Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Character Creation: Chronicles of Darkness

Don't feel like watching TV just now, need to kill a bit of time and drink my tea, and I feel like making a character. I do not, however, have time to read through a whole book, so we're stuck doing something I'm familiar with.

The Game: Chronicles of Darkness
The Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: I developed The God-Machine Chronicle, which introduced the rules changes that became Chronicles of Darkness, so "very yes."
Books Required: Well, that's a fraught question.

So, back in...what, 2012 or so, the World of Darkness and associated properties were owned by CCP and licensed by Onyx Path, and CCP didn't want to let OPP do official second editions of anything. As such, The God-Machine Chronicle and Blood and Smoke were, in all but name, World of Darkness and Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition, respectively.

But lo, CCP sold everything to Paradox, which did not care about the words "second edition" but did (correctly) feel that having two Worlds of Darkness led to brand confusion, so what had been called the "new World of Darkness" was rebranded "Chronicles of Darkness," and what had been the GMC was rebranded as the Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook, though it included a bunch more core rules. And then, in a move that still baffles me, all of the core rules were included with all of the core books, going forward, but since you can't cram all of the rules into a 20-40K word chapter, the rules versions in books like Werewolf, Mage, Promethean Second Editions and the newer games like Beast were kind of incomplete and patchwork. It would have been a much better idea to just say "you need the CofD core to use this," in my opinion, but my opinion isn't exactly sought-after, so here we are.

Anyway, Chronicles of Darkness is the only book that you need, and for purposes of this project I'm not considering that and GMC to be separate editions, because...they aren't. CofD just adds in all the core rules that we didn't put in the GMC. Confused yet?

On we go.

Step One: Character Concept. There is a part of me that wishes that, after high school or after college, I had just fucked off to Detroit or something and gotten whatever shitty job I could and live in a tiny apartment (I mean, I did that part, but it was in Toledo). Things cannot be other than they are, of course, but that notion of getting away from what I knew younger than I actually did is persistent. I never did it because I was afraid and staying near my family was comfortable. Anyway, this notion shows up in a couple of the other characters I've made (including this one, for Mage 20th), but I want to play with it a little more, especially in light of today's edition of "this is how our society crumbles."

So I want my basic character concept to be "angry activist." I'm thinking that he might not be American; maybe he's from Honduras or Mexico or Syria or someplace where "activist" is a little different than here (so far). I don't know, not sure yet. That's good enough for a concept, though, and I can flesh out from there.

This step also encourages me to think about Aspirations. I get three; two short-term, one long-term. For short-term, I want "organize a protest" and "punch a Nazi" (what the hell, it's topical). For long-term, I think I want something more personal, so we'll say that my character's father never made it over to the US, and he wants to find him.

Step Two: Anchors. For human characters, that's Virtue and Vice, and one of the things we did in GMC was change these so they're not Christian in flavor. Anyway, I think my activist is, at the end of the day, optimistic. He believes that people can get smarter and fix their own systems. Optimistic is a good Virtue. For Vice, we want something that represents that easy way out, the path the character takes to make himself feel better. "Angry" is too on the nose, and I'm not sure "Shouty" is what I want. "Abrasive" might be closer to the truth, or maybe just "Mean."

Step Three: Attributes. Standard NWoD CofD array, 5/4/3. Do I actually want this fellow to be an immigrant? (I mean, if I do it's going to affect trait choices and I should think about it.) I think I do. We'll say his father was active in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, but he fled with his then-teenage son in 2006. His father went back to Ukraine to visit (and try to help) family in 2012, and (my character) hasn't seen him since.

OK, but Attributes, though. Let's say Social first, Mental second, Physical third (and I'll give him the physical stuff he needs with Skills). Three into Presence, one into Manipulation, one into Composure makes five. For Mental, I'll put two into Resolve and one each into Intelligence and Wits. For Physical, I'll just put one across the board (I don't see this guy being especially weak in any physical area).

Step Four: Skills. 11/7/4. Here, I want to go Physical/Social/Mental, I think. For Physical, I'll put three into Athletics (good for running and throwing), two in to Brawl, Larceny, and Stealth, and one each into Firearms and Weaponry.

For Social, I'll put two each into Streetwise, Intimidation, and Expression and the last one into Empathy.

Finally, for Mental, one each in Computer, Academics, Medicine, and Politics.

Step Five: Skill Specialties. I want to specialize Politics in Activism. I kinda want to give him a Streetwise Specialty, but I'm not sure what. One of the suggestions in the book is "Rumors," but eh.

Let's go back to another technique and think of three (well, two) things about the character. We know he distrusts the government and we know he's loud. I think I'll specialize Intimidation in "Shouting," actually. I'll specialize Stealth in Crowds; he knows how to blend in when he needs to.

Step Six: Merits. Mortal characters still get seven dots in Merits in 2nd Ed, though for supernatural characters it's 10. Anyway, I'll take a dot of Multi-Lingual (Russian and Ukrainian). I'll take Inspiring for three points, and then the question is, do I dump the last three into Allies (fellow activists) or take other cool stuff? I think I'll take Indomitable, and then with my last dot I'll take one point in Anonymity.

Step Seven: Advantages. Well, this is easy, since I didn't take any Merits that change them. Willpower is 5, Health is 7, Integrity is 7, Size is 5, Speed is 9, Initiative is 4, Defense is 5.

And then I guess breaking points would go under here as well. They are not mentioned in the character creation section, which, bit of an oversight, but hey. (I wrote the Integrity system, including breaking points, for what it's worth.)

Well, first I want a name and stuff. His name is Ruslan Chumak, and he's now 24. He's thin and wiry, like a lot of my characters (indulge me a bit of wish-fulfillment), black hair, brown eyes, Roman nose, long fingers. His ears are pierced multiple times, but he's paranoid about getting tattoos (he's got one: his father's name, on his chest over his heart).

And now for the breaking point questions:

  • What is the worst thing your character has ever done? Ruslan and a couple of buddies smashed in the windows of a bunch of cars and shops in a rich section of town one night; they were a little drunk but mostly just pissed off because Ruslan's friend Oleg had lost his job over a bullshit complaint. Someone came out of a house to yell at them and Ruslan hit the guy with a vodka bottle. It didn't break; Ruslan just heard the plink and then the guy fell down, and when he got back up he was gushing blood. I think what bothered Ruslan about this whole thing was that the guy was totally right to confront these kids that were smashing stuff up, so I'll take "violence against a bystander" as a breaking point. 
  • What is the worst thing your character can imagine doing? Gotta go back to violence, here. Ruslan knows what the Russians and the Ukrainians did to each other; his dad told him. "Burning someone alive" is the worst thing Ruslan can imagine doing to a human being. 
  • What is the worst thing your character can imagine someone else doing? "Sending someone to die for corruption/profit" is probably the nadir, as far as Ruslan is concerned, but that's mostly pretty theoretical. I think that profiting off war or revolution is probably in the same boat; if you're acting politically, you shouldn't be using that to get yourself off, as it were. 
  • What has your character forgotten? Supernaturally, that is. Back in the Ukraine, when Ruslan was a boy, he saw a man get pulled into a crack in the sidewalk. Just...gone, into a two-inch crack. Not even a bit of blood left. Ruslan doesn't step on cracks now.
  • What is the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to your character? His father's disappearance. The trip to the US was long, hard, and traumatic, but Ruslan could always lean on his father, and because he was a teen at the time, he was a little less shell-shocked than some of the younger people making that same trek. But then his father disappeared, and Ruslan was only 18, and everything fell apart. 
That leads us to now. Ruslan is working whatever jobs he can get, but always under the table and always manual labor. He's probably overstayed his visa, he's not sure, and he keeps mostly to other Ukrainian ex-pats and refugees. He knows that the US is headed for shit and blood, and he's not going to run this time. He promised his father he'd stand up to evil. 

I can see Ruslan being part of a chronicle tying in elements of Demon. I think it'd be interesting if his father signed a soul pact and "came back" as a demon, and by "interesting" I mean "pretty damn heart-breaking".