The First Character

by David Meadows 27. August 2017 09:43

Games start with characters, both those created by the players and those created by me to act as their allies and/or antagonists. Before I can work with the players on their characters, I need to create some of my own to make sure I understand the rules and to make sure that the characters produced byt the rules will have power levels that fit my concept of what WW2-era super-humans should be like in my game universe. 

So I pick a character I already have a strong concept for -- the British super hero Lionheart -- and work out how to create him in the game. He's a character I might actually use in the game, so whatever I create now won't be wasted effort.

Lionheart is super-humanly strong and agile, and should be able to shrug off a rifle bullet. He has claws and animalistic senses (he’s basically a "lion man", hence the name). He's also meant to be noble and patriotic (the name does double duty, evoking the noble spirit of the Crusades (Richard the Lionheart, get it?) (ok, yes, I do know what the Crusades were really like, I'm talking about the romanticised version).

So I work through the rules. It starts with basic attributes and skills, so I make him strong and agile and give him skills primarily in stealth and unarmed combat. He's not quite as skillful as I would like, but then I remind myself that this is him "just starting out" in his career, and he will have the opportunity to improve over time.

Next I look at the powers, and pick from the extensive list in the rules. I give him super-strength which lets him carry 500 pounds effortlessly and lift a ton at maximum effort. I add in extra agility, leaping ability, and speed. The agility and speed boost up his combat ability, and the strength gives him a powerful punch, so I feel better about his low fighting skills. He’s untrained but gets by on raw natural power. Which fits the character concept really well. I add the “Attack” power, defining it as “Claws” and calculating the average effect of the claws and his strength he will be able to knock out or kill a man in one blow. That’s about what I want. I give him toughness which, statistically, will make him mostly immune to bullets (a lucky shot will still hurt him -- he’s not Superman). 

A few more final bits and pieces, like the night vision of a cat, and he’s done. And it looks good. He fits the concept, he’s at the right level of power, and the rules were quick and easy to use. I’m happy so far.

The personality of the character doesn't come from a set of rules, obviously; that comes solely from how I choose to have him think and act in the game.

The rules include a "character sheet" that you can print and copy for use in the game. I've used one as a working sheet (hence in pencil and with a lot of scribbled notes and crossing out) while creating Lionheart, and here it is to give you an idea of how it works, though obviously it won't make a lot of sense without reading the rules. 

(Just spotted an error: the "Pace" at the top should be "12" not "6", to reflect his speed power.)

Each of the players will get a blank one of these to record their character's stats on. I won't actually use this sheet myself, though. Unlike a player with a single character, I have to juggle multiple characters every session and have to be able to easily access their stats while keeping them hidden from the players and leaving space for the rest of my notes, the rulebook, and a place to secretly roll dice. I simply can't have a stack of loose A4 sheets, it's not logistically possible. So I'll play around with more compact formats until I find one that works. Each of Strikeforce's villains was recorded on a single 3x5 index card, for example. (Two boxes full of them!)

Anyway, the next step for me is to run a practice fight with Lionheart and some generic thugs, to get used to the combat rules and to make sure the power balance actually is what I think it is (if he's shot dead the first time he leaps into combat, it will be back to the drawing board.) I’ll report on that shortly ... 

 

 

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About this blog

The Heroes Universe is an ongoing work of fiction, conceived and chiefly plotted by David Meadows, with help from a group of friends, over a 30-year period.

I am slowly documenting the Universe on this web site.

This blog is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of that history.

If you're new here, the series of posts listed below will explain what it's all about. I hope...

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