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Color-first character, part 3: ready for action

Started by Ron Edwards, January 28, 2009, 09:25:16 PM

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Frank Tarcikowski

Hi Ron,

I'm chiming back in just in time here. I'll answer no. 5 before I get to no. 6.

QuoteAre there any explicit Situation steps in what you did? Where does it fall in the sequence of character creation steps?Did you fill some in unofficially? Do you construe a given Situation associated with this character right off the bat in play, or hope for particular sorts? Alternately, will the  Situation originate and be applied by someone else (i.e., you hope) as the next step?

Overall, given what's on the sheet, exactly where does Situation come from, or where is it expected to come from? Again, I do not expect the answers to this question to be found on the sheet in many cases, so your answer may refer to other people or actions

Okay, so the Angel RPG assumes that the PCs are a gang of vampire hunters, one way or another, that's for the group to figure out before play begins. It would usually be in some big city at present day, though other concepts are possible. The game has rules and stats for organizations and it is recommended that the players get to make up their own organization. I figure that Svenja would work well in any of these, but surely some details need to be figured out, especially how she ended up in this strange dimension and with these people. Also, on the protagonist sheet, I have,

Adversary (her father the frost demon), 3 pt Drawback
Love (relationship starts shortly after season begins), 2 pt Drawback

Both of these I expect to be picked up by the GM, first of all, to create Situation. Regarding the "Love" drawback I would expect some pre-discussion, and maybe my love interest will be one of the other player characters?

QuoteDissect out the process, in order, of who (and what) provides or will provide the "edge" for your character, if any. Significantly, what risks does it produce for your character, or do you anticipate that it will produce? Contrast your individual choices which put the character at unusual risk (relative to most characters in play, as you see it) vs. those imposed by others (as required by that system or expected by you, which might be the same thing) and those imposed by randomized methods, if any.

So in the Angel RPG, adversity is mostly expected from the GM. Minor quarrels among the protagonists are nice and very true to the source material, but the real edge/risks are produced by the GM (this is also outlined in the book). On the one hand, there will be the "monster of the day" which will have to be defeated. This one is entirely the GM's contribution to play.

As naturally I made up a combat monster, it is likely that Svenja will be right in the middle of things when it gets down to Getting Medieval. Looking at the game text that basically suggests a flexible illusionist GM style (I would interpret it as participationist play), and looking at my Hard to Kill levels and ONE HUNDRED AND THREE live points, it's not going to be much of a risk most of the time, but I'm going to look cool while I do it.

Knowing the source material and the GM advice, I expect the GM to provide another form of edge/risks to me, and I have been encouraged by the Drawbacks part in character creation to give him a couple of invitations. It would have been possible to evade these, but they are of course way too much fun to pass up on. I am talking about the following Drawbacks:

Antisocial Impulses (violence), severe, 2 pt Drawback
Vulnerability (major: fire, five times damage after armor and modifiers), 3 pt drawback
Adversary (her father the frost demon), 3 pt Drawback
Humorless, 1 pt Drawback
Love (relationship starts shortly after season begins), 2 pt Drawback

I would expect the meaty part of play to come from this exactly, and similar Drawbacks of other protagonists, and background details that go along. E.g., I would be very surprised if, in a longer season, the protagonists would not at some point wind up in Svenja's home dimension for an episode or two. Not all of this is "risk", but I presume all of this is what you are looking for?

A situation where one of the above applies may be introduced by the GM just exactly to trigger that Drawback, and it would be poor role-playing of me to not react properly (that's the "tandem" you talked about in some other thread concerning Participationism). Aware fellow players may also trigger me (know these kinds of players who have this amazing eye for other PCs?) And last not least, I may actively drive these home (especially the Antisocial Impulses and Humorless Drawbacks) when I see an opportunity.

I believe the Drama Point mechanics also reward this kind of "putting yourself in a bad situation", but I'd have to check at home. I do remember one bit that I liked in particular, where the GM is encouraged to use force to put the PCs in a tricky or dangerous situation, but the PCs get a Drama Point to ease the pain. I think this is the most poignant feature of Reward System supportive of Participationism I know.

As concerning this:

QuoteSituation isn't on the character sheet, because it's a feature of play, perhaps even of play a little ways into play. The only things on the sheet are usable components. And those usable components are not only found in explicit Situation-bait (e.g. Kickers) but also in every other "piece" of SIS material. And to cap that, it's actually the composition or (again) specific recipe of those pieces/types of SIS material that matters. Setting turned way up over here, System turned way up over there, some combination of the two in yet a third, Character with only a smidgeon of either in a fourth, and so on and on.

Does anyone have any better words, or rather, his or her own words?

I have found that these days I create playable characters by gearing them toward Situation that will evolve in play. Only recently, I had two games where there was too little context and too little hint of what kinds of Situations could be expected, in play. So even though it was laid out quite clearly what kind of play style, in terms of Creative Agenda, would be expected, I found myself incapable of making up a character before such context was added, but when it was added, ideas started flowing instantly.

I get your point that game systems tie into this in very, very diverse fashions. I also suggest that creating and evolving Situation is the Real Deal, that thing the players do, in play, that some players do extremely well, in ways that thrill and enthuse me. I suggest that some have a natural talent to this, some improve over time, and others are hopeless cases.

I could get into my opinion of how rules do and don't work in that context, which I believe we discussed when we last met and which may not be entirely popular around here, but I don't want to derail your thread and I have a feeling you'll get to it eventually.

- Frank
If you come across a post by a guest called Frank T, that was me. My former Forge account was destroyed in the Spam Wars. Collateral damage.

Joel P. Shempert

Hi! I know this thing has been sitting dormant for quite a while. But though I got pulled away by other things, I always did want to follow through on my end of the discussion and especially see where the whole journey's going. And here my input was specifically on deck, and I dropped the ball! So I've dusted off my sheet, and I'm going to pick things up and see if there's still any life in the discussion:

Quote from: Ron Edwards on February 04, 2009, 08:12:09 PM
Dissect out the process, in order, of who (and what) provides or will provide the "edge" for your character, if any. Significantly, what risks does it produce for your character, or do you anticipate that it will produce? Contrast your individual choices which put the character at unusual risk (relative to most characters in play, as you see it) vs. those imposed by others (as required by that system or expected by you, which might be the same thing) and those imposed by randomized methods, if any.

OK, in order:

I started out thinking the first person providing "spin" is me, but that's not strictly true. it's an illusion fostered by the nature of this project. In fact, a lot of the work I did solo is a group thing--the content of the "One-sheet," especially Humanity Definition and the nature of Sorcery/Demons. So whether it's done by committee or the GM has a particular idea he brings to the table, there's got be some "setting" clay for me to work with before I even set to work. There are no context-free Sorcerer characters. In this case, we've got a sketched-out concept of sinister Fae and fearful Humankind that gives me lots of disadvantage and risk points to exploit for "spin," and a Humanity definition of Relationship gives me a great wall to bounce my ball off of, as we'll see below. And Sorcery and Demons are easy to design for maximum conflict and risk.

Next person to get their mitts in is me, of course, with any bits of conflict and risk that I build into the character. Looking at Yaeta, it strikes me, as I said above, that in a world of fearful and suspicious cultural relations, she's profoundly positioned to have difficulty fitting in, anywhere. Rather like a Trollbabe, though I wasn't thinking of that at the time. Specifically on the sheet, Savage-raised, Changeling, and Outlaw all point toward this with 20-foot flashing neon arrows. I also designed my Demon to make it impossible for Yaeta to get along smoothly with others even if she wants to play totally nice. Which combined with the Humanity definition puts her between a rock and a hard place. And aside from the general status as "outsider," there are particular sorts of conflicts inherent in something like "Outlaw" or "Unlucky in Love." Looking further, Destiny and Kicker are both explicit conflicts that have the authority to say play will be about. All of this is rife with disadvantage and risk for Yaeta--she's got opposition stacked against her no matter what her goals, and she's really disadvantaged in attempting any sort of benevolent aims. The back of the sheet then fleshes out some specifics of the people and things surrounding her, and tons of concrete Situation starts to emerge, conflict points at the fore. Yaeta's positioned to bring a whole lot of misery on herself and others.

All that work goes nowhere, though, without the GM's cooperation. He's the next person involved in the bounce and spin, taking the material I bring and returning my serve. he starts with the Kicker, where I've done most of thew work for him, but from now on it's his baby, his responsibility to use that starting point to drive toward the adversity I've designer Yaeta for. Likewise all my other bits of prep. If her status as an "Outlaw" never cxauses her grief, it's probably because the GM hasn't been poking at that aspect of the character. Ditto Unlucky in Love, Changeling, Savage-Raised, Destiny, and all the specific NPCs and things I attached to those things. When I bring this sheet to the table I'm expecting to see Bangs relating to all these elements at some point or another. And of course, the GM plays my Demon, so right there he's already the concrete voice of everything in Yaeta that serves to undermine her.

After that, it's the rest of the group. Their input isn't as vital as ther GM's, but it's definitely useful and engaging for the other players to push, challenge and oppose my character through theirs, in both big and small ways. Everything from using other PCs' attitudes as a counterpoint to mine, to minor rivalry and occasional cross-purposes, to full-on to-the-death bitter emnity, is welcome as appropriate. One particular way the other players can give me that spin is by looking at my back'o'th'sheet and playing with those elements in ways different than I have--having relationships with NPCs of a different nature than mine, or having interest in places or things that intersect interestingly.

There it is. I feel like I've repeated myself a bit from Question 4, but this question does feel like a bit of a recapitulation of that one, just more narrowly focused.

Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.

Ron Edwards

Cool! I promise to follow up on this soon. Basically, the run-up to Jonathan's birth and the follow-up in terms of kids + job has been frightful. In order to get Trollbabe done, I had to drop a few things. But this one's not dead, at least not for me.

Best, Ron


This looked interesting. Sorry I missed it.

Joel P. Shempert

Quote from: Ron Edwards on May 13, 2009, 08:08:27 PM
Cool! I promise to follow up on this soon. Basically, the run-up to Jonathan's birth and the follow-up in terms of kids + job has been frightful. In order to get Trollbabe done, I had to drop a few things. But this one's not dead, at least not for me.

Best, Ron

Awesome. And egad, no wonder you had to backburner this thread! Congratulations, man. Annie and I just had our daughter, Niamh, in December.

Quote from: Brimshack on May 13, 2009, 10:52:34 PM
This looked interesting. Sorry I missed it.

Looks interestig, dude. Looks interesting. :)
Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.


Okay, (nervously dips toes into the water). Here we go...

I'm using my own system, 'Worlds of Hurt', still in development.

Step: 1/2, The basic choices: Her name is Geezwa. This is obvious from looking at her.

Geexwa is a human, so no templates or special monsterly abilities and problems. I do get to pick 2 Traits representing her natural qualities (monsters would have these chosen for them). I am choosing "Fair" (as in beautiful) and Vibrant (as in, she moves around a lot and fidgits when she isn't active). This has no direct game effect, but if I choose abilities, problems, professions, values, or languages that re-enforce this, then her Strength in the Traits will go up.

Step 1 Starting X.P.: I roll her experience points (3d6) and come up with a result of 11.

Step 2: Personal Special Problem. I roll 4 of these and take the option I can best live with (or leave it out altogether if I don't like any of them). Option 1: 6,6,3,1= Weak Magical Bladder  (Minor Problem), Option 2: 2, 3, 5, 4 = Chronic Skin Condition (Minor Problem), Option 3: 3, 1, 2, 3 = Easily Distracted (Minor Problem), Option 4: 1, 2, 2, 3 = Accursed (Hated of Metal) (Minor Problem). The curse won't work with a metal sword, and the skin condition just doesn't fit the image. Weak Magical Bladder (only 1 benign spell effect  at a time) would work, but I'm choosing "Easily Distracted." It just seems like it would fit.

Step 3, Special Abilities. Now Geezwa gets 1 Minor Ability in compensation for taking her personal problem. I'm choosing "Heavy Hitter" which will go well with the Great Sword. This ability is free, (or rather she has paid for it with the problem instead of x.p.). Now, I am buying 1 more Minor Ability (Wiry, so she can move around amongst enemies without getting slapped too often for it) and 1 Major (Enhanced Riposte, so anyone who attacks her in Melee and comes up short is going to pay for that mistake). These abilities cost her 3 x.p. total.

Step 4, sundry other buy-ables. I bought a language (The Wild Tongue), a profession (Tracker), a moral value (cunning). Each of these costs 1 x.p.

- Wild Tongue will help her to speak with Centaurs, Waggamaephs, Arachnid Centaurs, etc. She just seems like she'd fit in with that crowd, so I'm going with the language early to show that she already has a history with such creatures.

- Tracker means she will be able to learn more from studying tracks than usual, and it will lower the Target score when does does track.

- Cunning means that she will prefer to approach combat by means of careful stratagem. She will gain extra experience points when she and her companions do this will, and she will earn less if they walk straight up to enemies and simply start a fight.

So, now she only has 3 point cost from this stage of character creation, and this brings her to a total expenditure of 6. She has 5 experience left.

Step 5: Buy Crunch Stats. Geezwa gets 3 natural Bonus Points to start with (1 if she chooses to use them for 'Swiftness'). I am going to take all of her Natural Bonus points and spend them on Melee so as to give her a big permanent advantage in that stat. (The only other option I considered would have been the 1 point to Swiftness to give her extra Actions in a round and enable her to activate earlier in the round as well, but putting this to melee gives her a better head-start. Now, with only 5 experience points left, she just puts 1 each in Aggression, Melee, Presence, Spirit, and Swiftness. Combined with her natural bonus, she ends up with a Melee Bonus of 4, 1s in 4 other stats, and a whole lotta 0s.

Step 6: Calculate Functioning Stats. The Functioning Stats Geezwa will use to determine what she can do in a given Game Session will be permutations of the Crunch Stats. The formulas are listed in parentheses beside each Functioning Stat. Step 5 is a matter of adding them up and recording them. Geezwa doesn't wear armor, doesn't have general lethality abilities (hers are specific to certain tactics), and she doesn't have any Focus or Athleticism, which means a lot of the Lethality and Invulnerability bonuses beside her attack and defence stats can be left blank. Her Task Bonuses are mostly blank too. Until she gets some experience points, she is going to be a simple character, stat-wise.

Step 7: Sundry Facts. I assign these (gender, height, weight, class, etc.) as I would like them. I throw in 2 twists here.

A) I decide she is 'Homosexual' . Most of the time, players don't even bother with this, but for this character I thought it would be a good twist. She could have been bisexual, but that would have been pretty much a wish-fulfillment fantasy, and something tells me the scowl is aimed at a would-be suitor who is NEVER going to score. There is potential for fun with that. In terms of game-mechanics it means on those rare occasions when sexual attraction plays a role in magic or persuasion effects, then it'll work in reverse for her. Usually though, this will be up to me to role-play.

B) I gave her a "commoner" social class. On most characters, the players opt for an unmarked (and hence middle) class, but I'm going for low-brow with Geezwa. Once we know what kingdom she is from, then she will be able to take Affinity Bonuses when helping other peasants in that kingdom and Opposition Bonuses versus nobles from that same kingdom. Unfortunately, it also means nobles can take Opposition Bonuses against her as well.

Step 8: Equipment. Give her a Great Sword, and really nothing else. First I roll up treasure, 3d6x10, and I get a 9. So, 90 gold. Geezwa buys a Great Sword for 80 gold and now she has only 10 gold left. Assuming her first outfit is free (which it is), that's what she is wearing. Now I combine her stats with those of the Great Sword and that's what she will use in battle. She doesn't have anything else, so she better not break her sword.

Step 9: Look-Up the Strength of Geezwa's Traits. This means checking the Special Abilities, languages, etc. to see if any of them match her Traits. If any do, then her Strength in the Trait is raised by 1. Unfortunately, one of her current abilities matches one of her Traits and that is Riposte.  Oops! She took one ability (Heavy Hitter) with the Trait 'Stalwart' which is opposed to 'Vibrant', so she is -1 in her strength for that Trait. So, she has a strength of 1 in Cunning, -1 in Vibrant, and 0 strength in all other Traits, and essentially this means she will be vulnerable to special magical constraints built around opposed Traits.


Did a little copy&paste, but all in all, it took 10 minutes.

The Character has not come into her own yet. She will need to earn about 10 more experience points (1 or 2 sessions) to find herself, so to speak.

(Sword Wench)

Experience Points: 11.
Template(s): None.
Kind: Human.
Order: Humanoid   
Traits: (Gender -Female 0) (Qualities - Fair 0, Vibrant -1), (Class - Commoner 0), (Values - Cunning 1).

Aggression (Agg): 1 (1 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 1.
Athleticism (Ath): 0 (0 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 0.
Caution (Cau): 0 (0 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 0.
Distance (Dis): 0 (0 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 0.
Focus (Foc): 0 (0 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 0.
Magic (Mag): 0 (0 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 0.
Melee (Mel): 1 (1 Cost) + 3 Misc. = 4.
Missile (Mis): 0 (0 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 0.   
Presence (Pre): 1 (1 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 1.
Spirit (Spi): 1 (1 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 1.
Swiftness (Swi): 1 (0 Cost) + 0 Misc. = 1.

Affinity (Foc): 0, (Bonus: +3)
Desperation (Spi): 1 (Physical Bonus: +1, Mental Bonus: +1, Magic Effect: +1).
Opposition (Agg): 1, (Bonus: +5)
Persuasion (Pre): 1.
Spells (Mag): 0.
Spirit Reserve (Spi): 1.

Movement (Dis+4"): 4", Speed (Swi+1): 2, Aura (Pre): 1", Max Enamored (Pre+Foc): 1 Creatures.

Magic Attack (Agg+Mag): +1, (Mind Affecting (Pre+Mag): +1), Leth: 0, Botched Inv (Foc): 0.
Melee Attack (Agg+Mel): +5, Leth: 0, Botched Inv (Ath): 0.
Missile Attack (Agg+Mis): +1, Leth: 0.
Intimidate (Foc+Agg): +1, Leth: 0, Botched Inv (Foc): 0.
Special Lethality: +3 versus normal Botched Attacks, double Weapon Lethality on a Full Wind Up Swing.


   Straight Sword, Great: Grip: 2 Handed; Types: Piercing, Slicing; Special Attacks: Crippling, Cutting.
   Flurry Attack: -2, Lethality: +4, Total Attack: +5, Lethality: +4.

Magic Defence (Cau+Mag): +0, (With Shield:  N/A), Mental Inv: N/A, Physical Inv: N/A.
Melee Defence (Cau+Mel): +4, (With Shield:  N/A), Mental Inv: N/A, Physical Inv: N/A.
Missile Defence (Cau+Mis): +0, (With Shield:  N/A), Mental Inv: N/A, Physical Inv: N/A.
AMC (Foc+Cau): +0.
Special Invulnerability: None.
Malaise: 0

Pure Mental Tasks (Focx2): +0.
   Magic (Foc+Mag): +0.
   Rally (Foc+Pre): +1,  Leth: 0, Botched Inv (Foc): 0.
Pure Physical Tasks (Athx2): +0.     
Mixed Tasks (Ath+Foc): +0.

Mental Durality (MD): Slot A: 1, Slot B: 2, Slot C: 3, Slot D: 4, Slot E: 5.
Physical Durability (PD):  Slot A: 1, Slot B: 2, Slot C: 3, Slot D: 4, Slot E: 5.


Minor Abilities (Cost 1): Heavy Hitter * (Geezwa doubles the Lethality of the weapon on a Full Wind Up Swing, i.e. an attack which is her sole action of the Turn), Wiry (+3 on Defence Rolls versus Free Attacks).
Major Abilities (Cost 2): Riposte (Enhanced) (Geezwa can damage opponents who Botch melee attacks against her, even if the two were not Locked in Combat at the start of their turn. If they are Locked in Combat with her, then Geeza gains a +3 Lethality Bonus against any who Botch an attack against her.)
Problems: Easily Distracted *Any time a Character within line of sight rolls a Critical Success or Critical Blunder in the presence of Geezwa, she must waste 1 Action on her next Turn taking notice of the event. She must furthermore roll a Mental Task Roll at a Target of 15 or waste a second Action. Only one such event matters at any given time. Multiple Criticals before her next Turn will not incur any additional rolls or penalties.
Languages (Cost 1): Common Local Tongue *, The Wild Tongue.
Professions (Cost 1): Tracker.
Career: N/A.

* Indicates abilities for which the character need not pay with Experience Points.


Age: 17, (Category: Middle).   
Social Class: Peasant, (Category: Commoner).
Culture: Pending, Kingdom: Pending, Native Language: Local Common Tongue.
Gender: Female. Sexual Preference: Homosexual.
Height: Man-sized (Actual: 5'7") , Weight: Man-sized (Actual: 133 lb)
Qualities: Fair, Vibrant.
Colours: None.   
Optimum Light: Daylight.
WeapClas: Utilitarian (Grappling).
Spare Experience: Geezwa has 0 Experience Points to spare. These may be used for purposes of imposing an Epic Legacy.

Values: Cunning (Record of 0 and Total Strength of 1). Note that if Geezwa uses an especially cunning tactic (one which requires advanced planning and careful execution) during a Game, she will earn a Bonus of 2 Experience Points, but she must go above and beyond the call of duty in doing so. If Geezwa allows herself unnecessarily to engage in a straight-foreword fight, she loses a like amount.

Memes: None (Record of 0 and Total Strength of 0).


   Geezwa has 0 Magic Items.


   Geezwa has a Great Sword and a basic set of clothes.

   Geezwa has 10 coins to spare (all in the local currency).