Sunday, November 19, 2017

Gorgon Archer - Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition - Character Creation Analysis

Character Creation and the Gorgon Archer

I shall start off noting three things. The first is that I do not own the most recent edition of Call of Cthulhu (7th) and I've heard that it is the first edition to make some significant changes to the way the game works. Having not seen it, I can't say for sure what those changes would be. "Significant changes" in the context of a game as solid and stable as Call of Cthulhu has been for 35 years could be quite minor in comparison to the sort of changes seen in Dungeons and Dragons in that same period of time. The second thing is that Call of Cthulhu, barring some point buy mechanic in 7th edition, is not a game that is particularly conducive to creating a concept before you sit down to play. You roll for your stats in this game and as such your dice rolls are going to heavily influence the sort of character that you will be creating. The last is that this is, again, a character where the term "gorgon archer" is going to be used as an epitaph or guideline rather than a literal truth. Non-humans in Call of Cthulhu are bad juju and they are not for the players to portray.

Okay, on to the creation process. There are six steps in creating a Call of Cthulhu character:
  1. Determine characteristics
  2. Determine characteristic rolls
  3. Determine derived characteristic points
  4. Determine occupation and skills
  5. Determine Weapons
  6. Determine additional background
You determine characteristics by rolling, as already stated. You roll 3d6 for each of the following characteristics: Strength, Constitution, Power, Dexterity, and Appearance. By default you roll in order and place in order. You roll 2d6+6 for both Size and Intelligence followed by 3d6+3 for Education. Sanity is equal to Power x5. There are some alternate options for creating characteristics. One is that, with GM approval, you can roll 2d6+6 on all of the stats except Education which remains 3d6+3. There are also some considerations for people that want create a specific sort of character. The game says the GM may allow one of the following options:
  • Allow you to shuffle your characteristic rolls rather than take them in the order you rolled them.
  • Allow you to move 3 points from one rolled characteristic to another. Do this up to three times.
  • Excepting Sanity, total your characteristic points. Re-allot the points as you wish except that Education cannot be higher than 21, no other characteristic can be higher than 18, and no characteristic can be lower than 3. Sanity is then Power x5 as normal.
I am going to go with the default standard method despite my general dislike for randomly generated stats. At the time Call of Cthulhu was written, this was the way Dungeons and Dragons worked and was just borrowed straight over along with a number of the characteristics. However, I think they've kept this sort of method as a way of underscoring the unfairness of the universe. That or they just had the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" attitude, but I prefer to ascribe a deliberate attempt to model a certain feel to the game over that.

Characteristic rolls are a set of things that might end up being rolled for in the game. There are two: Idea and Luck. Idea will come up a lot, especially when you have to make Sanity checks, and quite often having a high Idea check is detrimental as it means that you will more easily be able to realize that a particular event or thing should be impossible and thus make you susceptible to greater penalties on a failed roll. However, the GM might roll Idea for you in order to grant you some clue that your character might have but you're missing or have you roll Luck to avoid some calamity. Idea is equal to your Intelligence x5 and Luck is equal to your Power x5. At this stage you also figure out the bonus you get to melee damage rolls by adding together your Strength and Size and then comparing it to a chart.

The third step is to determine your characteristic points. Your Hit Points are going to be your Constitution plus your Size and then divided by 2, rounded up. Rounding up might sound generous for a horror game until you realize that none of these stats will ever go up. The only change that could happen is these stats going down due to disease or injury. You are stuck with these hit points for the likely short life of the character. You will also have a number of Magic Points equal to your Power. Contrary to Hit Points and most other characteristics, there are a handful of ways for Power and Magic Points to increase in the game but these are rare and often have bad side effects. Lastly, you gain Sanity Points equal to your Sanity.

Next you determine your Occupation and Skills. The first thing you do in this step is to roll a 1d10 to determine your character's money and property by comparing to a chart for the appropriate era. Next you choose an occupation befitting your character's characteristics and income. As I said, in standard Call of Cthulhu it is best not to set down with a specific character in mind but rather to make one based on what the dice hand you. You gain a number of skill points equal to your Education x20 to spend on the skills related to your occupation. You also gain a number of skill points equal to your Intelligence x10 which can be used to increase any skill except for the Cthulhu Mythos skill. Cthulhu Mythos always starts at 0 and only increases in play. All points must be allocated any that you try to "save" are lost. As such, the suggested method of choosing as you play that shows up in Fate or other games is expressly forbidden here. As a note, most skills have a starting level that you build up from as an odd but realistic note, your own native language doesn't start out at max fluency but is determined by the education you rolled instead.

The weapons step is a bit misleading in my opinion as you actually allocate skill points from the fourth step to your weapon skills. This step consists primarily of entering your character's damage bonus next to each of your four personal attacks and any melee weapons. Then you need to make sure that the appropriate bonus for any of your owned weapons is written down next to them.

The final step of determining additional background is where you fill in any additional information you might have about your character. The minimum age for any character is equal to their Education plus 6 but you can make them older. For every 10 years older than your minimum add an additional 20 occupational points. However, for every 10 years older than 40 you will also have to reduce one of the character's other stats.

That is the entirety of character creation in Call of Cthulhu. It is a simple method of character creation that has served the game well for pretty much the entirety of its existence. It is not a character creation method that I enjoy myself. There's entirely too little control over the concept of my character in this system for me like it, but that is a playstyle difference and does not detract from the utility and functionality of the system at all.

One thing to be aware of in role-playing games is that you will find games or pieces of games that you do not like for one reason or another. This does not mean that the game is bad. It only means that you do not like it. There's a lot about Lovecraft's stories, and indeed Lovecraft himself, that I object to on principle regardless despite being able to enjoy the stories as well-written fiction. The game is the same, it is not one that I would generally suggest or request to play but I can and have had fun with it regardless.

As for our gorgon archer, we'll have to see what the dice roll out with for stats and I'll be able to better describe how I fit the character to the concept. I'll probably break my normal mode and add some description at the bottom of the page below the stats in this case.

Gorgon Hunter - Era 1920s

Strength: 9
Constitution: 13
Power: 10
Dexterity: 11
Appearance: 13
Size: 10
Intelligence: 12
Education: 8
Sanity: 50
Idea: 60
Luck: 50
Hit Points: 12
Magic Points: 10
Sanity Points: 50
Damage Bonus: +0

Starting Money: $3500 (rolled a 3)

Occupation: Hunter (using the Drifter package)

Native Language: Greek 40
English 31

Bargain 40
Fast Talk 10
Hide 40
Listen 65
Sneak 40
Spot Hidden 55
Track 50

Rifles 65

And this is our gorgon complete. I went with rifle instead of a bow for the simple fact that the core rulebook has no rules for using bows. As we have it, she's a rather poorly educated Greek immigrant of slightly above average intelligence who makes her living hunting for animal skins and meat. This character starts off rather weak in some regards though she has some useful skills in the nature of Spot Hidden and Listen.

Character Advancement
Character Creation and the Gorgon Archer

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