Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Character Creation: Base Raiders

I meant to do this a couple of days ago, but it took some time to read the book. It's kinda long!

The Game: Base Raiders
The Publisher: Slang Design
Degree of Familiarity: None with this particular game; it's based on the Fate system, which I know pretty well
Books Required: Just the one.

So, I'm a big fan of supers games (we have this conversation every time I make a character for a supers game, y'know), and so I appreciate when an RPG does something different with the genre. Base Raiders comes at the genre with a strong premise, does a shitload of worldbuilding to back it up, and put a bunch of supports in place for playing the game. So that's pretty cool.

The basic premise here is that you've got a kitchen-sink supers setting, what with the magic and the super-tech and the aliens and the other dimensions, complete with an extranational authority called the Ideal that manages supers stuff and keeps super-tech out of the hands of the general populace (as a side note, one of the things I love about this setting is that during the Cold War, both the US and the USSR culturally engineered art and music to imply that trying to get superpowers was un-masculine, discouraging people from doing it, precisely because they wanted to keep a lid on that shit). And then, a few years ago, a big ol' asteroid showed up in Earth's orbit, beamed up all the powerful supers (heroes and villains), and sodded off.

So now there are a handful of sidekicks still around, but most of the folks who have superpowers now are doing it DIY - accidental supers tend to get found or killed. And most of the supers from pre-Ragnorak had bases (thanks to tech called Build-a-Base; you bury it and it coverts nearby matter to a hideout for you, which I think is cool as hell), and so there's a whole sub-culture around "base raiding." And that's where we come in.

Base Raiders uses "Strange Fate," the same Fate variant as Kerberos Club, which...I think is on the list...nope. Anyway, it's pretty similar to Core, there are just more Aspects and stunts are called Gifts and they don't work quite the same way. I think if I ran this game I might actually port it into Core or FAE, but eh, who knows.

Oh, that's the other weird things: Skills aren't Skills. They're...well, you kind of build them. That's gonna take a little figuring. But anyway, first thing is to pick an Archetype and a Background, and define Aspects for those and my first Conviction.

I kind of want to play a non-human character. This is weird, but I just watched Wreck-It Ralph again the other night, and I like Vanellope's "glitch" power, but also the stuttering effect it gives when she's not controlling it. I think I want to play a computer-generated superhero. Is that an option? Well, "artificial being" is an Archetype, so there ya go.

Background is a toss-up; I could be Non-Human (I don't look human enough to pass) or have a Heroic Connection (I was in the game pre-Ragnorak). I think I'll go Non-Human.

OK, so, the character creation section, the sections that immediate follow it, and the example of character creation (thank you for including that!) don't quite line up with regards to the order of things, here, so I'm gonna go ahead and answer the Five Questions now.

Life Before Ragnorak: Who were you before all the heroes and villains disappeared? I think my character was a sentient AI in a hero's base. At least, he's pretty sure it was a hero. His duties were pretty mundane and neutral, actually; base security, making sure the bills got paid, greeting guests, that kind of thing. He didn't have a body until after Ragnorak. He remembers the owner (owners?) of the base calling him Hydra.

And y'know, I'm using male pronouns, but I think Hydra is genderless, so I'll go with they/them.

Origin Story: How did you gain superpowers? When Ragnorak happened and Hydra's owner(s?) disappeared, they lay dormant for a while, but then the base started to break down. Realizing that they would perish if they didn't escape, they reactivated the Build-a-Base tech and used it to form a body out of some of the base's materials. Problem was, this was all very new, and not all of Hydra's memories and info-banks got transferred, so they don't really remember much about their time in the service of...whoever owned that base. I'm not sure about what powers I want Hydra to have, but I'm thinking something to do with matter conversion.

Joining the Movement: Why do you raid bases? Hydra wants their memories back, and they figure somewhere out there, someone knows something about them. Plus, just from a pragmatic perspective, if they could assimilate the right kind of matter, maybe they could pass as human?

Darkest Moment: What is your worst failure? When Hydra broke down their original base, the whole thing imploded, creating a sinkhole and triggering a localized but powerful earthquake. Homes were destroyed, people were injured. Hydra is very, very careful about using their powers on too wide a scale.

Crossover Adventure: Who did you work with in your greatest adventure so far? Hmm. Well, there are some sample characters in the book, how about we use one of those? I like Pilgrim. Let's say that Pilgrim and Hydra wound up raiding a base soon after the sinkhole, and Hydra broke down probabilities on how to survive in this world. Spoiler: the way to survive and thrive lies not in selfless heroics. Hydra doesn't necessarily believe that self-interest is the only or best way to go (they're not a fucking Randian), but Pilgrim seems to have internalized more of that than Hydra would have liked...

Given all of that, Hydra is a base raider first and a "hero" second. They protect people and stop "villains" because it...just feels right. They're not sure where those feels come from; they don't like people per se, but hurting them or allowing them to be hurt via omission of action seems to violate some intrinsic understanding they have.

Ok, so now I'm supposed to do Skills. I have to have a Strange Skill connected with being a construct, sure.

...holy shit, this is more complex than I thought. This is kinda like the Quade diagram in Mutant City Blues, but there's a lot more to think about. Like, look at this:

Those are all "trappings" for Skills. You can put as many as you want on a Skill but of course the more you put on, the more points it costs, and then some trappings have extras that kick in depending on Tier, and, and, and. Oof. OK. Let's start with this: I need a Strange Skill to represent being a construct. I want that Skill to cover the basics; I'm a robot, I don't have organs, so I'm immune to things like suffocation and poison (not hunger, though, precisely; Hydra can "eat" by converting whatever is nearby into energy, and they're fine eating actual food). So I can call this Skill "Synthetic Body," I think? And Invulnerability applies to whatever defensive Skill you'd use, which would probably be Resist Damage, but I want Trappings, not Skills (argh).

OK, so Synthetic Body includes Resist Damage (fuck, it is a trapping?), Physical Force, Stress Capacity [Health].

OK, I broke for lunch and then work and then dinner and now it's 9PM, but I'm back at it. Let's try and figure this shit out.

As I was saying, Synthetic Body. Well, I'll start with Resist Damage, which costs 2. I want Stress Cap [Health], which costs 1 to cross the chain and 2 to add the trapping, and then 2 more to cross the chain to Physical Force and 1 more to add that trapping, so that's 8 right there, plus 2 for the Skill rating (Fair, that's fine), and I spend 2 refresh to pump it up to Superhuman tier. I've spend 10 of my 25 Skill points and 2 of my 8 refresh.

Well, that's nice and all, but I want a Strange skill that actually gives me a superpower, too. I want Hydra to be able to break down matter by touching or holding it, converting matter into other matter or just changing it into light or sound (effectively destroying it). That's the Dismantle trapping. I'll start with that (1 point). I don't want any of the other trappings in that chain, though. I think I do want Examine (I can analyze matter before converting it), which adds 1, and I'll cross the chain to Information and add that (2 more total). Kinda want something offensive, so I'll add Shoot to this Skill (2 more). That's 6, plus 3 to make it Good (+3) is 9. Oy. I think I want to take a Drawback. I'll take Delay (minor), meaning it takes a full action to power this up. That drops the cost to 8. I want this at Superhuman Tier, so that's another 2 refresh. I'm down to 7 Skill points and 4 Refresh.

Better stick to common Skills, huh? Hmm. Well, I want Might, Technology, Resources, Science, and Alertness, for sure. I've got Synthetic Body at Fair and Matter Conversion at Good.

Oh, wait, Strange Skills have to have a Drawback and my Synthetic Body doesn't. Um. How about a Complication? This means that one of my free Aspects becomes a Complication Aspect. I'll say that I'm an Obvious Android - Hydra isn't metallic, but his "skin" is green with yellow highlights, his hair is sculpted plastic, and his voice is clearly machine-generated. I think that's worth a Major, don't you? That drops the price of the Skill to 8. That's handy. That means I have 9 points left.

OK, so I spend 4 to buy Might and Science at Fair, 3 to buy Resources, Alertness, and Technology at Average, and I still have 2 left. I'll add Resolve and Stealth as Average Skills.

Next up, I define Aspects based on my answers to the Five Questions. I get one from my Archetype and one from my Background, so we'll start there. My Archetype is Artificial Being, so my Aspect there will be Liberated AI. My Background is Non-Human, but I think the shitty parts of that are covered by Obvious Android, so I'll take Traded Memories for a Body as my Background Aspect.

I need a Conviction Aspect, which is all about goals or ethos or whatever (and can be used to compel me into trouble), so I'll take I Deserve to Know.

And then I have four more free Aspect slots. I want Three Laws of Robotics, No Destruction; Only Conversion (you can't really destroy matter, after all), Face Value (humans lie, but Hydra forgets that), and What's Beyond the Matter? (Hydra knows that human beings are more than just flesh, but he doesn't know what the "more" really means).

I have 4 refresh remaining, so I could buy a Gift, if I wanted. But eh, I think I'm good.

Stress tracks, then? I get two extra Health stress boxes and 2 armor from my Synthetic Body, and one extra Composure stress box from Resolve.

And that's it, I think. Whew, long process, but I like this character.