Qualities are a key component in the Unisystem – encompassing both advantages and drawbacks they are either distinct character traits (such as an acute sense, or fast reaction time) or bundles of other qualities, skill bonuses and stat bonuses.
They’re nice in that they’re evocative of the setting and make some things quick – BtVS has Vampire, Slayer, Initiative Command and Watcher as qualities, where you just have to buy that and know that you’ve hit the minimum qualification for that type. They have some problems in that they let you spend from point pool C on things that raise scores in Point Pool A (stats) and Point Pool B (skills) so there’s a bit of system mastery advantage taking that can go on, but by and large they’re functional.
I obviously stripped out all of the Buffy specific qualities and replaced them with Girl Genius focused ones like Spark, Construct and Spark Experiment. In my first draft I specifically excluded characters playing clanks because unless you really want to stretch things for Dingbot Prime there aren’t any such figures in the source material, but I decided not to write in such an exclusion in favor of seeing what happened.
I then changed pretty much all of the other bundled qualities for being too specific to the high school setting and replaced them with professional careers. For reasons that made sense at the time I built Tinker (engineers and scientists who might not be sparky), Tailor (any small businessman), Soldier, Sailor (which included battle clank or airship drivers), Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief and Spy. That set a certain tone that was not quite jokey but also nailed down part of the industrial revolution Victoriana feel of the setting. Any one of these gave a point of two of skills, a point or two of stats and some other minor advantage.
Jim and I batted the rigid Contact, Social Standing, Military Rank and Resources levels before deciding to streamline them into more freeform numbers, with the rule of thumb being that a PC spending 1-2 points was asking for a minor advantage every few sessions, 3-4 was a major advantage that came up every session and 5+ was a major flagging to the GM that the player wanted character defining social advantages from this. That’s really all we needed to know.
Next time I’ll discuss how I changed up parts of combat, and then sparkiness and inventing.