Thinking about that build we’re doing, and here’s a list of possible Stunts/Skills/Abilities for the Stranger Things characters.
Skills vs. Stunts vs. Abilities
You’ll notice in Eleven’s draft character sheet (you can find it at the end of here) that we listed her template (Psychic, Runaway) as abilities, as well as adding a couple more; Loyalty and I Hate Liars.
This approach takes a leaf from the Fate Core system, and probably the rest of the tree from Clinton R. Nixon’s The Shadow of Yesterday. i.e; that Stranger Things abilities don’t have to be limited to such mundane things as Ride Chopper Bike or Climb. The characters do that kinda stuff all the time – it’s only in certain exceptional circumstances (hiding from the Demagorgon) that normal Americana-kid stuff gets air time. And a lot of the character abilities you see being tested are often less tangible things; motivation, character quirks, emotions… Joyce Byers goes pretty far out of the range there in Season 1 for a bit, but she comes back (with an axe!!) swinging and ready to take some names…
I guess you could start asking ‘what counts as an ability in Stranger Things?’
A. Pretty much anything.
In crunchier, more elaborate rpgs the ‘skills’ are boxed off as learned abilities that aren’t integral to your character. Whether you can juggle, wield a sword, ride a sea-turtle, speak Klingon, all that other stuff. What I want to bring forward from TSOY, Odyssey, and Fate etc are the ideas that:
- Characters are defined by what they do. That’s straight-up narratology, right? Abilities, skills, all that stuff are examples of your character in play, being themselves. Not ‘extra’.
- Characters are made up of quirks.
Put those two things together and you can create ST abilities from particular obsessions (Dustin knowing all about DnD Mindflayers in Season 2) or emotions (Eleven’s ‘I Hate Liars’) as well as Chief Hopper knowing how to use assault weapons.
Possible Stranger Things Character Abilities
These might be additional to their template and/or group abilities – see below. So, for example Eleven only has one Ability so far, but will also have the whole ‘Psychic’ thing, as well as the ‘Runaway’ thing…
(Season References); possible effects.
Talk/Befriend (1, 2); able to make friends with even weird extra-dimensional alien thingies.
Indestructible Stomach (2); able to get covered in alien thingy goop and come out alright.
Encyclopaedic Knowledge of Dnd (2); able to buy plot clues by drawing comparisons to DnD.
Paladin (1, 2); able to inspire or ‘give’ successes to other party members.
Mama Bear (1, 2); once per session, in the defence/protection of her children is able to add X successes to a roll.
Chief Jim Hopper:
Regret/Resolve (2); once per session, can use a painful memory to ‘buy’ successes to an important roll.
Firearms (1, 2); bang-bang, ho-ho.
Hometown Hero (2); he ‘used to run this school’ and still has a bit of that glory attached to him – when he’s not being a d*ck. Once per session can perform one amazing stunt of some kind.
Baseball Bat (1, 2); thwack-thwack, Demagorgon…
Autodidact/Eidetic (2); Bob knows everything. He just forgot that he knew it.
Slingshot (1); phwip-ping!
Self-Reliant (2); is able to ignore or negate injury levels or a bad roll once per session.
Zoomer (2); can move twice as fast as anyone else once per session.
Drive (2); knows how to drive a car. Kinda.
Super Spy (2); can read Big Evil’s mind sometimes.
Hide (1); is like, reeeally good at hiding.
Outsider (1, 2); can spend successes to get extra clues, because he’s a bit of an outsider, a loner, and notices things others don’t.
Do It For Barb (1); once per session, can invoke this to automatically negate a bad roll or similar.
Firearms (2); same as Hopper’s.
I Hate Liars (1); once per session, is able to obstruct or take away another NPC/enemies/characters successes if she can show how they are lying to her.
Because of the core values of ST (friendship, geekery, horror, investigation) there’s lots of scope for groups of Stranger characters to have collective abilities that they all share. This could be something like a dice pool that the players can negotiate who to spend it on during the course of the game…
Encyclopaedic Knowledge of DnD; might be a good group ability for a bunch of High School geeks…
Do It For Barb…
I Hate Liars…
Friends Tell The Truth; Because you are a member of the Party, you might be able to share or give successes or even health levels to your fellow party members. One for all, all for one!
AV Club; when you have to try and work out what, or where, the cosmic evil is.
Hawkins Native; Everyone knows everyone in the sleepy town of Hawkins. At any point in the game where you have to convince a shopkeeper to let you in, or a school teacher to tell you about this or that etc, you could share these pool points.