The Game: Spycraft 2.0
The Publisher: Crafty Games
Degree of Familiarity: None. I've played d20 games, but I haven't played this one
Books Required: Just the one, which the intro makes a point of saying, which is nice.
So, this is a second edition of Spycraft. I must have bought it in a bundle some years ago, because a) I only have it in PDF and b) it's a d20 game, which I wouldn't normally buy. But here we are.
I have to say, this is a darned friendly chargen section. It takes us through the basics, but doesn't talk down to the reader. In any event, the assumption here is that characters work for the Agency, and we're superspies, but the book also points out that there are a lot of knobs with which to fiddle if you want to do things, say, steampunk style. I'm gonna stick to the default for purposes of this project, however.
Step 0: Concept. Jeez, just make it step 1, guys. The book gives me a series of questions to answer to build my character up, so I'll g'head and answer those.
- Name three traits you would like to see in your character. Um, OK. How about "observant," "practiced," and "precise?"
- Name three traits your character doesn't like to see in others. "Disloyal," "cowardly," and "pedantic," how about.
- Where was your character born, and when? He was born 30 or so years before this game is set (so if it's present-day, 1988, sweet jesus). I think he was born in Langley, Virginia (might as well start 'em early!) and wanted to get the hell out when he turned 18. He joined the Army, and his aptitude tests put him into intelligence work; he eventually wound up joining the Agency.
- What is your ideal character's specialty? Hopefully my character will start off competent; I'm used to level 1 d20 characters being pretty weak. Anyway, I think my guy's speciality is marksmanship; specifically he's a sniper.
- What does your character look like? Picture "Virginia born and bred." That's him. He's white, tall, good teeth, brown hair, blue eyes, stocky, square-jawed. Could be played by a younger Henry Cavill.
- Does your character have any quirks? Everyone has quirks. My guy wears a gold ring on his left middle finger and absently taps it against hard surfaces.
- What does your character love most? My guy loves to travel, preferably on as little money as possible. Favors backpacking or train-hopping trips especially. His parents are still around, but his father was always distant and his mother is nice but not terribly up on current events, so they never really have much to talk about.
- What are your character's favorite things? Bright copper buttons, whiskers on kittens...but no, really. My guy keeps his apartment pretty sparse (again, he'd rather travel). He wears his dog tags when he's traveling, but not any other time, and he loves the gold ring he wears (it belonged to his uncle John, who was his favorite person - John died in a car accident when my guy was 19).
- What was the most important event in your character's life? My guy went to the Bahamas once and wound up on a parasailing trip. The boat capsized (the guy running the trip was drunk), and my guy pulled a fellow tourist out of the water and saved his life. It wasn't the life-saving thing that was important, though, it was the knowledge that in crisis situations, you either drown or you swim. My guy swims.
- What does your character think of espionage? He's got a knack for it, he likes it, and it's one long crisis situation. You gotta keep swimming.
- What is your character's motivation? Seeing the world, learning as much about different cultures as he can. Sucks that he has to do that by shooting people sometimes, but hey, lots of people hate their jobs. He just finds his mildly distasteful sometimes.
Step 1: Attributes. I start with 8 in each of them, and then I get 36 points to boost 'em. Let's see here. Ah, but the progression isn't linear (blah), so I can't start at 14 in everything. OK. Well, I think for a marksman I'd want my Dexterity and maybe Wisdom to be high? So I'll jack Dex to 16 and my Wisdom to 13, which eats 20 of my points, FFS. That leaves 16 points for the other four Attributes. If I put 4 into each, that's 12s all around. I can live with that. Wait, actually, you know what, if I bust one of those down to 10 I can put Wisdom up to 14 and get a better bonus. I'll take Intelligence down to 10.
Step 2: Origin. I get a Talent and a Specialty as part of my Origin. Cool. Hrm. These all boost one Attribute but lower another, which kinda sucks. I'll take Fit, which boosts Strength by 2 but lowers Intelligence, gives me extra speed, makes Athletics a class skill, and gives me a bonus to Fortitude.
Now I pick a Specialty (to represent training). Well, clearly I want Wanderer. I get the World Traveler feat, one additional Cultures skill focus, 1 acquaintance grade contact, and 2 additional vitality points at career level 1, whatever the hell that means.
Step 3: Class. Pick a class, obvs. Hmm. Explorer is my first choice, but it says it relies on Intelligence, which, um, not my bag, baby. Reading through these, Intelligence is a bad choice for dump stat (in a game where you play intelligence operatives, who'da thunk it?). I guess I'll go for Soldier, keying off that "marksman" thing.
Oh, and I get 8 proficiencies (6 for being a Solider and then 2 more at level 1, I think). I'll take Unarmed, Handgun, Indirect Fire, Rifle, Shotgun, and Submachine Gun. And then for the two extra, I'll take Edged and bump the Rifle to forte (so I get a +1 with rifles).
Step 4: Skills. This is annoying. The book jumps to step 6 here; you have to flip to a different chapter to do Skills. Blah.
Anyway, I wind up with 12 ranks (4 - 1 because my INT sucks, times 4). I'll put 2 each in Athletics, Intimidate, Notice, and Tactics, 1 in Search and Survival, and then put the last two into Cultures (which only gets me 1 because it's not a class skill).
Step 5: Feats. I get World Traveler already, and then I get a bonus Feat. Better take something Marksman related, huh? I'll take Bullseye; basically I can take a penalty on a shot to do more damage.
Step 6: Interests. So these are basically hobbies for the character. I get two, and then more if I level up. They're worth a bonus to rolls if the GM agrees, but honestly I got distracted reading this section because someone fucked up and said "loosing" when they meant "losing" OMG ARGH anyway.
Well, we know my guy is interested in traveling, and I think also hiking and climbing. Good enough.
Step 7: Subplots. These are actually pretty cool; they basically let you have character-based subplots (as the name implies) that are separate from the main mission. That's a good addition for mission-based games; I ought to think about that for Chill at some point.
Anyway, I don't care much for the ones presented and honestly if it were me, I'd probably pick the "Game Control Fiat" one, which is basically "surprise me."
Step 8: Derived Values. Hokay. I've got 12 Vitality, 1 wound. Stress and Subdual damage thresholds are both 1, I think. Attack, defense, and saves are already figured.
Step 9: Description. Kinda did that up above, but I need a name and code name, too. We'll say his name is Trent Cable (yeah, that's a total spy name). His code name is "Vagabond"; someone suggested "Rover," but Trent wasn't down to be called a dog's name.
And that's it (I mean, normally I'd do gear, but you know how I feel about that)! I'm just putting the first page of the sheet up because the second page doesn't have much of interest other than the Feats.