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.
The Hunters’ Guide is your essential quick reference training manual. Trying to get ideas for your character’s Aspects or Stunts? Can’t remember what the rules were for resolving a contest? What the heck IS The Warehouse anyway? And let’s not forget The Ciphers… why robots???
The Hunters’ Guide includes:
Tips for character creation, answering questions like “No, really, how the hell do I come up with Aspects?”
The Random Concept Aspect generator, for those who prefer to let the dice decide who their character will be
A deep dive on Stunt creation and making your hunters as badass as possible
More information than you require about The Brotherhood Warehouse and the Cipher program
7 pre-generated, ready to play, Demon Hunters teams!
As a high-level backer on the Kickstarter, I’ve been waiting for this product with bated breath. Why? Because I was able to submit one of those 7 pre-generated chapters for inclusion. Lambda 7, graduates of the warehouse and theoretical protectors of the city of London.
I’ll be posting a proper review of the entire Demon Hunters line once I have a physical copy of the book in my hands, in the meantime you can find both editions at the link above and should you need inspiration for your adventures then take a look at one of my adventure starters, which are available as PWYW downloads (more of which are coming soon!)
Having done a full character in the form of the Aether Knight I wanted to turn my hand towards a simpler creature for the next release. With the Demon Hunters setting incorporating both magic and mad science it was all too easy to imagine a range of unusual and warped creatures. The Volta Cingulata, or voltaic armadillo, is the first of those, a mad science experiment that didn’t quite have the impact its creator intended.
As an opponent the armadillo is easily overlooked. Small, relatively weak and not particularly aggressive. In its favour is its armoured shell and lone stunt, which allows it a single strong attack in response to being startled.
In developing the stunt I included an option to recharge it through the use of Demon Dice. Overall I find that with the exception of invoking aspects I fail to really make use of this GM resource, especially as I’m not fond of clearing NPC conditions without an in fiction reason. So instead my aim is to start incorporating their use into stunts, to make them a little more special and unique, which led to the idea of recharging a single use ability.
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.
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
When it comes to character creation I’m generally in favour of collaborative approaches that involve both the players and GM working together to flesh out both the PCs and their connection to the world. Some systems explicitly incorporate mechanisms to achieve this, such as the relationship maps of Smallville or the ‘phase trio’ (shared past adventures) of FATE Core while many groups use their own approaches such as the group template espoused by the Fear the Boot podcast. Regardless of the approach I’ve found that they tend towards generating both a cohesive group and a more interesting world.
With that in mind I wanted to share an approach to this that I recently experienced during character creation for an upcoming FATE Accelerated game, which uses a variation on the drinking game ‘I have never…’ For those not familiar with the original game the rules are quite simple, as you go around the group each person makes a statement concerning something they have never done, for example “I have never been arrested” and anybody for whom the statement is true takes a drink. Should nobody drink then the person who made the declaration takes a drink. Pretty simple really.
The character creation version follows the same approach but with the ‘I have never…’ statement being something that your character has (probably) never done. Should any of the other players like the statement they simply take a (metaphorical) drink and incorporate it into their backstory. In the event that nobody drinks it bounces back and becomes true for the person that said it, ensuring that everybody says something interesting as it could end up being true for their character. The real beauty of the approach is that multiple people can ‘drink’, introducing not only shared backstory but organisations and NPCs for the game.
As an example for our upcoming game we decided only on a very bare framework before embarking on ‘I have never…’ Firstly that we would be in a western setting but that our twist to the genre would be vampires. That was it. Going round the group we then made our statements which included:
I have never shot a man in cold blood (made by the GM, with all players taking a drink).
I have never robbed the Pan Pacific Railway (which I introduced with the other 3 players taking drinks).
I have never been an Initiate of the Order of the Night (to which 2 players drank, we later decided this was a vampiric order).
I have never learned the truth about what goes on at Mallories Ranch (to which I was the only taker).
After a few rounds of this we took these statements and used them to build both our characters and expand upon the party connections through FATEs phase trio mechanic. By the end we had interesting characters with real depth and a viable reason for them to have come together for the short campaign, which will allow us to skip straight to the action when we get going.
All in all I can’t wait for either the game itself or a chance to use the approach the next time I’m a GM.