[SoTC] Modeling Existing Pulp Characters

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We’re starting up my Jazz-era LoEG game after a year hiatus, and I’m switching from Adventure! to Spirit of the Century.

I ran my character creation session last time, and it kind of stalled out over picking Aspects and Stunts.  I’ve gotten suggestion and posted for help on rpg.net, but I thought this might fit as a post here as well.

Given the length of the campaign, I added in several extra ‘novels’ worth of advancements, and ended up with 14 aspects and 7 stunts apiece. The problem is that ‘The Shadow’ complained he couldn’t fit in all the stunts he needed, and after seeing what he was having to cut out, I allowed another Stunt, and threw out a bonus Aspect as well.

But most of the players were having troubles coming up with good aspects for their characters. Several ended up taking the League membership as an aspect, but I’m not sure that was appropriate.

And adding more wasn’t helping. I suggested some quotes or quirks, but we ended the session with incomplete characters, and homework to review our source materials before next time (which should be tonight).

The setting is 1929 in Lovecraft’s New England, and the characters are taken from the recent movie incarnations (except for Amanda, and the Mariabot of course):

The Shadow (younger and just growing into his abilities, so if he’s short a few stunts in the end, I’m OK with it):

I suggested dropping a lot of the Network of Agents stuff, as he hasn’t developed that yet, and the highest level of the Stealth Stunts.

Evie Carnahan (and Rick, as an NPC, since it wouldn’t make sense otherwise – in SoTC I’m suggesting she take Rick as an aspect rather than doing him up as an NPC) After the Mummy, but years before The Mummy Returns. She and Rick are together, but not married. She’s suffering some side effects from the first movie (ie, she’s occasionally possessed by Anauksukamen) and has been exposed to the Yellow Sign meme-virus in-game).

Suggested aspects: “You must not read from the Book!”, “Take THAT Baimbridge scholars!”

Amanda from Highlander: The Series (but not Highlander: The Raven – the player and I agree on that one… )

I’m not sure if the existing ‘Comes back from the dead’ stunt will work as written, or if I should add a second level to have her return immediately.

We are doing some things with Rebecca’s crystal pendant (which has shown up as being of the same material as the witch’s pendant in the Dreams of the Witchhouse and inscribed with a Yellow Sign in the Whisperer in the Darkness).

The Phantom: New player, just joining. Going to be in his college years (or just after) and his father has just died.

Suggested ‘Mentor Spirit’ as an aspect, to represent the father’s ghost.

Maria, robot duplicate from Metropolis. NPC, since the player has dropped to occasional status. Crowd-influencing and electro-disguise abilities. Oh, and robot, of course.

Well, while the characters may still be ‘wet behind the ears’, I’ve been running this game for several years (since 2005, with 1 year off just ending) and I know 2 of the players who would BALK at the idea of getting LESS than what they had before. As stated, we have been running this in Adventure! up til now (and the long hiatus made me want to finally try out SoTC – this will be my first time running/playing) and had several advancements in that system. I got specific questions concerning keeping their experience vs starting out as basic characters.

While I don’t think that’s an issue in SoTC, since characters are pretty much good to go from the start, since there is an experience system, of sorts, I guesstimated the amount of play we had done to give them those numbers.

They’ve essentially played through The Shadow over Innsmuth, The Dunwhich Horror, Dreams in the Witchhouse, the Whisperer in the Darkness, and several original bit linking those all together. So I figured on 4 extra aspects, and 2 stunts for those extra ‘novels’ of experience beyond the start. It seemed Ok, on paper, since the one source of sample pulp characters I found (including the Phantom and the Shadow) went beyond these anyway.

I suppose I could just toss all caution to the wind and have them build as they see fit, just trying to replicate what they had in the Adventure! system, but we have folks with differing degrees of comfort with that. In my experience that can lead to some taking great advantage, with others going with a subpar build because they didn’t push to learn the system. I find the strictures of a char gen rules set keeps a lid on some of that, and forces you to make choices and learn the options (to a certain extent – if it doesn’t leave them screaming and running from the hills frustrated – which is when I generally give more help to building he character!)

However, when it came to actually building the characters, and I got some pushback from the Shadow as to the number of stunts he had to cut to fit that, but then saw the other folks struggling to fill that number of aspects, I started to get those very worries. This is perhaps not the best way to learn this game – it will end up with too many choices. Any less will be seen as giving the characters and the past adventures short shrift, but it may just be I’m trying to force this change to a new system at the wrong time.

We are basically building towards the climax of the campaign, which will pit the characters against Clark Savage Sr before taking them to confront his son and his friends At the Mountains of Madness and leading through the Stargate to a denouement that will resolve (hopefully) Evie’s Yellow Sign infection on Carcosa.

I really think SoTC could be killer for this segment, but now I’m getting nervous the change over will detract rather than add. I mean, if we can’t get through Character Creation…

I’m thinking of dropping back down to 12 aspects, so 12 FP and making sure those 12 are tightly defined, and not nebulous phrases just to fill out the list.  Previously it was suggested if I give out more Stunts, reduce the number of FP, so there are more options, but you need to be careful in how you use them.

This would be so much easier if my wife were still playing and keeping the quote list she started.

Instant Aspect fodder!

Suggestions for specific Aspects and Stunts on any of these characters would be appreciated, so I can have some on hand to suggest in our next session, which WILL result in characters, if we have to rewatch the movies to do so. (Or drop full creation to do the kind where you name aspects and skills as you go along.)

Any other suggestions for modeling existing characters?

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One Response to “[SoTC] Modeling Existing Pulp Characters”

  1. Vivek Says:

    NOp but can we creat a model for this ?

    Regards
    Vivek

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