Saturday, January 28, 2012

Character Creation Summary

If you've been following along, you'll be familiar with the Trait Ladder and how we handle attributes in Psi-punk.  Today we're going to offer a sneak peak at the character creation system as a whole.

In Chapter 2: Character Creation we provide in-depth explanations about everything you need to know to create a starting character for the game.  We wrap up the chapter by offering a step-by-step recap of the character creation process for ease of reference, and we'll quote that entire segment here.


Character Creation Summary

            Creating a character for Psi-punk is fast and easy.  Below is a simple step-by-step guide that summarizes the process for ease of reference.

Step 1: Concept

            Choose a character concept.  By doing so, you can focus your attention on Skills, Gifts, and Faults to find a proper fit for your character.  You can start by selecting an archetype or develop your own.

Step 2: Skills

            You begin with 55 Build Points to spend on Skills.  Choose a Skill Group, decide which Secondary Attribute to link it to, and decide at what level you wish to have the Skill.  Continue selecting skills until you run out of Build Points.  Refer to the following chart for Build Point Costs per Skill Level:

Table 2.2: Skill Cost
Cost
Level
-
Astonishing**
-
Extraordinary**
43
Phenomenal*
26
Wonderful*
15
Superb
10
Great
6
Good
3
Fair
1
Mediocre
0
Poor
-
Abysmal**

Step 3: Skill Specializations

            Select two Skill Specializations from within any Skill Group.  Remember that rolling a Skill in which you are specialized grants you an automatic 1dF reroll.  You may select additional Skill Specializations at a cost of 5 Build Points each.

Step 4: Gifts, Faults, and Trade-Offs

            Select up to two free Gifts and up to six total Faults.  For each Fault you select you may gain an additional Gift or five Build Points.  You may make other Trade-Offs as noted on the following table:

Table 2.4: Build Point Trade-off
Lost

Gained
-5 Build Points

=
+1 Gift
-1 Gift
+5 Build Points
-1 to an attribute
+10 Build Points

            Remember that Gifts can be used to buy Powers (see Chapter 4: Powers and Magic) or Cybernetics (see Chapter 7: Equipment) and/or any other Gift you desire.

Step 5: Attributes

            For every 15 points you spend on Skills with a linked Secondary Attribute, raise that attribute by one level.  For example, if you have the Combat (Melee) [Strength] skill at a level of Superb, you raise your Strength attribute to Good.

            Calculate your Primary Attributes by adding together their associated Secondary Attributes.  For example, if you have Good Dexterity and Great Strength, you have a Superb Body.  Refer to the following chart to easily reference Primary Attributes and their associated Secondary Attributes.

Table 2.6: Associated Attributes
Primary Attribute
Secondary Attributes
Body
Dexterity
Strength
Mind
Focus
Spirit
Persona
Presence
Status

Step 6: Purchase Equipment

            You begin play with Wealth totaling two Great, four Good, and six Fair purchases.  Use it to purchase gear from Chapter 7: Equipment.  Pool any remaining Wealth at a rate of two-lower-for-one-higher; two Fair pool together to form one Good, two Good to form one Great, etc.

Step 7 (Optional): Character Questionnaire

            Finally, answer the Character Questionnaire located in this chapter.  Use it to get an idea of your character’s background, motives, outlook on life, etc.

All Done!

            Don’t forget to add all of this information to your Character Sheet as you finalize your traits.  Once you have it all written down, you’re ready to start play with your brand new character!
Astute observers will gather a lot of information about the entire system just by reading through the character creation summary.  Take a week to mull it over, then check back in next week for another update!
           

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Attributes and Skills

Psi-punk takes a multi-level approach when it comes to skills and attributes.  We feel that having multiple traits to describe key aspects of a character is a good thing; though simpler is better overall, humans are complex beings and we're made up of more than just a few narrow skill sets or overly-broad attributes.

While we do have both attributes and skills in Psi-punk, our approach to building these traits during character creation is different than most other systems.  We feel like a character's attributes are largely reflective of the skills he possesses; a character who has spent a lot of time honing athletic skills, for example, is likely to have a strong body.  Though the inverse could also be true in real life (someone with a natural tendency to be strong or hardy may be good at certain types of athletics) we feel that tying attributes to skills -- rather than skills to attributes -- better represents practice and one's drive to hone his skills and improve his other attributes.

A Three-tiered Approach
Psi-punk's skill and attribute system has three parts:
  1. Parent Attributes: Body, Mind, and Persona.  These attributes are the most broad representation of a character's overall traits and abilities.  They represent the physical, mental, and social attributes of a character.  Parent Attributes add to a character's defenses versus certain forms of attack and are primarily used defensively.
  2. Secondary Attributes: Dexterity, Strength, Focus, Spirit, Presence, and Status.  Each of these is associated with a Parent Attribute: Dexterity and Strength with Body, Focus and Spirit with Mind, Presence and Status with Persona.  They provide a breakdown of how the character's Parent Attributes are determined (for example, is a character with a high Body trait more dexterous or strong?).  These attributes determine the number of Fudge dice that are rolled when a character uses Luck Points to re-roll a skill with an associated attribute.
  3. Skills: If attributes represent what a character is like, skills represent what a character can do.  When building a character using the Objective Character Creation rules (a point-buy system), Skills are the only traits on which characters can spend their Build Points.  Players (with the aid of their GM) determine which Secondary Attribute their Skills are linked to, and for every 15 BP spent on appropriately-linked skills their Secondary Attribute increases.
Let's take a brief look at how this all plays out.

Spending Build Points
Characters receive 55 free Build Points to spend during character creation.  Remember what we said earlier about BP only applying toward Skills; the various attributes will be increased accordingly for every 15 BP spent on linked skills.

All Skills begin at a level of Poor (-2) and can be purchased by spending points according to the table below:

Table 2.2: Skill Cost
Cost
Level
-
Astonishing**
-
Extraordinary**
43
Phenomenal*
26
Wonderful*
15
Superb
10
Great
6
Good
3
Fair
1
Mediocre
0
Poor
-
Abysmal**

 * Characters may not start with a skill of this level.  Instead, he/she must spend this number of Build Points through the character advancement process (see below).

** These trait levels are restricted.  No player character may have a trait level above Phenomenal or below Poor; these levels exist merely as a reference point for rolled results outside of the typical range.
Let's say a player decides to spend 15 BP to bring his Athletics Skill up from Poor to Superb.  He does so, and he chooses to link the skill to his Dexterity attribute.  The GM decides to allow this because Athletics is generally a physically-oriented skill; it would make just as much sense to be able to link to Strength, for example, but not Presence or Status.

Because he spent 15 points on Dexterity-linked skills, his Dexterity attribute increases by 1 level to Good.  Likewise, because his Dexterity attribute increased to Good his Body attribute raises to the same level.

Now let's assume the same player spent 15 BP to raise his Melee Combat skill to Superb.  He decides to link that skill to the Strength attribute, which again the GM approves.  He has now spent 15 points on Strength-linked skills and his Strength increases to Good as well.  Because Body is a composite of both the Dexterity and Strength attributes, it too increases by +1, to a total level of Great (+2).

His character sheet would now show, among other things:

  • Superb Athletics [Dexterity]
  • Superb Melee Combat [Strength]
  • Good Dexterity
  • Good Strength
  • Great Body
As you can see, the attributes are built upon the skills the character has.  As his skills continue to improve, so too do his attributes!

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the basics of the Character Creation system.  This just scratches the surface of all the great options you have available to your characters.  Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks, and of course feel free to comment!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Psi-punk and the Fudge Trait Ladder

Psi-punk uses the FUDGE (Free-form Universal Do-it-Yourself Gaming Engine) published by Grey Ghost Games.  To quote the game's website:

Fudge is a rules-light role-playing game engine providing a common set of game mechanics that can be used to create any role-playing game you desire. Fudge uses a simple word-based system for handling action and combat resolution, which makes the game fast-paced and easy to play.
At the core of this "simple word-based system" is what's known as the Trait Ladder.  Here's how we describe the Fudge Trait Ladder in Chapter 2: Character Creation of the Psi-punk roleplaying game.


The Trait Ladder

Psi-punk uses ordinary words to describe various traits of a character.
The following terms of an eleven-level sequence are suggested (from best
to worst):

Table 2.1: Trait Ladder
Astonishing
+7
Extraordinary
+6
Phenomenal
+5
Wonderful
+4
Superb
+3
Great
+2
Good
+1
Fair
0
Mediocre
-1
Poor
-2
Abysmal
-3

            These terms can be modified to use any adjective you desire.  For example, if you would prefer to use “Awesome” instead of “Superb”, feel free to do so; it’s your game, and you should feel free to customize it.  For clarity and simplicity, these are the words that will be used throughout this book.
 This ladder differs somewhat from the traditional Fudge ladder, which ranges from -3 to +3.  This helps when representing levels beyond the range of human limitations, allowing greater flexibility.  To indicate that the highest trait levels are just that -- beyond the range of human limitations -- no character may possess skills or attributes at a rank above Phenomenal.

With certain powers, cybernetics, or other abilities, it is possible to roll a modified dice result (dice + attributes) to reach levels of Extraordinary and Astonishing.  This is rare for all but the most skilled individuals; a truly Astonishing result!

We hope you enjoyed this preview of the Trait Ladder in Psi-punk.  Stay tuned for more details and feel free to post any questions or comments you may have!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Brief History Lesson

Last time, we introduced you to the very basic concept of Psi-punk.  Today we'll share a brief history of the setting, as outlined in Chapter 1 of the upcoming source book.


A Brief History

            During World War II, the Nazis conducted several mind control experiments in an attempt to discover new methods of programming human beings, especially in relation to soldiers.  Despite having lost the war, they made great inroads in to the science of mental programming and mind control.  Most of this knowledge was captured by the Allied forces, but very little of it was destroyed.

            Two decades later during the Cold War, the Russians began their own research in to the paranormal and supernatural.  Utilizing Nazi techniques that were discovered by Russian spies, the Reds succeeded in inducing psychological phenomenon in their test subjects.  These subjects began to exhibit mental capabilities beyond that of simple brainwashing; telekinesis, clairvoyance, astralism, and dowsing are just some of the words used to describe abilities that were born out of these experiments.

            For generations, various world governments struggled to contain these experiments under a veil of secrecy; the general public could not know that human beings were being experimented on, nor could other superpowers lay their hands on the valuable psychic prototypes that were being engineered over time.

            In the year 2017, the now infamous escape of one such psychic being, Nathan Hunter, from a government facility in America had sparked an uprising that would change the face of the world.  Hunter was a third generation psychic, skilled in both mind control and telekinesis.  After springing himself from a testing facility in North Dakota, he managed to bring to light the 75-year-old "psychic conspiracy", which generated an enormous public uprising.

            The public immediately began demanding the release of all test subjects, but the American government refused to admit guilt, let alone meet the demands of the people.  Hunter became a public figurehead, partly in an attempt to ensure his own well-being (knowing full well that any attempts on his life would only cause him to become a martyr), but also because he knew that there were at least 200 others being held in similar facilities throughout the country.

            By 2019, Hunter had amassed a following large enough to forcibly enter the testing facility in North Dakota, only to find that it had been completely deserted and all evidence had been cleared from the area.  This sparked an even larger underground anti-conspiracy movement that eventually led to revolts across the country.  A year later, Hunter and a group of 30 armed civilians entered a similar facility that they had discovered in Colorado; they freed 50 men, women, and children who were being held there.

            The break-out was not a peaceful one; over 100 government employees lost their lives in the raid, along with a handful of psychics.  Hunter and his men fled the country, seeking amnesty in South America.  Word of the event had spread quickly throughout the nation and eventually the world and the government could no longer hide its dirty secrets; they were forced to shut down all psychic research facilities and their victims were released to be assimilated in to regular society.

            Unfortunately, assimilation was difficult for these mental-elite.  Normal people feared them for their special abilities, and it wasn't long before the same folks who had demanded their release would turn violently against them.  Laws were eventually passed to limit the use of mental abilities, and psychics were forced to either abandon the use of their abilities or sink in to the shadows and begin lives of crime.

            Civil unrest continued for many years, but after just a few generations the population of psychics had increased significantly enough to eventually take up positions of power and repeal the tyrannical laws of the 2020s.  Psychics across the world gained some amount of control, despite still being in the vast minority, and eventually use of psychic abilities became common-place in homes and workplaces around the globe.

            Now in the year 2096,  the social environment is about to undergo another drastic change…
 We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the Psi-punk setting.  Much more history, including the world's political climate, will be presented in the full version of the forthcoming core rulebook.  Stay tuned!