Monday, 26 January 2009

Space Rat - Character Creation

This is the first in a series (a series which might be punctuated by diversions) about Space Rat: The Jack Cosmos Adventure Game (henceforth known just as Space Rat).  This is one of only a few Australian-designed indie games that I know about and I think it's worth some love in the blogosphere and also on your gaming table.  So stay with the feed for more.

Just for now, I'm going to let you know what I like about the character creation for Space Rat.  I think it has three main strengths to it.

1. It's quick.
Very quick, in fact.  For my style of gaming, this is important.  I need my players to be able to get up and running with a game quickly, and the important contribution that they make at the start is the character.  Making a character in GURPS or Champions or Burning Wheel takes some time and energy, whereas Space Rat characters (the Femme Babes) can be done in less than 15 minutes.  After that, you can start playing - assuming that the GM will let the players know the key rules as they arise during play

2. It gets the players thinking about the game in terms of prose, not numbers.
With the highly numerical games (see previous list) there is a lot of emphasis on the numbers, on the quantified aspects of the characters.  Immediately this frames the game for the players in terms of comparisons.  For Space Rat, there are very few comparative descriptors on the character sheet.  The bulk of it is text, written by the player to describe the character.  The other clever part of this is that you only need to underline the words in the paragraph to make that clause part of the character.  Compare against Spirit of the Century.  I've seen players have no trouble coming up with the novels for the phases of character creation, but then having some trouble putting an Aspect from that story into words.  Now, Space Rat is certainly less complex than SOTC, but the translation from text block to aspect (for want of a better word) is as easy as an underline.

3. It has a strong connection between the character and the story.
Because the characters are two-dimensional cliches (it's a comedy game - you need cliches for comedy) there isn't much clutter on the character sheet.  Therefore everything on that sheet can appear in every game.  Between the player and the GM, there's no reason that it can't all fit into the plot without feeling forced.


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