1879: Building the Appropriate Beast

The forthcoming 1879 Gamemaster’s Companion, as of the time of this writing having the last two chapters revised for game mechanics, will among other tools provide the system for creating new creatures. The overall goal of the Companions, Players and GM’s, is to open the toolbox, and give players and GMs what they need to expand the game world themselves. Let’s take a look at how a new creature is created.

Designing a new creature follows a series of eight steps:
• Determine Attributes
• Determine Characteristics
• Determine Creature Traits
• Determine Attack and Damage Steps
• Determine Karma
• Determine Powers and Spells
• Determine Adventure Award
• Write Commentary, Rules, Adventure Hook

Attributes

The Sons of the Sprocket have grown far too accustomed to the creatures they encounter. Their tactics have gotten routine and their players are losing interest. The GM decides something new and weird is needed, and begins to plan a nasty surprise.

Caridad, the group’s GM, determines first that the new creature will be small and quick, something that will disrupt the party’s well-drilled responses and leave them scrambling to figure out where the threat is each round. A Dexterity of 10 will guarantee the creature will go first in combat more often than not, and be deucedly hard to hit with physical weaponry. To balance this off, she gives it a Strength of 5 and a Toughness of 6. If the Sons of the Sprocket can land a blow, it’ll count. Wanting to later give the creature some magical abilities, the GM sets its Perception to 8 and its Willpower to 7, and to make it difficult to tame, she gives it a Charisma of 7. Caridad names it the Flying Ferret, which will help determine some of its later characteristics.

Characteristics

Caridad’s creature thus far has a Physical Defense of 14, a Mystic Defense of 11, and a Social Defense of 10. It’s going to be hard to hit with pretty much anything. With a Death Rating of 34 and an Unconsciousness Rating of 28, though, if the party can hit it, they’ll knock it down fairly quickly.

The Flying Ferret wouldn’t deserve its name if it couldn’t fly, so Caridad gives it a Movement of 8/10, making it as fast on the ground as a horse, and as fast in the air as a grenadier bird.

Creature Traits

Caridad has already given the Flying Ferret its Flight ability, but notes the creature has it for later. She decides to make it both Fast and Quick, bumping its Movement to 9/11 and its Initiative Step to 11. To compensate for this, she makes it easier to knock down, due to its being lighter than a regular ferret, reducing its Knockdown Step from 5 to 4. The Flying Ferret is also Small, which raises its Physical Defense by +2, to a 16. It’s going to be deucedly hard to hit, but if the party can land a hit on it, it’s down easy.

Attack and Damage Steps

All the Flying Ferret has going for it is a bite attack, which it’s reasonably good at, but its teeth are small. Caridad gives the creature an Attack Step of 2, but only allows +1 Damage for its teeth, giving it a total Attack of 12 and a total Damage of 6. It’s going to be annoying, but not lethal.

Karma

Caridad decides the Flying Ferret doesn’t rate Karma, and doesn’t give it any.

Powers and Spells

Again, Caridad decides that the Ferret has enough going for it already, and doesn’t give it any powers, giving up her earlier idea of throwing in a spell effect or creature power. She leaves the Flying Ferret’s Perception at 8, though, to keep its Mystic Defense high.

Determine Adventure Award

Caridad checks the Flying Ferret’s statistics against the Creature Scaling Table. She sees its Dexterity Step of 10 puts it on the PR5 row, for 100 APs. Its Attack Step of 12 lands on the PR8 row, for 570 APs. The Ferret’s Damage Step of 6 only earns it 8 APs, on the PR2 row. Its Physical Defense of 16, on the other hand, puts it all the way up on the PR12 row for 3300 APs. Finally, its Death Rating of 34 lands it another 8 APs. It has no Spells, Powers, Karma, or additional Actions. Adding it all up, Caridad comes up with a grand total of 3986, which Caridad rounds off to 4000. This puts the Flying Ferret at the middle reaches of the Journeyman Tier, around PR6 or PR7, in terms of session AP award (see the 1879 Gamemaster’s Guide, p.166). If Caridad wants to use this creature against a Novice Tier group, she may want to only send in one ferret for the entire party.

Flying Ferret

DEX: 10 STR: 5 TOU: 6
PER: 8 WIL: 7 CHA: 7
Initiative: 11 Physical Defense: 16
Actions: 1 Mystic Defense: 11
Attack (1): 12 Social Defense: 10
Damage: Physical Armor: 0
Bite (1): 6 Mystic Armor: 3
Death: 34 Recovery Tests: 3
Unconsciousness: 28 Knockdown: 4
Wound Threshold: 9 Movement: 9​/11
Adventure Award: Journeyman Tier
Rules
The second Movement Rating is the creature’s Flying Movement.

One of the more annoying experiments to get loose from Dr. Wilhelmina Strauss’s laboratory during the Promethean Raids, the Flying Ferret took to urban life in London like the proverbial duck to water. In some areas, coveys of ferrets have pushed out the native rock doves, or eaten them, in either case taking over their nesting grounds and feeding sites. The Metropolitan Board of Works has put a bounty of 1 shilling each on the flying ferrets, but given their speed, and enough wits to spot an obvious trap, they’re hard to take. In form, they’re a bit shorter of body than the standard European ferret, a bit closer to a stoat really, but narrow and light-boned. Their bat-like wings sprout from a second pair of shoulders just behind the first, with the membrane attaching halfway down the body for greater support. Their brownish fur and dark points blend in only passably well, much of London being in shades of grey due to the coal smuts. Besides being quicker than a greased snake, and preferring high cornices to burrows, they’re not much different from their original breeding stock in terms of behaviour, diet, and so forth, but have very little fear of people. Strolling food vendors have learned to carry sticks in ferret-infested areas, to drive the beasts away from the goods on offer. The number of small lacerations suffered from a ferret snatching a roll or a bit of fried fish from someone’s hand has risen alarmingly in Whitechapel.

Adventure Hook: The nurses at London Hospital, on Whitechapel Road, have been complaining about the flying ferrets roosting on the church across Oxford Street for some weeks now. The other day, one of the novices was scratched across her face, narrowly missing her eye, by a ferret in the process of stealing her lunch. Two other nurses have filed reports of ferrets stealing their caps. The Hospital is offering a bounty on the entire nest. The deacon of the church won’t allow anyone from the Hospital to go climbing up on the building, saying he’ll take care of it, but he hasn’t yet, and the Hospital administration has complained to the Board of Works. Someone needs to get up onto the roof of the church in the middle of the night, put paid to the ferrets, and claim the reward from the Hospital without the deacon sending the coppers after them.

Tally Ho!

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