Character Creation // Steps 3 & 4

If you’ve read the Kickstarter Preview [Link accessible for backers only] of The Sprawl, you may have noticed a big highlighted heading, “Extended Chargen Example”, at the end of Chapter 3: Making a Character. Over the next week or two, I will post sections from this extended example. If there’s some aspect of the process that isn’t clear, make a note in the comments and I’ll expand or clarify my description as necessary. The earlier posts are here: Step 0; Steps 1 & 2.

Step 3: Choose Stats

Norah: Once you’ve all given your character a name and description, its time to assign stats. There are six stats in The Sprawl: Style, Edge, Cool, Mind, Meat and Synth. You use Style when you want to be slick. It’s used for convincing people to give you want you want. You use Edge when you’re trying to be professional and street-smart. Edge is a measure of how well you can give the impression that you’re a badass. You use Cool when you’re trying to stay calm and focused in stressful situations. You use Mind when you’re trying to think logically and strategically about problems and situations. You use Meat when you’re relying on your natural body to do things and you use Synth when you’re relying on your ability to interface with and operate technology, especially cybernetics. Particular moves on the move sheet involve adding particular stats to dice rolls, so look at the move sheets and see what kind of moves each stat corresponds to. Synth doesn’t correspond to any particular moves, but a lot of cyberware substitutes Synth for another stat. So if you want to have a lot of cyberware, you should consider that.
You can change your stats later on in character creation if you want. If you decide that you want to choose a playbook option that uses a different stat than the one you thought you wanted, that’s cool.

John looks at the Killer playbook. It says that he should assign positive numbers to Oakley’s Meat or Synth. John wants to play around with a lot of cyberware, so decides that Oakley will have Synth +2. He still wants Oakley to be tough without cyberware, and badass as well, so he sets Edge and Meat to +1. He doesn’t care so much about Cool and Mind, so they get +0, and he’s like to see Oakley get into trouble in social situations, so Style -1.

The Fixer playbook says that Hub should have a Style of +2 or +1, so Takumi assigns his +2 there. He looks at the Fixer moves and sees a couple of moves that use Edge, so he makes that +1. Hub is a lover, not a fighter, so he puts the -1 into Meat and the +1 into Cool, leaving Mind and Synth at +0.

Sarah has played The Sprawl before and knows that Infiltrators need to stay cool in crazy situations, so she puts the +2 straight into Cool. Sarah wants Zero to be good during the Legwork Phase, so she puts her +1s in Edge and Style so she can observe and hit the street to find out as much as she can about places before she sneaks in. She plans on avoiding fights, but doesn’t want to be a liability when they happen, so Meat gets and +0, as does Mind. Synth gets the -1; she’ll look for cyberware that’s good without having to substitute Synth for another stat.

Aanya sees that Hackers need Synth and Mind. She looks at the moves and sees that Synth is used for most of the hacking tasks, but Mind is used for taking down ICE and research. Core’s gotta be an ICE-smashing badass, so Mind gets the +2. Synth and Edge get the +1s. Aanya wants to play up the young kid angle, so puts the -1 in Meat. Style and Cool get the +0s.

Step 4: Choose Cyberware

Norah: Next think about the cyberware options on the playbook. While you do that, think about the two questions I’m going to ask you. The first is “why did you decide to get part of your body cut out and replaced with chrome and circuity?” and the second is “how did you afford to have that done?” The first question is open ended and theres a list of options to use as inspiration: prosthetic, forced, loyalty, enthusiasm, necessity, junkie, genetics, career, ideology, memory, military. The second question has three choices: Did you scrimp and save and buy it yourself, in which case it’s not very good and there are a list of options to choose from there. Did someone else pay for it, and now they own you? Or did someone else pay for it, but you’ve skipped out on whatever deal you had and now you’re hunted? If you’re owned or hunted, choose which corporation owns or hunts you.

John (playing Oakley): I chose synthetic nerves for Oakley. He knew that if he wanted t be more than an expendable security grnut, he had to get some mods, so he signed a lifetime contract with… he looks at the list of Corporations established in Step 0… Shanghai Security.

Norah (MC): So do you still work for them or are they after you now?

John: Oh, yeah, I skipped out on my contract after two years doing covert ops in Central Asia, went AWOL and now I’m hunted.

Norah writes down that Oakley is hunted by Shanghai Security on her MC sheet.

Norah: How about Hub, what cyberware does he have?

Takumi (playing Hub): Hub is always plugged in; he has a cybercom unit with the +encrypted and +jamming tags. He got burned real bad on a job in Peru and his whole team got killed by a Shanghai Security response team because their pointman lost his radio down a ravine. He vowed never to be seperated from the global communications net again. He was working for HelixTec at the time, and they paid for it. He’s owned.

Norah writes down that Hub is owned by HelixTec.

Sarah (playing Zero): I’ll go next! Zero has skillwires. Her nervous system got messed up by a toxic contamination even when she was a teenager. Ecuadine Petrochem compensated the victims, but the medical care either tied them into a debt spiral to pay for the for proprietary medicine, or forced them into what amounted to indentured servitude to pay off the skillwires that gave them back full motor control. Zero always hated Ecuadine and as soon as she could she slipped under the radar and out of their grasp.

Norah: So she’s hunted?

Sarah: Yup!

Norah writes down that Zero is hunted by Ecuadine Petrochem.

Aanya (playing Core): Okay, lucky last… Core has data storage and interface hardware.He has a row of interface jacks down his left temple, and a series of memory card slots down his right. He designed and built it all himself and had a friend install it.

Norah: Core’s friend performed brain surgery on him?

Aanya: Yeah, she’s a black clinic cybersurgeon.

Norah: Sounds like a good person to know! Since you paid for it yourself you have to pick a negative tag. Is it +unreliable, +substandard, +damaging or does it suffer from +hardware decay?

Aanya: It runs too hot and is slowly frying her brain. Damaging.

Norah: Nasty!

Norah writes down that Core’s data storage and interface cyberwear is damaging.


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    • Dave Maple on September 24, 2014 at 04:38
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    Do you not think that Norah’s first paragraph in Step 3 example, just repeats the information already in the rules? It’s a lot of text, that probably isn’t needed again, and could be summed up by saying something like Norah explains the Stats used in The Sprawl detailed on page XX? Because it get covers again when the players explain their reasons for choosing particular stats.

    1. It does, but this is something that really needs to be explained when making characters. I’m aiming for a certain degree of completeness rather than concision in this section.

      Of course, we’ll see what survives editing 😉

    • Thomas on September 25, 2014 at 19:36
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    Hey there! I just stumbled onto this while searching for a cyberpunk game to try and do something Deus Ex-ish for my tabletop group, and I’m super excited. I love Apocalypse World, so this looks perfect. I’ve picked up the Beta version and I can’t wait to see the next updates. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you found it, Thomas. I hope it delivers the kind of game experience your group wants!

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