Friday, April 3, 2009

F# Fiend Folio Characters

Last night's F#FF one-shot featured:
  • an Aarakocra (a bird person whose arms are shaped kinda like a pterodactyls)
  • a Blindheim (a four-foot frog whose eyes are blinding spotlights)
  • a Fire Mephit (a winged implike fire elemental)
  • a Nilbog (like a Goblin, but backwards - due to a temporospatial disease, damage heals a Nilbog)
  • and a Euphoric Imp (a drug-dealing hallucinogen-producing devil from the 3.5 Fiend Folio - I'll explain how that came about below)
I have three of the five character sheets in front of me, so I'll share the aspects that I know:

Erik's PC:
Snarl Bite Howl III
Background: Nilbog
Background: Gentleman Adventurer
Background: Great Lover
Catch Phrase: "I shall compose as I fight!"
Catch Phrase: "I laugh at danger, ha ha!"
Catch Phrase: "No one expects Snarl Bite Howl III!"
and he eventually added Catch Phrase: "Weee!!!!" because he kept getting dropped from great heights.

Sarah's PC:
High Priestess Winnefred
Background: Blindheim
Background: High Priestess of Ssendam (Slaad Lord of Insanity, Madness spelled backwards)
Background: Learned ('cause normally Blindheims have animal intelligence)
Catch Phrase: "Now I shall consult the Holy text of the Fiend Folio."
Catch Phrase: "By the golden light of Ssendam"
Catch Phrase: "Do my ears decieve me, or..."

Mark's PC:
Background: Euphoric Imp
Background: The Pusher
Background: Spawn of hellfire and brimstone
Catch Phrase: "Dude, I'm like totally baked"
Catch Phrase: "I got what you need right here"
Catch Phrase: "Dude, that was like, totally uncool"

I learned a few things about F# from these characters. It's clear to me that if you really want to focus on a very narrow character you can do so, but there's no real benefit to it.

Look at Ossible. He was a very fun character, but he wasn't terribly deep. 5 of his 6 aspects are essentially redundant, or at least interchangeable. Partially, that's the result of my dictating that one aspect should be a Fiend Folio race. Euphoric Imp covers the same ground as his other two Backgrounds and overlaps a little with 2 of his three catch phrases. Despite all that overlap, there's no real benefit. In four hours of play, we had one situation where "spawn of hellfire" was applicable but "Euphoric Imp" wouldn't have been. If we'd all had a little more experience with the system, I'm pretty sure Ossible would have been a much more broad character. For example, we probably should have gone with a background of "Walking Blasphemy" or at least "Not In The Holy Book".
About that: Earlier in the day, I'd emailed the group and asked who wanted to play what races, so I'd have a little advance notice for finalizing my scenario idea. Mark replied with a whole character write up for the Euphoric Imp named Ossible (and his brother Robable, and his sister Lausible) and how he'd ended up in the Prime Material Plane because of falling through a Magic Portal that he'd (in a drugged stupor) mistaken for a taco stand.

This, of course, didn't work within the limits of my proposed setting. The Euphoric Imp is from the 3.5 edition of the FF, and the game was supposed to be "If it ain't in the 1st Ed Fiend Folio, it's just a myth". One of the other taglines of the setting was that "There are no other planes, only this bastardized version of the Astral". I'd have been completely within my rights to deny this character and insist he come up with something more fitting to the setting. But gaming is about having fun, and Mark was definitely excited to play this character he'd come up with. I hate to discourage someone from prepping for the game (even if he didn't read my post of the game's Taglines), and it's not like there was some long term balance issues to worry about. So I said yes.

I even modified one of the taglines of the game to accommodate him. It was changed to "The Fiend Folio is the Bible" which opened up lots of cool avenues in the game, but I digress... That'll have to wait till a later post.
On a related note, I don't think most characters will need anywhere near 6 aspects. The 3 catchphrases, in particular, are likely to end up under-used, or to duplicate one or more of your backgrounds. I think there's just a touch of a learning curve to the system in that regards: your first character will be suboptimal, but you'll learn from the mistakes pretty quickly.

I'm still glad the game allows for so many aspects, as that means you can have a really diverse and complex characters.

The game definitely rewards Jack-Of-All-Trades characters over specialists. I don't think that's a problem, as long as the players understand it when they're making their characters. When next I GM F#, I'll be sure to emphasize to the players that it's better to leave one or more aspect "slots" undefined than to be redundant.

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