Last night my Wednesday gaming group playtested the Alpha version of Undying. The basic mechanics of the game seemed to hold up well as most of the feedback was directed toward the details.
We got through character creation. The process is involved, so it took awhile to explain how to do it and then actually get it done. Also, it had been awhile since we last hung out, so there was a lot of pent-up socializing to get through as well. Since there’s heavy involvement with the layout and the instructions for character creation, I got a broad range of feedback. I’ll be making some cuts, in particular, to rotes; though, backgrounds will stay. Rotes may find their way into an optional rules section, we’ll see. Note: text in italics is from the game.
When you became a Predator, you inherited some of the Beast’s simple, animal-minded tendencies.
When you create your character, create three Rotes. These will stick with you for the rest of the game. Rotes are one of your defining characteristics; but, they don’t have to be profound. They are quirks, weaknesses, compulsions.
A rote is an if… then or when… then statement. When the condition is met, you must carry out the compulsory action. If you can’t or won’t do it, you must defy your instincts. Your rotes must be tied, thematically, to your Natures.
Rotes are/were a way of reinforcing the “vampires are predictable and set in their ways” concept. Some other handy definitions: Natures are your character’s key vices/weaknesses and defying your instincts is a move you have to make to resist your character’s own vampiric inertia.
Your background is a description of what your life was when you were lower on the food chain than you are today. It is people (as in types or groups of people) and places (either specific locations or types of locations) that are familiar to you; this is your comfort zone. When you leave your comfort zone, that is, you attempt to associate with people or places that are unfamiliar to you, you must defy your instincts.
Character playbooks in Undying follow a similar model to Apocalypse World, meaning that playbooks represent archetypal character concepts. Shannon created Sam Blackhawk, a reformed ne’er do-well truck driver with an estranged wife and two kids. Sam hopes to avoid the gathering storm surrounding the Sin Den and to reconnect with his wife. Sam’s Progenitor inspired him to be a better man in death than he was in life. Sam is created using the Wolf playbook.
The Wolf is a feral beast that shuns the trappings of the mortal world. She is a solitary Predator at home at the fringes of the Community. Wolves prize cunning, fortitude, and independence, judging other Predators by these same qualities. Standing is of concern only to those who must rely on order to protect themselves; let them revel in their folly.
Sage created Connor, a master-manipulator who views humans as lesser creatures. Connor has strong ties to the city’s preeminant Predator-Prey club, the Sin Den, and has a close relationship to the club’s face (human, that is), Emma, who shares a very similar viewpoint on the club’s patrons. Connor is created using the Fallen Angel playbook.
The Fallen Angel
To plummet necessitates a previous state of high potential. To other Predator’s, the Fallen Angel’s present state is, simply, existence. To the Fallen Angel, however, it is a fall from grace to the depths of depravity. Does that steel you or have you given in to the monster you’ve become?
John created Tiago da Costa, an underground MMA/cage fighter (I’m sure I botched the technical terminology) who wears wrath on his rolled-up sleeves. The Sin Den’s bouncer, Tiago tires of throwing punches at unruly Goth kids; but, now has a chance to run regular fights in the club’s basement on Tuesday nights. Tiago is created using the Nightmare playbook.
The darkness is comforting, like a blanket of shadow: you wear it like a cloak to hide from prying eyes and meddling fools; without hesitation, you use it to strangle the guilty and innocent alike and, with something akin to joy, you watch the life drain from their terror-stricken eyes, then back to the shadows.
So did they actually make it into any game play?
Yes. In some respects, that’s wrapped into the character summary. There were two scenes. I didn’t see a pressing need to elaborate.