Chronos 101: How to Build & Play a Character

10351602_687286611319346_5086933294872958527_n If you watch our facebook page, you might have noticed we put up our first Chronos event on the 12th of March, set in the world of ExArcana. In preparation for that (and many of our other future events), this is a very basic guide on how to make a character in the Chronos system.

What is Chronos?

Chronos is a universal LARP system -- meaning that using Chronos, you have the basic tools to create a system for whatever kind of LARP you want to run. For example, I've played a TRON LARP, a 50's rockabilly demon LARP, a Star Wars LARP, and a school of witchcraft and wizardry all on the Chronos system. I've also written games based on this system too and it's easy to work with as a LARP organization. I've written a Star Trek ship-based PVP LARP, a Mass Effect game, and an X-Men game all on the same system. You get a lot of bang for your buck with Chronos.

What do you need to play Chronos?

If you're just playing, I'd recommend picking up the Core Deck, and maybe the Core Rule Book too. If you're looking to run a game on the Chronos system, there's also a Storyteller's Guide, and a Storyteller Deck with pre-built antagonist cards so you don't have to think too hard on building your bad guys.

There's a TON of other stuff too -- the Horrors deck, for all you vampires, werewolves, and Cthulhu terrors, Powers for super hero type stuff, and ExArcana has its own set of cards too (and an accompanying core book, which I loved just for the writing). You don't necessarily need them to play, but it gives you a lot more options for your character creation.

You can find all this stuff on under Eschaton Media, both in PDF and hard copy.


Step 1: The Cards


No matter what Chronos deck you pick up, you'll find three kinds of cards: core cards, specialty/augment cards, and trait/item cards. These cards are easy to pick apart because they have a different band of colors: gray, blue, and red, respectively. We'll start by looking at the core cards. For this example, I'm working with the Horrors deck, because that is literally what was sitting on my desk, but any deck works.


Core cards are your base character card. They might include a basic description of a personality trait, or a special ability you might have as that type of character. They also include your Focus, Speed, and Health (we'll get into that later). Every Chronos character must have one and only one core card, unless your Storyteller tells you otherwise.


Specialty cards (blue cards) talk about what your character does and what type of skills they might have because of it. It's your character's jobs, their hobbies, their passions -- the things that make them a character. Are they a doctor, an investigator, an engineer, a drug dealer? These cards can help you build that character's skill sets. Every Chronos character needs to have at least one blue card, but there's no maximum to the amount you can have.


Trait and item cards (red cards) further refine your characters by giving them special abilities or items. Would your character have a gun, a doctor's bag, a tool kit? Maybe some body armor, or a sweet power suit to help them get all that sweet cash? Do they have the ability to taunt someone into action, encourage friends, throw a really sweet boxing punch? These are the cards you want to check out to really define what your character is going to do with those skills. Sometimes the cards might have requirements on them -- ask your Storyteller if you're taking them into account during character creation. For Seed & Sword games, we generally ignore the requirements. You need at least one these cards in your character, but generally speaking there's no limit.


I've been thinking a LOT about this weird Korean drama called Vampire Prosecutor (it's amazing, shut up), so I've decided I'm going to make a vampire detective who kills monsters and solves crime. Now that we've seen the cards, let's look at actually building our sweet vampire character.


Step 2: Who Are You?


The hardest part is usually picking your Core Card. I try to pick them based on what I think the character might be like, or based on the kind of character I want to play. In this case, I've sort of made it easy for myself -- the Horrors deck includes a vampire card -- but I could easily have made this character using the Powers deck (life leech) or the regular core deck (Trickster and Ruler are both good core options for this guy too).

As you become more familiar with Chronos, you might already know ahead of time what cards you want for your character. At this point I've played a countless amount of Chronos System games, and I still build my characters the same way every time. I flip through all the red cards and all the blue cards and pick out any card that MIGHT work for that character. This allows me to narrow the scope and eliminate the cards I know I won't need.


For example, I know this guy is some sort of vampire dectective, so I snag the Profiler and Investigator cards. I throw Occultist in there too, because what the hell, he's a vampire, he probably knows some occult crap. For red cards I grabbed Hunter's Speed, Heightened Senses ('cause vampire), and I grabbed some hunting items for all those sweet criminal monsters I am gonna murder the hell out of. Once I pick out all the cards that might work for my character, then I can work on narrowing it down and actually building my character.


Every time you play a Chronos game, the Storyteller will tell you how many "points" your characters should be. Think of points like experience, and each card requires a certain amount of experience for you to add to your deck. You can find the point cost of a card in the very top right corner of any Chronos card:

For my sweet Vampire Prosecutor game (that I literally just made up right now but I might actually make a Chronos game for because it sounds awesome), we'll be doing an 18 point build. So I have eighteen points to play with to make a character. Based on the amount of points I have, and how many points each of the cards I thought might be cool to make a character, I narrow down the rest of my vampire detective and finish my build.

build2You can see here I dropped the heightened senses and the hunter's speed -- I'm gonna rely on my revolver and hunting kit. I think my vampire is the sort of repressed type who would just rather pretend to be human. Because of his sweet detective skills, I dropped cultist and kept profiler and investigator for maximum crime solving potential!

And now our character is built! Yep, it's just that easy. You can take your cards and stuff them in your pocket (or bra, or purse, or hat) and pull them out when you need to reference them, but otherwise you're all set. Your vampire is ready to go SOLVE MYSTERIES!


Step 3: Playing the Game


So now that you've built your character, lets talk about using your characters skills. Your core card (gray) will tell you some basic facts about your character that you need to know. The main points are in the three shapes at the top: health, speed, and focus.


Your health is how many hit points you have. Unless you have a card that gives you a special ability (like a gun, or a knife), all attacks do a base of one damage.

Your speed is how many steps you can take in a combat round. During combat (which is called Chronos Time), everything is in slow motion and that represents the amount of paces you can take during each round. So if you want to run away from something, or step in closer to take a hit, make each of those six steps count!

Your focus is the amount of energy you have -- Aether. This number provides you with your Aether at the beginning of the game and the maximum you can have in your hand. Think of it like your mana in a video or table top game. Your cards might have special actions you can take if you burn an Aether.


Chronos Time: Resolving a Conflict


The other important part of every Chronos cards are the numbers on the top and the sides. It's through these numbers we determine successes and failures in combat situations. On the top and side of your cards, you'll three four different sections: Brawn, Dexterity, Resolve, and Acumen.

Brawn represents physical actions, like punching someone, or forcing a door; Dexterity is for running away, dodging, or even slight of hand tricks. Resolve is for your will power, charisma, and determination. Acumen can represent a lot of different things and this is the one that will be the most flexible depending on the game, but it often represents your quick-wittedness, your ability to make a pinch decision, or your magical prowess and instinctual ability.


The top of the card represents your offensive stats. Whenever you want to make an offensive action, you take your core card (gray), one specialty card (blue), and one trait or item card (red).  Depending on the kind of action you're making, your Storyteller will ask for your Brawn, Dexterity, Resolve, or Acumen number.  You get that number by taking the three cards, stacking them, and adding the three numbers together.

The side of the card represents your defensive stats. Whenever you're defending from an attack, a force or will, or anything else, your Storyteller will ask for your defensive numbers for Brawn, Dexterity, Resolve, or Acumen. You get them through the same method -- taking one of each card, sliding them sideways, and adding the numbers together.

So if I wanted to punch someone in the face with my vampire, I would stack my three cards and check the top numbers. As I do a slow-motion punch to my enemy, I call "Brawn 8!"

My opponent slides his cards to the side to check his defensive Brawn stats -- the slow motion gives him time to check. He calls "Brawn 4!" He roleplays getting punched by my fist as we complete the slow motion, and I call "one damage!" to represent the hit and how much he should take off his health.

Once you choose your cards for a round of Chronos Time, you have to stick with them. Meaning if you go to punch someone, whatever three cards you used for your Brawn check, you have to use the same cards to defend yourself. After the round is over, you can change your cards.

And that's Chronos in its most basic form. Your Storyteller is there if you have any questions, and there are lots of other cool things you can do and add in to your character's cards -- but that's for Chronos 102.


But for now -- class dismissed!