Wednesday, December 01, 2010

In Which The Warlock Decides to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle...

You’d normally figure that, with the holidays coming up and New Years’ on the horizon, I wouldn’t be focused on the upcoming convention season. That, my lovelies, would be folly. Rather, the pseudo-downtime’s been nice to start planning out some of those scenarios to be prepped and ready for WittCon, FOPCon, Origins and all the others.

One thing I have noticed, though, is a tendency that runs amongst the great gaming groups throughout the area—the idea of the “multi-purpose” group.
Check out ABGames' "Blobcast"!
Let me give an example. Every year since its release, Amorphous Blob Games has been running Dark Heresy at Origins. In those games, a set group of PCs is put to the test year-after-year. The PCs are, needless to say, fairly unique—one need only look at the further adventures of Bazziti Comcast, pyromaniacal Imperial Psyker, to see that!—but they’re repeat offenders. Usual suspects, if you will. While the circumstances around them might change with the given scenario, the characters are the same.

Writing scenarios with this in mind has several benefits. As a GM, it certainly reduces the amount of prep-work necessary for any given scenario. Rather than creating new characters for each module, you can simply use the same ones in multiple ways. Having put together six Deadlands characters by hand last night, I can tell you, it makes a big difference. Having done the same thing for Heroes Unlimited last year took me no less than three days of work! Being able to avoid that amount of prep is a massive benefit!

But, beyond the simple prep-work, it also allows the GM to gain a better handle on each character’s abilities, tendencies, and gear. There’s a bit of a learning curve with any character—PC or NPC—that both player and GM need to overcome to play a character ‘effectively’ from both the mechanical and roleplaying standpoint. When the GM is able to eliminate his section of the learning curve, it frees them up to be able to help the players with mechanical questions and table-related issues.

Bazzati's bestest friend!
So, what’s key in all this? First off, the characters must be interesting. If the characters are without some degree of uniqueness, the GM will become bored with them, and they’ll be just as unappealing to the players. Again, AB Games has always had a stranglehold on this quality, with such luminaries as Rubella, the love-stricken tiefling paladin, and the aforementioned Bazzati and his mechanical owl familiar.

Similarly, these characters must each have a unique niche.  Each character should have their own unique abilities, which echo their unique personality.  Bazzati was so unique as a character, because his mechanical abilities--his utter mastery of fire-based powers--reflected his own chaotic stance on life, and his tenuous (at best!) grip on sanity.  Rubella's power choices reflect her nature as a 'nuturing protector', particularly one set for motherhood with a certain noble in the party.  Nearly all of the AB Games characters work this way in some sense, which is a masterful stroke in providing hooks for one-time players on the convention circuit.

So, what do I have in store?  Well, I'm glad you asked (hypothetically speaking)...remember those Deadlands characters I mentioned earlier?  Well, I've finally decided on a full party of members.  Enjoy this brief preview of what's in store!

  • Nigel Worthington-Smythe--an India-born British big-game hunter, Nigel's spent his life with a high-calibre rifle in his hands, searching out the most elusive and dangerous prey.  He's taken down elephants near the Bay of Bengali, lions in the Serengetti, and wild boar in the Rhine forests.  However, with tales of Mojave rattlers and California Maze Dragons lurking out in "the Colonies," Nigel packed up his belongings and made for the Weird West!
  • Ricky "One Armed Bandit" Parker--A former riverboat gambler, Ricky Parker made one bet too many with a black-hearted desperado aboard a steamboat on the mighty Mississippi.  One thing led to another and Ricky took a slug in his left arm.  The sawbones had to amputate, but that only made Ricky's drive to be the best grow.  Since then, he's learned a few new tricks...
  • Benjamin Three-Bass--A Union-educated scion of the Lakota tribes, Benjamin served for a time as an ambassador and delegate before the Dakotas became their own nation.  However, with war on the horizon, Benjamin has left his tribe, seeking to bring peace--one way or another--to the West, atoning for his failures in the Dakota territories.
  • Shawna McClintock--If you can ride it, rope it, or drive it, Shawna's already done it.  And damned if she can't do it better and faster than you.  Shawna would still be racing across the Weird West, delivering for the Pony Express, if not for the Texas Rangers that have been pursuing her ever since she made that one delivery...
  • Melissa "Miss Meliss" Garrett--It ain't easy being a "soiled dove" out on the plains.  Melissa could sure tell you that.  But, if nothing else, it gives you a chance to get real close to a mark...close enough to relieve him of that fancy gold pocketwatch, pocket a letter from someone 'connected', or even slide a switchblade between some ribs.  Miss Meliss has done it all, and damned if she's not going to be a survivor.
    Morgan Arringon looks over his schematics...
  • Prof. Morgan Arrington--A Massachusetts-educated professor of...well, some science, Morgan's got a bit of an obsession with ghost rock.  Ever since he built that "mist projector", he just hasn't been the same.  If he can't build it, Morgan can definitely fix it, and has a knack for tools.  Just don't get the idea that his ideas aren't really his...Morgan's just a touch possessive of his work!

So, which would it be, fellow gamers?  Intregued by any of these?  Any that strike your fancy?


  1. Thunderforge12:45 AM

    I admit that I never thought of having recurring pregen characters, but it's a nifty idea. I like your Deadlands ones too. Except for Nigel, they seem pretty standard characters for Deadlands, which could be a good thing as it gives a good flavor of the West (and I see you have the mandatory New Orleans huckster!)

  2. It wouldn't be Deadlands without a huckster from NOLA!

    By and large, they all fill a "standard archetype", which is a good thing. I wanted a 'ranger'-type character, sort of like Kat's Frank Corbett, but I wanted something that would make him more unique than just another Texas Ranger. The "British Big Game Hunter" idea really worked well for, it was easy to come up with hindrances for him.

    Thanks, man!