Layout and Design: Character Template for Demon Hunters

template-v1One 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.


The Undesirables: Frankenstein’s Monster

CC00_NE_Supernatural_ScientistExperimentingWithCapturedZombieInLab_5-5x7-25_GMB_smallThe 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.



Forceful d8

Mystic arts d4

Sneaky d6

Covert ops d4

Quick d8

Social engineering d8

Careful d6

Combat & tactics d6

Clever d10

R&D d10

Flashy d4

Faith: 4

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.

The Undesirables: Baron Albertus Beechworth IV

Image copyright JEShields

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.



Forceful d4

Mystic arts d4

Sneaky d6

Covert ops d8

Quick d10

Social engineering d10

Careful d6

Combat & tactics d6

Clever d8

R&D d4

Flashy d8

Faith: 3

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

Vulnerability: –

The Undesirables: Winnifred Peakes

Image copyright JEShields

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.



Forceful d10

Mystic arts d6

Sneaky d8

Covert ops d8

Quick d8

Social engineering d4

Careful d4

Combat & tactics d10

Clever d6

R&D d4

Flashy d6

Faith: 4

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 Undesirables: Mr Clink

Image copyright JEShield

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.

Approaches Disciplines
Forceful d8 Mystic arts d4
Sneaky d10 Covert ops d4
Quick d6 Social engineering d6
Careful d8 Combat & tactics d8
Clever d4 R&D d4
Flashy d6 Fringe: Shadowbound 10

Faith: 3

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.

Vulnerability: –

State of the Conspiracy: Major Feedback from Dragonmeet

I posted a quick collection of thoughts regarding Dragomeet 2016 over on my G+ page but I wanted to give the Project Cassandra feedback a post to itself.

What happened

The setup for the game was the same basic questions that I used during the Stratigicon playtest, that Apollo 11 had discovered something and President Nixon was due to be assasinated prior to announcing the discovery. The discovery this time, shapeshifting aliens on the moon who had already infiltrated the USSR and were now trying to take over the US government. The assasin was non other than the vice President who had already been replaced. Thrown into the mix was a Soviet Null, immune to the powers of the party (but not, as it would turn out, regular bullets).

The adventure went by fast. Too fast, as the players blew through every challenge with ease thanks to a combination of difficulties that were too low, great teamwork and some amazingly inventive use of Powers.


The primary feedback was pretty unambiguous, actions weren’t challenging enough, which resulted in the group not failing for the first two thirds of the game. This had a knock on effect in that it prevented other mechanics from coming into play, namely conditions and spending premonitions on re-rolls. It was only towards the end of the game that I started raising the difficulty that we started using all of the mechanics but by then it was too late to have a major impact.

The second negative was with the skills themselves and compounded my GM error with the difficulties. Essentially the players found that they either had too high a skill level for a given task or were lacking the skills entirely (and therefore didn’t attempt actions). This is something that has come up in playtests before and I had hoped that the current skill list addressed it. Unfortunately this does not appear to be the case.

It’s a blow to get this close to having the game finished before running into a major issue but on the other hand I’m glad it went badly. It’s the first major catastrophe I’ve had but it also feels like it is workable rather than an impassable issue.
Beyond this the feedback was quite positive. The players enjoyed the scenario and being able to influence it through the questions plus liked the fact that the powers weren’t mechanically constrained to prevent them being overpowered. As these are all aspects I’d put thought into I’m glad that the players picked up on my design aims. Following the game I’m also convinced that the single scenario design (of saving the President) was the right approach. Once the game is finished I may add a bonus sheet on running additional highly defined bonus scenarios (I already have ideas for one based around the Berlin Airlift).

Going forward

I’ve been pondering how to change the skills since Dragonmeet but before I dive too deeply into it I thought it important to look again at the probability tables, the results of which are plotted below. The x-axis plots the number of successes and the y-axis the percentage chance of rolling at least that many successes for a given skill level.


Looking at those numbers it’s clear how off my perception of the difficulties was. With a skill level of 3, which the players were regularly achieving, there is still a 66% chance of rolling 3 or more successes. In my head 3 successes should have been difficult and definitely not in their favour so often. Those odds rises to a staggering 90% at a skill level of 4 and drops to 32% for a character with a moderate skill level of 2.

It’s clear therefore that the first thing I need to do is adjust my idea of difficulty levels and then add explicit descriptions to the game. My current working template is:

1 – Trivial – Only worth rolling if the individual is unskilled
2 – Normal
3 – Challenging (with intention of this being a typical roll for the game)
4 – Hard
5 – Heroic
6 – Impossible

The second approach is a limit on the maximum skill level of a character. The players at Dragonmeet suggested setting it at 3, which I’m thinking of implementing. At this level a skilled individual will pass a Challenging roll most of the time but still fail at a noticeable rate.

The biggest change, which I’m still working on, are the skills themselves. Under the current design players add up related specialities to get their skill level and tend to either end up with a high level or none at all. If I keep the current system the specialities need completely rewritten to provide a wider breadth skills with only a small number that overlap enough to give a high skill level.

The alternative is simply list a set it skills with a rank by each of them. That has the advantage of simplicity and also makes it easier to deal with edge cases as I can give each skill group a rank for when no specialities apply. For example using brute strength might just fall under the general umbrella of the Physical skill set at rank of 2 for the strongest and 0 for the weakest. The downsides of this approach are flavour and rigidity so more thought will have to go into it before I settle on one over the other. I may also split the skill groups further by adding Social to the existing mix of Mental, Physical and Specialist.

All in all I’ve got a lot to think about and a valuable learning experience for future projects.

Project Cassandra: Samuel Carter

carterSamuel Carter, the fourth character for Project: Cassandra has been the most difficult to develop so far, primarily because I felt I’d managed to fit the core of the character into the first two skill trees (Journalist and Suspicious Character) but hadn’t managed to fit in any physical abilities that didn’t feel forced. While I attempted a couple of different cores for the third tree they all felt disconnected from the main concept. Ideas such as Fitness Freak, First Aider or Urbanite either didn’t sit right or didn’t expand well into full trees.

Finishing the character off after playtesting had begun however helped consolidate the ideas. There was a need for some sort of evasion skill but it also became clear that the scenario would probably leave the characters disorientated and not quite sure how to proceed. While that indicates a need for the scenario to be improved my mind, in trying to work out how, latched onto the idea of situational awareness and how well it rounded out Carter’s character sheet.

Now I just need to come up with the concept for the fifth and final character.