11 August, 2012

Correcting an Oversight

It's at this point that I realise that I haven't provided details about character generation. I can hardly expect to gain insight or criticism regarding something if I don't reveal it.

The current incarnation of Walkabout develops characters using three core traits (each with a range of activation keywords), and a range of relationship and equipment choices based on those traits.

It's designed to be a pretty quick system for getting into the action, with characters starting out as general stereotypes who develop personality as they interact with the outside world and with each other.

In that regard, it's pretty similar to FUBAR; but unlike FUBAR, Walkabout is less random and more focused. FUBAR self regulates, players create character that might be played by the others on the table, or might end up as antagonists. FUBAR self regulates, players create character that might be played by the others on the table, or might end up as antagonists. Players don't throw their characters into a pool at the centre of the table, nor do they create the antagonists for the story. Since the random element is taken out, there is more potential for a player to abuse the system to create a specific type of character.

Since a mix and match system of three stereotypical traits is in effect, there is a regulating mehanism. While this game setting is has some influence from other science-fantasy games (such as Shadowrun), and post apocalyptic games (such as RIFTS), the aim is not for it to become over-the-top or gonzo in the way that these games can. Walkabout is a subtle and menacing setting, it is a game of style and storytelling more than it is about competition and abusing rules to gain maximum power.

With this in mind, the game is designed to promote certain types of characters being played.

The first verson of the game (entered in the Game Chef contest in 2010 and emerging as a finalist) simply allowed any mix of traits...resulting in things like "mutant cyborg poledancers" as viable character types (certainly more of a RIFTS vibe than what I'm aiming for). So the new version starts with players being given 6 points with which to buy their character. Each trait has a point cost associated with it (based on it's commonality within the setting more than it's respective power level), and if a character has left-over points they may spend these to gain additional pieces of equipment or relationships. This is specifically designed to prevent the type of issue I also commonly saw in live action roleplaying, where everyone wanted to play the obscure character types.

Formally, the character creation system is:

You are given 6 character points to play with.

Choose a type of "people" to whom you belong (with a cost from 1 to 3 character points), then choose a "caste" within that "people" (at an extra cost from 0 to 3 character points). Assign any Wayfarer status from the "caste", and apply relevant "people" tags to the notes secton of your character sheet. Each type of "people" has three keywords, and each "caste" has three keywords, from this total of six words, choose any two to represent the things you have learnt from your upbringing. You start with a loose relationship to this people.

Choose an "edge" (each with costs from 0 to 2 character points), then choose a specific "subtype" for the edge (at an extra cost of 0 to 2 character points). As long as you have the points to spend on an edge, any edge is available (there are no restrictions), but some edges are favoured by certain communities. If an edge subtype mentions a specific type of "people", it costs 1 point less for them. Assign any Wayfarer status from the "edge subtype", and apply "edge" tags to the notes secton of the character sheet. Each type of "edge" has three keywords, and each subtype has three keywords, from this total of six words, choose any two to represent the ways in which your edge gives you an advantage. You start with a loose relationship to this edge.

Choose a "style" (each with costs from 0 to 2 character points), then choose a specific "dance" (at an extra cost of 0 to 1 character points). Once again, as long as you have the points to spend on a dance, any dance is available (there are no restrictions), but some dances are favoured by certain communities. If a dance subtype mentions a specific type of "people", it costs 1 point less for them. Assign any Wayfarer status from the "dance subtype", and apply "dance" tags to the notes secton of the character sheet. Each type of "style" has three keywords, and each "dance" has three keywords, from this total of six words, choose any two to represent the ways in which your dance permeates your life and your mind. You start with a loose relationship to this dance.
Gain the new people "Wayfarers" at no cost, you also choose a wayfarer caste at no cost. This describes your new life, and your new role within a wayfarer circle. Like the people from whom you descend, the wayfarer people have three common keywords and each caste has three keywords; choose two from this pool of six keywords. Gain a single wayfarer Tattoo at no cost. You start with a loose relationship to a single other member of the wayfarer circle.

With any leftover points, you may:
  • Spend 2 points to acquire an additional tattoo (such a tattoo must be linked to one or more of your tags).
  • Spend a point to buy (or improve) a single relationship.
  • Spend a point to gain an extra edge (any other costs associated with the edge must be paid in addition to this point).
  • Spend a point to buy (or improve) a single piece of equipment.
The most common types of "people" in the setting are farmers trying to eke out an exstence in the wilderness, nomads who roam the highways in convoys of trucks and motorcycles, and scavengers who try to reclaim the technologies of the past in an attempt to rebuild their lost society. Uncommon types of "people" are neo-tribal groups trying to relearn the ways of ancient societies and mutants who have become deformed due to the darkness infesting the world. The rarest type of "people" are those who live hidden away in arcology cities barricaded from the horrors of the world outside, and the skyfarers who live on cloud ships, rarely descending except to trade and restock their supplies.

The most common types of "edge" in the setting are weapon skills, gadgetry, specialist training or pet animals. Uncommon "edges" include methods of augmentation (cybernetics, mutations, experimentation, etc.). Rare edges include psychic powers, or bearing powers of the spirits themselves.

I'm still working through the common types of dance.
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