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.
Earlier this week a panel on the latest (and excellent) Up to Four Players webcomic got me thinking about NPC vs NPC actions, specifically during combat. A short discussion over twitter inspired Eran to put out the following today:
That article got the wheels turning a bit further though. In general, when it comes to NPC actions I try to minimise the amount of time involving a second NPC. I hand wave rolls, narrate overall outcomes rather than detailed actions and actively try to avoid lengthy discussions.
Primarily this comes from wanting to minimise the amount of time where the players are sitting waiting. Nobody likes to sit and listen to the GM monologue, especially when they’re trying to portray multiple individuals (doubly so when, like me, you’re bad at accents so NPCs rarely have distinct voices). I also want to avoid having to reference multiple character sheets/abilities, especially with games that are more complex than the Savage Worlds system used in the comic.
The second reason is that of narrative. As a GM I want to keep the PCs front and centre, not being overshadowed by a minor companion who just happened to roll well that session. I speak here from experience. The first campaign I ran was Torg, using published adventures. During one particular section, the group had encountered an over the top superhero who was meant to obtain what they were after while in the Nile Empire. During their daring escape in a plane they came under attack from fighter planes and throughout the resulting combat their NPC companion was useless. Right up until he rolled amazingly and stole the final kill from the PCs.
If it had been a PC in that position, of constantly missing then rolling big right when it mattered it would have been an amazing moment. Instead it felt, to me, like a let down. As a new GM I wasn’t at the point of knowing when to fudge the rolls (a debate in and of itself) so instead I worked to minimise the chance of that occurring again by avoiding NPC vs NPC rolls.
The Up to Four Players strip got me thinking though – do I sometimes take things to far. In trying to keep the PCs in the spotlight is it to the detriment of the game. Gone are the unexpected moment, such as where a weak and feable King gets the upper hand against the expert assassin or a trusted ally is unexpectedly convinced to take up arms against the PCs. Dice add randomness to the game, not only for the players but for the GM as well and maybe it is time I started to add that back in to my games.
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.
Baron Albertus Beechworth IV arrived in London six months ago from Australia to raise capital for expanding the prosperous mining town bearing his name. At least that’s what the socialites and high flyers of London were led to believe for Albertus is nothing more than a con artist. The Baron, as he prefers to be called, lives day to day, lie to lie, driven to bigger and bolder cons by the blood of his infernal ancestors.
The big con fell apart while trying to offload a batch of so-called meteor alloys to an undercover Winnifred. If her ability to reform the lump of metal into cuffs around his hands hadn’t already scared him senseless the fact she described him of smelling faintly of brimstone would have. He’d heard the tales repeatedly as a child, of an ancestor who’d made a deal they couldn’t keep and been possessed by the devil in return. Stories meant to scare children with an inclination to lie to their parents. Now here was this woman who could smell the corruption of his lineage. Perhaps it was a sign to change, to make the biggest con of his life… convincing himself that he could somehow manage to redeem his soul.
Mystic arts d4
Covert ops d8
Social engineering d10
Combat & tactics d6
Concept: Charming descendant of demons
Trouble: Eternally damned by the sins of my ancestors
Discipline 1: Why lie when you can be creative with the truth
Discipline 2: Debauched darling of high society
Discipline 3: Connoisseur of the five-finger discount
Stunt 1: Because snake oil doesn’t sell itself I gain +2 when I flashily create advantages based on lies, half-truths and pseudo-science gibberish.
Stunt 2: Because demonic essence flows through my veins I roll d8s instead of d6s when rolling demon dice (the DM adds d6s to their pool as normal)
Stunt 3: Because all the best cons require careful planning once per session I may create an aspect with 2 free invocations by describing how I arranged it via a brief flashback
Nobody asks to be a werewolf, least of all a promising initiate of an ancient magical order. Life tends not to ask though, which is how Winnifred Peakes found herself barricaded into the Chancer’s Hand saloon during a siege that lasted close to a week. Night after night the werewolves breached the barricades, taking with them the townspeople a few at a time. Amongst them was her tutor, the senior Allomancer assigned to begin her training.
Winnifred was critically wounded on the penultimate night of the siege but made a miraculous recovery thanks to the werevirus now cursing through her system. Since the siege she has kept the virus (mostly) in check through magical talent and sheer force of will but it has left its mark, with each wound healing over in vicious scars that take weeks to fully fade.
Leaving the West behind her she travelled to London in search of her Order only to be cast out by the elders who were meant to train her. Without the means to return home it wasn’t long before she crossed paths with the Brotherhood. While the Chapter report listed her only as an independent talent Mina pieced together the data and recruited her into the Undesirables in return for occasional access to the Brotherhoods mystical archives. Winnifred may have forsaken by her Order but all that means is she’ll have to teach herself.
Mystic arts d6
Covert ops d8
Social engineering d4
Combat & tactics d10
Concept: Werewolf of the Wild West
Trouble: Branded with the scars of my past
Discipline 1: Forsaken initiate of the Iridium Order
Discipline 2: Survivor of the Chancer’s Hand siege
Discipline 3: Barroom brawler with a bite
Stunt 1: Because I am cursed by the werevirus I may clear one minor condition per turn by spending a demon die
Stunt 2: Because I can smell danger I get +2 to quickly overcome traps and ambushes
Stunt 3: Because I ain’t from around these parts once per session I may effortlessly distract an unsuspecting individual by playing into the stereotypes associated with the Wild West
Vulnerability: Because my pain only makes the beast stronger if I take a moderate or severe condition I must make a Forceful + Mystic arts roll (difficulty 10) to prevent myself from releasing the animal inside. If I fail I clear all my conditions, treat everybody as an enemy and must fight until an opportunity to escape presents itself.
The shadows came for Joseph when he was only a child, one of the many children at the workhouse that hadn’t been expected to last the winter. Instead of taking his soul to the other side the darkness lay almost dormant, carrying him through one winter after another. As he grew so did the shadow, intertwining with his soul little by little until they were one and the same. Light and dark became something else, something that could only exist in the transition between the two.
That was where Mina found the man who had taken the name of Mr Clink, in the bustling shadows of London, trying to find a semblance of balance. Living on the edge has shown him the truths of Victorian society, of uncontrolled greed and morals forgotten at the drop of a hat. He fights it in the only way he knows how, with darkness and unrestrained violence. His soul is already damned, so maybe the ends will justify the means.
Mystic arts d4
Covert ops d4
Social engineering d6
Combat & tactics d8
Fringe: Shadowbound 10
Concept: Shadowbound drifter
Trouble: Slowly succumbing to the darkness within
Discipline 1: Raised by the streets
Discipline 2: The ends justify the means
Discipline 3: They can’t fight what they don’t see coming
Stunt 1: Because my shadow has hands too I gain +2 when I forcefully create advantages by grappling with foes in close combat
Stunt 2: Because there are doorways in the darkness I can step between any two shadows I can see once per scene for the cost of 1 demon die
Stunt 3: Because I choose not to hold back my anger once per scene if I create the aspect “Wide open to attack” against myself I gain +4 to forcefully attack in close combat.