Away We Go

Tonight was the first supernatural character creation session. It went very well. I had four people attend this evening, and we came up with five characters. Two of the character concepts did not fit the structure of the Supernatural Stunts chapter, but they were both very easy to house-rule in. Took maybe five minutes of discussion, total. I like that sort of robustness in a system.

What were they? One was a ghost, which winds up with a 0 Refresh Rate after all the required stunts. Easy enough to make one of the stunts optional, giving the player a Refresh of 1, and therefor a playable character. The other was a ghoul, which necessitated creating a new permission and deciding what other powers he should have. Easy. Done.

The rules so far stick very close to canon, but have a flexibility that easily allows one to extrapolate and house-rule things. With a little bit of thought and comparison, it’s easy to fit pretty much any concept that fits in the Dresdenverse into the structure and build it for a PC.

So, as a treat for those of you who have been waiting, here’s the first supernatural character to be posted. It’s a supernatural remix of Crazy Tom, one of my mundane characters. I did this to see how the system handled it. I wound up with an interesting pair of characters – supernatural Crazy Tom is more powerful, but mundane Crazy Tom is more resourceful. I like it.

Have a look.

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16 Responses to Away We Go

  1. Rechan says:

    Odd; I thought Permissions had no cost, but taking a permission required the taking of other stunts.

    Part of me hopes that Fred realizes the interest in playing a ghost and a ghoul*, and takes your applications to the drawing board. On the other hand, I can see the interest in not giving those power sets to players, for the sake of the setting and nature of the game.

    Also, yow! A refresh of 1. Hope that player can maneuver enough to get those fate points. ๐Ÿ™‚

    *Absent tangent: once played a homebrew system where ghosts and ghouls were optional races. The ghosts were bound to an item that held personal significance to them (A samurai bound to his ancestral sword, a woman who was bound to her murdered brother’s watch). Ghouls had their heart, or their soul (I forget which) outside of their body. If you got your hands on it, you could kill them (or naturally hold it at ransom).

  2. Rick Neal says:

    Most Permissions have a cost; there are very few that don’t. They don’t just dictate the stunts you must take and the stunts you may take; they also (many of them) grant you a little extra something as well. Also, the access to more powerful stunts requires the appropriate Permission.

    And it’s not about interest in playing a ghost or a ghoul. That’s not the issue at all. The issue is that this is the Dresden Files RPG, not the Generic Modern Fantasy RPG. In the Dresdenverse, ghouls are unredeemably evil and nasty, not suitable for PCs. If you want to change that and allow ghoul PCs in your game, go ahead, but it’s not part of the canon. There are no good ghouls in the Dresdenverse. That said, the write-up in the Goes Bump chapter, even without stat blocks, gave us all the information we needed to put a ghoul together.

    The ghost is a different story. Ghosts get a lot of major benefits, like not being vulnerable to physical damage. When you add up all the powers that ghosts get, you wind up with a Refresh of 0. That makes sense with the source material: in the Dresdenverse, ghosts aren’t free-willed people. They are psychic imprints and echoes left behind when someone dies with a powerful enough compulsion to keep them from leaving cleanly. They are faded, corrupted recordings left behind when the real person goes. To make the ghost playable, you have to disregard their place in the Dresdenverse, and power them down. Again, easy enough to do, but not canon.

    This is not the way ghosts and ghouls work in the Dresdenverse, but part of what I wanted to test was how flexible the system was, and I hate saying no to players’ concepts.

    And yeah, a Refresh of 1 is low. The ghost powers help offset that, but even so… The player, looking at her finished character, said that she might try it in a session, but would probably stick with her mundane character.

  3. Rechan says:

    “The issue is that this is the Dresden Files RPG, not the Generic Modern Fantasy RPG. In the Dresdenverse, ghouls are unredeemably evil and nasty, not suitable for PCs.”

    This is why I said “For the sake of the setting”. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And yet, I would point this out: What makes Thomas good? Because, with the exception of Thomas, every vampire we’ve seen is unredeemable and nasty. In fact, he seems to purely be the exception.

    And then we have matters like Kincaid, who appears to be amoral and there’s no telling What he is. A character who is just as amoral and mercenary, who is a ghoul, doesn’t appear out of line. It’s just not heroic.

  4. Fred Hicks says:

    Ghouls weren’t listed, it’s true. I hadn’t thought it would be all that viable for someone to want to play a character who wants to eat everyone else in the party in the most gruesome way possible. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’m not convinced that Thomas is the only unredeemable White Court Vampire out there. His youngest sister, who never fed and may have broken the curse by finding True Love, from Blood Rites might qualify as well.

  5. Fred Hicks says:

    As to the permissions having a cost thing…

    Part of the logic of the supernatural powers stuff is that occasionally some of the abilities (the Strength, Speed, and Toughness sets in particular) offer more benefit than their refresh cost alone would indicate. Permissions are, from a design perspective, picking up some of that slack — but doing it in a way that “spreads the cost” out, sort of like a percentage tax on things. So while Inhuman Strength is available to a number of character types at -2 Refresh, it offers more than -2 Refresh worth of benefits if you compare it one for one to two -1 Refresh mortal stunts. But those mortal stunts didn’t have a Permission-based up-front cost.

    It ends up being a nice way to sort of handle “aggregate fractions”. A permission that costs -1 or -2 refresh up front means that you’ve got an implicit -0.2 or whatever “tax” applied to all of the other actual abilities you take — which helps justify their “more bang for the buck”.

  6. Declan Feeney (R00kie) says:

    How well does the system let us customise wizard characters? If I was to run a White Council campaign am I going to find that all the Wizards have the same set of Stunts? If one player wants a Wizard who is great at fire and wind magic, whilst another wants to be great at mental manipulation and veils (yes, I know thats going to cause issues with the third law) and a final player wants to be cover water magic, is this customisation going to come down to picking appropriate aspects, or is it covered in some way in the stunts and skills?

    How about the difference between raw power and subtlety/skill. Do the rules allow for a Powerful Thug of a wizard and a weak but highly skilled wizard?

    Obvioulsy we could do most of that through apopropriate choice of aspects. I’m just wondering if there is more customisation already built within the magic system.

    Finally, are foci treated as SotC gadgets? After buying the minimum 7 points of stunts to be a Wizard, did Harry then have to buy a Shield Bracelet, Blasting Rod and Staff?

    Sorry to ask so many questions. I’m just eager to learn about the system.

  7. Rick Neal says:

    Okay, we have just (as in, less than five minutes ago) received the Spellcasting chapter, so I can’t answer all those questions completely. Here are the answers I currently have:

    Customizing wizards – built right in with the stunts as far as specialties and power vs. control goes. May be expanded upon in the Spellcasting chapter. Skills provide the basis for dice rolls in Spellcasting, Aspects provide bonuses and penalties when they’re invoked or compelled, and the Stunts determine what you can do, and what specialties you have.

    Foci – Don’t know, yet. I’ll get back to you after reading the Spellcasting chapter.

    Canon characters – The rules are cleaving close to the canon. They have clear limits on the kinds of characters you can play. But they are also very, very easy to manipulate into non-canon characters. There’s been a fair bit of discussion on the playtest mailing list about this, and the decision has been made by Fred and the other Evil Hat folks to stick to the canon in the rule book. That doesn’t mean that you can’t play a ghoul (horrifically evil in the books) – it’s just up to you to figure out WHY your ghoul is the one ghoul in the entire world who isn’t slavering after human flesh all the time. Why wouldn’t you eat your fellow characters? Pretty much any character type is possible, as long as you’re willing to forgo some of the powers in favour of Refresh Rate and can shape an appropriate backstory with Aspects and history. The game system supports it, even if the game world doesn’t. But the book is focused on the canon Dresdenverse.

  8. Declan Feeney (R00kie) says:

    Thanks for the fast reply Rick.

    I’m really pleased to see how they are handling Wizards – it sounds like a well though out approach. My concerns about all wizard campaigns being too restrictive have now passed. I’ll be interested to see how foci are handled, but considering everything else I’ve heard about Dresden so far I’m sure the Evil Hat guys will get it right.

  9. Rechan says:

    Mmm, the spellcasting chapter sounds Juicy, Rick. ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to hear your extended opinion on it, once you get to throw it around some.

    Thanks Fred for the response and explanation. I understand why you’re doing it; I just thought permissions were free up until now.

    To some extent, just because the Ghoul is Huuungry doesn’t qualify to me – the Fellowship of St. Giles folk are always hungry, too. But, we’ve seen the Tigress who is a mercenary, who worked with the two gunmen in Summer Knight. As long as we have a ghoul whom has a refresh rate, then they have free will. Choosing not to eat your comrads when they can assist you seems like a choice that shouldn’t be too hard.

  10. Fred Hicks says:

    Yeah, but the St. Giles folks started out human and are clinging to their humanity. Ghouls are *another race entirely*, born pretty evil right off. You’ll note in the books most of the “borderline” folks (changelings, white court vampires, St. Giles red-infecteds) started out as people. They’ve got some mortal-ness to cling to. Ghouls, not so much. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, yeah: wizards and variety. We ARE going to be keeping an eye out for this. Early on, wizards are going to have an expensive core package, but a little extra room beyond that to specialize in particular elements & methods of casting, so you can have your “Sensitive/Veil” specialists and your “Fire/Wind” specialists and so on. If the rules don’t currently support that (I think they do, but it’s actually been a bit since I personally stared close at this part) we will *make* the rules support it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Rechan says:

    I’m eager to see how advancement will be handled, to show you going from Storm Front Harry to White Night Harry (over a long campaign).

    Not to mention curious to see how Water and Earth magic is handled; we’ve seen very little of that in the books, compared to the frequency of Fire and Wind.

  12. Rick Neal says:

    I’m going to say this about Ghouls: read White Night again, then tell me they’re not basically evil.

    That’s all I’m saying.

  13. Rel Fexive says:

    Conclusive proof indeed.

    Doesn’t mean there couldn’t still be a few ghoul “weirdos” out there though ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Rick Neal says:

    Very true. And what do we call such weirdos in the context of a roleplaying game?

    Player Characters, unless I miss my guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Rechan says:

    Hm. Perhaps I’m not stating my opinion as clear as I could.

    I’m not saying that ghouls aren’t evil and nasty. But, that PCs can play evil and nasty. It’s not the norm of PCs to be evil and nasty, but with the right spin, it can be appropriate for the story.

    I’m working more in the mold of Marcone than, say, Corpsetaker; Marcone is a Bad Man, but one who has goals that coincide with the Heroes. For instance, consider a ghoul mercenary who prefers to eat Black and White Court vampires; he has “found a way” to “absorb their power”* by eating their flesh, and that sustains him longer than necessary. This has naturally made him an enemy of both Courts. Otherwise his meals come from underworld types wanting to dispose of bodies discreetly, or people he kills in a fight.

    Such a character is undoubtably a dark character, but one who could aid various parties – just most PCs wouldn’t want to ally themselves with something so monstrous.

    *This would have to be something the player and the GM agreed upon beforehand, be it some sort of magic practiced by cannibals to absorb the power of their enemies, to the flesh of creatures once human just “sustain” the ghoul longer, to having no benefit aside from just tasting better.

    This is, though, a purely academic conversation, since obviously EH isn’t going to promote “Ghoul PCs; eat your enemies for fun and profit!” in the book. ๐Ÿ˜€

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