Now that we concluded the "play as kids" portion of my Oubliette campaign, Thursday was "let's make the adult versions!" Going from left to right: Nicole is playing Keku no-Kin, who grew up to become a Mukade, one of the high-powered "Centipede" Bucho bosses of the Kin Zaibatsu. Her family has been part of the corporate ladder for generations, & when she drank poison as part of a dangerous snake cult ritual, the Zaibatsu was there to help fix her up with a cybernetic eye & a cybernetic throat & stomach...for a price. Silissa is playing Moe no-Cho another Zaibatsu Bucho. Moe grew up a rural bumpkin, but her natural talents for herbalism--& her Naga poisoned blood-- have made her a Kemushi, a "Catapillar" of the Cho Zaibatsu, in the research & development department. Luke is Haru o-Kitsune, the golden boy, scion of the wealthy noble House Kitsune. Raised from birth to be an exceptional Kuge, a courtier bureaucrat, his interests in botany & the occult will figure largely in his future. Mollie is playing Mio Yudai, who studied martial arts & meditation on the mountain tops of Kumo. She is a Sohei, a warrior-ascetic, specializing in hard martial arts, who works as a Yojimbo bodyguard for Haru o-Kitsune. Last but not least, Eric is playing Ren Joko Izumi. A street urchin rescued by the courtesan Geiko, kissed by a Naga, he grew up to be a Taikomochi jester, the ultimate emcee. He got to watch Wakana & Goro, the NPC children from the prelude, grow up. After we built the new characters, I wanted everyone to watch Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, since it informs the setting. I think it was well received, & we decided that as a backstory, between the Naga Castle & the start of the new story, that Haru, Mio & Moe all went to the Toxic Jungle. Haru as part of his extreme study of agriculture, Mio as his bodyguard, & Moe as an expert from her pharmaceutical Zaibatsu.
I've made a number of mechanical changes to the World of Darkness system. One, I'm embracing character Traits. That is really the big addition, & after play testing it in the prologue story, I am convinced it is the right way to go. We still need to figure it out as a group, a little more-- what makes a "good" Trait, what Traits will be most used, how to use a Trait both as an advantage & disadvantage-- but I think we're on to something cool. It makes Virtue & Vice redundant but I left them in just to help players have something to think about, to help define their character. Heck, I almost added Nature & Demeanor back in, for the same reason. Because Traits basically cut out Merits, I've put in Backgrounds, to reflect things like Retainer, Fame, Resources, whatever. The other things I've fiddled with...well, I replaced Computers with Mechanics, but that has been the case from the very start. Previously I'd replaced Science with Theosophy, sort of trying to evoke a Natural Philosophy & pseudoscience feel rather than a modern view; I've now replaced Theosophy with Alchemy, since I think that sells it better. I've replaced Investigation with Perception, since "spot checks" are par for the course, & I'd rather have a skill than Wits plus Composure. Oh, & I've moved Physical Skills around; I replaced Drive with Ride, obviously, but I've broken Firearms down to Ranged & Weaponry down to melee. Suits a lower technology setting.
I've never been happy with the derived attributes of WoD. Too much reliance on a few core attributes, which let a smart player min-max easily. I wanted to make everything useful, so I swept the rules away & started over from scratch. I had Kara at work help me as a sounding board, & while I'm fairly okay with what I ended up deciding on, I'm not content, entirely. The numbers end up being a little more powerful than the usual mortal character, but not too much. I just miss the "worst of two" mechanic. I'll keep thinking but in the meantime: the three most important ones are Defense, Health & Willpower, right? I said Defense is equal your best Finesse, so best of Wits, Dexterity or Manipulation. Health is five plus your best Resistance; Resolve, Stamina or Composure. Willpower is trickier; I said five plus the best of Intelligence, Strength or Presence. The idea of Willpower as a reserve of grit, because it is more active with Traits; Strength may seem like a weird fit, but I think it makes a kind of sense, if you allow for loose interpretations. Then, your Speed is five plus Strength; Initiative is your Dexterity, & your Stamina is your Endurance. I want to have a system of Encumbrance but one that is pretty rules light; heavy things or unwieldy things, like armor, big swords or backpacks, will have an Encumbrance. You got a number of free points equal to your Endurance, & after that it starts penalizing your Defense & other reasonable checks like swimming, sneaking, or climbing. To round it off, you get a number of Skill Specialties equal to your worst Mental attribute, Intelligence, Wits or Resolve, & a number of Backgrounds equal to five plus the worst of your Social attributes, Presence, Manipulation or Composure.