Jun 042013

I know that you’ve all been sat on the edge of your seat waiting for his one, so perch no longer. Sit back, have a nice warm/cool beverage and enjoy.

Following on from yesterday, there’s one other thing that I think can be done with the numbers on the character sheet -  if you are still playing such a game that is – spend some time thinking about where they came from. As mentioned about a bazillion times, I love the game Unhallowed Metropolis, and one thing they did in their first edition was to include specialties for skills. For each level in a skill, you get to pick a certain area of expertise that gives you a bonus if it is used when attempting a skill check. As a quick example, someone is trying to shift some dodgy goods at a profit, so the GM asks for a streetwise roll. The person making the roll has two points in streetwise, but has picked Fences as a specialty, so they get a plus one.

Click for source.

Click for source.

Nice and simple, but it adds an extra layer to the character, and when I create characters, it makes me think about the kind of person I want the character to be, as well as what kind of person they were before I started playing them. When exactly did they start hanging around with people ready to buy stolen merchandise? How did they get good enough at it to be able to promise a better deal than most? This applies to almost every skill in the game, although not all of them give as many ideas for a character back story; a burglar specialising in new locks for instance would be pretty standard, but specialising in old locks makes me think about their age, or the types of property they choose to target.

The current incarnation of the UnMet rules does not have specialties though. They keep stunts – these just allow for special things to happen in the right circumstances, and manage to never get into the territory of making cool maneuvers impossible for the characters who lack them – which is nice, and still offers a certain something, but in a much more limited arena. My significant other is going to be running a short form game of UnMet this evening, and is using the Revised rule set. She has however specified that if a player can justify why they should have a bonus here or there depending on their character’s background, she might be inclined to allow it.

This to me seems a beautiful way of encouraging players to think about the history behind the numbers. The Aristocrat is a skilled tracker, but learned his trade in the wilds of Africa, not the rookeries of London, for instance. I heartily encourage all GMs to allow for this kind of thing in their games, and for players to take the time to figure out a few more bits of information about who their characters actually are, and where they come from, even in one or two session games.

And if you’re looking for a system set up to encourage this kind of game play, where everything on the character sheet has multiple uses, and one must work how best to apply any that might fit, then look no further than 6d6. The more time I spend poking around that system, the more I grow to love it.

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