The Game: Werewolf: The Wild West
The Publisher: White Wolf
Degree of Familiarity: Quite a bit. I was fair addicted to Werewolf for a long while, but didn't end up getting into Wild West until 2001.
Books Required: Just the corebook. I could dip in to some supplements, but I've not got the will for it.
Werewolf: The Wild West was the second historic setting that White Wolf threw out for a World of Darkness game. So far, they'd only gone for the relatively safe Vampire: The Dark Ages. People didn't expect Werewolf: The Wild West (fuck this, WWW in future. Don't get it mixed up with any other acronyms), though the success of Deadlands proved that there was a fair bit of interest in Wild West horror settings. Moreso Wild West settings with Ron Spencer's art. Fuck me, but that shit sold me on the game. WW would go on to release Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade, and Wraith: The Great War, two of the greatest historic games out there.
Anyway. Re-reading the book, I'm torn. On the one hand, this is the barely-modified version of the Storyteller System version 1. The original, with the fucked-up Botch rolls and the lack of damage differentiation. The Revised system was a nice step up, and if I ever did run WWW, I'd retrofit it to either the Revised Storyteller or the Storytelling system. But that said, it's a good and reasonably mature take on the Wild West era that doesn't pull unnecessary punches (Deadlands) or fuck with the world in nonsensical ways to facilitate that (Deadlands). Racism and sexism exist, though they're subjects addressed in a sidebar as the protagonists aren't actually human.
But yeah, it's Old Werewolf. With dodgy cultural stereotypes as Tribes and wolf-born that very few people know how to play, though that doesn't stop them. All the shit that I fell in love with first time around. In some ways, the game's moved on a hell of a lot. In others, it's still the same. It's still a game about the Hunt, though with a whole bunch of cosmological constants muddying the waters.
Enough of my waffle.
Step One: Character Concept
So, a Western werewolf. Let me think. I like the idea of applying the nature of the Hunt to the human world, to walk in shadow. A member of the Pinkerton's Detective Agency, someone who trained his whole life to track down anything that lives. Only thing is, the hunt's a damn sight more than applied detective skills; it's nearly a sacred observance. He left the agency in disgrace after killing four men he was supposed to bring back to Chicago. He ran to the West and Changed along the way. He fell in with a Sept in Kansas who taught him what the hell was going on, but he's since moved on, looking for other werewolves who share his need to hunt far and wide. Nathaniel Walks-Far as a name works for now.
Translated into game terms, he's Homid in breed: well, he was born human. Sucks, but shit happens. Gnosis 1. Auspice is a bit of a bugger to sort out, but in the end I go for Philodox, the Judge; the Keeper of the Ways. Three points each of Rage and Honor Renown. Finally, for Tribe, I head for Silent Striders, as they seem to emphasize the idea of the hunter who is always on the move. Three points of Willpower and a couple of restricted Backgrounds later, I'm ready to move on..
Step Two: Select Attributes
7/5/3, the classic split between Attributes. Of course, some of them are a bit wanky—Appearance, for example. But even so. Physical primary, Mental secondary, Social tertiary.
Physical drops five points into Stamina and two into Dexterity, as they're the important bits. Dex covers speed, and Stamina is keeping going. The remaining point goes into Strength.
Mentally, I put two points each into Perception and Wits—he's sharp and he's got a keen eye. He's not dumb, but he's not college material, so one point into Intelligence.
Socially, I dump one point into Charisma and two into Manipulation—he's good at getting people to talk. So far, I'll put nothing into Appearance; if I leave it like that he's probably got a nasty scar after a horse reacted to his predatory aura.
Step Three: Select Abilities
13/9/5 this time. Skills are Primary, Talents secondary, with Knowledges bringing up the rear.
Skills-wise, I drop a point in Animal Ken, two in Crafts (he's used to keeping his stuff in good repair), two in Firearms because he knows how to use a shooting-iron, three in Ride, as his horse is his best friend. Two dots in Stealth so he can get the drop on people, and three into Survival.
For Talents, I know I need Alertness, Athletics, and Brawl, so I stick two dots into each of these. He's rather a two-fisted judge. Following up, a point in Dodge, Intimidation, and Primal Urge; with an eye to coming back here with freebies.
Knowledges are easy. One point in Enigmas, one in Law, and three in Investigation.
Step Four: Select Advantages
Backgrounds. As a Silent Strider, he can't have Past Life or Resources. On the other hand, I only have five fucking points.
Let me ramble here for a minute. I think collapsing Merits and Backgrounds into one category is possibly the one point where the Storytelling system is weaker than the Revised Storyteller system. See, Backgrounds are a direct way of applying game traits to a character's connection to the world. Unfortunately, as the system didn't originally have a more generic "advantage" mechanic, stuff got shoe-horned in that didn't really fit. Keeping the two pools separate would be kinda cool, to tell the truth, but shit happens.
Anyway. I'll take two points of Contacts among the Pinkertons. I may no longer be on the payroll, but hey. I can deal with that. Two points of Totem, because I wouldn't be a fucking werewolf if I didn't. Finally, one point of Fetish.
I get one Gift from Breed, one from Tribe, and one from Auspice. From Homid, I grab Jam Gun from the Homid list. Nothing better than fucking with an opponent's firearm. Turning to the Auspice list, I grab Resist Pain. It's tasty, to be honest. Finally, I take Sense Wyrm as my Tribal Gift; because knowing what's wrong is a good start.
Step Five: Finishing Touches
Fifteen freebies to spend. Fair enough. I revisit Skills first. A point in Athletics, Dodge, Intimidation, Primal Urge, and and Enigmas. 10 down. Two points of Gnosis and a point of Willpower round things out. That's me just about done. One last thing: that one-dot Fetish. I take a Moon-Watch, a pocket-watch that never loses time and always shows the correct phase of the moon.
Name: Nathaniel Walks-Far
Tribe: Silent Strider
Rank: Cliath (1)
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 5
Social Attributes: Charisma 2, Manipulation 3, Appearance 1
Mental Attributes: Perception 3, Intelligence 2, Wits 3
Talents: Alertness 2, Athletics 3, Brawl 2, Dodge 2, Intimidation 2, Primal Urge 2
Skills: Animal Ken 1, Crafts 2, Firearms 2, Ride 3, Stealth 2, Survival 3
Knowledges: Enigmas 2, Investigation 3, Law 1
Backgrounds: Contacts (Pinkertons) 2, Fetish 1, Totem 2
Gifts: Jam Gun, Resist Pain, Sense Wyrm
Renown Honor 3