Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Gorgon Archer - Monster of the Week - Character Creation Analysis

Monster of the Week is a Powered by the Apocalypse game, meaning it uses the same basic system created for the Apocalypse World game system. There are a couple of features of these sorts of games. One of those is that creation of the world is done simultaneously with play and the GM is encouraged to ask players to fill in some of the details about what is in the world. This generally begins with character creation but continues through play. In this regard it is not too different from Hero System or Fate style games, both of which give the player the option to create world elements when they craft their character. For example, even creating a gorgon archer in these systems adds the existence of gorgons to the lore of the setting.

Besides the ability to add to game lore during, and after, character creation, PbtA operates with stats of small bonuses ranging from -1 to 3, sometimes 4. These are added to a 2d6 roll which is used to determine the success or failure of actions. There are generally four to five stats which are used to apply to broad situations. PbtA games have a broad range of variation built around this simple mechanic and, as a result, there will likely be several other PbtA games included in these recreations.

Monster of the Week is one of the earliest PbtA games, coming out around the same time as Dungeon World, which models itself off of the earliest editions of D&D. I considered creating a Dungeon World variation first, as it is the version of PbtA most well-known, but I wanted to check to see if a gorgon playbook had been released first. As such, I'm going with MotW.

Monster of the Week, like most PbtA games, operates off playbooks which on the outside function similarly to classes. Playbooks represent archetypes specific to the genre being simulated by the PbtA game of your choice. Monster of the Week simulates urban fantasy and action horror along the lines of Supernatural, Hellboy, Dresden Files, and the like. As such, the playbooks follow that particular genre with names like The Mundane, The Chosen, The Spell-Slinger, The Spooky, and other such terms. By standard rules, you can only have one of each playbook in play as your character is that world's prime example of that archetype (there are many slayers in the world but Buffy is The Slayer, etc).

By standard interpretation most of these playbooks are considered to be human, but there's no particular need for that. Every playbook has access to the basic move Use Magic which is a catch all move that can be used to represent any of a number of special abilities. Newer materials released by the creator have expanded upon Use Magic to create the option of having a different basic Weird move (Weird being the connected stat) including No Limits for your typical action hero badass who is "human" only by suspension of disbelief, Weird Science for technology types, Sixth Sense for the ESP types and so on.

Regardless, your capability in Use Magic depends on your back story. For example, The Professional in my MotW campaign started out where his knowledge on magic and psionics was all wrapped up in the "two week seminar" the company gave new agents, The Chosen was innately magical but started mostly with martial art training, The Exile was a legendary Ainu sorceress of the past, and The Flake was a rogue Italian police inspector with good computer skills. Not accounting for the levels they ended up reaching, there were things the Professional couldn't do, and the Chosen had to roll for, that I just let the Exile do because of the differences in their back story. The Flake meanwhile only pretty much got called on to Use Magic when doing computer stuff (because we weren't playing with the expanded basic move set) and only did supernatural stuff when interacting with magical items.

This means that while the obvious playbooks for a gorgon are The Divine, The Summoned, or The Monstrous, we are not limited to those. I could also go with The Changeling, which is a third party playbook I created along with the game creator's input. However, we should first look at the story elements each of these playbooks focuses on as each playbook has mechanics designed to focus on certain storylines.

Without going heavily into each playbook, I'm going to dismiss the typical non-human playbooks as they mostly focus on a storyline where the character either has difficulty controlling their supernatural natures or impulses or else the character's life is wrapped up in some sort of prophecy. This is despite the fact that the Changeling playbook I designed actually has an option inspired by the gorgon stare. Our gorgon has no particular problems with her powers and generally doesn't spend much effort on improving them. I'm instead going to take The Exile, which is a playbook meant to represent a fish out of water. Normally the Exile is someone who has been transplanted in time to the modern world a la Ichabod Crane from the TV show Sleepy Hollow, and we'll go a little bit with that here. The story of not meshing well with other people or the surroundings is key to the Exile and best fits what we've done in general with the other versions of this character.

Once you choose a playbook, you choose one of five stat-lines, in most cases each of the five stat-lines has the same high stat, the Professional always starts with +2 Cool, for instance, but the Exile has a wider variety letting you choose between an ancient magician or an ancient warrior. Besides that you select your appearance (and each playbook generally has a set of suggested appearances), gear, and moves as well as noting down any mechanics unique to your playbook. Another thing you do is find connections and history with other members of the group.

Gorgon Archer - The Exile

Look: Woman with a warrior's body, hastily scavenged modern clothing, and serpents for hair.

Ratings: Charm -1, Cool +2, Sharp +1, Tough +2, Weird +0

Origin: I am from Macedonia in the year 531 BC my name is Euryale.

Nemesis: My nemesis is also in the modern world and aware that I followed. My nemesis is a shade named Sisyphus.

Arrival: I was transported to the modern day when my petrifying gaze backlashed and froze me as a statue. I was unearthed and revived later.


Warrior: If you are fighting with (and against) old-fashioned hand weapons and suffer harm, you suffer 1 less harm. Monster attacks almost always count as old-fashioned for this move.

Immortal Name: Your ancient exploits are legendary, so much that your name still scares monsters and minions. You may manipulate them with threats if they understand enough to have heard stories about you.

Confused: Mark experience whenever your bafflement with the modern world gets in the way of hunting monsters.


Pick three ancient weapons: Bow (2-harm close/1-harm far), Spear (2-harm hand/close), Martial Arts (your unarmed attacks do 1-harm, includes bites from the hair)
Ancient Armor - Leather Jerkin, 1-armor

Luck: 7/7


Mariah the Mundane was the first person to take me in and explain the modern world. She is an antiquities speaker and speaks ancient Greek.

Nathan the Spooky had a vision or prophecy about my exile. It showed my childhood avoiding other people.

Wolsen the Professional and I immediately liked and respected each other.

Character Advancement
Character Creation and the Gorgon Archer

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