Thursday, January 7, 2021

31 Days / 31 Characters - CHICKEN

There are some truly fantastic characters that I want to cover in this Character Creation Challenge that I feel have already been covered on this blog in such detail that I'd rather give some attention to lesser or unknown ones who haven't received enough love. 

That said, with only 31 entries in total, not giving props and kudos to those PCs and their players who have absolutely elevated my hobby experience seems wrong somehow. There's always next year to cover this Champions NPC or that Mekton PC of mine. Let's lean into 2021 with some of the best of the best. 


Character: Chicken

AKA: What's AKA? Ahkah? What does that mean? Is it dangerous? Can I eat it?

Player: Keith Jacobson

System: ALIEN RPG.
Campaign: Red Dwarf / Yellow Sun

Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein 

Circa: 2020 

Origins: The initial idea for having a character like Chicken was wanting an evolved, domestic animal character akin to Cat from Red Dwarf. According to Chicken's player Keith Jacobson, "Usually when I start a new character, it takes me a while to wrap my head around the character.  Usually, a couple or three sessions.  Chicken sprang almost fully formed from my forehead, like some sort of avian Anti-Athena."

Backstory: In Season I, Episode 1 of our Red Dwarf /Yellow Sun campaign, 'It All Ends Here' (our very first session), a domesticated chicken escapes from the Galley of the Search and Rescue Vessel 'Yellow Sun' and runs into an open ventilation shaft down to the lower levels. After an extensive search by the Captain's Mess Staff, Security Robot A.R.T.H.U.R. and Skutter 1, there is no sign of the runaway fowl. 

Sometime between this and the ship's deadly drive plate radiation leak that killed the entire crew, the chicken managed to get itself into a section of the Yellow Sun's shielded cargo containment hold. Large quantities of radioactivity and many millions of years later...

I have more than few pages of notes on what happened between that and the first 'on-screen' appearance of Keith's character Chicken. I know, to some extent, what happened to the Gallus Sapiens species, where they are now, why Chicken is alone on the Yellow Sun, etc.

Chicken doesn't know however and, this is incredibly important, neither does Keith. The best part is, neither is concerned about this. This is part of the Zen beauty of the character of Chicken. I have dropped clues, hinted at things, and it only matters to the other players and myself. It's not that Keith isn't interested or doesn't appreciate this. It's that it isn't something Chicken is aware of, nor something she cares to be aware of. This could change but who her people are and what became of them has very little to no bearing on who Chicken is and what she does on a day to day basis.

Overview: Instead of the way I've done the Overview so far, I'd like to give Keith a moment to talk about Chicken in his own words. This is what Keith wrote to me regarding Chicken:

"For me, Chicken was lightning in a bottle. I have never played a character that was as 'freeing' as Chicken. Usually, I try to play a character that is 'smart'. Smart is not Chicken.  The closest to smart I came with Chicken was, "How can Chicken accidentally 'un-perfectualize' everyone?" [in the episode where we realize a device called the Perfectalizer has some seriously unpleasant side effects]. You were there for my answer to that question [She just wished everything was back to the way it was before the machine made things weird. The device's AI hears her and asks her to confirm. During the entire sequence it is clear that Chicken only partially understands what is going on].

Another small moment that captured Chicken for me early in the campaign was the episode that started out in the [ship's] Weapons Room, with Chicken turning Yellow Sun's weapons off and on, over and over. She was surprised every time the warning light came on. Her last button press before being pulled away leaves the massive cannon charging up. Of course we went that entire episode and never undid the damage she'd done, until it blew up.

Chicken doesn't think about anything (except pretzels). She is the single most unique, and dare I say it, the single most fun character that I have ever played!"

That last part really touched me. I've wanted to run a Red Dwarf ongoing campaign for years and not only did this allow it to happen and work but I got a character like Chicken. A Chicken purely, perpetually in the moment. Chicken doesn't worry about what happened before this very second and isn't really thinking about what will happen after. The moment she's in is the only moment that counts and it is absolutely brilliant. 

The Highlights:

Early in the series we establish that Chicken knows how to fly the shuttles, giving us a rare clue into her backstory. Her father taught her though he's gone now and she doesn't remember what all the things on the dashboard mean or what they do. Each time she flies she has to be reminded what indicates damages to the engines, how to tell how fast they're going, etc. 

In a great sequence where Carl's character Mitchell Webb is trying to describe things such as Space, Sky, Planet, Land, and their relationships, Chicken gets very confused. Heavy storm clouds cause her to misunderstand what exactly constitutes 'Sky' and that is warped even further and Webb leans into it. As her fore-fowl before her must have exclaimed, Chicken is convinced that 'The Sky is Falling' and that since she and the Shuttle are in the sky, they're doomed. This forces her to recall how to land, though this doesn't mean she is any good at it.

Chicken's relationship with the other crewmembers is largely based on them feeding her. While they try to teach her things and explain the universe around them, Chicken generally misunderstands, isn't interested, or forgets fairly quickly. She does have an interesting, possibly deeper relationship with the THUG S1001 Security Chief, ARTHUR. She often hides behind the massive mechanical man when things go South but it should be noted he also goes out of his way to protect her. Also, Chicken got very upset when the Perfectalizer 'Perfected' ARTHUR and his appearance and attitude changed slightly. It was this more than anything else - OK, sure, the Yellow Sun's AI was trying to kill them but that's neither here nor there - that made her want to make things go back the way they were. 

Legacy: Is there more fun we can get out of Chicken? Hell yes. I feel like we haven't even scratched the surface. Sometime later this year I'd very much like to get to Seasons III and IV of Red Dwarf / Yellow Sun. 

Game Info: Here is Chicken's character sheet from the campaign. 

Specialty is something I added to the game to facilitate turning the Sci-Fi Horror and Suspense RPG of ALIEN into the Sci-Fi Horror and Comedy of Red Dwarf. Each PC has a bonus/additional Action Die when doing something that aligns with their particular Specialty. 

In the case of Chicken, if she freaks out about something she is actually more likely to succeed. Since she freaks out often, alright usually, OK FINE! nearly always, she actually succeeds a lot as well. It's basically a bonus die for playing your character as you described.

Next up we take a trip to the ass end of space in hopes of finding a way to say the Earth. Before we can do that though, we have to save ourselves. Hopefully, Dr. DAVID MYERS can help. 

Barking Alien

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