Inferno playtest: Character Creation

After worrying about writing up a character creation document with too much / not enough information I decided to steal from something I liked, and based my document on Vaesen. For each archetype in the game vaesen gives you a short description, a list of talents, some equipment and some questions to answer. I did the same and it got somewhere close to where I wanted to be. Here’s what House Aries look like

In terms of volume of on page information, this seems to have been enough for the players. I like the requirement that people have secrets, that works. One thing I didn’t do, but should have done was insist each character have an ambition. Many Inferno characters are supposed to be people out to accomplish something in the world. So that’s something to experiment with next time. Perhaps it could be a requirement for membership of some houses rather than compulsory for all.

Todo: Update character generation templates to add ambition

Another thing we did was randomly generate pre-existing relationships with other members of the Inferno club. This has led to some interesting situations. Karl Marx wants to be friends with one character (reason unknown), Irene Adler is boosting the career of another while a less fortunate one has found himself caught up in some kind of mess between Gladstone and Disraeli. I haven’t done much with these yet, we’ll see how that pans out in the next few weeks.

Related to this, I’ve started on a process for creating your very own Inferno club cell. I’m thinking the finished book will present a complete description of the UK cell. But you might want your own. I’ve also leant into populating it with historical and fictional characters rather than ones created specifically for Inferno. This is definitely something I want people to be able to customise as I know some players don’t enjoy these kind of ‘cameos’ when they turn up while for others its a major selling point.

Todo: Next campaign with far fewer established faces in the cell

Character creation is a point buy system, a change from Duty and Honour which includes a much larger random element as you draw on tables of life experiences. I think this is the right choice for Inferno where designing your character is really a thing, I want players to be able to realise clear visions of their character. I think the best example for this is one player successfully creating the charismatic scottish surgeon Dr Robert Liston as a member of House Aries. It feels right, and ‘Heroic surgeon’ is a novel take on the house that works well.

Still contemplating whether I want a bit of randomness in there.

Todo: Keep thinking.

Coming up with a character creation system also meant coming up with a variety of talents. I’m using the talents to create ‘niche protection’ for different Houses. So you can be a scientist who meddles in politics if you want, but you’ll never be as good at politics as some of the air houses. Likewise, there’s no reason a member of House Gemini (the Rulers) couldn’t pick up skills in science or engineering, but they’ll never be able to accomplish as much as a member of House Taurus (the inventors).

Todo: Keep the talents under observation

My players didn’t spend many of their available points on reputations, which I think are one of the coolest parts of the system. I’ll be interested to see if they add more using experience points as the campaign unfolds. An alternate approach would be to split the points available for talents, reputations and noted possessions into different pools, perhaps varying the proportion by house.

Todo: Test a fixed set of allocations next time round.

Something that didn’t work, was getting people to come up with personal objectives for their characters during character creation. I think now we’ve done a session people will have no trouble filling them in, but the reason it didn’t happen was basically because I forgot so…

Todo: Character creation ticklist / make this the character sheet

One success from the character creation process was our eventual mix of houses. Our forthcoming campaign will feature House Aries (adventurers), House Aquarius (puppeteers), House Virgo (Steam lords), House Cancer (Summoners) and House Saggitarius (Revolutionaries). The previous two sessions also featured Taurus (Inventors), Scorpio (Enchanters) and Gemini (Rulers) meaning I’ve now had players try out eight of the twelve houses.

Todo: Still to go are Pisces (Magi), Capricorn (Visionaries), Libra (Arbiters) and Leo (Generals).

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