Hello, Smug Puggerinos!
It has been a long time since I have done one of these, so here is my latest in the Chargen (Character Generation) line of posts! I borrowed the concept from Matt McFarland aka Black Hat Matt. This game goes back to the days of Livejournal where we would get together and make characters for fun and then show people how we did it. In this installment, I am making a character for the By Night Studios version of Werewolf: the Apocalypse! BNS W:tA, as I will refer to it from now on, is a version of the Werewolf : the Apocalypse game that is meant for live action role playing (LARP.) It is the latest version of role playing rules for making a Garou for LARPs, and I'm going to use the rules to make one of my favorite Tribes for the setting: a Silent Strider!
Character: A Silent Strider Homid Theurge
Game: Werewolf: the Apocalypse
System: By Night Studios LARP Ruleset
Publisher: By Night Studios
Starting XP: Base +30 (60 total XPs)
Disclaimer: Though I have worked on World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness books, I do not work for By Night Studios. I received my copy of the game by backing it when it was on Kickstarter.
The By Night Studios system is one of my favorite systems for LARPing. This is not a slam against the older MET system or other systems out there, but I prefer the simplified rules used for it. Though the book is enormous and could probably be used to kill someone in a fit of Rage, it's really self contained and has systems for pretty much everything that can occur in the game. Instead of using Traits like the MET version, the character sheet for the game looks like a sheet you would use for tabletop. The system still uses Rock, Paper, Scissors as the mechanic for determining success, although now you add up your dice pools which provide bonuses in the case of Ties, Successes, or Exception Successes in a Challenge.
I've had this character concept in my head for a while, so that part is easy. I love the Silent Striders! Though my first and favorite tribe will always be the Shadow Lords, I love the story behind the Silent Striders. They are a tribe hailing from Egypt, and though they have been banished from their homeland and forced to wander through the world, they travel across the world and interact with spirits in the hope that they can one day return to their home.
For this character, I am making a Theurge. Theurges are the shamans and mystics of the Garou, and their responsibilities involve dealing with the spirits of the world and in conducting the rituals and ceremonies that are essential to maintaining Garou society. Strider Theurges see themselves as priests calling upon ancient pacts and powers, and in the BNS edition they have a very strong affinity with dealing with the Underworld and traveling there. Now that I know what kind of Garou I am making, now comes the part where I figure out what kind of person he is.
Djekat Owl's-Midnight-Watcher, or Miles Runner as he is known to the human world, was born in Ft. Wayne, IN. His family was always on the move as his father was a contractor, and his mother was a Silent Strider Galliard. He was very close to his family while growing up. Even though his mother would often go off on journeys and missions for local septs, she did her best to watch over her family, and Miles' father was a Kinfolk whose overprotective nature came from a few close calls when Black Spiral Dancers tried to kill Miles and himself over the years. When Miles' imaginary friend Djebati turned out to be a displaced spirit of the Underworld whose ties to Miles are still not well understood, Miles' First Change was met with great celebration from his extended family but concern from the local Elders, who cast their omens and saw a dark future lay in store for him.
As Djekat, his life as a Theurge of the Silent Striders may have been considered fairly ordinary until the day Djekat disappeared suddenly from the Sept of the Winter's Shadow. Djekat's disappearance into the Umbra led many to seek him out. He was found roaming the Underworld, but when the pack tried to reason with him, they discovered he had been possessed by an ancient spirit calling itself Heru. Djekat turned on his brothers, and for that was declared a Ronin from the tribe. Djekat disappeared for over a year until her emerged from the Underworld, his memory completely blank about the events of the last year. One of his eyes had turned gold in color, and those who interracted with him claimed to hear the sounds of spirits whispering around him. He also gained the attention of local birds and owls who would gather in his presence but sit quietly around him, as if they were almost mournful and solemn.
During the battle with the Dark Brigade (see the BNS W:tA rulebook for more information on that story) he managed to earn distinction and was welcomed back into the Garou nation in time to join the Concordidat of Stars, but the stigma remained about his disappearance. Some claim he has been permanently touched by an ancient Incarna, while others believe he spent his lost year in service to the Wyrm and will betray the Garou at the first chance. As for Djekat, he dreams of ancient battles of life in the distant past, though he has yet to learn the meaning of it.
So lets make the character!
I've decided his primary attributes will be Physical, as I would like for him to be a fairly physical Theurge. Though his role will be primarily mystical, the 2 point boost to his Physical pool will be useful for fighting Ghosts and Wyrm creatures. I've chosen Dex as his focus, as the Striders are fairly lithe and agile creatures. Social will be his secondary attributes, as interacting with other Garou is an extremely important task for him as a Theurge. Mental comes in third, but that does not mean he is dumb! It means he is average in that category. I see him as being a very lore and occult focused person but not very worldly when it comes to information.
I choose Manipulation and Wits because they will come into play for the Gifts I want to choose for him.
Skills are so hard to pick for me, as I never know where to put a focus beyond what might be considered "Min/Maxing" but I really want to have a well rounded character. So for the sake of expediency, here's the skills I'm choosing for Djekat. I want him to be heavily focused into research and the spirit world, so Occult, Lore, and Academics are important. I want him to be good at Melee (more on that later), and being able to be alert about his surroundings and dodge blows is essential. I also want him to be empathetic to the needs of those around him, and he needs to be able to investigate mysteries. So here's what the final skills look like:
Lore 3 (Garou, Wyrm, Spirits)
I may pick up more later with my freebies, but lets move on!
Merits and Flaws
Merits and Flaws are extremely important in BNS, and give your character either new abilities or boost existing ones. Flaws do the opposite, and can often times be life or death for the character's story. My Merits are really easy to choose, because the Tribal Merits in this edition are to be blunt, supremely effective and worth it. There are no really wasted Merits in my opinion, and while the general Merits are also extremely useful, the Tribal ones really fit the theme of each tribe.
For Djekat, I'm taking Quick and the Dead and Omen of Doom out of the Silent Strider Merits. Quick and the Dead gives me a Stock NPC Wraith ally that I can use to spy on others and to assist me in dealing with spirits. Omen of Doom is essentially a free do-over in certain situations, and it fits with my character's connection to the spirit world and destiny.
I'm taking Wyrmspeak because it allows me to understand the secret language of the Wyrm. It's a Merit that can cause other Garou to look down on him, but I think that fits with his distrusted nature.
For Flaws I am taking Tainted Rank, which although that sets me back in the political game for W:tA, it fits with the idea that he was once Ridden by a spirit and is not trusted as deeply as he once was. I almost took Ronin, but as a Theurge I will need access to the Caern, so this seems like it will work out well for the character's story. I am also taking Monstrous, and Djekat's eyes burn a blazing golden color in his Crinos form, which is unnerving and considered not natural. Finally I'm taking Pied Piper, to befit his connection with Horus.
Backgrounds were tough for me, because I know where I want to go, but I need to build the foundation first. First and foremost will be Rank. He's a Theurge and was once well respected in the Garou Nation, and even though Tainted Rank hurts him in Staredown and social challenges, I feel he still needs to have rank that he's earned. So that will get 3 points. Next will be Fetish, as I want to design a special book for Djekat that he can consult to aid him in using his Lore skill. Finally, he gets 1 point in Spirit Pact, which represents his pact with the mysterious Heru.
Gifts are the mystical powers that Garou use, and there's perhaps more than a hundred Gifts in the book to choose from when you consider all of the Tribal and Generic Gifts to go through. For my Theurge, I want him to deal with spirits, so that helps focus me as well. For my starting Gifts I take Airt Perception so I can see spirits, Mother's Touch so I can heal others, and Spirit Skin to help him hide in the Umbra.
Now on to spending my XP! I gave him an additional 30 points to work with, so lets see what I can come up with.
For starters, I want to buy a couple of Gifts that are essential to him. I want him to be able to put up Wards, so I'll take Spirit Ward. Pierce the Ashen Veil is essential for the Garou who wants to tread in the Shadowlands, so I'll pick that up as a Rank 3 gift. Next I'll take Circle of Gai's Cleansing, since Djekat will want to rid the world of Wyrm Taint. I'll finish this out with Craft the Fetish, so I can make Fetishes for other Garou. I also take Umbra Tether to keep me from getting lost.
All of these Gifts are within the Auspice, Breed, or Tribal affinities for me, which helps me afford them. I end up spending a total of 48 points on them. Since I'm rank 3, I have to pay x2 for new levels in skills, so I'll pick up Medicine 2 for 6 points, and since I will need to know Rites for the Caern, I will take Rites 2 with my remaining points. That puts me at 1 point remaining thanks to Pied piper, but I will bank that point.
So here is my sheet!
Physical 7 (Dex Focus)
Social 5 (Manipulation Focus)
Mental 3 (Withs Focus)
Lore 3 (Garou, Wyrm, Spirits)
Merits and Flaws
Quick and the Dead
Omen of Doom
Spirit Pact 1
Circle of Gaia's Cleansing
Pierce the Ashen Veil
Craft the Fetish
The system was very easy to work with. The only difficulty I had was flipping back and forth through a book that size, but that's not really a bad thing. The system is very full, and seems to cover almost everything you need to make a character. Having bookmarks or a digital pdf reader will make it easier to navigate the book. I know some people were not happy with the story, but I enjoyed reading it. There is a wealth of info in the book and if players who use the book are like me the only other problem they'll face is an indecision on what to make considering all of the options.
And there's my character! Did I make a mistake? Let me know! Tell me about whatever kinds of characters you are making for your games in the comments section.