Archive for Original Fictions

One Hour Photo

Goldurnit, I’m apparently way too lazy to write reviews of books or comics, so I guess I’m gonna just keep posting roleplaying game characters. Y’all love RPG characters, right?

(crickets)

There, see? The crickets love me!

So we’re doing another GURPS character, and this time, we’re using a fairly normal modern-day character. But before we get too far, let’s review the usual GURPS background material.

GURPS is a point-based character system — stats over 10, advantages, and skills cost you points; stats under 10 and disadvantages get you some points back. Quirks are worth a negative point each (and limited to five) and must be roleplayed. Numbers in the square brackets are how many character points were allocated to each item. This is all done in GURPS 3rd Edition, ’cause 4th Edition was garbage.

In GURPS, 100 points is considered a good starting point for beginner-level, unpowered characters, being significantly above the average person, but not strong enough to power through every obstacle. Some campaigns, particularly those dealing with high-level fantasy or superhero games, can be much stronger, up to 500 points, 1,000 points, or even more.

This is Callie Angstell, a newspaper photographer.

Name: Callie Angstell
Total Points: 100 Points
Appearance: White female; Age 22; 5’8″, 145 lbs.; dark blond hair, worn shoulder-length; blue eyes; usually wearing comfortable clothing and a photographer’s vest; usually carrying a camera.

Statistics:
ST: 9 [-10]
DX: 13 [30]
IQ: 12 [20]
HT: 11 [10]
Speed: 6.00
Move: 7
Dodge: 6

Advantages:
Attractive [5] (Reaction: +1)
Danger Sense [15]
Luck [15]
Strong Will +2 [8] (Will: 14)

Disadvantages:
Curious [-5] (Roll: IQ)
Overconfidence [-10]
Struggling [-10] (Starting Wealth: $7,500)
Stubbornness [-5]

Quirks: Calls her camera “Boomer”; Dislikes children; Snacks on celery; Very serious temperament; Wears her photographer’s vest whenever she leaves her home. [-5]

Skills: Acting-10 [½]; Area Knowledge (Chicago)-13 [2]; Chemistry/TL7-10 [1]; Computer Operation/TL7-13 [2]; Detect Lies-11 [2]; Driving/TL7 (Automobile)-12 [1]; Fast-Talk-13 [4]; First Aid/TL7-13 [2]; Guns/TL7-14 [½]; Photography-15 [8]; Research-12 [2]; Running (Move: 7.375)-11 [4]; Sex Appeal-12 [4]; Shadowing-13 [4]; Stealth-13 [2]; Streetwise-11 [1]; Writing-12 [2].

Languages: English (native)-12 [0]

Biography: Callie is a Chicago native. She discovered her passion for photography early in life, and has spent over a decade building up a portfolio of photos ranging from news photos, art photography, fashion photos, and more. She’s been working freelance news photography for the last few years and has developed a habit of getting in lots of trouble for the sake of great pictures.

Design Notes: Callie is a 100-point character. She is a Chicago newspaper photographer in the present day, though she can be adapted to other settings and genres with little effort.

I could very easily see her in a horror campaign — or conspiracy or modern fantasy. A little fiddling with her skills, and you could transplant her into time travel or atomic horror campaigns — and with a lot of fiddling, you could make her fit into space opera, cyberpunk, psionics, superheroes, and more.

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Weird Science

My precious children, I tried all last week to think up something I wanted to blog about and just came up blank. Plenty of books and comics I could review, but just didn’t have the energy to do it. But dang it, I gotta get something up here to keep my legions of readers engaged, so I dug back into my archives to find another GURPS character to post up.

Before we get to this guy’s stats, let’s do a quick summary of GURPS for those of you unfamiliar with the system. It’s a point-based character system — stats over 10, advantages, and skills cost you points; stats under 10 and disadvantages get you some points back. Quirks are worth a negative point each (and limited to five) and must be roleplayed. Numbers in the square brackets are how many character points were allocated to each item. This is all done in GURPS 3rd Edition, ’cause 4th Edition was garbage.

In GURPS, 100 points is considered a good starting point for beginner-level, unpowered characters, being significantly above the average person, but not strong enough to power through every obstacle. Some campaigns, particularly those dealing with high-level fantasy or superhero games, can be much stronger, up to 500 points, 1,000 points, or even more.

This is Dr. Edwin Ezekiel, a scientist in the 1950s.

Name: Dr. Edwin Ezekiel
Total Points: 150 Points
Appearance: White male; Age 26; 5’10”, 155 lbs.; short blond hair; brown eyes; wears slightly out-of-fashion eyeglasses; usually wears comfortable, casual clothing, with the addition of a white lab coat when working in a laboratory.

Statistics:
ST: 11 [10]
DX: 12 [20]
IQ: 14 [45]
HT: 11 [10]
Speed: 5.75
Move: 5
Dodge: 6

Advantages:
Combat Reflexes [15] (Fright Check: 16)
Comfortable Wealth [10] (Starting Wealth: $2,000)
Intuition [15]
Mathematical Ability [10]

Disadvantages:
Bad Sight (Correctable) [-10]
Curious [-5] (Roll: IQ)
Honesty [-10]
Shyness [-5]

Quirks: Always polite to women; Collects old pulp mystery magazines; Dislikes wearing suits; Never eats sweets; Travels to Chicago every year to visit jazz clubs. [-5]

Skills: Accounting-17* [1]; Biochemistry/TL7-13 [4]; Chemistry/TL7-15 [6]; Chess-15 [2]; Climbing-11 [1]; Detect Lies-12 [1]; Driving/TL7 (Automobile)-11 [1]; Electronics/TL7 (Computers)-15* [2]; Engineer/TL7-15* [2]; First Aid/TL7-14 [1]; Guns/TL7-14 [1]; Judo-11 [2] (Parry: 8); Mathematics-17* [4]; Musical Instrument (Saxophone)-12 [1]; Physics/TL7-14 [4]; Psychology-12 [1]; Research-15 [4]; Science!/TL7-12 [2]; Stealth-11 [1]; Teaching-15 [4].
*Cost modifiers: Mathematical Ability

Languages: Arabic-12 [½]; Chinese (Mandarin)-12 [½]; English (native)-14 [0]; German-14 [2]; Greek-13 [1]; Russian-13 [1].

Biography: Edwin was born and spent most of his youth in Los Angeles. His natural curiosity and about the world and keen intellect got him interested in the sciences, though he also developed a passion for jazz music. He served briefly in the Army, and picked up a few degrees in the sciences afterwards. Since then, he’s been keeping busy solving Big Science Problems and getting into Big Science Trouble…

Design Notes: Dr. Ezekiel is playable as either a scientist or a college professor, in either the present-day or the 1950s, though he may be adapted to other settings and genres with little effort.

He’s also a 150-point character. That’s a bit more than the usual for a GURPS character — I decided I wanted him to be a bit more capable — and a bit more cinematic — than a normal character, especially since, if you’re playing a GURPS Atomic Horror campaign, he’ll be dealing with Big Science Trouble pretty much all the time.

Still no superheroes? Honestly, the problem I’ve got when it comes to posting any of my superhero characters on the blog is that I like to have some sort of illustration at the top of all my posts, and while I’m okay with having a generic cowboy or generic scientist for some characters, I’d rather have some sort of unique picture for super-characters. We’ll see if I can devise a way to make that work, though…

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Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree

Y’all, I’m starting to think I’m just bad at blogging.

Is the problem that it’s December, and Christmas is just a couple weeks off, and life is too busy right now? Yes, it is. Is the problem that I’m rapidly running out of books and comics that I can review? Yes, it is.

Is the problem that I’m really, really lazy? Yes, it definitely is.

So I dug one of my old GURPS characters out of storage, just to fill some space and get a post done. Let’s see what he’s like.

Before we get to this guy’s stats, let’s do a quick summary of GURPS for those of you unfamiliar with the system. It’s a point-based character system — stats over 10, advantages, and skills cost you points; stats under 10 and disadvantages get you some points back. Quirks are worth a negative point each (and limited to five) and must be roleplayed. Numbers in the square brackets are how many character points were allocated to each item. This is all done in GURPS 3rd Edition, ’cause 4th Edition was garbage.

In GURPS, 100 points is considered a good starting point for beginner-level, unpowered characters, being significantly above the average person, but not strong enough to power through every obstacle. Some campaigns, particularly those dealing with high-level fantasy or superhero games, can be much stronger, up to 500 points, 1,000 points, or even more.

This is Andre Bonart, a blacksmith in the Wild West.

Name: Andre Bonart
Total Points: 100
Appearance: Black male; Age 19; 6’1″, 170 lbs.; black hair (mostly bald); blue eyes; bushy mustache; burly, muscular build; tends to overdress for most occasions when not on the job.

Statistics:
ST: 14 [45]
DX: 11 [10]
IQ: 11 [10]
HT: 11 [10]
Speed: 5.5
Move: 5
Dodge: 5

Advantages:
Animal Empathy [5] (Reaction: +2/+4)
Attractive [5] (Reaction: +1)
Common Sense [10]
High Pain Threshold [10]

Disadvantages:
Charitable [-15]
Gluttony [-5]
Honesty [-10]
Stubbornness [-5]

Quirks: Dislikes violence; Eats only two very large meals a day; Sings loudly while working; Speaks French to all animals; Strict Catholic. [-5]

Skills: Animal Handling-14* [2]; Armoury/TL6 (Rifles and Handguns)-10 [1]; Bard-11 [2]; Blacksmith/TL6-13 [6]; Brawling-12 [2] (Parry: 8); Carousing-11 [2]; First Aid/TL6-10 [½]; Fishing-11 [1]; Guns/TL6 (Rifle)-12 [1]; Intimidation-11 [2]; Mechanic/TL6 (Wagons)-11 [2]; Merchant-12 [4]; Packing-13* [1]; Riding (Horse)-14* [1]; Singing-11 [1]; Stealth-9 [½]; Streetwise-10 [1]; Teamster-14* [1]; Veterinary/TL6-14* [2].
*Cost modifiers: Animal Empathy.

Languages: English-11 [2]; French (native)-11 [0]

Biography: Andre was born in Kansas City to recent French migrants. As a youngster, he was befriended by a local blacksmith and eventually was apprenticed to him. When he skilled enough to open his own shop, he decided to move further west, ending up in a small town in Montana. He’s mostly content to quietly run his shop, but he’s already found himself pushed occasionally to take leadership roles and to protect locals who are in trouble.

Design Notes: What the heck, man, another Wild West character? Don’t you write a comics blog? Where’s the superheroes? Well, honestly, I kinda like making Western characters. They’re nicely uncomplicated, generally, with plenty of room to make them offbeat and fun. If I post more Western characters, though, I think I’ll start working harder to tweak their personality or abilities to make them even more fun.

Seriously, I’ve got a ton of these characters — I feel like I could post way more of them than I do.

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Building Character

Y’all, after the marathon review-fest before Halloween, I’m almost entirely out of stuff to review, so I’m going to start posting a bit more lightly for a while. November and December are some of the busiest months for me anyway, so I’d benefit personally from a bit less time blogging.

But I don’t want to go radio silent either, so here’s a bit of frivolity I ended up cooking up last week on Election Day.

Let’s go through some huge amount of backstory first. Back in the Ancient Days, right after I got out of college, I had a job in Levelland, Texas. It wasn’t a great job, I didn’t know anyone in town, I didn’t have cable TV, and personal computers weren’t a Thing yet. So to fill time after work, I’d sit down with a legal pad and make superhero and supervillain characters using the GURPS RPG system for as long as I could. I knew they weren’t going to get played, ’cause I didn’t know anyone who played GURPS, but I loved their character design system, and I liked getting to make up new characters.

Now flash-forward to Election Day. I didn’t want to pay attention to election news on TV or online — I already knew how badly the stress wrecked me in 2016. So I decided I’d see if I could still fill some legal pads up with GURPS characters. I figured the process of making characters in the early ’90s was more than absorbing enough to keep me entertained and distracted.

Well, I wasn’t entirely right. Part of my problem was that I hadn’t made any GURPS characters in about 15-20 years, and I was really out of practice. Plus I had trouble with the math. And really, when you get down to it, I wanted to go get online and see how things were going. So I only made one full character, plus a partial second one before my inspiration ran out.

Before we get to this guy’s stats, let’s do a quick summary of GURPS for those of you unfamiliar with the system. It’s a point-based character system — stats over 10, advantages, and skills cost you points; stats under 10 and disadvantages get you some points back. Quirks are worth a negative point each (and limited to five) and must be roleplayed. Numbers in the square brackets are how many character points were allocated to each item. This is all done in GURPS 3rd Edition, ’cause 4th Edition was garbage.

In GURPS, 100 points is considered a good starting point for beginner-level, unpowered characters, being significantly above the average person, but not strong enough to power through every obstacle. Some campaigns, particularly those dealing with high-level fantasy or superhero games, can be much stronger, up to 500 points, 1,000 points, or even more.

This is Jimmy Watchill, an aspiring gunfighter in the Wild West.

Name: James “Jimmy” Watchill
Total Points: 100
Appearance: White male, 20 years old, 5’7″, 140 pounds. Sandy brown hair, brown eyes. Wears old, dusty, but generally well-kept clothing, including a battered hat.

Statistics:
ST: 9 [-10]
DX: 14 [45]
IQ: 10 [0]
HT: 12 [20]
Speed: 6.5
Move: 6
Dodge: 6

Advantages:
Alertness +2 [10]
Charisma +1 [5]
Danger Sense [15]

Disadvantages:
Lecherousness [-15]
Overconfidence [-10]
Poverty: Struggling [-10]

Quirks: Hates cold weather; Wishes he were a superstar gambler; Early riser; Brags about his cooking; Enjoys singing with others. [-5]

Skills: Animal Handling – 9 [2], Bard – 10 [2], Brawling – 16 [4], Cooking – 12 [4], Detect Lies – 9 [2], Fast-Draw – 16 [4], Fast-Talk – 10 [2], First Aid – 11 [2], Fishing – 11 [2], Gambling – 10 [2], Guns – 16 [4], Jumping – 15 [2], Lasso – 14 [2], Pickpocket – 14 [4], Riding (Horse) – 15 [4], Singing – 12 [2], Stealth – 14 [2], Streetwise – 10 [2], Swimming – 15 [2], Tracking – 11 [4]

Languages: English (Native) – 10 [0], Spanish – 9 [1].

Biography: Jimmy grew up a Kansas farm kid with fast fingers, a lot of skill with guns, and not a lot of patience with farming. The family hit a rough patch when his mother died of fever and his father was killed by bandits — bandits who Jimmy managed to kill just a few minutes too late. His older brother inherited the family farm, and Jimmy realized he didn’t want to grow old in his brother’s shadow — and he wanted to escape his feelings of guilt over failing his father. He hit the road, hoping to turn his skills with a gun into enough money to let him buy his own property in the distant Northwest.

Design Notes: Jimmy probably has more points in Skills than he ought to, considering his young age. But I kept screwing up my math while I was building him, and the easiest way to fix him was always to add another couple points into Skills.

Also, for the record, I’m kinda proud of giving him the Overconfidence disadvantage. It means he’ll rarely hesitate before stepping up to any challenge. That’ll probably turn out well for him when he’s shooting down a bad guy, picking a pocket, or twirling a lasso. But it’s gonna get him in a lot of trouble — fun, adventure-filled trouble — when it comes to his low-ranked skills in Detect Lies, Gambling, Streetwise, and Animal Handling.

Why a Wild West character instead of a superhero? Partly because I didn’t want to dig out the GURPS Supers book, partly because Western characters are nicely archetypal, so it’s fun and easy, and partly because the gunslinger was what popped into my head when I sat down with the legal pad.

So there’s my boy Jimmy. I’ve got a few more in reserve from back in the days when I had a personal webpage, and I’d really kinda like to make a few more new characters, too, though I feel like I need a nice long weekend to work on ’em. Eventually, I may post more of ’em, if I feel like it.

I’ll try to be back with some more posts soon-ish, so y’all stay safe and sane ’til then.

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