I probably should have posted this one first, but - best laid plans and all that.
BREAK!!'s character creation is intended to be brief and fun while still yielding an interesting result; I think we managed that pretty well!
Pink is eager to sink her teeth into the new campaign, so she decides to make her character a few days before. Naturally, she makes sure she has everything she needs before starting.
Pink starts by sitting at a table with this book, a d20, a printed character sheet and pencil.
She writes down all the basic values for Speed, Defense and Allegiance points.
She also notes down she has a standard weapon (she’ll decide what it looks like later) and rolls to see how much money she has. She ends up with 13 coins.
She decides that her character will be a young woman named Mariah, but wants to leave (most of) the rest up to chance.
She goes to Step 1.
Part One: Mariah’s Calling
Pink begins by scanning the Calling Chart, since that’s part of the first step outlined. She thinks she could have fun with all of them so she decides to Roll for it randomly.
Pink rolls a 9. That’s a Battle Princess.
She puts Battle Princess on her character sheet and as she is starting from the beginning puts her Rank as 1.
She checks the Progression Table and notes down the base Aptitudes on her character sheet. Might 8, Deftness 8, Insight 7, Grit 9, Aura 10.
She also notes that her character starts with 3 Hearts and an Attack of +1
Finally, she records the calling’s Starting Abilities. They all sound so cool!
Mariah’s Heart’s Blade is a Sky Steel Mighty Weapon (The Heroine’s Sword).
Her Heart’s Companion is a Guardian Toy named “Akky”, based on a doll she cherished as a child.
Part Two: Daughter of Shadow
Pink is tentative at first, as a solid image of Mariah is forming in her head and not all the available species fit it. She eventually decides to roll for it anyway when the Game Master reminds her that she can always re-roll or choose if the result seems off to her.
Pink rolls a 10: Tenebrate. She is delighted, as she likes their ethereal appearance and decides to keep the result.
She turns to Species section and records the two Tenebrate Species attributes: Night born and Shadow sight. Pink also marks off that she has a single point of Dark Allegiance and strangely sharp teeth as a result of her Night Born Ability.
Part Three: Humble Beginnings
Now that she has a very good idea of the the sort of character she wants, Pink has decided to pick a few things rather than roll for them.
She wants Mariah to be a shining light of hope in a troubled land, so she chooses the Wistful Dark as her Homeland.
She checks the appropriate Origin table, rolling this time. She gets a 11, which means Mariah was a Starlight Farmer.
Pink notes the Purviews from the Origin table and writes them down.
She chooses a bag of Homemade Cookies and her family's heirloom Shovel as her bonus starting gear.
Part Four: Strengths and Weaknesses
Feeling daring again, Pink decides to let the dice decide Mariah’s Traits.
Pink rolls for her two positive Traits, getting a 19 (Aura) and a 10 (Grit). She decides that Mariah is Determined and Fascinating, which goes well with her idea of her being a potential beacon of hope for the downtrodden.
Now Pink rolls for her negative Trait, getting a 13 (Insight). She decides that Mariah is gullible and occasionally unobservant.
Pink records her Traits and adjusts her Aptitudes accordingly.
Part 5: She gets knocked down, but she gets up again
Anxious to have her character completed, Pink turns to the dice again to decide Mariah’s Quirk.
Pink rolls and get’s a 17. Mariah is a Tenebrate, so this means she has a Fate Quirk.
She moves to the Quirk section and checks the Fate table, rolling a 1. She has the “Survivor” Quirk - she’s probably just too optimistic to be broken down!
Part 6: The finishing touches
Finished, Pink is left to fill out the details while the Gamer Master helps the other players create their Characters.
Pink decides to take full advantage of the odd coloring offered to the Tenebrate, and gives Mariah has purple skin and mint colored hair. She has hand-me-downs for gear and a fondness for hopeful old stories.
Akky, her heart’s companion, acts a bit cynical and sarcastic to be the foil that Mariah’s relentless spirit needs here and there.
Mariah’s family is alive and well, she just got in some trouble while running an errand (mainly picking a fight with a bullying patrician) so she ran off on adventure to keep them from getting dragged into it. Blue takes note of this and writes a few things down when Pink lets him know...
Satisfied with the results, Pink sketches a little picture of Mariah on her character sheet as a finishing touch.
Another request was to see how the mechanics of Downtime Activities work. There are a bunch of things you can do (including an option for an action that doesn't quite fit with the others) - they are basically the sorts of things that are important to your character but wouldn't involve the entire group. Examples include Crafting something, training a monster companion, building a reputation around town, and so forth.
Here's a brief example of how it goes:
After a successful endeavor, the party returns to the town of Homble for a chance to relax. The players express a desire to rest there for at least a week, and Blue decides this justifies a session of Downtime.
Pink and Green’s characters have both suffered Injuries so they decide to take the Heal and Injury/Get Repaired Downtime Activity.
Mariah and Wumble get some well earned bed rest and their players wander off to the kitchen for a snack.
Yellow decides that their character has grown especially fond of a shopkeeper named Doa that the party met in the previous adventure. They attempt a Socialization Downtime Activity to see if a Social Bond can be formed.
Sha visits Doa’s potion shop each day of the week and makes small talk with him. While Yellow is a bit too shy to role-play any discussion directly, they let Blue know the sort of things they think Sha would want to talk about.
Yellow and Blue Roll the contest that Socialization calls for: Sha’s Aura versus Doa’s Grit. Yellow Rolls well under Sha’s Aura and Doa Fails - the young potion maker lets his guard down and has several lovely conversations with Sha.
Yellow marks down that Sha has a Social Bond with Doa and decides they’ve developed a relationship of “Mutual Interest”. They also note that Sha has a bonus Heart added to her heart total until the next time she has a session of Downtime.
Black has gotten interested in the various elemental dungeons scattered across the world and wants to travel to more of them. She decides that her character, Droop, is going to spend his downtime researching their location.
Fortunately for Droop, Homble has a small but fairly well stocked library. He has plenty of books and maps to study.
After Black declares her intent, Blue lets her know he will get back to her on what Droop finds. He needs to check his notes and fill in any blanks.
Black likes getting into character, so she and Blue roleplay a small interaction between Droop and Homble’s librarian.
A few days after the game session, Blue e-mails some notes on the elemental dungeons to Black. While it would have been fine to let her know at the beginning of the next session, he figures she’ll want to pitch hooks to the rest of the group right away.
Thanks to our increased social media presence (and awesome new teaser page→) I've gotten a few requests to showcase some of BREAK!!'s mechanics. Which, fair enough: All this art is slick and great, but you want to see under the hood a bit, right?
I thought a good way to do this would be to share some of the Play Examples I wrote to better explain the rules. I figure this way you get to see how they work without me just re-printing big swaths of the book here in the blog.
First things first, the cast of the Play Examples is a gaming group that is fashioned after the different sorts of players I've seen in my day.
[I am adding a few Meta Notes in Purple here, as requested by Grey. He suggested it might help make certain things about some of the Character's various Values Clearer]
Game Master Blue
A long time lover of tabletop role-playing games, Blue pours his heart and soul creating open scenarios, wondrous adventure sites to explore and dangerous monsters to contend with. While great at being patient and accommodating the players, he has to work hard to keep things challenging. Get the look→
Player Pink (Character: Mariah, Tenebrate Battle Princess)
While new to tabletop role-playing, Pink is a big fan of video games and anime, meaning she is well versed in a lot of the basic ideas of BREAK!! already. She is always eager to run with just about any hook the Game Master presents to the group. Maybe a little too eager... Get the look→
Player Green (Character: Wumble, Chib Factotum)
Green is the oldest and most strategically minded of the gaming group. He is always coming up with battle tactics and long term plans, but he has to watch himself to make sure he doesn’t boss the other players around too much.
Chill and easygoing, Yellow likes hanging out and chatting with the group as much as they like playing the game itself. While mostly attentive and helpful, sometimes they get distracted by their smartphone during play. Get the look→
Player Black (Character: Groop, Bruun Sage)
Black is a storyteller at heart. Her characters are always carefully ingrained in the lore of the setting, and she tends to give Blue a lot of great ideas and asks good questions. Black does have to be careful not to make the whole campaign all about her character, though. Get the look
Most of the play examples are written in a more text book narration style, but I did a sort of script style for Combat since I wanted to goad Grey into drawing a mini comic for it.
The party has taken a job from local beast rancher - a rather ornery Chompa has been tearing down their fences and gulping up their pudge grubs. Spurred on by a desire to help the poor guy (and the fact that they are broke), they head out the clearing where the Chompa resides.
Blue: You finally come across the Chompa. The surroundings are a dead giveaway - crushed rocks, gnaw marks on the ground, the works.
Pink: Geez, do they just eat everything?
Yellow: Sha may know...she’s from around here, so maybe she’s seen one before?
Blue: It’s possible! Make an Insight Check.
[Yellow rolls their d20, getting a 16. This is way over Sha’s Insight of 9. Even a bonus from her Purview couldn’t help. Yellow sighs and debates switching to another die for the session. ]
[Sha's a 2nd Rank Raider, which gives her a base Insight score of 8. She has a Trait (Clever) that gives her a +1 to her base, which is why she has 9 Insight]
Yellow: Nah, I rolled over. Sha shrugs and shakes her head.
Green: It’s best to be safe and assume they do. I figure-
Pink: Let’s get it!
Yellow: Sha get’s her bow ready.
Blue: OK, let me draw out the battlefield.
Green: Dangit guys...
[Blue draws out a rough battlefield on his playmat. This combat is pretty simple, so there are just 3 Areas: the spot the party is in, one for the Chompa’s resting spot, and one in between, where all the crushed up rocks and holes are.]
Blue: These holes here are deep but obvious enough to avoid, even while moving fast. The rocks might be big enough to hide behind in a pinch. Neither you or the Chompa has the advantage of an ambush here, so it’s your go.
Pink: I summon my Heart’s Blade and move to attack it!
Blue: OK, it’s 2 Areas away -
Pink: Nuts, that’s too far to get to it and attack normally.
Green: Move up and go into Reactive Mode! That way you can draw it out and attack it when it comes at you.
Pink: Hey, that’s not a bad idea! I do that.
Blue: OK, so you’re going to attack it if it comes at you?
Pink: Yeah, that! I wave my sword around to get it to look at me.
Blue: Right, the Chompa snorts loudly. It’s noticed you making a scene.
Yellow: Sha is going to take a shot at it with her bow. I guess it’s gonna be her Hunter’s Focus for this fight.
Blue: Gotcha. The Chompa is a big target but it also has a thick hide. You have to beat a 13 to hit it.
[Yellow grabs a second d20 and rolls both, since their character has an Edge on Attack Rolls against the target of their Hunter’s Focus. The results are are an 11 and a 13. Either would hit with Sha’s +2 Attack]
[Sha has a +2 to Attack, once again due to the fact that she is a 2nd Rank Raider.]
Yellow: That’s a hit.
[Yellow eats one of the candies they were using to keep track of the amount of arrows Sha has left.]
Blue: Thwack! The Chompa loses a heart. It’s down to 3.
Green: I’m going to toddle up to the area Mariah is in but I’m staying clear of that thing!
Blue: OK, if everyone’s done it’s the Chompa’s turn now. Sha pissed it off with that arrow but it’s dumb enough to think Mariah is at fault, so it’s rushing her. Since it’s slow, it will be doing a Charge Stunt so if it misses it’ll be easier to hit.
[The condition for Mariah’s Reactive Mode occurs, so she get’s a chance to attack.]
Pink: Ha! Just where I want you! I bring my Heart’s Blade down across it’s big head!
[Pink Rolls a d20, getting a 7. Even with her +2 Attack, it falls short of the Chompa’s 13 Defense Rating.]
[Mariah's a 2nd Rank Battle Princess, granting her a +2 Attack as well.]
Pink: Uh...a 9? That doesn’t hit, does it?
Blue: Nope. It’s a little faster than you expected, closing the distance before you can get your sword down. Soon it opens it’s dreadful maw for a Mighty Munch.
[Blue grabs his trusty d20 and rolls it out onto the table. Everyone watches in fear as it lands, showing a result of 19. The players look to Blue in a panic.]
Blue: (repressed joy) Well shucks, when you factor in its Attack, that’s enough to beat it’s extra damage threshold too - Mariah loses 3 Hearts.
Pink: ACK! That’s all of them!
Blue: You’ll need to roll on the Injury and Damage table, then.
[Pink gulps and rolls]
Pink: A 6?
Green: (somewhat relieved) That’s an Armor Crash!
Blue: Yup, the Chompa’s teeth tears at your armor, reducing its defense by 2 points.
Pink: Great, I’m easier for this thing to chew on now!
Yellow: You didn’t die though.
Blue: Anyway, it’s going to use the second part of Mighty Munch, and try and pull Mariah into it’s mouth…
Pink, Green, Yellow: WHAT!?
Blue: Might Contest between you and the Chompa, Pink!
[Pink gulps and rolls her d20 at the same time Blue does. Pink’s comes up as a 4, and Blue’s an 18. Fortunately for Mariah, this exceeds the Chompa's Might Aptitude so she is the victor in this Contest.]
Blue: You pull away from the Chompa after a struggle - it manages to snatch away some of your armor and shake you up quite a bit, but you’re uninjured for now.
Pink: This is the worst! (Pantomimes wiping Chompa spit off her arm.) We need a better plan, guys..
[Combat will resume with the player’s actions, since both groups are still around and kicking! What do you think you would do in their shoes?]
The second chapter of the Game Master book is all about Campaign structure; how to start them, run them, and end them. I know this is likely old hat to most people playing Tabletop RPGs, but I think it's a good section for beginners and I do my best to cover some stuff I don't think is usually talked about in rulebooks.
An outline of what's in this chapter:
Starting Off (Location, 1st Adventure, Limited or Open Ended amount of sessions?)
Various ideas for the Party's Origins
Working with party roster changes (such as a player having to bow out, or character death)
And a small bit on ending a campaign
And here's a small tid-bit of what's included in the chapter itself. I like showing this here because it's useful for other games besides BREAK!!.
Starting Social Bonds
The game master or players may want to begin the game with some established relationships between the party. This is not a bad idea at all, and is definitely beneficial for who have Abilities tied with existing Social Bonds.
If this system is in effect, each player should choose another player’s character and decide (or roll on the Example Social Bonds Table) the nature of their character’s relationship with them. The other player may decide how their character feels as well - these don’t have to be equivalents!
For example, a Battle Princess might have a crush on a Murder Princess who considers them a rival.
Players should each try to choose a character who has not been picked for a social bond yet. Optimally, every one should end up with at least 2 - one with a player’s character who chose them, and another with the character they themselves chose.
The players may flesh out the history of their character’s Social Bonds whenever they like. While it’s perfectly fine to decide on it right away, there is nothing detrimental about waiting do so later down the line.
Social Bonds created this way are identical to ones earned via the Socializing Downtime Activity (x.x.x).
Characters from the Other World are exempt from this (unless there are other Characters from the Other World present, then they may opt to create Social Bonds with one another) though they may choose which of the other characters they met first.
GM Tip!: The author’s favorite method of doing this is to have all the player’s sit at a table and have each establish a social bond with the player to their left’s character.
Example Social Bonds (Roll or Choose)
(1-2) Close Friend - This is a person you feel you can trust and confide in. You might have grown up together, or maybe an important event brought you together.
(3-4) Siblings - This person is (or is like) a brother or sister to you. You may squabble here and there, but you tend to be fiercely loyal to them. Note that adoption is very common in the Outer World, so characters of different species may consider themselves familial siblings.
(5-6) Rivals - You are very competitive with this person; you may have comparable skills or methodology and you generally strive to top them in this arena whenever possible.
(7-8) Partner In Crime - This person may not be your best friend, but they are someone you feel will help with some of your more rash or ill-advised schemes.
(9-10) Mentor - You feel like you can really learn something from this character. They may be your superior in combat, social prowess, or some other adventuring vocation and you wish they’d teach you their secret.
(11-12) Colleague - While you don’t have any strong feelings for this individual, you respect their ability and feel they are contributing their fair share to the efforts of the party.
(13-14) Uneasy Ally - There is something about this person that makes you wary about them, even though you may still recognize them as a friend.
(15-16) Shared Philosophy - This person has a faith or outlook on life that you wholeheartedly agree with, or at least respect a great deal.
(17-18) Crush - You are infatuated with this person. Something there is simply something special about them that really attracts your attention.
(19-20) Admiration -You may not always agree with this person or want to be like them, but they have earned a great deal of respect from you. You may even consider them to be a genuine hero!
BREAK!! is currently divided into two books (it was originally going to be one huge book, but we've since decided to split it up a bit for various logistical reasons) the Player's book and the Game Master's Book. The former contains everything you need to play, including a little bit on the game's standard setting and a couple of sample maps and various Game Master Entities (our catch all phrase for monsters and NPCs). The latter is more information on the setting, a bit on making adventures and campaigns for BREAK!! and some guides/systems for creating your own monsters, relics, settings and what not.
Splitting them up as such hardly revolutionary, but it does make things easier on Grey and allows us to cater more specifically to the purpose of both sets of information. I'm not sure exactly how we'll do it, maybe offer a bundle of both, as well as options for one or the other? (Same with PDF versions).
Anyway, I thought I'd write a bit on the GM's book as I've really not talked a lot about that half of the game.
The first chapter of the GM's book is called The Basics. It's pretty straightforward, and covers three topics overall:
Using The Rules
Tone and Themes
Doing right by your gaming group
The first one is a guide on when and how to apply rules while running BREAK!! - it probably won't surprise anyone, but BREAK!!'s rules are intended to be bendy and broadly applicable. Since that's easy to see, this part gives suggestions on how to utilize the basics in a way that keeps the game fair and fast.
Tone and Theme is a lot more fluid, but it's more about the sorts of things BREAK!! naturally lends itself to and how to steer these things into directions that work for you, if you so desire. (There is a bit on not trying too hard, as players tend to go their own way sometimes and that's OK too!)
The last one is the most important to me, as I feel like a lot of books don't get this quite right, usually treating players as adversaries to your enjoyment as a GM, or singling out different play-styles as being dangerous disruptions, and so forth. What I tried to do here is to give advice on keeping things fun (and yourself sane) that has worked for me.
Next week we'll go into chapter 2 of the GM's Book: Your Campaign.