Character Creation Is Play
Many roleplaying games propose a simple idea: you create characters, then you begin play. We think it’s even simpler than that. We say, “As you create the characters and the world they inhabit, you have begun play.” The style of character creation we present here does three things to reinforce that.
First, character creation tells part of the characters’ stories, just like any other game session does. Characters that really come alive have histories of their own and with each other—character creation establishes where they’ve been, what they’ve done, and why they continue to act together against the threats they face. It’s like there’s a game that’s been going on that you’re now stepping into—it’s just that the most interesting parts haven’t happened yet.
Second, it sets the stage for the next part of the story. Each arc of a roleplaying game sets up the next, so that they flow into one another in a natural evolution of the story. Character creation needs to set up the first story arc the same way any other phase of play does.
Third, character creation in FATE is highly collaborative. As with city creation, character creation is best done as a group activity. Doing all of this together will build a stronger foundation for your characters and your game. The character creation process includes a number of built-in ways to establish connections between the characters and the setting. Combined with city creation, character creation can take a full session to do—this provides a good opportunity to lay out the basics of the setting and allows everyone to learn about it and about each others’ characters. This sort of collaborative story building is, in a word, play.
During character creation, you and the other members of your group will talk about your characters, make suggestions to each other, discuss how to make your characters connect, and even establish some of the campaign background. You’ll want to keep good notes on this process.
You’ll start by determining your character’s high concept and trouble. Then you’ll build your character’s back-story, a process that takes place over five phases. Each phase outlines events in your character’s life, though not necessarily in chronological order. The first phase sets up the character’s general background, concept, and early history. The second covers the events that pull the character into the the setting of the specific game your group is playing. The last three phases delve into your character’s past adventures—both his own and those of the other players’ characters.