Game: Primeval Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Cubicle 7 (licensed from Impossible Pictures)
Degree of Familiarity: Pretty familiar. I've done some playtesting on the game mechanics with both my gaming groups, created a batch load of characters for the game to test out the character generation system, given the folks at Cubicle 7 some feedback on the game (that will hopefully get used), have run several scenarios at gaming conventions, have written up some beasties (that will hopefully get used in the Bestiary supplement) and a couple of scenarios for the game. Does that count? :)
Books Required: The Primeval RPG Core Rulebook.
Please note that this is quite 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.
Just as a preface, this is one of the first characters that I created for the Primeval RPG when I first got the manuscript and all for the game to test the character creation system and to get a feel for this iteration of the mechanics used in the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (DW: AiTaS) roleplaying game. I might do the character somewhat differently now, or maybe tweak him a bit, but still a pretty good character, I think.
Step 1: Decide on a character concept.
While this isn't necessary, it really helps. I decide that I don't want to play the typical members of an Anomaly Research Centre (ARC) team that we see in the series. I want something a bit different, a character who is not the sort that would become involved with the ARC necessarily. I want the character to be contemporary, so I decide to create an art teacher (likely with a degree) who is also an outdoorsy type and goes camping somewhat, who paints landscapes of stuff.
Richard Blakely was born to a somewhat rich, snobbish London family in the late 1960's, and had a bit of a rebellious streak even back then. While he didn't really have a good idea of what he wanted to be, he spurned his parents' attempts to get him to study the sciences, as he much preferred nature in all its glory. Fond of the trips to Devon and the like, he took to camping like he'd been born to it, and discovered that he was pretty good at painting and landscapes of what he'd seen and places he went came naturally to him. He first encountered an Anomaly during a camping trip in Devon, and stepping through, he returned and painted several landscape scenes from memory of what he had seen, as well as a painting of the Anomaly itself. This brought him to the attention of the Home Office, and a visit from Claudia Brown. She convinced him to do some work for the team investigating Anomalies, and since that time he's been involved behind the scenes with a new team of people that deals with these holes in time and space. His outdoor skills have also served him well during these "sojourns" (as he thinks of them).
Richard teaches art at one of the local institutions in London, but has never achieved any real rank due to his views. He's around 32 years old, stands 5'10" tall and weighs around 178 lbs., has dark brown hair, with a ponytail, hazel eyes, and a somewhat tan complexion. He keeps himself in as good shape as he can, as his camping trips can be somewhat arduous.
Richard appreciates the outdoors for what the are, but is also cognisant of their dangers. He's very much a quiet, somewhat private, person, as he finds that this allows him to be a better artist, but he's also quite a social creature. Somewhat fearless, he sometimes gets involved in things over his head, but has learned a bit of caution when dealing with Anomalies and the creatures that come through them. Stubborn to a fault, Richard always does the right thing most of the time, and has a strong sense of environmental conservation (no doubt due to his love of unsullied by man landscapes).
That's pretty much the character's background.
Step 2: Determine the character's Character Points.
Each player begins with a total of 42 Character Points to assign to their character's Attributes, Skills, and Traits. The player may assign no more than 24 Character Points to their Attributes.
There are a total of six Attributes in the Primeval RPG - Awareness, Coordination, Ingenuity, Presence, Resolve, and Strength. Most of these are pretty self-explanatory. Several need to be explained. Ingenuity is a measure of how smart the character is, but not necessarily how skilled or experienced they are. They can be brilliant at deducing mysteries or reprogramming computers, but if they're unskilled in something, no amount of brains will help. Ingenuity isn't related to education, either. You can be smart, but unschooled. Ingenuity is about inventiveness, lateral thinking, and one's overall intelligence. Resolve is a measure of the character's determination and general willpower. Whether it's as simple as resisting the urge to eat chips, or the ability to resist running like mad when facing a T-Rex, it's also used to show your determination to do something, how convincing you can be, and how resolved to your cause you are.
Traits, on the other hand, are unique elements and abilities that the character might have. They come in Good (e.g. Attractive), Bad (e.g. Technically Inept), and Special (e.g. Experienced) variations. They also come in a Minor or Major strength, and have a cost of 1 or 2 points, depending on the Trait and other factors. Some Traits, such as Experienced, cost the player Story Points instead (more on them later).
Attributes cost 1 point each, with the Human average being 3, and one cannot start with an Attribute of greater than 6 (although creatures and monsters can have Attributes higher than that). When it comes to the Traits, the player is usually buying only the Good and/or Special Traits that they want, as Bad Traits give Character Points back that can be used for other things, such as Skills and more Good or Special Traits.
Step 3: Purchase the character's Attributes.
I need to make some basic decisions about this character, and I decide that the character is pretty average when it comes to Coordination, Presence, and Strength, so I put 3 points into each of thesse. But I want him to be above average when it comes to creativity and his determination, and thus give the character an Ingenuity of 4 and a Resolve of 4. I also think the character has a bit better perception of the world around him, and so make his Awareness a 4 as well. He's also slightly above average in Resolve, so I make this a 4 as well. This means that I have spent a total of 21 points on my Attributes, leaving 21 of my Character Points for Skills and Good and/or Special Traits. My Attributes are: Awareness 4, Coordination 3, Ingenuity 4, Presence 3, Resolve 4, and Strength 3.
Looking over the list of Traits, both Good and Bad, quickly, I see there's a few Traits that I may want to pick up. For now, I'll allocate 6 of my remaining points to Traits, thus allowing me to spend 15 points on Skills. I don't know whether that will be enough, but we'll find out shortly.
Step 4: Purchase the character's Skills.
I have a total of 21 points left assign to both Skills and Traits, so I figure 15 points in Skills is a good place to start. Chances are, however, that I'll need to take some Bad Traits to have a few more points on things here. The player receives 18 Skill Points to assign to their purchases. These are in addition to any additional points gained from taking Bad Traits and/or leftover Character Points.
There are a total of thirteen Skills in the Primeval game system - Animal Handling, Athletics, Convince, Craft, Fighting, Knowledge, Marksman, Medicine, Science, Subterfuge, Survival, Technology, and Transport. The skills are generalized, and Skills cost 1 point per point of the Skill, with the Human average being a 2 or 3, and one likely should not start with a Skill greater than 6 (although there are exceptions to this rule). In addition, a player can choose to purchase an Area of Expertise (AoE) for any given Skill at an extra cost of 1 point, but the character must have the Skill at 3 or higher to do so. This provides the character an extra +2 to their dice roll when using the AoE.
I have 21 Character Points to play with for the character. I decide to start with some obvious stuff. Since Richard is an artist, specifically a painter, I decide to give her the Craft Skill at 3, and buy an AoE of Landscape Painting for another point, thus costing me 4 points total. He's also a pretty good camper, and has seen some stuff on the other side of Anomalies, so I'll give him Survival at 3 points, some Subterfuge for 2 points (he can be quiet when he wants to be), and a bit of Athletics as well for 2 points. While Animal Handling can be an important skill in the Primevalverse, I don't see Richard possessing it, but I suspect he's ridden horses when he was younger (the wealthy family, remember?) so I give him Animal Handling 1 at a cost of 1 point. Having studied Art at school, I can see Richard having a degree in one of the Humanities, and I decide he's not a one-trick pony, so I give him Knowledge 3 with a AoEs in both Aesthetics and Art History. That's already 17 points spent, meaning I'm already 2 over what I set for myself, and I still need to round out a few more things. I give him 1 point in Convince, since he needs to have some means of talking his way out of things at times, though he's not good at it. I don't bother with giving him Fighting, as he values his hands too much to waste them on that!. I give him 1 point in Marksman, to represent his learning Archery when he was younger (but the Skill's not high enough to have any real expertise in it), and a couple of points in Transport (he's got his own jeep-like vehicle for his camping and painting trips). That's a total of 21 points in Skills, meaning I've spent my initial allotment of 42 Character Points (21 points in Attributes, and 21 points in Skills), so if I want some Good Traits, I'll have to buy some Bad Traits as well. Unless I take the Experienced Trait (which gives me an extra 4 Character Points at a cost of 3 Story Points (see below)), but we'll see how this works out.
Step 5: Purchase Good Traits for the character, and gain points for Bad Traits.
Now for my Traits... Looking over the background I wrote earlier for the character, I decide that there are certain Good Traits that Richard definitely has as well as some Bad Traits. However, I don't want to get carried away with Good Traits for the character, as this will mean having to take more Bad Traits than I might want. I don't think of Richard as all that attractive or ugly, nor is he distinctive in appearance, so I don't need to take any of those Traits. I do think of him as Brave, a Major Trait, and so I assign him this one at a cost of 2 points. I also think this character is Charming. He's got the boyish good looks inherited from his family that come out when he attempts to dazzle people for whatever reason. This Minor Trait costs me another 1 point. I also take the Wealthy Good Trait at the Minor level, to reflect that fact that financially he is doing quite nicely, but doesn't have the family wealth to rely on. This Trait costs me another point. I've spent 4 points on Good Traits, so I've got some Bad Traits to buy as well.
Looking over the list of Bad Traits, there's not a lot that I need to take here. I mentioned in the background that he's stubborn to a fault, and so I take the Emotional Complication - Stubborn Bad Trait as a Major one, giving me back 2 of the points that I've spent. He's also very much into environmental conservation, so I give him this using the Eccentric Bad Trait, at a Minor level, giving me back another point. I also take the Impulsive Bad Trait, at a gain of 1 point, since I see him sometimes rushing/blundering in before he knows what's good for him. This gives me 4 points in Bad Traits, which balances out the 4 points in Good Traits, so I don't need to take any more negative Traits.
However, when I was looking in the Good Traits, there were a couple of others there that appealed to me. I decide that I want the Friends Good Trait, at a Minor level, to represent some friends in other departments that he has at the university. Never know when a geologist or physics professor friend might be of some use. This costs me 1 Character Point. I also want the character to have a keen sense of sight, able to see and perceive detail, so I give the character Keen Senses - Sight/Vision at the Minor level, and that costs me another point. I also want Richard to be able to re-create the scenes he sees when he goes through Anomalies in paintings well after the fact, and therefore I also give him the Major Good Trait of Photographic Memory, which costs me an additional 2 points. So I've just spent an extra 4 points here.
Since I need to play these extra 4 points off, this means that I need to take more Bad Traits, but I don't want to do that. Instead, I make the character more experienced and a bit older, and this Special Trait gives me the 4 extra Character Points I need, but reduces my starting Story Points (see below) by 3.
Step 6: Determine Story Points
Story Points are the equivalent of Hero Points, Drama Points, Fate Points, and so forth found in other systems, but are more along the lines of Style Points from the Ubiquity line of games. A character in the game will start with 12 Story Points, and that is the maximum that you can have once the adventure ends, but the character can be holding any number of Story Points during the course of the adventure. Certain Traits cost the character Story Points in character creation (such as Experienced), but others can give a player character more Story Points (such as Inexperienced), thus increasing or reducing the maximum number of Story Points the character has. In PRIMEVAL, Story Points are used to heal damage, get a plot nudge from the GM, add extra dice to the roll, change the outcome of a failed result on the task by modifying it up by levels of success (but no higher than a basic success), and all manner of other ways. Furthermore, a character gains Story Points by doing the heroic thing, by playing their Traits and personalities out, by adding complications to the story or the character's sub-plot, and the like.
Since I purchased the Experienced Special Trait, which reduces my number of starting Story Points, Richard Blakely starts with 9 Story Points.
Step 7: Determining Starting Equipment and Items
This is pretty much self-explanatory, but there are a couple of neat twists to the PRIMEVAL RPG in this regard.
First off, each player character starts off with Trappings. The Trappings represent the equipment and contacts that are customarily associated with each Skill. For example, if you’re a trained sharpshooter, then you either have your own gun collection or are a member of a gun club. Trappings don’t always apply: if your character has been stuck in the Pliocene for the last five years, he probably doesn’t have a working motorcycle even if he has Transport (motorcycles) 4. See the equipment for Richard Blakely, below.
So, when all is said and done, Richard Blakely looks something like this...
Friends (Minor) - Friends at the university
Keen Senses (Minor) - Sight/vision
Photographic Memory (Major)
Eccentric (Major) - Environmentally conservativism
Emotional Complication (Minor) - Stubborn
Animal Handling 1
Craft 3 (Landscape Painting 5)
Knowledge 3 (Aesthetics 5, Art History 5)
Good pair of hiking boots; art studio; full set of painting necessities, including canvases and other material, and portable set of same; a few books aesthetics and art history in his home library; camping gear, maps, all-weather gear, and extra pair of hiking boots; jeep; loft apartment; mobile phone; environmental conservation pamphlets; several small personal effects.
Story Points: 9
And there you have the very first character I created for the Primeval Roleplaying Game. An experienced player can create a character for the system in around 10 to 15 minutes; a newbie to the game might take a good 30 to 40 minutes or so, but I suspect it could be done in much less time than that. This doesn't necessarily include the character background material and all that stuff. I hope this encourages you to take a look at the game system when it comes out (or to perhaps play in the Primeval RPG RPG Play By e-Mail game). :)