Friday, 20 October 2017

Building Character - Toritaka Sasaki

By: Dozer

This post was originally here on my personal blog. It was my first run at this type of blog post and as such I felt it would fit being re-published with some edits here. It also comes after my recent Building Character post in the new Legend of the Five Rings beta pack and I liked the contrast between the two systems.

Antonius was coming down on in the end of April 2016 and run a game of Legend of the Five Rings. He'd been running a game in fourth edition for quite some time now and his last run of stories in his world ended with all the player characters dying. The heir and future Emperor was 2-3 years old when the Kolat violently took the capital by force and supplanted the ruling family.

It's been 15 years since the last game's events. We the players are playing Bushi who grew up with the Emperor in exile. Now he is 17-18 ready for the coming of age ceremony, the gempuku, and he is coming back to reclaim his place as the Emperor of Rokugan.

Of course when the Emperor leaves a loyal servant shall follow and as such we the players will have player characters that are going back with the Emperor to help him complete his goals of putting down the Kolat and taking back what is his.

When building any character I always have my players come up with a theme that will help direct the choices made during the process and mechanics of character creation. My theme will be a perceptive and loyal companion. The one who sees things that others miss.
The 8 Major Clans
by: Artigas  

With that in mind I started down the path of character creation within the game. In this case Step one is pick a Clan. Rokugen has 8 Major Clans and a dozen or so Minor Clans. Early in the change from 1st edition and 2nd edition there was a story line that took the strongest Minor Clan, the Mantis, and transitioned them to Major Clan status. Much later in the two decades of the game's timeline a ninth 'dark' Clan joins the ranks of the Major clans but I don't think Antonius is using the Spider Clan. Now I have three Clans that are my favorite in the setting.

The first of my favorite (in no order) are the Scorpion Clan. They are the hidden hand of the Emperor and his most loyal Clan. So much so that they are willing to sacrifice their own Honor, body, lives, and very soul to serve. They will give everything away of themselves and from that thinking they are also willing to sacrifice everyone else as well. Nothing is more worthy than the Emperor and upholding the Celestial Order. By giving everything up they earn an Honor that no one else can understand. They are a clan of secrets, spies, assassins, masked warriors and shugenja.

The Mon's (Symbols)
of the Minor Clans
The second of my favorite Clans was founded by Shiba. Shiba was the twin to Bayushi, the founder of the Scorpion Clan. Shiba founded the Phoenix Clan with the help of gifted shamanic spellcasters called Shugenja. The Phoenix clan is known for keeping the great library, being masters of magics, and having the most dedicated Yojimbo (bodyguards) in Rokugan. They are the most pacifistic, have the smallest standing army, and yet they are very dangerous because their soldiers work so well with their shugenja. No Clan can bring to bear such magics and has collected so much knowledge.

My final favorite clan (again all liked equal) is a Minor Clan that was later absorbed by a Major Clan. Dante seemed to have inspired this Clan with the opening lines of the Divine Comedy: 

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
(Inferno - Canto 1:1-2)

The Clan I'm speaking of is a Clan know for its perceptive Bushi, the art of Falconry, and those who fight ghosts. The Toritaka Family, the Falcon Clan.

Surrounded by a dark wood that is haunted. Neighboring between the Lion Clan, Crab Clan, and Scorpion Clan. In this campaign the Toritaka were not absorbed by the Crab Clan. The War of Spirits never happened.

My last consideration is what I've had the opportunity to play. I've played more than one Scorpion in the few times I've be able to be a player rather than a game master in Lo5R. I've built but have never played a Phoenix. I've never built a Falcon Clan and I've never played one either so that really makes me want to play one. Also the one line character theme I have works very well with all three clans.

I've chosen the Falcon Clan because in the current campaign setting they are still a unique Minor Clan. Also they are the specialists of perception. Being from a Minor Clan also solves the second step, picking a Family. In Lo5R each Clan is made up of three or more Families that bring a history, skill set, and role to their parent Clan. Minor Clans are made up of only one Family and so that's been chosen for me. Family also decides my first attribute bonus.

Each Character has a score of 2 in each attribute. In character generation your family and school each add an bonus point to an attribute. Schools also determine the base set of skills, equipment, and honor level. From there the player character has a set of points that they use to complete their character. The Toritaka Family gives a +1 to Perception. The family spends years training to gather details in order to keep their home Tani Hitokage safe. Ghosts, as they manifest slow, start to disturb the area they haunt and the Toritaka found that observation was the first key to hunt down ghosts and detect possession. This trait is what earned the family recognition and Minor Clan status when it started.

Next is the skills. The Toritaka Bushi get's a selection of skills and a choice of any skill. Animal Handling/Falcons, Hunting 2, Kenjutsu, Lore: Spirit Realms, Spears. I pick Investigation as my free skill choice and most of the character is done. I picked Investigation keeping in line with my Character Theme.

I also rolled on the Heritage Table in Great Clans, and I rolled: "Your ancestor made many political connections with another clan which have lasted to this day. You gain a 3-point Ally Advantage in that clan for free."

I'm deciding that my player character was there during the Kolat attack that put the young heir in hiding. This political connection would make sense as to why a Minor Clan was there during the attack on the Palace and why my PC would be treated as one next to Major Clans. I'm going to say it was my mother who made the connections. I started looking for a picture that would represent my mother and her capabilities. These pauses in character creation really flesh out the story of my characters.

Toritaka Chokichi
a Falcon Hero hunting in Shinomen Mori
Images help define and round out ideas for players and game masters alike. Ontos for example starts with an image. I'm start with a theme and allow images to inspire the direction and options. In this case Legend of the Five Rings is littered with gorgeous art since it's been a Collectable Card Game for quite some time. Some of my favorite images for the Falcon Clan is of Toritaka Chokichi. My favorite image is of her wielding a spirit blade or enchanted/jade blade reacting to evil spirits/Oni while hunting in a forest.

So the image is perfect. My player character is the son of a proven Falcon Clan hero. Someone who's preformed a deed that has earned her bloodline/family an ally. Since the Falcon are not known for earning political favour in the courts, a trait they share with the Lion and Crab, I feel she 'did' something. As the something the Falcon Clan does is fight spirits I feel she earned a boon by doing just that. She made a name for herself as being a competent hunter of corrupt and violent ghosts. One of the times she hunted it just so happened to catch the eye of someone more versed in the courts. Now the story is starting to form... My player character was going to be introduced to the ally for the first time by his mother at the Imperial Courts when the Kolat attacked. My ally is still around and still loyal, having escape somewhere else during the fighting.

At this stage I have an idea on where my player character came from and what my character is becoming. He is a loyal son to a skilled mother who was 'lucky' and earned notice from someone of a higher social status. After escaping she continued his (I'm playing a male) training and imparting a sense of duty into her child. This duty is shapping up to be something like; Be loyal and protect the Emperor and know your place. Being of a Minor Clan, and only being there because she was 'noticed' may have her impart a level of pratical social grace. They are not equal to the Major Clans but they have earned a place beside them. I can already hear her words. "They are greater because of where they come from but you've earned your place beside them. Know that place but do not allow them to tarnish or takeaway what you've earned and continue to earn through your efforts." I see my character like the poor kid that hangs out with the group of rich kids. From outside he seems like the token member but within the group privatly he's an equal. I see him to not rock the social boat just in case any of his Major Clan friends decide it's better for them to treat him like a lesser.

With that finished I'm looking at other advantages. I want my Falcon Bushi to be more than being simply perceptive but also something more. I looked at the Clan found that they are known for being great Falconers. So being a perceptive Bushi and a gifted falconer might be a neat way to go. Looking at the advantages there is a connection to Chikushudo that would be a good place to start. So I picked Touched by the Spirit Relms: Chikushudo for 5 points. This also fits because there is rumored to be a door in Shinomen Mori the forest next to the Falcon Clan's historical home to that spirit. This connection to animals would ostracize my character even more so than normal. So a connection to the animal spirit realm, a feeling of inferiority towards major clans, and a predisposition that all Falcons have to social activities Antisocial might be a good disadvantage. I don't want to have the personality of a brick but some sort of social disadvantage would make sense so I picked the 2 point disadvantage. Being perceptive and somewhat animal in nature it made sense for my character to be naturally wary for another 3 points.

That's a good start advantage and disadvantage wise so I started to look at skills. With 34 points to spend after advantages I started looking at what skills I was missing. I picked Calligraphy, Athletics, Sneak, and Medicine. My character when allowed to be alone, would go out hunting and work with his birds. Athletics and Medicine provide that physical independence that supports my character living off the land through hunting. As a hunter Sneak would be a good skill to have a toe dip in. Lastly his control over trained animals and his perceptive nature would make him a great long range messenger and so I took Calligraphy. Now I'm at 30 points time to upgrade my current skill set.

Noting that nothing can get higher that 4, I've started out with my emphasis that seem important. Looking at my skill set I pick Hunting/Tracking, Investigation/Search, and Investigation/Notice. Leaving down 9 points for 21 remaining points. I look at upgrading a skill to 3 from 1 and it will cost me 5 total (2 points for rank 2, 3 points for rank 3). I also need to look at my attributes. I know it will cost me 16 points to have an attribute move from 3 to 4 which I do with my Perception. So I'm down to 5 points to play with and able to only upgrade my Animal Handling from 1 to 3.

Toritaka Sasaki
Falcon Bushi
With no other skills upgraded I find myself a little short on points. I would like to increase at least two of my skills from 1 to 2, which means I need to find 4 more points. I pick Doubt a 4 point disadvantage to reflect the lack of training while abroad. I could see her weaknesses become amplified while she trained her son and a he would feel insecure about a particular element of the school's teachings. I look back at the mother of my character and I go over her history and the picture I have of her. She was a confident and skilled Falcon Bushi she uses two weapons, Spears and Katanas. The spear is a powerful hunting weapon and great for taking down larger beasts. While the Katana is a weapon shared by the other clans. With that in mind, I figure my characters training would be weaker in Spears. His mother with limited resources and lacking support would not leave him with the confidence he'd need with the spear. With the 4 extra points I put my Investigation to 2 and give my character a Defence of 1 and a point in Archery called Kyujutsu. I'm worried that without access to Spears my character will be weaker in a fight against creatures with damage resistance. But if that wasn't there the Doubt wouldn't be that much of a disadvantage.

I pick the ten items of my traveling pack: Blanket, Cooking Pot, Fishing Pole, Flint and Tinder, Ink Brush Kit, Rope (50'), Small Knife (non-combat), Week's rations, Small Tent, Spare kimono and sandals. These my character would carry around when told to leave, most of which would support his hunting lifestyle. I add his light armor, sturdy clothing (now that he has a spare set when not in the woods), daisho (Katana and Wakazashi), a bow, and 3 koku (o. I spend 10 bu or two koku for a set of books and scrolls to support my characters role as messenger. I spend another 3 bu on a small folding stool, 1 bu on a grappling hook, and my last bu for a medicine kit with ten uses. I now have no money but my character is equipped to be self sufficient.

Toritaka Horoiso
a Falcon Hero fighting spirits in Shinomen Mori
Something my character would aspire to
So sitting at an Insight of 125 (Total of my skills + my rings x10), my character is looking at needing another 25 points to rise to rank 2. This fist well since my character would still be young and very inexperienced. I see my next sets of experience going into expanding his rings - I need 16 xp to upgrade his Strength while I'd need 24 (12 per attribute to upgrade another ring). This has a feeling of untapped potential with my character. Also if he ends up supporting the role of messenger, running and climbing are Athletic skills who's parent attribute is Strength. All of which seems to be fitting in well with his background.

He's from a lesser clan, but was pulled in and had to leave his life behind. While growing up he felt insecure with his skills and his position and he was perceptive enough to see the truth. Trained and raised overseas he worked hard but never impressed, instead he used his free time to escape into the woods, hunting and and training his falcons. His only insight into his clan is what his mother teaches him and what others had to say about the Falcons. Sadly not saying  much since it is only a Minor Clan. He is able to see how his mother interacts as an subordinate to the rest of the court in exile. All that he has left is the legends of famous heroes and someone like Toritaka Horoiso would be a good example to follow. Toritaka Horoiso came at the end of the current history of the setting but his sacrifice, his act is what would attract my character.

With that done I need to do the last thing, name my character. I will also name my mother and father so I go looking through my collection of Manga, Anime, and Japanese novels.

I pick for my mother Reiko, the name of the guitar playing strong middle aged woman from Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood.

For my characters father, who died while I was young in a duel gone wrong, killed in the attack. The idea is starting to form. He is a footnote and so I don't want my character to be influenced by his father's presence or lack thereof. I have a feeling he will have died quietly but keeping his honor. I decide he died from a sickness. I pick Shinriji named after a supporting in Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the ImmortalHe died and was a character of little skill but lots of well meaning.

Lastly and most importantly is my character's name. I pick Sasaki, taking the first name from Sasa Kojiro Ganryu, Musashi's final opponent of in Eiji Yoshikawa's novel Musashi.

So there we have it. Toritaka Sasaki, young heir of the noble and heroic Toritaka Reiko. Quiet and reserved, lacking confidence and feeling inferior to those around him. He is only happy when deep in the woods alone with his trained animal companion a Falcon named Kiri (meaning Fog of Autumn).

- Cheers


Friday, 13 October 2017

Building Character – Ichiro

By: Dozer

I know I was supposed to do a post on the Infinity RPG character creation system. Instead I got my copy of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG Beta package. So I will instead build a character for the new Legend of the Five Rings RPG.

As I am stuck with the Major Clans; Crane, Lion, Phoenix, Dragon, Unicorn, Scorpion, and Crab, I’ve decided to work with the Twins. All seven of the Major Clans are founded by 7 out of 9 gods, called Kami. One of them, Fu-Leng fell to earth apart from his siblings. The other 8 had duel on who would rule the land. The winner became the Emperor while the other 7 siblings founded the Major Clans.

The Scorpion founder, Bayushi, and the Phoenix founder, Shiba, are twins. In the past I tend to play a Scorpion but I’ve always longed for the more enlightened way of the Phoenix. I’ve always wanted but instead take the darker path and once more work as a Scorpion. As such I will one more put on my mask and take on the mon (crest) of the Scorpion Clan.

Used without permission
I’ve decided to play an older Bushi who is retired. I’ll explain my low stats and skills as old age, letting myself go, and not keeping up my skills. When I advance this character I’ll focus on his skills but I his attributes will be low on my priority of advancement. I also expect this character to only last a single campaign. In most cases players build characters with futures and goals, once a campaign ends they long to use that now experienced character again. Other players simply imagine a fitting end or continuation to their character. For me this campaign will be my characters last, he will die completing it or simply fade away once the work is done.

Legend of the Five Rings has always used a organic method of character creation by asking players to answer twenty questions. This latest take on the RPG does the same.

Part I: Core Identity

Q1. What clan does your character belong to?
I pick Scorpion and as such I’ve added a ring increase of +1 to Air, a skill increase of +1 to Skulduggery, and set my Status to 35.

Q2. What family does your character belong to?
I’ve chosen the Yogo family. Cursed to betray the one they love, the family left the Phoenix Clan to work for the Scorpion Clan because they could never love the Scorpion like they did the Phoenix. They are traditionally masters of magic with a focus on wards and protections. I’m not sure if I will be a Shugenja but it’s a possibility now.

With that I add the ring increase +1 Earth, and the skill increases of +1 Composition, and +1 Theology. Yogo also start with 39 Glory.

Part II: Role and School

Q3. What is your character’s role and school?
With the Beta package there are only two schools for me to choose. I can be a Courtier of the Bayushi Manipulator School or a Ninja of the Shosuro Infiltrator School.

That leaves me with limited options but something I can work with. Right off the bat I feel that my character is quietly put aside, he failed semi-publicly at a task for the Scorpion. He either did so on purpose or because he simply made a mistake, either way he has been barely accepted by his peers and rivals in order to keep the secret of this shame from the public. After some thought, he did so on purpose. Another Scorpion of greater importance would have been blamed and as such the could have caused issues. Instead a deal was made between the offended and the Scorpion that my character would live out his life quietly. The Scorpion kept him but being without purpose made it hard for him to motivate himself and as age slowly claimed him he fell to the wayside. He’s able to return because the offended has passed away and he is now able to come out of the shadows for one last effort and making his life be more than an early sacrifice.

I like how this has developed but I’m still at odds with what school I want. After looking at the starting Kata and Shuji of both schools I feel that a Ninja would be the best bet. This means my character will be identifying himself as a bushi near retirement who has taken on less martial pursuits. I add the + 1 Air, and the +1 Fire to my rings. I’m allowed to pick 5 skills for the list and I pick +1 Courtesy, +1 Games, +1 Performance, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], and +1 Skulduggery. Fitness and Martial Arts [Unarmed] don’t fit my concept.

Q4. How does your character stand out within their school?
This was easy for me and my character has aged and knows himself and what he plans to do now that he is back in the world. I pick “Self-awareness, insight, or mysticism” and add +1 to my Void Ring. My character has no illusions of what and who he is and what will happen to him in the coming years. He is not suicidal but he is pragmatic when looking at himself.

Part III: Honor and Glory

Q5. What is your character’s duty to their lord?
There are some more details in the mix when you look at the character creation including the selection of a Ninjo and Giri. Ninjo is the core personal desire while the Giri is the way in which they serve their master.  At this stage players shape their relationship with the setting.

My character’s Lord is a Yogo Jura, a Shugenja who inherited the service of my character. His father was the one who was protected by my character. The Lord is a expert in Wards and Protection spells who spends his time researching at home instead of traveling outside of Scorpion lands. Yogo Jura is a bookworm and he uses my character for menial tasks.

The Giri that I select for my character is simple. Serve Yogo Jura at all costs.

Q6. What does your character long for?
This is simple as my character feels he has lived a life where he has served well but personally has been unfulfilled. The Ninjo I pick is he wants to prove himself publicly one last time before he must give up his duty and retire. This puts him at odds with the work he performs for his lord which keeps him hidden and out of the way.

Q7. What is your character’s opinion of their clan?
My character is loyal and believes in what and how the Scorpion Clan performs it’s duties. As such my character gains +5 glory as many Scorpion privately know he gave up his life early in his duties and has lived a life many would consider unfulfilled.

Q8. What does your character think of Bushidō?
To my character Bushido is a great series of tenants but few truly use them and because of that truth Bushido is a waste of time for those who need to protect those who live it from those who don’t. I pick Skullduggery as my bonus skill point.

Part IV: Strengths and Weaknesses

Q9. What is your character’s greatest accomplishment so far?
He has lived a long life keeping a bargain at the cost of his own personal growth and success. As such his life has been long but uneventful. I pick Seasoned (Void) as the associated distinction advantage with my character due to his years and experience.

Q10. What holds your character back the most in life?
He loyalty and duty to keep the bargain. I’m fleshing out what happened and it starts to really form when I find the Scorn of [One Group] (Water) adversities. The idea quickly blows up and the details fill in quickly.

Yogo Mira, father of Yogo Jura was working alongside a Crane Courtier. Lots of time and effort was spent to have Yogo Mira embedded and close to the Crane Courtier (named Doji Hanata). When Hanata was haunted by a ghost, Jira promised on his honor to use his magic to remove the haunting. Mira publically failed in establishing his wards and the Hanata became a monk instead of taking a prestigious position in the Crane courts. My character took the blame for the failed wards, by publically admitting to damaging the wards his master has set down, taking the blame for the failure and preserving the relationship between his master the rest of the Crane.

For his failure he was sent back to the Scorpion lands banished publically by his lord, but privately thanked by Mira. Only Hanata knew the truth but would reveal what he knew so long as the Scorpion publically shamed my character. Now that Hanata is dead, my character can leave the lands and participate in the campaign but there is still some bad blood between my character and the Doji who remember the incident.

With my character’s backstory finally sorted, I mark down Scorn of Doji (Water) on my character sheet.

Q11. What activity makes your character feel at peace?
Experiencing life is what gives him peace. He’s missed out on so much in his shamed state that when he has the opportunity to experience something he relishes in it. Now that he is allowed to leave the lands of the Scorpion Clan he is connecting with those who from the other clans who are now established and successful. I pick Travel (Water) as his passion.

Q12. What concern, fear, or foible troubles your character the most?
Not using this second chance to explore life to the fullest. Reading through the anxieties Dark Secret (Void) was the easy one to pick. If the bargain he made Jira would come out it would damage his clan and the decades spent in the lie instead of living a full life would be wasted making his life’s work (keeping the secret) meaningless.

Q13. Who has your character learned the most from during their life?
That service is rewarding but also costly. I pick Famously Reliable (Earth) as my advantage as Mira and later on his son Jura would trust my character earning him a reputation for being reliable.

Part V: Personality and Behavior

Q14. What detail do others find most striking about your character?
His dress is old and out of fashion as if he’s been unable to keep up with fashion standards because of ignorance or due to being poor.

Q15. How does your character react to stressful situations?
He compromises he did it when he started his service to the Clan and there is no reason this should change.

Q16. What are your character’s preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organizations, and traditions?
Outside of the already explored situation with the Doji and the rest of the Scorpion Clan my character build relationships with other subordinate samurai when he traveled with his previous master and later one when he helped host members of other visiting clans into the Scorpion lands.

Part VI: Ancestry and Family

Q17. How would your character’s parents describe them?
Both his parents are dead and they passed being proud of his resolve and personal sacrifice to the Scorpion’s goals.

Q18. Who was your character named to honor?
I rolled an 8 on my d10, and got Stolen Knowledge. It seems a Yogo discovered something and passed it down the family line.  I rolled a second d10 and came up with a 9. So my character knows a Kiho.

This is interesting so I look through the Rank 1 Kiho abilities. I want to pick something that makes sense and I find myself drawn to The Great Silence or Earth Needs No Eyes. Feeling that my character is more sneaky and less of a hidden bodyguard I pick the Air Kiho allowing him to create a range 0-4 bubble of silence.

Q19. What is your character’s personal name? 
Interestingly enough I only get to name my character at this point of creation (if you follow each step). So I pick Ichirō, a common male name given to a first born son.

Part VII: Death

Q20. How should your character die?
This is an easy question for Ichiro. He would want to die in the service of the Scorpion or while doing something that was fulfilling personally. He does not want to die a retired monk but if he did he would want to die keeping to duty and holding on to the secret that has shaped his life.

So there we have it, I'm ready to play the adventures of the new Legend of the Five Rings role-playing game. I'll still need to sort out the equipment and the last details with whom ever would run my character but I feel pretty good about Ichiro right now. 

- Cheers


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

LGS on the Road - Ogre's Lair

By: Dozer

I am travelling across the country this year for my day job and when I stop I will be visiting as many Local Game Shops (LGS) as I can. Canada has a healthy relationship with their game shop and I want to post about my experience there and tell folks about them. 

Our hobby needs the LGS to keep our games healthy so we need to support them when we can.

While I was in Yelloknife for two weeks, I and a buddy of mine visited the local game store Ogre's Lair Family Game Shop

My mate Pat was new to Magic and has only been playing for a few months. When we found out we were to have a Friday night in Yellowknife off, I sugested we played the weekly FNM (Friday Night Magic). So we hit the shop early and took a look at some products after work before heading back to our separate hotels to rest before FNM. 

The first thing that went wrong (for my wallet) was Pat finding pre-release packs. This are a special addiction for me. I don't like buying boosters outside of draft or sealed. Sealed is my favorite of the booster formats so pre-release kits are always awesome. I also love the extra stuff you get in the older packs. So Pat was looking around and found an odd one.

He found a Dimir and a Simic pre-release kit from Gatecrash. My history with Magic is simple. I started playing in September 1994. I left the game before Alliances in the summer of 1996 because I switch games. In 2007 I picked up Magic again for a year because of my ex and I owned a few Tenth Edition sets. It was 2013 when I jumped back in as Dragon's Maze was about to finish for the next core set Magic 2014. Since then I've been playing pretty hard and I "helped" many of my old friends come back into the game.

So I snatched the Dimir pack from his hands - no really I took it from him and bought it. I was a huge jerk but I didn't care. It was a moment of weakness and I failed. We played a round with our sealed decks in order to give Pat some practice in building 40 card decks. I milled him so hard but he took it well and demanded a rematch with a smile. 

So after our match we piled back into the Ogre' Lair and start to chat and hang out with the other 13 players for the night. 

I drafted Black and Blue. Mostly inspired by my recent Dimir purchase but also because I drew a a good black card on my first booster. My first game went very well for me. I won 2-0 leaving me undefeated after round one. My opponent played Dinos and just could not deal with my combo of Storm Sculptor, Seeker's Squire, Shaper Apprentice, and Deeproot Waters. With both games once I got to turn 4 four I was always bouncing something back in my hand and triggering Deeproot Waters or Seeker's Squire. The second game was won by bouncing my only Tempest Caller over and over again to the non hasted Dinosaurs.

The second round I was lucky to again earn 2-0 victory. Tri-Colour pirates did not stand and chance due to lack of mana. I really felt bad for my opponent who had a great deck and played really well but his deck failed to kick off in time. This is where my four Skittering Heartstopper's paid off. They were awesome deterrence in my last game but in this game they started things off in both games, slowly taking bites off my opponent for my Storm Sculptor to come swinging in for the end game kill. I was really happy with One With the Wind on my Skittering Heartstopper forcing the game to the end sooner in the second round. 

My last round was brutal. 0-2 loss. I was mans shy through my first match, and drawing nothing but mana in the second protracted game. It was a great game even if it cost me getting to the top spot. I was tied with two other players for first prize and I got the draw of the next in line. Had I won 2-0 and my two tied opponents won 2-1 (which one of them did) I could have come out in first place. I came in sixth and was happy with my matches. 

Pat and I enjoyed our time in the lair. The players were awesome and very friendly. Three of the 15 players were playing for their first time. Pat was one of them, and so was the father of another player. I chatted with a group of players and we talked about alternative formats like Commander, Highlander, Emperor, and Wizard's Tower. They seemed very keen on the various formats and most were new to them. Wizard's Tower was particularly received but younger and newer players who decided to play the format in the coming days. 

Once all the prizes were handed and tables put back, folks slowly left the shop talking about their next set of games to be played. Pat and I split up to head back to our respective hotels. I was tired but happy with my experience. 

Ogre's Lair is the only shop in the area with the closest being Bear Necessities Storefront in High Level, AB.

I saw a slew of games from Games Workshop, Privateer Press, and even some of the smaller games like Infinity, Malifaux. There was some old one like Battletech and Heavy Gear as well. The board games were stacked up the ceiling and the amount of support for RPGs new, and older out of print RPGs was fantastic. Plenty of other CCGs were present including a whole box of Terminator CCG starters - a truly rare find yet the Ogre's Lair in Yellowknife has it. 

Plenty of sleeves from Ultra Pro including the Eclipse line, Ultimate Guards, and Dragon Shield. There were loads of Ultimate Guard boxes with the whole range of card storage represented. 

In back was a stack of candy and snacks for players along side soda and energy drinks. The place is clean and the community was very friendly. Next time you find yourself in Yellowknife hit the Ogre's Lair. The folks are friendly, and Friday Night Magic is a blast when you're with good people.

- Cheers


Friday, 6 October 2017

Building Character - Velik

By: Dozer

Building Character is a series of posts where we build a character in a table top role-playing game. This post I will be building a character in the newly released Star Trek Adventures RPG by Modiphius. Ontos was a backer and is starting a new campaign, being on the road for the next couple of months I decided to build a character for the campaign that could be played from a distance or at least be a good NPC when I can't come in a play.

Before I start to mechanically build a character I like to come up with a concept. In Star Trek, I have three favorite races; Vulcan, Trill, and Cardassian so I know I'd like to be one of those three. Since the last Star Trek RPG, I always wanted to play a Vulcan who had emotions. Outside of being a radical I wanted the shift from the Vulcan norm to make sense.

In the case of my character concept Velik passed his Kahs-wan without giving in to the precepts of logic. The Kahs-wan is a coming of age ceremoni where a young Vulcan goes into the desert. The ordeal is so harrowing that participants must turn to pure logic in order to survive. Velik would have passed his ordeal through luck and emotion from happening onto a source of water, using fear to stay alert, and anger to scare off a predator.

Image used without permission
Velik needs to be a Vulcan but he needs to show some moxy because when he tested his logic it was his moxy (and some luck) that helped him survive. I always picture Velik's career in Starfleet to be short and something forces him to return to duty. I also like the idea of him as the counselor, someone to advise the command crew and provide logical and emotional insight.

So with my idea lets start the process and see where the Lifepath character creation system takes me and what changes will happen to Velik...

Step One: Species

This is an easy step for me to follow... or so I thought. I pick Vulcan as my species but after speaking with Ontos he recommended counting him as a mixed species where one can draw on traits from a secondary species due to having parents of two races. In Velik's case this will be a cultural division so I need to pick my secondary species carefully and make sure it fits the mold of a emotional Vulcan.   

I looked at Trill, and Bajoran as my next two options but turned them down. The trait of the Trill is physical in nature. The Bajoran trait is religious in nature. In both cases it does not fit my character concept. Wanting to not give up on the concept I looked at two other species. Betazoid but their telepathic trait is does not fit with Velik, and Human whos trait is a cultural liberating trait and fits better then anything else that I can find. So Velik after coming of age enlists in Starfleet and his experience with humans deeply shapes him. 

Lastly I pick Dauntless as Velik initial Trait. Velik seems to be someone who forges his own path ignoring social pressures. I add the extra attribute points and move on.

Step Two: Environment

Velik is raised on the homeworld. His parents kept him on Vulcan in hope that he would finally turn towards logic. Velik's picks the value of "Accepting others and their differences". His experience on the homeworld made him feel welcome and more ostracized and so he values the acceptance of differences. I pick fitness since it seems the least traditional Vulcan of the three attributes when compared to Reason and Control. I also pick his discipline in Security since he would feel more guarded in social situations while growing up on the homeworld as Vulcan with emotions. 

Step Three: Upbringing

Looking at the six options Diplomacy and Politics seemed to be the perfect fit. I feel that his mother was a successful Diplomat and his father a local politician on Vulcan. Staying on Homeworld would cost them in their careers but they did so out of affection for Velik. Velik may have found it strange to see his parents be welcoming to other races and visitors and not him but he still learned a great deal from them. He learned to debate and argue with his peers and teachers without be overtly aggressive or disrespectful. He would focus on preserving the relationship instead of winning the argument and that would shape his later life when he joins Starfleet.

I pick Command for my increase in disciplines. Diplomacy as my Focus and my talent would be Studious as Velik would try to prove himself in his studies when not with his parents welcoming off world visitors. 

Step Four: Starfleet Academy

Velik experience in Starfleet is where everything changes for him. He learns how to make friends and work with others. As a bit of a rebel he takes to the command stream but I make sure to mark down his new value; "Teamwork is the key to success".

Attribute wise Velik's opens up and as such I increase his Insight twice and Presence once. He learns how to not just great and interact with other species but also how to live and work with them. His major is Command and it now sits at the max for this stage of character creation while Velik takes to the medicines and learns about psychology. His focuses are easy to pick; Team Dynamics, Inspiration, and Persuasion. Lastly I pick Defuse the Tension as his next Talent being able to keep folks talking rather than solving their problems with violence. 

Step Five: Career

This where things get interesting. I see Velik as a rebel and not a great student in the Command Stream. He would have been better suited for the medical or science stream to become a counselor. Instead he passes near the bottom of his class with but a few exceptional scores in diplomacy and team dynamics. 

I feel he took to post academy life with some difficulty, and due to his low standing became frustrated with his positions aboard ship. I see him earning a few notes of recognition and becoming locked in the junior ranks before he leaves the service and settles in a trade station. He record has a few exceptional notes that prove his is a fine officer but they are few and far between when it comes to his reviews and it makes him look like he is not reaching his potential.

After the battle of Wolf 359, Velik returns to the service. Starfleet took many looses and they became short for trained officers. Velik always had believed in the team and knowing that his former comrades were short handed he returned to starfleet but this time as a counselor due to his diplomatic reputation as a civilian and experience with multiple species. He quickly takes to his new role and finally become successful in Starfleet earning praises and commendations.

Here is where I feel one of the other PC's would also fit in. Having served with one of them in the past, they would have reached out for help. It could be anyone but I would need to sort that out with another of the players in the group. I figure I'd make friends with a senior member who would be able to recommend to re-enlistment and who a risen in the ranks over the years that Velik was not a member of Starfleet. Vulcan's have long life spans allowing me to really have Velik spend a long time as a civilian. 

The value I mark down is "there is a place for everyone" now that Velik has found his purpose in life and again in Starfleet. 

Step Six: Career Events

My dice in a lonely hotel room
in Yellowknife, NWT
This next step will be fun. One of the events I roll will be during his time in Starfleet while the second event will occur during his years as a civilian. Never without two sets of dice, I rolled two d20s and scored a 4 and a 2. Negotiate a Treaty and Death of a Friend respectively.

I was hoping for Dealing with a Plague or Encounter with a Truly Alien Being but I stick to my roles and I think it will really shape Velik.

Death of a Friend will be the straw that breaks the back and convince Velik to leave Starfleet. It also makes sense because this is an emotional reaction and not a logical one. The friend was a joined Trill Lasru Naid, who was the only person in Velik career to treat him well. Naid was a medical officer with quite some experience and started a friendship with the out of place Vulcan finding the emotional young officer interesting and insightful. Naid had plenty of experience with Vulcans over the years and found Velik at first to be an interesting oddity and later on as young friend. Velik would have valued the friendship and take the death badly. 

The death would be from ship's damage from a non-combat situation, some sort of malfunction or environmental damage, just bad luck. I also think this would make it opposite of his experience from his Kahs-wan. He learns from it even though he still leaves Starfleet and I pick a focus in Counselling.

Negotiate a Treaty would be part of his time at a trade station. I picture it a hub of commerce and trade like Deep Space Nine but without bridging the frontier and civilization that DS9 is known for. Velik would in this case be the mediator and works with both parties to a profitable arrangement. I pick the Klingons because they are difficult to work with, and the Betazoids because any agreement between those two races would stand out and be a memorable event. I pick Negotiation as Velik's focus due to the role he played in the agreement. 

I feel this type of event would also earn him some recognition from the Federation as an up and coming diplomat and negotiator. This reputation would serve him well when he re-enlisted into Starfleet.  

Step Seven: Finishing Touches

The last step closes off the character building process. For a final Value I write down "Second Chances are for everyone" as a final value from his second go at being a Starfleet officer. I increase his Insight to 11 and his Reason to 9. Velik still has room to grow and he is still a Vulcan so I'm happy with his attributes. Discipline wise I increase his Medicine and Security by 1 each taking into account his experience aboard the trade station. He would have to be more self sufficient with his own personal security and his knowledge of psychology would have expanded. 

Cleaning things up I find myself missing an Attribute point, and a Discipline point so I'll need to reach out to Ontos about that after I go over my creation again. I have a good grasp of Velik's personality, optimistic about people but not naive. He's older so closer to 120 years old, dark skin and grey hair. I've selected the ships counselor since it's not a critical role to play if I'm missing and it fits well with Velik's background. I pick the rank of LCdr (Lieutenant Commander).

I'll write down my equipment later once I sort out the missing points.

This was fun and look for another post on Building Character soon for another role-playing game next week when I look at the Infinity RPG.

- Dozer