Monday, November 21, 2011

Chav: The Knifing

Game Premise

Most people don't realise that the world around us is practically infested by supernatural beings. Melodramatic goths with dark powers and a thirst for blood. Ordinary looking people who can suddenly turn into a doberman or a chihuahua. Nerds who have somehow managed to turn an obsession with Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch into a working magical philosophy. Most people don't realise these things exist. But the poor, downtrodden, vagrant youth of British society, better know as Chavs, do. They know it's out there and when they're not busy engaging in petty crimes, sex, parties, not so petty crimes and drinking, they're going to stomp the heads of any weird bastard freak they come across.

The Chavs think they're the only normal ones around, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Chavthulu, the God of bus stops, has imbued the Chavs with bile which lets them perform feats far beyond any ordinary human being and notice all the supernatural stuff going on in the world around them. The vast majority don't realise this, but hey, anything that makes them better at crime and general violence can't be a bad thing, innit?

Game Overview

The Shadow World series of games are Postmortem Studio's parody of the World of Darkness gameline, with the various supernaturals riffing off both WoD staples and subcultures. As it stands there are currently three games (although supposedly more are on their way), Bloodsucker: the Angst, a jab at Vampire and goths, Wizkid: The Cheapening, focusing on Mage and nerds and finally Chav: The Knifing, making fun of both Hunter and everyone's favourite hooligans the Chavs. Engage in petty crime and not so petty violence while occasionally tangling with the supernatural.

While the Shadow World games originally were OGL (that's short for Open Gaming License, where games could use elements of Wizards of the Coast's Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition) with class levels and a D20 based system, Ian Warner has since changed them to using the original Xpress System. This system makes exclusive use of d6s and is pool based. Your Statistics determine how many dice you get to roll, which your Skill determines what count as a success. If you have the skill you're rolling for, you get to re-roll 6s.

What I found surprising about this game was the combat system. It's...surprisingly brilliant. You have two sets of Health Tracks, with the Lethal Track running along the x-axis and Non-Lethal Track running along the y-axis (if you can't picture it, imagine a chessboard). You'' have about three points of non-lethal health per lethal health. When you damage someone, the weapon's Attack Strength is cross-referenced with your successes to determine the amount of pain you've inflicted and it's weighted such that a gun shot will definitely ruin your day. Combined with healing rates that slow dramatically the more damage you've taken, it's definitely on the lethal side, but that's what you want in a dark game, right? Seriously, if I ever find myself running a World of Darkness game again, I'm going to find a way to port it over. It seems pretty much perfect in enforcing grim combats you'd rather avoid, which from what I've heard is the intent of World of Darkness combat.

According to Ian Warner himself, Chav is one of his earlier ideas before he developed a style of his own, but if that's true he's not a bad writer at all because it's a fun read and looks like a fun game. I'm definitely going to grab Bloodsucker at some point and maybe Wizkid and I hope he gets around to writing Dogboy and Pixie. I will say though, that while appropriate, pluralising almost everything with a z can get a little grating.

The Character

Step 1) Shtick and Credo

Two parts to this step, first coming up with two aspects that define who my character is and picking their Credo, the caste of Chav society that my character belongs to. I've been watching Misfits recently, so I think I want a character based at least somewhat off Kelly, in that she's often the group's muscle despite being the lady. So, my first shtick is going to be Give me respect, or I'll deck ya. Make fun of her being a woman, her dress sense, her intelligence, her accent or cast aspersions on her parentage and you're in for a world of hurt. The second is Impenetrable Derby Accent, so people get exposed to that first shtick quite a bit.

As I said before, Credoz are the various social groups of the Chav, the equivalent of Tribes, Courts or Clans in WoD. From the kleptomaniacal Pikeyz to the parkour-skilled Muppetz to the drugged up, voodoo practicing Chemistz to the dominating Yardiez to the hopelessly clueless Walliez, they all contribute some skill to Chavdom (well, except maybe the Walliez). Each Credo has a strength (usually a price break to purchasing a statistic) and some kind of weakness. For my lady I'm going to pick the Hoodiez, the muscle and footsoldiers who enjoy resorting to violence and are named after their fairly pervasive attire. The Hoodiez' strength is that purchasing the Strength statistic is halved, while due to their easiness to lead they do not get to roll again on Resistance checks.

Step 2) Check with your GM that the concept is alright

Yo, mythical GM, is my concept acceptable?”

Sure is dude! In fact, I like it so much you can have a dollar.”

Wow, thanks GM!”

Step 3) Buy Statistics

Chav is one of the stat heaviest RPGs I've seen, possessing 10 of them. They're ranked 1-5. Each stat comes in a pairing, a Passive Stat and an Active Stat. Passive stats are those which you use in reaction to stuff around you while active stats are what you use to accomplish goals. While two stats in a pairing can be different, they cannot have a difference of greater than 2. So, if I have a Charm of 4, I can't have a Control of 1. I get 60 points to spend on statistics, starting at 1 point for a stat of 1 and cost progressing in a Triangular Sequence of 3,6,10,15 (see, I discovered the name of a number sequence. RPGs are educational!).

For the first pair, Strength (physical power) and Resilience (health and fortitude) I'm going to start off at 4, which costs me 5 and 10 points respectively (remember, as a Hoodie, the cost of strength is halved for me). My lady is tough and ready for anything. Dexterity (fine motor control) is going to be 2 because she's not very delicate and Speed (reflexes) is going to be an average of 3, costing 3 and 6 points each. Charm (ability to persuade others) is going to be 2 because she's fairly direct, while Control is going to be 3, for pretty much the same reason, costing me another 8 points combined. Intelligence (book smarts) and Perception (sensing things in the world around) are again going to be average at 3 each, another 12 (she's not overly bright but she's not dumb muscle either). Finally, Resolve (ability to set mind on something) is going to be 3 and Resistance (ability to resist the control of others) is 4, because she's fairly strong-willed for a Hoodie.

I can also note my Initiative score now, which is the total of my Speed and Perception scores or 6.

Step 4) Buy Skills

Thanks to the Xpress System, even if you don't have a very high stat, you can still succeed in certain tasks quite often if you have a high Skill. While stats determine how many dice you roll, your skill rank determines what you need to roll to succeed. Someone with no skill in say, Computer Use has to roll a 6 on their intelligence pool while trying to hack someone and doesn't get to re-roll, while not only does the guy with Computer Use 3 get to re-roll, he succeeds on 4 and over. Skills cost the same as stats and I have 70 points to spend on them.

You can also purchase a Focus in a skill, which works pretty much the same as the equivalent mechanic in WoD. A focus gives you an extra die when rolling for that skill while performing a specific action, like Tracking for Survival, for example.

There is one major, glaring flaw in skills here. Despite this being a game where the protagonists are notorious for petty crime, there is no break and enter, lockpicking or equivalent skill. How is that supposed to work?

I'm going to start off with buying both a Brawl and Intimidation of 4, snapping up 20 of my points. I'm not going to have much luck being the muscle if I'm not good at those, am I? I'm also going to drop 3 points in the Focus Physical Threats, because she's really good at cowing people by threatening to smash their face in. I want to have 3s in all of Bitching, Streetwise and Party Hardy, which are all necessary skills to have. For a nice unexpected skill I'm going to spend 15 points to get a 5 in Business, because it's the one class she ever paid attention to (also, she's impressed how much bastardry businessmen can get away with). I'm going to put 3 points into grabbing a 2 in Looking Good, because while she isn't a Slag (yes, that's one of the Credoz), she still takes a little pride in her appearance. Athletics of 3 and Stealth of 2 are both skills she developed by running and hiding from the cops. Finally I'm going to put 1 point each into Observation and Melee because they're good, generally useful skills to have.

Step 5) Talentz

Chavs may think they're normal, but the Bile of Chavthulu, god of bus stops runs through their veins, granting them powers no ordinary human being could ever possess. Among other things, Bile fuels the Chavs powers, or Talentz.

Every Chav has the talent Chav Sight, which lets them perceive supernatural creatures for what they are. They can look at someone and immediately tell that they're a Bloodsucker or Pixie etc. It doesn't let them know anything beyond that, however, so most Chavs will generally respond to a supernatural creature the same way they do to anything they don't really understand, beating the shit out of it.

Chavs get a further 9 points to spend in Talentz, with each level in a talent costing 3 points to a maximum of three levels. I'm going to be dead simple and put all the points into three levels of Chav Toughness, which gives me a bonus of +3 to resilience rolls when I spend a Bile Point (a bonus is the same as having more ranks in a skill).

Step 6) Merits and Flaws

A Merit is some kind of background bonus while a Flaw is the opposite. Each costs a different amount of points depending on how much they benefit or impede you and the total cost of Merits-Flaws can be no higher than 0.

I'm going to pick a simple, but expensive Merit, Never Scared, which means I never have to make Resistance rolls to resist fear effects. I now need to find 9 points worth of flaws. I'm going to start off by picking Anthem of Command, which means that whenever a song of my choice is playing I have to dance to it. I'm going to pick Closer by Nine Inch Nails and no, she doesn't understand what the song is actually about. Secondly, I'm going to pick the 8 point version of Dangerous Shtick, where my bile infusion went horribly wrong, giving me a supernatural weakness. The first one I'll pick is that she takes an extra point of lethal damage when hit by silver, much like a Dogboy and she suffers a -3 penalty to all skill whenever she can hear the voice of Cliff Richard, whose presence is anathema to Chavness (this is actually a weakness). I might as well also point out that all Chavs have a weakness to old things (anything older than 70 years), which do extra damage to them, whether it be an ancient sword or getting punched by a war vet.

Step 7) Record Bile Capacity

Like I said before, Bile is the fuel for a Chav's supernatural powers. It also lets them absorb damage, reducing 1 level of lethal damage per point spent. It can be regained a number of ways, from hanging around at bus stops to engaging in petty acts of vandalism to having a really good orgasm.

Chavs start off with a Bile Capacity of 10 and they start off with 5 bile. My character is no different.

Step 8) Record Corruption Level

Again, like WoD, Shadow World games have a morality system. However, for Chavs, this morality is reversed. Chavs get more Corruption by doing evil things and get less for doing good things. Both have benefits and drawbacks. Each point of corruption above 5 gives a +1 bonus when interacting with Chavs and a -1 penalty interacting with non-Chavs and vice versa for each point below 5.

All Chavs start off with a Corruption score of 5. She'll have to roll to see if it reduces if she declines to commit an act of criminal damage.

Step 9) Equipment

All Chavs have a Pay Grade, an abstract rating of their purchasing power which ranks from -3 to +3. Because I didn't buy it as a merit or flaw, my pay scale is 0, which is average. All Chavs start off with a knife, because otherwise it wouldn't be an amazing game of The Knifing, would it?

I don't really want to buy any other weapons, but I should look at clothing. Clothing affects your Cred Rating, which we'll get to a bit later. At the start of each new sessions an item of clothing can degrade on a roll of 5-6 which reduces its cred rating by 1 Unfortunately my pay grade isn't enough that I can get any with bonuses, so I'll just stick with a Normal Hoodie (note that hoodies are special and their cred bonus never drops below +0), Normal Sneakers (sneakers stay cooler for longer and only degrade on a roll of 6) and a Normal Jewellery Ensemble (a few sets of earrings and a necklace or two).

Step 10) Work Out Cred

Cred is a measure of standing within Chav society. If you have a higher Cred than someone, you get a +1 to Control rolls against them, while a lower Cred gives you -1. Your base Cred is equal to the number of talentz you have plus your Charm, so my Cred starts off at 5. It's then further modified by various other factors, including merits, flaws, clothing, credo and so on, none of which affect me. Were my character a Boss (crew leader) or Main Man (local Credo leader), that would give her a bonus, but I'm neither of those. My final Cred score is 5, but that would get added to my Crew Cred, which unfortunately I can't work out without a crew.

Step 11) Check Everything

Going back over all my numbers, everything seems to be ship-shape, leaving me with my final step...

Step 12) Details

...Background and roleplaying info! Let's start with a name. Chantelle is a good, stereotypical Chav name, so I'll stick with that. Chantelle comes from your average Chav background, poor family, fighting parents, squalid neighbourhood somewhere in London and no future. She has vague dreams of becoming a successful businesswoman, but her penchant for vandalism and eagerness to resort to violence to solve her problems is doing a good job stymieing those ambitions. She eventually fell in with a crew of guys who seemed to be more thankful to have someone tough watching their back instead of endlessly trying to hit on her and as long as she has plenty of opportunity to smash heads in (particularly the heads of dead boys, undead who are single-minded about a single activity. They piss her off for reasons she can't quite fathom.) she's pretty happy.

The Finished Product


Strength 4/Resilience 4

Dexterity 2/Speed 3

Intelligence 3/Perception 3

Charm 2/Control 4

Resolve 3/Resistance 4

Initiative: 6

Skills: Athletics 3, Bitching 3, Brawl 4, Business 5, Intimidation (Physical Threats) 4, Looking Good 2, Melee 1, Observation 1, Party Hardy 3, Streetwise 3

Special Abilities: Chav Sight Can notice supernatural creatures; Chav Tougness 3 Can spend a Bile point to get +3 to Resilience rolls; No Fear Never needs to roll Resistance against fear effects.

Bile Capacity/Points: 10/5

Corruption: 5

Personal Cred: 5

Equipment: Knife, Normal Hoodie, Normal Sneakers, Normal Jewellery Ensemble

How I'd Run It

Let me set the scene for you. Long ago the Chavs abided by the rule of Arry, Boss of the Firestarter crew and Main Man of the Yardiez. This went on until the other main men and crew bosses got sick of his bullshit (there were rumours he was getting with a cousin and that's just nasty) and his entire crew was wiped out. The big celebrations afterwards have started to die down and the crews look to be getting back to the business of beating the shit out of each other. The PCs are all members of the Nightboyz, one of the more level-headed crews who tend to ignore Chav politics and just enjoy curb-stomping Goth twats. Lately, they can't help but notice those whiny tossers are starting to get organised and maybe the crews should focus a bit more on keeping the weirdos in check instead of infighting? What's even worse is that one of the Firestarters is still alive and they've headed back to Kent, the ancestral home of Chavdom, to assemble the biggest, nastiest crew you've ever seen.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 'A Game of Chavs'.

I came up with this idea after I came to the conclusion that 'innit' was the Chav version of the Dothraki's 'it is known' and what started as a minor joke became a mostly-fledged game idea. I know a lot of people who love Game of Thrones and think Chavs are hilarious, so it wouldn't be hard to find players. The fact that the emblem of Kent is a horse is a happy coincidence.

1 comment:

  1. I quite enjoyed this post. An imaginative and entertaining piss-take of a system that does take itself far too seriously. And backed up with what sounds like surprisingly solid mechanics, too.

    Game of Chavs sounds epic.