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Character Creation 39: Continuum

Damn, I'm not doing as well with these as I'd hoped. Anyway.

I like bad films. We went to see Babylon A.D. last night. Which wasn't bad, I mean, we got to see some entertaining trailers. When the film wasn't jumping from dark, shadowy interiors to overbright frozen tundra with no warning, it was showing fight scenes. At least, I think that's what it was doing. Some films—the utterly brilliant Children of Men, for example—use camera-wobble during the fight scenes because the protagonists don't have a nice, stable view of things. Babylon A.D. didn't have that blessing. Every fight, the camera started jerking in a way that cut through my normally ironclad constitution and delivered motion sickness. Worse, whatever cool fight choreography or interesting stuff was entirely off-screen.

The cinematography is indicative of the rest of the film. To wit: It's fucking awful. Sexist? Well, the main female character exists to be a sack for carrying a pair of superbabies and doesn't even get an onscreen death once she's popped them out. Derivative? New York looks a lot like LA did in Blade Runner, only not as good. Nonsensical? Well, apparently any religion that doesn't produce superheroes by virgin birth isn't really a religion. Crap? Well... yeah.

Not crap in a good way. This isn't Doomsday. Doomsday knows it's a fucking awful film and revels in that fact. It rips off everything going and does it with a kind of dumb charm that leaves audiences laughing along. Babylon A.D. takes itself far too seriously, and has this kind of jumped up sense of its own importance.

But we got to see some good trailers.

The Game: Continuum
The Publisher: Ætherco and Dreamcatcher Multimedia
Degree of Familiarity: More than most people. I've read and played Continuum, though not run it. I even understand Time Combat, something that breaks people used to linear thinking.
Books Required: Continuum alone. While I'd like to have Further Information available, it's rarer than hen's teeth.

Continuum is one of those games. Much like Nobilis, it's a game that most people read and something just doesn't click for them. It requires a very real cognitive buy-in, and given that buy-in relates to different conceptual layers of causality, many people can't make that leap. I'm not saying this to claim that the game is badly explained: Continuum is explained more explicitly than many other games (Nobilis and Weapons of the Gods spring to mind as other games on the same level). However, you have to be willing to accept that linear causality doesn't matter. Your character's linear causality matters. What you know to have happened (and to be going to have happened) is vitally important. Knowing too much is actively harmful because it proscribes your actions. Free Will and Fate are both thrown right out of the window.

In Continuum, characters have been inducted into a society of time-travellers. Knowing your personal future is bad because it has to happen. If it doesn't, you're left with... well, think cognitive dissonance on the scale of a reality. That dissonance is called Frag, and avoiding Frag is one of the main aims of being a Spanner—a human being who can travel through time and space.

Spanners don't have time machines, because of one simple assumption: If you build a device that can go backwards and forwards in time, and it's the size of a bus, you skip forwards as far as it'll let you go and get one with ten times the range that's the size of a wristwatch. Continue until you get one that's effectively an implant. Continuum bothers itself not a jot with the technology of time travel, rather it deals with the effects, and the society a Spanner enters. It also deals with the slightly flexible nature of time, where only what Spanners know to be true is actually fixed. Spanners have a Yet (the events that they know of but that remain further on in their personal timeline) and a Was (the events they've experienced), given the weirdness of using "past" and "future". To keep things precise, the period of time towards the beginning of the universe is "Down", while the opposite direction is "Up". Yeah, IC conversations can be happily bizarre.

But enough of a love-song to a game, it's time to build a character.

Concept
First thing's first: Who is my Spanner. Theoretically, anyone born after 18000BC and before AD2400 can be recruited, but I'm going to go for someone with a mindset I can understand. Someone who would understand when other people intimate that time travel might be possible.

Andy Kennedy, AK to his friends. DJs three evenings a week at a generic chart club, because music's his passion but he's never sorted out his own tastes. He works behind a bar when he's not on the decks because he needs the cash in order to make rent. After six years, he's beginning to wonder if he'll have any friends who aren't borderline alcoholics.

He's 25, hair spiked up, wears black suits and open-necked white shirts, smokes cigarettes that he keeps in a silver case. He's a bit of a charmer, keeps himself nice and trim but wasn't ever much of a thinker. He makes up for that by being the sharpest knife in the whole kitchen, never mind the drawer. His dad's long dead, shot and killed fifteen years ago. He still doesn't know why. His mum's alive, and that's why he never went to university—he's got to look after her, after all. As an only child, she's got nobody else. Pretty much everyone else that he knew from college moved away to further their education, and he's left only knowing the regulars in the bar.

His Invitation to Dance came from a guy he'd never seen before. Bumped into him walking home from work, offered AK a smoke. The two returned to the bar for a lock-in. The guy went off to the bog, but walked back in through the front door. The front door that had been locked. Then other people came through. Four of them, all people AK had seen before. They'd all asked him for the time, repeatedly. The night got weirder from there. In the end, they told him that if he went with them, he could travel through time. Not seeing anything else in his future, he agreed, with one proviso: he had to sort his mum out, set her up. They agreed, and so did he. His life's not been the same since.

Attributes and Skills
25 CP to define the character. Three Attributes, rated from 1-7, with 3 average.

I figure he's athletic enough, certainly keeps himself in shape. I put four points into Body. I know he's not too bright, but I don't think he's particularly thick, so I put three points into Mind. Quick covers timing, reactions, and insight all. It's a very useful Attribute for a Spanner, so it costs double. Twelve points gets me 6 Quick. That's 19 points spent.

Moving on to Skills, I can get Novice for half a point, Apprentice for one, Journeyman for two, and so on. I put a point into Melee Weapon, as he's had to break up a few fights with the cricket bat under the bar). Etiquette also deserves a point, given that he knows how to run a bar and talk to people from all backgrounds. He keeps his eyes open, so I put a point into Observation. He's had weird dreams for a long time, and he's been honing his skills since his Invitation, so two go into Dreaming. Sometimes, he has to tell people things they don't want to hear, so one point go into Swindle. That's me at 25 points.

I get a few skills for free, so I note those on the sheet. Most of them come at Novice rank, but language is Journeyman for obvious reasons. The professional skill will be Bartender, and the hobby skill is DJ. Both of those are keyed off Quick.

Benefits
I get one free Benefit. These are the system's Merit-equivalents. Of all the Benefits, none really jump out. Maybe Tough, but I can't really be arsed with it, as it strikes me as boring. Lucky? Doesn't really strike me. For the hell of it, I go for Internal Clock. I'd have gone for Psychic Potential, but that isn't useful until Mind 7 or above. With Internal Clock AK always knows what time it is, to the nearest minute.

If I wanted another Benefit, or two more CPs, I could accept a Limit. However, Limits are weird: I pick one or two, and spend the points for them, then roll a random Limit on a table. Err, no. Not with my luck. (I just did it twice, just to see. I rolled "Old (60+)" and "Missing Arm"; I fucking hate random generation).

One Big Score
Every Spanner gets One Big Score, overseen by the Moneychangers Fraternity. It's a single windfall that makes every Spanner independently wealthy. It's very carefully controlled so as to include no Frag and no events in the Yet. To get the amount of cash, I roll 4d100 and multiply the results together. 47, 45, 99, and 90. 18,844,650 USD, so £10,352,496. That's a lot of cash.

The system is reasonably light (it's 1d10 roll under). I note that AK is Span 1, and add in some descriptive details. That's me done.

Name Andy Kennedy
Span 1
Sex Male
Race IC1
Height 6'0"
Weight 11st 4lb
Age 25yrs 168 days
Date of Birth 4/4/1983
Date of Invitation 30/06/2008
Current Corner Edinburgh Newington
Locality Edinburgh 2008
Body 4
Athletics (Football) N/4
Melee Weapons (Club) A/5
Mind 3
Etiquette (Scottish early C21) A/4
Language (English) J/5
Locality Knowledge (turn of C21 Edinburgh) N/3
Observation (Noticing People) A/4
Quick 6
Acumen (Bartender) N/6
Acumen (DJ) N/6
Dreaming J/8
Swindle A/7
Benefits: Internal Clock

Comments

( 10 informants — We want information! )
mythdude
Aug. 31st, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
Doomsday fucking rocked. I wish Babylon AD could have at least tried to recognize it had bad parts to it and played it up. Heck, I caught a few minutes of this B movie called "Mastodon" which was actually pretty good, if only because the actors themselves hammed it up!
razorsmile
Aug. 31st, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC)
While I haven't seen the movie, I do agree in principle that any religion that doesn't produce semi-divine superhumans is less than ideal.
innocent_man
Sep. 1st, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
Want to know something weird?

I applied for the job of Exalted developer way back in the day. I didn't know it was called Exalted, of course, and I didn't have the first clue about the apart from the "Before there was a Wod" ads in various WoD books, but I applied anyway. I was asked to write up a pitch for a WoD game, which in retrospect was fucking absurd, considering what Exalted was. I wrote a pitch for a game called Wight: The Continuum, about people who don't so much travel through time as come unstuck and live several different lives at once.

But there are several similarities between what I wrote and what you're describing. While a more paranoid man might suspect mind-reading, I think that the designer of Continuum probably just read Slaughterhouse Five, same as me. :)

(And I'm really glad I didn't get that job, because I'd have been totally unsuited for Exalted.)
digitalraven
Sep. 1st, 2008 06:32 am (UTC)
Knowing how time travel works in the game... yeah. You both read Slaughterhouse Five. And it shows. :)

Sometimes I wonder if White Wolf isn't more like two game studios, one doing the WoD and one doing Exalted/Scion/Other crunchy games with shit mechanics.

..is my personal preference showing?
blinovitch
Sep. 1st, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
New York in Blade Runner? That movie was set in Los Angeles.
digitalraven
Sep. 1st, 2008 06:33 am (UTC)
I should not post when knackered.

I knew that. Fixed.
cairmen
Sep. 1st, 2008 12:11 pm (UTC)
I rather enjoyed the first half of Babylon AD - the Russian bit was rather cleverly thought out and entertaning (I think the director's Russian). The second half was, yes, less good. And they clearly knew that the film was over when the missile exploded - everything after that was afterthought-tastic.
digitalraven
Sep. 2nd, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
The director's a famous French director, so not Russian at all.

His French films are a fuck of a lot better.
cairmen
Sep. 2nd, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
Shows what I know.

I still enjoyed the Russian bit, though.

What has he directed?
digitalraven
Sep. 2nd, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
La Haine is the big one that's well worth a watch.
( 10 informants — We want information! )

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