to allocate all of the stats (the others have a +2) already in place. I get a +2, two +1s, a 0, and a -1 to place.
Well, I know I want the +2 in Beyond so I can do the otherworldly shit well. That also plays into my special move (Innate Compass), as it happens. I'll put +1s in Brains and Balance, the 0 in Brawn, and the -1 in Beauty. I tend to make things worse when I try to convince or bargain.
Right, what's next? A Descriptor! These, coupled with the playbooks, create a unique axis for each character. I could be a Creature, for instance, and be overtly supernatural, or I could a Lover and my arc is more about my relationship with whomever. Let's take a look.
Well, the Kinsman and the Lover rely too much on other PCs, so I'm not using them. The Believer doesn't really do it for me, to no one's great surprise. The Confidant sounds pretty cool, but let's check the others. Ooh, Outcast or Creature. Hrm. I like them both.
You know, my impulse to leave Creature for "someone else," but there is no one else, so I'm gonna grab it. OK, cool. So my first thing is define my True Form. I need to decide what I am. I could go digging around in Scottish myth for a while, but I'm gonna say I'm a crow. A stormcrow. That sounds good.
I'm from the sky, obviously. When I assume my true form, I'm very small (crow-sized), and I have wings. I think Diarmid looks more or less like a real crow in that form, but his eyes remain blue and keep that faraway quality to them. I can call upon my True Form to do cool things, and I can call other stormcrows in a pinch. Neat.
I think it'd be fun to play this character out and figure out why Diarmid took human form. Being "from the sky" it's easy to say he fell, angel-style, but I also like the notion that he fell in love with the sky so much that only by being on the ground could he gaze upwards. There's some tragic poetry there.
And that's me done.