Sunday, November 10, 2013

Character Creation: Better Angels

I figure I'm going to run this game, I oughta make a character. +Michelle is helping out (by which I mean, making a character as well).

The Game: Better Angels
The Publisher: Arc Dream
Degree of Familiarity: Not much. I backed the Kickstarter, played it once at GenCon, and my players made characters for a monthly game (but we haven't actually played yet). I have some experience with the one-roll engine, which it uses.
Books Required: Just the one.

Better Angels is a game in which you play a supervillain. The basic idea is that some people are possessed by demons, and in order to make the demon happy but not too happy, you indulge in eeeevil. That's different from actual evil. Eeevil is over-the-top, weird, and ultimately nonsensical, if you think about it. Evil is, well, evil. Efficient, cold, calculating.

Character creation is pretty quick, but it works best with a group, because the player to your left (of course) adds some things to your demon. So!

Step One has us spending 20 points on the human side of things. Now, the stats in this game are Strategies and Tactics, which are further split into good and evil (or heavenly and infernal, if you like). For instance, the sinister Tactics are Greed, Espionage, Cruelty, Cowardice, Corruption, and Deceit. You'd roll Cowardice when you're trying to get away or change a situation. The flipside of that is Endurance, which you'd roll when you're trying to survive, rather than escape, something. That's paired with a Strategy, which are also divided thus, so you'd roll Open Endurance to soak up an attack, but Sly Cowardice to dodge one.

Strategies cost 2, Tactics cost one, and Specialties (specialized areas of knowledge; they don't add to rolls, but you can't make a roll to do brain surgery unless you have the Brain Surgeon Specialty) cost 2. I need to think about concept some.

Well, I like dogs. I think my guy used to run a dog shelter. He didn't take cats (deathly allergic), but he had all kinds of mutts that people dropped off or that wandered in off the streets. And then a demon came along, possessing a dog, and traded up to human.

That in mind, and knowing that putting points into the left-hand traits may come back to bite me, I'll dump all 20 points into my right-hand traits. I take two in Generosity, Patient, Knowledge, Open (actually I buy one, but I get one free), Insightful, Honesty, three in Endurance, and one in Nurture.

I don't bother with any Specialties; you don't really need them, and I'm not convinced that this guy would have them (maybe Dog Wrangler, but I don't see that as being so hyper-specialized that it would need a Specialty).

Of note: This game is not a physics emulator. The stats, and the rolls, are very much narrative; you roll what you roll based on what you're trying to accomplish and how, and there is no "average" stat. This would bug the hell out of a lot of players, and it does take some readjusting even for me.

Anyway, Step Two, I get to pick a primary Strategy, an Aspect, and a Power for my demon.

Well, for my primary Strategy, I feel like my demon is pretty animalistic, predatory, and vicious. I'll pick Cunning. I'll take Animal Form as my power (which means at some point I'll need a point of Espionage or two); my guy can turn into a black, slavering, Hellhound. And for my demonic Aspect, I'll pick Flame-Wreathed.

Now, Step Three, we switch character sheets. I now get to spend some points on Michelle's psychology grad student, Cherie. She studies psychoanalysis and dreams, and I know Michelle took Terror and Ghost-Form for her.

That in mind, I'll buy up her Devious to 2 (I can't buy it any higher because her Insightful is already 3, and there can only be 5 points between them), and Cruelty to 3. She consolidated her points pretty well, so I'll fill in the gaps: 1 in Greed, Cunning, Corruption, Deceit, and because I'm nice, one each in Endurance and Courage. And then 2 into Espionage and Cowardice. And I fill in the extra point she gets in Open, because I don't think she remembered to take it.

And now I just wait for her to finish with my guy so we can go on to the next step!

Right, here we go. Step Four, we pick a Power and an Aspect for the other player's demon. Well, her Cruelty and Espionage are (now) high enough to be worthwhile. I don't think she's thinking of this character as a powerhouse, so I'll give her Clairvoyance as the Power (which keys off of Espionage) and Horned (which doesn't necessarily mean horns, it just means some kind of natural attacky kind of thing, which she can figure out).

And now I just wait for her to pick my stuff. Sneaking a peak at my sheet, I see she upped my Cruelty, maxed out my Espionage at 3, bought my Cunning up to 2. Also Cowardice and Devious, and 1 point in Sly. And then she gives me Arrogance (which is a defensive power) and Darkness-Shrouded (I can call up darkness as well as fire all around me, which is pretty badass).

Now we just need names. Well, my mortal name is Henry Hanson. As a villain, let's just call him "Hellhound." It's not terribly imaginative, but Henry's not a flashy guy (I think that his best friend may have suggested "Baskerville" at first). Michelle informs me that my demon's name is Sirius. Makes sense.

And that's us done, then!