Introducing The Shaper

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Introducing The Shaper
« on: June 26, 2011, 12:52:46 PM »
The Shaper
"The world is gruelling aches and nerves afire. It is bone-deep hunger and a future of dust. What kind of gift is life?"


"Maybe, once, it would have been fair to say that some things should not be. But when your progeny heaved itself upright and drew its first, ragged breath, didn't you just feel like a God?"

To create your Shaper choose name, look, stats, design a strain, beget your starting progeny and choose Hx.

Stitches, Master, Wombjob, Herbert, Prometheus, Hallow, Milf, Proffessor, Baker, Weaves, Sculptor

Screwfly, Chorister, Sanguine, Frankie, Rhea, Locus, Makesmith, Pasture, Geppetto, Curie.


Male, Female, Concealed, Transgressing.

Utility wear with tech, scrounged vestments, tattered formal wear, casual wear.

Innocent face, eager face, scarred face, blank face, leering face, dour face, smiling face, commanding face.

Wild eyes, sharp eyes, piercing eyes, mocking eyes, calm eyes, haunted eyes, warm eyes.

Bloated body, lean body, muscled body, hunched body, voluptuous body, hard body, looming body.

Cool-1 Hard+2 Hot=0 Sharp-1 Weird+2
Cool=0 Hard-1 Hot-1 Sharp+2 Weird+2
Cool-1 Hard-2 Hot+2 Sharp+1 Weird+2
Cool+1 Hard+1 Hot-2 Sharp+1 Weird+2


You have these two:

Old wounds
When you meet someone, either you or the MC can decide that their past suffering was tied to you or your creations. If either of you do, roll +weird. On a hit, you decide what went down and how it binds you together. On a 10+, you take +1 forward when dealing with them. On a miss the MC will fill in the details.

When you bring forth life, it'll be from a strain you've already designed. You'll have to satisfy your creation criteria and then roll +weird.  On a 10+ you'll create progeny with the specifics of the strain. On a 7-9 you create progeny with the specifics of the strain, but choose an additional flaw. On a miss, the MC chooses one or more of:
~it dies in creation.
~someone sees you at it.
~it has the ability to procreate, wildly.
~it's murderously hostile towards you.
~it escapes from you.
~it suffers another two options from the Flaws list.

Detail your new progeny and give it a name. This can be whatever you choose.

When making progeny, the first step is to develop a strain that will act as a template for creations. By default, your progeny are 2 harm seemingly inhuman threats that are easily distracted and fascinated by the world around them. They have the capacity for simple speech but can't act coherently for prolonged periods without your guidance. You can choose for the strain to be partially mechanical (+Hi tech) or exist solely in the maelstrom. (Harm +psi)

Creation criterion:
Creating progeny is a process that needs time, concentration and relative solitude. Also, choose one from the following for this strain:
~ it takes several fresh corpses.
~ it requires a living host for the progeny to gestate in.
~ it incorporates supplies worth 3 barter.
~ it requires elaborate and extensive prep with more than one participant.
~ it does you or someone nearby 2 harm ap. (Your choice if this is +psi or not.)

Choose 2 that all progeny of this strain share. Then each time you create a new progeny, choose an extra edge for it.
~ Paralyzing. (Can inflict s harm.)
~ Dangerous. (+1 harm)
~ Deadly. (+2 harm, counts as two)
~ Piercing. (+ap)
~ Focused. (-easily distracted and fascinated)
~ Rugged. (+1 armour).
~ Normal looking. (-seemingly inhuman).
~ Far roaming and independent. (Can act coherently without your guidance.)
~ Bonded. (You can communicate with them at distance.)

Choose a flaw that your progeny suffer from.
~Decaying. (They fall apart in a matter of weeks.)
~Disloyal. (They'll take any opportunity to betray you and break free.)
~Vengeful. (They aggressively and disproportionately pursue anyone they feel has wronged you.)
~Desperate. (They hunger for something inconvenient or controversial; blood, sex, barter, your attention. Yours to detail.)
~Mute. (They're incapable of speech.)
~Shocking. (When they reveal their true nature for the first time, PC witnesses get +1Hx with you, NPCs take S-harm.)

Why do they follow you?
~Loyal - they adore and obey you, devoted to your every word and whim.
~Craven - they fear and respect you, clamouring to avoid your wrath.
~Dependent - they need you or something you give them, and this need holds them in thrall
~Lacking - they don't have the imagination to think for themselves. Perhaps they're little more than extensions of your will?

Whatever you choose, that's just how it is to begin with. Expect each progeny to grow, to evolve, and to develop its own sense of self and direction.

Starting progeny.
You start the game with some progeny, one or two. If you choose one, detail it as if you'd rolled a 10+ on the beget move. If you choose two, detail them as if you'd rolled a 7-9 both times

Shaper Special
When you and another character have sex roll +weird. On a hit, you've successfully manipulated that person, treat it as 10+ if you rolled 10+, 7-9 if you rolled 7-9. If it's another PC, they also count as having manipulated you, same terms. On a miss, one of your progeny gets obsessively jealous or fascinated about your lover.

Everyone lists their characters by name, look and outlook. Take your turn, and while you're at it tell people a little about your progeny.

List the other character’s names

Go around for Hx, on your turn choose one or both:

One of them you've had to protect or serve somehow. Tell them Hx +1
One of them you're itching to improve, shape, change. Tell them Hx +2

Tell everyone else Hx+0.

On others’ turns
Ask them if they admire your creations or are appalled by them. It's not an either/or choice. If they admire, whatever number they tell you give it Hx+1. If they're appalled, then give their number Hx-1. Write it next to their character's name.

At the end, find the character with the highest Hx on your sheet. Ask that player which of your stats is most interesting and highlight it.
The MC will have you highlight a second stat too.

Shaper Improvement
Whenever you roll a highlighted stat and whenever you reset your Hx with someone, mark an experience circle. When you mark the 5th, improve and erase.

-get +1Sharp (Max +2)
-get +1Hot (Max +2)
-get +1Cool (Max +2)
-get +1Hard (Max +2)
-develop another strain
-develop another strain
-get a move from another playbook
-get a move from another playbook
-get followers (detail) and fortunes
-expand your Beget move. (On a roll of 12+ create your progeny as per the strain but choose either to take an extra edge or that your creation is without flaw.)
-get +1 to any stat (max stat+3)
-create a second character to play
-change your character to a new type
-choose 3 basic moves and advance them.
-advance the other 4 basic moves.

General comments welcome of course, but I have some specific questions. Firstly, prospective players: is there enough in this playbook? Is the right amount of trouble going to happen? Are the progeny powerful enough, significant enough, flawed enough, or are they a little too ineffectual? Will they occupy too much of your time to deal with the rest of the world? Will they pull you away from the other characters?

And secondly, prospective MCs, would you want to see a Shaper in your game? Progeny sort of aren't human, and that messes with what threat type you can give them. To me, they scream that they want to be Grotesques rather than Brutes. Will that even work?

Another question. It isn't the point of The Shaper, especially the Old Wounds move, that the playbook produce only evil, maniacal monsters. The flavour may be My Life with Master, but I don't want to push people into that, hence why Beget isn't simply called "It's alive!" (I realise that getting rid of the "Retire to safety" option feels a little hypocritical now. Hmm.) Do people think there's enough different ways this character could play out? The indecision about intro text is tied into this dilemma.

Lastly, I haven't mentioned anywhere that, by the time of the Ungiven Future, it'd be cool if people were building the progeny up as second characters etc. Is that the kind of idea people will stumble on anyway, or is it worth making explicit?

I'd be really interested to hear how they go in play as well. I think a degree of tweaking is probably necessary!

Re: Introducing The Shaper
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 12:54:33 PM »
You know, I had a moment of doubt while re-reading this. Does tying creation to "strains" do anything, or is it unnecessary clunk? Could each creation be more unique, with options to unlock other creation criteria?

And if there's not enough going on with this character, then should there be a section on Shaper gear, a more visceral counterpart to Brainer gear?

Re: Introducing The Shaper
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 05:00:55 PM »
I like this idea a lot. I had a similar idea of a savvyhead who made mutant creatures using workshop and the improvement you get a gang for security.

Re: Introducing The Shaper
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 03:16:09 PM »
I'm really interested in this! My angel is working on removing psychic butt-worms and reversing the frogman transformation they cause. She just might develop an interest in this sort of work. I'd also thought a bit about cyberware using her infirmary and a savvyhead.

As a player, I'd be interested, definitely! I think it might be something like running an artificer or a necromancer in D&D. You sit back and watch your creations do the fighting then heal them when it's over with. Later, you might pick up 'unnatural lust transfixation' and 'casual brain receptivity' from the brainer for social interactions.

As an MC (if I was one), I'd make this a grotesque and hope my players didn't see this post. ;)

If you look at movies like 'Isolation' and 'Splice', the genetic mutants are inherently evil... eventually. This leads to yet another way for the MC to introduce new fuckery for the players to deal with. Whether the players want to embrace the evil or destroy it is up to them. The MC could have it take weeks or months for the progeny's true form to manifest, e.g. escapes and breeds wildly. Another idea is to have a move where you combine two normal creatures, or a creature and a progeny, but then again you might end up playing 'monster rancher'...
My characters:
Abbey Road - Gunlugger (Smallville - AW)
Angel* - Angel (Smallville - AW)

Re: Introducing The Shaper
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2011, 04:51:24 PM »
Like the Hoarders Hoard hunger? Where they can do certain things like. They recognize someones scent as off limits plus one hunger. They are allowed to run wild subtract one hunger (this could be tied into old wounds). 4 hunger or higher you have to a hard time controlling your progeny, at the beginning of each session roll hard to keep them in line?

Improvements wise would something like Pack Alpha and a modified gang pan out well? But the synergy of creating a strain along with a new gang would be hard to balance out.

Re: Introducing The Shaper
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2011, 03:46:23 PM »
Thanks for the kind words! I like the idea of getting a cult, as I can see a lot of Shapers as cult leaders, but gangs that consisted of humans seemed like overkill and gangs that consisted of creations... well they can be created anyway.

I don't have The Hoarder as a playbook, so I can't comment on hunger. What does it do, act as a source of trouble if the Hoarder doesn't act so as to serve the hoard?



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Re: Introducing The Shaper
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2011, 08:59:37 PM »
I don't have The Hoarder as a playbook

Consider yourself taken care of... the Maelstrom smiles on your efforts.
"If you get shot enough times, your body will actually build up immunity to bullets. The real trick lies in surviving the first dozen or so..."

Re: Introducing The Shaper
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2011, 01:40:00 PM »
Tim: This is some really interesting stuff. Right off the top of my head, I'd say that flavour-wise, I'm thinking about Frankenstein's monster, played from Frankenstein's perspective instead of the monster's. As both a player and an MC I would be looking for ways to make this dangerous and tragic, rather than horrific. Mechanically, I feel like it would play like the Necromancer in Diablo 2, much like Umilak says, where you sow chaos and watch it work.

In response to some of your direct questions:

I do feel like this character might be naturally more inclined to not interact directly with the other characters, but it doesn't have to be that way. There's all kinds of potential badness in stuff like, getting waylaid while digging up corpses in the local cemetery, someone stumbling onto your house of horrors, your creations (inevitably) getting linked back to you. I picture a dramatic scene where an angry mob has cornered you and one of your (Desperate) creations comes crashing to your aid, murdering townsfolk left and right, only to die in your arms. It's a seriously interesting twist on some Mary Shelly shit.

I almost feel like there's enough going on here. Why can't I patch up my broken dolls?

When I picture this character retiring to safety, I see a farm or a non-sinister lab where the creations do the master's bidding well and without argument. They look human, almost too perfect, too plastic, and they smile, enraptured, whenever you give them direction.

I think there should be a type of progeny who were built as sex dolls instead of murder dolls. Gross but so much potential there for freaky weird badness.

Lastly, why does he get +1 stat improvements to 4 stats? Was this intended to compensate for lack of gear? It makes him oddly well rounded. If it were me, I would make this guy not cool at all. Seriously, he is creepy as fuck.

Ask me more questions! I like this a lot!
The Dead Flag Blues - Godspeed You Black Emperor! This is my Apocalypse World theme song.