Happy Thanksgiving! In celebration of the holiday, I chose a game randomly (five bookshelves plus PDFs, roll a d6 to pick a bookshelf, five shelves on said shelf, roll a d5 to pick a shelf, and then just selected a game NOW YOU KNOW MY PROCESS TODAY)
The Game: Ghosts of Albion
The Publisher: Eden Studios
Degree of Familiarity: I'm pretty proficient with the underlying system, and I've played Ghosts of Albion once (at Origins, years ago, it was a pretty awesome time) but I am not familiar with the source material (in fact, I just now learned* that it was co-created by Amber Benson, who played Tara on Buffy)
Books Required: Just the one
OK, so the book begins with a nice little summary of the adventures of Tamara and William Swift, so as to tell us what kind of weirdness we're in for. Basically this feels very urban fantasy, and in particular it reminds me of Hellboy with a Victorian sensibility about it. I can roll with that.
The book invites me to play a member of the existing cast (nah), use an Archetype (also nah), or make my own character, and like, that's what this is, so that is what we shall do. Groovy.
(Side note: Some time ago I went through and printed off character sheets for all of the game on that list that had them, excluding stuff like PbtA games because the sheets are different for different playbooks, and then I alphabetized them and put them into my binder, but I can't find the one for this game so I had to print another. That's weird. I suspect I'll find it misfiled under a different letter, but I ain't flipping through all of them; it's quicker just to print another one out.)**
Step One is Type (much like other Unisystem games). Here our options are Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master. I guess I need a concept.
Well, I don't think I want to play a ghost or a vampire or anything like that...actually, hang on. I haven't made a vampire character for a game that wasn't Vampire or Vampire in a long time. The book says that "Apprentice" characters could be newly-dead vampires, so let's maybe try that out? I need to look up how this game handles them, though.
OK, so looking into this, good-guy vampires are extremely rare (like, there's one in the "canon", but he's an exception). Mostly, they're Victorian-style vampires, which means they're monsters (Copolla aside, Dracula was not a real sympathetic character). I'm fine with that, I just need to find a reason why my newly-turned vampire would be a good guy.
Let's name him Christopher Tennyson (distant cousin to Alfred, though he's never met him). Christopher's family is pretty much middle class, and he had just become engaged to a girl named Francine. He saw the life before him - marry her, work with his father and brothers, help care for his nieces and nephews, read his books, have children, live, die, be remembered. It comforted him, this gentle mediocrity. He had no ambition to become Poet Laureate or to seek the halls of power. Even his love for Francine wasn't fiery or passionate, but gentle and steady.
And then a vampire came to town and blew it all to hell.
The vampire - a beast with the unassuming name of Levi - murdered Christopher and two of his brothers, draining their blood and throwing them in the corner of the room like cordwood. One of them managed to slash the vampire with a knife, and somehow a bit of that blood wound up in Christopher's mouth. Christopher rose the next night, just as the Protectors managed to burn Levi to ash. They had no idea Christopher had turned, but Christopher came to them and asked to be destroyed, too. He had no wish to be...this.
The Protectors agreed, but they mentioned how strange it was for a new vampire to retain so much of his humanity. Christopher asked if that meant anything, and they said that, if he could keep that gentle, steady spark, he could be a force for good, protecting Albion's soul.
Christopher Tennyson never wanted such responsibility, but he found, as he thought about it, that the notion of being a Protector was appealing.
So that's some background, then. Let's put some numbers on it!
I get 15 Attribute points (though I happen to know that the Vampire Quality boosts a few, but that's later). I want a high Willpower, to help explain why Christopher isn't a monster, so I'll put that at 5. I'll put Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution at 2 each...and actually, I'll put Intelligence and Perception at 2 as well. Christopher was, in life, a pretty average guy.
Now, Qualities and Drawbacks. I can take up to 10 in Drawbacks and I get 15 in Qualities, but Vampire costs 15, so there ya have it. That also gives me a suite of other shit, so I'll note that down. And then I can take up to 10 points in Drawbacks, so let's do that.
Well, I think Naive is perfect for Christopher; that's 2 points. I also think Honourable is appropriate, though I don't think more than 2 points makes sense. Home Soil, over on the supernatural side of things, works because Christopher is such a homebody. That's 7 points total; I could take 3 more. I'll take Adversary 3 - not that Christopher knows it, but there are other vampires in England who are none too pleased that Christopher exists at all.
So that gives me 10 points to throw around. I'll take Status 3 (middle class) and that gives me Resources 1 for free; I'll spend one more point and up it to 2. That leaves me 6 points. I kinda want Christopher to have some overt supernatural powers, so I'll take Scale Walls for 2 points and Shadow Manipulation for 2 points (the latter just means I have a reflection and a shadow, which most vampires don't). 2 points left. I'll put them into Charisma; Christopher is a nice guy, and it shows (ignore the fangs, please).
Now I get 20 Skill points (plus I get 2 free in either Fisticuffs or Armed Mayhem, on account I'm a vampire). I'll put 2 in Art, 2 in Fisticuffs (for a total of 4), 4 in Influence, 3 in Knowledge, 2 in Languages, 3 in Marksmanship, 3 in Notice, and 1 in Occultism (he's learning, give him time).
I have 52 Life Points and 20 Drama Points, and that pretty much finishes me up. Well, quick description: Christopher is slim (like vampires often are). His hair is slightly reddish, his skin is pale (obvs), and his fingers are long and delicate. He used to smile widely and easily, now he typically keeps his smiles tight-lipped so his fangs don't show.
*I mean, the Ghosts of Albion book says "Amber Benson & Christopher Golden" on it, so I knew on some level, but I hadn't connected that name to anything until just now.**
**It's apparently a rambly day in Matt's brain, y'all.