Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What is your favorite ineffective RPG character?

I once played in a Shadowrun game at a con where one of the other players showed up with a troll gardener. In character while we're all introducing ourselves and giving a brief rundown of our specialties he makes mention that he honestly has no idea why he's here, how we all seem like really scary people, but that we seem to like him, so he's happy to be making new friends. We all assumed he was joking and was there as some sort of hired muscle since he was pretty physically intimidating.

As the run begins, we find out that our mysterious troll is pretty much absolutely useless in any situation calling for hacking ability, magical skill or knowledge, or social graces. This seems to confirm our suspicion that this guy is some sort of combat monster. I mean after all, his build points had to go somewhere. Sure he doesn't seem to be openly carrying any sort of weapons, but that just means he's probably an adept who can kick your head clean off or that he has a bunch of big ass guns stashed away in the gardening van he showed up in.

There are a couple combat encounters, but he manages to avoid being in either of them. The first combat was pretty much the characters with relevant stealth skills sneaking ahead and ambushing a couple security guards with silenced weapons and the second combat encounter was us trying to evade some cops because someone walked into a tripwire and literally tripped the alarm. In each situation his character was sufficiently far from the action for him to not need to do anything. The fact that he spent the first couple combat encounters on the sidelines only added to the anticipation of what would finally happen when he gets into the action.

Towards the very end of the run, the entire team finds itself surrounded by some very hostile and very hungry ghouls, so we know shit is about to go down. We roll up initiative and the mystery troll ends up going last. This surprises us as combat focused characters should usually be near the top of the initiative order, but no one really paid attention to him rolling and the player kind of shrugs sheepishly, so we just assume that he rolled terribly.

Combat begins. Another troll in the group begins combat by roasting some ghouls with the underbarrel flamethrower on his gyro stabilized machine gun. I start pumping grenades down the halls in order to deal with some more incoming ghouls. The other members of the team open up with their various shotguns, pistols, submachine guns, and even one hunting bow with explosive tipped arrows.

Finally its the mysterious troll's turn to act. Most of the ghouls who are immediately threatening us are dead by now, but there are still a couple left. He describes his character kind of hesitantly sauntering over towards one of the ghouls and we all wait in anticipation of the magic powered martial arts badassery that we are about to witness. I mean after all, who else aside from a close combat killing machine would dare to close with a ghoul that can permanently infect you if it hits?

The mystery troll then proceeds to sort of flail at the ghoul and throws, as the player describes it, the clumsiest looking punch any of you have ever seen. He rolls two dice. The attack misses without the ghoul even needing to make a defense roll. There is a period of pronounced silence as the rest of the table just looks at him stunned.

We begin to try to figure out who this troll actually is. The GM reminds us that ghouls are still trying to eat us and this conversation is probably best saved for after we escape. We kill the remaining ghouls in the immediate area. The other troll lays down suppressing fire and as we're leaving I throw a brick of C4 down the hallway for good measure.

After piling into the van we took to get here, we all begin to question the troll as to who he actually is. The hacker tells us to quiet down as he's trying to listen in on police frequencies to make sure they're not after us. We tell him to shut up and let a program handle it because this is more important. The survivalist tells us to quiet down because all of this yelling is making it difficult for him to treat that ghoul bite he received. We tell him to shut up because he knew the risks of being a shadowrunner and because this is more important. The street samurai repeatedly mumbles something about helicopters, but everyone ignores him because we're pretty sure that's what happens when you take future cocaine while using wired reflexes.

One tense moment with a DocWagon High Threat Response Team later (it turns out there actually was a helicopter, they were here to transport the survivalist to a hospital), we resume our questioning of the mystery troll. He explains that his name is Davison and that he's a gardener. He really likes plants and animals, but doesn't have many friends. As this is the first extended conversation we had with Davison (he was the strong, but silent type), it rapidly becomes apparent that Davison is slow even by troll standards.

Our hacker checks the SIN he has been using and we alarmingly discover that it appears to be both completely legitimate and states that his name is indeed Davison, he is a gardener, and due to his diminished mental capacity he is a ward of the state. We then proceed to figure out what the fuck a mentally handicapped gardener is doing on a shadowrun. Davison relays to us the story of how while walking down an alleyway he found a dead body that had been shot repeatedly.

He describes the dead guy as having a black trench coat, mirror shades, a pink mohawk, and a plethora of guns. Basically, your stereotypical shadowrunner. While staring at the body, unsure of what to do, the dead guy's commlink rings. Knowing that its impolite to not answer a phone call, Davison picks up the commlink and answers. Turns out a fixer who didn't know the dead guy personally had acquired his number and was calling him about work. After a brief, but very confused, conversation, Davison concludes that he needs to follow the instructions of the mysterious guy on the commlink because he will be paid to do so.

Thus Davison, the mentally handicapped troll gardener with no useful skills whatsoever, wound up on a shadowrun. By this point, everyone else at the table was thoroughly flabbergasted. We eventually demand to see his character sheet because surely he has to have some useful skill in something. I mean his build points can't have just disappeared.

The player complies and lets us see Davison's character sheet. Davison truly had no useful skills. He had sunk all of his points into Strength, Body, Willpower, and Edge and had put as many points as possible into every single knowledge or active skill that could conceivably relate to gardening. Anything he had leftover was either used up on contacts with minimum loyalty and connection or was used to get money, which was in turn spent on a sports car collection that Davison had apparently inherited from a wealthy uncle.

While we all sat there stunned, Davison informed us that he had a bunch of fun hanging out with us and that he was going to draw a picture for his new best friends.