Each player describes four things that his character is good at. These can be as broad or as narrow as he likes, and with whatever degree of expertise he chooses. But...
...where his character is good at those four things, the character of the player sitting to his left is equally bad at those things.
So if you're sitting to my left, and I say: "I'm an excellent shot with all kinds of guns!" then you'll be a terrible shot with any kind of gun. Each player takes it in turn to pick a quality their character excels, starting - in our case - with the player who rolled highest on a dice roll, which was John.
Here are the three characters we produced.
He's a streetwise "hardnut" from South London ("South of the River"), who won an under-16 boxing championship in his youth, can drive the hell out of anything that's got wheels, and can drink anyone under the table.
He's just arrived in Norfolk and possesses absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of its people, its culture, its geography, its politics, its history and so on - to the extent that he'll probably have to spend an action point just to ask for directions. He's useless with any kind of archaic weapon (i.e. knives, swords, bows etc), can't spot a barn door when standing in front of the barn, and has zero mechanical aptitude.
He's a country boy, raised in the country, and skilled and knowledgeable in its ways (hunting, trapping, tracking etc.). He's an expert with guns, spent most of his boyhood messing around with boats of all kinds, and is the sort of chap that everyone finds instantly likeable.
He's also very unstreetwise (i.e. naive in an urban environment) without any of the toughness that a city upbringing would have given him. He can't punch someone to save his life (too nice), can't drive, and is anyone's after two sips of shandy.
GENERAL TANGENT'S PC
When it comes to local knowledge, of Norfolk and the Broads, his upbringing in the area has made him a walking encyclopedia. He has an interest (or possibly an unhealthy obsession) with archaic weapons of all types (swords, clubs, bows, darts) and is expert with all of them. He is very observant (brilliant at spotting clues), and is a genius will all things mechanical.
However, he also is a countryphobe to the point where he is pretty much unable to function when in a rural environment. He can't shoot a gun to save his life, is totally useless with anything boat related, and generally comes across as pretty unlikable.
Well I thought it worked pretty well. We certainly had a good few laughs, and the "no-one take swimming!" truce somehow held through all four rounds of skill picking.
It is very apparent that this is not a game where you're likely to end up with what you wanted. Of all three characters, I think it's General T who's come closest to the traditional Cop Show shafting. However, his character does fit together into a recognisable archetype (think Tackleberry from the Police Academy films), albeit one that will be *ahem* challenging to play. (Though still very useful: first he can find the clues, then he can do a MacGuyver bit by making something).
Basically, if he knows Norfolk deeply on account of being raised there, but hates/fears/is useless in the countryside, then - given that Norfolk is almost entirely rural - the implication is that he pretty much hates everything about his upbringing and his home. Which is pretty dysfunctional, but fits if there is something about him that people find unlikeable.
I've put down the interest in archaic weapons as possibly unhealthy because there isn't an obvious reason for it. John's PC was bought up on the mean streets of South London and boxed as a boy - which is why he can box. TAFKAC's PC was raised a country boy, and as was demonstrated in Hot Fuzz, in the countryside, everyone and their mother owns a gun.
But why would General T's PC be into archaic weapons? It could be an interest in things historical, Sealed Knot perhaps? But it did occur to us that it might be more fun to say that he's just the sort of bloke who sits alone in a flat entirely decorated with knives, swords, bows, and skulls.
Or as TAFKAC put it during a discussion on said PC's personality:
"He's got knives!"
So, on to the first episode!