10 August 2012

Candycreeps: Part 3 - Mechanics

This is third part in an ongoing series on Candycreeps. Part 1 and Part 2.

The first two parts featured the history and the primary location of the setting, respectively. This entry will focus to the mechanics of Candycreeps, including an example of character creation.

The basic system is simple: for any given test you will roll 1d8 and apply your modifiers (typically -1 to +3) against either a difficulty set by the GM, or a contested roll. If you roll an 8, you keep rolling until you do not get an 8, adding up your results (also known as exploding). The difficulty for a "pretty easy" action is 4, "doable" is 6, "hard" is 8, "really hard" is 12, and "pretty much not going to happen" is 16. What this means is that even for easy tasks, the die result is going to be very important. That high degree of variability may, or may not, be a feature, particularly given the genre (I'm going to put this in "school games" for now).
Every Candycreeps post will have this.

Combat, as usual, gets the bulk of the rules, but that isn't saying much in this case. Combat also has some of the only codified attributes: Close Attack, Close Defense, Ranged Attack, Ranged Defense, Reflexes, Nasty and Tough. The first four do what they say: provide a bonus to your attack or defense for the appropriate range. Reflexes are your initiative and everyone with the same Reflexes goes at the exact same time. When you succeed at an attack, you will cause a Hit of damage (characters can take six Hits, but can get more). If you have Nasty after you have succeeded at an attack roll, you then roll with your Nasty rating as the difficulty. On a success you cause an additional Hit; you never get to cause more than two Hits total. Tough is the defensive version of Nasty; when you take a Hit (or two), you roll against your Tough and on a success reduce the Hits by one. This can reduce it to 0, but you can never have a Tough more than four.

There are some more specifics, such as putting off your action (you get to know what everyone slower than you intends to do before you act right before them), and further details on Hits. Each of your Hits is tied to a location on your body (each limb, torso and head). When you take a Hit, you choose which limb to assign it to and when you run out of uninjured limbs, your torso takes the Hit and that's when the penalties start; -2 for each Hit on your torso, to be exact. A Hit on your head means that you're out of the fight at best, or, if you weren't a Creep before, you might be now! Two optional rules are also given, one for handling less important NPCs (who get less Hits than normal, two is suggested), and the other giving penalties for using a limb that has taken a Hit.

The other pieces to the system are Features, Roles and Aesthetics. Features are physically distinctive things about you, which can include items. Roles are what you do, e.g. cheerleader, athlete, nerd, mad scientist, etc. They are very simple and provide some small bonus or a special ability. The text gives clear guidelines for building your own and there are a lot of examples. We'll get more into those when we make a character below. 

Aesthetics are what you are and what you like, divided into Creepy and Cute. Your rating in each of those will improve through your Features (though never through your Roles), and also choose how you feel about Creepy and Cute (like or dislike; yes, a dislike option). You can feel the same or different about each of them. These function in the game through social interaction, and you have a number of points in each equal to their rating. You can choose to employ your Creepy or your Cute on any attempt to influence someone by spending a point of the appropriate Aesthetic, but you will have to guess (well, ideally you'll know, but that may require experimentation) what route to go. The goal is to match the result you want from your influence (positive or negative) to how they feel about a given Aesthetic (like or dislike). 

For example, if you want to convince your teacher to let you get away with smacking Billy for whispering at you (he's creepy and you dislike that), you'll have to guess if what she likes best, Creepy or Cute, since you want a positive interaction. Or, perhaps you know that Ms. Bitters dislikes everything so you aren't going to get far with that, instead you decide to intimidate Billy with your Hello Kitty pencil case because you think that he dislikes Cute things. You spend your Aesthetic point and if you match correctly get a +2 to your roll. If you don't match correctly you get a -1 to your roll. Turns out that Billy was whispering at you because he likes the fact that you're cute and wants to know more about your Hello Kitty pencil case...

There are a few optional rules for Aesthetics as well and an example of these optional rules: Normally you get your Aesthetic points per session, but one option allows for players to regain them through appropriately saccharine sweet or spine-tingling roleplay. There is a warning to prepare for players spending time engaging in these antics to regain said points. This may or may not be a feature (I think this would be a feature; I like engaging the setting with initiative like that and also less work for me). 

Now lets make a character, Lance. He's a pretty normal older brother in the 6th grade that had a nasty run-in with a duck Pop during a Renaissance Faire jousting tournament gone pretty wrong. Now he's adjusting to being a Creep, and finding that things aren't as different as he feared. Besides the big hole in his chest, but that's what his letter jacket is for.

Now we have to draw a picture. Yes, everyone (even me, who isn't so good at this). I prefer the medium of Crayola, so this is going to be good. I pay special attention to important features; he's a jock and since he was in the Ren Faire, he likes fencing (not so good at the jousting, though), and has a letter jacket. Also, he's dead, but he hides his chest wound, so that's not particularly important right now.

From this picture we need to figure out what makes Lance stand out and what he's into. We have 15 points to make a character: each Feature costs 3 points, and each Role costs 6. Well, like all Creeps, he's dead, so he has to take Dead which gives Lance +1 Creepy. He'll want to pack around that sword for reasons that have nothing to do with seeing a particular Pop in the halls, so he has Pointy Thing which gives either +1 Creepy or +1 Cute based on how it looks. Lance isn't really into Slayer, but he does like the idea of rescuing an open-minded damsel, so his sword is fancy and has a rose on it. That makes it Cute. The Letter Jacket that Lance wants requires him to have the Jock Role, so we get that and the Letter Jacket which gives +1 Cute. Jock doesn't provide any Aesthetics because it is a Role.

Next, what does Lance like and dislike? Well, Lance is a pretty affable guy and he likes girls mostly. He's also not really afraid of anything, which may have something to do with his current state and has only gotten more open-minded about things since he died. Lance likes both Creepy and Cute. Summing things up, Lance has 1 Creepy and 2 Cute. He ignores wound penalties to his torso (from Dead), gets +1 to interactions with everyone except the socially outcast and chronically disaffected (from Letter Jacket), gets +2 Nasty for Close Attacks (from Pointy Thing), and +1 to athletic prowess and Close Attack (from Jock). Normally Jock gives you +1 to Close Defense, not Close Attack, but since Lance is explicitly a fencer (who might not be super great a defense), we change it a little for him. And that's it, Lance is good to go.

The mechanics for Candycreeps are fast and simple, and serve to make it easy to represent whatever you might need in the setting. They are not likely to provide any depth or character on their own. Hopefully I will be able to playtest this soon and have a good idea of how it actually runs.