While I may not have run it in the end the day before UK Games Expo I made a decision to bring along a set of character sheets for Project Cassandra in the off chance there was a chance of testing it out / showing it off / running it. Given the full text is still in pieces I knew I wouldn’t have that to fall back on so I also put together a one page cheat-sheet. Doing so really highlighted what I have known for a while – that while the current draft still needs further playtesting I have a game there. I could sit down and run it and it would be a fun game. The core mechanics are fun (but need stress testing) as is the setup (Cold War psychics saving the world). I’m even proud of the more novel elements such as Knowledges and the way the starting Vision allows for the players to both have an input in the entire adventure but in a way that means their characters are just as knowledgable about the challenges to come.
So what’s holding me back? Me. Writing is not something that comes easy to me, editing even less so. The thought of picking up the manuscript again after so long away from it is daunting. Large chunks need rewritten, a numer of areas need significant expansion and then I need to go over it all again with a fine tooth comb. But I can do it, I wrote a 70,000 word doctoral thesis so I know I can handle a 20-30 page long game.
With that in mind
what’s my next step? Ironically, not writing as I have a few other projects to
finish first. Ghosts of Iron, Demon Hunters Slice of Life starter, The Sprawl
Synth trilogy I’ve been working on.
I can do now is run it and start some of that stress testing. Make notes and
check that I’ve resolved the issues from that informative (yet so frustrating) Dragonmeet playtest. One of the big
things I can do is to start sharing material again. After the Dragonmeet game I
took my drafts down, partially because I expected to quickly replace them with
updates but also becuase my excitement had turned to disappointment in seemingly
jumping the gun.
So this time,
material up piecemeal and as it develops, starting with the current character
sheets and the system cheat sheet. All subject to change but also all out there
for feedback and comments.
Being the 3rd child of a middle class merchant family typically lends itself to not to fame or fortune but apprenticeship in either the family business or to a local guild. Small even against his significantly younger siblings meant Lachlan Milburn was quietly shipped off to serve the local mages as a scribe. He learned quickly, piecing together languages and arcane knowledge as he dutifully copied text after text. His ability to slip in and out of the archives did not go completely unnoticed, earning him the nickname of Mouse, able to access places meant to be off-limits to those without training. It was not long before his masters were sending him on additional errands to acquire spell components and scrolls from outside the confines of the halls, jobs that often required a willingness to be discrete and work around the local laws.
That world came crashing down after the death of his sponsor, a senior mage of the Order. Untrusted by the remaining hierarchy who were all too aware of his side jobs Mouse found himself out on the streets. He had to his name only his few personal possessions, a pair of swords stolen from the guild stores and the final text of the deceased mage, lifted the moment he had heard that they had passed. The text is coded and incomplete and so far the young thief has deciphered only a little. A region to the south, a ritual or place of great importance. It’s a long journey but for now a direction is more than enough for Mouse.
Mouse is my new character for The Pale Reach, a group campaign akin to Adventurers League being run at Sugar and Dice in Liverpool.
Following some final tweaking the first character sheet template is now complete as is the first release, the Aether Knight. Rarely encountered on the mortal planes Aether Knights serve as guardians of the veil between worlds and, in their natural form, neutral in the eternal fight between Good and Evil. Unfortunately as so often is the case their purpose can be tainted by those willing to shed blood to fuel illicit magics. Dragged into the moral realms they are used as nigh unstoppable assassins and hunters, bound to a mission until it is completed or they are destroyed.
Aether Knights represent a significant challenge for Chapters even at the highest level and are designed to be employed by the DM as opponents that must be out-thought rather than out-fought. With their invulnerability to physical weaponry, high number of conditions and ability to bypass mild conditions when using their sword they are an opponent that no group should take lightly.
Next up, adjusting the template for minions and mobs.
Version 2 of the Demon Hunters character sheet is pretty much complete and works out most of the issues with the original. It has all of the elements and is visually clearer with stunts moved to the right hand side of the sheet.
The spacing is much better but still not perfect. Looking at the page as a whole the columns on the left hand half would benefit from being reduced slightly in width while the text would also benefit from the alignment of the paragraphs.
The contents of the preview are for the first creature, the Aether Knight. As with the sheet it’s at a nearly there stage, I’m happy with the overall contents but need to tweak a few of the elements.
One of the things I’ve been slowly working on recently has been a single page character sheet for Demon Hunters inspired by the work of Hyvemynd with their Fate Accelerated Fantasy characters. I’ve been doing a little here and there, interspaced with having to learn more about how scribus works, mostly through trial and error. I’m never going to be a layout professional but I hope that once I’ve created a template then I’ll be able to start releasing more material on a semi-regular basis. Yes, in addition to the adventure starters I have underway. And the larger adventures. And Project Cassandra, which no, I’ve not forgotten about.
The first draft of the template is pretty much done, using only filler aspects and text for now. I’m happy with it but know there are issues. Firstly the space on the right needs to be used better, right now too much of it is comprised of text frames. Second I’ve yet to add boxes for conditions. Third, general spacing especially for stunts.
Overall though it works. This draft is designed for full characters but it should be easier to remove elements for minions and mobs than to add them back in.
While the first five members of The Undesirables came together pretty smoothly I’ve hit something of a roadblock with the final member, a middle Eastern blood mage. Neither the aspects nor the stunts seem to be coming together so instead of struggling along with it I spent some time putting the character sheets and backgrounds for the other PCs together.
Ultimately these will be updated for inclusion in the final adventure but that’s a long way off. Short term my plan is to put together a starter and bundle them together so they are available for all. Until then you can download just the characters here: The_Undesirables
The mad genius of Victor Frankenstein needs no introduction. In crafting the creature that would become his tormentor he exceeded all but the gods in giving form to artificial life. In the years since Victor’s death the Creature has walked the earth, slowly learning to control the rage that has threatened to consume it time after time. It is alone. Unique, but flawed. Patient.
Many have hunted the Creature, in the name of God and of Science and of Power but none have come close to understanding its motives. That it desires purpose. Arriving in London under the guise of a circus freak it quickly learned of Mina and her team of outcasts. A meeting was arranged and an agreement reached. The Creature would join the team and aid in combating the pervasive rise of mad technology ushered in by the steam age. In return Mina would redirect the Brotherhood, Chapters re-assigned to inconsequential locales or sent on wild goose chases. All know that the status quo cannot be maintained for long, the Creature is too well known to stay hidden forever and the longer it associates with the team the greater the risk that all involved will be compromised.
Mystic arts d4
Covert ops d4
Social engineering d8
Combat & tactics d6
Concept: Monstrous creation of an infamous scientist
Trouble: Barely restrained rage
Discipline 1: An intellect surpassing my creator
Discipline 2: Harbouring hidden hopes for humanity
Discipline 3: They may hunt me but they will never break me
Stunt 1: Because I am the brawns as well as the brains I gain +1 when I forcefully use Combat & Tactics
Stunt 2: Because I was built to surpass the frailness of mere humans I gain 1 extra moderate condition
Stunt 3: Because I have learned to live in the shadows of civilisation I gain +2 to sneakily overcome attempts to spot my hulking frame
Vulnerability: Because my inhuman visage is impossibly terrifying I automatically inflict the minor condition of “horrified” on all mortals who see me if they have never encountered the supernatural before.