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Beast: the Primordial calls itself “A Storytelling Game of Endless Hunger” and it’s easy to see why. The role you play is that of a creature driven by the unending need to feed, mechanically simulated by the Satiety system.

It is perhaps the Chronicles of Darkness game that adheres strongest to its themes. The Beasts are helpless to the call of their nature, while their opponents, the Heroes are subject to the instincts driven into them by who they are.

To side with “higher” human qualities like free will and determination in the face of your impulses is to lose, as both factions are brought together to enact an eternal cycle of hate and violence.

Let me get this out out of the way: Mechanically, Beast: the Primordial is evocative, interesting and has a lot of cool powers and options. The artwork is definitely creepy, and the layout is decent, with perhaps a few fiction pages looking a little bit too busy and distracting.

Gameplay-wise it fits perfectly withing the power levels expected of most Supernaturals, and Beasts can run with the best of Vampires and Werewolves and still be able to bring something interesting to the table.

But I can’t run it.

This is where I will go firmly into opinion mode, so please bear with me. I find Beast a truly disturbing book, with the implications of the loss of control and being unable to change your place in destiny (and where transcending it only makes you a WORSE sort of creature) bothers me deeply.

I believe that the game itself is good, and for certain players, who are responsible, mature adults, can do it a great deal of justice to explore their darker sides.

However in the hands of a less mature group, this game is an invitation to commit imaginary atrocity and revel in it. There’s potential here to go very, very wrong.

Can I recommend it? As a system, then yes. It’s well written, creepy in all the right ways, and has potential to stick with you long after you’ve played it. If you and your group have the trust, and emotional fortitude to tackle some really disturbing facets of a Beast’s existence then by all means, get this game.

But will I ever run Beast? I’m going to have to give this one a pass.


Interested in checking out Beast: the Primordial? You can grab a PDF for only $19.99 over at DriveThruRPG!


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If the player characters take on the role of the monsters in Beast: the Primordial, then it only stands to reason that their opponents should be Heroes.

Heroes are similar to the Beasts in the sense that they too experienced the Nightmares of the Primordial Dream. But instead of surrender and The Devouring, the Heroes acknowledge these as opponents, things to confront, defeat or destroy.

This manifests as an obsession. Heroes are flawed in the sense that to a normal bystander, they’re obsessive psychopaths hell bent on the murder of their chosen target. While the Beast hides in the guise of people, the Hero sees through the illusion, and is driven to put an end to the monster.

THE MAKINGS OF A HERO

Heroes in Beast are not normal people, and this is reflected in turn with a few intresting advantages.

Hard to Kill

Heroes are surprisingly hardy against damage, and do not suffer the Beaten Down Tilt and never Surrender to a Beast unless they can turn that around as a chance to kill the Beast.

Heroes are immune to mundane illnesses and never require medical attention for injuries. When injured, a Hero heals at accelerated rates.

Legend and Life

Heroes have a Legend and Life trait, like Beasts do. A Hero’s Life regains 1 Willpower when they put themselves or their mission at risk to break with the narrative of a Hero and act in accordance of what is humane.

A Hero’s Legend on the other hand gains 1 Willpower by acting like a Hero. They regain all Willpower by pursuing a Beast into a risky or unfamiliar situation where are at a disadvantage.

Heroic Tracking & Stalking

Given their targets, Heroes have a knack for being able to find and follow their chosen foes. Heroes zone in on Beast activity and given time, a Hero can track down the Beast and eventually start gathering information on it.

Anathema

Heroes triumph by identifying the bane of a Beast, secret weaknesses that can enable a Hero to stop a beast more powerful than them. System-wise, a Hero is able to apply an Anathema to a beast, in the form of a condition. This will only work on a Sated beast, one that isn’t too hungry or too full.

These Anathema can take multiple forms from a Bane, to Entrancement, Phobias, Rage, Weak Spots or even weaknesses to a specific weapon.

Gifts

In addition to all of the above, Heroes can also gain Gifts, which are specialized means to enhance themselves. These range from being able to discover a powerful weapon meant to slay a beast, or some means to follow a beast through to their Lairs.

I know the Heroes are meant to be the nemesis of the Beasts. Their very nature compels them to hunt down the characters and obsess over killing them for the good of mankind. It’s a classic role and subverting it by making them broken people trying to commit murder adds a particularly nasty twist to it.

At the same time, you know that the ugly truth is that the Heroes, however driven to take on questionable methods, aren’t completely wrong. While at the same time they’re not right in their methods too.

It’s an ugly struggle that has been the narrative of many, many stories over and over again. And that’s probably what makes it tragic. I would probably play up Heroes as otherwise normal people who slowly lose themselves in their obsession. But I am a little worried that my players won’t appreciate the tragic nature of these opponents.


Interested in checking out Beast: the Primordial? You can grab a PDF for only $19.99 over at DriveThruRPG!


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Hey everyone, today we’re taking a look at character creation for Beast: the Primordial. While admittedly this game’s premise and default behaviors expected of the player characters are a little more monstrous than I am used to (and am comfortable with) I’ll give this one the old college try.

CONCEPT

As with all games, it’s best to start with a concept.

I’m thinking along the lines of a monster that teaches people to distrust. Trust is a weakness that needs to be clipped from society before they grow fat and weak and easy.

I think I’ll play a cop. Let’s call him Officer Riley.

ATTRIBUTES

CoD games always have 9 attributes, spread across 3 categories of Physical, Mental and Social. You then distribute 5 dots in one, 4 dots in a second and 3 dots in a third according to your preferences. Each of the Attributes automatically start with a free dot in each of them. For our police officer, let’s go with:

Mental: Intelligence 2, Wits 2, Resolve 2
Physical: Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Social: Presence 3, Manipulation 3, Composure 2

Riley is built to be a bully. He’s used to using his strength, and intimidating presence to force people into making bad decisions with manipulation. Having authority by being a police officer helps too.

SKILLS

Characters also get to spend dots across skills, who share the same category types as Attributes. This time you get to spend 11/7/4 dots according to priority.

As a cop, Riley gets:

MENTAL
Investigation 2 (Fabricate Evidence)
Politics 2

PHYSICAL
Athletics 2
Brawl 2
Drive 1
Firearms 2
Larceny 1
Weaponry 3 (Nightstick)

SOCIAL
Empathy 1
Intimidation 2 (Force Confession)
Streetwise 2
Subterfuge 2

As you can see Officer Riley is a cop who doesn’t really care much for justice but enjoys the perks of getting physical on the job.

BEAST TEMPLATE

At this point we start shaping up Riley as a Beast. For his Family, I’m going for Anakim as Riley seems to be the sort to prefer ugly, brutal and direct methods to shatter the hopes of his chosen victim.

His Hunger is that for Power. As a Tyrant, Riley enjoys exerting control over his victims so that they are terrified of fighting back.

For his Lair Rating, we’ll go with Lair 1 for now.

Riley’s Legend is “Vicious”, which allows him to gain Willpower when going over-the-top when hurting someone physically or emotionally. He further gains all Willpower when doing this with witnesses who are neutral or sympathetic to the victim.

Riley’s Life is “Parental”, which allows him to gain one Willpower when stepping forward to protect an innocent. He also Regains all Willpower when he takes care of a creature that other could use to get to him.

Next up are picking out his 2 Nightmares and 2 Atavisms.

For Atavisms, Cyclopean Strength and Looming Presence seem appropriate for Riley.

For Nightmares, we’ll go with: Everything You Do Is Worthless and You Deserve This.

MERITS

We also have 10 dots in Merits to spend

Allies 2 (Police)

Spoor 3 – Riley isn’t a physical monster as much as he’s a bully in mindset. As such he has to be careful and his nature as a cop makes him hard to discover.

Fast Talking 5

ADVANTAGES:

Now to go over the rest of the derived attributes.

Willpower is 4
Size is 5
Health is 7
Speed is 10
Defense is 4
Initiative Modifier is 4
Satiety is 5

All in all, Officer Riley is the epitome of the cop you don’t want to meet. He’s cruel, excessive in his violence, and just occasionally displays enough humanity and kindness to make you think you can trust him. It’s the kind of personality that can quickly turn around and hurt someone badly.


Modiphius sure knows how to make someone happy on their birthday! I got the Conan RPG Kickstarter email with an a little surprise: The character creation chapter for the Conan RPG!

And so today we’re taking a moment to build a character.

STEP ONE: HOMELAND

The wonder of Conan’s stories lie not just on the shoulders of Conan himself (though those are truly impressive shoulders, indeed) but also on the incredible amount of detail in the setting.

As such, the first key consideration for a character in the game is where their Homeland is. Mechanically, a character’s Homeland gives them a talent and a language that they can speak.

There’s a large table of possible Homelands to choose from, but one can also roll 2d20 to get a random result. I feel lucky today so I’m going to go for a random selection.

I rolled a 29, giving me a Khauran, with the Cosmopolitan Talent, and Shemitish or Kothic as a language option.

Cosmopolitan
Your homeland has many visitors and people dwelling within it, all with different customs and tongues. When speaking with a non-player character that also has the Cosmopolitan talent, it is assumed that you each possess enough of each other’s languages in common that you are considered fluent when speaking with one other.

STEP TWO: ATTRIBUTES

Characters have 7 attributes: Agility, Awareness, Brawn, Coordination, Intlligence, Personality and Willpower. For humans, most attributes range from 6 to 12 with 8 being an average rating.

All characters usually begin with a starting value of 7. with GM permission you can reduce one or two of these to 6 in order to raise an equal number up to 8.

Okay at this point it gets a little messy. Roll twice on an Attributes Table, each result gives you a set of 4 attributes, 2 of which are Mandatory, and 2 of which are Optional.

For my Khauran character then, I rolled a 13 and a 16. This gives me the following set of Mandatory Attributes:

Agility, Willpower, Agility and Coordination

As well as a choice of Brawn and Coordination as one set of Optional Attributes and Brawn and Willpower as the other set.

I rank my Mandatory Attributes as:

Agility +3 (Best)
Agility +2
Coordination +2
Willpower +1 (worst)

All my Optional picks gain a +1, so among my 2 sets, I pick

Brawn +1
Brawn +1

This results in my attributes becoming:

Agility 12
Awareness 7
Brawn 9
Coordination 9
Intelligence 7
Personality 7
Willpower 8

Not the most balanced set of Attributes but I’ll work with what I have.

STEP THREE: CASTE

A character is born into a social class, and this is generally the class since birth, though in some extreme cases that might not be true.

Castes grant two caste talents, one skill and a story. Rolling for his caste, my character ends up as a Herder.

This gives him the following:

Caste Talents: Sentry, Subject
Caste Skill: Animal Handling (Expertise 1, Focus 1)
Social Standing: 1

STEP FOUR: Story

Each character then rolls for a story related to their caste. Each story bestows a Trait as well. For our character, we’ve rolled a 12, resulting in:

A DECIMATED HERD

The illness left many dead in its wake. Superstition had its way, and even more of the herd were sacrificed to save the healthy. When the plague had passed, only one in five lived. The herd was doomed. Your cattle master drove the remainder to town, where they were slaughtered and the money divided amongst you. In the morning, you found him hanged with a lock of his wife’s hair still woven around his fingers. Just the night before he had seemed so wise. What was the last thing he said to you?

This story left my character with the Survivor Trait.

STEP FIVE: ARCHETYPE

Now that we have my character’s past, let’s move on to the next section which covers the type of character he is on an adventure. Again I’m rolling for this, and got a 13 resulting in a Priest.

Archetypes bestow a Career Skill, Career Talent, Mandatory Skills, Elective Skills and Equipment.

So, what I have is:

Career Skill: Counsel +2 Expertise, +2 Focus

Career Talent: Quiet Wisdom
Mandatory skills: +1 Expertise and +1 Focus to Insight, Lore, Persuasion and Society

Elective Skills: +1 Expertise and +1 Focus to Alchemy and Healing

Equipment:
A single melee weapon of choice
A single copy of a scroll or book with your faith’s precepts and holy words
Travelling clothes adn priestly vestments
Oils, herbs and religious accoutrements
A mule
One kit for each elective skill chosen.

STEP SIX: NATURE

The next step is to determine the character’s Nature. I roll up a Cautious character, and this gives the following benefits:

Attribute Improvement: +1 Willpower

Mandatory Skills: +1 Expertise and +1 Focus to Lore, Parry and Stealth

Elective Skills: +1 Expertise and +1 Focus to Animal Handling, Athletics

Talent: One Talent Associated with any of the above skills

STEP SEVEN: EDUCATION

The next phase is to determine the character’s Education. My character is Educated

AGAINST YOUR PARENTS’ WILL

You sought out your own education, defying your parent’s wishes. Though they tried to guide you in a particular direction, you practiced secretly. Perhaps it was the path followed by one of your parents, a close relative, or some figure significant to you.

Mandatory Skills: +1 Expertise and +1 Focus to Discipline, Lore, Stealth

Elective Skills: +1 Expertise to Animal Handling, Survival

Talent: One Talent associated with any of the above skills

Equipment: A broken family heirloom

STEP EIGHT: WAR STORY

War is a reality in Conan, and almost every character has had a run in with conflict. My Character is:

DISPOSSESSED

An gains a +1 Expertise and Focus to Resistance and Survival

STEP NINE: FINISHING TOUCHES

At this point I can increase two of the character’s attributes by +1 or one attribute by +2. I decide to spend it on Intelligence alone.

Agility 12
Awareness 7
Brawn 9
Coordination 9
Intelligence 9
Personality 7
Willpower 9

Next I can improve Skills. Adding a total of +3 to any combination of skills. In this case I got +2 to Melee and +1 to Stealth.

Alchemy +1/+1
Athletics +1/+1
Animal Handling +3/+3 (L)
Counsel +2/+2
Discipline +1/+1
Healing +1/+1
Insight +1/+1
Lore +3/+3 (L)
Melee +2/+2
Parry +1/+1
Persuade +1/+1
Society +1/+1
Stealth +3/+3 (L)
Survival +1/+1

Personal Belongings and Garments are rolled, with my priest having:

A necklace of animal teeth or bones, and long, flowing robes embroidered with coarse thread in traditional patterns.

His weapon is a Sword decorated with polished stones.

STEP TEN: FINAL CALCULATIONS

At this point we go and determine the values of derived stats such as Vigor, Resolve and starting Gold.

Vigor is Brawn + Expertise in the Resistance Skill = 9

Resolve is Willpower + Expertise in Discipline = 10

Starting Gold is Personality + Expertise in Society Skill = 8

Damage bonuses are next, with bonuses determined by the attribute used for attacking.

Melee (Brawn) [CD]1
Ranged (Awareness) NONE
Mental (Personality) NONE

Overall, Conan’s character creation is fairly straightforward with a little bit of bean counting as you try to keep track of each of the skills you gain at each phase.

That said if you’re not really that well versed in Conan lore, the system lets you craft someone that you would like to play that fits in the setting perfectly without having to be a scholar.

The option to both roll for, or simply pick from the options is a good one that works for players who might have a higher or lower tolerance for random results.

Overall, it takes a bit of getting used to but definitely well worth checking out the rest!


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Hey everyone! Today we’re going to try building a character for 7th Sea 2nd Edition using the Backer Preview PDF.

As a fan of swashbuckling adventure, I figure I might as well run 7th Sea’s character creation through the paces. As such I’ll work on putting together in a step-by-step feature similar to the one I use in my Let’s Study articles.

CONCEPT:

Step 0 in 7th Sea is coming up with a concept. I’m not going to be terribly original here and I’ll go with a homage to El Capitan Alatriste, the protagonist of a series of novels by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (go read it!) It won’t be a strict adaptation of the character but it will definitely be influenced by it.

For the purposes of naming, let’s go with Esteban.

TRAITS:

Every hero in 7th Sea has 5 Traits. Each of these begin at 2, and you have 2 more points to spend to increase them.

For Esteban, I’m going for:

Brawn 2
Finesse 3
Resolve 3
Wits 2
Panache 2

NATION BONUS

As a soldier from Castille, my character gets an option of a +1 to Finesse or +1 to Wits. I’m going for Wits on this one, bringing his Traits to:

Brawn 2
Finesse 3
Resolve 3
Wits 3
Panache 2

I know I could have gone for Finesse to make him more combat capable but eh, I like witty heroes.

BACKGROUNDS

Next up, I get to pick 2 Backgrounds to define Esteban’s history. To that end I went ahead to pick Mercenary and Soldier.

These picks bestow Quirks, Advantages and skills which are detailed below:

Quirks

Soldier: Earn a Hero Point when you stick to the plan regardless of
the danger to yourself.

Mercenary: Earn a Hero Point when you choose to ply your trade for a
reason that’s worth more to you than money.

Advantages

Hard to Kill
Cast Iron Stomach
Riot Breaker
Able Drinker

Skills

Aim 1
Athletics 1
Brawl 1
Intimidate 2
Notice 2
Warfare 1
Weaponry 2

SKILLS

At this point I now get to spend 10 points on improving and adding to Esteban’s Skills. Each point buys one more rank in a skill, to a maximum of 3.

Hitting Rank 3 allows me to reroll any single die when taking a Risk using the Skill.

Spending my 10 points, I end up with

Aim 2
Athletics 2
Brawl 2
Convince 1
Empathy 1
Hide 1
Intimidate 3
Ride 1
Notice 3
Warfare 1
Weaponry 3

Not so bad, he’s definitely a well-rounded character from the looks of it.

ADVANTAGES

In addition to the Advantages gained from the Backgrounds, I have 5 points to spend on new Advantages.

I ended up spending all 5 points on the Duelist Academy Advantage.

Hard to Kill -You no longer become Helpless when you have four Dramatic Wounds. Instead, when you have four Dramatic Wounds any Villain who takes a Risk against you gains 3 Bonus Dice (rather than 2). You gain an additional tier of Wounds. When you have taken your fifth Dramatic Wound, you become Helpless.
Cast Iron Stomach – Spoiled or raw food never negatively affects you, and you still gain required sustenance from it.
Riot Breaker – When you take Wounds from a Brute Squad, subtract your Resolve from the Wounds. The remainder is how many Wounds you take, to a minimum of 1 Wound.
Able Drinker – Alcohol never affects you, no matter how much you drink.
Duelist Academy – Aldana Style

ARCANA

For Esteban’s Virtue and Hubris, I’m going for:

Virtue: Astute
Activate your Virtue after a Villain spends Raises for an Action. That Action fails. The Villain still loses the Raises she spent.

Hubris: Loyal
You receive a Hero Point when your Hero goes back for a fallen comrade or refuses to leave a wounded ally.

STORIES

At this point I need to craft a story for Esteban. Here’s what I’m working with right now:

Dangerous Rivalries

Esteban is trying to survive the relentless Mercenary trying to kill him to assume the mantle of the best Mercenary in Theah.

Ending:
Esteban stands victorious but troubled that the duel will only inspire another, more talented rival.

Reward:
3 Step Story resulting in gaining the Fencer Advantage

DETAILS

For the rest of the details Esteban begins with:

Reputation: Loyal
Languages: Old Thean, Castillian, Voddacce
Secret Society: None
Wealth: 0


Character creation was surprisingly quick, and easy enough to follow. There’s little in the way of flipping back and forth, and the Advantages and Background Quirks are all rather evocative.

The Stories mechanic is like a fork of the Chronicles of Darkness Aspirations, wherein you define your end-state, but not the next steps. 7th Sea puts a lot of narrative power in the hands of the player, which unburdens the GM a bit, but does take a bit of time to get used to.

Good work from the 7th Sea guys!