Articles

Cinemechanix Character Walk-Thru: The Imp

Category: Cussin' In Tongues
Created on Friday, 17 May 2019 Written by Steve

I made a lot of progress on the combat system this week, but I’ll talk about that in more detail next week. This week, I’m going to zoom out and walk you through the character sheet I just finished putting together for this year’s con games. Since a blank character sheet would be boring and not particularly instructive, I statted out that little guy from the show with the dragons. You can view a copy of the character sheet (as a well as a blank one) on my Patreon page. Feel free to download it and print out a copy so you can follow along. Also feel free to become a patron. And while you’ve got your credit card out, you should go ahead and patronize Leighton, Josh, Jeffrey, James, and Juan. It’s way more efficient to do it all at once. 

Got the sheet? Great. Up at the top, you’ll see the familiar section with the character’s name, Role, Hero Factor, and default Hero Die. In the latest version of the rules, Role doesn’t have any set game function. The GM can give a small bonus if he really thinks the Role requires one, but it’s mostly just a character concept that you use as a starting point for buying the weightier stats. For Tyrion I chose “The Power Behind the Throne,” which sums up his role pretty well throughout most of the series (this is TV Tyrion, because I don’t have time for books that need five metaphors, 13 adjectives, a couple of adverbs, and a simile to inform me that blood is red).

Hero Factor is used in a lot of places, but is kind of like level. I gave Tyrion a 6, which seems about right for a central character in GOT. More epic than Ellen Ripley, but not quite into Beowulf territory. A character’s default roll is d12 + Hero Die, so Tyrion rolls d12+d6 whenever he’s rolling to do something he doesn’t have a specific stat for. For reference, that puts him roughly in the GURPS roll range with a slightly less bell-shaped curve. 

The next big box is Basic Abilities, which are sort of like Attributes. Most rolls will use one of these to determine the die that the character gets in addition to his free d12. For Tyrion, 3 of his Basic Abilities have a 0 rating, so they default to his Hero Die of d6. His Brains of 3 (the maximum for a HF 6 character) lets him roll 2d12 for smarts rolls and his Presence of 1 gives him d12+d8 for social rolls. Using the Qik Start rules, I could have put 2 more points into Basic Abilities (probably Fighting and another point to Presence), but I decided to save them for Resources. 

The “Raises” box after each Basic Ability (and in several other sections of the character sheet) are for banked raises. In the current system, the margin (winner’s roll minus loser’s roll) of a successful roll is broken down into Effect (1s digit) and Raises (10s digit). Effect determines how well you succeeded on the core task attempted. You can use Raises to make the roll cooler (some unnecessary acrobatics as you leap across the rooftops), get bonus effects (like disarming an opponent in combat), put them toward multi-roll or scene-long goals (like forcing a monster into position to spring the trap you prepared or convincing someone to do you a favor), or you can save them in a few different ways. One way to save them is a Call of Cthulhu style way of raising stats. You put a tick mark in the raise box for the stat and when save enough up you can roll to see if the stat increases. A small variation is that you can also spend the raises you’ve banked to a stat to get extra raises on a specific roll. 

The rules for Resources are still mostly in my head, but Clout, Stuff, and Cash (which I still kind of want to call “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”) measure the character’s access to people, gear, and treasure. The GM sets the baseline and characters can use points to raise them and gain points by lowering them. For my theoretical GOT game, I decided to make the default equal to the default Hero Factor of 6. Tyrion’s line of work requires a network of lackeys, informants, and useful idiots, so I spent two of his Basic Ability points to give him a d10 in Clout. 

The basic idea behind Resources is that whenever the player wants to call upon a resource that hasn’t been introduced naturally in the story, he rolls to see if the resource is available (with the Resource Die replacing the Hero/Ability Die). The grayed-out dX boxes are there because the player can only use each die (up to his Resource Die--that’s why the higher ones are Xed out) once per episode. I’m also planning on including an optional system where you get to choose “established” resources based on your die that you can call upon without rolling (but you still have to spend a die). There’s a spot for Raises there, but I might come up with another name because I think Resources need something that works like Raises but are awarded by the GM rather than earned with good rolls. So if you pulled off a big heist, you’d get some Raise-like points for Cash, for example. Like I said, the Resource rules aren’t entirely worked out yet. 

The next box contains our old favorites, Who Would Play Him/Her In The Movie?, Tag Line, and Trivia (which is basically the expanded version of Dumb Fact). For a con game, I’d stick an appropriate photo of the WWPHITM actor on the right side of the Trivia part of the box, but we all know who Peter Dinklage is and I was trying to put this one together quickly. 

Moving down on the left-hand section, we’ve got Trademarks & Game Specific Traits. The current rule for Trademarks is that you get +1 for any roll that passes the smell test as belonging to your Trademark. You also get to roll a d20 for your Free Die for a number of specific Edges equal to your Hero Factor (listed in the next section). Tyrion’s Trademark could either be his skill at playing politics or his intelligence, but I decided that his Brain stat took care of the smarts and went with the politicking. 

In an actual GOT game this box would probably include a spot for which House you’re a member of or loyal to, possibly with gameable details, but I didn’t want to tie this version of Tyrion down to a specific part of the show’s timeline (or figure out the details). 

Next are Edges, which give the character a roll bonus. Tyrion gets 6 free +1 Edges related to his Trademark, which are marked with a check mark in the “™” column so the player knows to roll a d20 instead of a d12 for them. I raised a few of these to +2 and used the remaining Edge points for Perception (because The Imp notices things) and Axe (to make up for the 0 Fighting stat a little bit). So if Tyrion’s swinging an Axe at someone, he rolls d12 (free die) + d6 (Fighting die) +1 (Axes Edge). If he’s trying to figure out what Littlefinger planning, he rolls d20 (free die upgraded for Trademark) + d12 (Brains die) + 2 (Sense Motivations). 

The next box is for Limitations (the artist previously known as Drawbacks). The Imp doesn’t have any. “Dwarf” could probably be a Limitation, but in the show Tyrion’s size is more often framed as a social disadvantage than a physical one, so I decided it worked better as a Complication. 

Under the Character Info box is a section for Complications, which are essentially Limitations that affect the story more than the game mechanics. There are some mechanics attached (the GM can impose a penalty to rolls and the player can earn Acclaim for good role-playing), but they’re primarily meant to make the story more interesting. 

Special Effects is where you’d include rules for things like magical powers or super-science, but Tyrion is a normal dude so it’s blank. Continuity is for mechanics changes that occur as the game unfolds (and either disappear or get turned into stats at the end of the season). Since this is the character sheet for Tyrion at the beginning of Season X, it’s blank. If he finds a magic sword or gets a limb chopped off, the player would note the details here. 

Down at the bottom are boxes for some currency-type stats: Acclaim (Yum Yums), Fu, Plot Points, and Character Points. Acclaim is equal to Hero Factor, Fu is equal to Hero Factor + Fighting + ½ Stunts + ½ Brains, so Tyrion has a 7, and Tyrion has a zero for Plot Points (because they’re earned during the game) and Character Points (because I spent them all) at the moment. 

Finally, there’s a wound tracker at the bottom (each box on the bottom row is a wound) and a Fu tracker along the sides. I’ll get into what Fu is next week (it solves a whole bunch of the combat system issues I talked about last week), but the important thing about it in terms of character sheet design is that during a combat scene it can and probably will change frequently. Since a box for tick marks or crossed out numbers would mean a lot of writing and erasing, I decided to go the tracker route so you can just mark your current place with a counter or paperclip. Once I’d decided to go that route for Fu, it made sense to do the same for wounds. 

Next week: The Power of Fu

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