Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Playtest of Sorts (Character Generation)

With the character generation system totally done I think its time to post a character or two.

These are both PCs who other playtesters are playing as in that big playtest campaign I've been talking about.

Notably, both playtesters had a pretty specific character concept (personality, skills, capabilities, etc) in mind... one even made the character in Traveller to compare! Both came out as desired but with lots of detailed history added by the system. Because the generator involves some player choice (what skills to pursue developing, sometimes moral or strategic choices, job choices, etc) its almost like playing an encounter. Doesn't take quite as long, but it is definitely more fun than just rolling some dice to see what your character looks like. Both character were started as Rank 4 Stars. Normally I'd use Rank 3 but Rank 4 provides a good basis for having pretty powerful characters (roughly equivalent to Rep 5 + some encounters experience in New Beginnings) which will fit this campaign as both characters are going to get into some pretty big stuff.

Note also that most of the "story" info is inferred from the generator's results. So I know that Dennis received an injury that gave him the "Slow" attribute after sacrificing his team while serving on a naval vessel during a war... but the player gets to decide that specifically that meant he was ejected into the upper atmosphere of a gas giant from an exploding ship and due to minor suit punctures has had lung problems ever since. Same thing with different units and nations... the generator goes by job type, not specific units. Marine Force Recon would use the same chart as US Army Green Berets, in other words, though if a player feels the need he can modify.

Valdis' sheet has a few extra details given in the timeline due to the player wanting to use the character as a guide to learning the generation system. The other figured it out himself and ran it himself, without my assistance (though using the same format).

So, without further ado:

Name: Valdis Vladimir Travers Cadfael. Common/Nick-name, Personal-Name, Family Name, Clan Name. 
Contact Points (remaining): 4 (3) Enemy Points (Remaining): 8 (5)
QRS: Mercenary/Star Army         Personality: Pragmatic Tribal/Rebellious
Attributes: Star Advantages, Smooth.
Proficiencies: Crime (Covert), Investigation (Tracking)-2, Scholar (Social Sciences), Scholar (Languages)-2, Soldier (Tactics)-2, Streetwise (Culture), Soldier (Marine), Soldier (Grunt), Survival (Jungle). 
Fame: 4  Notoriety: 1
Resources: SMG, BA Pistol, 10 Wealth Points
Rep: 5
Fit: 4
Pep: 3
Sav: 4
Sci: 2
Age 1-15: Vladimir starts as a Rank 4 Star. He grew up on TancoKrav as an Cymri. This minority was persecuted when the True Word took over. Due to his people’ status as a persecuted minority, Vladimir grew up on the streets, learning to move quietly and take without giving.
Age 16: The war between the TancoKravian theocracy and the Twin Suns Empire has been going on for several years. When Vladimir’s city was liberated by Shiloh Rough Riders, Vladimir got a chance to go to school in the TSE. He took this opportunity, planning to return to TancoKrav and destroy the True Word that oppressed his people. Vladimir does well at school, focusing his study on Social Sciences and Investigation. He has trouble making close friends, as his culture and difficult early life are very foreign to most of the other students.
Age 17: Vladimir continues his academic studies, taking some natural science classes to balance his capabilities, learning a bit of several languages, and furthering his study of Investigative Reasoning.
Age 18: Vladimir continues his studies.  Vladimir befriends one of his professors in a science course, Professor Thatcher (2 contact points).
Age 19: More school. Vladimir’s initial difficulty with the social life at the school resulted in his becoming more persuasive. Vladimir’s skill, fitness, and 
Age 20: Last year of school.  Vladimir switches focus to study more military subjects to aid him in his upcoming enlistment. To do so, Vladimir transfers to the TSE Military Academy of New Medina. Vladimir learns the ropes of military service and tactics. In the huge metropolitan capital of New Medina, Vladimir becomes learned in the culture of urban centers across the galaxy.
Out of School—Owes 20 Wealth Points. 
Age 21: Vladimir enlists in the Twin Suns Empire Cymri “Grey Phantoms” Brigade  to fight against the TancoKravian True Word regime, still in power. Basic training goes well, and Vladimir spends his first months of the war in naval security, manning the airlocks and guns of ships in orbit of TancoKrav. Eagerness to get on the ground prevented Vladimir from getting promoted, but he still managed to pick up the fine points of serving as a Naval Marine. However, during his time aboard his bombardment platform he met a TSE Captain, Daniel Haddock ,who had targeted an entire village of civilians… a village of Cymri. The TSE didn’t even investigate the careless war crime, but Vladimir confronted Haddock. Neither would forget each other’s name after this confrontation (Gained enemy, 3 points).
Age 22: Vladimir is slowly transitioned to the front lines. He is shipped down to his home city, now under TSE control. Though technically TSE territory, followers of the True Word continue guerilla attacks. Vladimir sees some minor action but spends most of his time using his investigative skills to seek out IEDs and weapon caches. 
Age 23: Vladimir is moved to the “true” frontline, the tropical equatorial continent of TancoKrav, where followers of the True Words have entrenched themselves in the jungles and small towns. TSE casualties are rising, and they’re not taking any new ground. The war is taking its toll and things are starting to look like they may end in a draw. Vladimir is promoted to Sergeant (R:1) in the field when his squad’s NCO is killed by a sniper. Vladimir earns a medal of valor for his service. 
Age 24: Vladimir serves until the end of the TancoKrav war. Faced with mounting casualties and the cost of shipping armies across interstellar space, TSE chooses to call for peace on the condition that Shiloh and a few small TancoKravian starports become TSE territory. TancoKrav accepts these conditions, as they are minor losses for the inward looking theocracy. (Character’s People) are left behind by the TSE, while Shilohs are upset by their lack of independence after fighting for the TSE for over a decade.  Vladimir himself becomes jaded when he sees his people left to die by the Empire they fought for. (Goes from Idealist Normal to Idealist Tribal). In his last year of the war, Vladimir served the Empire with particular enthusiasm. He gained a highly honorable medal after his entire platoon was wiped out while serving as a shield for retreating TSE forces. Vladimir was promoted to Lieutenant (R:2) as a result, and served until the end of the war in this capacity.
Musters out. (Rank transferred to Merc job, owes no Wealth Points)
Age 25: Vladimir joins up with like-minded Cymri and forms a mercenary outfit, Vladimir, set on colonizing a new world for Cymri. Finding a world on the other side of a recently opened wormhole, the group moves in to colonize. Apparently, the wormhole (or others) had been open before, as the planet is inhabited by primitive humans. The first year on the lungle planet is harsh, focused mainly on survival and establishing simple settlements. 
Age 26: The colonization continues. With settlements now firmly established, it seems that there is now a chance for Cymri to actually have their own homeworld.
Age 27: Unfortunately, the leaders of the mercenary outfit became greedy. Vladimir knew something was wrong when the leaders started enslaving the local tribes and using them as sources of labor and entertainment. When one of the leaders orders Vladimir to shoot all the men and children of a small band of primitive jungle dwellers, Vladimir refuses. He gets a bullet in return. The primitives used the opportunity to kill the leader and rescue Vladimir, who is nursed back to health. Having lost his faith in even his own people, Vladimir decides to go back to TancoKrav and just get revenge on the Followers of the True Word for all that they have caused (Become Pragmatic Tribal).
(Quits job. Gains 1 Contact Point and the pistol on his body… A Taurus P50 Big Ass Pistol, which packs quite a punch)
Age 28: Vladimir becomes the leader (R:3) of a small cell of guerilla fighters in TancoKrav’s capital city. His band performs mostly low-level assassinations on religious, political, and military leaders (often one and the same). The constant danger of this lifestyle hones Vladimir’s abilities as a guerilla fighter, tactician, and spy. However, the band is rarely successful in their attempts… often failing to get the target. But at least they don’t get killed themselves—Vladimir runs his attacks like a military mission, not like a suicide bombing. Unfortunately, these actions do cause the New Macedonian-backed TancoKravian Intelligence Organization to start tracking Vladimir… (gained 5 enemy points)
Age 29: The Game Begins
Current Team: 
 Rank 4 Ganger
 Rank 4 Net Runner
 Rank 5 Assassin
Character #2, who led a somewhat different life, though both are generally in the same category (being ex-soldiers with some good schooling).

Name: Dennis Starburg (Dantil V’Stafir in Viatsi)

Contact Points (Remaining): 7 (3)                         Enemy Points (Remaining): 1

QRS: Mercenary/Star Army                                    Personality: Pragmatic Tribal/Code (Job)

Attributes: Star Advantages, Steely Eyes, Slow (reduced sprint speed), Runt (doesn’t like charging into melee), Smooth (+1d6 Pep)

Proficiencies: Ship’s Crew (Engineer-2, Navigation), Soldier (Grunt-2, Recon, Tactics), Crime (Intimidation), Pilot (Hull:5, Hull:1), Scientist (Physics-2), Scholar (Viatsi Culture), Perform (Violin), Freetrader (Smuggling),

Fame:            3                                                            Notoriety: 3

Resources: $25.

Rep: 4
Fit: 3
Pep: 2
Sav: 4
Sci: 4

Ages 1-17: Dennis grew up on the Viatsi Fleet, son of two human merchants. Growing up on ships provided an instinctive understanding of engines and astronomy.

Age 18: Enlists in Viatsi Naval Infantry (Ztar’m Brigade, for non-Viatsi volunteers) and goes through basic training. His talents get him placed in a special cross-training program.

Age 19: Stays in Viatsi Naval Infantry. Dennis is assigned to an exploration vessel (Laok’ra) as a security guard. He is quickly promoted to lead the small vessel’s security team (R:1). Dennis continued to hone his combat instincts during his stay on the vessel.

Age 20: Dennis attempts to join Viatsi Naval Special Operations, but doesn’t quite make the cut due to lack of covert skills. He continues on in the Infantry, and is assigned to a pirate hunting operation. Ironically, Dennis is assigned to a reconnaissance team and starts learning the skills that prevented him from joining the Commandoes.

Age 21: Dennis’ infantry career gets interesting when the anti-pirate operation expands into an all out war when it is revealed that a faction of Watowees (a reptilian species on the Fringe of human space) is supporting the pirates. Dennis serves on the Sholeev, a missile frigate. Dennis was able to help the Engine crew with his instinctive knowledge of ship engines, but received a light injury when the bridge was damaged by a laser strike. In that attack, one of the pilots was knocked out and Dennis had to bring in his basic training to help pilot the ship. For his heroism, Dennis is given a medal.

Age 22: Dennis continues to serve on board the Sholeev. During a boarding of a incapacitated enemy cruiser, it was found that the reactor was about to overload. Dennis sacrificed his team by staying on the ship so that pirates could not fix the reactor and possibly retake the ship. The ship ultimately exploded, meaning Dennis’ team failed its mission to capture the ship, but Dennis managed to survive the explosion. Due to a suit puncture and being stuck in the clouds of a gaseous planet, Dennis also contracted chronic long problems before being retrieved by search and rescue teams.

Age 23: With the war in its final stages, Dennis is assigned to a sniper team in the final assaults on pirate bases. Due to high success rate, Dennis is promoted (R:2). This eventually puts him in place as the team’s lead sniper, not spotter, as he started. In this position his relative slowness (resulting from poor lung condition) is not nearly as important.

Age 24: With the war over, Dennis decides to go to school to pursue his interest in ships and advanced theoretical physics. Specifically, Dennis is sent to one of the Viatsi’s research ships, where he learns about wormhole theory. He is also a favorite of some of the scientists, who appreciate his love for learning.

Age 25: Dennis continues on in school. He becomes distracted by a romantic relationship with a Viatsi student. Her name is Arial At’Shiran, and though they have since parted, Dennis and her left each other on good terms, separating mostly due to astrographic distance.

Age 26: Dennis continues on in school, though now he is paying with his own money and not the military’s benefits. Dennis’ scientific pursuits are somewhat interrupted by his need to learn more about Viatsi culture to truly interface with the professors at a higher level.

Age 27: Dennis continues in school, focusing his studies on practical applications of physics; ship engines and navigaton.

Age 28: Dennis continues on in school but shifts away from science for a year to focus on expanding his piloting abilities, specifically to piloting fighters.

Age 29: Dennis spends his final year of school studying as hard as he can to become a competent theoretical physicist. Though he accomplished this goal, he also managed to find the time to pick up violin from a New Meccan physicist who was working with the Viatsi on a wormhole research project.

Age 30: With all of his learning done and plenty of experience on ships and in combat, Dennis Starburg decides to sign up with one of the independent Viatsi captains and serve in a Free Company. He ends up working as smuggler on Mai’m 5, a small freighter, under Q’ran V’Shoris, a stern, quiet freelancer of a man. Dennis gains his respect and is quickly promoted (R:1).

Age 31: After a highly successful year of smuggling, Dennis and the crew blow money on a trip to Paradise Station.

Age 32: The crew hunts down a large bounty on a New Macedonian pirate. Dennis is promoted (R:2)

Age 33: Game begins; Dennis decides to captain his own ship.

Current Team
 Rank 4 Mercenary
 Rank 4 Mercenary
 Rank 3 Mercenary

I know this doesn't offer much info on the mechanics of the generator, but hopefully it acts as a good teaser. Fundamentally its a system where you choose a job, roll a die against a skill/proficiency combo to see if you get in, roll for an event, follow the directions, and get your rewards (a chance to get a skill or proficiency, money, etc). You then roll for a chance of having a personal event, which can be anything from an injury to a new attribute to contact points. Its pretty simple, the cool part is just how much there is in it... so many professions, so many events, so many choices, and all that up to the player's interpretation when designing a character.

Other update: Tweaking ship design (making crew/cargo spaces scale appropriately to ship size, and tweaking weapons to work with that) and going to run a few playtests with different possible ship design tweaks, and after that its just finishing the campaign/encounter system.