Today, I can not brain worthy enough of being redlined. So instead I'm going to inflict the lot of you to a character. Moo hoo ha ha ha.
The Game: Fading Suns
The Publisher: Holistic Design.
Degree of Familiarity: I played it once or twice, and showed up to watch a larp that didn't grab me in the slightest3.
Books required: The first ed. core, though I'll probably crack open Merchants of the Jumpweb.
Fading Suns, as innocent_man says here, reads like a White Wolf game. I'd go one further, and say that it plays like a White Wolf game, from back in the days of the old WoD where the system was something best ignored on account of it only half working during certain phases of the moon. Going by the stats in the back of the book, a trained guard, f'rex, only has a 55% chance of shooting an opponent who doesn't dodge. Even then there's a 20% chance that skill doesn't matter at all on the roll, either being a success (auto or critical) or failure (auto or critical).
The whiff factor is high in this one.
Anyway, enough about the system for now. Fading Suns is a classic space-opera game. Magic, lasers, psi powers, laser swords, aliens, deflector shields, and all that shit. From what I've read about the time period, it's basically pre-Rennaisance Europe in space—most people are serfs to a noble master, the Church wields fantastic power and belief is near omnipresent, yet the rise of powerful trading Guilds of freemen makes the entrenched power structure uneasy. It's Ars Magica with starships and laser swords in place of magic.
I believe it was horza who explained it thus:
It's SF where all the cool tech is banned by the Church because it's a sin. The Church wants to take your sin away, so it has tech. The Nobility will happily bear the brunt of the common man's sin (and they pay off the Church), so they have tech. And the Guilds already have the tech, including enough guns and starships that anyone trying to take it away is having a laugh.
Interstellar travel is by jumpgate. Most inhabited systems have one, they were built by ancient and unknowable intelligences, and they connect the known worlds of the human empire. Only nobles, church officials, and Freemen of the Guilds are likely to ever travel offworld, unless they're on a pilgrimage.
My initial instinct, given that the game is bigging up a sociopolitical model that's somewhere between abhorrent but understandable and downright evil, is to play someone railing against all that, a character who's all about overthrowing the nobility and church and bringing tech and fun and equality to all. But to be honest, I want to save that character for a game with a truly disgusting political model; maybe Changeling: The Dreaming.
Instead, I'm going for a slightly different flavour of atheist.
Step One: Formulate Character Concept
Dion Lox was born dirt poor on Aragon, a planet that showcases the discrepancy between rich and poor. Sure, they spent vast amounts of money on some bits of the capital city, but never the bits that needed it. What's another skytouching tower when most of the population are so poor they have to eat vermin? His parents wanted him to have a better life, and better prospects. Not wanting to raise a child in the slums of Aragon, they helped him sneak onto a shuttle bound for Leagueheim, where he could present himself as an orphan and a foundling to one of the Guilds.
That part went well. The Charioteer's Guild took him in and taught him what they could—which wasn't much. He had a wealth of natural talent for piloting ships, though he wasn't much of a talker or a salesman. He was going to be another pilot, a gifted kid with a head for orbital mechanics and elliptical paths, but no real future. He piggybacked his way across the universe and back before getting his own commission: a milk run, taking pilgrims to Holy Terra. A pirate fleet ambushed his passenger ship off Vera Cruz. Though he gave as good as he got, the pirates boarded and took what little belongings the pilgrims had: mostly tokens and favours to lay at the Pancreator's shrines. Realising that they'd got all that they could, the pirates redoubled their attacks. Dion ejected the main bridge rather than be on his ship with everyone else who died.
Since then, he's been having a bit of a crisis of faith. Other Charioteers are either fairly devout, if flexible in their beliefs, or they honestly hold no belief in the Pancreator. Dion Lox wishes he could be either. He's an atheist not out of any rational thought, but out of fear. Dion hopes and prays that the Pancreator doesn't exist, because if he does then he's got to be a total cunt, and all of humanity is therefore fucked.
Step Two: Character Role
Easy enough. He's a member of the Charioteer's Guild
Step Three: Select Characteristics
I need to set the Spirit attributes first Human/Alien is 3/0, on account of Dion being human. He's 1/3 on Extrovert/Introvert, he's never been much of a talker. Likewise, 1/3 on Passion/Calm. Faith/Ego is a hard one. I'm going to start 3/1. He's got faith in the Pancreator still, but he professes to be an atheist out of the implications of that faith.
Everything else starts at 3 and can only get better with the 20 points I've got going. The main skills are Dex-based, so I'll boost that to 8. Likewise, Wits goes to 7: he's quick of wit and body both. Four points into Tech nets me 7. With seven points left to spend, I put two into Strength, Endurance, and Perception, then use the remaining point to raise Ego to 2.
Step Four: Select Skills
Everyone starts with three ranks in Natural Skills: Charm, Dodge, Fight, Impress, Melee, Observe, Shoot, Sneak, and Vigor, and 0 in just about everything else. Of the natural skills, I'm of a mind to leave most at base. I put two point into Observe and two into Shoot, though I might come back to that later—combat skills are useful for herding unpalatable visitors to an airlock for a Chauki Stride, where they're put off the ship without the benefit of the ship being on a planet, or the visitor being in a spacesuit.
For the Learned Skills... boy howdy. First off, he's a decent pilot. That's five points into Drive (Spacecraft), three into Lore (Jumproads) and four into Science (Astronomy). He knows how to keep most ships running once they're going, for when the Engineer decides to double his rates, so three points in Redemption (High Tech) and two in Redemption (Mech). Add three into Spacesuit, for external repairs. He can read Urthish and Urthtech (yeah, technical jargon is its own language skill) for two points each, and after the pirate encounter he's started to learn how to shoot back, so I put two points into Warfare (Gunnery).
Step Five: Benefices
10 points, with a possible bunch more from Afflictions. First off, I know he's a Lieutenant in the Charioteers, which sets me back five points. He's an Orphan, which gives me a point back, but means that if ever his Foundling status comes out the Chainers might be after him. Six points go on Passage Contracts—he's a hot pilot, and the Guild ensures that he can get to wherever he's supposed to be taking off from in relative style.
I take a Hong Enemy, to make things more interesting—one of the major players in the guild lost his cousin in the pirate attack, and still blames Dion. Given that he wants Lt. Lox dead, that's worth two points. I also take a two-point Stigma—he's been exposed to hard vacuum during the escape, and now his left shoulder and arm and part of his face are a mess of twisted scars. Those four points go towards a Stunner, the ideal nonlethal shipboard weapon.
Step Six: Spend Extra Points
40 Extra points to spend. I look to Blessings first, inbuilt things that offer situational bonuses. I think with a hooded robe the scarring isn't too visible, so I don't get any extra points for being Ugly. I take Curious, which boosts Extrovert when seeing something new, and Disciplined, which raises Calm during combat situations. It's a Bad Thing when your pilot loses his head. Guilty fits well with his backstory, and makes it harder to oppose the will of Church officials (hi, innocent_man!). Crack Driver rounds things out some. In total, I've spent four points so far.
6 points raises Alien to 2—Dion's never been good around people. That lets me take cybernetics. I think when he was picked up, they had to replace his eye with something just that little bit better—an Engineer's Eye for 9 points. That comes with a free Stigma, in this case his left eye glows red in dim light. 19 spent.
Time to do something about Skills. Drive goes to 8, Lore and Science go to 7 as well. Two points go into Dodge while I think about it. 12 down, 9 to go. Shoot goes up by one, and I take the Snapshot and Quick Draw manoeuvres for eight points. That's me done.
Vitality is 5 + Endurance 5 = 10.
Name: Dion Lox
Extrovert 1/3 Introvert
Passion 1/3 Calm
Faith 3/2 Ego
Human 3/2 Alien
Drive (Spacecraft) 8
Lore (Jumproads) 7
Read (Urthish) 2
Read (Urthtech) 2
Redemption (High Tech) 3
Redemption (Mech) 2
Science (Astronomy) 7
Speak (Urthish) 3
Warfare (Gunnery) 2
Commission (Lieutenant) 5
Passage Contracts (Stateroom) 6
Equipment (Stunner) 4
Hong Enemy (Kill) 2
Stigma (Scarred left side) 2
Crack Driver (+2 Drive)
Curious (+2 Extr. when seeing something new)
Disciplined (+2 Calm in combat)
Guilty (-2 when opposing Church)
0: The USA, ladies and gentlemen, is the only country of any major size where mm/dd/yy is the main date format. That format, despite all the supposed tradition, is unused in any large countries outside the USA. One day my contracts will use ISO date format standards (ISO 8601). Or at least something that's either big- or little-endian. Middle-endian dates are b0rked in ways that make my head really hurt.1
1: I'm tired and cranky and I'm sick of trying to explain the same thing in a hundred different ways until I hit on the one that an Internet Fuckwit will listen to, so I'm going to have my rant about date formats, TYVM. I've not yet poured a whisky. I may be calmer after that.
3: Because larps suck. In similar news, water is wet.