Monday, October 17, 2016

Building your Investigator, One Job at a time (Professional Help for Call of Cthulhu)

Hey Mythos Fans, we’re back for another article in our series on putting together an investigator for the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game from Chaosium.If you’re curious, check out the first part of our series further back in our archives, just look over on the right side at the article list and find the ones on Call of Cthulhu.  Today we’re going to take a closer look at one of the more critical decisions that you get to make when you’re building a character.  What is your character’s occupation?  In some games this represents your character’s class, or primary job.  CoC takes this in a different direction, and looks at your character’s occupation as the penultimate piece of your background before you found your way into the Mythos.  What were you before the madness started to leak into the world?

Choosing your Occupation is the second step in the character creation process for Call of Cthulhu, and it represents the first real time you’ve had a choice since the ideas portion of character building.  You settled into some ideas, and rolled dice for some stats.  Now you get to exercise some creative control again, and can choose your character’s occupation.  Let’s take a look at the idea behind the occupation and what it brings to the character creation process.

Occupation serves three principal points for building a character.  First, it gives you a one word description for your character.  “He’s a Cop,” or “she’s a Computer Hacker.” are both key examples of using your occupation to explain your character.  Like the point I’ve made with race in the fantasy series i write, in Call of Cthulhu, Occupation can provide a wealth of information about how your character looks, carries his or her self, and looks at the world around them.  

Occupation is also a collection point for skill groupings based off of the occupation.  Police know the law, how to shoot guns, drive cars, etc.  Doctors know medicine, surgery, and anatomy.  Identifying the skills you’re looking for can inform your choice of occupation, or you can find an occupation you like and work the skills from there.  

Occupation also serves as a relative measure of your character’s available resources.  Each Occupation has a Credit Rating range that gives you a rough idea of your character’s loose cash/credit/monetary options at any given time.  Some occupations have oddly high wealth scores compared to the skills they offer, but that’s occasionally the thrill of playing a hardworking, underpaid minion, or an overly wealthy trust fund kid playing at the Mythos.  

These three ideas coalesce into giving you the ideas behind your character’s background leading into the Mythos and helps shape the skills your character possesses at a professional level.  It also helps you as a player figure out what sort of resources you have to call on during the game.  From here, let’s take a look at the numbers side of the Occupation, and help you get your character moving forward.

Remember, you need to have rolled all of your attributes and calculated your derived statistics before you can start step 2.  We’re on page 49, for those of you keeping up at home, and we’re going to to make some character building choices.  We’re going to reference Chapter 4 at least once throughout this, so make sure you’ve got your Investigator’s Handbook nearby.  I have always liked the idea of playing an Antiquarian in a Call of Cthulhu game.  Looking at the Antiquarian’s entry in Chapter 4, i note the following important traits.

“Skill Points: EDU x4
Credit Rating: 30-70
Suggested Contacts:  Booksellers, antique collectors, historical societies
Skills:  Appraise, Art/Craft (any), History, Library Use, Other Language, one Interpersonal Skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate, or Persuade), Spot Hidden, any one other skill.”

Remember, an Antiquarian is the iconic Lovecraftian Adventurer, with his knowledge of strange old things, and willingness to go looking at books and things.  This one is set in the 1920’s, so that will also help me put the right spin on the character i am Building.  I rolled quite well for my character’s Education statistic, (rolling a 10 on 2D6 and adding 6 for a total base of 16) coming up with an 80.  

This means that my character has a total of 320 skill points to spend on my professional skills and credit rating.  

Taking a quick look at what i want my character to be able to support the group with, i know that my character is probably going to end up being the party’s meal ticket/expense account.  That decision in mind, i allocate 70 of my Professional skill points to Credit Rating, giving me a score of 70.  This means that my character is wealthy enough to be able to support a high standard of living without being truly rich.  

That set’s my Skill point total to 250, and i have 8 skills to add points to.  I am picking Brawling as my personal skill choice, as it represents a connection to a lost art of fighting that my character was keen to restore to prominence.  Each Skill has a base number listed with it in Chapter 5 (Skills).  Points you add from your Occupational skill list are added to this base value.  

Appraise 5% + 60
Art/Craft (Fine Art) 5%
Brawling 25% + 10
Charm 15%
History 5% + 70
Library Use 20% + 30
Other Language 1%+  40
Spot Hidden 25%

After compiling my points i have

Appraise 65%
Art/Craft (Fine Art) 5%
Brawling 35%
Charm 15%
History 75%
Library Use 50%
Other Language 41%
Spot Hidden 25%

My Character (Who i’ll work on putting together a complete character Sheet for the next one of these, i promise) has an Intelligence statistic of 75, meaning that he has 150 personal interest points to spend on top of his Occupational skill points.  If i wanted to, i could spend these points on anything (except Credit Rating), buying completely new skills and specializations, but i’m going to spend them on improving my existing skills to make my character better at some things.  

Appraise 65%
Art/Craft (Fine Art) 5% +40
Brawling 35% +30
Charm 15% +30
History 75%
Library Use 50% +20
Other Language 41% +30
Spot Hidden 25%

Now that we’ve got our points spent, let’s take a look at our skills.

Appraise 65%
Art/Craft (Fine Art) 45%
Brawling 65%
Charm 45%
History 75%
Library Use 70%
Other Language 71%
Spot Hidden 25%
Credit Rating 70%

And those are the basics for putting together your character’s occupation and how it directly affects your skills for Call of Cthulhu.  Next Time we’ll look at putting together a backstory, and the finishing your first character.

Game On, Game Fans

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