The Game: Aletheia
The Publisher: Abstract Nova
Degree of Familiarity: Played once at a con and fell in love.
Books Required: Only the corebook.
Aletheia is a wonderful game about investigating the Weird Shit out there in the world. It's a tighly-focused game, so much so that the rules on investigation, research, interviewing, and the like take up 7 pages of mechanics, compared to 5 for combat, injury, and healing. The GM's advice on coming up with mysteries and tying them in to the Big Mystery of the setting is also deliciously good. Characters are normal people who have just discovered that they have strange powers, and have been working with the Seven Dogs Society for a month.
Why did the character join the Seven Dogs Society? Katherine Hawke was a journalist for the UK's Guardian newspaper. She didn't piss off anyone who wanted her dead; that would have been too glamourous. After a scandal involving her addiction to alcohol and mounting gambling debts, she fled to the United States, where she spent the last three years working for the National Enquirer. The Seven Dogs Society is a chance for her to re-cast herself as a dashing investigator rather than a washed-up hack.
There's four Attributes from 1-5, with 2 as an average. The scaling's familiar, if nothing else. 8 points to play with. Kath's burned herself out pretty powerfully: even though she thinks she's got her drinking under control, she smokes two packs a day to compensate. On the other hand, she's got a knack for talking to people and getting them to spill, especially if she can buy them a drink first. I drop one into Fitness, three into Personality, then split the remaining four between Awareness and Reason. I also get to stick a Descriptor onto each Attribute. Fitness, I figure she's deceptively strong for her size. She strikes me as a quick-witted, intuitive thinker—giving me descriptors for Awareness and Reason. She's plenty personable with everyone, and generally likeable without needing to flirt or manipulate people, giving me the Personality descriptor.
Occupations are nice broad skill packages, rated from one to five stars based on usefulness. Paying the star cost gets the occupation at Rookie level, I can pay one more for Professional or two more for Veteran. Unfortunately, I only have five points to play with.
Journalist, as it turns out, is a 4-star profession. I take it at Professional level, spending all five of my Occupation points.
As a means for characters with low-starred occupations to have useful input in a range of circumstances, unspent Occupation points can go on Extracurricular Skills, narrower areas pertaining to (theoretically) useful areas. Everyone gets a free Rookie Fighting skill. I don't have any spare points, so I pass on upgrading it.
Hobbies don't provide mechanical advantage, but they can indicate background knowledge. Kath's still a dab-hand with a pack of cards, doubly so if there's money involved. She's probably a fan of mystery novels, and can quote whole episodes of Law & Order. I note down "Poker, Blackjack, Mystery Stories" as her Hobbies.
I get 15 supplemental points to improve Katherine. She needs to have at least one power. As with Occupations, powers come in one- to five-star varieties, with each star costing 3 points. There's no ranks in the powers, just a straight yes/no. Flicking through, I like the look of Ghosting. Passing through solid objects to get where she shouldn't? Fuck yeah! That's 12 of the 15. Rather than picking up Extracurricular Skills or improving her Attributes, my eye gets dragged to another power: Deja Visite. With it, she can go anywhere in the world and know it like the back of her hand. I note both down.
The only derived trait, Will is the sum of the star ratings of Kath's powers. Or 5, in numerical terms.
Name: Katherine Hawke
Motivation: Work out what's going on and reclaim creditbility in journalistic circles.
Fitness (Surprisingly strong)1
Awareness (Quick-witted) 2
Personality (Personable) 3
Reason (Intuitive) 2
Professional Journalist (****)
Deja Visite (*)