You probably already have a good idea about how to create a character – this covers some aspects of that, but mostly focuses on the statistics side of things. Anyone can say they're superhuman, but some people are accurate, and others are just plain lying. Some people are mere mortals trying to survive; others are badass superheroes who regularly pick fights with monsters - or dark terrors who make the world a nasty place to live in. It's pretty much up to you. Feeling the pressure?
Before we get too involved, there's something you should know – namely, what sort of character you want to create. CharLoft RPG pretty much lets you get away with an awful lot as long as you can afford it - though bear in mind that the truly antisocial and malevolent sorts probably won't survive long without being thrown into the Void. Most books would take this opportunity to discuss what sort of niche your gamemaster might be wanting to fill - maybe there's a world out there that needs a cop or a soldier, or a sardonic vampire who smokes and picks fights for fun. CharLoft RPG centers around an interdimensional cafe, so practically anything can be a character - as long as you have the drive to play it and enjoy it.
CharLoft RPG uses a somewhat simplified point system to create characters. You buy different abilities by spending character points. The better or more powerful a characteristic is, the more character points it costs. Some negative features, known as Drawbacks, do not cost any points. Instead, they have a negative value - in short, by acquiring them, you actually get more points to buy other things. Keep in mind, of course, that these Drawbacks limit or hurt your character in some way, so loading them on carelessly is not a good idea - and that you have to portray these Drawbacks in play!
Not everything is based on points and numbers, either. Some character elements are creativity-driven: your character’s concept (what kind of person he is) and personality, as well as his name and history. These depend wholly on your imagination.
Characters in the CharLoft RPG have four basic elements. Some elements are conceptual (what kind of character is he?) while others are numerical attributes (what are the character's actual abilities?). As you make each selection, you narrow down the possibilities of the character, until you finally have a clearly defined fictional individual, ready to go out and adventure, or start fights, or just sit around and drink coffee and bask in your own awesomeness.
1. Character Type: Character Type determines the general power level and nature of your character. You need to choose this logically – if you're playing a human child, you likely won't be using the same character type as if you've decided to play Thor, the God of Lightning and Metal Bands.
2. Attributes: What are your character's natural abilities, both mental and physical?
3. Qualities and Drawbacks: What innate advantages or penalties affect your character?
4. Skills: What does your character know?
As we mentioned, creating a character involves allocating a number of points to various aspects of that persona. Character Type determines how many points you have to 'spend' on each character component - your character-building “budget”, in accountant-speak.
Character Type also goes a long way toward defining the overall power level of a character, and the Character Types involved in an adventure can shape its overall tone. Character Types are sorted into categories by overall power level, and should hopefully be reasonably self-explanatory.
The mortals of the world usually are stuck with the limitations of their nature - their attributes are close to human average (although those who end up in play usually are a wee bit better than those who aren't, unless their player is particularly merciless), and they have the most believable skill ranges. While a 'mere mortal' can still hold their own against monstrous types with training and skill, they tend to start out on the low end of the power scale. However, there are some advantages to being a Mortal of the World - in particular, they start out with (and can more easily acquire) more Drama Points.
While kids don't generally get high billing, there's always someone who's got the urge to play a child version of their favorite character, or who really wants to 'grow' their character from youth all the way up to ultimate badassery. This is the template to use for those youthful sorts. Kids typically have the Youth Drawback – it's hard to tell whether a Kid is actually right or just making things up at times – and often have limited Resources as well.
Attribute Points: 10 Quality Points: 10 Drawback Points: Up to 10 Skill Points: 10 Drama Points: 20
White hats, meddling kids, and rebellious punk youth tend to use the Teenager type - a good Character Type to use for teenagers and others who are just starting to develop their skills and learn new things. (Psychedelic van and strange dog optional.) This template gives some room to work with, while remaining reasonably limited in power.
Attribute Points: 15 Quality Points: 10 Drawback Points: Up to 10 Skill Points: 15 Drama Points: 20
For a slightly more mature character - one who's been around the block a few times, and has a bit more skill under their belt - it's time to break out the Adult template. There's still plenty of room for improvement, but this is generally the level at which people start seriously considering what they're going to do with their life. (In some cases, it's 'drink coffee'.)
Attribute Points: 15 Quality Points: 10 Drawback Points: Up to 10 Skill Points: 20 Drama Points: 20
Some people just can't leave well enough alone, and keep working and pushing themselves until they're at the top of their game. The Badass Normal is at the top of the Mortal tier - much higher and they wander into Champions and Monsters territory (notably, losing the benefits of being a Mortal of the World.) These are the grizzled cops who've seen it all before, the consummate professionals who make difficult tasks look easy, and the kung fu artists who have honed their body into a weapon capable of taking on any comers. Badass Normals are more than a match for most Mortals, and can even be a challenge to a Champion or Monster without having to pull out the Drama Points to make it happen. In order to survive more than a week as a barista, you have to at least be a Badass Normal - which is why many hirelings tend to get their start working in other interdimensional places first.
Attribute Points: 20 Quality Points: 15 Drawback Points: Up to 10 Skill Points: 25 Drama Points: 20
Most supernatural entities tend to fall into this category - whether they are heroic or monstrous is entirely up to their creator. As these creatures and people are by nature more powerful than usual, they have more points and powers to work with. These are the types most likely to get into a brawl or hold their own in an action movie - whether this is because they have some sort of special calling or have simply transcended beyond the Mortal realm through sheer force of will and development is up to you.
This template is ideal for heroes just getting their start, or newly bred monsters that are still feeling out the extent of their powers. Fledgelings tend to have few Adversaries - but usually have at least a few, and will gain more with time and experience!
Attribute Points: 20 Quality Points: 20 Drawback Points: Up to 10 Skill Points: 20 Drama Points: 10
Those who survive their initial run as heroes or villians gradually develop into ever more competent heroes or ever more dangerous monsters. This template provides a little more leeway for people who have already had a head-start on their game, one way or another.
Attribute Points: 22 Quality Points: 20 Drawback Points: Up to 10 Skill Points: 25 Drama Points: 10
Champions and Monsters who have survived many challenges and adversities, and are known for their skill and competence - whether as toughened champions who have defeated many foes, master vampires who run their households like well-oiled machines, powerful sorcerers with awesome powers, or anything else you can come up with.
Attribute Points: 25 Quality Points: 20 Drawback Points: Up to 10 Skill Points: 30 Drama Points: 10
These characters are, to put it simply, the stuff of legends and myths. Anyone can attain these levels of skill and ability given time and development… lots and lots of time and development. Then again, in the space between dimensions, some people have nothing but time on their hands. There are drawbacks to playing Four-Color Folk - not the least of which is that they are less challenged by things than their more mundane counterparts and tend to develop more slowly as a result.
This is sufficient for your classic mythical champion, action movie hero, super-engineered space marine, or other epic sort - whether this is the most Badass of Normals (the sort that could take on multiple demons of hell in a fistfight and WIN) or merely the pinnacle of design is up to your character background.
Attribute Points: 25 Quality Points: 25 Drawback Points: Up to 10 Skill Points: 40 Drama Points: 10
This Character Type is meant for characters that approach godly attributes - they have powers that can rattle the world, skills honed through decades or even centuries of experience, or other amazing capabilities. They can easily become overbearing, though, and the Boss seldom appreciates competition…
Attribute Points: 25 Quality Points: 25 Drawback Points: Up to 15 Skill Points: 50 Drama Points: 10
So you want to play a god? Okay, you asked for it. A Power That Is has amazingly high attributes and skills, as well as a wide variety of powers and capabilities. A fight between a Power That Is and a Mortal is likely to end in a very, very bloody mess. Just remember, there's always a bigger fish out there.
Attribute Points: 30 Quality Points: 30 Drawback Points: Up to 15 Skill Points: 60 Drama Points: 10
Attributes are inborn characteristics: your character’s strength, intelligence, senses and so on. By selecting a set of Attributes, you are defining the limits of what the character can and cannot do. So, if you buy a very low Dexterity for your character, expect them to be clumsy, uncoordinated, and probably not the best choice to operate heavy machinery.
The basic attributes available to your character are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Perception, and Willpower.
Attributes are purchased using Attribute Points (imagine that!). Those points are set by your Character Type (see above).
Attributes can be bought up to level five on a one-for one basis (i.e., Strength 3 would cost three points, Strength 4 four points, and so on). Attributes above level five are more expensive: three points per additional level. Level six is the effective human maximum (buying an Attribute up to level six would cost eight points).
Beings with supernatural abilities (vampires, demons, werewolves and the like) can buy Attributes above six (at the aforementioned three points per additional level above five.)
At the other end, at least one point must be put into each Attribute. So, a Mortal Teenager has 15 points to distribute among the six Attributes. You can have three Attributes at level two (average), and three at level three (somewhat above average). Or you could drop an Attribute to one, and get one at four. This character would really shine in one aspect, would be above average at a couple other things, would suck at one thing, and would be average for the rest.
A Fledgeling Champion has 20 points to work with. With that, you can go with four Attributes at level three and two at level four. This creates a balanced character good at most things. Or you could keep three Attributes at average level and have two at level five and one at level four. This character would be extremely gifted in certain areas.
Level 1: The character is below average in this Attribute. Strength 1 indicates a poor physique, either a petite or flabby, sedentary person. Dexterity 1 indicates clumsiness, someone likely to drop things—not to be trusted with delicate manual work unless the person has trained very hard to do so. Characters with a Constitution 1 are delicate and often in poor health. Intelligence 1 is below average - not necessarily mentally challenged, but certainly a bit slow on the uptake. Perception 1 depicts someone not very aware of his surroundings, likely to miss what’s before his face. Willpower 1 results in a person who is easily intimidated and influenced by others, a follower instead of a leader, and somebody who is likely to succumb to temptation. In other words, Attributes at level one are not flattering. If your character has an Attribute at level one, he is going to be pretty feeble at some things.
Level 2: This is the average for human beings. Most people in any given group have Attributes at this level, typically with one or two at levels one or three. Nothing wrong with being average, but the character is unlikely to shine with such Attributes unless his skills are so high he can compensate.
Level 3: This is above average but not extraordinary. Strength and Constitution 3 show some athletic aptitude - somebody who works out at least three times a week, or a natural athlete who has not taken time to develop their talent. Characters with Dexterity 3 are graceful - good dancing partners, grabbed near the beginning in pick-up sports, unlikely to suffer from butterfingers or Klutz Syndrome. Intelligence 3 indicates a bright person who can easily learn new skills, if he has the temperament to do so. With Perception 3, a character has good senses and intuition, and is not easily fooled or confused. Characters with Willpower 3 are rarely bluffed or bullied under normal circumstances.
Level 4: An Attribute at this level is well above average. Very few people - perhaps one out every ten in a random group - have one or two Attributes at this level. Strength and Constitution 4 can be found in athletes (including the best football players in a large high school or college campus), extensively trained Special Forces soldiers, and other people who spend a large amount of time and effort keeping in shape. A Dexterity 4 would only be common among gymnasts, acrobats, dancers and other talented and graceful individuals. Mental Attributes at level four indicate near genius (Intelligence), highly acute senses and intuition (Perception), or an “iron will” (Willpower).
Level 5: This is the “practical” human limit. People at this level are extraordinarily talented, able to perform complex and difficult feats with little practice. While people with Attributes at level five are not record-breakers, they are among the best and the brightest. In a small or medium-sized community, only a handful of people have one or two Attributes at this level, and they are likely to be well known for their strength, wisdom, or toughness. Cities, large college campuses, and groups of demon fighters have more of these extraordinary individuals, but even there they are not common.
Level 6: This is the basic human limit. A few people with “freakish” features may exceed it (to level seven), but they are a handful even among the teeming billions living in the 21st century. Characters with one Attribute at level six are very rare, something on the order of one in ten thousand, or less. People with more than one Attribute at level six are perhaps ten times less common, and so on.
Level 7+: Now we are talking superhuman. Someone with Strength 7 would be as strong as a horse; a Dexterity 12 connotes inhuman grace; and so on. These folks can perform at a level that normal folks can hardly comprehend. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The human range of Attributes applies only to humans. It would be foolish to expect that a horse or an elephant would have the same Attribute limitations as human beings. Most large creatures have Strengths 7-12 (including horses, bears, and apes).
Massive creatures, such as whales or elephants, have Strengths 15 to 20 or higher. By the same token, graceful animals such as cats, birds of prey, and the like have average Dexterity 4 to 7. Constitution does not vary as greatly. Large animals such as elephants are somewhat delicate. They have more Life Points than humans, but shock and disease are just as likely to bring them down.
A zero level represents very low Attributes, and a -1 indicates subhuman levels for humans above the age of five. When dealing with low Primary Attributes, treat them as being equal to one when calculating Secondary Attributes. If the Attribute is negative, subtract it from the resulting Secondary Attribute.
For example, Michael is a frail and sickly boy with Strength -1 and Constitution 0. To determine Michael’s Life Points, treat the -1 and zero as one, resulting in a base of 18 Life Points (two times four plus the base 10). Then reduce this to 17 Life Points - the negative value is subtracted from the total.
A measure of the physical power of the character, Strength determines how much damage the character inflicts with hand-to-hand weapons, how much weight he can carry, and how powerful he is. It also helps determine how much damage and exertion the character can withstand before collapsing. Strength is useful to people who do a lot of heavy lifting or anybody likely to enter close combat. Characters apt to have a high Strength include athletes, manual workers, and soldiers. A low Strength indicates either small size and body weight, or just a lack of exercise. A character may high jump (Strength x 10) inches (x 2.5 cm) and broad jump (Strength) yards (meters). Double these numbers with a good running start.
A chart detailing how much a character of any given Strength can lift is located further down. This is the weight someone of that Strength can lift without much effort. Higher weights can be lifted with some effort (assume a maximum lifting weight – for brief periods – equal to double the Lifting Capacity). A character can “push the limits” and try to lift more by passing a Simple Strength Test. Every Success Level achieved allows the character to lift an additional 10% of his maximum lifting weight. This effort costs the character 2 points of Endurance for every Success Level in the Test. A failure on the Strength Test causes 2 Life Points of damage – the character strained himself and tore something up…
|1-5||50 lbs x Strength||(Strength 5: 250 lbs)|
|6-10||200 x (Strength - 5) + 250 lbs||(Strength 10: 1250 lbs)|
|11-15||500 x (Strength - 10) + 1500 lbs||(Strength 15: 4,000 lbs/2 tons)|
|16-20||1,000 x (Strength - 15) + 5,000 lbs||(Strength 20: 10,000 lbs/5 tons)|
|21-25||1 ton x (Strength - 20) + 5 tons||(Strength 25: 10 tons)|
|26-30||2 ton x (Strength - 25) + 10 tons||(Strength 30: 20 tons)|
Dexterity is a measure of the character’s coordination, agility, and gracefulness. It is used to determine how proficient a character is with any Task that requires motor control and precision. This ranges from performing card tricks to picking pockets to punching somebody in the face (Dexterity helps the punch land; Strength determines how much the punch hurt the other guy). Any Task where the character’s speed and coordination matter is influenced by Dexterity. A high Dexterity is common among dancers, gymnasts, or pickpockets. People with low Dexterity are clumsy and ungraceful.
This Attribute determines how physically hardy or healthy the character is. Constitution is important when it comes to resisting diseases, damage, and fatigue. This Attribute is used (along with Strength) to determine how much physical injury the character can survive and still remain functional. Constitution also comes into play with physical skills that involve endurance, like swimming, long-distance running and the like.
This Attribute determines the character’s ability to learn, correlate and memorize information. The higher a character’s Intelligence, the easier it is to improve scholastic skills. Also, this Attribute is used to understand and interpret information. Note that Intelligence and education are two separate things. A person can be brilliant but illiterate, for example. Education is covered in the Skills section, which determines what a character has learned in his life.
Perception governs the five senses of the character. It gives a general overview of the sharpness of the character’s ability to sense things. This Attribute is used to find clues, notice things, and avoid getting surprised. Also, Perception determines the character’s intuition and alertness. A character with a low Perception would be nearly oblivious to what is going on around him.
This Attribute measures your character's mental strength and self-control, and his ability to resist fear, intimidation, and temptation. If you don't want to run away screaming like a little girl every time a monster so much as smiles at you, Willpower is your friend. Any supernatural ability that tries to control or influence victims is resisted by Willpower. It can also be used to intimidate and dominate others through sheer force of will. Supernatural abilities often make use of Willpower, and even mundanes make use of it to resist magical coercion, psychic mind control, and the influence of panic, among other things.
Some Qualities (like Robot) provide bonuses to one or more Attributes. These modifiers are applied after Attributes have been purchased normally. For example, if you spend five points on Dexterity, and your character has a Quality that adds a +1 to Dexterity, Dexterity 6 is the final result.
Life Points represent your character’s physical health. The Strength and Constitution of the character are the determinant factors; a big muscle-bound athlete can survive more punishment than a pencil-necked, cold-catching nerd. Life Points determine the amount of physical damage the character can take before being unable to function.
Life Points are determined by adding the character’s Strength and Constitution, multiplying the result by four, and adding 10 - or you can skip the math and just consult the Life Point Table below. This formula is for human beings (and human-like beings, such as vampires). Some creatures have different Life Point totals (many demons are much tougher than normal humans, for example). The typical human range is 18 to 58.
The Hard to Kill Quality is a good way to increase Life Points. Players should figure out Life Points at the end of character creation after all Attributes have been figured out normally.
|Con / Str||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10|
Qualities are innate characteristics that give the character an advantage or positive trait. Being an Athlete is a Quality - Athletes are stronger, faster, and tougher than normal. They have bad things going for them, too (nerds hate them), but the ability to get dates with cheerleaders tends to outweigh the bad stuff. Qualities cost Quality points to acquire.
Some Qualities are package deals - your character buys one Quality but gets a number of benefits, or some benefits and some downsides. Athlete, Brainiac, and Vampire are all examples of these package Qualities. In general, your character is limited in the number of these types of Qualities they can take. Now, if you want to play a Brainiac-Occult Investigator or Brainiac-Werewolf, talk it over with your gamemaster. You might be able to pull that off. GMs, watch this carefully. Athlete-Brainiacs, Werewolf-Vampires, or Robot-Demons are highly suspect. Even so, we don’t recommend laughing in anyone’s face (that would be rude).
Drawbacks are characteristics that somehow limit or detract from the character - bad eyesight, emotional problems, or being oh-my-god-it’s-hideous ugly, for example. Drawbacks have values. When Drawbacks are acquired, the character gains extra points that can be used to buy Qualities or skills. Think of the extra points as a little reward for making the character a bit more three-dimensional and entertaining than some plain vanilla, “nothing wrong with me” bloke.
Most characters are limited to 10 points in Drawbacks. That does not mean players have to get 10 points' worth of Drawbacks; most will probably end up with less than that.
To sum up, Qualities are innate characteristics that give the character an advantage or positive trait. Drawbacks are characteristics that somehow limit or detract from the character. Both Qualities and Drawbacks help round out the character, and can be helpful both to roleplay and to “succeed” in the course of a game. Qualities are desirable traits, and therefore they “cost” character points. Drawbacks, on the other hand, are limiting factors, and as a “reward” for acquiring them, the character gains extra points. Points acquired from Drawbacks can be used in any point category such as Attributes, Qualities, Skills and Metaphysics.
For point categories other than Attributes, Drawback points may be added on a one-for-one basis. Purchasing Attribute points using Drawbacks is much more expensive. The cost to raise an Attribute one level is equal to the value of that level. For example, raising an Attribute from 3 to 4 costs 4 Drawback points, from level 4 to 5 costs 5 Drawback points, and so on. Further, the costs are cumulative. Raising one Attribute from 3 to 5 costs 9 Drawback points.
After creating the character, some (use common sense) Qualities and Drawbacks may be acquired or lost in the course of a game. For example, a scarring wound could reduce the character's Attractiveness, or a change in fortune might increase or decrease the character's Resources or Social Level. When such a change is brought about during play, no experience points are needed to purchase them. If players want to purposefully change a Quality or Drawback, they must spend experience points and come up with a good reason for the change. This intentional change is somewhat restricted, though you'd be surprised what you can change with enough money and experience…
The Quality and Drawback list presented here is far from exhaustive, although it covers most of the basics. In many cases, a “new” Quality or Drawback can be an extension or variation of an existing one. The value of the characteristic should be balanced out by the benefits or penalties it gives the character. Most Qualities or Drawbacks should be worth between one and three points; only the most powerful or crippling of them should have a value of four or higher, unless they are “combo” Qualities like Chosen One or Commando. These “combos” often include Attribute bonuses; each Attribute bonus costs one character point, with the maximum bonus being +5 to any one Attribute.
Some Qualities and Drawbacks are expressed in numerical ways: the most common examples include Attractiveness, Charisma and Resources. These are similar to Attributes, since these Qualities and Drawbacks change the character in positive or negative ways. As a result, they are represented as bonuses or penalties. For example, a Charisma Quality of +2 represents a bonus of 2 levels on any Task or Test that involves influencing or manipulating people through social skills, while a Resources Drawback of -2 indicates very low income and few possessions, well below the national average.
Bringing a trait below the average gives the character extra points to put into other character elements. These traits have an average value of 0; so if a player does not want to deal with any numerical Quality, simply assume that it has a base value of 0.
Some people have the eyes of a hawk, or the ears of a bat — kind of yucky when you think about it. Others are near-sighted, hard of hearing or otherwise impaired. Characters with this Quality have one sense that is more (or less, if it’s a Drawback) refined and sensitive than the rest. Normally, the senses are represented by the Perception Attribute. Acute or Impaired Senses indicate one or more are higher or lower than normal for a person with that Perception Attribute. When choosing this Quality, pick Vision, Hearing, Smell/Taste, or Touch. When bought as a Quality, an Acute Sense provides a +3 bonus to any Perception-related roll that relies on that particular sense. If acquired as a Drawback, Impaired Sense give a similar -3 penalty to Perception-related rolls.
Some Impaired Senses (hearing and sight in particular) can be easily corrected by glasses, hearing aids, and similar devices (though no doubt some insensitive asshats will give you a hard time about it). If the impairment is eliminated by the use of such devices, the value of the Drawback is reduced to one character point. As long as your character’s glasses or hearing aid or whatever is on, he is fine. If, say, a monster knocks the glasses off, he won’t be able to see very well (characters who get into scuffles often should probably wear contacts or those spiffy new sport glasses-straps). It is possible to have more than one type of Acute or Impaired Sense, or, for example, to have Acute Hearing and Impaired Eyesight, or a similar combination of senses. For obvious reasons, you cannot select both the Impaired and Acute versions of the same sense (duh).
A character with Adrenaline Surge is capable of working himself into a frenzy, flooding his system with adrenaline and endorphins. This gives the character a brief burst of inhuman strength and completely blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. An Adrenaline Surge lasts 10 Turns, during which time Strength and Willpower for all purposes are increased to six. While a character is operating under the influence of an Adrenaline Surge, ignore all penalties imposed by damage, including those in Consciousness Tests. If the character is damaged severely enough, Survival Tests still apply with normal penalties or modifiers. Once the surge wears off, immediately apply the effects of any damage taken by the character while boosted, plus an additional 5 Life Points. Taking this advantage allows a character only a single Adrenaline Surge per adventure, but it may be bought more than once. For example, taking this as a four-point Quality allows two uses per adventure, etc.
Note that while this may be considered a supernatural or genetic power, there are examples of ordinary human beings who pushed themselves beyond normal limits of endurance and strength through their rage, such as the Viking berserkers, or through their focus and practice, such as Shaolin monks and other martial artists.
Ambidextrous Cast Members can use either hand with equal proficiency. This gives them a natural advantage in combat situations. An ambidextrous Cast Member gains one extra combat action at no penalty each Turn if fighting with a weapon in each hand. This applies to close-combat weapons (swords, knives, baton) and ranged weapons (pistols, SMGs), unless such weapons are designed to be used with two hands (assault rifles, shotguns). The extra action can be used for defense if the character is armed with a melee weapon in one hand.
This Quality or Drawback determines the character’s looks (or lack thereof). The average person has an Attractiveness of zero. Attractiveness typically ranges from -5 to +5 in humans. A +1 or +2 make the person stand out in a crowd. At +3 or +4, we are talking model good looks. At +5, the pulchritude borders on the heartstopping. On the flip side, at -1 or -2, the person has homely features, unsightly blemishes, or scars. At -3 or -4, the character is downright repulsive. At -5, break out the paper bag — looking at the character is almost painful.
A positive Attractiveness helps when dealing with people of the right sex or sexual persuasion. If you’re “looking good” enough, a few come-hither glances may help you get backstage at a rock concert, avoid traffic tickets, get your flat tire changed, and so on. Add your character’s Attractiveness bonus to any activity (usually Influence skill rolls) where persuading people is a factor. Negative Attractiveness works the opposite way, except when the purpose is to intimidate someone; people are more scared of an ugly mug than a pretty face.
Attractiveness costs one point per level if bought as a Quality, or adds one point per level if acquired as a Drawback. After character creation, Attractiveness can change only by events that modify the character’s entire appearance, either through scarring or plastic surgery, or growing up in the right places (“Look, I've got breasts now!”).
Characters with this Quality are extremely tough, and can withstand an amazing amount of damage before going down. Even after they are severely wounded, medical attention has a good chance of reviving them, scarred but alive. This Quality is bought in levels. Level five is the highest possible for human beings; some supernatural beings can have more levels. Each level of Hard to Kill adds three Life Points to your character’s Pool. Additionally, each level provides a +1 bonus to Survival Tests. If you have any Quality points left over, you should invest them here. Your character will thank you.
A character with a high metabolism burns fuel at a much faster rate than most people. He is always restless and usually a little hyperactive, and never gains weight regardless of how much he eats. This excess energy gives them a +1 bonus on any roll that involves the character’s reflexes or reactions (including initiative rolls if used). However, he must eat a full meal every three hours or suffer a -1 penalty on any roll that involves Willpower for every three hours he goes without eating. Because of the speed of his metabolism, drugs affect him twice as fast and wear off twice as quickly. This could be a help or a hindrance depending upon the circumstances.
Conversely, people with slow metabolisms use fuel extremely efficiently. They need very little food to sustain them and generally have a high endurance, but must constantly fight against becoming overweight. They need only one decent meal a day and gain an extra six points to their Endurance pool. Drugs take twice as long as usual to take effect, but last twice as long.
Your character is tougher than normal, able to take a punch without flinching. He has four points of Armor Value against blunt attacks, such as fists, baseball bats, dropping pianos, and the like. Bullets and slashing attacks are unaffected by this armor, however. This Quality is common among professional boxers, bouncers, and Jackie Chan types.
This character is almost impossible to scare. Whether too dumb or too tough is open to question, but he remains unruffled even in the face of unspeakable horrors. This is key in keeping dry cleaning bills down. He is immune to fear except when confronting the strangest supernatural manifestations, and gains a +4 bonus to rolls even then.
Some misfortune has affected your hero’s body, whether from birth or by accident. He may suffer from limb loss, spinal column damage, or any number of impairments. Some possibilities are discussed below. Check out the Tool Man Quality (below) for some cool things you can do with your handicap.
Blind: The character cannot see. Blind people live relatively normal lives but Tests or Tasks that require visual capacity (like those that come up often on adventures) are impossible. If some other sense is involved or may be substitution (usually touch), the character may roll Perception and Notice (with a bonus for any Acute Senses). If successful, he may attempt the activity but any roll suffers at least a –5 penalty. This is an eight-point Drawback.
Missing or Crippled Arm/Hand: The hand in question cannot be used to grab or hold objects. Any task requiring two hands is at a disadvantage (–3 or worse) or simply impossible to perform. This is a two point Drawback. A character with a prosthetic hand can overcome some of these problems, reducing the Drawback to one point in value.
Missing or Crippled Leg/Foot: Your character is unable to walk or run normally. With the help of crutches or a cane, he can move at up to one-third normal speed (see p. 47). Hand-to-hand combat rolls are at a –2 penalty. This is a three-point Drawback. Modern prosthetics can reduce the penalties, increasing speed to up to half-normal, and reducing combat penalties to –1. This reduces the Drawback value to two points.
Missing or Crippled Arms: Both arms are missing or crippled. Your character cannot use any tools normally. Some people with this handicap have learned to use their feet with great skill to compensate for their loss. This is a four-point Drawback.
Missing or Crippled Legs: Your character is unable to walk. Without the help of a wheelchair, the best he can do is crawl or roll on the ground. This is a four-point Drawback.
QUADRIPLEGIC: Paralyzed from the neck down, almost all physical activities are impossible. A special wheelchair, operated with the neck or mouth, can help your character move around (if the unfortunate has access to such instruments). Someone needs to take care of her basic needs, from feeding to changing. This highly debilitating trait is an 8-point Drawback.
(Maximum level: Constitution or Willpower)
Some people are just innately better at ignoring the bad things life (or the unliving) throws at them. This ability allows your character to fend off the effects of a particular type of harm. Each different type of Resistance Quality must be purchased separately. We’ve given some examples, but feel free to devise others. Maximum level of this Quality is equal to the appropriate attribute (typically Constitution or Willpower) or 4.
POISON: Your character has a cast-iron stomach; add the level of this Resistance to any Constitution rolls to resist the effects of poison and bad or 'off' foodstuffs. Maximum level is equal to 4 or Constitution, whichever is higher.
DEMONIC POWERS: For some reason, your character is able to resist the supernatural abilities of some types of demons. He adds his Resistance level to any rolls against being controlled or dominated through supernatural means. This includes the hypnotic powers some demons and vampires have. Maximum level is equal to 4 or Willpower, whichever is higher.
PAIN: Each level of this Quality reduces the penalties associated with severe wounds, and adds to Willpower and Constitution rolls to stay conscious when severely injured. Maximum level is equal to 4 or Constitution, whichever is higher.
DISEASE: Your character's immune system is better than most; Quality level is added to Constitution when resisting Contagion Strength. Maximum level is equal to 4 or Constitution, whichever is higher.
FATIGUE: Your character tires out less easily than usual; any Endurance Point loss is decreased by its level (to a minimum of 1 per time period involved).
You know the drill. Or the chainsaw, or the weed whacker. Yeah, the one on the end of your stump, buddy. Take that handicap and turn it into an asset. A character with this Quality must first take a Physical Disability Drawback. Both could be purchased during character creation. Alternatively, the Drawback could be imposed on your character during play (those nasty GMs). If that’s the case, you need to spend experience points to gain this Quality, and you must also find someone to install your new Go-Go Gadget arm, leg, or whatsit. That takes a Mr. Fix-It roll with at least three Success Levels, not to mention some quality time with your stump.
Once you’ve got the Quality, you can add “attachments” to your refurbished phantom limb. Electrical attachments aren’t much use unless they’re rechargeable, and even then, finding some place to plug your stump in might be difficult, especially in medieval England or post-apocalyptic London. Useful attachments include gauntlets, chainsaws, and power drills, but all sorts of other weapons can be strapped on. Knives, swords, axes, and so on are treated just like the normal varieties, except they can never be dropped. Because they literally become part of their anatomy, characters with normal weapons (not power tools) attached add +1 to their attack rolls when wielding them.
Some people are innately susceptible to the bad things in life. Each type of Vulnerability must be purchased separately. Those vulnerable to certain stimuli may have a “weak stomach” (Poisons), particularly susceptible to catching colds (Disease), or are easily exhausted (Fatigue), for instance. The Vulnerable Drawback is the opposite of the Resistance Quality - -1 per level on any Tests or Tasks related to the Vulnerable Drawback.
Don’t do drugs, kids. You’ve all seen the after-school specials and know the score about addiction. Still, a big component of a good story is tragedy, and addiction is that in spades. If you want to go there, an addicted character’s gotta have something (drugs, liquor, smokes) and he’s gotta have it bad. Some addictions are peculiar and world-specific - for example, magicians in the Buffyverse can become addicted to magic, with negative effects that can rival drugs. For situations like this, compare the overall effects when attempting to assess a Drawback level.
|Addiction Point Value Table||Drawback|
|Habitual drinking or smoking:||1 point|
|Heavy drinking or smoking; light use of marijuana or LSD:||2 points|
|Heavy use of marijuana or LSD:||3 points|
|Alcoholism; habitual use of barbiturates or cocaine:||4 points|
|Habitual use of heroin; heavy use of barbiturates or cocaine:||5 points|
|Heavy use of heroin:||6 points|
For all addictions, the value of this Drawback is determined by the severity of the addiction and the relative effects of the drug or substance. Since this isn't the Drug Awareness Week Roleplaying Game (and we don't really care too much), we won’t cover all the gory details. However, gamemasters are free to adjudicate the game effects of a “high” on a character. This can range from a small penalty for being slightly “buzzed” to the complete stupor of a heroin trip. A rough guide would be a penalty equal to the Addiction Point Value of the Drawback (heavy use of marijuana imposes a -3 penalty to all rolls). A drug addict character is often unable to control herself.
The Addiction Point Value Table gives guidelines for the value of a given type of addiction. Directors should modify these values as desired. Note that the point value can vary depending on how deeply the addiction has taken hold.
When an addicted character hasn’t gotten his usual “fix”, he suffers from debilitating withdrawal symptoms. Most mental actions are at a penalty equal to the value of the Drawback (so, a character with a 2-point Addiction suffers a -2 penalty to most mental actions) until the addict can get what he needs. The most severe drugs (like heroin) also produce strong physical effects; such addicts have a withdrawal penalty of -3 to all physical actions in addition to the penalty on mental actions. Unlike some Drawbacks, this problem cannot be overcome easily. Generally, the best a character can hope to do is to deny their craving “one day at a time.”
Getting rid of this Drawback should never be a matter of saving up enough points to “buy it off.” Resisting the craving requires a series of daily Willpower (doubled) rolls. The first few rolls suffer no penalty. After a number of days equal to the character’s Willpower have passed, add a penalty equal to the value of the Drawback. If the character blows any of the rolls, he’ll do whatever it takes to get his fix. If no fix is available, he goes through the withdrawal penalties. And so on. Once ten straight days of successful Willpower rolls have passed, the character may lower the Addiction Point Value by one. And it starts all over again. Not a fun situation to be in, but if the struggle to overcome the addiction is roleplayed well, it should earn the character some Drama Points.
The character has lost part or all of his memory. As a two-point Drawback, he still remembers who he is, but a good portion, perhaps several years’ worth, of his memories are missing. They may have been lost during an alien abduction, severe head trauma, brainwashing, hypnotism, or as a result of long-term drug-testing programs conducted by MKULTRA. The character just does not remember. What happened during the forgotten time period is up to the GM, who may impose new Qualities and Drawbacks later as they start to discover the lost memories.
The six-point version is more serious. The individual does not remember anything about his past, including his name. He may wish to take a form of the Official Identity Quality, having his old identity erased from official records as well as from his memory. The old identity may exist somewhere and he runs the risk of being recognized at some time or place, but worst of all, the character has no idea what he can or cannot do. The GM generates the character’s skills, background, and contacts - everything. This places the character in the unique and possibly dangerous position of having every action, reaction, encounter, and conversation become a learning process.
Some people have a natural gift for producing astounding works of art, even if they lack formal training. Geniuses like Mozart and Picasso had the ability to create true art seemingly without effort. A character with this Quality has the talent to become a famous artist. Artistic Talent affects only one form of artistic expression, such as Painting/Drawing, Sculpture, Singing, etc. It is possible to buy this Quality multiple times; each additional purchase grants the bonuses to an additional type of Art. Further, Essence bonuses (see below) are cumulative.
Whenever a work of art is created, the character receives a +3 bonus to all related Task attempts. Additionally, even if the Task is failed, a minimum of one Success Level is always acquired – even a failure by the truly talented still has artistic merit.
In most settings, true artists have very strong souls. A character with Artistic Talent adds 12 Essence Points to his pool, to represent the power of his spirit. In some worlds, this also makes artists more likely to be targeted by entities that feed on Essence, which may explain the often tortured existences of true artists.
Whether from personal experience, observation, or logical deduction, the character sees the paranormal's influence in almost everything - the recent power outages, his partner’s guessing the right winning team, etc. He isn't gullible, just really anxious to see the unusual in every situation. The Cast Member must pass a Difficult Willpower Test to avoid assuming a paranormal explanation for any situation which is currently unexplainable, and takes a penalty equal to the severity of the Drawback to any roll that would involve searching for a mundane solution to a problem they believe has a supernatural origin.
A strange thing about the military - they like their guns. The Bullseye Quality is for folks that REALLY like their guns. Don’t thank us: If you need such a big gun, you’ve got some serious issues, and it’s the least we can do for you.
You know those movies where the guy spends like fifteen minutes aiming and arguing with his boss—“I have the shot, sir!”—before actually doing anything? Well, if you want your character to be that guy, Bullseye is the Quality for you. Bullseye basically allows your character to use the Aiming maneuver on two consecutive Turns. The first Turn he does nothing but aim—make a Perception and Gun Fu roll and note the Success Levels. The second Turn, repeat this roll, again noting the Success Levels. If desired, the character may make a normal Gunshot maneuver at the end of the second Turn. The combined Success Levels of the two sniping rolls are added to the shot. Spiffy, huh?
But wait, there’s more! The sniper can keep up the aiming; just continue to make a roll every Turn until he actually takes the shot, noting the results of each roll. The trick is that he only gets to add the Successes of the last two rolls, regardless of how long he takes — targets keep moving around, focus wanes, twitchy trigger fingers get twitchy, etc. Bullseye has other restrictions. It can only be performed with a two handed weapon (a rifle or a smaller weapon with a stock). In addition, using Bullseye requires concentration and stability. If attacked or otherwise seriously distracted while in the middle of an Aiming manuever, previous Aiming Success Levels are lost.
Bullseye usually applies to rifles, but with your GM's permission, it could be used with ranged, non-firearm weapons (in which case Gun Fu should be replaced with Getting Medieval when Aiming).
This trait represents the personal magnetism and leadership qualities of the person, ranging from -5 to +5. A character with a Charisma in the negative range is instinctively disliked by most people he meets. People are naturally inclined to antagonize or avoid him. Charisma can be added to any Task where the character is trying to influence other people. Negative Charisma, of course, reduces the chance that any attempt to influence people will work.
Wise guy, eh? The Clown refuses to take things seriously and is always coming up with jokes and wisecracks, even at the most inappropriate moments.
Perhaps your character is deeply insecure and tries to gain other people’s acceptance through humor, or he simply delights in keeping folks off-balance with her comments. The biggest problem these characters have is that they cannot keep their mouths shut even when they know a joke will only work against them. Clowns are generally accepted and liked during situations where their quirky humor is not out of place (parties and other social gatherings, or among friends). Their sense of humor gets them in trouble during tense and dangerous situations. Another problem the Clown faces is people often do not take him seriously even when they should.
Everybody wants stuff. A Covetous character wants stuff really badly, and will do almost anything to get it. He may be motivated by love of money, lust for sensual satisfaction, hunger for power, or the search for glory. Whatever he desires, he will do almost anything to get it, limited only by any sense of caution or morality he may have—and in some cases, not even by that. A Covetous character usually refrains from breaking her own moral code or the laws of the land in the pursuit of her goals, but if a golden opportunity presents itself, the temptation may just be too great.
There are four types of covetousness: Greed (money and wealth), Lechery (sexual relations), Ambition (power and influence), and Conspicuousness (fame and renown). It is possible to covet two or more of those things, but each additional source of desire adds but a single point to the value of this Drawback. The Covetous Drawback has three levels of severity, worth one, two and three points respectively.
MILD: The first level is relatively mild. Your character knows what he wants and he spends a great deal of time and effort to attain her goals, but he won’t break her own rules or those of society to do so. This is a 1-point Drawback.
SERIOUS: The second level is stronger — presented with enough temptation, your character may act even if it goes against her better judgment or morality. He may resist if the action he contemplates is truly wrong and reprehensible — stealing credit for a heroic deed performed by a friend, for example — but resisting requires a Willpower (doubled) roll, at a penalty of -1 to -3 if the temptation and possible rewards are great. This is a 2-point Drawback.
DESPERATE: The third level is the strongest — a desire so strong that it often overwhelms any scruples your character may have. When presented with temptation, he can only avoid acting by making a Willpower roll, with penalties ranging from -1 to -5 depending on the size of the prize. For a high enough reward, your character will turn on friends or loved ones, and even betray her principles. This is a 3-point Drawback.
A Cowardly character is easily scared and intimidated. Furthermore, he is very reluctant to take any risks; putting his neck on the line always strikes him as incredibly foolhardy. Note that this does not mean that a Cowardly character will not fight if necessary. Such a character usually tries to stack the odds in his favor, however, before resorting to violence. He would have no compunction (except as determined by other Drawbacks) against attacking others if circumstances minimized the danger. A coward can hide his Drawback from others very easily, as long as he is not involved in a situation that is clearly dangerous. Only then may his limitations become apparent.
This Drawback has three levels of intensity, worth 1, 2 and 3 points respectively. The level of the Drawback acts as a modifier to any Willpower Test or Task to resist fear, intimidation or bullying. For example, a character with a 2-point Cowardly Drawback incurs a -2 penalty to any Fear Test.
Level 1: At the first level, the character avoids taking unnecessary risks, but fights when cornered (or when he thinks he has the upper hand). Simple Willpower Tests are necessary to avoid fleeing or surrendering when confronted by what the character considers to be superior foes. The same goes for taking even small chances, like confronting the boss, asking for a raise, complaining about some problem, or the like.
Level 2: The second level of this drawback is stronger. The character needs to pass a Simple Willpower Test to fight back even when he thinks the odds are in his favor, and needs to pass a Difficult Willpower Test to avoid fleeing dangerous situations, or taking chances.
Level 3: The last level is the worst, requiring Difficult Willpower Tests to get involved in confrontations or risky situations even when the character has a good chance of succeeding. Truly dangerous or heroic acts are simply impossible; the character never knowingly or willingly endangers himself, and may actually even betray his friends if he thinks he will save himself in the process.
The skills used in Char Loft RPG cover most actions. But occasionally, there are situations where this doesn't quite match up. For example, Occultism is typically used to identify demons, and your average scientist knows little to nothing of the black arts. How does the modern man of science learn to comprehend That Which Man Was Not Meant To Know?
The answer is, they have a Cross-Discipline. This is a specialty that allows the character to use a skill to perform an action not usually associated with that skill. A Cross-Discipline skill usually has slightly different effects than the normal skill. For example, a Subterrestrial Specialist can acquire hard physical data about a demon using the Science skill, but won't get any of the historical legends or details that they might learn through Occultism. A few examples are given below, and the GM may add more as they see fit. Like Wild Card skills, Cross-Disciplines need to make sense as opposed to being an excuse to load every action onto a single super-amped skill – and no, you're not going to get away with 'I want to use Getting Medieval to shoot guns because of my primal gun instincts', so don't ask.
Your character is convinced that all paranormal phenomena - psychic powers, 'magic', and so forth - have a unified source, a form of physics that science is only beginning to understand. He may not know diddly about the history of magic, but he is beginning to learn how to channel and control supernatural forces. As a result, the character may use Science skill instead of Occultism skill for purposes of casting spells.
While your character is not exactly a Watcher, they know a lot about demons. They've read all the reports and done their dissection labs in Demonology 301. Ever performed an autopsy on a K'sharrak demon? It's nowhere near as fun as it sounds. This really disgusting pastime allows the character to use the Science skill instead of Occultism when trying to gather information on demons, vampires, and other 'unnatural' things.
Building complicated scientific wonders is hard. Your character has to understand complicated things like electronic chaos theory, nanomolecular chemistry, and nuclear physics to build the simplest of cyberdemons… unless he happens to be a Garage Gadgeteer. These do-it-yourself wunderkinds can build complicated contraptions using only their abilities with a wrench, and while science may be able to build it faster and better, Garage Gadgeteers are more likely to turn a junkyard into a functioning spacecraft – and with a much lower budget. This allows the character to use the Mr. Fix-It skill instead of Science when trying to develop Superscience inventions.
Cruel people enjoy making other people suffer. The truly evil derive satisfaction from anybody’s pain. Some people are perfectly normal and nice most of the time, but when angered or given offense, make their enemies pay – and love doing it.
This Drawback has two levels or degrees of intensity. The second level is best restricted to villains, as it indicates a serious mental problem that may make most characters unsuitable for the typical campaign. As always, the Game Master has the final say.
Level 1: This character would never hurt a friend or a loved one. Enemies, especially those who have really angered him, are a different matter. He enjoys inflicting pain (mental or physical) on those he feels “deserve what they get.” Characters with this level of cruelty are capable of committing atrocities under the right circumstances, but will not go out of their way to find opportunities. This is a 1-point Drawback.
Level 2: This person is a true sadist, and never passes up the chance to inflict pain on others. Even friends and loved ones are not safe from him. When it comes to enemies or those who get in his way, he enjoys nothing so much as their utter destruction or humiliation. When no enemies are available, he uses his “talents” on those around her. This is a 3-point Drawback; people with this Drawback will rarely keep any friendships, and will quickly gain enemies.
Delusions are beliefs that have no basis in reality. The character refuses to abandon such beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, or at best comes up with rationalizations to explain away any contradictions. Some examples are given below.
Prejudice: The belief that a group of people (racial, ethnic or national) has certain characteristics (positive or negative). While everyone has some prejudices in some way or another, a delusional person staunchly holds to these beliefs. In some cases, the person refuses to trust or befriend any member of such a group, regardless of the merits of the individual person. Such a Delusion is worth 1 to 3 points, depending on how intense the belief is, how large a group it applies to, and how it dominates the character’s life. At the 1-point level, the character could be an “Archie Bunker”-type bigot; at 3 points, he would be a rabid white supremacist.
Delusions of Grandeur: This person thinks he is somebody far greater and more powerful than she really is. In extreme cases, the character thinks that he is a historical or mythological figure like Napoleon or Sherlock Holmes. The more common type has an exaggerated sense of overconfidence: “I am a genius, but nobody understands me – which is why the best job I’ve held is cashier at a 7-11” (1 point); “I am the Messiah; prepare for the Second Coming!” (3 points).
Phobia: A Phobia (however defined) counts as a Delusion, worth -1 to -3 points depending on the severity. So, claustrophobia would be worth -1 if the character is uncomfortable in enclosed spaces and -3 if the character is unable to enter an elevator without suffering an anxiety attack.
Weird Delusions: Any strange belief that flies in the face of reality. Some examples: “Aliens talk to me through my wristwatch,” “I have to wear this tin foil cap so the laser satellites don’t make me kill again,” “Dogs are the Spawn of Satan, and must be destroyed.” The value depends more on what the character does about the Delusion than about the Delusion itself. For example, if the character in the last example simply refuses to pet dogs, and avoids being next to a dog, a 1-point Delusion would be sufficient. If he tells people about his beliefs all the time, and keeps pestering any dog-owning friends and neighbors about the dangers of keeping such monsters around, a 2-point Delusion would be appropriate. If he carries his insanity to its “logical” conclusion and starts hurting or killing dogs, the Delusion is worth 3 points and he is likely to get in trouble with the law in short order.
Your character has an uncanny ability to remember certain impressions, events, or visions. After focusing for a few moments on some subject, he can recall this sight with startling accuracy. A person with the one-point version of this Quality can “freeze” an image in his mind (a static image like a page or a stop-action scene from the movie that is “life”) and recall it with precision at a later time. This is the limit of his capacity though; once three images are “recorded,” a new one requires the displacement of an old one (character's choice). We recommend that you write down the circumstances of your character's mental “snapshot” so your GM has a good reference when you ask that detailed question several sessions later. Otherwise, he should fill in any details you can't remember whenever it is necessary. Your GM may also require an Intelligence (doubled) or skill (say, Art for drawing) roll to accurately reproduce the memory in a form that others can recognize or use as a basis for research. The number of Success Levels in this roll gives some indication as to the accuracy of the reproduction.
Photographic Memory: By spending two points, the character gains a much deeper retention of his experiences. After reading a book, he can quote passages without missing a word. After viewing a scene, he can reenact it moment by moment. And he almost never forgets anything. As with Eidetic Memory, your gamemaster will fill in the details but the scope and “memory storage” is essentially unlimited. Your character receives a +1 bonus to any skill roll where memorizing facts is useful, such as Knowledge and Science. Finally, any rolls where memory plays a significant part gain a +1 to +3 bonus, at your gamemaster's discretion. A battle of wits (or at least memory) against this gent is as smart as getting into a land war in Asia (and much more risky than going up against a Sicilian with money on the line).
Those with Emotional Problems react in unreasonable ways to certain situations and problems. The reaction can be anger, pain, or anguish, typically more extreme than normal. These emotional problems can be triggered by ordinary events in normal life, events that may bring distress to most people but prompt a very strong reaction from a disturbed character. Some emotional problems are discussed below.
A common theme in fiction involves characters who manage to overcome their flaws in the course of the plot. Emotional Problems can be overcome by characters during play, but this process should always be roleplayed. If the player was able to convey the inner struggle of his character over the course of several sessions, the GM might even allow him to eliminate the Drawback without having to “pay” Experience Points for the privilege.
ANGER: This person has trouble managing his rage. He is prone to fly off the handle in relatively minor circumstances, and when truly aroused, he often reacts violently. This is a 2-point Drawback.
DEPRESSION: Your character’s emotional problems make the very act of living a chore. Common symptoms include sleep problems (either oversleeping or insomnia), severe procrastination (to the point that the sufferer may lose her job or get kicked out of school), and a lack of interest in anything. A character with Depression suffers a -1 to most Tasks, and tends to avoid becoming involved. This is a 2-point Drawback. A severe shock may snap someone out of this state for a while (a life threatening crisis could do it), but the character will sink back into inactivity afterwards. Certain drugs and psychiatric treatment can reduce the effect of this problem (which also reduces its value to one point).
EMOTIONAL DEPENDENCY: These clingy types are overly dependent on others. Once they make a friend, they want to hang around her all the time. When involved in a relationship, they are excessively needy. This behavior tends to freak friends and relations. This is a 1-point Drawback.
FEAR OF COMMITMENT: Whenever your character starts feeling too close to somebody, he becomes afraid and pulls back. Maybe he is afraid that if he lets somebody get too close, they will hurt her, and it’s … just … not … worth the pain. Or perhaps he fears that if he reveals too much about herself, the other person will see the “real her” and be appalled or disgusted. This makes it very difficult to have a healthy relationship with either friends or lovers. This problem is a 1-point Drawback.
FEAR OF REJECTION: When this person experiences rejection (or thinks he has been rejected), he feels hurt and angry. People with this problem may be afraid to make friends or approach those they are attracted to, and if their fears come true, they harbor a great deal of resentment and anger. This is a 1-point Drawback.
INSECURITY: Are we talking shy or what? It’s that kind of insecurity that can paralyze a person and cause them to mumble. An insecure person might hesitate before acting (-2 to Fear Tests) or suffer penalties when interacting with others. This is a 1-point Drawback.
LONER: This character has little need for friends or companions … or others in general. Whether motivated by fear of getting hurt or sheer disgust with those around her, he is highly unpleasant to be around and will not accept aid of any kind. This is a 1-point Drawback.
Most people freeze when something bad is about to happen (like … I don’t know … when a large reptile lunges out of the dark at you). Not someone with this Quality — the lucky one rolls away and punches ol’ scaly as soon as it bares its teeth at her. In combat, contact sports or other physical confrontations, characters with this Quality gain a bonus for Initiative purposes (+5 if using dice to 'roll for initiative', see p. 50), modified by common sense (Fast Reaction Time cannot help the target of a sniper half a mile away, for example).
Because they are fairly immune to the “freeze” factor so common in dangerous situations, Fast Reaction folks also gain a bonus of +1 on Willpower Tests to resist fear.
The character is haunted by vivid flashbacks of some horrific event in his past. They occur suddenly, often triggered by a particular sight, smell, or sound, and completely overwhelm the character. Luckily, the flashbacks seldom last more than a few moments. The player should consult with the GM, defining the event from the past and the stimuli likely to trigger the flashback. When these stimuli are encountered, the agent must make a Fear Test or suffer the effects from the Fear Table as if he had encountered the original incident. The more common the trigger, the higher the value of the Drawback. Fear Test should be modified using double the Drawback value as a penalty (e.g., a two-point Drawback imposes a –4 penalty to Fear Tests). Characters with this Drawback often have the Sleep Disorders (Recurring Nightmares) Drawback.
Your character follows a code of behavior, and will not break it lightly, if at all. The more restrictive and rigid the code is, the higher its value. Honor Girl should almost never break the code’s rules, no matter what the cause. In a life-or-death situation where honor must be ignored, your character might do so, but even then a Willpower (not doubled) Test is necessary to overcome the psychological barriers reinforcing the code of honor.
MINIMAL: Your character does not lie or betray friends or loved ones, or people he respects. Anybody else, especially people from groups they dislike or are prejudiced against, is fair game. This is a 1-point Drawback.
SERIOUS: This code of honor is more complex, and applies to everyone, friend or foe. Your character always keeps her word and does her best to fulfill any promises he makes. He will not betray the trust of others once he has accepted it. He may be reluctant to give her word except in a good cause (at least a good cause as he sees it), because once it has been given he will abide by it. This is a 2-point Drawback.
RIGID: Your character lives by a strict set of rules that controls most of her actions towards others. In addition to all the other restrictions above, he will refuse to participate in acts of betrayal such as ambushes, striking a helpless or unsuspecting foe, or cheating in any way. Lying is anathema, and he will only do so in cases of extreme need. Even then, he will feel guilty and will not do a very good job at deceiving; any tasks requiring lying will have a -2 to -6 penalty, determined by the Director. This is a 3-point Drawback.
He without the funny, lacking the ability to laugh at life, and taking everything with the utmost seriousness. Other people’s attempts at humor leave him cold or annoyed. Most people find this facet of his personality to be unattractive or bothersome. Clowns and practical jokers most likely select the Humorless as their favorite target.
The character has an uncanny aptitude for languages, from the most mundane European tongues to the strangest dialects of jungle-dwelling tribesmen. A Hyperlingual character may add his level in Hyperlingual to his Languages skill for purposes of determining his skill when translating or understanding any language (even a language he has not yet learned).
This character just does not like to work and is always looking for ways to avoid hard work. This limits how much he can learn or accomplish in life. A Lazy character must roleplay an unwillingness to work, except in situations where the work is extremely important, and even then he will try to shirk his duties or select the easiest task.
More importantly, the character has a hard time learning skills, due to his inability to spend the required time and effort. When determining and improving skills for a Lazy character, the character point cost becomes higher after reaching a certain level. This level is determined by the character’s Attributes. A Lazy but intelligent or dexterous person can learn a great deal with little effort – at least at first.
Skills are purchased normally until their level is equal to the Attribute most commonly associated with them, after which the cost to purchase skills is increased by 50% (at level 1), 100% (at level 2), or 200% (at level 3) due to a lack of interest in pursuing knowledge.
Some rights are accompanied by duties. An Obligation must be followed to various degrees and grants a number of points depending on the strictness of its dictates. Members of secret societies and special agencies (such as many government organizations) often have Obligations to their groups. Failure to fulfill one’s duty can lead to trouble - demotion and/or loss of job, Influence, and Pulling Strings.
MINIMAL: Obeying the basic precepts of the organization or creed and not betraying its members are the major points here. This is worth no points.
IMPORTANT: Your character is expected to routinely risk herself for the organization, and go above the basic precepts of the membership. An Important Obligation is worth one point.
MAJOR: The welfare of the organization is placed above that of your character. He is always on call, and does not have time to pursue a normal job (unless it’s a cover for the real assignment) or much of a personal life. The penalties for disobedience or selfishness are severe, and may include death. This is worth two points.
TOTAL: Your character is expected to die for the organization, if need be. Missions are extremely hazardous, and he is constantly in danger of imprisonment, torture, or execution. This is worth three points. Note that many Qualities already include this level of Obligation in their package - in which case you can't take it twice.
CharLoft staff have this Drawback at varying levels, usually Important. Since there is no real guarantee that they'll stay dead, however, even the less severe versions may routinely be 'expected to die for the organization'!
A particular person or task dominates the character’s life, to the exclusion of most other things. To pursue his Obsession, he will go to almost any lengths (as limited by his morality). He may neglect other duties, both personal and professional, to pursue that which fascinates him. The Obsession may be a person (who may or may not be aware of his feelings, but who almost certainly is upset about their intensity) or a task (like getting revenge on somebody, or performing some important or notorious feat).
“They” are out to get you. Trust no one. Everything is a conspiracy, everyone is keeping secrets. This character never knows when somebody is going to turn against him. A paranoid character expects treachery at every turn, and rarely trusts even his friends and relatives. Note that in the some worlds, where secret organizations have run centuries-old conspiracies, being paranoid is somewhat healthy. However, a character with this Drawback sees conspiracies and danger everywhere, including places where there are none. This makes his stories and beliefs less likely to be believed, even when they are true. Paranoid characters often suffer from Delusions and Emotional Problems (their point values are determined separately).
A Reckless character is supremely overconfident and impulsive, willing to take incredible risks, often without thinking of the consequences. Most of the time, he never looks before he leaps – and gets into all kinds of trouble as a result. A Reckless character prefers to act first and think about it later. He says what’s on his mind with no consideration for diplomacy or courtesy, rushes into dangerous situations, and rarely wastes time on second thoughts. Reckless does not necessarily mean suicidal, however. Acting on impulse no doubt puts the character in jeopardy, but doing something that is clearly lethal is not roleplaying, it’s just stupid.
Schmucks are those goofballs who always screw up those critical moments. Their actions don’t usually destroy the world, but they come close. They certainly make life much more difficult - both for them, their companions, and everyone who comes near them.
Schmucks must make an Intelligence (not doubled) roll whenever tasked with some critical mental task, such as repeating magical phrases, mixing magical potions, or talking their way out of trouble. Failure means the hero flubs in some way that has fairly serious results down the road. Once the die is cast, the player should try to roleplay the tragic error and at least give the rest of the group a chuckle out of it. Your GM might reward good ad libbing with a Drama Point. The hero’ll need it. This Drawback is only worth two points because it’s fairly easy to circumvent. The character can always let someone else recite the magic words or create the potion.
The whole world is the Showoff’s audience, and he loves to perform for it. He never misses a chance to cast the spotlight on himself or his accomplishments, while quickly excusing or covering up his mistakes. A Showoff loves to get public acclaim, or at least the respect of his peers. Most of the time, he simply makes sure people notice him, but on occasion he might try a bit too hard to attract attention to himself and his deeds. This Drawback is slightly more complex than the Covetous: Conspicuous Drawback, and the Showoff is less likely to betray his principles in order to hog the spotlight.
The observant almost always knows what is going on around them, and can react with uncanny quickness to the unexpected. These characters gain a +2 bonus to any Perception-based roll to sense trouble or danger in the immediate surroundings. It is very hard to be stealthy around them; the same bonus applies when they resist any Crime or Acrobatics rolls made to sneak up on them.
The skills in the Char Loft RPG are very broad in scope. Almost any action can be performed by using one of the basic seventeen skills, and if nothing makes sense, there’s always the Wild Card skill. But sometimes you might want to be more specific. A character could be an expert in a specific element of a skill but not others - for example, the criminal lawyer who knows all about the underworld but can’t pick a lock. Other times, technical tasks can be easily attributed to one of the base skills, but a Director might decide they should only be performed by specially trained professionals. For example, defusing a bomb is a Mr. Fix-It task - but not every mechanic ought to be playing with fire! For those who don’t mind some movement away from a broad skill system, we offer this Quality, called Skill Specialty.
Some versions of this Quality can be used in conjunction with certain Wild Card skills discussed later, compounding their benefit. Absent possession of the more specific Wild Card skill, this Quality effectively lowers the normal penalty associated with such use by two. For instance, those without Wild Card (Demolitions) can disarm a bomb using Mr. Fix-It at a hefty penalty (–5). Giving that person a Skill Specialty (Demolitions) but not the matching Wild Card skill decreases that penalty (to –3).
A Skill Specialty has two effects. First, it allows your character to perform a specific type of action, which may or may not be available to most characters (at your GM's discretion). Second, your character receives a +2 bonus to rolls involving that specialty.
Skill Specialties exist for all the Wild Card skills discussed later: Artillery, Demolitions (if your GM is generous, that might also provide a +2 on Getting Medieval grenade tossing rolls), Disguise, Electronic Surveillance, Piloting, Sensors, Surveillance, Tactics, or Wilderness Survival, and may be devised for other Wild Card skills as the GM permits. A few more examples are provided here. Feel free to add new specialties as desired. If you have an idea, speak up! Your GM might buy it.
Conspiracy Freak: A Watcher may be able to tell you all about the mating habits of Ghora demons, but can he explain the Rosicrucian connection between JFK and Elvis? Well, YOU can. You get a bonus when using the Knowledge skill to dig up information on obscure government plots, alien abductions, and much more. The truth is out there!
Pistol Packin’: Your character either spent his childhood watching Westerns, or he has a thing for those John Woo movies with the guys jumping around firing pistols in slow motion. In any case, he gets a +2 to Gun Fu rolls when using handguns. He also gets a +2 on Fast-Draw maneuvers with handguns. Go get ‘em, partner.
Sniper: Your character has a thing for big guns, and frankly, it's a little creepy. He gets a +2 to Gun Fu rolls when using rifles or other two-handed guns. Might want to check out the Bullseye Quality. Some day, Oliver Stone may make a movie based on his life.
Tracker: You’re good at following trails in the wild, and you get to say things like “He passed this way six hours ago, and he was losing a lot of blood.” This is mostly useful in wilderness situations, but hey, see what the GM will let you get away with. You get a +2 to Wild Card (Wilderness Survival) tasks involving spotting, identifying, or following tracks, noticing signs of a struggle, and that sort of thing.
The character’s sleep patterns are abnormal in some way. Below are some suggestions for Sleep Disorders, although GMs and players may wish to devise their own.
Deep Sleeper: The agent falls quickly into REM sleep and is extremely difficult to awaken. Anything short of physical damage has little chance of stopping the character from sleeping a full uninterrupted eight hours. When aroused prematurely, he remains groggy and any roll suffers a –1 penalty until he slept for a full eight hours, after which he will awaken normally without prompting. This is a 2-point Drawback.
Insomnia: The character has trouble getting to sleep at night. He typically suffers from sleepless nights, making him grouchy and distracted. Every night the agent must make a Difficult Willpower Test to get a good night’s sleep. If he does not, he loses 2 Endurance Points, and all actions the following day suffer a –1 penalty. This is cumulative until the agent gets a satisfactory night’s sleep. People going without sleep for extended periods are subject to hallucinations, paranoia, physical cramps, and possible susceptibility to paranormal occurrences. Insomnia is a 3-point Drawback.
Light Sleeper: The opposite of Deep Sleeper, the slightest noise or disturbance wakes the agent, who is instantly alert and aware of his surroundings. This may mean that he has a fitful or unsatisfactory sleep, but it is very difficult to surprise him. GMs may wish to penalize Endurance Points if sleep is constantly interrupted. This is a 2-point Quality.
Recurring Nightmares: This character is plagued by terrifying dreams that relive some traumatic experience, or are just frightening and disturbing. Every night, the GM may check to see if the character suffers from the nightmare. This may be done at the GM's discretion or may be rolled randomly (a roll of one on a D10 means the character experiences a nightmare that night). On any night when the character is afflicted by the nightmare, he loses 2 Endurance Points as the result of his inability to go back to sleep. This is a 1-point Drawback.
The character has some kind of identifying tag that is associated with his adventures. Perhaps he leaves a single dollar bill on the cooling corpses of the criminals he slays or shines a symbolic searchlight from his sanctum sanctorum into the night sky when he is on the trail of a mystery. The identifying tag should be something that is relatively easy to do but that always gives away the character’s relation to the item or action in question. It goes without saying that the character is completely incapable of giving up his signature Trademark, even for the purpose of subterfuge or when it puts him in peril. If the character can give it up at will, it is not a Drawback, now is it?
A zealot is a person whose beliefs (political, religious or personal) are so strong that they dominate his life and behavior. Zealots are willing to sacrifice anything, including their lives (or the lives of others) in service to the ideals they hold dear. These characters are dangerous to themselves and others, and show a total disregard for the law whenever the law conflicts with their beliefs.
As a general rule, social qualities and drawbacks are only useful within the territory they are created to be used in, for the most part - after all, you don't often get recognized as a Rhodes scholar in the middle of the African bush.
The character is well known for their intellectual capacity. He's possibly published some highly regarded papers or developed some theories that are frequently quoted in scientific periodicals. In some cases, the character can simply mention his name (or he may be recognized) to help smooth an investigative or research process - this adds a +2 bonus on certain Research/Investigation rolls. However, this reputation can also expose them if they are attempting to go unrecognized - others get a +2 to recognize them.
As a Drawback, the character is an Academic Outcast. He once tried to pursue a career in traditional academia, but his interest in bizarre lines of research made him a pariah among his peers. It is now impossible for him to gain respect in traditional academic circles. This makes certain research more difficult, adding a -2 penalty for Research/Investigation projects if the academic seeks information or services from others and is recognized. Further, this reputation means that they are easily recognized - others get a +2 to recognize them whether they are asking for help or just trying to be left alone.
At some time in the past, the character has made an enemy, or belongs to a group, race or nation that automatically attracts the enmity of others. An Adversary is more than somebody who dislikes the character, however. He, she or they wish nothing less than the destruction of the target, either by killing or ruining her. The more powerful the Adversary, the higher the value of this Drawback.
In most cases, having an Adversary is only a significant drawback if it actually comes up in play (and can thus be exploited by gamemasters) - bear this in mind when you choose to take this Drawback! If the Adversary is unlikely to appear frequently, it is not worth anything as a Drawback. Individuals are worth 1 to 3 points as Adversaries, depending on their resources and abilities. A normal person would be worth 1 point; a magician, a Green Beret or a multimillionaire would be worth 3 points. An organization may be worth 2 to 5 points, depending on its power. A gang of thugs would be worth 2 points, the police department of a city would be worth 3 to 4 points (depending on its size and competence), and a shadow government would be worth 5 points or more.
The player should have a good reason why her character has earned the enmity of the Adversary. The GM can then weave this enemy into the plot of the story in any way he sees fit.
More powerful Adversaries can be taken at a lower cost if their relative frequency of appearance is lower than normal.
A character may be assigned to assist another organization or agency. In return, the character gains access to additional Pulling Strings beyond those normally provided by their Profession. The Cast Member purchases a Profession as normal, at the usual cost, but then chooses a second Profession as the Ally. The character has access to all the Professional Pulling Strings that Profession would normally provide, in exchange for an Obligation Drawback to that agency (level 1). Any Influence Tasks required to access these additional Pulling Strings may be modified at the GM's discretion, depending upon how accepted the character is within the allied agency's ranks.
The character's presence has a strange affect on animals. As a Drawback, the character spooks all animals nearby. The animals are openly hostile and either run or attack if the Cast Member comes too close. Normally tame house pets and other well-trained animals hiss, snarl or bark, wild animals attack immediately, and herds generally stampede at the sight of him. This can be due to body language, scent, or other reasons. If the GM agrees, the cause could even be Paranormal. This Drawback may provide a penalty to any animal handling, riding, or training Task at the GM's discretion.
The character is accompanied on his adventures by an animal of unusual loyalty and intelligence - for an animal of its type, anyway. The basic cost of this Quality is one point. If the animal companion’s intelligence is completely uncanny - that is, approaching human level - the cost of the Quality increases by one. Furthermore, if the animal companion can fight as well or better than an average human, the cost increases by one; if the animal companion can fight as well or better than the average starting human character, the cost increases by two. For example, an incredibly intelligent, extremely battleworthy animal companion would cost four points.
The character’s presence has a strange affect on animals. This can be due to body language, scent, or other reasons. If the GM agrees, the cause could even be Paranormal. Animal Empathy means that animals never harm or attack the character, even if they have been specifically trained or bred to be hostile (providing he does not harm them). Both wild and domestic animals are calm and quiet in his presence. This Quality may provide a bonus to any animal handling, riding, or training Task at the GM's discretion.
There is a true twin in the character's past, someone who looks exactly like them. In order to qualify for this Quality or Drawback, the “twin” must be involved somehow in the character’s life or career, either for good (Quality) or for ill (Drawback). The twin is not always a relative, but can be someone who physically resembles them; the paranormal or alien science may or may not be responsible.
You know the routine - make a phone call to the right people and you get information, special supplies, some cash, or even the proper make-over regimen. This Quality gives your character those phone numbers. The more helpful the contact is, the higher the Quality’s point value. For any and all Contacts, the Director determines whether or not the Contact is available at any given time. Generally, the more time your character has to reach or get word to her Contact, the more likely the Contact will come through.
A Contact that only provides hints, rumors, or gossip costs one point. If the Contact usually provides reliable information and helps the character out in small ways (offering a ride, letting the character spend the night over, or getting a background check on somebody), this Quality sets you back two points. Actual allies who help the character in any way they can run three to five points, depending on the Contact’s resources.
Note that Contacts are only helpful in your homeworld (although they may provide a bonus to rolls to find comparable sources of information in other worlds.) You can take CharLoft employees as Contacts at normal cost.
Your character has a relative or someone who is close to him — perfect for the villains to terrorize, hold hostage or otherwise use and abuse. A mother, a husband, a little kid sister… If your character has one Dependent, he gets two points. More than one Dependent is worth three points—sorry, five siblings may be a bunch, but they just don’t give you any more points.
In order to be a Drawback, this Dependent must appear in play, and must be a significant target; your daughter, for example, doesn't count if they are reasonably capable of defending themselves without your interference.
The character’s love life is the stuff songs are made of - whether it’s the pop of Britney Spears or the thrash of Marilyn Manson is up to the storyline, of course. A Cast Member with this Drawback starts the game with a relationship or develops one shortly after the campaign begins.
This love may or may not be reciprocated; your character might be in love with someone who barely knows he exists. Whenever the character has to choose between following her heart or her head, he must make a Difficult Willpower Test at a -3 penalty. This Drawback is worth two points.
TRAGIC LOVE: As above, but any romantic relationship the character develops ends badly. This can happen in two possible ways: something bad happens to the character’s beloved, or the character has an unfortunate tendency to fall for the wrong people. Either way, Tragic Love can be a good source of Drama Points - not that this may be much consolation to the character upon finding their latest girlfriend's torso in the fridge - and is a 4-point Drawback.
The character has a rank in the armed forces. The value of Military Rank ranges from –1 to +9 and costs one point per level (positive or negative). Keep in mind that high rank also entails numerous duties that may restrict the character’s actions even more than very low rank. The rank names in the table below are based on the main U.S. services; other nations have different names for equivalent ranks. Ranks for underground guerrilla operations are usually created by the self-appointed leader of the group and are rarely respected outside of it.
|Level||Army||Marine Corps||Air Force||Navy/Coast Guard|
|0||Specialist||Corporal||Senior Airman||Petty Officer 3rd Class|
|1||Sergeant||Sergeant||Sergeant||Petty Officer 2nd Class|
|2||Sergeant||1st Class Gunnery Sergeant||Master Sergeant||Chief Petty Officer|
|6||Lieutenant Colonel||Lieutenant Colonel||Lieutenant Colonel||Commander|
|8||Major General||Major General||Major General||Rear Admiral|
A Minority is considered a second-class citizen because of race, ethnic group, religion or sexual preference. He is disliked by the establishment types. People of the dominant group tend to act negatively towards him; many are automatically suspicious, fearful or annoyed at him for no reason other than what he is. This Drawback has a 1-point value to reflect the relatively enlightened 21st-century America, where people cannot be denied service in a restaurant because of the color of their skin, sexual preferences, etc (in most places, at least).
In other settings, where prejudice has the full weight of the law and tradition behind it, this Drawback might be worth two points (in situations where the Minority is generally considered inferior, incompetent, or otherwise untrusted with 'serious' work but typically protected from outright abuse) or three points (in situations where the Minority is considered inferior and is generally not granted the same protections by law that the rest of society is entitled to.)
While the CharLoft is typically an 'enlightened' establishment, and therefore isn't particularly concerned by most species, a character from a world based on video games, movies, popular television, or otherwise recognizable fictional sources would qualify for the 1-point version of this Drawback; most people are less likely to treat you normally when you whip out the Pokeballs or tell them that your name is Buffy.
Dorks, squibs, freaks, and geeks - all names for the misfits of society. In school or out, they are the losers who seem to have a permanent “Kick Me” sign tattooed on their foreheads. They are to bullies what fire hydrants are to dogs. Misfits don’t interact well socially; they have a -2 penalty to Influence Tasks. They also tend to attract the attention of any cruel or abusive character.
The world is full of conspiracies and secret societies - whether it's the Watcher's Council or the Illuminati, the CIA or the OSI, the Gnomes of Zurich or the Grays, the Men in Black or the Olympians. With this Quality, your character has a connection to one of them. This is sort of like the Contacts Quality, with an important difference - they don't know who they're dealing with. The mysterious allies contact him when THEY feel like it. They may provide him with information and assistance, or they may ask for a favor - and these requests may put him in awkward situations. It may be possible to negotiate with a Mysterious Connection - but if your character pushes it too far, the secretive ally may turn into a powerful Adversary. You can take this Quality more than once; each time represents a connection to a different conspiracy. Your GM will determine the identity of each Mysterious Connection and decide when to bring these 'allies' into play. Again, your character doesn't have a way to contact a Mysterious Connection; it's up to the GM to decide when and if an ally will put in an appearance.
Work with your GM to decide how your character made the connection. If he's a long-time conspiracy freak, he may have made contact as a result of research; otherwise the conspiracy may have sought him out. Is this a recent alliance, or has the character been dealing with these strangers for a long time? Did they pay his way through college or help him score big on the SATs? How does he feel about the Mysterious Connection - does he think they have the best interests of the world at heart? If not, his ties to the organization may be a closely guarded Secret - or the character may be Under Suspicion by association.
It is possible that the true nature of the Mysterious Connection will be revealed over time. Depending on the nature of the organization and how your character handles things, it might become a Contact… or an Adversary. Secrets can be dangerous!
In magic, it’s not who you know that matters, it’s what tomes you have access to. Characters who want to practice the mystic arts should have at least a book or two on the subject - this is not the kind of thing that you can make up as you go along, not if you want to live long (or in a form other than a newt). The larger the library is, the more this Quality costs. Keep in mind that if one Cast Member (or Guest Star) has a big Occult Library, the other characters may benefit from it, but the owner has some control over it (i.e., they are her books, and they may not want to share whenever the other characters want). Sometimes it’s good to have one’s own “stash” of arcane lore.
MINIMAL: Your character has one, count it, one book of magic, and maybe a few scribbled notes his Aunt Agatha left behind. The book has some 11-20 spells (the Director secretly rolls a D10 and adds 10 to the result); each time your character researches a spell successfully, mark it off. Eventually, he knows all the spells in the book, and there are no more. One book is not enough to help her much with research into the identity of monsters or demons, so research rolls are at a -3 penalty (see p. 79). This level costs one point.
GOOD: The character has a modest occult library, with several books on assorted esoteric subjects, maybe even the Time-Life series. This library gives no bonus or penalty to research rolls, and holds as many as 31-40 (D10 + 30) spells all told. Cost is two points.
IMPRESSIVE: A good collection, including some very rare tomes of hidden lore. Rolls to identify monsters are at a +1 bonus, and as many as 60 (D10 + 50) spells can be researched. Cost is three points.
AMAZING: A collection which fills a whole section of a library, qualifies. Monster research rolls are at +2, and pretty much any number of spells can be contained there. A character with such a library should have a minimum Occultism skill of 3, unless he just doesn’t read and just likes to collect books for the pretty pictures of naked demons in them. This costs five points.
This Quality only covers raw material knowledge itself; for truly powerful Witch Fu, you'll need some spooky otherworldly powers to go with it. The CharLoft's 'front area' library would qualify as a Good library that can be accessed by any visitor; the 'back area' contains a library that would put 'Amazing' to shame, but is not shown to anyone but staff (and they are carefully, if unobtrusively, watched.)
Some characters have more than one identity; some have had their identities erased. Some identities give a false impression about the character’s job, age, background, status, or even existence. These are all covered by the Official Identity Quality.
Dead: The character's death was faked at some point, to recruit him into a secret project without raising suspicion, to protect him from hostile forces hunting him, or for some other reason. The records of the character’s life before he “died” exist, but background checks reveal none of his post-mortem activities. If the character “died” after joining his Profession, he loses access to his Pulling Strings and must exert his influence through contacts and favors. Dead is a three-point Quality.
False Identity: Only characters with criminal, espionage, or law enforcement connections are likely to have this Quality because convincing papers require access to good forgeries and computer records. Each False Identity grants a set of papers and records (birth certificate, Social Security number, credit rating) that pass all but the closest scrutiny. Most police organizations will be fooled by the fake identity; an all-out investigation by such agencies as the FBI or NSA would reveal the truth. Each fake identity costs two points. Note that less rigorous covers, such as when characters travel under aliases or create fake driver’s licenses, do not require the purchase of this Quality.
No Records: All records of the character’s prior life have been destroyed. Any background search, regardless of how thorough, turns up nothing. This is most often done for members of covert black operations teams to provide complete deniability of the individuals’ actions. The CIA, DEA, NSA, Project MKULTRA, and Project Moondust are among the organizations that employ these untraceable agents. A character with No Records may not be employed by overt government agencies such as the CDC, NASA, the Secret Service, or Federal Marshals. Regardless of the reason for the erasure, a character with No Records has no identification, passport, Social Security number, credit cards, driver’s license, or any other official records. To operate effectively in regular society for any length of time, he needs to purchase at least one fake identity. No Records is a three-point Quality.
You character is not loved by those around him. Because of his looks, beliefs, habits, interests, lack of charisma, or mannerisms, those around him have decided he is persona non grata. Outcasts have a rough time in social situations: they suffer a –2 penalty to Influence rolls. They automatically attract the attention of any cruel or abusive character.
If their difference is clear and the community as a whole shuns them, they are considered second-class citizens and suffer repression from the local authorities. These folks are burdened with a four-point Drawback. If they don’t appear different from others and are just ostracized by those who know them, they avoid legal restrictions. That drops the Drawback to two points.
Some Outcasts make it a practice to avoid paying too much attention to their surroundings to spare themselves hurtful looks or whispers — these types suffer a –1 penalty to all Notice rolls. Others are the proverbial “fish out of water” and are unfamiliar with the society in which they live. This detriment is mostly roleplayed but should affect the character’s behavior with regularity. Adding either the “notice” or “unfamiliar” features to the Outcast Drawback raises the value by one.
Your character is is part of some other seriously hierarchical organization. High rank has privileges; subordinates obey your character’s orders. On the other hand, low-ranking cogs are at a disadvantage; they get ordered around, and disobeying is not a good career option. The value of the Rank feature ranges from -1 to +9, and costs one point per level (or grants one point at the lowest level). Keep in mind that high Rank also entails numerous duties that may restrict your character’s actions even more than very low Rank. The Ranks Table shows some law enforcement, government agency, and U.S. Army ranks. Ranks titles in other organizations vary.
|-1||Rookie cop, Private|
|0||Beat cop, Corporal|
|2||Detective, Sergeant First Class|
|3||Agent in Charge, Lieutenant|
|4||Bureau Chief, Captain|
Rank is unlikely to matter much in CharLoft RPG (unless you happen to be in the world where it matters). However, there is a sort of de-facto ranking system that applies to patrons and staff:
-2: Unwelcome Guest. Someone at this level of 'pub rank' is well known to staff and patrons - and frequently ejected, one way or another. They may not have managed to offend enough to become a permanent fixture of the Void between worlds, but they are usually served last by baristas (and sometimes not at all). In any circumstance where reactions are determined by die roll, they get a penalty equal to Rank difference, and they're always treading on thin ice.
-1: That Guy. When the baristas talk about their customers, there's always That Guy - that customer who stands out, and not in a good way. While 'That Guy' is usually treated with a measure of civility, they are seldom served in a timely manner (although at least they do always receive service), and their actions are generally not looked upon with favor. (For customers hailing from unpopular or overdone worlds, see 'Minority', above.)
0: Average Customer. Most customers tend to fall in this category - neither particularly well-liked or unpopular.
1: Regular Customer. Yes, there's a difference - 'regulars' tend to be treated somewhat more favorably by staff, and have the added bonus of being reasonably familiar with CharLoft protocols and behaviors. (In particular, the staff usually likes them, and may help without having to make a big deal out of it.)
2: Lifetime Customer. Whether because the Boss has ordered the baristas to like them, or just because the staff does, these 'regular plus' customers are given the best treatment even in the worst of situations … as long as they don't piss off the Boss.
3: Working-Class Hero. These are the people who work in the kitchens, or wait tables, or perform the other reasonably menial tasks involved in running an interdimensional house of coffee. While this means they seldom get any special respect from customers or other staff members, they are at least more likely to get what they need from the counter, whether that something is a fresh latte or a chainsaw, and without having to pay up front (after all, they have an eternity to pay it back…) Employees of the Boss's other businesses tend to have this de-facto rank when 'visiting'.
4: Maintenancethings. The maintenancethings are a curious sort, loading, unloading, repairing, installing, and maintaining things, often without concerns or complaints. They are capable of leaving the CharLoft, which is a mixed blessing (as they are often drafted to help people move into the houses in town).
5: Barista On Probation. New baristas tend to fit this rank in the roster - while not given quite enough access to be able to implode space and time on a whim, and while probably resorting to the Barista's Handbook on many judgment calls (“do we accept gold coins the size of dinner plates from Italian plumbers?”), they are able to operate the CharLoft equipment, access its extradimensional spaces, and service the customers. (Not in that way, you perv. Wrong interdimensional business.)
6: Barista In Rotation. This is a barista who has been put in the standard lineup. They've survived their probation period and become a full-fledged member of the staff; they can access extradimensional spaces such as the Fight Loft, throw the entire room into the Void without calling in first, and are generally trusted to maintain the best interests of CharLoft (which are usually not quite the same as those of its customers.)
7: The Assistant Manager. Occasionally, someone has to go explain things, butt heads, or order the baristas around – this person is the Assistant Manager. Theoretically there are more than one, though only one has been seen - a skinny, tall woman in her thirties who dresses entirely in black evening wear and looks dispassionately annoyed about most things.
8: The Manager. This person acts as the direct coordinator of all aspects of the Char Loft, and reports only to The Boss. As one might expect, they are almost never actually seen, preferring to watch from a distance and conjure up whatever might be necessary to deal with a situation on the spot. When a problem requires a personal touch, the Manager usually sends in an Assistant Manager or calls for the Boss (or both.)
9: The Boss / The Lady. If you know what's good for you (especially if you're an employee) you don't question the orders or come up with a snappy comeback. Sarcasm is cold comfort in the Void, and there are worse things.
When trying to get a staff member to do something that isn't within their job description or inclination, add a de-facto penalty equal to the difference in Ranks if die rolling is involved. (This means that Influence Rolls by That Guy on the Boss are at -10, for example.)
Having a big bank account helps with a lot of life’s troubles, though not so much with fighting the supernatural. A character’s Resources determines how much material wealth he has access to. In the case of those dependent on parents or guardians, the Resource level applies to that older type. Whether your character has access to these assets at any given time is a matter for the Director and the plotline.
DESTITUTE (-10): Has the clothes on her back, ten dollars’ worth of stuff and maybe a shopping cart. Lucky to scrounge a few dollars a month.
MISERABLE (-8): Personal wealth of about $100 in property (including the clothes on her back). May be homeless. Might earn $100 a month.
POOR (-6): $500 in property and a place in low income housing. Has an income of $500 a month or what he gets from welfare.
HURTING (-4): Personal wealth of about $1,000 in property, and lives in a small apartment. Income of $1,000 a month before taxes.
BELOW AVERAGE (-2): $5,000 in property (including an old vehicle, perhaps), an apartment, and pre-tax income of $1,500 a month.
OKAY (0): $15,000 in property and income of $2,500 a month before taxes.
MIDDLE CLASS (+2): Personal wealth of $50,000 in property (a mortgaged house and a new or slightly used car). Has an income of $5,000 a month before taxes.
WELL-OFF (+4): $300,000 in property and an income of $10,000 a month before taxes.
WEALTHY (+6): Personal wealth of $700,000 in property. Has an income of $40,000 a month.
RICH (+8): Personal wealth of $2,000,000 in property. Income of $50,000 a month.
MULTIMILLIONAIRE (+10): $5 million in property and an income of $200,000 a month. Each additional level adds an additional $5 million in property and $200,000 to monthly income.
There exists a dangerous and hidden fact about your character. This could be a secret identity or a shady past. The more damaging the secret if it became known, the higher the value of the Drawback. For example, damage to your character's reputation and livelihood would be worth one point; a threat to her well-being (he might be arrested or deported if the truth were known) two points; life, limb, and lymph nodes three points.
This trait represents the standing of the character in the eyes of the people around him. It includes any fame, glory or notoriety the character might have. Note that wealth and Status are often linked; a character gets a bonus to his Status equal to one-half his Resources level (if positive). 0 is middle-class American; -5 is a homeless person, +10 is a member of an ancient noble house, a movie mega-star, or the hero of millions.
Don’t use this Quality if your hero is going to be hopping in and out of different settings (ask your gamemaster if you’re not sure). If you’re basically stuck in one locale where a character’s societal rank can actually be used, feel free to spend those points. This trait represents the standing of the character in the eyes of the people around him. It includes any fame, glory, notoriety, or social position the character possesses. In medieval Europe, Status was hugely important. Titles and position were well worth fighting over. For those with a more modern background, Status could also reflect military rank or job title (assuming that standing has any impact on the current situation). The Status Table runs down a few examples. Others should be devised based on the table entries.
In modern society, access to, or the ability to generate, wealth often creates societal position. A character gains a +1 bonus to his Status equal to one-half his Resources level (if positive). In medieval times, access to resources was generally a function of status and thus is not purchased separately. That may not always be the case however, and the Resources bonus may be applied at your gamemaster's discretion. Status may affect some rolls (mostly involving Influence - the “Do you know who I am?” factor). But it’s largely a background tool. Low-status people have considerable more problems functioning in society. They are more likely to be harassed by the authorities. Doors are closed to them. High status people can get away with more. Their word carries more weight, the authorities cut them more slack, and merchants may offer better deals hoping they tell all their high society friends. On the down side, high Status may come with obligations, as those of a feudal lord to support and defend his vassals.
|-2||Criminal, outcast, slave|
|-1||Foot soldier, swordsman, archer, private, street juggler|
|0||Soldier responsible for burial detail, corporal, modern citizen|
|1||Sergeant, doctor, attorney|
|2||Captain, local priest, local politician, “name” journalist, minor celebrity|
|4||Landed knight, celebrity|
|5||Baron, bishop, major celebrity|
|7||King, media mega-star|
Note that even though Status may not always apply in the CharLoft (“suuuure you're a king”), it still costs points (“why don't you just pop back to my world, and I'll get you a chest of gold from the treasury?”) and can come in particularly handy when dealing with your homeworld. When dealing with other worlds, it may not provide the same sort of bonuses (“she's one of the bourgeois! Kill her! Hang her by her own intestines!”)
The Talentless individual is totally lacking in creativity and artistic talent. Maybe he is too stolid and practical, or maybe he just doesn’t have the imagination to do anything artistic. This Drawback does not just affect her ability in the arts, but also in many social skills where flair and creativity are necessary. Your character has a -3 penalty when trying to do anything artistic. This penalty does not affect Tasks where other people’s art is judged; many expert critics are Talentless. When he does try to create something, however, the best he can hope for is a mediocre result. In addition to the penalty, the character can never get more than one Success Level in artistic pursuits, regardless of how high her skill levels or rolls are. People with this Drawback also make poor liars, charmers, or social butterflies. The same penalty applies to such skills as Influence - a lack of creativity affects the ability to lie convincingly, for example.
Life sucks when you’re a teenager. You feel like an adult, and you want plenty of adult things, but you don’t have the legal rights of an adult. Characters under the age of 18 get this Drawback (sure, you still can’t drink until you’re 21 in most worlds, but life is hard - suck it up). Most of the problems teenagers face are social. Most adults instinctively distrust and look down on them, they have a lot of legal restrictions, and they have parents or guardians bossing them around. Youths have even greater restrictions, but have a measure of additional protections from most local laws (“how dare you strike a child?!”), so the Drawback cost remains the same.
In a world where nothing is quite as it seems, sometimes even ordinary humans turn out to be less than ordinary. The realm of the paranormal can be found here.
If your character enjoys Good Luck, Fortune smiles on her far more often than on most people. Like the Irish family that always seems to win at games of chance, whenever he needs a break, there is a good chance that circumstances will conspire to give her one. If your character suffers from Bad Luck, on the other hand, Murphy’s Law (“if anything can go wrong, it will”) seems to apply to everything he does. Good Luck points are like low-key Drama Points, but have the advantages of being re-usable … and you can use them whenever you want. Bad Luck points, meanwhile, give the GM the opportunity to cause timely mischief.
Each level of Luck counts as a +1 bonus (or -1 penalty) that can be applied to any roll, after the die is rolled, once per game session. Multiple levels can be added together for a big bonus on one roll, or spread around several different actions. For example, if your character has three levels of Good Luck, he can get a +3 bonus on one action, a +1 bonus to three actions, or a +2 bonus for one and a +1 bonus for another.
With Good Luck, you decide when it comes into play. Bad Luck, however, is in the hands of the gamemaster, who chooses when it affects a given roll. Gamemasters should exercise caution and good judgment when applying Bad Luck. If they use Bad Luck for meaningless rolls, the Drawback becomes little more than a minor inconvenience. On the other hand, applying Bad Luck to Survival Tests or other critical rolls is a good way to alienate folks. Make the Bad Luck count, but don’t abuse anyone. We’re trying to get you all to have fun here, not create angst (well, not out-of-game angst).
HARD LUCK EXAMPLE: Jenna has a 2-point Bad Luck Drawback. At one point in the Episode, Jenna takes aim with her gun as an enemy attempts to flee the area. The character's mission will be much harder if the villain escapes, but Jenna is in no immediate danger, so the Director tells Jenna that a startled bird flies in front of her, spoiling her aim. A -2 penalty is applied to Jenna’s shot.
True heroes save others, and that’s what this Quality lets you do.
Once per game session, your character can give someone else +10 on any one test. Best of all, he can do it after the player has made his test. This costs the good guy a Turn (only thing he can do that Turn), however, and he must explain what he’s doing to help his friend. This could be anything from a few words of encouragement, a helping hand up a cliff-edge, or distracting a bad guy so that his companion can get in a lucky shot.
A hero with Big Damn Hero has another special effect as well. Once per session, he can restore half of another character's Life Points just as if that Cast Member had spent a Drama Point. No action need be spent for this effect - the champion can simply shoot his companion a wink or look of camaraderie. Such a sign of respect from an admired hero is enough to give new life to the downtrodden.
While this Quality is usually found in the possession of the heroic (hence the title), there is no reason that a Mortal (or a definitely unheroic sort!) can't possess it.
Typically, only supernatural creatures, or those tainted by exposure to the supernatural, receive supernatural qualities and drawbacks - that's just the way it goes.
When you aren't happy with what your circumstances of birth gave you, science may be able to fix that problem with cybernetic upgrades! Replacing your bone and flesh with steel and circuits isn't for everyone, but it certainly does make a more durable impression on your enemies, and adds new capabilities.
Your character has a chip or other device implanted in them that has a strong effect on their behavior and capabilities. They may be aware of the implant, or may not even know it's there until it triggers. Drawback chips, obviously, only supply Drawback points if they are actually a drawback to the character - a chip that prevents the character from casting spells is only a drawback if they have magical abilities, for example. As a rule, if a character has a negative Chip removed, they need to pay off the cost with experience points or shift the points to a new Drawback (say, Mental Problems.)
These chips come in three tasty flavors:
A Behavior Modification Chip prevents a character from performing a reasonably specific action (harming humans, drinking alcohol, uttering profanity), etc. Anyone thus chipped who attempts to perform the forbidden action suffers blinding agony - five points of base damage (no defense, armor does not protect), plus the character is effectively stunned by the pain and completely helpless for one Turn, and must roll Willpower doubled (plus Pain Resistance) in order to recover on subsequent Turns.
Obviously, these chips only provide Drawback points if they inhibit behaviors the character would normally be prone to; the GM has final approval on any such chip. Characters can have multiple behavior modification chips, but this is only worth 3 points, regardless of the number of modifications.
A Slave Chip doesn't necessarily prevent you from performing any action, but it does place you under the control of a designated master when triggered. This typically works either by compelling the person to follow a preprogrammed set of actions (a la Manchurian Candidate) or by compelling them to obey verbal commands. Slave Chips typically don't affect day-to-day activities as frequently, but your character will likely never know when it may activate, who's pulling the strings, or what they might require - and they may not even remember what they did while under the Chip's influence. Slave Chips effectively transform the unfortunate into a tool ready to be used. You decide whether your character is aware of the Chip's presence - if they are known to have a Slave Chip, though, they are likely to have the Under Suspicion Drawback - it's tough to trust someone who may change allegiances at the flick of a switch. Slave Chips are a one-point Drawback, whether the character is aware of them or not; the extreme problems they cause are mitigated by the unlikelihood of their being triggered.
Booster Chips are basically designed to enhance physical, mental, or skill abilities for a limited time, in a way that is not directly harmful or dangerous to the user. This typically costs between 2 and 5 Quality Points, and the effects vary (and will be filled in later). However, even beneficial implants have risks - you might be dealing with experimental technology, or someone might have concealed a nasty bit of programming that will come up at the worst possible time… or your computerized implant may just be as buggy as your computer (damn Windows!)
Of course, genetic re-engineering can rewrite your genetic code from the ground up and give you that perfect body and ideal hair color you've always wanted (hopefully while still keeping your thoughts intact). It may be costly, but many things normally justified under other categories can often be justified as genetic engineering, as well as some new tricks…
Want to kick things around comic-book old-school? Well, why not? Here are a few genuine superpowers for those of you who really feel the need to play it metahuman. Just bear in mind that worlds where metahuman powers don't work will see these abilities fizzle like sparklers under a fire hose.
Your character is an artist, someone unusually talented and creative. Artists end up forming bands that don’t suck, painting masterpieces, writing Great American Novels, and doing other cool stuff like that.
Artists get a +1 to any two mental Attributes (Intelligence, Perception, or Willpower); the bonuses cannot be stacked onto one Attribute, and the limit remains six for humans. They also get a +1 to (what else?) the Art skill. Artists tend to be a bit sensitive and emotional, though; they have a -1 penalty to Willpower rolls to resist fear or losing their temper, or otherwise letting their emotions rule.
The character is into physical fitness in a big way. He may haunt the local sports bar scene on occasion, but mostly he's a doer, not a watcher. Athletes can be marathon training types, gym rats, keep-it-tight aspiring actresses, or super intense health nuts. They spend much of their free time practicing and working out; this of course leaves little time to devote to the more cerebral aspects of life.
Without additional charge or value, Athletes gain +1 to each physical Attribute (to a maximum level of six for humans), two levels of the Sports Skill (and at least one more level must be purchased on top of that), and -1 penalty to all rolls involving intellectual abilities (anything using the Intelligence Attribute, particularly research), except where the Sports Skill is involved.
For those who've never seen a gym in their lives but still tend to focus mostly on the physical, we have the Buff Guy, the beefy fellow who focuses on the physical - the knight who participates in the tourneys and looks forward to the next crusade, the martial arts devotee, or the town muscleman.
Without additional charge or value, Buff Guys gain +1 to any two physical Attributes, to a maximum level of six (the bonuses cannot be stacked on one Attribute); two levels of a physically oriented skill (and at least one more level must be purchased separately on top of that), like Driving, Getting Medieval, Kung Fu, or Sport. This is a four-point Quality. Those with the stereotypical hallmarks of a true Buff Guy also suffer a -1 penalty to all Tasks or Tests involving intellectual abilities (anything using the Intelligence Attribute), except where his physical specialty is involved. This Quality costs three points.
Your character is a true intellectual wizard. Some call him brilliant but rarely to his face. They're too busy snickering about his horn rims, too-short pants, and unsettling enthusiasm about chip-manufacturing technology. Brainiacs tend to obsess on some project or another (say, making fusion work). This means they aren't really 'people' people. Still, a large number wind up making several million bucks before they turn forty. At that point, they find themselves surrounded by lots of 'close friends.'
Brainiacs gain +2 to Intelligence and +1 to another mental Attribute (to a maximum level of six); +4 skill levels to be spread among the following (or grouped in one): Computers, Knowledge, or Science; a two-point Obsession with their latest project (which can change regularly); and -1 penalty to any roll where their personal social skills are pre-eminent. These characters are prime candidates for the Emotional Problems or Outcast Drawbacks.
While others on the team may have the brawn and balance and boldness down pat, your talent is the brains. You receive a +1 to Intelligence and two bonus levels to divide among the following skills: Doctor, Mr. Fix-It, or Science (stacking is allowed). Whether this puts you in the position of team medic, engineer, analytical expert, or jack-of-all-brains, of course, depends entirely on you.
Navy SEALS, Green Beret soldiers, and Special Forces Marines. All are highly trained and dedicated professionals who risk life and limb. And chances are, they'll be the ones sent to deal with the problem of the week, guns blazing. Commandos are military (or ex-military) and have all kinds of special training and maybe even some cool toys they took with them or have on loan.
Without additional charge or value, Commandos gain +1 to any two physical Attributes, to a maximum level of six (the bonuses cannot be stacked on a single Attribute); Fast Reaction Time or Situational Awareness (pick one); three levels of Hard to Kill (an additional two levels can be acquired by spending points during character creation); and a 3-point Obligation (or, if they quit under … unfortunate circumstances, a 3-point Adversary or 3-point Secret).
If you're in law enforcement, you get to say all the cool lines like “Just the facts, ma'am,” “I like this perp for the Jones murder,” and that timeless phrase, “Freeze scumbag!” Plus you get to call for backup (although so many movie cops never bother), flash a badge, and carry a gun. On the down side, the pay's bad and you can get killed on the job. Now, don't get us wrong, life threatening is part and parcel of being any kind of demon hunter. It's just that being a cop adds a whole bunch of mundane (guns, knives, hit and runs) ways of dying to the mix.
Law enforcement types get a +1 to any physical Attribute (Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution; guess that time at the Academy paid off), and a +1 bonus to the Crime, Driving, and Gun-Fu Skills. They also have the authority of the law behind them (not to mention that they get to carry a gun). With reasonable suspicion (any particularly rational explanation that a neutral party would buy), they can stop cars, search people, detain suspects, and other nifty things. With probable cause (a reasonable basis to believe that criminal activity has occurred), they can arrest someone and haul them off to the station. Whether such suspicion or cause exists is a question that keeps many attorneys and judges in full employment. If the judge says your character blew it, the perp goes free (and you might be in for some discipline, too). A basic beat Cop law enforcement Quality costs five points. His legal authority (worth two points) is balanced by a one-point Obligation (Important) to the force.
Detectives are a bit higher up the totem pole. They get a two-point Contacts (Governmental or Criminal) Quality kicker. They also have a two-point Rank Quality but their Obligation Drawback increases to Major. All told, the Detective Quality costs eight points.
On the other hand, if your character abuses his authority, he can get in trouble - there are bosses to answer to if he does anything wrong. Break too many rules, and the lieutenant is going to ask for his gun and his badge. At that point, your character becomes ex-law enforcement, with all the skills of a normal police officer (and the Contacts for a detective who hasn't burned his bridges) but none of the authority. Ex-law enforcement types usually have a lot more attitude, but there's no shortage of that among the regular maverick cops (at least on TV and in the movies). If your character is one of the ex, this Quality drops by one point (authority goes but so does the Obligation) for the Cop, and three points (Rank lost too) for the Detective.
If your gamemaster is using the organizational rules in Chapter Five: Cabals, Covens, and Agencies, and has statted out the local police force, your character should get some major Influence roll bonuses for the precinct's Governmental Clout. Still, that's not going to apply in all circumstances - politicians aren't overly intimidated by cops and some agencies resent police intervention.
Note that the 'legal authority' aspect of this only works in a character's homeworld, or in a world similar enough that nobody thinks to check a person's credentials! Attempting to claim the right to search random customers of the CharLoft is likely to result in some very unfortunate 'resisting arrest'-related events.
Crime doesn't pay, but try telling this bloke that. Your character can be a suave expert safecracker and second story man, or an angry mob enforcer looking for revenge-basically anybody involved in shady deals and illegal shenanigans.
Criminals get +1 to any Attribute (Intelligence, Perception, or Willpower for the thinking-type criminals, Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution for the brawn over brain types), +1 to the Crime Skill (naturally), and +1 to a skill related to their criminal career. A getaway driver, for example, would get a +1 to his Driving Skill, a cat-burglar would use his bonus on Acrobatics, and a leg-breaker would put it into Kung Fu.
On the down side, Criminals have poor impulse control when it comes to money. They have to make a Willpower (doubled) roll whenever the opportunity for a fast buck presents itself-for example, taking time off to ransack a demon's lair instead of watching out for, say, demons. Your Director can add penalties to this roll, depending on the amount of loot available - no penalty for a few hundred bucks, -1 for several thousand dollars, -2 for over $10K, -3 for over $100K, and - 5 for a really big score (a million dollars or more). The biggest down side is hard time in the slammer. That puts a huge crimp on any of their more social activities - it's hard to come in for a coffee when you're in the big house, although some lucky sorts manage.
Wise Guys are basically Criminals with connections. They gain a two-point Contacts (Criminal) Quality as well as a one-point Obligation (Important) to their syndicate. If your Director is using the organizational rules in Chapter Five: Cabals, Covens, and Agencies, and has statted out the local family, your character should get some major Influence roll bonuses for the mob's Criminal Clout. Still, that's only going to apply in certain circumstances - members of rival organizations aren't going to kow-tow much.
In a world where monstrous entities prey on humankind, your character has chosen the role of a hunter. Maybe vampires sired his sister, or demons ravaged his neighborhood (and the authorities wrote it off), or he simply stumbled across some supernatural vileness and can't let it go. Whatever the reason, he has dedicated his life to the a fight against the forces of darkness. He has trained and prepared and is ready to do what must be done.
Demon Hunters are normal men and women, but after some time fighting demons and vampires, they start picking up certain skills and abilities. They get +1 to any three Attributes (the bonuses cannot stack on the same Attribute; as usual, the bonuses cannot increase a human being's Attributes above six). Additionally, they get a +1 bonus to any two combat-oriented skills (Gun Fu, Kung Fu, or Getting Medieval) and +1 to the Occultism Skill.
On the down side, a hunter worth his crossbow makes enemies fast. These characters gain a one-point Adversary (to be defined) even if they are just starting out. This Drawback can be raised to reflect a hunter who has been around the demon block a few times and has more of a rep. Furthermore, these types find it very hard to work with anybody who has any hint of the supernatural. A witch might be okay, but for most of them, a demon is a demon, and the only good demon is a dead demon. This takes the form of a Mental Problem (Mild Delusion - all supernatural beings are evil). Higher values of the Drawback can be taken for extra points; keep in mind that raising it above the one-point level makes it difficult (if not impossible) to work regularly with other Cast Members who happen to be, say, vampires, demons, or ghosts or …
Wherever there's a military presence, there's grunts. Sure, the lab coats and the sneaky guys have important jobs to do, but more often than not things end with a fight - and that's where the Grunts come in. Your character is a front-line soldier, trained to handle multiple types of tactical situations. Tagging a hostile with a taser rifle, taking on a hellhound with bare hands - it's all in another day's work.
As a Grunt, your character gets a +1 bonus to his Strength and two bonus levels to divide among the following skills: Gun Fu, Getting Medieval, and Kung Fu. Stacking is allowed, but be careful about overspecialization, as your character is likely to get in a wide variety of target-rich situations, and all that Gun Fu might leave them high and dry against vampires, for example.
Maybe your character thought it sounded like a good idea at the time, or perhaps you really didn't have a choice in the matter. At any rate, he is a Lab Rat – a formerly ordinary human who has been experimented on with or without his knowledge or consent, or perhaps some sort of horrific patchwork monstrosity.
As a Lab Rat, your character receives a +2 bonus to a single Attribute; this can exceed the normal human maximum. He may take one of the following without spending extra points: Acute Senses, Fast Reaction Time, or Natural Toughness. On the down side, he also has an Attractiveness of -1 and suffers from Recurring Nightmares or another one-point Mental Problem. You can increase these Drawbacks for more Drawback Points (make the character even less attractive, for example), but you can't spend points to gain a positive Attractiveness Quality. It's up to you to decide whether your character's Attractiveness penalty is based on a disturbing physical appearance or whether something just doesn't feel right about them. Finally, your character can have up to ten levels of Hard to Kill (but they have to be paid for separately.)
In addition to these penalties, as a Lab Rat there is always the chance that your character has some lurking secret waiting to be discovered. What was the true purpose of the experiments performed on them? Is there an ulterior motive behind the dubious benevolence? As a result, most Lab Rats are either Under Suspicion or Chipped or both; they will be watched.
Your character is one of the smart, maybe brilliant types, more comfortable with a book or computer than with other people. Nerds don't have many friends (except maybe online), but in modern times they'll be among the first in line to make a fortune. On the other hand, in less modern times, they are usually relegated to transcribing old texts and getting bullied by peasants with beefy forearms.
Nerds gain +1 to any two mental Attributes, to a maximum level of six (bonuses cannot be stacked on one Attribute); +2 skill levels to be added to any one of the following: Computers, Knowledge, or Science; -1 peanlty in any roll involving social situations (due to either prejudice against them, their own social ineptitude, or a steadfast belief in their own superiority). These characters are prime candidates for the Emotional Problems or Outcast Drawbacks.
Your character is all about the sneakiness. They got their start stealing cookies behind grandma's back, and now they're sneaking past all sorts of trouble. Of course, it helps to have a back-up talent; he may have learned to hear granny coming, or he may have gotten really good at lying with a straight face. As a Ninja Girl, your character gets a +1 bonus to Dexterity and two bonus levels to divide among the following skills: Crime, Notice, and Influence. It’s okay to stack the levels on a single skill, but versatility may save your life some day.
The truth is out there, and if your character has his way, it’s going to be on the eleven o’clock news. Your character has an uncanny ability to pry into other people’s business and make it public knowledge. It doesn’t make him many friends, but he gets his name in the papers a lot. Of course, reporters in a world filled with demons, vampires, and werewolves soon discover the world is a very dark and complex place, and that most newspapers and TV stations cannot handle the truth. Might be time to open a rogue website and spread the news yourself.
Nosy Reporters get a +1 to both Intelligence and Perception, +1 to the Notice skill, and +1 to a skill related to their field (crime reporters get, duh, Crime, while a political beat type raises his Knowledge Skill). Your character also gets two points worth of Contacts to represent assorted sources of information. On the minus side, these characters cannot restrain their innate inquisitiveness, and they almost always end up in trouble. Whenever your character tries to resist his curiosity (deciding that, for example, meeting alone with an unknown source at midnight in the cemetery might not be a good idea), he must make a Willpower (doubled) roll.
An Orphan is someone who has been recruited into fighting the good fight from an otherwise civilian background. The name comes from the fact that most Orphans join the fight against evil after surviving a monster attack, and may have some old scores to settle or ghosts to lay to rest. But your character could also be a scientist or doctor drawn into service because of their useful skills. The main thing is that Orphans aren't typically as buff as Commandos; as an Orphan, your character hasn't had all the special ops training of the standard commando. Of course, there are always exception…
As an Orphan, your character gains +1 to any two mental Attributes. He also gains a bonus level to two of the following skills: Doctor, Influence, Knowledge, Mr. Fix-It, or Science. Finally, he gets three levels of Good Luck. Your character may not be as hard to take out as the average commando, but he does have a knack for getting out of the way. Like a Commando, he has a 3-point Obligation to the force that has taken him under its wing.
Horrific roleplaying games often refer to “Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.” - Occult Investigators make it their business to study these things. A lot of them end up in New England asylums, or dead, or worse. The survivors learn a lot of more-or-less useful stuff, from the initiation rites of the Knights Templar to the best places in town to find those hard-to-find tomes. Their knowledge also makes them better able to overcome their fears (or maybe they are a little bit too insane to be afraid anymore).
Occult Investigators get a +1 to any two mental Attributes (Intelligence, Perception, or Willpower) and a +2 bonus to the Occultism Skill. Furthermore, they get a +1 bonus to Fear Tests, thanks to their familiarity with the strange and unusual (whether or not they themselves are strange and unusual).
When presented with an opportunity to learn something supernatural - stopping to gather a few ancient scrolls as the temple starts to collapse, for example - they must do it unless they make a Willpower (doubled) roll, with penalties of -1 to -5, depending on how valuable the find is.
PREREQUISITES: GETTING MEDIEVAL 3, GUN FU 3, OR KUNG FU 3
These champions aren’t told they were born to fight the forces of darkness, they just find themselves hip deep in the supernatural at some point in their lives, usually while it's trying to kill them. Promised Ones are rarely white knights. Most of them have serious personality flaws they must overcome if they’re to one day succeed against the forces of darkness. That just makes the character more interesting. Your gamemaster will make sure that your character is nicely rounded out with Drawbacks of one type or another. (GMs, just in case you’re not paying attention, that’s a major league hint.) Characters must buy at least three levels of Getting Medieval, Gun Fu, or Kung Fu (not counting the benefits of this Quality) before they can purchase this Quality.
Here’s what these cursed souls get for their hard earned Quality points:
Your character is a robot, endowed with artificial intelligence by its creator. Robots (at least NPC ones) are intelligent, but typically don’t have a will of their own, being restricted by their programming. Some robots eventually become independent operators, often with tragic results. Also, a disembodied demon could inhabit a robot body; a human being might find her mind or soul trapped in a robotic frame as well. This Quality assumes the character is an independent robot.
Robots get +4 to Strength, +1 to Dexterity and +2 to Constitution (these scores can exceed normal human levels). Figure Life Points normally, but the robot cannot heal damage normally and must be repaired. Anybody with Science skill 3 or higher can fix a robot. Each Success Level in a Science and Intelligence Task restores one Life Point per Constitution level of the robot; each repair attempt takes one hour. When a robot falls “unconscious,” he has been deactivated. He may recover consciousness (like any other unconscious character) on his own, or require the help of someone with the Science or Mr. Fix-It skills (or Occultism for things like golems), at the GM's discretion.
The Robot Quality may also be used to cover things like arcane clockworks, golems made from the river mud, homunculi, or any other type of artificial being. When used for cyborgs, the Quality assumes that the being is mostly mechanical and that its life support is dependent on its artificial parts (we aren't talking just a few cybernetic upgrades such as a replacement limb or three.)
The military likes their chain of command, and that means someone has to be in charge. That's the Squad Leader's job. As team leader, they must possess honor, integrity, and the ability to inspire their comrades - as well as the courage to face the brass when the team has screwed up again.
Of all the members on a squad, it is vital for the Squad Leader to be versatile and capable of stepping in to help in many different situations. At the same time, a good team leader needs to know the strengths of their allies, and recognizes when to send in a specialist. A Squad Leader receives +1 to any one mental Attribute and +1 to any one physical Attribute. He also receives two bonus levels to divide between the following skills: Gun Fu, Influence, and Wild Card (with an appropriately militaristic focus). You can stack these if you wish, but you might want to spread them out. That way, if your character can't Influence someone to follow his orders, he can always just shoot them.
Gifted with the power of animal spirits, Totem Warriors were created to battle the forces of darkness. Never numerous, Totem Warriors are seldom seen until the need is great, when a new generation will be called into service by the spirits. Some characters obtain this quality by proving themselves worthy through years of training and preparation – others are chosen for their task by the native spirits, whether they like it or not.
In short, characters with this Quality get to be ass-kicking mystic warriors. Pretty cool, eh? On the other hand, their abilities are primal in nature, which means they can sometimes lose control to their animalistic impulses.
Totem Warriors get eight bonus points to spread among their Attributes, with a maximum bonus of +4 in any one Attribute. The exact spread depends on the animal totem chosen by the character. As extra goodies, the character gets Acute Senses (again, the exact type depends on the animal spirit chosen), Fast Reaction Time, and three levels of Hard to Kill (up to ten levels can be acquired in total). Also the Warriors gain +1 to Kung Fu (ah… Animal Fu?) Skill.
It's not all sweetness and light for these animal folks though. Totem Warriors have a -1 penalty to Willpower rolls to resist their basest impulses (as determined by their mental Drawbacks). They also gain an automatic Adversary to their ancestral enemies (local to their region) worth three points.
Totem Warriors must be pure humans. If they are turned into vampires, zombies, werewolves or other supernatural creatures, they lose all of their Totem powers.
The strong, loner types, Bear Warriors are the heavy lifters of the gang. Their stubbornness makes it difficult for others to influence or control them.
Attributes: +4 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Sense of Smell
Special Ability: Bear Warriors get a +1 bonus to any rolls to resist fear, domination (magical or mundane) or intimidation (this bonus does not apply to trickery or seduction though).
The ultimate sprinters, Cheetah Warriors often can’t sit still for more than a moment. They are always running off to chase down something new.
Attributes: +2 to Strength, +4 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Vision
Special Ability: Cheetah Warriors double their running speed and gain an additional +1 per turn in a chase scene.
Coyote Warriors are tricksters and survivors. They are not very strong, but they are smarter and faster than wolves and can adapt better.
Attributes: +2 to Strength, +3 to Dexterity, +1 to Constitution, +1 to Perception, +1 to Intelligence.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Sense of Smell
Special Ability: Coyote Warriors get a +1 bonus to any Crime, Influence, or Notice roll dealing with trickery or deceit. This applies both to lying and tricking others, and to detecting the lies and tricks of others.
Unbeatable in the water, Crocodile Warriors are natural swimmers and patient fighters. They can strike suddenly and without warning.
Attributes: +3 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution, +1 to Willpower.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Sense of Smell
Special Powers: Crocodile Warriors gain a +2 to all rolls involving swimming using either Sports or Acrobatics, and to combat rolls made in water.
The far-seeing Eagle Warriors are the scouts of the bunch. They cannot quite fly like their totems can, but they sure can jump.
Attributes: +1 to Strength, +4 to Dexterity, +1 to Constitution, +2 to Perception.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Vision
Special Ability: Eagle Warriors get a +2 bonus on any roll involving jumping or leaping, including Acrobatics and Sports.
A deadly pack hunter and scavenger, Hyena Warriors work best in teams to bring down their foes.
Attributes: +2 to Strength, +3 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution, +1 Perception.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Sense of Smell
Special Ability: When a Hyena Warrior gangs up on an enemy she acts as an extra person for figuring the multiple opponent combat bonus, adding +2 to attack and defense rolls.
Silent and powerful hunters, Leopard Warriors use stealth to stalk their prey.
Attributes: +3 to Strength, +3 to Dexterity, +1 to Constitution, +1 to Perception.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Hearing.
Special Ability: Leopard Warriors are masters of stealth, and receive a +2 bonus to either Acrobatics or Crime for the purposes of sneaking around and being stealthy.
The King of the Jungle, Lions Warriors are assertive, take-charge types. They lead and expect others to follow.
Attributes: +4 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Hearing.
Special Ability: As natural leaders Lion Warriors gain a +2 bonus to intimidation and persuasion, but not to trickery.
Owl Warriors are wise, always alert and observant.
Attributes: +1 to Strength, +3 to Dexterity, +1 to Constitution, +2 to Perception, +1 to Intelligence.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Vision
Special Ability: Owl Warriors can see in the dark very well. As long as there is any light available, they will suffer no light penalties.
Powerful predators, Puma Warriors are strong, fast, and deadly.
Attributes: +3 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +1 to Constitution, +1 to Perception.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Hearing
Special Ability: Pumas gain a +1 bonus on any rolls involving intimidation and fear (both to cause it and resist it).
Raven Warriors are tricksters, not unlike Coyotes. They are also attuned to magic and its workings. Attributes: +1 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +1 to Constitution, +1 to Perception, +2 to intelligence, +1 to Willpower.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Sense of Smell
Special Ability: Raven Warriors get a +1 bonus on Occultism rolls involving magic (either using it or understanding its workings).
Though often thought of as sinister, the Vulture Warrior acts as the lookout for all things undead and unclean.
Attributes: +1 to Strength, +3 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution, +2 to Perception.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Sense of Smell
Special Ability: Vulture Warriors can sense the presence of death nearby (within 100 feet). By concentrating for five seconds (one combat turn) and making a Difficult Perception roll, they can sense the general distance and direction of all dead things, from normal corpses to undead like Zombies and Vampires.
The ultimate pack hunters, Wolf Warriors are the foot soldiers of the team, able to do a bit of everything.
Attributes: +3 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution, +1 to Perception.
Enhanced Sense: Acute Sense of Smell
Special Ability: Wolf Warriors have a +1 bonus to any rolls involving teamwork with other characters, whether in sports (completing a pass), combat (helping out a teammate), or research (helping discover some secret).
So you want to take on the role of a big badass demon, supernaturally gifted demon hunter, The Chosen One, or just someone who is magically gifted? Your GM is feeling good that day, so he says, 'Sure, no problem.' What next? The easy way is to pick and choose from the pre-existing Qualities listed above. Still, that ain't going to cut it if you have your heart set on creating your own demon race from the ground up. If that's your unscratchable itch (we don't want to hear about any others, by the way), the first step is to sit down and discuss things with your GM. It's easy to create some unstoppable killing machine with these rules. No doubt your GM is going to have a thing or two to say about that. Best bet is to develop something with pluses and minuses that your GM can build stories around. It'll probably be more interesting for you as well.
The basics are simple - pick assorted supernatural abilities, add up their cost (or subtract in the case of negative traits like Vulnerabilities), and come up with some appropriately weird name for the resulting package. When creating the character, buy the package you've created a Quality, apply any Attribute modifications and other goodies (or Drawbacks) to the character, and you're all set. Although it's unlikely, it is possible that a package deal could have Attribute penalties and Drawbacks that outweigh the benefits. In that case, the Quality becomes a Drawback and points are given to the player to be spent elsewhere.
Generally, a Demon/Supernatural package should not exceed twenty points in total value, or have Attribute bonuses beyond +5 (or Attribute penalties beyond -2, for that matter). Go beyond those limits and they might as well start wearing capes and latex bodysuits and shouting 'It's clobberin' time!' before a fight.
It's much better if a new demon or supernatural race has a bit more going for it than just numbers and special powers. Some back story, or some sort of culture adds nice depth. Many are just aliens from other worlds who got here through a portal instead of a spaceship, but who are as unique as regular humans. When creating a demon, give these elements some thought, and hash them out with your GM. An interesting demon race can provide fodder for plenty of adventures down the line. Relatives and enemies from the character's home dimension might drop in once in a while for some fun and games (or terrifying violence, which in some cases is the same thing).
These are the things that make demons, undead, and other 'special' boys and girls stand out from us plain humans. Many of them are very useful to fight (or inflict) evil, while others are actually disabilities - things that make the character in question less capable than a normal person.
These aspects may be collected together as part of a Demon Quality, or they may be add-ons to a mortal or “ordinary” demon. In the latter case, the abilities are unusual for the particular race and make your character even more 'special.' Assuming your Director lets you get away with that, of course. A two-point Demon Quality, and 18 points of special supernatural add-ons (assuming your character has the Quality points or has enough Drawback points to balance it out) is doable, but is going to be very hard to justify. Directors, be warned: this too approaches the comic hero power level mentioned earlier. The abilities listed here are appropriate for demonic or supernatural types that can be used as Cast Members. We've not given point costs for the big, nasty, invulnerable, reality-twisting, fifty-foot tall demons 'cause … as Cast Members, no way! Those evilmeisters are handled by Directors, who don't need to worry about how much things cost. Not to belabor the point, but remember that supernatural abilities are a privilege, not a right. Your Director will let you know whether your character has access to these powers and can purchase them. Demons and vampires should have general access to these babies, and a psychic human could purchase a few of them, but in all cases make sure your Director concedes to your character abilities (which require a storyline rationale).
The character has been afflicted by a powerful curse, one that may haunt him until the end of his days. The actual elements of the curse, and how difficult it is to remove it, determine the point value of this Drawback. For the most part, it is the result of a misdeed the character committed in the past, and atonement for the misdeed is a major step (but may not be the only one) needed to remove the curse. A curse of this magnitude is only possible for the worst crimes and injuries. The Game Master and the player may work together in deciding the origins of the curse, or the Game Master may craft it himself. In the latter case, the origin of and the solution to the curse should remain a mystery to the character.
Depending on its severity, a curse can be worth anywhere between 1 and 10 points. A 10-point curse would be a terrible thing, something that would utterly ruin any chance of the character leading a normal or happy life, or which might kill the victim at any moment. Some rules of thumb to determine the power of the curse are given below. As usual, the Game Master is the final judge as to what is appropriate to a campaign setting.
A major inconvenience or annoyance is worth 1 point. For example, the character seems to attract flies, fleas and vermin; milk sours quickly in the presence of the victim; little accidents plague the accursed one.
Something more dramatic and harmful would be worth 2 to 3 points. For example, people tend to be distrustful and angry at the character for no apparent reason (-2 to -3 on all attempts to influence people), or the character can never accumulate a lot of money without losing it (this would preclude any Resource level above 0). Alternatively, people around the character are plagued by small accidents and annoying incidents. In this case, personal involvement is as important as that of physical proximity. A close friend of the victim suffers from the effects of the curse regardless of how far away he is. By the same token, all the people sharing a subway car with the accursed person also suffer from it.
Severe or life-threatening curses will be worth 4 to 5 points. For example, every day, an accident, mishap or random occurrence will endanger the character’s life – a car skips a red light when the character is crossing the street, a gang shootout breaks out in front of him, or a similar dangerous chance event occurs. If the character is alert, he might survive the mishap without injury, but every day, he has to live with the knowledge that sometime, somewhere, something dangerous and terrible is going to happen.
The difficulty in getting rid of a curse may add 1 to 5 points to its value. If undoing or atoning for a past misdeed is the only requisite, no additional points are awarded. If the misdeed is not known, add 1 point, as the character must spend time finding out why he was cursed. If the undoing process is extremely complex, or involves illegal activities (in some cases, killing the one who cursed the character is necessary), add 2 to 3 points. If a long quest culminating in a difficult magical ceremony, divine intervention, or a similar extraordinary factor is necessary, add 4 to 5 points. And some curses cannot be removed by any means. This adds 6 points to the value of the curse, but no measure will be effective in eliminating it.
Some beings have been alive and active for several life spans; they could be True Demons, ancient undead, or simply have Dick Clark's genes. Ancient characters are very powerful, having refined their abilities with centuries of practice. This Quality assumes that the character has some other powers or natural abilities, like vampirism or demonhood, which allowed him to survive this long (such powers must be purchased separately). Each level of Age adds one century to your character 's life span. Truly ancient supernaturals (a millennium old or older) have ten or so levels of Age, and are extremely dangerous. As such, they are not appropriate as Cast Members in most games.
The Age Quality only refers to periods during which the character was active. Many supernatural beings have long periods of 'down time,' times when they were in stasis (a fancy term for chillin' in a big way). If you want to create a character from a truly ancient period, be our guest; add as many levels of Age as you can afford, and consider the rest to be 'down time' for whatever reasons. The bonuses your character gets are restricted to levels of Age purchased though.
As you get older, you learn more (at least that's the theory). Each Age level grants one point per level of Intelligence to put into skills, to a maximum of four per level. Age is not without its downsides though. Over time, enemies and secrets are accumulated, and these always seem to outlast friendships and renown. For each level of Age, the character must take one level of either Adversary or Secret and gains no character points for these Drawbacks.
Demons and other supernatural types don't have the same drives and emotional makeup of humans. They sometimes find it hard to control their primal urges. We're not saying humans are the models of restraint, but poor impulse control is a common supernatural trait, which is probably a sign of most demons' natural evil tendencies.
Antisocial Impulses is a Drawback, similar to Covetous and Mental Problems, and like those Drawbacks it has several levels (1-3). Common types of impulses include the following.
Cruelty: This is identical to the Cruelty Drawback.
Deceit: Some demons love intrigue the way humans love sex or chocolate-covered cherries. They never miss a chance to plot and manipulate those around them, even their friends and allies. This often happens even when it's not in the demon's best interests. Straightforward plans are never favored; convoluted is definitely the way to go. Where's the glory in simple? Resisting the impulse to lie and manipulate others, or to make a plan less complex than it could be requires a Willpower (doubled) roll with a penalty equal to the level of the Drawback.
Violence: Your typical berserker type. The critter can't walk away from a fight, and when in doubt, it starts swinging. Whenever a potential confrontation happens, the character has to make a Willpower (doubled) roll with a penalty equal to the level of the Drawback. On a failure, the demon reacts violently.
This represents the classic wuxia stunt of seeing the world without need of eyes. With this Quality a character can sense his surroundings, making it impossible to blindside him. Your character is immune to the effects of darkness or invisibility and gains a +2 to all Perception rolls (this is cumulative with any Acute Senses bonuses). The Fast Reaction Time Quality is an added bonus (with no extra charge). Finally, the character's supernatural abilities grant him +2 to close combat attacks and defenses. These benefits are only applicable against living or moving foes.
When combined with the Physical Disability (Blindness) Drawback, a character can 'see' a monochromatic world around him with enough concentration (reading and close visual work is not possible). In a fast-paced combat situation, a nearby assailant who has no body temperature and does not breathe or move is invisible to a blind character.
The character has preternatural perception where his well-being is concerned; he is able to spot danger coming and take steps to avoid it. Whenever the character is unaware of some immediate physical danger, he may add his Danger Sense level to Tasks and Tests to notice the danger.
For example, Danger Dan Dash, Detective, has three levels of Danger Sense. He is poking around in an alley, looking for clues in a dumpster behind the apartment of a hoodlum he has been tailing for the last three days. Unbeknownst to Dan, the hoodlum has managed to sneak out of the apartment and set up an ambush for him at the mouth of the alley. As soon as Dan rounds the corner, he will be in trouble. When Dan has finished in the dumpster and heads back to his automobile, the Game Master calls for a Resisted Task: Dan’s Perception and Notice (3 + 3) against the criminal’s Dexterity and Stealth (2 + 4). Dan gets an additional +3 to his roll because of his three levels of Danger Sense. Dan rolls a three for a total of twelve. The hoodlum rolls a three as well, for a total of nine. Dan spots the ambush in the nick of time, noticing a reflection in a puddle of murky water and ducking back into the alley as the thug opens up with his Tommy Gun.
Danger Sense is not useful against threats that are not immediate (that is, threats that will not harm the character within the next few moments) and threats that are not directed against the character himself or some group of which the character is a part.
With enough trickery and lies, a young magician can be convinced to become the pawn of a demon. The bad beastie looks for a youngster with great magical potential and attempts to turn him into a willing thrall. Being a creature of lies and deception, the demon usually tries to find some way to trick or coerce its student into performing progressively more questionable acts. In time, it claims that the magician is irrevocably evil and has no choice but to continue on this path.
Once the dead bodies start piling up, some are so distraught that they break down or commit suicide. Although its corruptee isn’t available to manipulate anymore, this may be just what the demon sought. Others attempt to leave or to turn on their teacher. Fighting the demon’s demands is difficult, since it surreptitiously makes a pact with anyone it teaches. This pact prevents the character from attacking the demon and allows the demon to walk though any wards that he attempts to erect against it.
Characters who submit to the demon’s demands and willingly work evil are not suitable heroic material. On the other hand, a character who struggles against the demands of his dark master is an excellent roleplaying hook. Your character might know his teacher’s true nature and be fighting against its demands, but he is afraid for his life, or even that his friends will shun her if the truth comes out.
Though a more complex challenge, it’s best if the character is unaware of his teacher’s true nature. Pulling this off requires you to separate out-of-game knowledge from what your character knows. That can be difficult to play convincingly. Furthermore, if the other players know what’s going on, they too must join in with the voluntary ignorance. Otherwise, your Director must keep this Drawback from you and introduce the new teacher during the course of play. That means you don’t get to spend the resulting Drawback points. Once your character clues in, the Drawback is revealed and the points may finally be used.
Note that anyone who has ever signed a contract with the Boss has effectively accepted him as a Demonic Tutor for purposes of preventing that character from affecting or warding against him, and that this clause remains in effect even after the contract itself is completed!
Your character can affect those around him emotionally. The feelings can vary from attraction to anger to depression. How the target reacts is your Director's call. For example, if the emotion is anger and the target fairly assertive, violence is likely. Conversely, if the target is retiring, anger could manifest as passive aggressiveness. To avoid the power's influence, the target must make a Willpower (doubled) roll. If affected, he may make a new Willpower roll each Turn after that. Failure means the target has little control over the emotion at issue.
For certain emotions (say, lust), your character's Attractiveness levels also modify the target's Willpower roll (such modifiers are paid for separately and do not affect the cost of this Quality). The modification is the converse - negative Attractiveness grants bonuses to the target's roll; positive Attractiveness imposes penalties. The basic Emotional Influence ability costs two points. Penalties may be added to the target's roll for an additional point per level. So, Emotional Influence with a -3 penalty runs five points.
Your character is the proud possessor of a powerful magic item or a wondrous superscience device. He may have built it, stolen it, inherited it, or simply found it in a dumpster - in any case, he now owns it. Your character knows how to use it and while it may have one or two secrets, it’s basically his and under his control. Like spells, both enchanted and superscience items have Power Levels, and your character must pay two points for each such level. No character can start the game with an item more powerful than level six.
While this Quality allows characters to start with an extremely powerful item, if it is destroyed or stolen, the points paid for it are gone. Directors should never maliciously take away such items, but if your character strikes a huge demon with a magic sword and the demon grabs it and teleports back to its home dimension, he is simply out of luck. Again, that whole life not fair thing …
Other than casting spells and making minor items, magic is used to create objects of great power. We’re not talking about talismans, charms, or vials of witch-detecting goo here. Any kind of magician can do that. Only certain practitioners can devise and craft significant mystical objects. Most of these folks use traditional methods to create things like magic swords or amulets, but recently some have used the trappings of technology in their work. These superscience items appear to be pieces of astoundingly advanced technology, but for purposes of this RPG, they are just as magical as a draconian katra.
A character with the Enchanter version of this Quality can create powerful items such as mystical talismans and magic wands; one with the Superscientist Quality builds wondrous freeze-rays, intelligent robots, and the like. A character cannot possess both aspects of this Quality though - there's a basic thought-process incompatibility therethat would reduce most brains to mush.
More details on Enchanters and Superscientists can be found in the section of Superscience.
Enhanced Attributes include your basic superstrength, super-speed, and other super-stuff. Some supernatural beings can lift cars over their heads, hear a whispered conversations from across football fields, leap over small buildings in a single bound, run faster than speeding locomotives, fly … ah okay, that's probably going a bit too far.
To reflect these super-abilities, your character gets Attribute bonuses, ranging from +1 to +5 or even higher. These bonuses are added to the character's Attributes after the Attribute points specified by his Character Type have been distributed. So, if you give your character a Strength 4 and then devise a Demon Quality that adds three to Strength, the final Attribute level would be seven.
On the opposite end are Reduced Attributes. Some supernatural beings are slower (or slower-witted) than normal humans. Wimpy non-humans might suffer a -2 to their Strength, demons not known for their wit might have a -1 penalty to their Intelligence; a slave race could have a -1 penalty to their Willpower, and so on. For reduced Attributes, anything beyond -2 is probably too extreme for playable characters.
Enhanced Attributes cost one point per +1 bonus up to +10 for Strength and Constitution, and +5 for everything else. Beyond that point, the bonuses cost five points per level (so a +10 bonus to Dexterity would cost 30 points, five for the first +5, and 25 for the next five levels-to use a fairly extreme example). Reduced Attributes provide one point per -1 penalty instead of costing a point. So, a demon race with Strength +3, Dexterity +3, Constitution -2, and Intelligence -1 would have a total cost of three points.
Your GM may have a thing or two to say about serious levels of Enhanced Attributes. Be prepared to have him declare an upper limit of +5 to any one Attribute. Once again, four-color superheroics may not be his, or your, cup of sake.
Limbs that are specifically only good for attacking are covered under Natural Weapon, below; any limb that can also be used for fine manipulation (essentially prehensile) qualifies as an Extra Limb. To make one Natural Weapon an Extra Limb, add one point; to make two or more Natural Weapons an Extra Limb, add two points (regardless of the number).
Example: Garath the Gladiator has two sets of arms. This counts as two Innate Weapons that inflict 2 x Strength Bash damage (as per normal punching damage), plus two points for the Extra Limbs modifier. Garath could pay for Ambidexterity to avoid having an off hand, or buy Omnidexterity, below, to use all four hands at once.
Limbs that are good for locomotion, but cannot grip things, cost one Quality Point, regardless of the number of additional limbs.
Some demons and undead have the power to control the minds of others. Against single opponents or those without much in the way of will, this ability can be devastating. It comes in three levels, at an increasingly higher point cost.
Gaze Into My Eyes: At this level, your character can cause someone to hesitate for a few moments - plenty of time to launch an attack with impunity. The hypnotist makes a Willpower (doubled) roll (or uses his Brains Score in the case of Supporting Cast); the victim does the same. Unless the victim beats or ties the result, he is helpless for a Turn and has zero defense rolls against any attack. This ability costs five points.
What Do You See?: Your character can create illusions and muddle the victim's senses. This uses the same Resisted Willpower roll as Hypnosis (Gaze Into My Eyes), but if the character wins, the victim finds the illusion compelling. The character can render himself invisible or appear to be someone else. A character with What Do You See? gets a +1 bonus to use the Gaze Into My Eyes power. Ten points purchases this ability.
Come to Me: At this level, the supernatural being can dominate the victim, forcing him to obey almost any command. Every time your character tries to command the victim, use the same Resisted Willpower rolls as above. If the victim loses, he must comply. Some commands may go so totally against the victim's self- preservation instinct or moral code that he gains bonuses (+1 to +5) to resist (at your GM's discretion). Directing someone to jump off a skyscraper is morally questionable and could invalidate any control your character has over him. Your character gains a +1 bonus to attempts to use What Do You See?, and +2 to use Gaze Into My Eyes. This ability costs a whopping twenty points.
Not as in 'cannot be killed' but more as in 'not getting any older here.' Some supernatural beings don't age normally, staying the same apparent age for centuries or millennia. This doesn't cost points by itself (let's face it, much as we'd like to think differently, few games are going to span centuries), but Immortal characters can gain the Age Quality (see above) if their characters have been around for a few centuries.
Some supernaturals are much harder to kill than your average innocent bystander … or bull elephant. They could have redundant organs or their guts are just harder to rip out. These critters have more Life Points than the normal formula would allow for someone with their Strength and Constitution. Each level of this power adds an extra ten Life Points. Additionally, supernatural species can gain Hard to Kill levels; they work as the Quality of the same name (see above), providing both extra Life Points and bonuses in Survival Tests.
Some entities cannot be seen through normal means, which allows for all kinds of neat ninja tricks. Invisible characters can still be heard though and some sensors may detect them. Believe us, fighting them is still no picnic.
This Quality costs a base twenty points, and the invisibility may turned off and on at will. If the invisibility drops for at least a Turn when your character attracts attention to himself (by, say, smashing something over a victim's head), the cost is reduced to ten points. Similarly, if the character is stuck on 'invisible,' the power is also halved to ten points.
Your character is immune to all forms of Telepathy (see below) and some Supernatural Senses (see below; GM's call on that), as well as all spells or powers that seek to read or control his thoughts or emotions. He can still be struck by magic or slammed by Telekinesis, but no one can get into his head. It's not all good though. Those with this Quality tend to be somewhat closed off and distant, and often also possess the Outcast Drawback (see above).
Whatever your character's particular power, he can't use it as much as he would like. There are conditions and if they aren't meet, your character can wave his hands, concentrate, flex his wrists, or mumble haiku all he wants, and no one will be impressed. That could prove very … unfortunate. This Drawback is worth one point if the conditions aren't too crippling. For example if the ability only works during the night (or the day), or only if the target is singing or if he does his Vulcan mind meld thing. Two points are awarded if the prerequisites are very limiting. This applies if the power can only be used once a day, or for an hour each day. This value would also fit if the capacity was effective only against one demon species, vampires, lawyers, or blondes.
Your character attracts spells and magical energy — basically he is a lighting rod for the arcane. If any sort of spell backfires and affects the wrong target, it hits him. If random magical energy has been released in the vicinity, it always rebounds on him in some way. These effects are rarely directly harmful, but he could end up invisible or with rabbit ears if he is too close to a ritual that goes wrong.
Witches and Warlocks do have children and families. Your character has magical relatives - he may be part of a hereditary coven of witches, or he may simply have a father or aunt who dabbles in the occult and is willing to teach a bright and interested teen or young adult. While life can sometimes be dangerous for a character with this background, having a parent or other relation who can offer useful advice (and even cover with the authorities and other adults for the character's more questionable activities) is a rare gift.
The cost of this Quality depends on exactly who the relative is and how old the character is. It’s free for Cast Members over the age of 18, as long as they possess at least one level of Sorcery. Characters this age or older are also expected to provide their own magic books (purchasing the Occult Library Quality separately). For younger Cast Members, having an uncle, aunt, grandparent who works magic costs one point (this assumes that the character’s parents know nothing of magic). It costs two points for a teenage character to have a parent who uses magic - it’s huge when your parents are cool with you using the mojo. Teenage Cast Members may consult their relation’s two-point Occult Library, but gaining access to any of these spells requires asking their family’s permission (or sneaking around behind their backs). Of course, this background only costs points if the parent is a good person who honestly wishes to help her child. Having magic-using parents who simply want to use and control their child as a source of power is instead a 2-point Drawback.
The only significant limit to your character learning magic from her family is that the character’s parent or other relative will not give her access to spells of Power Level four or higher until he has reached maturity. Few mothers want their teenage daughters or sons to be attempting to work with the most potent and dangerous forms of magic, especially while they are living at home (it’s really hard to get that stuff out of the carpet).
Some demons and other critters have really tough skin, as good as or better than a suit of armor. In some cases, it is armor that has been mystically grafted onto their skin, which raises all sorts of personal hygiene problems best not considered too deeply. In others, it is merely tough hide or thick scales, such as the skin of a dragon or a crocodile.
Natural Armor subtracts its value from any damage your character takes (just like regular armor, see p. 62). The damage is reduced before any modifiers (for Slash/stab or Bullet weapons for example) are taken into account. Natural Armor 10, for example, would subtract ten points of damage from every attack that hits.
This covers your basic razor-sharp claws, big nasty teeth, horns (real goring horns, the kinds of things that can do real damage), steel bands that wrap around hands, and other (un)natural weapons. The more deadly the implement, the more it costs. Those given below assume that the weapon causes Slash/stab damage. If it causes Bash damage instead, lower the cost by one. If the weapon is retractable, a one-point kicker is added to the cost. If the weapon is detachable (and throwable) or launchable instead, double its cost. These missiles have normal thrown or pistol ranges (see pp. 56) depending on how they are used. If they can reach out and touch someone like a rifle, the damage is halved (before armor or damage modifiers).
Delivering damage with a natural weapon requires a Combat Maneuver that brings it into play. A claw would use Punch, a horn Head Butt, and a serrated shin Kick.
Small: One point - 2 x Strength damage. Medium: Two points - 3 x Strength damage. Large: Three points - 4 x Strength damage. Extra-Large: Four points - 5 x Strength damage.
The character has been reborn many times. As a result, his soul has become stronger. Characters with Old Souls tend to be very mature and precocious for their age. It would be nice to believe that age invariably provides wisdom, but Old Souls are equally likely to be depraved or insightful, cruel or kind. Whatever their orientation, it will usually be more extreme, having been refined over several lifetimes.
This Quality can be acquired multiple times during character creation (but it cannot be acquired afterwards). Each “level” represents some 3-5 previous lives lived before the character’s current incarnation. The player can determine who these former selves were, where they lived, and what they know, or he can leave such information in the hands of the Game Master. From a roleplaying point of view, creating a “past lives tree” can be interesting.
Each level adds 6 points to the character’s Essence Pool, even if the character is not Inspired. This may make Old Souls very attractive to certain supernatural predators. Additionally, each level also adds 1 character point to the Attribute Point Pool; these character points can only be used to increase mental Attributes (Intelligence, Perception and Willpower). Successive lives tend to increase the character’s overall insights and understanding – for good or ill. For example, Mandy has 3 levels of the Old Soul Quality. This gives her 3 more points to put into her mental Attributes, and 18 more Essence Points.
Old Souls are sometimes able to tap into the knowledge of their previous lives. These attempts require the character to pass a single Test using both Willpower and Intelligence as modifiers, and each attempt drains the character of 1 Essence Point, which is regained normally. When attempting to perform an unskilled Task, the character may receive a flash of knowledge from one of his previous lives. If the player took the time to decide what his character’s previous lives knew, then the character gains, for that one Task, a skill level equivalent to the character’s Old Soul level, but only the skills that the character knew in his previous lives are available. If the previous lives are not known, then the character uses only one half of the Old Soul level (rounded down), but virtually any skill might be known. The only exception would be high-tech Skills that a previous life would be unlikely to know. Asking one’s ancestral memories how to hack into a computer system is not likely to work very well…
For example, Mandy, with 3 levels of Old Soul has about 10 past incarnations. The player decided to take the time to figure out who those people were. They include five peasants from different time periods (the Game Master insisted on at least that many characters being peasants, since most people in pre-modern times tilled the soil for a living), a Confederate soldier, a Mongol raider, a Medieval Italian Princess, and a Wicce from the Victorian Era. In the course of an adventure, Mandy needs to ride a horse, and she does not know how, but her Mongol past life was an expert. If she passes the Willpower and Intelligence Test, she can ride the horse with an effective skill of 3, at the cost of 1 Essence point. The skill will be in effect for as long as the ride lasts; if later in the day she needs to ride a horse, a new Test and an expenditure of Essence are required. If the player had not fleshed out the past incarnations, Mandy would have been able to ride the horse, but with a skill of only 1.
Some people can see the future in visions or dreams. Most of the time, the visions aren't very clear, nor do they happen very often, and they cannot be activated on purpose-they just happen. No rolls are needed. Your Director should make the visions or dreams ambiguous and use images and situations from your character's life. The visions should reflect his current problems and worries. Your character's friends and enemies may pop up in the visions, offering advice, vague threats, or deep philosophical comments. The Director can use the visions to drop hints about upcoming events - the rise of some great evil, the potential bad decision to come, the next winner of American Idol, and other fun stuff. As your character has little to no control over this ability and it largely acts as a cool plot device for the Director to use, it costs no points.
The three-point Drawback expresses itself through painful, paralyzing flashbacks (more like 'flash-forwards') of death and danger. These visions happen a lot more often, and while they are active, the character is pretty much out of it (cannot take any actions for one to four Turns, depending on how long the vision lasts). Humans who get this 'gift' don't live very long-the intensity of the visions eventually destroys their brains (often literally). Only Demons and Half-Demons can endure the visions without permanent damage. A human character with this version of Psychic Visions is going to need some help eventually (in a Season or so).
Your character possesses a preternatural sensitivity to objects and the energies others leave when they touch them. He can gain information about items and places uses this ability.
Characters with psychometry often get impressions from simply bumping against a wall or touching the steering wheel of a car-many beings with this power wear gloves most of the time. These visions are determined by your GM. To use this ability actively, your character must touch the object and roll Perception and Notice. The exact result depends both upon the roll and upon the history of the object being touched. Consult the Psychometry Chart below but know that your GM might modify the 'read' depending on the needs of the storyline.
|1||Feel the strongest emotions associated with the object in the recent past (one day or less), and gain some sensory glimpse of the person feeling that emotion. This is not a full-face portrait though (sorry, the villain doesn't get revealed until the end of the Episode, remember?), but it could be a flash of someone's shoes, the smell of their perfume, the sound of music playing in the background at the time, or some other (more or less) useful clue. This level reveals items that are supernatural in nature.|
|2||Impressions go back further in time (a week or less) and get more precise for more recent (one day or less) events. If the visions are frightening, time for a Fear Test. This level reveals a few vague hints about the potential uses or powers of any supernatural item.|
|3||Impressions go back one month or less. Can now detect more than one wielder/owner within that time frame if they left a good psychic 'imprint' (i.e., felt strong emotions while in contact with the item). Clues are even more plentiful, but they are rarely complete. Events of extreme emotional or magical power can be glimpsed, no matter how long ago they were. This level reveals if an old knife was used to perform a human sacrifice 300 years ago, but would likely not show anything more than a shadowy glimpse of who performed the deed or where it was performed.|
|4||Impressions go back one year or less. Visions are granted about every owner/wielder of the object or those in contact with it (in the case of a murder weapon, that would include both the killer and the victim if the weapon was a knife or something that had to touch the victim). This level reveals most of the powers and uses of an enchanted item. This level also reveals a bit more information about powerful events that happened many years or centuries before. It would show that a knife was used by a tall vampire to perform a human sacrifice in the ruins of a large church, and might even show a partial glimpse of the victim's face or a general sense of why the sacrifice was being performed.|
|5-9||Impressions go back between ten to fifty years. The visions are stronger and incredibly detailed. They are also imprinted more firmly in the psychic's mind, and may be revisited at a later time even if the object is not available. Clues from beyond that time are also more complete. These kinds of Success Levels are the most subject to GM whim.|
|10+||This brings up any scene concerning the item or place in the last century, or at any time if it involved significant supernatural events. These visions may be entered, walked around in, slowed, frozen, or otherwise experienced in full sensory mode as if part of the holodeck. Your GM should withhold only specifically warded or totally plot-destroying information.|
Some psychics can start fires through the power of their mind alone. To use this power, your character rolls and adds his Willpower and Pyrokinesis levels. Each Success Level inflicts one point of fire damage per level of Willpower. For example, a pyrokinetic with Willpower 4 who got four Success Levels on his roll inflicts sixteen points of fire damage (more than enough to put the hurt on someone). The amount of damage determines what can be ignited with this power. Highly flammable objects (gasoline soaked rags) require only one to three points of damage to start burning. Dry wood needs five to six points, regular clothing or wooden furniture requires ten or more points, and synthetic furniture and the like need twenty or more points to start burning. Using this power on a human both inflicts damage and sets his clothing on fire. Once something ignites, it burns normally (see p. 58 for details on Fire damage).
Some critters aren't easy to damage like normal folks. A demon from a fiery dimension might take half damage from fire or heat, for example. Vampires are highly resistant to bullets and falls due to their undead nature. This power comes in three levels. The first reduces damage by half, the second divides damage by five and the third drops damage by a factor of ten. Damage is rounded down, to a minimum of one point. In all cases, the base damage is adjusted after Success Levels have been added. Damage type modifiers are not applied. The cost of the trait depends on what form of damage is affected. it'd be neat to be nearly invulnerable to everything but that's gonna cost quite a bit.
Everything: Applying Reduced Damage to all injuries costs five, twenty-five, or fifty points, respectively.
Specific Attack: If something specific but relatively common is affected, the cost is three, ten, and twenty points, respectively. This covers damage like fire/explosions, all kinetic attacks (fists, bullets, falling safes, pimpslaps), and so on.
Limited: This is a single specific type of attack, such as bullets, falls/large blunt trauma, or metal weapons. This costs one, five, and ten points respectively.
You can't keep a good demon down. Or a bad one for that matter. Some supernaturals heal very rapidly. The amount healed is equal to the character's Constitution Attribute. The faster this amount heals, the more expensive the power is. Healing every hour costs one point. Healing every minute costs three points. The very handy regeneration-every-Turn runs six points. While regeneration allows the regrowth of limbs, it does not convey immortality or invulnerability. No matter how fast a character heals, if he is forced to make a Survival Test and fails, it's still curtains for the mug.
(Maximum level: Greater of Willpower or Occultism.)
Some people have the spark of magic. They can use the dark arts more easily than normal students of the occult. Your character’s Sorcery level is added to spellcasting rolls up to level five (after that, additional levels only help with repeat casting penalties). It is also used for other witchcraft powers, like telekinesis and sensing the presence of magic. Characters with Sorcery can cast some spells faster than normal, allowing them to actually use magic in the middle of a fight — your basic witch-fu. Don’t get cocky though; Sorcery is no magic bullet against the unpredictability and dangers of magic use. Reach for the spells too often and something potentially very nasty is going to come your way. You’ve been warned. Magic and the role this Quality plays in it are described in Chapter Four: Playing With Primal Forces.
Your character can see (and talk to) dead people. While not everyone leaves a ghost, many people who have been murdered, especially those killed by magic or monsters, do. While only a few ghosts can actually appear to ordinary mortals, this character can see all of the faint and intangible restless spirits that lurk on the edges of the mortal world, hoping that someone like her will see them and heed their pleas for justice and vengeance.
Unfortunately, your character has no choice about hearing these pleas. If they are talking, he can hear them. They can also hear her, so if your character yells at them to shut up and leave her alone, the more timid ones may do just that. On the other hand, all the living people nearby hear her shouting at the air like a lunatic - not the best way to make friends or get a date. The worst part of this ability is that ghosts can tell that your character can hear them and often follow her around. Learning some simple wards like the Circle of Binding might be useful, but then you have to figure out how to get the spirit to enter the circle.
Maybe your supernatural can expel fire out of some unmentionable orifice, or spit gobs of acid, or something equally nasty. This type of attack is not dependent on the critter's Strength (unlike Natural Attacks). The more damage the attack does, the more it costs. How far the attack reaches also plays into the cost. Close combat attacks (use Kung Fu and Dexterity to 'hit' the enemy) are cheaper than ranged attacks (use Gun Fu and Dexterity to 'shoot' the attack, or, if the attack is something unusual, a Wild Card Skill instead of Gun Fu). Ranged attacks fire as far as a pistol; those that can reach rifle ranges do half damage.
Minor: The attack inflicts twenty points of damage. It costs four points for close, eight for ranged.
Major: The attack inflicts thirty points of damage. It costs seven points for close, twelve for ranged.
Deadly: The attack inflicts fifty points of damage. Fifteen points must be spent for close, twenty for ranged.
Massive: The attack inflicts one hundred points of damage. It costs thirty-five points for close, forty for ranged.
Let's face it- you're going to get second glances if you're a big red bipedal lizard with a prehensile tail. But not all demons look like demons; some actually look like supermodels. For the unfortunates who don't, having a supernatural face is a Drawback.
Some critters can instantly switch back and forth between a human shape and their real one (pausing just long enough for cool morphing effects). In some cases, they have to change into their non-human form to use their special powers.
Definitely Not Human: Your character just can't pass himself off as human. His favorite time of the year is Halloween, 'cause then he can at least show his face. This is a two-point Drawback and carries with it an Attractiveness -2 feature. Additional negative Attractiveness levels can be acquired for extra points. Alternatively, positive Attractiveness levels can be purchased separately to neutralize the downside of always having your supernatural side up front.
Dual Shape: The being has a human and a supernatural form. He can switch at will and nearly instantly, although sometimes anger or surprise (or sneezing) brings forth his true shape involuntarily. This costs no points unless the human form is weaker (for example, any supernatural powers only apply to the demon form), in which case this is a one-point Drawback. The character can have a split Attractiveness level, one for each form (which is purchased separately). If Life Points are increased in the demon form, reverting could bring the human into a world of pain (and negative LPs).
Any level of this ability enables the being to tell by sight (or smell or sound or feel or in particularly intrusive cases, taste) if someone is a human, a vampire, or a demon. Others have more sharply defined powers. In some cases, they can actually 'feel' people, 'read' their auras, or pick up mystical clues. A Perception and Notice roll may be required and the Success Levels dictate the depth of the information gathered. Sometimes the input is overwhelming and just can't be missed (all this in your GM's discretion). Mortal mages commonly have these gifts.
Basic: Your character can tell a being's basic nature - demon, vampire, magician, etc. In the event that your character has never met an example of a specific entity before (a vampire in a world where they have never encountered vampires before, for example), they may not be able to identify what it is, but they'll still be aware it isn't human, for example. Rarely is a Perception roll required. This costs one point.
Empathy: The being can tell what someone is feeling. People are generally pretty poor at hiding their anger, grief, or smug confidence. Most of the time, the empath can only read the strongest emotions a target is feeling. With particularly strong feelings or a very good Perception roll, the being learns about exactly how the target feels. This runs two points.
Enhanced Senses: This gent has one or more incredibly sharp senses (sight, hearing, smell, and so on), enabling him to track by scent or hear a whispered conversation a hundred feet away. The power requires the Acute Senses Quality (for each sense to be enhanced) and a minimum Perception 5. Where applicable, it doubles the bonuses of Acute Senses, but most of the time, no roll is needed. These senses cost three points each.
Fortune Telling: The character can catch glimpses of the past and future by looking at someone or something. This can work like Psychometry (see above except with the possibility of future visions) or it can be dictated by your GM according to the needs of the plotline. This costs five points.
Insight: The supernatural can see detailed truths about a person (including Qualities and Drawbacks) by reading his aura-his nature, feelings, desires, fears, even possessing entities or other abnormalities. It can also be used to track, particularly by attuning oneself to the aura of certain beasts- this may require one or more Perception and Notice rolls. Any use requires at least a Turn or three of concentration. This power costs five points.
The Sight: Your character can see magic and traces of supernatural power. He can also tell if someone is preparing to cast a spell and see at a glance if an item is magical. He can even see a faintly glowing residue indicating that magic has been used in an area during the last few hours. If the being spends a minute or so looking closely at someone and makes a Perception and Notice roll with two Success Levels, he can tell if the person is a normal human. If he makes the roll by three or more Success Levels, he can tell if the person is a psychic, vampire, demon, or something undefined. The character cannot actually see ghosts in detail, but if one (or some other invisible supernatural being) shows up, he can notice a faint glow of power in its vicinity (no need for the normal invisibility Perception roll is needed). With sufficient Success Levels (GM's call), he can also tell at a glance if someone is possessed or otherwise afflicted. Three points must be spent for this ability.
This is your basic ability to move objects with the power of your mind. To use this power, your character rolls and adds his Willpower and Telekinesis levels. The Success Levels equal the 'strength' of the levitation effect. So if the roll resulted in five Success Levels, your telekinetic could move an object with a Strength 5. When tossing people around using telekinesis, the damage done is two times the Success Levels in Bash type. The telekinetic Strength (the Success Levels in the roll) must be sufficient to lift the person off the floor, though (see above). Precise tasks (guiding a key into a keyhole, manipulating a keyboard) require a Perception and Telekinesis roll (with appropriate Success Levels as your GM demands). Attacks use Dexterity or Perception (player's choice) and an appropriate skill (staking a vamp would use Getting Medieval, firing a gun Gun Fu). All remote tasks suffer a -1 penalty because the telekinetic manipulates the object at a distance. Damage is set by the weapon and uses the telekinetic Strength level rolled. Tossing small objects requires only a Willpower and Telekinesis roll, and must overcome the target's defense roll. The damage value of such an attack is two times the Success Levels rolled.
Telekinesis requires some effort to maintain. After a number of Turns equal to your character's Willpower, he has to make another Willpower and Telekinesis roll to maintain the power, at a cumulative -2 penalty. So, a psychic with a Willpower 4 would suffer a -2 penalty on the fifth Turn and a -6 penalty on the thirteenth Turn that he maintained an effect or used successive effects. This penalty applies to all telekinesis rolls until the psychic gets at least three hours of rest (as in magic use, see p. 80) between uses.
Let's Revisit: If a character with a Willpower 4 was swinging a large axe with his Telekinesis (beats chopping wood by hand) and rolled a 16 (four Success Levels), he would have an effective Strength 4 for the next four Turns. On the fifth Turn, he would reroll Willpower and Telekinesis and subtract two; this could change her psychic Strength value.
Your character can speak into the minds of others. While doing this, he can also hear any thoughts directed at him in response. A telepath can mentally communicate simultaneously with a number of people equal to his Willpower. The duration in minutes and range in ten-foot increments depends on the Success Levels of a Willpower (doubled) roll. An exception may exist for those the telepath knows very well (as long as your GM buys into that). In that case, your character can communicate with such targets at any distance, as long as he can see them or knows where they are.
If the telepath touches someone or looks into his eyes, he can listen in on what the being is thinking. In this case, the subject resists the telepath's Willpower (doubled) roll with one of his own. If successful, your character's Success Levels dictate the time (in minutes) that may be spent probing and the depth of the 'read' (consult Mind Probe Chart). Using eye contact for mind probe telepathy only works if the target is less than five feet away. Sorry, no long distance or binocular-aided mind probing permissible.
Successive attempts to communicate telepathically or read someone's mind before resting at least three hours suffer a cumulative -2 penalty. So, for the second attempt, the roll suffers a -2 penalty; on the fifth attempt, an -8 penalty.
|Mind Probe Chart|
|1||Can sense only basic emotions.|
|2||Can sense surface thoughts (whatever the subject is thinking at the moment).|
|3||Can delve deeper into the mind of the subject. A simple question can be 'asked' and a one sentence or less answer is revealed. Each additional Success Level grants one more question and answer.|
|4+||Can get a clear picture of the subject's personality, find memories, and get any information available (provided the telepath specifically asks for it).|
Your character's power is not fully under his control. During times of stress, it can go wild, striking things and people at random. Whenever the character is angry, scared, or otherwise stressed, a Willpower (doubled) roll is needed, with penalties from -1 to -6, depending on how stressful the situation is. If the roll fails, the power goes off at random (your GM can be as sadistic as he feels is appropriate; feel free to kibitz). If the stress is extreme, the power not only goes wild, it works at double its normal level. For example, if a Telekinetic confronts her abusive father, her power might go out of control at double its normal strength. Your GM will tell you if your character's power makes sense with this limitation.
Some supernaturals can't be killed by conventional means; something extraordinary is needed. Some demons need to be beheaded, for example, or their bodies must be burned to ashes. That doesn't mean your guy doesn't take damage normally, and can't be incapacitated - he just doesn't die from it. If the character isn't destroyed in the correct way, he eventually heals from any injuries and rises again.
This Quality only applies if there is one specific way to kill the supernatural. While it's true that vampires can only be dusted in certain ways, those ways are fairly numerous. Having that many 'limited ways' to be aced just doesn't make the grade. Vamps don't enjoy the Unique Kill Quality.
Some supernatural beings have an Achilles heel, something that hurts them a lot more than normal. Vamps, for example, have lots of cool things going for them, but their slight sunlight problem balances things out a bit. Vulnerabilities range in value from no points (if it's something so rare and unique it's only coming up when your Director decides it comes up) to lots of points (if it severely endangers the character).
Minor: A rare item or substance (unique mystical artifact, for example) that does extra damage to the character (double damage after armor and modifiers), or negates any armor or special defenses, or which can destroy the character if reduced to zero Life Points (like, say stakes). This is a two-point Drawback.
Major: Something common that inflicts constant damage, or a special form of attack that does massive damage (five times damage after armor and modifiers). This is a three-point Drawback.
Multiple Vulnerabilities: Vampires have a laundry list of things that can kill them. You can do the same for your character but these banes don't stack completely - the maximum value of all combined Vulnerabilities is five points.
Described below are some sample supernatural packages. We've presented them for your use and enjoyment. They can be also serve as guidelines for creating new critters. Your GM is free to modify or disallow them in his game (but that'd be true even if they were canon, so don't get too worked up).
Your character is not human, but belongs to one of the hundreds (thousands?) of transdimensional species that inhabit the various hell-realms. Or maybe he is part of those weakened, hybrid demon races that stayed on Earth when the True Demons were disposed. Perhaps he's just a mixed (and mixed-up) child-the offspring of a demon and a human (no, we are not going into details, let's just say it happens and leave it at that).
No set cost can be given for this Quality because no two demons are the same. Some are stronger than a horse and uglier than a platypus (no offense to the platypus). Others are as strong as a platypus and uglier than a horse (if they're rich, that could be overlooked). Many have a variety of special powers (and a bunch of problems too). Each demonic 'species' has its own point value, determined by the sum of their bonuses and penalties. Rules for creating demon species from scratch are presented in a separate section (see p. 26).
This unusual form of undead is an instrument of vengeance or justice (even they aren't sure) who may be agents of the Powers That Be or some other entity interested in fighting the forces of darkness. Revenants are men and women who died violently, usually through supernatural means. They come back as avenging angels, hunting down those they deem 'tainted' with evil or the supernatural. Unlike most undead, however, they do not reincarnate in their original body - instead they take over the corpse of another victim of violence or supernatural activity. Driven by powerful visions and a thirst for revenge, Revenants need to get used to the idea of living in a stranger's body for the rest of their existence, driven by powerful visions and a thirst for revenge.
Revenants look alive (if a little pale), but they don't have a pulse, don't sweat, and don't need to eat. Their bodies are only slightly above room temperature. Most importantly, they cannot be killed normally. If their body 'dies,' their spirit takes over the body of the closest person who dies by violence after their 'demise.' The 'rebirth' takes little or no time at all, but the distance the new body is from the site of death can cause a spot of trouble. The only way to destroy a Revenant permanently is to burn its body while it's still alive. The flames trap the spirit and remove it from this plane of existence.
Killing a Revenant (without burning it) means the character needs to start over in a new body. Your Director decides when and where the new body is found. In general, the character is going to be out of the game for a bit.
The newfound body usually has average levels (2) in all Attributes. To determine the Attributes to come, roll a D10 and distribute those 'extra' Attribute points as desired, then add in the bonuses of the Revenant Quality. Over time, the body 'grows into' these higher stats, as the Revenant's spirit reshapes the body. This occurs at the rate of one Attribute level per week. This can result in a truly radical transformation of the body in question! In general, skills, Qualities, and Drawbacks carry over to the new body, and replace those possessed by that body.
Revenants get a +2 bonus to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, and a +3 bonus to Willpower. They have Regeneration (Per hour) and their unique body-switching power (10 points which includes their Unique Kill (Fire) Quality). Finally, they have Psychic Visions- the debilitating version. A Revenant's total cost is 17 points.
For simplicity's sake, newly infested bodies should be as blank a slate as possible. Perhaps an Attribute or two could vary from the norm, but otherwise, it's best to just let the Revenant mold the body to his previous Attributes without worrying overly about “left-over” clutter.
The “under the hood” folks among you no doubt have noticed that the Revenant's “new body” Attribute points range from 13 to 22 (the 12 from the “body” plus D10). Thus, a Revenant could have more or less Attribute levels in total than it had in its first body.
That's designed to add a bit of variety to the character and give the player a bit more ability to adjust his character after a fatal encounter. Some players or GMs might like to keep the character's Attribute levels more consistent. In that case, simply set the “Attributes to come” level at the former body's Attributes. Alternatively, you could keep the mental Attribute maximums the same as the former body and allow some variation on the physical side (use half a D10 result, rounded down, to spread around). This all adds complexity, of course.
Another way to twist things (and add complication) arises if your Director varies the non-Attribute aspects of the body that your Revenant infests. Keeping some Qualities or Drawbacks (or even skills in very odd cases) flavors the assumed body. What if your Revenant took over someone who had deranged-level Mental Problems, or was half-demon, or had superhuman healing abilities, or retractable adamantine claws, or was really, really short? The variations are limitless.
You know the spiel - the Slayer is the Chosen One, she who fights vampires and demons, spends nights in cemetaries, hunts demons in sewers, and pursues evil through the seedy underside of the worlds. Slayers are stronger, faster, and more resilient than normal humans. They recover from severe injuries very quickly, too - keeping a Slayer down is not easy, even when medical attention isn't close at hand. They aren't immortal, though. Slayers tend to lead brutish, short lives - it's not exactly the most well-liked career path. Unfortunately, it's also not typically something that can be chosen - it's the sort of destiny that finds you.
In most fictions, vampires are irredeemable monsters, unable to control their lust for blood and death. These vampires often have high levels of the Mental Problems (Cruelty) Drawback, and for the most part are not fit for human company. There is nothing very sexy or appealing about a demon in human drag who considers people little more than meals-on-legs, after all. Even those without this flaw tend to be a few short steps away from devolving into their monstrous selves – and for those buying into the concept of the 'unsouled' vampire, souls don’t serve as much of a hindrance to evil, as we’ve seen lots of times with regular humans).
Playing a vampire as a character can be tricky – you must work out how or why the vampire can control her inner demon, or expect to get yourself killed - a lot. Whatever the explanation, the cost to play a vampire is 15 points, minus the drawback points of any Mental Problems or Emotional Problems caused by the transformation.
Vampires gain +3 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution, and two levels of Hard to Kill (they can have as many as 10 levels in total); +2 bonuses to hearing and smell/taste-based Perception rolls (+4 when involving blood); take only one-fifth damage from bullets (other weapons hurt normally); recover from injuries at the rate of one Life Point per Constitution level every hour (fire damage regenerates at the rate of one Life Point per Constitution level per day); and are immortal. Vampires are vulnerable to sunlight, holy symbols, stakes through the heart, and beheading.
House Notes: Vampires can choose between classic Regeneration (listed above) and Vampiric Regeneration at the one-point level at no change in Quality cost; they can choose (and pay for) different levels if they choose.
Your character is afflicted with the curse of the werewolf. Some werewolves retain some control over their inner beasts, but for the most part this is a curse, not a boon. In their animal form, werewolves have +4 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, +2 to Constitution (adjust Life Point totals normally), and can bite and claw victims, inflicting (2 x Strength) points of base damage (Slash/stab).
Werewolves are also tough creatures in their bestial form, gaining the Natural Toughness Quality and Armor Value 1 (see p. 62). They also have Regeneration level 1, regaining their Constitution score per hour. (Some wolfies have been known to have the Regeneration per Turn option while in wolfman form!) Wolfies have very sharp noses, enjoying the Acute Senses (Smell/Taste) Quality whether wolfed-out or not; if the character already has that quality, the bonuses stack together. A victim bitten by a werewolf has to pass a Willpower (doubled) roll, or become cursed as well. Seeing an enraged werewolf usually calls for a Fear Test with a -4 modifier (experienced monster hunters avoid this modifier once they have encountered enough lycanthropes).
If the Director is in control of your character's werewolf form, this is a 3-point Drawback. Otherwise, this is a 6-point Quality. Some lycanthropes can transform themselves at will and are not limited to the full month, cost of this ability is 12 points.
On the negative side, silver is a big problem for werewolves. Silver weapons inflict double normal damage (slashing and bullet weapons inflict triple damage). They are less effective than normal metal weapons, however; subtract three points from the base damage (before the multiplying effect), to a minimum of one.
You can use this template as an idea for creating other lycanthropic forms; just tweak them appropriately, and modify the cost upwards or downwards to reflect changes in the limitations or advantages it provides. (For example, a less monstrous and more animalistic werewolf form might cost 1 Quality point less, but provide no penalty to Fear Tests from those who see it; a feline lycanthrope might have its +4 to Dexterity instead of Strength at no change in cost; and so forth.
Zombies have varying attributes depending on the actual spell that was used to raise them, but they all share a few things in common. The process of decay is halted as long as the zombie remains animated. This means that a zombie who was raised very shortly after he died could pass as one of the living (at least as far as appearances go, the room temperature body would still be a “dead” giveaway). Zombies are also highly resistant to damage. They don't have more Life Points than normal, but they are very tough.
Zombies ignore most damage effects. When the undead takes damage, he marks off the Life Points but that's pretty much it (even when Life Points fall below zero). Any blow that does damage equal to the zombie's Strength x 4 will knock it down. When knocked down, the zombie must spend the next Turn getting up. Otherwise, it can act unencumbered by even grievous wounds. It is unsightly, but emotionally stable and professional zombies tend not to dwell on the whole image thing.
Now, don't misunderstand - zombies aren't indestructible. If a zombie is reduced to -30 Life Points through slashing attacks, it becomes dismembered. This means the separated parts take on a life of their own. Instead of facing one of the walking dead, the attacker faces two crawling hands of the walking dead … and a combat booted, toothy walking undead. Decapitation is pretty effective against zombies (actually, it's pretty effective against all sorts of things). If a head attack reduces a zombie to -10 Life Points or worse, he has to make a Survival Test. If he fails, the head comes off and the ambulatory corpse is reduced to the more common stay-in-one-place corpse. Burning a zombie to ashes (which takes about 200 points of damage) would also work. The best way to get rid of a zombie would be to reverse the spell that created it in the first place, but this is often easier said then done.
Being a zombie is a Quality with a base cost of 10 points, plus additional points based on any Attribute modifiers. Different methods of returning the dead to undeath grant different modifiers. If a zombie had +2 Strength and -1 Dexterity, Intelligence, and Willpower, the Quality would cost only nine points.
Skills are learned abilities, the result of training, study or experience. In general, anything that can be taught is considered a skill. The character’s background, education and life experiences determine what skills he would be likely to have.
Skills are broken down into broad categories. Rather than assign a skill to different types of guns, for example, the Gun Fu skill covers the ability to fire anything with a trigger. This is not realistic, but reflects the reality of TV shows. It also makes character creation easier: rather than having to look at a huge list of skills for your character, you can look at your character sheet and decide which of the 18 skills in the list are appropriate. The specifics are left to your imagination. If your Cast Member is an intrepid jungle explorer, her Science skill would reflect mostly an expertise in botany and biology, and her Knowledge skill would deal mainly with geography and exotic cultures. A criminal lawyer may have a Crime skill that lets her identify and communicate with assorted underworld types, but he may not be able to pick a lock.
To acquire skills, use the character points allocated to the skills category as determined by the Character Type. Skills cost one point per level for levels one through five. After level five, each additional level costs three points.
RACY EXAMPLE: Lorna wants her character to be an excellent driver—in fact, she could race cars for a living! Such expertise would require a skill of five or higher. Lorna decides to go for broke and give the character a Driving skill 7. This costs five points for the first five levels, and six points for the other two, for a total of 11 character points. Lorna’s character will be an ace driver, but she is unlikely to have very high skills in anything else.
Like most numbers in the Unisystem, high is good and low is bad. The higher a skill level, the more proficient the character is at using that skill. In general, a level one indicates a beginner or amateur, somebody who has just learned the rudiments of the skill. A level two or three represents general competency—the ability to perform average tasks with ease. A level four or five indicates extreme competence in the subject, the result of a lot of study or practice. Higher levels indicate true mastery of the skill or craft, and the ability to perform the most difficult tasks with relative ease. A master of Kung Fu would have a skill level in the 7-10 range, for example.
Beloved skill of cheerleaders and circus performers, this is the ability to perform tumbles, somersaults and other complex maneuvers. It is also used to dodge attacks, climb obstacles, and perform similar tasks of agility. Acrobatics can replace Crime when trying to move silently (use the higher of the two skills for sneaking around attempts).
USING THE SKILL: Acrobatics is used with Dexterity to perform most maneuvers, including avoiding close combat attacks and gunfire. When jumping for distance, climbing, or swimming, use Strength along side Acrobatics instead.
Ever wanted to create some masterpiece for the ages, or just have your CD go platinum? All you need is a high enough level in Art. All the arts are covered by this skill: music, painting, sculpture, creative writing, and so on. That does not mean your character knows all artistic skills though. When creating the character, decide which art or arts are the character’s specialty.
USING THE SKILL: There are two types of rolls that use this skill. First, to create art, use Intelligence and Art for writing and painting, Dexterity and Art for dancing or playing an instrument, or Constitution and Art for singing. The Success Level determines how good the creation or performance, for things like music or dance, is. To judge someone else’s art, use Perception and Art.
This is the nerdly art of keyboard slinging for fun and profit. With this skill your character can make computers do what he wants, including both programming and Hollywood-style hacking. People don’t need this skill to use a computer; just about anybody can find the “on” switch and use a mouse. The Computers skill lets your character do fun things like breaking into confidential databases, writing her own programs, programming her VCR, and other cool stuff.
USING THE SKILL: Intelligence and Computers to write a program or hack into a secure system. For hacking, the system’s security imposes penalties, from -1 for a high school record system to -8 or worse for the FBI database. Perception and Computers help diagnose software or hardware problems without having to call a help line and being on hold for two to three days. Willpower and Computers may be used for 'social engineering' - convincing legitimate users through your knowledge to provide you information or passwords.
Sometimes your character needs to break into a locked office, or maybe find an important clue in someone’s pants … pocket. Breaking and entering, skulking around, lifting evidence - if it’s illegal, this skill covers it, with two major exceptions: computer hacking uses the Computers skill, and conning people uses the Influence skill. Your character doesn’t have to be a criminal to have this skill; cops, private investigators, and other honest but street-wise folks have it as well.
USING THE SKILL: Dexterity and Crime are used for things like moving stealthily (although Acrobatics can replace Crime here), lifting someone’s wallet, and picking locks. Victims resist such activities with their Brains Score, or Perception and either Notice or Crime (whichever is better). Intelligence and Crime are used to identify criminals and street contacts (as modified by familiarity with the local criminal scene), remember local laws of importance, and prepare a legal defense. (Lawyers can also use Knowledge to substitute for Crime, on the off chance there's an honest or simply particularly clever lawyer in the house.)
After a tough fight, it pays to know some first (or second or third) aid. This skill covers the ability to heal injuries and cure disease through modern medicine. A full-fledged doctor has a skill of four or higher. Anything below that represents some training in first aid or emergency treatment. This is a good skill to have after a tussle with sharp implements. Doctor skill can also mean the difference between 'that guy looks mangled' and 'that guy looks like his throat was torn out with a hook', as far as forensics goes.
USING THE SKILL: An Intelligence and Doctor roll is used to treat injuries; each Success Level restores one Life Point of damage (only one roll per patient per day). The victim also does not lose any more Life Points from bleeding and such. Perception and Doctor can be used to diagnose a medical problem, or determine the cause of death of some unfortunate victim. Dexterity and Doctor might be called on for delicate surgical procedures.
Indispensable in the modern world, this is the ability to sit behind the wheel of a car or motorcycle and get it to go the way you want. This skill covers all wheeled vehicles, although if your character is not familiar with a specific vehicle (trying to drive an 18-wheeler or a motorcycle if she has only driven cars before), rolls will be at -2 to -5 or worse. Your character can’t pass Driver’s Ed without at least one level in this skill.
USING THE SKILL: Dexterity and Driving for your basic high-speed chases, dodging rush hour traffic, and other complex maneuvers (there is no need to roll for routine driving). Use Intelligence and Driving for basic mechanic maintenance stuff - for the big stuff, you’ll need the Mr. Fix-It skill.
When a fist is not enough, it’s time to break out some old-fashioned sharp metal whatsits and start chopping and stabbing. This skill is used for all archaic weapons, from swords and quarterstaffs to crossbows and throwing axes. It also covers things like driving stakes into the hearts of those pesky vampires. Anyone who takes on the supernatural on a regular basis - or anyone who is supernatural for that matter - tend to know how to use these items. Otherwise, they don't live too long.
USING THE SKILL: Dexterity and Getting Medieval cover most combat maneuvers. Feints use Intelligence and Getting Medieval to pull off; resisting a Feint, or analyzing someone's weapon style, would require Perception plus Getting Medieval.
Guns don’t kill people – until you pull the trigger, that is. Bullets help, too. This skill covers your basic things that go bang - shotguns, pistols, rifles, and the like. Note that most sci-fi weapons also use Gun Fu, although someone used to six shooters might be at a penalty to operate a taser cannon until someone shows them what the buttons do.
USING THE SKILL: Dexterity and Gun Fu for pointing and shooting. Aiming slows your character’s attack to the end of the Turn, but you add the Success Levels of a Gun Fu and Perception roll to the shooting roll. Intelligence and Gun Fu help clear a jammed gun.
The ability to deceive, seduce, intimidate, or manipulate people for kicks and giggles, money, or personal gain. Influence allows your character to pick up somebody at a bar, scare people into giving up important information, or otherwise persuade others to do what he wants.
USING THE SKILL: Intelligence and Influence is used for fooling, scamming, or fast-talking others in the long-term; Willpower and Influence is used to intimidate or convince people in the short term. If your character is trying to seduce somebody, for example, any Attractiveness levels act as bonuses or penalties to the roll. By the same token, a strong hero may find it a lot easier to intimidate someone if he lifts him over her head; the proper circumstances add bonuses or penalties (in the one to five range).
All non-scientific disciplines are covered by this skill. History, sociology, psychology, and the like are part and parcel of this skill. Knowledge can be useful in identifying the background of random Char Loft passersby; fFor example, if you know a vampire was sired during the 17th century, it might be helpful to know what was going on in the 17th century. Knowledge can also help with occult research, and it lets characters say cool stuff like: “This gauntlet is Late Medieval, probably from Florence; the markings are unmistakable.” Chicks really dig that.
USING THE SKILL: Knowledge is used with Intelligence for the most part. Knowledge skill rolls often add their Success Levels to Occultism or Influence rolls.
Call it brawling, martial arts, fisticuffs, or flailing your arms around wildly, this skill covers the art of using your hands and other assorted body parts to hurt your fellow man (or critter). Kung Fu is indispensable for anybody who fights a lot. It’s also very useful around bullies and in bar fights.
USING THE SKILL: Dexterity and Kung Fu for hitting someone or avoiding being hit—many Combat Maneuvers (see pp. 51-54) are based on this skill. Intelligence and Kung Fu may be used to identify a fighting style, or to feint an opponent. Perception and Kung Fu counter such feints.
If you want hablar espanol, or sound good ordering at a French restaurant, or read the Old Church Latin edition of the Necronomicon, you need to learn a few languages. This skill covers any language other than one’s native tongue.
USING THE SKILL: This skill is different from the rest. Each level indicates fluency in one language (player decides which ones). When trying to decipher some arcane inscription, use Intelligence and Languages (knowing more languages helps). When trying to use a known language that you are familiar with, but less than fluent in, use Intelligence and Knowledge instead. After character creation, picking up new languages is difficult. This skill cannot be improved unless your character spends several months studying (see p. 74 for improving the Languages skill through experience).
If it’s broken, this skill can fix it. If it ain’t broken, it can improve it (sometimes into not working at all). If it just ain’t, it can build it. Mr. Fix-It covers all technical and craft skills, from carpentry to mechanics to roadie work. This is what your character needs if he wants to rebuild the engine of that mean machine he’s tricking out, or to make sure their sound equipment is loud enough to shake the house. Adventure-wise, it could be used to set up or disable elaborate and interesting traps, or to fix - or sabotage - machinery.
USING THE SKILL: Perception and Mr. Fix-It for spotting a problem. Intelligence and Mr. Fix-It to do the repairs or construction work.
Need to get a clue? This is the skill. Without Notice, your character might miss the bloody handprint on the wall, the vampire sneaking past the window, or the oh-so-friendly smile from Amy in Accounting. Notice measures a person’s focus and discipline in observing her environment. This is the skill to have for spotting a critter lying in ambush around the corner or when you absolutely, positively need to find Waldo.
USING THE SKILL: Perception and Notice to spot things. Intelligence and Notice to remember something your character saw before but didn’t realize was important until now. Notice is an active skill; it is relevant when a character specifically focuses her attention on something. Without the Notice skill, active sensing rolls suffer penalties from -1 to -3. For passive sensing (your Director will let you know when this is applicable, such as when resisting a Crime roll), a Perception and Notice roll or a Perception (doubled) roll may be used, whichever is more beneficial to the character.
Forbidden knowledge, the black arts, the stuff you only find in outlawed books or some really dark heavy metal songs. This is the skill of the truly arcane. It includes things like the basics of vampire-slaying (what works and what doesn’t), identifying demons and their weaknesses, researching spells and rituals, and otherwise learning Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. Access to a good arcane library is a huge help. Your character needs the Occultism skill before he can become a proficient magician. If your Director is feeling munificent, he might grant your spellcasting character a number of starting spells equal to her Occultism skill (of the Director’s choosing, no doubt).
USING THE SKILL: Intelligence and Occultism to recognize or research some supernatural name. Perception and Occultism to identify a creature on first sight. Occultism is also used to cast spells, with bonuses from the character’s Sorcery Level, if any.
Those who happen to come from societies without powered vehicles typically use Riding skill instead of Driving skill, covering horses, oxen, camels, or whatever's appropriate. It can also be used for starting, stopping, and controlling carts or other livestock-drawn vehicles. Of course, Riding skill can also be learned in post-vehicle eras, should you have an interest in such things.
USING THE SKILL: Dexterity and Riding for most tasks involving riding an animal; Willpower and Riding for attempting to influence a mount to do things they wouldn't do normally.
You can’t blind them with science unless you know science. This skill covers all your basic sciences - physics, biology, chemistry and so on. It can come in handy when dealing with the supernatural, if only to figure out if something is really supernatural. Characters with this skill earn the privilege of saying “That’s just scientifically impossible” a lot. At higher levels (five and above), Weird Science is possible - things like robots and a spray that will clean up those most-troublesome stains.
USING THE SKILL: Intelligence and Science for most things, from mixing a chemical formula to inventing a new device to repairing a broken thingamajig. Perception and Science are used to spot science-oriented clues, like identifying an unusual biochemical residue.
The ability to hit a ball with a stick, throw a ball, or do other things that may or may not involve balls. All sports are covered by this skill, except things like boxing and martial arts, which use Kung Fu, and gymnastics, which is part of Acrobatics. In a pinch, Sports can be used instead of other combat skills to do things like swing a baseball bat at a vampire’s head or tackle a monster — if you really want to get that close to an icky.
USING THE SKILL: Depending on the nature of the sporting event, one of the three physical Attributes is used. Coordination- and agility-based tasks (throwing a baseball) depend on Dexterity, brute force activities (weight lifting or tackling) relies on Strength, and endurance sports (marathon running) use Constitution.
Let’s face it, some of you might notice that some skills are not covered in the list above (and you’re probably right). To take care of that problem without resorting to fisticuffs, we have the unsung 18th skill on the list - the Wild Card. This is your fill-in-the-blanks skill; it can cover anything you want, with one caveat: The Wild Card skill cannot be broader than pre-existing skills (Weapons, for example, which would cover both Gun-Fu and Getting Medieval, earns a “nice try, bozo” award).
Wild Card skills can also be used in a more specific way to remove or offset penalties induced by certain maneuvers; having a 'Wild Card' in a specific skill area (for example, Bow or Chainsaw) effectively negates any penalties that would normally be inflicted if the focus of the wild card is tight enough (for example, Wild Card: Bow would eliminate the penalties normally associated with firing a bow).
The following Wild Cards have been 'borrowed' from the Classic Unisystem Skill List;
Your agent has learned how to use direct artillery fire, airstrikes, and other extremely heavy weapons. Not something that gets used often, but still being Queen of Firepower has its advantages. Assuming your character has access, clearance, and authority, he knows how to get a large machine to position its ordnance (business-end first) on some spot or object. The number of Success Levels dictate just how spot-on goes the boom.
Absent the Wild Card (Artillery) skill, such a strike involves Computer, Mr. Fix-It or the Brains Score -4.
Demolitions has two primary uses: Blowing things up and preventing other people from blowing things up.
Setting up an explosive charge so as to cause maximum structural damage requires an Intelligence and Wild Card (Demolitions) roll. Three Success Levels are required to ensure the maximum effect; if your character only gets one or two Success Levels, the damage is reduced (by one-tenth or one-half respectively). If he fails the roll, he’s messed up the trigger and the bomb won’t even go off - nice going, butthead. The most common triggers are time-based or radio detonated, but if your character wants to be clever and has the necessary materials, he could set up a pressure-sensitive plate or a tripwire. This requires a second roll though.
Disarming a bomb has two steps. First, make a Perception and Wild Card (Demolitions) roll to examine the bomb. If that fails, your character has no idea how to disarm it. Extremely complex bombs (the nuclear warhead with 53 wires) may require multiple Success Levels. Once your character has successfully examined the bomb, he can attempt to disarm it. This requires an Intelligence and Wild Card (Demolitions) roll; any extra Success Levels from the examination result are added to this roll. Your Director will have set a difficulty for the bomb depending on its complexity, position, the tools available etc.; that number of Success Levels are needed to disarm it. Failure to accumulate the necessary Success Levels could mean nothing happens (and you can try again) or it could mean… well, best not to talk about that.
Example the Elder: Buster has found a bomb in the funhouse in the abandoned amusement park. It is moderately complicated; the Director declares that two Success Levels are needed just to understand it. Buster makes a Perception and Wild Card (Demolitions) roll: three Success Levels! This allows him to move on to disarming, and he gets a +1 to all rolls (because of the extra Success Level from the examination).
Example the Younger: Now Buster is ready to disarm the bomb. The Director decides that it’s fairly tricky and requires three Success Levels. Buster makes an Intelligence and Wild Card (Demolitions) roll and only gets two Success Levels. The GM pauses for a moment to build the suspense and then tells Buster… nothing happens. Buster wipes the sweat off his brow and tries again.
If the GM is dealing with a group of highly trained commandos and wants to keep the tension up, she can declare that any disarm roll which results in a one is an automatic failure - even if the character’s Intelligence and Wild Card (Demolitions) total is nine or better without a roll. What’s the fun of messing with a bomb if there isn’t a chance of it going off? And hey, you’ve got some Good Luck, right? Wrong? Uh-oh…
As a general rule, messing with explosives is best left to professionals - i.e., people with this skill. However, the Director may decide to let untrained people set up bombs under special circumstances - like if it’s the only way to stop a giant demonic mayor-snake. In that case, Mr. Fix-It may be used with a -5 penalty. Even so, if your character fails a placement roll for the explosive, he rolls again. Further failure means the bomb explodes during set-up. That’s very bad.
Some mission objectives are focused on combat - but other operations have a heavy emphasis on stealth and espionage. In these situations, a talent for disguise can be extremely valuable. Creating a disguise requires an Intelligence and Wild Card (Disguise) roll. Observers use Perception and Notice or their Brains Score to penetrate a disguise. If your character has access to special equipment (you know, the whole Mission Impossible thing), he receives a bonus of up to +6 to her roll. Conversely, if he is trying to impersonate a specific individual and lacks the necessary accessories, your GM could impose a penalty of up to -8. It’s hard to disguise yourself as a guard without a guard’s uniform.
Once your character is all disguised up - and note that one person can do the disguise thing for others, so the expert in the squad can get the more clueless ones all fixed up - he’s good to go… until he actually has to talk to someone. Convincing a suspicious observer that your character is someone else requires an Intelligence and Influence roll, against the observer’s Perception and Notice roll (or Brains Score). If the observer isn’t really interested -it’s not like he knows all the guards personally - the Director may not bother with this roll. On the other hand, if the observer is a close personal friend of the person impersonated, he may get a bonus to her roll. Them’s the breaks.
Absent Wild Card (Disguise), Art, Crime or the Brains Score may be used with a -4 penalty.
Electronic surveillance is part of the whole covert ops scene. Whether your character is planting bugs inside a crypt or using TEMPEST gear to spy on a nearby hacker, electronic surveillance is the name of the game.
Placing a bug requires an Intelligence and Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance) roll. The Success Levels determine how hard it is to locate the bug and how effective it is at transmitting data (hint: don’t put a bug in someone’s boom box). If the character gets at least three Success Levels, it’s placed in an ideal location. If he only gets two Successes, any rolls associated with the bug suffer a -2 penalty. With only one Success Level, this penalty is increased to -4. If a complete failure, either no information can be gathered at all or its location is so obvious that Stevie Wonder could find it.
Using any sort of surveillance equipment requires an Intelligence and Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance) roll. In some cases - like a microphone bug - this is a simple success-or-failure roll. With more complex systems, the number of Success Levels may affect the quality of information received.
Those trained to perform surveillance can also block it. Locating bugs is a Perception and Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance) roll. This result is resisted by the bugger’s placement roll or Score. Depending on the complexity of the bug, it may be that anyone can try to find it; trickier high-tech bugs might only be located by someone with training and equipment.
With the proper equipment, a character can make an Intelligence and Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance) roll to attempt to track, isolate, jam, tap into, or otherwise interfere with surveillance devices. The Success Levels needed are up to the GM, based on the complexity of the equipment to be affected and the skill of the enemy operator (if any). If the character succeeds in tapping into a bug or redirecting the signal - setting up a looped image on a security camera, for example - the person monitoring the device makes a Perception and Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance) roll, resisted by the bug interferer’s result, to detect the interference.
Anyone can use surveillance equipment, provided that they receive instructions from a skilled individual. Absent the Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance) skill, Crime or Brains -4 may be used for placing a bug, Notice or Brains -4 for locating bugs, and Mr. Fix-It or Brains -4 for interfering or noticing interference. Counter-surveillance is more difficult, though; some GMs may decide that locating, interfering, and noticing interference can only be performed by characters that possess the Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance) skill.
For those in a more equipment heavy game, Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance) can also be used with all sorts of fancy, boring army equipment—things like radar systems, sonar, communication networks, electronic warfare equipment, and that sort of stuff. It even works with nifty hand-held sensors, like the bioscanner. Absent Wild Card (Electronic Surveillance), Computer, Mr. Fix-It, or Brains is used for this sort of equipment, all at a -4 penalty.
Draw, partner. The Wild Card (Fast Draw) skill lets you use Fast Draw and similar maneuvers at no penalty, using the Wild Card skill instead of Gun Fu or Getting Medieval as appropriate. You can use this for any weapon or item that can be pocketed or holstered; larger weapons in sheaths or similarly readily available can be brought to bear quickly at a -2.
Absent this skill, Gun Fu or Getting Medieval (as appropriate) can be used at a -3 penalty.
Feel a need for speed? Your character can use Dexterity and Wild Card (Piloting) to operate relatively small planes, helicopters, and boats. The larger the vessel, the more remote the control system; in that case, a pilot uses Intelligence and Wild Card (Piloting). In a normal game, this skill may not come up often—most squads operate on the ground, and pilots are provided by the brass when needed. Still, you never know when your gang might need to hijack a helicopter. Plus, it gives your character an excuse to wear that cool bomber jacket.
Absent Wild Card (Piloting), Driving may be used with a -4 penalty. More detail oriented GMs may wish to separate out a Wild Card (Piloting) skill for aircraft and one for watercraft (and even one for spacecraft if the story goes in that direction).
A gumshoe with the Wild Card (Surveillance) skill is an expert at spying on people. When following a specific person or group, he makes a Dexterity (or Intelligence) and Wild Card (Surveillance) roll, resisted by the target’s Perception and Notice, to avoid being seen by her targets (this bonus does not affect any other observers). He also makes a Perception and Wild Card (Surveillance) roll when eavesdropping on a conversation or studying an individual. Finally, he can make a Perception and Wild Card (Surveillance) roll to spot someone who is trying to follow or spy on her.
Absent the Wild Card (Surveillance) skill, a character may use Acrobatics, Crime, or Combat at -4 when tailing someone, or Notice or Brains -4 when eavesdropping or spotting a spy.
Wild Card (Tactics) allows budding generals out there to evaluate situations and plans in order to maximize the team’s efficiency. If the Cast has the blueprints of a building, a successful Intelligence and Wild Card (Tactics) roll can locate weaknesses or security holes. If studying a fighting force, an Intelligence and Wild Card (Tactics) roll may help to second-guess their next actions. After the squad concocts a plan, a tactical review might reveal that it’s the dumbest idea ever (which, of course, may not stop it from working). The precise level of hintiness is up to your GM, based on the number of Success Levels rolled and the degree to which he feels like helping you out.
In addition to strategic evaluation, the Success Levels in an Intelligence and Wild Card (Tactics) roll may be added to any Influence roll used to inspire your character’s comrades, or to any Knowledge roll used to obtain information on military hardware or procedures. This could prove crucial in unearthing that one rule exception that will keep your character from being court-martialed.
Absent Wild Card (Tactics), Knowledge or the Brains Score may be used with a -4 penalty.
Wild Card (Wilderness Survival) is the whole Grizzly Adams thing - the ability to find shelter, anticipate the effects of wind and weather, and forage for food. In addition, knowledge of the wilds can help with other tasks. If your character makes an Intelligence and Wild Card (Wilderness Survival) roll, he may add the Success Levels to any rolls related to tracking (using Notice), moving stealthily in an outdoor environments (using Acrobatics or Crime), or overcoming natural obstacles (like climbing a tree) (using Acrobatics or an Attribute roll).
Absent Wild Card (Wilderness Survival), Knowledge or Notice may be used with a -4 penalty.
If you intend on getting into combat, you may be interested in noting down a list of Combat Maneuvers. These are your character’s preferred moves. You can find a list of Combat Maneuvers in Chapter Four: Combat and Maneuvers. Head over there and pick the ones you want (there’s no costs or limitations involved). Combat Maneuvers have three elements:
BONUS: The total of your character’s appropriate Attribute, skill, and other modifiers. The bonus is what you add to the attack or defense die roll.
DAMAGE: The base damage of the maneuver (if it does any damage). Add Success Levels after rolling.
NOTES: Any special effects. A stake through the heart, for example, does a lot more damage to vamps than to humans (although it’s not good for humans, either).
Sometimes a character needs to succeed at something, no matter what odds. In a movie or TV show, the scriptwriter just decides the character succeeds, period. In CharLoft RPG, we simulate this with Drama Points. When you use a Drama Point, your character gets a huge bonus to her chances - think of it as the universe lending a helping hand. The impossible shot hits the target, the charging vampire trips and falls right into the stake, the bullet that hit your character was deflected by a lucky coin pendant hanging from her neck … all those things are possible when you spend a Drama Point. The ups and downs of Drama Points are covered in Chapter Five: The Drama Point System. Characters start with a set amount of Drama Points depending on their Character Type. Mortals get more beginning points because that’s what they do best - and they'll need all the help they can get.
These are the little things that mean so much - appearance, name, and the like. These touches bring life to your Cast Member and make her more than a list of numbers on a sheet of paper.
NAME: What’s in a name? Among other things, it can provide some insights into your character’s background and personality. An ethnic name can provide some depth. A weird first name, like Nicodemus, probably led to a lot of bullying as a kid. A nickname can add color (too many nicknames, of course, and your character may end up sounding like a refugee from The Sopranos).
APPEARANCE: You can go the “Police APB” route and be content to provide height, weight, eye and hair color, and the like, but some details make your character more memorable. A neat idea is to “cast” your character: “the part of my character will be played by such-and-such actor (or singer, or any public personality).” This provides a quick visual frame of reference. Everybody knows what the Austrian former bodybuilder turned into action hero and governor looks like, for example. If everybody does it, the GM could even do a little Cast List: “Starring Harvey K. as Johann, Christina A. as Josie, and a young Brad P. as Luke.”
OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Maybe your character has some distinctive habit or mannerism - his hair is always a bit messy and tends to fall over his eyes, or he always looks nervous or uncomfortable around strangers. Any scars, tattoos, or piercings that are easily noticeable? How does your character normally dress? What kind of music is in her CD collection (or even albums if you are one of those ancient types)? Hey, guess what? You’re set to go. The stars of the show have been cast, and it’s time to get the cameras rolling and the action started.