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Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture
Useless PC
character creation

Thing is our GM just got his printed copy of 7th Sea 2e and has decided to change from directing Firefly to 7th Sea.

We were talking about what kind of characters we want to play and all the other players wanted quite dark archetypes who are moved by revenge against the cousin of a Vodacce Prince and/or a Vaticine Inquisitor.

So the other characters are likely to be an Eisen objectionist priest with a pantherfaut and (probably) hexenwerk, a pirate with some badass firepower and scoundrel habilities and an Avalon duelist knight.

With so much in game I just decided I wanted to go on a completely opposite direction and make a "mascot" character who would help relieve tensions and set them straight when they come close to corruption.

So far this is what I'm working with:
Name: Catalina Arciniega Zepeda de Altamira.

Concept: Damiselle in distress.

Nationality: Castillian.

Religion: Vaticine.

Traits: brawn 2, finesse 3, resolve 2, wits 3, panache 3.

Backgrounds: aristocrat and antropólogo.
Free advantages: convinced our GM to switch Rich to Appearance above average (she's an Hidalgo)

Advantages: Appearance Stunning, small and survivalist (studied herbology at university).

Skills: aim 1, athletics 1, brawl 0, convince 3, empathy 3, hide 2, intimidate 0, notice 3, perform 2, ride 2, sailing 0, scholarship 3, tempt 0, theft 0, warfare 0, weaponry 0.

Virtue: friendly.

Hubris: trusting.

Reputation: 0.

Secret society: 0.

Brief introduction: Catalina lost her parents at a very young age during the War of the Cross (they volunteered to fight for the Vaticine). When she became an orphan, the Vaticine took her in, raising her in a nunnery, managing her state and teaching her all she would need to turn into a pious Vaticine noble wife. She then went to (a Vaticine and Inquisition controled) university to study antropology, theology, herbology, a bit of medicine (veterinary), some practical maths and physcs (something usefull to diagnose the state of buildings, irrigation and facilites) and economics so that she would properly administer her future husband's state. She's been rised in a blisfull environment and taught of the good of Theus and people so she is extremely naïve, trusting and forgiving and quite pious but she's inteligent and a true Castillian beauty.

History so far: the Vaticine Inquisitor has been nurturing Catalina so that he can secure allies through an arranged marriage, her fiance is a Vodacce nobleman known for his bad temperament and aggresiveness but he also is a cousin of Giovanni Vilanova. The Inquisition wants to get a firmer grasp at Vodacce politics and Giovanni wants to get comercial advantage in Castille as It hasn't yet fully acepted the Guilder.

The heroes need to stop this deal if they want to prevent both villians from gaining further influence.

So, what do you think so far?

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Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture
This is a fun character to relieve tension, so I may move this character to the Fan Created content thread, if that is cool with you?

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

Sure, I'm planing on uploading her full background story, portrait and adcentures at some point, but if you think this should go into fan created content, please move it there.

Also, feel free to use Catalina in your stories, I might have created her as a PC but I think she'll work just fine as NPC.

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

As a big fan of turning tropes on their heads, I chafe a bit at the whole "damsel in distress" concept. I would make her really good at something unusual and unexpected. It gives her a bit of mystery. This doesn't have to be dark–it can still be comical. Maybe she has a suitor (or even a fiancé) in every port (Connections advantage). Maybe her family were grifters masquerading as nobility. Maybe she's an ancient queen reborn and travels with her own fortune teller (whose predictions are terrible EXCEPT when they come to her). But she needs something where her competence will make her shine amongst her collegues. Not because she's useless, but because the damsel in distress trope is tired.

Oh, and a TRUE damsel in distress would have the Foul Weather Jack advantage. Just sayin'. ;)

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

Yes, I know she should make herself usefull in her group. I had in mind making her the doctor of the group and if we end up sailing a ship, as the odds seem to point, she could be the surgeon. I somehow find hilarious the sight of such a lovely and innocent girl holding the torture-like instruments of the trade in the XVIIth century.

She could also work as a Courtier, diplomatic or barterer in anything that required a softer hand and I'm sure she would be getting a lot of attention in court (stunning and educated noble maiden at marriage age).

Foul weather Jack is very appealing, I have to think about it. Thing is oud DM said I could get Appearance above average without penalties but stunning would get me into trouble (suitors fighting beteen them and such) every now and then and I found it too tempting not to get it.

I can try to get foul weather Jack as reward from the first personal history.

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

I somehow find hilarious the sight of such a lovely and innocent girl holding the torture-like instruments of the tarde in the XVIIth century.

OH!  That could work!  Her father rose to prominence as a Vodacce "interogrator" of sorts.  He found it useful to have her help him out at his work from an early age.  He found that people found the idea of a child handling such devices so unsettling that they actually broke faster with less...mess.  So she knows her way around a torture chamber, knows terrible uses for a variety of devices, but has sort of an innocent quality to her when it comes to them because she's never actually had to use them.  So basically, she has a really high Intimidate score.  And maybe a convince score too.  

That is dark AND comical.  Perfect for your campaign.  I like it.

I'd still go with Foul Weather Jack from the go, but I understand wanting to keep the scheme you've got.

edit: to take a page from an old cartoon, perhaps she has a variety of "innocent" names for each of these torture techniques.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1bqrCN3tkI

 

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

I might include a small referente to that torture scene in her story, something along the lines of the Inquisitor needing a doctor to prevent an heretic from dying as he hasn't yet told anything but the moment he sees Catalina with some medical instruments goes begging for mercy and stars spouting everything.

But I don't want to make her dark, the other PCs are dark enough and I wanted some contrast there having a very bright character.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
This is the doctor who warns before the procedure, "don't worry, this is going to hurt a lot".
Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture
Yup! If she gets a place to practice the trade I plan on getting a especial procedure table with plenty of leather straps.
Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Neat charcter, though I personally tend to chafe at the idea of any PC being well and truly "useless."  It's just a matter of the PC being in the right situations to be useful, and with her skills and traits being what they are, she makes an excellent party face and source of information.  I'd certainly be glad to have her as a fellow PC in my group, particularly if playing a certain dashing Castillian duelist that I posted up on my blog a couple weeks ago cheeky  He would ofcourse be a gentleman about it laugh

BTW, would you mind posting what mechanics your GM is using for your PC's Appearance advantage?  Got some ideas of my own, but curious to see what your GM came up with, especially since he felt it was of enough value to swap out Rich for it.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture
Our GM is still thinking about the Appearance advantage, but it seems it'll be either +1 die in social situatios or +1 to all die during social risks. I'll tell you more as soon as we get to try the mechanics.
Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Alright, cool.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

In the end it's been played as a +1 dice in social situations and not applicable to other characters (most villains for example). We tryed both an a +1 to each die was too much.

Bradley
Bradley's picture

A creative player can make bascketweaving horrifically effective in combat. Just takes enough fast talk and a permissive enough GM and you can tak out an entire brute squad with your weaving of baskets.

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

Quick note on Useless Hero:

Well, the objective of 7th Sea it to live through multiple adventures but the objective of playing it is having fun. Having said that, yes I believe there are truly useless characters despite how effective their habilities, I can't see myshelf having fun playing a lonesome dark duelist who only interacts with other characters when there's a fight going on.

Having a useless hero doesn't mean you or your friends won't have fun while playing it. There are a lot of characters who barely do anything in their tales but shine brilliantly in them: Rincewind, half of Ankh Morphork's guards, the Death of the rats, Tass (I can't stomach Tanis the half elf), Merry, Pippin, Marcus Brody...

I don't think having a useless hero is a bad thing, playing a twat in an intrige game like Vampire can be lots of fun, the same as playing a social inept in L5R or a clutz bard in D&D or a sorceryless and combatless character in 7th Sea.

I know it's a swashbuckling adventures game but I don't need a fearless hero who would defeat every opponent, I'm much more interested in how my weakling of a hero would grow in the face of adversity, in how will she overcome her fears and in the relationships she'll develope with other characters.

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture

Great insights, @CatalinaArciniega, fun is key and as long as you enjoy playing this character and other players at your table are cool with the concept, then that is what really counts.

However, for those pre-generated characters at conventions, all of them need something in which they excel and they also need the GM to use their indvidual and group strengths in the adventure plots too.

Fortuenately, 7th Sea 2e and its focus on rules-lite narratives offers many opportunites for a good GM to make every character shine, no matter what skill set.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

I know she wouldn't work as a PC for most players but I think she'll be a nice NPC as it is or, swapping one Appearance tier and survivalist for Miracle worke, could work perfectly for a player who doesn't like combat type characters.

Anyhow, we're not playing a demo game at a convention. We hope we'll play through lots of adventures, so characters are bound to grow over time.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture

Well, there is useless and then there is useless.

I play a ten year old in our 1st ed campaign so nobody will appoint me leader.  No real combat knacks at all outside a pip of dirty fighting.  No sorcery.  Still really handy for things but not for taking command of situations, handling a fight or being the face of the team.

I seriously debated his being too useful and running a waisen. 

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

I played a street rat in an Edge of the Empire Beta mini-campaign.  Bordered on useless in a fight (no ranks in combat skills), next to zero social skills (he was a decent liar), and seen as "just a kid."  Still proved pretty handy given his knack for getting into places he wasn't meant to be and getting his hands his things that others would have preferred he not touch.

But I do agree that there's "useless except in certain situations" like Catalina's namesake character, my EotE street rat, and your wee urchin, and "so useless as to why is this person with the group?"  Most RPGs tend to take steps to avoid the second scenario as much as possible, with D&D 4e making it notoriously difficult for a PC to be well and truly useless all the time.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

I had a player in D&D 4e who was dedicated to making gimmick characters, but was skilled enough at min-maxing to make them surprisingly useful in some cases. The melee psion was fun (lots of telekinetic punches with that one). But my group's favorite was the hands-off Warlord.

For those not familiar, 4e Warlords were generally fighters that specialized in inspiring and tactically advising the group, most of this involved hitting people in a certain way that made other people better (yes feel free to make fun of the lack of versimilitude) but there were also quite a view abilities that basically revolved around telling other people to hit things. Thus this player ended up designing the most combat incompetent character around, that was somehow a tactical genius that got everyone else to do the work for him.

 

On the actual topic though. I think that a character is only useless if you've mistakenly made it horrible at a role you wanted it to fulfill. A character entirely built on non-combat skills is fine, because the player has made a conscious decision to focus on other things. The problem is if a character wants to build something like an unarmed combatant, only to realize that they're being hopelessly outclassed by the duelists due to the lack of a dueling academy equivalent. This is a distinct case where the heroes expectations are not reflected in the mechanics and thus they feel the character is effectiely useless at their chosen role.

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

I believe that 'Lazylord' is a character archetype in 4e optimising circles.

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

So, I've already played through a small introduction that ended with Catalina fleeing the Inquisition together with a topsman and a wanted for murder former castillian nobleman and promising to help a secret society to break Buonaventura out of a Castillian prision (all NPC).

First session run quite smoothly, she found out a castillian nobleman was unjustly inprisioned with Buonaventura's crew and scheduled to be hanged with all the pirates.

So Catalina managed to get a prision visit to the noble posing as his fiance and managed to pass on a message embroidered on a hankerchief for all the prisioners telling them to look for a riot during the walk to their execution.

Appearance was terribly usefull to get the nobleman to pass the message (he was so baffled he didn't even realise he didn't have a fiance nor knew the Lady claming to be bethroded to him) and to clear an scape route for the pirates just by saying "Excuse me sir, but you are pushing me" with puppy eyes.

Wealth was usefull to get people to throw rotten tomatoes at the prisioners with such a terrible marksmanship most of them fell on the guards.

So far one of the PCs is in love with Catalina and another one can't stomach her, but I expect they'll end up getting along quite well in a couple of game sessions.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Very cool.

The Fate Witch in the game I'm playing in is using a "Beautiful" type of Advantage, one that provides a boost die to Convince, Empathy, and Tempt checks, and it's served her quite well as she prefers to go with the "cute and endearingly quirky" version of being beauitiful as opposed to the "sultry sexpot" that most people tend to expect from a Vodacce woman (for which she blames those thrice-damned courtesans), probably making her the group's most formidable social character.  And amusingly, she's had to fend off one of PCs as potential suitor (a Montaigne rapscallion that's way too foward for her tastes), though nobody in the group has taken a dislike to her, the Inish bard finds her general lack of worldliness to be a great laugh, and the Castillian duelist has taken to acting as her unofficial protector (while also flirting in a gentlemanly fashion with her).  And while at first the player felt they'd be relying heavily upon Sorte, she's coming to find that her Hero's magic is becoming more of a secondary tool when compared to her increasingly formidable social skills.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture

So far so good.

We've been throug quite some sessions already. About Catalina's role in the group:

Healing has been a great thing, our DM made house rules so that given time and raises non-dramatic wounds can be healed and I'm saving a story to get miracle worker. She's also proven very useful to aquire wealth for the group either singing and playing the guitar or healing. Best part however is getting NPCs to trust the group and invite them to everything (housing, food, parties...), she's already met several secret societies and, although she hasn't joined any, she's become a trusted ally. Plus note: one of the donners of el Vagabundo's Mask has become one of her suitors.

Adventures so far: her bethroded, Fausto Villanova has a feud with every other PC, so we're trying to stop his machinations. Relationships hith the rest of the group have become friendly, no more animosity nor courting. Later on I'll post some of the adventures she's been through.

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