Thursday, March 14, 2013

Character Creation: Night's Black Agents

I haven't done a character in a good long while ("once a week?" Maybe if she's 5'3". Wait, what?), and I find myself in the curious position of having some free time this weekend in which to redline Demon and no particular project that I want to be working on now, in the hours before Teagan's play tonight. So.

The Game: Night's Black Agents
The Publisher: Pelgrane Press
Degree of Familiarity: I'm running it presently; scroll back a few posts and you'll see it.
Books Required: Just the one.

Night's Black Agents is a GUMSHOE game, like Mutant City Blues or Trail of Cthulhu. That means that investigate skills succeed automatically, but shooting, fighting and so on still get rolled. I really like GUMSHOE, because, as I've said in the past, it's very much like I run investigative games anyway.

Night's Black Agents, though, is much more high-action. It's a spy story with vampires, making it this weird little niche game that's actually really awesome. You could argue it's a lot like Hunter and various similar games, but this takes the notion of hunting vampires and mixes in a good healthy dose of Mission: Impossible and Bourne. A lot of attention paid to tradecraft, paranoia and spy gear, which is cool.

So, in making a character, I need to figure out what agency I worked for. The action is meant to take place in Europe, and I don't have a problem with that. The assumption is that your character is a former spy, someone who, for whatever reason, left the service of his agency and is taking freelance jobs. So I've got an idea of who I'd like to play, given that we got a brand new pope this week.

The book mentions a group called the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, possibly the intelligence-gathering arm of the Vatican. My character, originally from Spain, did some time in the military and then joined the priesthood. Rose up through the ranks faster than he would have expected, but it was because priests with EOD backgrounds aren't exactly thick on the ground. He spent years in the Vatican, disarming bombs and helping to trace explosives. And then the whole child molestation scandal hit, and he voiced some concerns to another priest. That priest, Father Emil de Clerq, was also incensed, and took it further up the chain...and wound up dead. My character (whose name is Diego de Calderon Iglesias) assumes it was because he was going to reveal molestation-scandal related things to the world, and left the order and the Church, going freelance. What he doesn't know is that there was a larger conspiracy, one involving vampires.

OK, so good start. Now I choose Backgrounds, if I wish. Background are basically packages that give me Abilities and simulate various trainings. I get 20 Investigative points (it's actually based on how many people are playing, but let's assume 5) less 6 for every Background I take, and 70 General points, less 18 for every Background I take.

Well, I do want some Backgrounds. I want Bang-and-Burner and Analyst. So that gives me:

Architecture 2
Chemistry 2
Criminology 1
Data Recovery 1
Intimidation 1
Languages 2
Research 1
Traffic Analysis 2
Conceal 4
Digital Intrusion 2
Explosive Devices 8
Infiltration 2
Mechanics 4
Network 5
Preparedness 4
Sense Trouble 5
Surveillance 3

That also eats 32 of my General points and 12 of my Investigative, which leaves me 38 and 8, respectively. OK.

Well, let's do the Investigative stuff, first. I put an extra point into Data Recovery, one into Interrogation, one into History, one into Occult Studies (priest), one into Human Terrain, one into Reassurance (priest), one into Bureaucracy (same idea) and one into Electronic Surveillance.

And then I deal with Generals. I have more points, here, and it's good to have high numbers. Well, looking at what I already have, I think I'm fine in Mechanics and I don't want to add any more in Network (I get 15 Network for free). I like the Cover rules for this game, but I think that Diego hasn't really built up a lot of spare Covers, so I'll keep the 10 I get for free. I know I want to up Explosives to 10, but no higher, so that's fine. I've got 36 left. I'll put three into Preparedness (33), 5 into Shooting (28), 4 into Conceal (24), two into Digital Intrusion (22), three into Infiltration (19), five into Sense Trouble (14), four into Shrink (10). Hmm, 10 left. My Health and Stability are pretty low. I'll put 3 into each. That leaves me 4. I'll put it into Athletics, I think. That leaves me without an option if we get into a fistfight, but at that point I think I'm rolling Preparedness to say "I set up explosives earlier."

Right, now I pick my MOS. That's "Military Occupational Specialty," and once per session I can succeed at it without rolling. Hmm. Explosive Devices would be the logical choice, but there's a school of thought that says you should take this in something low, since you won't be rolling it to use it anyway. I'm gonna put it in Digital Intrusion. Diego's not a hacker by inclination, but he's definitely got the chops for it, just not usually the patience.

Now I can pick Sources of Stability. These don't necessarily factor in - only if you're using the rules that use them - but I like them and they help flesh characters out. You get a Symbol, a Solace and a Safety.

A Symbol is exactly that. Diego's is a rosary. He's not Catholic anymore, as far as he's concerned, and he's certainly not a priest, but he prays the rosary to calm himself. He feels like something of a hypocrite when he does, but it helps him center.

His Solace is...hmm. Temptation is to make it another priest, but I don't want to be too one-note. Diego has a big family back in Spain, but he doesn't see them or communicate with them (the Church informed them that he was excommunicated, which pretty much cut off contact). I'll say that Diego met a woman in Bulgaria named Irina. She was in her 20s and ran a bakery (took over from her mother). Diego spent most of a morning there going over some data, munching on fresh baked goods and drinking coffee and make chitchat. He doesn't see her often, but they exchange emails.

His Safety is a little closer to home. That is, Rome. He owns a small villa in southern Italy. It's not on the books as being his; officially it belongs to the Church but he screwed with the paperwork when he was still part of SMOM.

That just leaves Drive. Let's see. He doesn't know that vampires exist yet, but if he does find out, his reasons for killing them are going to be very much like his reasons for leaving the Church. Basically: No, bullshit, you can deceive and prey on the world this way. That sounds like Transparency to me.

And that's it. Let's try and do this once a week, yeah?