"Capsule Contingency" is the working title of a play-by-post roleplaying game which jewelfox is now recruiting for. You may play as a character of almost any kind, from any historical or fictional setting, including ones of your own making. The one thing they all have in common is that they are waking up from cryogenic stasis, in an unfamiliar high-tech facility, and that their bodies have been invasively altered ... whether or not it appears that way at first glance.
Read on to find out how to play, and how to submit a character application.
Who am I?
Your character can be an original creation, an existing fictional character, a fan character based on a fictional setting, or even yourself in real life. They will have "stats," like in other tabletop or console role-playing games, but they might not look like the stats you are used to.
This is because Capsule Contingency is powered by the Fate Core System, which is a free online set of rules that anyone can use for RP. There are no classes, levels, hit points, or oddly-shaped dice. What you have instead are skills, aspects, and extras.
Skills are the things that your character is good at. They are expressed as a name followed by a bonus you add to your dice roll, like "Drive +4" or "Shoot +1." The higher the bonus, the better your character is at doing that thing.
Aspects are like Tropes, if you're familiar with the TV Tropes wiki. They're pithy descriptive phrases that give you insight into what they're describing, like Last of Her Kind or Chosen by Destiny.
Extras are anything else that your character has that no one else does. They could be stunts that you know how to pull; gear that you've managed to salvage; or strange magical or psionic powers.
Your character sheet is a list of all the skills, aspects, and extras your character has. It's sort of a condensed version of your character's bio and backstory, with just the details that the other players and the GM (Game Moderator) need to know. The GM will help you put it together, and help you choose things to represent your character's abilities, based on your ideas for what they are like.
Making a Character
At the start of the game, your character has just woken up from cryogenic stasis, in an unknown location. They don't know how they got there; their brain is foggy and their memory is kind of hazy. They might not remember all of the things that they're known for, or capable of. So character creation works as follows:
Write down some things that they're good at; at least the top three. These could be as mundane as "baking cakes," or as exotic as "channeling fire magic." They will become your starting skills and extras. Don't worry about making them work with Fate Core's rules, if you are familiar with them. The rules are designed to be reshaped to fit your character, not the other way around.
Describe your character's neurotype. This is who they are, on the inside. It's what they remember their past life as. Their neurotype will become one of their starting aspects.
Describe your character's phenotype. This is who they are on the outside. It might be the shape that they're used to, or they might wake up as an animal-person, an enormous dragon, a telepathic whale, or pretty much anything else you can think of. Your character's phenotype will be their other starting aspect.
Be sure to note what this kind of creature is good at doing, if it differs from what your character's used to, and how well your character can control its abilities (or use the ones they're used to having). Your description may unlock certain extras for your character to use, like rules for spellcasting, superpowers, or unusual skills, if those end up being needed. If your character remembers their name, write that down as well, along with any other details (religious affiliation, gender identity and presentation, etc.) that you feel are important.
If you have, or can draw, artwork of your character, go ahead and include that too. If your character is based on existing art, please credit the original artist, and link to where they host the picture. Try to avoid using pictures that the artist has explicitly said are off-limits for use in RP.
What if my character is over- or underpowered?
Don't worry too much about your character's "power level." Each character has a set number of skills, aspects, and extras that they are allowed to take. If yours requires fewer than the starting amount, you will be able to spend them later on during gameplay, to suddenly remember or develop new abilities.
If your character needs more than the starting amount, the GM will simply take away from your available Fate Points to compensate (see "Fate Points, Invokes, and Compels," below), or inform you that some of your abilities are locked until your character has gained some experience. Maintaining this kind of balance is her job, as the game's moderator.
What you need to do is try your best to make your character interesting, with abilities and disadvantages that speak to you personally and make you want to find out what happens to them. Them, and their friends and companions.
One more thing (Optional)
Besides who your character is and what they are good at, you might find it fun to imagine what their goals and dreams for the future are ... in the world that they came from. What did they always want to do or become? Is there someone they're hoping to reconcile with? Something that they have to prove?
It may turn out to be difficult to pursue some of these goals. But if you can create at least one, that will become an additional aspect, which you can invoke to gain a bonus when your character is motivated by it ... and which the GM can compel, giving you extra Fate Points when your goal brings conflict and frustration.
Your character's new form may bring them closer to their goal ... or further away from it. You may want to take this into account.
How to Play
When you post in an RP thread, describe what your character is doing or thinking, in as much detail as you like. Try to make it clear which words are being said and which are just internal monologue. Use something like parentheses, (( and )), to offset OOC, or Out Of Character, dialogue, such as asking a question or complimenting another player.
If your character tries to do something where the outcome is in doubt, like pulling a lever on a strange console or firing chain guns at an intruder, just say what your character's trying to do. Don't describe the results of your action. The GM may roll dice to see if it works (and how well it works), or they may just tell you. The GM controls and describes the game world for your characters, and they say what happens when you interact with it.
How do dice rolls work?
Fate uses a set of "Fate Dice," which are six-sided dice that have symbols on them. Two of the sides have plus signs (+), two of them have minus signs (-), and two of the sides are blank.
When the GM rolls dice for you, she rolls four of these dice at once, and counts up the plus and minus signs. If there are more pluses than minuses, your character gets a bonus to whatever they attempted. Otherwise, they get nothing (or worse).
Exceptionally good or bad results are possible, but rare. Usually, the dice rolls just add a bit of randomness to your actions. But they can mean the difference between hanging on by the proverbial skin of your teeth, and achieving dramatic success.
Fate Points, Invokes, and Compels
Your character's neurotype and phenotype can be advantages. They can also get in the way, though. An enormous, fire-breathing dragon might be a terror on fantasy battlefields, but getting them to squeeze through a space station's hallways might be a challenge, and they might freeze to death within seconds on an arctic planet.
To represent this, you have a pool of Fate Points that you can spend to invoke these aspects. Just say, for instance, that "because I'm a Fire-Breathing Dragon I should be able to get that frozen-shut door open one way or another," and spend one of your Fate Points. Based on the story behind that aspect, the GM will give you a bonus to represent the advantage it gives you, which might be a straight numerical bonus on a dice roll or might mean re-rolling the dice (or bypassing a dice roll entirely).
You refresh your Fate Points at the start of each chapter, which works exactly like the chapters of a story or the episodes of a TV show. You can also earn more through gameplay when the GM compels one of your aspects. She might point out, for instance, that telepathic whales aren't known for their manual dexterity, and rather than forbidding an action (like turning the wheel on an underwater hatch) she might offer you a Fate Point in exchange for your aspect making things complicated.
At this point, you have the choice to either accept the compel (and the additional Fate Point) or refuse, by spending one of your remaining Fate Points to do so. If you have no more Fate Points remaining, you have to accept the compel, no matter how inconvenient.
Hazards and Fight Scenes
At some point, your character is going to be put into physical or mental danger. This can cause damage to them, in two ways.
It might inflict a consequence on them, which is a new aspect (like "Broken Leg") that is part of who they are for as long as it takes to heal. This aspect is almost completely negative, and you don't get Fate Points when it's compelled.
Even if it leaves no lasting consequences, an attack or hazard can still cause stress for your character, whether it's the physical stress of dodging bullets or the emotional stress of facing a cosmic horror.
Depending on how physically and mentally tough your character is -- and you might want to make a note of that if your descriptions don't already cover it -- they have a certain number of stress boxes and consequence slots of each type (physical and mental), which they can use to take damage. As long as they have stress boxes remaining, they can choose to check them off in response to a source of damage that they weren't able to block or evade. Once the stress boxes are gone, or if there aren't enough unchecked stress boxes to absorb incoming damage, they have to take consequences instead.
Healing, Conceding, and being Taken Out
Your stress boxes refresh at the start of each scene. If it's not clear when that is, you can ask the GM, or she may just tell you they're refreshed.
Your consequences can take time to heal, depending on how bad they are. If a consequence is substantial enough, it might even replace one of your existing aspects, and be with your character forever.
You can sometimes avoid taking stress or consequences by choosing to concede a scene or a fight, instead. This doesn't mean that your character dies; it means they're no longer part of the action, whether they're knocked unconscious, buried in snow, or pushed off the side of the boat. It's not always an option (there might be some scenes it wouldn't make sense for), but sometimes it is.
If you concede, you get a Fate Point plus an additional one for each consequence that you've taken in this scene, and you get to describe (within reason) what happens to your character. If, instead, you fight to the last and are taken out, the GM or your opponent gets to decide, and it may not bode well for your character. It usually won't mean being killed, but it might mean being taken prisoner or suffering lasting damage.
Please post your character concepts in the comments below. (You may have to register for a free Dreamwidth account before you can do this.) They can be as detailed or as vague as you like, but we would really like it if they include at least the three things that we asked for: Neurotype, Phenotype, and starting skills. That's who they are on the inside, what they look like on the outside, and the top three things they are good at. Describing your character's goals is optional, but recommended.
This recruiting thread will be open for roughly a week and a half, until Saturday, August 22. Let us know if you have any questions.