I wanted to wrap up the 2023 Character Creation Challenge with a game that has caught my interest. Onyx Path Publishing has released a series of games titled “They Came From…” that covers a variety of genres. The system that I’m going to be using today is based off of the cheesy 60’s and 70’s horror movies that I’m enjoy watching on Elvira, Svengoolie and Creature Features. I also wanted to promote this game because Onyx Path Publishing was one of the sponsoring backers for season 13 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as seen on the Gizmoplex. A thank you from me.
The PDF has 268 pages (with several extra pages of printable quip cards). The character sheet is only a single page. I believe that the character creation process starts with Chapter Three on page 49. There really isn’t a checklist (takes a few points away from Gryffindor) so I guess we are winging it through the chapters. I hope they are put together well as I dislike knowing when the character creation process has ended.
Our first step is to come up with a concept for the character. Not knowing if the adventures are going to be set in the 1970’s or earlier, I think I’ll create a curious professor type character that has found a mysterious book with missing pages and he’s wants to find them. So the missing pages will be the long term aspiration. I’m also instructed to pick two short term aspirations. So let’s make them… actually I can’t think of anything now and the few examples are not very helpful. So I’d probably beg the Director (GM) to let me come up with them during play as inspiration strikes.
The next step is to pick a path. These were life experiences before the adventure. These are broken down into three things. An archetype (think class or profession), origin and dark agenda (dun, dun, dunnnnnnn). Well I’ve already selected professor since all of the archetypes were described in chapter two before the character creation started. I selected the four professor skills on my sheet (not added dots, like designating a class skill on a D&D 3.5 character sheet) out of the 10 listed in the earlier pages (a lot of jumping back and forth slows things down). The origin is the background of the character. I can select four un-selected skills that came from this origin and mark them with an “O”. Nothing in the examples really spoke to me. I just selected four skills at random and put down “some guy” hoping that something will come to me later. I really could have used other players to bounce ideas off of. As for the Dark Path, the book says this drives your character. The examples were not very helpful. He’s not going to be a cult leader. Fame and fortune might work, might. Forbidden love? No. Protective Parent? Search for a Cure? They don’t fit. I know it sounds like I’m down on this game, I’m not, I’m just not inspired to write up a whole backstory just yet. I just want to fill out the character sheet and see if anything sparks while that is happening. I’ll put down the fame one now and probably change it later if the creative juices actually start flowing. I marked the skills. Now I have three dots in each category to place in those skills.
Onto step three. Spend six more dots on any skill on the sheet (not just the ones selected above).
Wow, we are finally to the step where we select our attributes. There are nine in total. Might, Dexterity and Stamina make up the physical attributes. The mental attributes are Intellect, Cunning and Resolve. The last three that make up the social attributes are Presence, Manipulation and Composure. I pick one of the three groups above to be the primary focus. There is already one dot in each of these attributes and each group gets a series of dots depending if it is my first, second or third choice. Now I get to choose the favored approach. These are Force, Finesse and Resilience. These all associate with a set of attributes from across the three types. The favored approach get one dot for each attribute. I selected resilience, why? Don’t know, it just sounded good. There was an optional step to take a freebie dot and place it anywhere that wasn’t already at the max of five. My pretend Director said yes to this and I put the dot in the weakest attribute of Might.
Step five is to select a trademark? No, not something I’d file with the US Patent and Trademark Office. It’s described as a signature move (that could be tied with a skill or attribute) that can be used once per story where it provides two additional dice to the pool and gives you something called “Directional Control” if you succeed (hold on, I’ve got to flip down another 40 pages to see what this is). OK, the player gets to alter the story in a logical manner (example: the murder’s ax can suddenly become lodged in a tree trunk). I guess this could be the “we suddenly found a vital clue or gain an advantage we didn’t have before” aspect to the scene. Scrolls back up to the character creation portion. So if I’m reading this correctly, it could be a catch phrase or move. I’m going to go with “I read this in a book once” and connect it to the science and enigmas skills.
Step six is to determine relationships and connections. Apparently this involves coordinating with the other players in the party and determine how your characters feel/know/understand each other. As there is no other party members being rolled up in this challenge entry, I’ll skip this step. I have a lot of voices in my head, but not all of them want to make characters right now.
Now we are at the final touches. Assign three tropes (what are those?) and three quips (what?) Scrolling back up to the earlier description of the archetype I see that it has various trademarks listed. I can select two of them so I picked “Let me guide you” (lend skills to another) and “Don’t be fooled” (snap a companion out of a mental condition). I can also select another trope from anywhere else which was “My lucky dime” (a good luck charm that I can use as a bonus. As for the quips, the are some sort of catchphrase that can be found on the “deck of cards” in the back of the book. There is a quip deck for each archetype. Since I can’t really shuffle and draw randomly, I’ll just select them. It wasn’t exactly clear what the quips do, so I just picked some.
I like the fact that in the final touches it talks about tweaks. Once you’ve played a session or two you can work with the Director to change a few things to fit the campaign and/or party. I have a feeling that I’d probably need something like this.
So I did pick out a name in the middle of the process. This professor is called Bruce Walters (hey it fit). There were a lot couple of blank spaces still left on the character sheet, but I’m going to scan the sheet now.
There is a chapter at the beginning of the book with a lot of movies and TV shows that are inspirational for a game such as It Came From Beyond The Grave! Some I’ve seen, some I need to check out.
I don’t know if I like the “come up with your whole backstory” process when making a character. Sometimes the inspiration for these things come while playing the game itself. Trying to come up with them in a vacuum doesn’t work sometimes.
The humor in this game sounds good. With a group of like-minded friends (with warped senses of humor) who love the cheesy horror genre, this could be a good game to play. From what I read of the system, it makes sense. I just wish the delivery was a little bit better when it came to character creation and explanations of game terms. I did a lot of jumping around in this book. I’m going to have to pick up a PDF of some of the other “It Came From…” books to see how they compare to this one. I’m not certain which books came first.
We did it!!!!! 31 characters in 31 days. I am working with my daughter who came up with last years completion logo to make another one. She hasn’t completed it yet because college studies have taken priority. But if you made it, email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com and I’ll make sure to get it to you. I still see the 2022 logo on display on a few websites.
Coming Up Next:
A bonus character (day 32?) and a challenge summary
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