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Character Creation 3: Nephilim

Ahh well, they can't all be good. At least it wasn't The Shadow Project

The Game: Nephilim
The Publisher: Chaosium
Degree of Familiarity: Picked it up in Germany, considered running it but never have due to system issues.
Books Required: Only the corebook.

Nephilim is a wonderful, if overplayed idea: reincarnated ancient beings taking human hosts and fighting a neverending occult war against those who would enslave them. Unfortunately, it's tied to Chaosium's BRP system, a bland lump of percentile bollocks that hasn't seen significant revision (or a typesetter) since 1985. I'm sorry, but Unknown Armies has a percentile system that kicks BRP until the latter system screams in agony. Also, this particular game is powerfully up it's own arse in writing style, especially with regards to it's "realistic" (pron. "overcomplex and boring as all fuck") magic system.

Anyway. Let's get to making a character. A lot of this is random; another reason to hate BRP right there—the randomness doesn't have the utility of Reign or the flavour of WHFRP. There may be snippets of ranting when I look at a clock. Or a skill list.

1: Determine Ka
After a lot of waffling about the nature of Ka and elemental magickal fields, we get to the first stage of character creation: Determining how much magical power this character has. At this point, we're working on the elemental creature of pure magic: Selion, an Air Nephilim.

First thing's first. Air is obviously our dominant Ka. Fire and Water are neutral, Earth and Moon are opposed. I like the idea of a rash and expressive intellectual, the kind of guy who's smarter than everyone else and always out to prove himself, but not smart enough to ever shut up about it. That makes Fire the major neutral and Water the minor neutral. Of the opposed elements, trickery and lies before stasis and boredom: Moon is major opposed, Earth minor opposed.

Before I can assign numbers, I need to work out how many past lives I've had. Starting from a base of 22 points, I subtract 2 for each past life, and another 2 for my current incarnation. I decide on two past lives, giving me a dominant Ka of 16. That breaks down through the elements, and also gives me modifiers to the linked characteristcs.

Ka 16
Air 16 (Int +4)
Fire 13 (Str +4)
Water 10 (Dex +3)
Moon 6 (Cha +2)
Earth 3 (Con +1)

2: Metamorphosis
A Metamorphosis is a means by which the Nephilim alters the Simulacrum as it gains mystic power. In other words, I'm going to progressively transform into a mythic creature. Unfortunately, the corebook system for this is a bit crap: I divide dominant Ka between five areas: Head, Hands, Skin, Odor, and Voice. Each runs from 0-20, determining how transformed Selion is. In order to reach Agartha, the state of magical transcendence, he needs at least 90 points spread between the different bits.

(One of the supplements replaced this clunky mess with a much better system for metamorphosis. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the fucking book).

As an Air Nephilim, I can choose between Sylph and Angel as Metamorphosis. The idea of the Sylph, the spirit of the wind who cannot stay still or grow bored—and the embodiment of the coming storm—is pretty cool. Ten points into Voice means I'm halfway to speaking with a voice of thunder. Four points go into Odor, the smell of the coming storm, and two into Hands to ensure that I'm always just that little bit cold.

3: Major Arcana
Pick a secret society among the Nephilim to belong to, themed after the major arcana of the tarot. This one's easy enough: the Chariot are the closest you get to adaptive modernists, so that's what I go for.

Here, the game witters on about magic for some reason, talking about how to spend Occult Development Points. Turns out that I don't get them until I've had my Past Lives. Oops. The section's almost deliberately confusing; while it could introduce the concepts of magic and point out that during each Past Life you can get points to spend on magical techniques and learned spells it instead witters around the issue without ever actually saying what it wants to, rather like this sentence.

4:Past Lives
Oddly, the section on magic above is explained much better in the introduction to the Past Lives section, over the page.

First of all, I go for Babylon circa 600BC. All the fun of Zoroastrianism. I like the idea of starting out as a Persian Magi, so I ignore the d100 roll and move straight on. 3d6 gives me 7, which means that he inhabited the simulacrum at just 35. This gives me 140 points to spread between the Simulacrum's skills.

30 Astrological Lore
30 Fast Talk
10 Law
20 Natural Lore
20 Read/Write Persian
20 Research
10 Religious Lore (Persian)

I also get:

30 Speak Persian
35 Life Experience (Assyria 600BC)

That's pretty sucky, but at least I got to the fleshling nice and early. Final age is 13x5 is 65 years as a Nephilim. That's a bit better. It also gives me 130 Occult Development Points. All kinds of sorcery are available, so I drop 50 points into Lower Sorcery, 40 on Chariot Lore and save 30 for Inscribing spells (meaning that I can use them without needing lots of components). Babel Unbound allows Selion to understand any language, Aerial Whispers is great for eavesdropping, and Mercuriality will make him even smarter.

At the time, Selion went along with Zoroaster from the start, and died old and calm. My stasis form is a gold and jeweled drinking cup.

Two more past lives. Fast forwards to Aachen in 830, where Charlemange destroys paganism (the book's words, not mine). 21 on a d100 gives us a male Knight, who lived for 60 years before Selion found him. 240 skill points and I get combat skills! Woo.

10 First Aid
20 Hunt
50 Melee (Sword)
50 Melee (Spear)
20 Melee (Bow)
30 Ride
40 Scan
30 Survival

60 Life Experience (Charlemange's Empire)
60 Speak (Frankish)

55 years as a Nephilim is another good run, and nets me a further 110 ODP. I decide to bump up my magic. 40 on Lower Sorcery brings me to mastery, so I can put 20 into Higher Sorcery. I place the remainder into Seals, the first circle of Summoning.

Selion was hunted by Charlemange's forces, and they eventually killed him.

Fianl past life is in Paris, 1630. The birth of the Age of Reason. Selion eventually inhabited a Musketeer (he's got a lot of combat in his history... the pains of being a smartarse, I guess). He lived for 65 years before finding the cup. 260 skill points this time.

20 Fast Talk
40 Dodge
30 First Aid
40 Fist/Punch
30 Melee (Epee)
20 Melee (Musket)
20 Religious Lore (Impiety)
30 Scan
40 Survival

Note that where I've already got skills from other lives, they sum up.

65 Life Experience (France 1630)
70 Speak (17c. French)

75 years as a Nephilim this time. Just goes to show how random this thing is: I could easily have had less than that over all three lives. 150 ODP to spend. 40 into Seals, 50 into Higher Sorcery, and it's time to inscribe some more spells.

The Tempestuous Bands of Ariel (an armour spell), Shoal of Air (another armour spell), Winds of Lifting (flight), Spear of the Valkyrie (a chance to use that Spear skill), Scry of the Wise (for information), and The Invoking Voices of the Luminous Desert, because if I'm going to have to fight with the magic system then I'm bloody well going to cheat.

Selion loved this time, learning lots of magic and spreading the principles of science and engineering amongst people. Unfortunately, he was burned as a witch for his trouble by the Bavarian Illuminati.

That brings us to modern life. I can pick any of the templates with a Solar-Ka of 16 or less, or roll my own. I've done enough of that already, and my eyes are starting to bleed, so I grab a template and hope that this is nearly over (I'm two and a half hours of referencing and trying to understand the rules in at this point). I pick the Editor template, giving me a 28 year old woman. I have 80 skill points spare, which I use to increase the skills given because games with fine-grained skill lists where Punch and Kick are entirely different skills makes me want to kill people. I then figure the characteristics after adding bonuses for my Elemental Ka. Then it's down to figuring Damage Bonus, Actions, Hit Points, Ch'awe, and determine the amount of each Ka in the Stasis. In other words, more die rolls. Fortunately, all I need is a name and I'm done.

Name: Annie Choi/Selion
Social Status: 11
Opportunity: 33
Education: 14
Life Experience: 56
Culture: Middle Class Chinese-American Immigrant
Profession: Newspaper editor, ex-journalist
Income: Fuck knows. The figure is from the late 1980s
Residence: Apaartment
Family Relationship: 12, dedicated husband
Appearance: Rumpled Suits

Ka: 16, Vision 48
Str: (13 +4) 17, Effort 51
Con: (13 +1) 14, Resist 42
Int: (15 +4) 19, Idea 57
Dex: (12 +3) 15, Agility 45
Cha: (14 +2) 16, Persuade 48
Solar-ka: 15

Actions: 4
Damage bonus: +1d4
Hit points: 14
Ch'awe: 17

Simulacrum skills
75 Art (writing)
75 Computer Use
65 Handgun
80 Read/Write (Modern English)
90 Research
80 Speak (Modern American)

Nephilim skills
30 Astrological Lore
40 Chariot Lore
40 Dodge
50 Fast Talk
40 First Aid
40 Fist/punch
20 Hunt
10 Law
35 Life Experience (Assyria 600BC)
65 Life Experience (France 1630)
60 Life Experience (Charlemange's Empire)
20 Melee (Bow)
30 Melee (Epee)
20 Melee (Musket)
50 Melee (Sword)
50 Melee (Spear)
20 Natural Lore
20 Read/Write Persian
20 Research
10 Religious Lore (Persian)
20 Religious Lore (Impiety)
30 Ride
70 Scan
30 Speak (Persian)
70 Speak (17c. French)
60 Speak (Frankish)
70 Survival

90 Lower Sorcery
70 Higher Sorcery
Babel Unbound
Aerial Whispers
Shoal of Air
Winds of Lifting
Spear of the Valkyrie

90 Seals
The Tempestuous Bands of Ariel
The Invoking Voices of the Luminous Desert

.32 revolver
Extensive library
Tricked-out computer setup

Gold and Jeweled Drinking Cup
Fire 10
Air 14
Earth 5
Water 6
Moon 1


( 5 informants — We want information! )
Jul. 10th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
shit on a stick, man...

the concept sounds cool as hell but that kind of character creation seems to suck all sorts of wonderful-awesomeness out of it.

Jul. 10th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
It's the joys of BRP. I know why I ain't a fan, but I'll go on about that for the next one.

See, I'd do it WoD-wise, where you create your current host, then apply the template: each past life gives you bennies (a dot in two Skills) but costs you power-stat. Element flavours other things, and you can do cool things with Transformations...

Damnit! I'm rewriting the game in a good system again.
Dec. 18th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
Did you notice that you only paid for 2 past lives, but did three?

I was rereading this while making my Nephilim dude, see...
Dec. 18th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
I didn't notice until you mentioned it.

In my defence, it's a particularly chart-heavy form of BRP and I've never got on with BRP.
Dec. 18th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
No idea how I'd do BRP, but the chargen system here gives me hives. And it could be really cool. I like your idea: Start with the modern, and work backward.
( 5 informants — We want information! )



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