Sunday, September 8, 2013

Character Creation: Part-Time Gods

I acquire RPGs much faster than I make characters, of course. As such, the project will never be complete.

But at least I haven't given up.

The Game: Part-Time Gods
The Publisher: Third Eye Games
Degree of Familiarity: Not much. I've read it. Oh, and there's a Kickstarter going for a supplement.
Books Required: Just the one.

Part-Time Gods feels like a World of Darkness game that kind of said, "Whatever, Dad, you're too dark, I'm gonna go make my own supernatural urban fantasy game, with blackjack and hookers" and then stomped off to its room and played Polyphonic Spree or something. Structurally, it feels like a WoD game - you've got some splats, magic hidden from view, and a looming threat (the Source).

But, you can also be the god of whatever the heck you want, and that's really appealing to me. One of my major complaints about In Nomine, you'll recall, was that you can't actually play a Word-bound angel or demon, which sucks. I definitely like having my character be known for something.

Oh, full disclosure: The game's author, +Eloy Lasanta, did layout for several Growling Door books, and I'm gonna keep hiring him because he's awesome. He also wrote Mermaid Adventures.

So! Let's see how this works. Chargen is a seven-step process. Step One is "Mortal Concept, Occupation, and Bonds." OK, then. I'm asked to do a bit of brainstorming and come up with a concept. I think that I want my character to drive a food truck. He sells coffee and baked goods. He stays up most of the night, bakes into the early morning, sells fresh muffins and whatnot to folks going to work, then sleeps the latter part of the day.

Milo Covey went to a culinary school and had ambitions of being a big-time chef or pastry chef, but then he worked in a restaurant under a famous chef (he refuses to say who) and discovered that the level of OCD required is just a bit out of his crazy range. He went back home to Wherever This Game Is Set and tried to get his old job at the coffee shop back, but they'd been bought out by Starbucks (to their credit, Starbucks was willing to hire him, but he wasn't interested). He got a loan from his mother (inheritance from after his father passed) and bought the food truck, which he called Proving Grounds. Sometimes his little sister Brooke works with him, but mostly it's just Milo.

Milo's straight-ish (the book asks me to consider sexuality and gender identity, which I appreciate), cis, and of mixed race (mom's black, dad was white). Milo is light-skinned (his sister is darker) and takes after his father in looks and temperament - fast on his feet, good with his hands, sings when he's happy, almost never without a cup of coffee nearby. Maybe a little plump.

Occupation...OK. These actually determine bonus points and stuff. Let's see if "food truck owner" is in here. "Business Owner" seems about right, though I take issue with the Wealth rating being higher here than for a computer tech. Also: "Schedules are completely flexible, but the character IS there job." Eloy. Get an editor, man.

Well, for want of a better option, I'll do that. That gives me a skill of my choice +3, and Wealth 2. Also 8BP.

Now, Bonds. Bonds, apparently, are connections to other people, groups, or places. I get 6 points to spread out between Bonds, rated 1 to 5. Hmm. Does that mean if I take two three-point Bonds, I'm done? Seems so. I also attach a Passion to each Bond.

Well, my backstory demands I take Mom and Brooke as Bonds, and probably the truck, as well. I'll take Mom at 3, Brooke at 2 (doesn't seem high enough, but I only have so many points) and the truck at 1. Fun fact - places measure the rating by size, while with people it's intensity of connection, so that actually works. For the Passions, I'll put Love for Mom (it's not on the list, for some reason, but it should be), Protection for Brooke, and Independence for the truck.

And now, Step Two: Attributes. I get 25 points to spread out amongst six Attributes. The average rating is 3, so it's possible to fully average with this math (I approve). The Attributes are:

Power
Agility
Vigor
Intellect
Insight
Charm

I approve of these, too. Only six, and they're easy to understand and don't seem to overlap. Let's see. I don't see Milo as a powerhouse (because when do I make powerhouse characters? Very rarely). I think Agility, Insight and Charm should be his higher scores, so I'll put 5 in each. That saps 15 of my points, leaving me with 10. I'll put 4 each in Vigor and Intellect, leaving 2 for Power. That was easy.

Step Three is Skills. I get 25 + IQ. I assume "IQ" means Intellect, even though there's no "Q" in the word? Yes indeed. That means I get 29 points to divvy up. Oh, plus +3 to a Skill of my choice, provided it's relevant to my Occupation. According to the chart, the 5-6 level is Expert in something. There's no maximum, but if I go over 8 it costs more.

There's a list of standard Skills. Are there non-standard ones? No, there don't seem to be. I question the need for the word "standard," then. Anyway, let's do this. These look good:

Athletics (always take Athletics)
Crafts (specifically for cooking)
Discipline
Empathy
Fortitude
Knowledge
Legerdemain
Marksmanship
Perception
Performance
Persuasion
Technology
Travel (includes driving)

That's 13 Skills, which gives me 2 in each. That's not enough, better trim the list. Let's lose Knowledge, and Marksmanship, and assume low ratings in some of the others. I'll put my free 3 points in Crafts (for cooking), and arrange the points like this:

Athletics 3
Crafts 7 (3 free + 4)
Discipline 2
Empathy 4
Fortitude 3
Legerdemain 5
Perception 3
Performance 2
Persuasion 4
Technology 2
Travel 4

That's 38, I'm 13 over. Hmm. Well, let's drop Fortitude, Discipline, Technology and Performance. I'm at 4 over. Damn. I really want high ratings in Crafts and Legerdemain, but I also want a decent social skill. Either Empathy or Persuasion could go, or I could drop them both to 2. Blah. Let's just drop Persuasion altogether. So my Skills are:

Athletics 3
Crafts 7 (3 free + 4)
Empathy 4
Legerdemain 5
Perception 3
Technology 2
Travel 4

That's 25. What next? Well, the book says we're now in Divine territory, though the chargen chapter continues with Gifts and Drawbacks (or Merits & Flaws, Advantages & Disadvantages, call them what you will). Ooh, I can take Drawbacks and buy Skills. But do I do that now or at the end of chargen? It says we spend BP at the end, so I guess I'll take Gifts and Drawbacks now and spend the points later. I have 8 BP going in because of my Occupation, as it happens, and I can gain up to 7 more.

I'll take Lifesaver, because I see Milo as a decent guy who'll get involved if someone needs help. Just to underline the point, I'll take Not a Fighter. I can take 1 more point. I could take Minority - Milo's of African-American descent, after all - but doing that would signal to my hypothetical GM that I want race to be an issue for this character. Since we're all playing pretend, here, let's assume my GM is the kind of person who can make race into an issue without being racist about it (besides, it's one of the only 1-point Drawbacks).

Now, that gives me 15 BP. I know I want to buy some Skills, but do I want any Gifts, as long as I'm here? Actually, yeah. I want Strong Bonds. I'll dump 4 points in, take it twice, and jack Mom to 5 and Brooke to 4. I should also take Flexible Schedule, I guess. That's 6 points I've spent on Gifts, giving me 9 more for later. OK, then! On to the fun stuff!

I need a Dominion (as in, I'm the God of ________), and I need to pick a Theology. Theologies are basically the social splat; secret societies of gods that have their own agenda and approach to dealing with the Source and the monsters that are coming to get us. Reading through the quick descriptions of the Theologies, I think Milo works best in either Drifting Kingdoms, Masks of Jana, or Phoenix Society. Looking at the longer write-ups, I ditch Drifting Kingdoms (Milo is too family focused).

Hmmm. Masks of Jana are all about keeping god-stuff secret from people, but they're kind of cut off. Phoenix are much more humanistic, but they read kinda Cult of Ecstasy to me. Is that appropriate for Milo? I think it is, actually, it's just that his drugs are caffeine and good food rather than booze and pills. He's a party animal if the "party" in question is a bit more G-rated. Not that he's incapable of throwing down, it's just that his natural inclination is a little tamer.

This Theology gives me Aegis +2 and Oracle +1, whatever that means. I have a special gift - Linked to Humanity. That gives me 6BP free to spend on various Gifts, including - hey! - Strong Bonds. That's handy. That effectively gives me back the BP I spent, plus a couple. However, if I go more than a day without close contact with people, I start to go into withdrawal.

OK, I need to pick a Dominion. Fuck it, I'm the God of Coffee.

Now I get two Entitlements. I'll take Masterful Speed (duh). There are a bunch I like, but I'm trying to figure how I want to spin this. Milo is the God of Coffee, but not Caffeine. It's more about coffee as a way to come together and learn, share food and drink, and so on. I'm tempted to take Enhanced Attribute and put it into Charm...oh, wait, here we go. Soothing Aura. Perfect.

Manifestation Skills. Oh, OK, so there are some non-standard Skills. Ah, those are Aegis and Oracle, for me, and then I get one more. So here's a thing: I get 3, 2, 1 for the ratings, but is that in addition to the +2 and +1 I already get? Oh, no, wait, those are bonuses, not levels. All makes sense now.

(As an aside, I really appreciate that each of the Theologies has a full statted character attached to it. Really helps to have a concrete example to refer to.)

So, let's look at these. Aegis and Oracle are actually really perfect. I'm having trouble picking a third. I think I'll take Puppetry - it allows some telekinetic manipulation, some possession-type power, and giving something the aspects of my Dominion. So I could make something really hot and bitter. Do homonyms count?

Anyway, Aegis 3, Oracle 2, Shaping 1. Keen. That just leaves spending the rest of my BP and then doing the derived things.

Well, for BP, I effectively have 13, since I can use my Gift from my Theology to buy Strong Bonds. Actually, I have 2 more there. I'll take Connections 1 (Police) and Connections 1 (Corporate) - folks come to my truck. And the other 13, I think I can spend on Skills.

Oh, hey, actually I was 13 over, so if I want, I can take my original spread of Skills. Neat! I'll do that! I fill in my Attributes, and now for my derived stuff. I have 12 Health, 17 Movement (because of my speed power), 4 Stamina, 1 Spark...and how the heck do I lifting and strength? Hang on. OK, no idea. Leaving it blank because don't care.

That's it! This is actually a pretty cool game, and it asks to be run (I might actually try and sell my players on it for our next intermezzo game).