Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pulp Cthulhu - Professor of Arcane Studies

It is about time I posted about Pulp Cthulhu, and many thanks go to Walt for the gentle reminder. I thought it might be interesting to explore a character template with the Traits customized. As a quick reminder, the number of Traits vary with the level of "pulp" play desired. In this case, I'm putting together an Professor of Arcane studies, with a bit of a twist for the player.

While the templates suggest various Traits, they are not fixed. It is possible to mix and match. The goal is to use the Traits to add personality and history to each investigator in Pulp Cthulhu.

Professor of Arcane Studies
Academic Lore, Academic Standing, Library Use, Occult, Other Language, Persuade, Psychology, and any two of the following as a personal specialty: Anthropology, Archeology, Astronomy, History, Literature.
Traits: Haunted, Gifted, Super Memory.

While the Traits listed above are Haunted, Gifted, and Super Memory, I'm going to change them to Immortal, Cynical, and Frail. This is a character from a Gen-Con game, and below is a description of the Traits mixed with the character background. Players are free to use the standard Trait descriptions, or embellish upon them as I did here:

Immortal: You are 300 years old, although you appear to be in your early 40s. You have been granted the gift, or as you often see it – the curse – of immortality. You have lived years, seen many things, and learned the folly of humanity. The source of your longevity is unknown to you, but you have revealed it to no one for fear of being thought a "monster." The years have taken a toll, however. Humanity's cruel acts and endless wars, murders and wretchedness have cost you Sanity. However, there are advantages. While being immortal does not mean "forever young," (as you do age), it does mean your body can regenerate to some degree. When you are reduced to "0" Hit Points or less, you regenerate 1D4 HP a minute until you regain consciousness. After that, you heal at a normal rate. (Decapitation and burning both will kill you).

Cynical: The centuries have made you cynical; you've lost your faith in humanity, yet you endure life. You tend to disbelieve what others long to believe – trust in humanity, "good always wins." You've become world-weary, and it shows in your character. This gains you bonuses to Bargain, Psychology, Spot Hidden skills, but it has reduced the charm you have with other people – they find you to be depressing at times.

Frail: Your not sure why – you suspect it has to do with your immortality, but you suffer from a frailty of bones – they break easily. Any damage over ½ your Constitution requires a Opposed Roll (damage vs CON) to determine if you suffer a broken extremity. Similarly, you suffer from asthma. In stressful situations, you are prone to attacks of this pulmonary disorder. To counter it, you have a tonic, and dried medication that must be boiled and inhaled. The tonic (sometimes) works quickly, preventing the use of the other medication. You are very aware that this aliment cannot kill you; your immortality would keep you alive, but you still fear the "dying" experience. You never know what is waiting to capture your essence.
Each of these Traits allows the keeper to create opportunities and plot devices to keep the investigator and player involved in the game, and present challenges. It might seem that Frail would be a Trait that many players would not take; however, it is very popular. There are some advantages granted, as characters who are Frail are less likely to be physically active, but perhaps intellectually active instead (bonuses to Education, Int, Pow). And being Immortal does allow for extra Skill Points (depending upon how old the investigator is), but aging still takes place, and the effects of aging take place as well. Also, an Immortal is likely to be dissected by a curious pulp scientist or re-animator investigator.

(c)Content copyrighted by Chaosium and William Jones

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