Game: Chill 3rd Edition Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Growling Door Games
Degree of Familiarity: Pretty decent. I ran the original Chill RPG from Pacesetter Games for a good chunk of the 1980s, and also ran the Mayfair Games version of the game published in early 1990s. I haven't run it in a few years, but the new edition just came out, so I've got basic familiarity with this incarnation of the game, and am just doing the best I can.
Books Required: Chill 3rd Edition.
Please note that this post is extremely long, as I've gone into the game mechanics a bit in terms of character creation, and have provided background on the character and the choices. Hence the majority of this post is behind the cut. That said, there is some of the game mechanics and descriptions of game world elements that I've skimped on in this write-up, so if you want to know more, just drop me a line in the Comments.
For those who don't know, Chill 3rd Edition is an investigative horror roleplaying game about people who stand up against the monsters, hunting down supernatural threats and protecting the world from the Unknown. It's a game that's capable of portraying various types of horror genres, so the Chill Master (CM) and the players can mix and match the horror elements to their taste. Anyway, here's the character creation process. Bear in mind that this material is quite long, due to the way the background section is written up.
Step A: Come up with a Character Concept for the player character that you want to play.
The first step that I always include in my games is to have the player come up with a Character Concept for the character (called an Envoy in the game) they want to play. This is basically a one- or two-sentence bit that gives you all the essentials about what the character in question is.
Given that the game is modern day horror, I decide I want to play someone who is relatively mundane. I go for a female member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) who works as a computer geek. I have an idea in mind for what I want to do personality-wise for the Envoy, whom I decide to name Jillian Jones, "JJ" to her friends.
Chill 3rd Edition uses three potential methods for character generation: a pre-made character (of which 20 are provided in the Chill 3rd Edition rulebook); a template that one can customise; and build an Envoy from scratch. I obviously know what I want to create, so I won't use the pre-generated Envoy method, and none of the templates presented with the game do exactly what I want to do with JJ. So I decide to create the Envoy from scratch.
Characters in the Chill 3rd Edition RPG are created using 80 Character Points (CPs) for a starting off character. The player purchases Attributes, Skills, the Art (if any), and Edges with these points, at varying costs (which I'll get into in each section below), and receives bonus CPs for taking any Drawbacks.
Step 1: Envoy Attributes
The first step in actual game number character creation for the Chill 3rd Edition RPG is to determine the player Envoy's Attributes.
There are six Attributes in the game - Agility (AGL), Dexterity (DEX), Focus (FOC), Perception (PCN), Personality (PSY), and Strength (STR). Each Attribute starts at zero. These Attributes are kind of obvious, except FOC and PSY. Focus is your Envoy's concentration and memory; the ability to think clearly with distractions or while under pressure, as well as being able to recall key facts easily and quickly. Personality is your Envoy's ability to make an impression on people; it's the Envoy's strength of character, as well as friendliness and ability to network among a group of strangers.
Each Character Point (CP) spent on an Attribute gives a score of 5 in the Attribute in question. The minimum score for an Attribute is 20 (cost of 4 CPs) and the maximum is 80 (cost of 16 CPs). Average Attributes are between 40 and 50.
Looking over the various Attributes, I decide that Jillian is agile and dexterous, but only of average strength and low average personality. She's a computer nerd after all. So I assign the points as follows: I spend 14 points on Agility to give her a score of 70, another 12 points for a Dexterity score of 60, put 8 points into Strength for a score of 40, 10 points into Focus for a score of 50, 8 points into Personality for a score of 40, and 11 points into Perception for a score of 55. This means that I've spent 63 of my 80 Character Points. My Attributes read as follows:
Next, one determines the Derived Attributes for the Envoy.
The Derived Attributes consist of Willpower (WPR), Stamina (STA), Reflexes (REF), and Sense the Unknown (StU). Willpower is the strength of your Envoy's self-image; it's the resistance to stress and the ability to do what the Envoy needs to do despite outside influences. WPR can go up and down during the course of a game adventure (called a case). Hence there are two values, maximum WPR and current WPR. Willpower (WPR) is calculated from the average of Focus + Personality, rounded up. Stamina represents the Envoy's resistance to pain and injury. Like Willpower, Stamina fluctuates up and down, so Envoys have a maximum STA and a current STA. Stamina (STA) is calculated from the average of Agility + Strength, rounded up. Reflexes measures how quickly your Envoy reacts to a sudden stimulus; it's not hand-eye coordination as with DEX, but rather pure reflex speed. Reflexes (REF) is calculated from the average of Dexterity + Perception, rounded up. Unlike Willpower and Stamina, Reflexes does not fluctuate. Finally, Sense the Unknown is the ability for the Envoy to notice when the Unknown is about or when the Art or the Evil Way is being used. Envoys know that the supernatural *exists*, and once they've experienced it in some way, they can't unsee it, and are forever shaped by that force and has a connection to it. Sense the Unknown (StU) is calculated by taking one-fifth of Perception, rounded up. Certain Arts, however can change this value to one-half of Perception.
I now calculate Jillian's Derived Attributes. Her Willpower (WPR) is (50+40)/2, for a total of 45. Her Stamina (STA) is (70+40)/2, for a total of 55. Her Reflexes (REF) is (6)+55)/2, for a total of 58. Finally, Jillian's Sense the Unknown (StU) is 55/5, for a total of 11. Jillian's Attributes now look as follows:
Step 2: Envoy Skills
The next step is to decide what Skills the player Envoy is trained in. There are nine (9) broad Skills in total - Close Quarters Combat (CQC; max STA), Communication (PSY), Fieldcraft (DEX), Interview (max WPR), Investigation (PCN), Movement (AGL), Prowess STR), Ranged Weapons (REF), and Research (FOC), each attached to a specific Attribute (as noted by the relevant Attribute in brackets). A Skill is either Trained (meaning it begins with a score equal to the Attribute) or Untrained (meaning it begins with a score equal to one-half the Attribute). Three of these Skills begin as Trained: Communication, Movement, and Prowess (unless appropriate Drawbacks are taken, see below). To Train additional Skills costs the player 3 Character Points (CP).
Looking over the Skills, I see that Communication, Movement, and Prowess all begin at Trained. With an AGL of 70, Jillian's Movement Skill is also 70. With a STR of 40, her Prowess Skill is at 40, and with a PSY of 40, her Communication Skill is also at 40.
Given that Jillian is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, I decide that her Close Quarters Combat (CQC) Skill, related to Stamina should also be Trained. With a STA of 55, this means her CQC Skill is also 55. I also decide that her Interview (WPR), Fieldcraft (DEX), and Investigation (PCN) Skills are also Trained, giving her scores of Interview 45, Fieldcraft 60, and Investigation 55 in them. Since I've Trained up four (4) Skills, this costs me 12 points from my Character Points. Having spent 63 earlier on Attributes, I've now expended 75 CPs of my starting total of 80.
I now decide on whether I wish to purchase any Specialisations in each of the Skills that I have. Specialisations cost 1 CP for Beginner (B), 2 CPs for Expert (E), and 4 CPs for Master (M). A Beginner adds +15 to the specialisation score, an Expert adds +30 to the specialisation score, and a Master adds +50 to the specialisation score. These are not cumulative; one purchases the level of Specialisation desired during Envoy creation, and does not have to purchase each level to get to the desired Specialisation level.
I decide on the following Specialisations: I purchase Beginner for the Evasion specialisation under Movement, at a cost of 1 CP. This gives me a Specialisation of Evasion B85. I purchase the Expert for the Swords specialisation under Close Quarters Combat, at a cost of 2 CPs. This gives me a Specialisation of Swords E85. I purchase the Expert for the Internet specialisation under Research, at a cost of 2 CPs. This gives me a Specialisation of Internet E55. I purchase the Beginner for the Repair specialisation under Fieldcraft, at a cost of 1 CP. This gives me a Specialisation of Repair B75. Finally, I purchase the Expert for the Computer Forensics specialisation under Investigation at a cost of 2 CPs. This gives me a Specialisation of Computer Forensics E85. Having spent 8 CPs on Skill Specialisations, this brings my total CPs spent to 83, and I still haven't bought any Art or Edges yet. Looks like I'll be having to take some Disadvantages.
Step 3: The Art
The player decides if she wants her Envoy to start with any of the Art(s).
There are six (6) Schools of the Art, each linked to one of the Attributes. These Schools are Communicative (PSY), Incorporeal (AGL), Kinetic (DEX), Protective (FOC), Restorative (STR), and Sensing (PCN). It costs 4 Character Points (CPs) to become "attuned" to the school, an addition 6 CPs to become attuned to a second School, and so forth. Once one is attuned to the School of the Art, the Envoy's player can purchase Disciplines of the given Art at Beginner (B), Expert (E), or Master (M) level, using the same costs as for Specialisations of Skills.
Given how I envision the character of Jillian Jones, I don't see her as a practitioner of the Art. Therefore, I can skip this step.
Step 4: Envoy Edges and Drawbacks
While Edges and Drawbacks are not mandatory in the game, they are a good way to personalise the player's Envoy and give yourself some flexibility in the Envoy's Character Point (CP) totals. Edges cost the player 1 to 3 CPs, depending on the Edge. Drawbacks provide the player with 1 to 6 CPs, depending on the Drawback.
Since I've spent 83 CPs out of the 80 that I start with for Envoy creation, I'll need to acquire some Drawbacks, but I decide to start with some Edges first. Looking through the various Edges, I decide that Jillian is Attractive (cost of 1 CP), she comes from the Computer Nerd Background (cost of 2 CPs), has Friends in the SCA who serve as an Information Source (cost of 1 CP), and has learned to keep an eye out for things and so has gained Situational Awareness (cost of 2 CPs). (Just as a point of reference, the Background Edge allows the Envoy to have a job that is not directly related to fighting the forces of the Unknown; it could be police officer, investigative journalist, ex-con, social worker, taxi cab driver, etc.. The Background Edge gives the Envoy the ability to do their job effectively without bogging down the game in a massive list of Skills (as previous versions of the game had). Back to the topic at hand...) Looking at the Edges I've purchased, I've bought Edges worth 6 CPs. This means, in addition to the 83 CPs I've already spent, I've now spent a total of 89 CPs.
Time for some Drawbacks.
I look through the list of various Drawbacks, and see a pattern emerge for the character of Jillian Jones. I start by purchasing the Awkward Drawback (gives 3 CPs). Jillian is socially awkward. This means her Communication Skill (connected to PSY) begins the game at Untrained, rather than Trained, so I reduce the value of the Skill to one-half that of the PSY score, a score of 20. I also choose the Hunted Drawback (gain 2 CPs), and decide that she's being hunted by an electronic gremlin that she encountered in one of her freelance programming jobs, and it was this that brought her to SAVE's attention. I decide that Jillian is terrified of mice, and take the Phobia Drawback (for a gain of 1 CP). Obviously something in Jillian's childhood. :) I decide that Jillian is somewhat nearsighted, and needs corrective glasses, and take the Poor Sense (Sight) Drawback (for a gain of 1 CP). And finally, I decide that Jillian's hair is dyed a shade of green, and give her the Strange Appearance Drawback (at a gain of 2 CPs). This comes to a total of 9 Character Points (CPs) gained back through the Drawbacks, and when coupled with the 89 CPs spent on the Envoy earlier, Jillian's cost is now 80 CPs. Just right.
But we're not done with Envoy creation for the Chill 3rd Edition game system yet...
Step 5: Drive and Envoy History
Once all the CPs are spent to create the player Envoy's game numbers and statistics, the player now needs to decide on the character's Drive and Envoy History. While the player knows the game numbers at this point, who was the Envoy before they encountered the Unknown? Most people seek to get away from the Unknown, but what drives the Envoy to do the opposite? What other goals does the character have in life, other than to battle the Unknown? What fears or insecurities? And what was the Envoy's first experience with the Unknown, and how was she recruited into SAVE?
The first step in this process is Drive. Simply put, this is the reason the player Envoy joined SAVE and fights the Unknown. The player needs to complete the following sentence to provide the character's Drive: "My character fights/investigates the Unknown because...". Whatever comes after the word "because" is your Envoy's Drive. Each Drive has a light and dark box beside it, the former to the left and the latter to the right. Players can mark the box once per adventure (case), and thus can be used by either the player or the Chill Master (CM) to make the game situation more special. (If you want to know more about this, ask me in the Comments section below.)
Thinking about Jillian and how I want to play the character, and her background in the SCA, I realise what her Drive is: Everyday people need someone to play the knight in shining armour. Happy with this, I decide to move on.
The player then determines the Envoy History. As the Envoy investigates the Unknown, she learns a little more from each case. This can be beneficial, but can also blind the character to new possibilities. Every case you play in Chill 3rd Edition adds to your Envoy's case history, which is more than just a collection of stories. In game terms, this is represented by Takeaways. Each Envoy starts with one Takeaway, representing their first brush with the Unknown and how it affected them. They come in two forms - Personal (P) and Arcane (A). Personal Takeaways relate to the character using her mundane skills to solve a problem; Arcane Takeaways deal with direct exposure to the Unknown. Obviously there's some overlap. And like Drive, Takeaways have a light and dark box that have interesting uses for both player and CM.
Thinking about the character of Jillian, I decide to use what I'd established about her Drive, and why she has the Hunted Drawback. I come up with her first Takeaway thus: A gremlin in a computer system at her first job with Tenris Electronics (A).
Step 6: Background and Finalising
The last step of Envoy creation for the game is to write up some details of the Envoy's background: her name, nationality, current or former occupation, physical appearance (age, height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, clothing style, etc.), and a brief history of how the character got to be a SAVE Envoy.
Since starting to work on Jillian Jones, I've fleshed out in my mind a bit of background for her. Rather than repeating it here, I present it below in the finished character game material.
So when all is said and done, and the character is finished, we end up with the following:
SCA Member and Computer Nerd
ATTRIBUTES SKILLS SPECIALISATIONS AGL 70 Movement 70 Evasion B85 STR 40 Prowess 40 STA 55 Close Quarters Combat 55 Swords E85 FOC 50 Research 25 Internet E55 PSY 40 Communication 20 WPR 45 Interview 45 DEX 60 Fieldcraft 60 Repair B75 PCN 55 Investigation 55 Computer Forensics E85 REF 58 Ranged Weapons 27 STU 11
Attractive (1 CP), Background (Computer Nerd, 2CP), Information Source (Friends in the SCA, 1CP), Situational Awareness (2CP).
Awkward (3CP), Hunted (Electronic gremlin, 2CP), Phobia (Mice, 1CP), Poor Sense (Sight, wear glasses, 1CP), Strange Appearance (Hair dyed green, 2CP)
Everyday people need someone to play the knight in shining armour.
A gremlin in a computer system at her first job with Tenris Electronics (A).
Jillian ("JJ") Jones
Description: 30 years old, 5'6" tall, 125 lbs., light blonde hair, dyed green, cut short with bangs, green eyes.
Born in the mid-1980s, Jillian grew up in the Boston suburbs. Didn't know what she wanted out of life, but showed a remarkable keeness and adeptness with things technical, and became a pretty good programmer and an expert at mediaeval reconstructions (which led her to join the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA)). She came to the attention of SAVE when she encountered an electronic gremlin in one of her programming jobs, and helped her new teammates out solve the problem and get rid of the creature, though it cost her job. SAVE helped her get a new job, and she's worked with the group for several years now.
Very much a private person, Jillian tends to open up with those she considers friends, and shows a side of herself that few get to see to those who share her interests. Not outgoing by any means, JJ is fearless and sometimes gets involved in things that are over her head. She is quite bright, animated about things she is interested in and excited about, but has learned to be somewhat cautious in her dealings with the Unknown and things that "go bump in the night". She believes in a strict code of honour and chivalry, as taught her during her early days in the SCA. She tends to be stubborn and sometimes impulsive, neither of which trait serves her well at times.
And there you have the character that I created for the Chill 3rd Edition Roleplaying Game. This character took me about 25 minutes, plus I would say another half-hour of leafing through various sections of the Chill rulebook and aspects of character creation and development.
Comments and feedback are welcome. :)