Thursday, 18 September 2014

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Even with a painted model and a backstory, an Inquisitor PC isn't truly complete until his character sheet is filled in. The nine little boxes along the top of the sheet actually go a long way towards to governing how we play our characters in game. They represent our characters' strengths and weaknesses, and mould how our characters act in the scenarios arrayed against them. I am not a fan of randomly rolling for characteristics as it can upset your perceived plans for the character. It's all too easy for a nicely modelled, chainsword-wielding fanatic to end up with low Weapon Skill and high Sagacity for example, or a nicely modelled trickster presenting an image of force with a chainsword to end up with a high Weapon Skill and low Sagacity. I much prefer to settle on characteristics myself. However, it is important to impose limits.

An Arco-flagellant is unlikely to be another character in disguise, so expect a high Weapon Skill!

One of Inquisitor's strengths is that players and GMs are free to stat and equip characters in any way they feel. Some players prefer high end campaigns, where stats in the 80s and 90s prevail, and some prefer middle of the road campaigns with stats in the 50s and 60s. I dare say there are some that play with no stat above 40. It doesn't really matter, as long as everyone involved is playing at the same level. As soon as one war band has stats which are more than +20 above everyone else’s, and brings meltaguns to a knife fight, it's often the case that that war band will dominate even with careful scenario design on the GM's part, and that can suck the fun out of a campaign for others.

A fair fight?

The Inquisitor rule book is an interesting beast when it comes to giving characteristics to characters. At the start of the book, it gives a rough idea to appropriate stats (p.15 Living Rule Book), with suggestions including: “a normal human would have a Toughness of 40-50” and under Nerve “a trained Imperial Guardsman would be in the 40-60 range”. If we turn to the back of the book and look at the sample characters, a Desperado is given a Toughness of 60 and a Nerve of 75. Is it the case that the authors are ignoring their own advice, or is the argument that the characters involved in an Inquisitor campaign are on a pedestal above the massed ranks of humanity? It could be taken either way.

For what it's worth, I prefer to play with stats around about the 50-60 mark, with particularly weak characteristics dipping down to 40, and focussed specialities going up to 70 or so. I do so as it means that actions aren't always a formality. To me, this makes games far more interesting as nothing ramps up the tension like a make or break roll to take out the big bad at the end of a scenario.

The savant Pret Hirschfield is one of only a handful of PCs with an Initiative in the 40s.

After settling on characteristics, I often look over the Special Abilities section of the rule book and the Carthax Wiki to see if there are any I feel appropriate to my character. Selecting Special Abilities can be a bit of a slippery slope however, and once you've chosen one or two, you start seeing others that might just fit. All of a sudden you have six or seven and you struggle to remember them in the heat of the action. Your declaration of actions slows down as you try and work out how the combination of abilities on your sheet will affect the turn; you remember you could have done something the previous turn; or half way through the game you bring out the ability that was scribbled on the back of your sheet as there wasn't any more room on the front much to the annoyance of the GM who now has to implement a do-over. I'm a big of fan of keeping games of Inquisitor flowing quickly, so I limit the number of Special Abilities I take, usually to two, but quite often some characters will have none.

Psychic and Exotic Abilities don't crop up too often, but as with Special Abilities, I tend to stick to a smaller number so things don't get out of hand. Usually, I don't give characters psychic powers from more than two disciplines as in my mind, psykers tend to focus on one discipline, and perhaps can draw on another power they trust themselves to use in the hectic action that constitutes an Inquisitor scenario.

Telepathy is unsurprisingly the Astrotelepath's primary discipline, but here he shows some telekinetic abilities by levitating spookily.

Equipment is the final piece of the puzzle for me, but most of the time I am governed by what looked cool during the modelling process and is already stuck to the model. The vast majority of my models are armed with stubbers, shotguns and more mundane hand to hand weapons as I have found through bloody experience that things like bolters and power swords can quickly end scenarios and character's lives! That's not an absolute rule of course - the only rule that matters when building characters is the Rule of Cool.

Every now and then, one of my characters comes with a fearsome weapon.

Where does Inquisitor Casimir Fearon come in in the character sheet department then?


Inquisitor Fearon is right-handed

Special Abilities: Compelling (see Additional Rules on the Carthax Wiki), Leader

Equipment: Auspex (Motion Tracker), Padded Robes (AV2) on all locations except head, Short Sword, Stubber with Infrascope and two reloads

Painting is underway... only now do I realise I forgot to add a pendant to the cord around his neck!

Fearon then is a bit of an all-rounder, with higher mental stats than the average, befitting his position as an Inquisitor. His experience in dealing with the varying branches of the Inquisition means that he can convince many of his course of action, and is reflected with the Special Abilities Compelling and Leader. His equipment isn't that unique or noteworthy, but as an investigative type, he doesn't need to be dressed for battle. With his auspex and infrascope he can track down his quarry in a multitude of environments.

That wraps it up for this entry. I'd love to see some other takes on character creation, so please share your ideas on Facebook and Twitter (@T_C_Inquisitor).

The Carthaxian Inquisitor 

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