I find myself with some time this afternoon, and rather than doing something useful, I'm going to make a character. It's what makes me me.
The Game: Ingenium
The Publisher: Silver Gryphon Games
Degree of Familiarity: None, though I'm hopeful.
Books Required: Just the one.
I got Ingenium in PDF from a bundle from DTRPG some years back, and I'd always just assumed it was yet another D&D clone. And, well, to an extent, maybe it is, but right off the bat I see some things I find encouraging.
Character creation starts with three words. The first one is a choice for "Trait", which determines how Attributes are laid out. I think I see where this is going.
Yeah, I was right. The first word is an adjective, the second is your race, and the third is your profession, so you wind up with, like, "Agile Elven Sorcerer" or whatever (much like a High Concept Aspect in Fate games, actually). OK, sounds cool.
Well, I don't thoughts about race or profession, and there's a list of traits, so I'll pick...Lively. It's not immediately magical, but playing the Merry/Pippin style character has some appeal. That makes Appearance my primary Attribute and Dexterity my secondary, whatever that means. Ah, wait, what that means is that Appearance starts at 3, Dexterity at 2, and everything else at one. Glancing ahead, I see that race can increase these, so I'm not filling them in just yet.
On we go to Race, then! We've got the usual stuff: humans are populous and therefore diverse (yawn), elves and dwarves look more or less Tolkein, but then we've got a couple of animal/human hybrid types, plus fucking gargoyles. Yes, please. I'm a Lively Gargoyle!
Gargoyles don't have wings, sadly, but they do get 1 free Soak (tough skin) and a +3 to intimidate (because they're scary).
(I have to say, I'm liking this game so far. Dunno how it'd work in play, but the sheet is nice, simple and intuitive and the chargen is explained well.)
Anyway, third word is profession. Again, I have a list. There are some pretty cool ones, actually; you've got your fantasy staples (wizard, ranger) but also stuff like "battle medic" and "beast tamer." I like that last one, actually. Groovy, I'll be a Lively Gargoyle Beast Tamer.
So I get an extra +1 to Charisma, and my starting Talent Pool is Empathy, though I'm not quite sure how that works. I shall read on!
OK, this is easy enough. I get all the Talents in the Empathy Pool at level 1, and then I get 4 Talents from the General Pool as well. Empathy gives me Negotiation Mastery, Leadership, Entertaining, Public Oration, Bluffing, and Seduction. But not intimidation, that's interesting.
Well, Generals, then. We've got our weapon and armor proficiency, here, so I'll take Armor Use: Medium and Weapon Use: Medium, just to cover my bases. I'll also take Infallible Direction (I can always find true north), and Harmonic Spirit (I get a +2 to Charisma checks in social situations; dunno if that includes with animals or not).
Hmm. Hit points and Wealth are both random and both a function of profession, which seems a little odd (Hit Points feel like they should involve race, too, but I dunno). Anyway, a quick stop at the entropy store gets me 9 for hit points and 5 gold (ugh, my gargoyle is broke as fuck). Can I buy anything with 5 gold? No, I really can't. That's...problematic. Well, screw it, I don't like shopping anyway.
Initiative seems to be Speed + a d10, but there's a separate line for Speed and Initiative, which is odd. I guess my Soak is just one (people don't seem to have natural Soak, but if they do I can't find it). Spell points also don't seem to be a thing I worry about, but then I'm not a spellcaster.
I have to say, for saying that characters start off powerful, I'm not seeing it. My highest Attribute is 3, my highest Talent is 1, meaning I'd roll a d10 and add 4 for my best rolls. If the difficulty on a moderately difficult task is 10 (as the examples in the book seem to indicate), I've got a worse-than-50% chance of success, which is pretty weak for characters that are meant to start off powerful. Not to mention that I lack the funds necessary to buy the stuff I really need, not to mention that the Beast Tamer write-up says they're better with animals than people and then promptly gives me all the skills to be good at...dealing with people.
Hey-ho. Guess it is another D&D knock-off. It's well-constructed at least in part, though, but so many game writers are afraid to make the mechanics match the presumed power level. And maybe it plays differently than it reads, I dunno.
Well anyway, my gargoyle needs a name. I'll call him Brates. His family were goatherds in the mountains, and he was down taking some goats to market when the avalanche happened. He doesn't know if any of his family and people survived, but the roads up the mountain are impassable (and he's a little afraid of what he'd find if he tried to get there). He's alone, virtually penniless, but he's in good health and he's covering his fear and pain with humor and good cheer...for the moment.