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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: Idea: role-playing character creation rss

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Alan, "Son of Hett"
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• If it were an alternative option in a game system, something that could be done in a single session, would you role-play your character creation?
• Have you ever role-played character creation?
• Does this exist already in any RPG?

Background/Reasoning: I read brumcg's geeklist about returning to GMing, and his first item was Beyond the Wall. I read its description and dysjunct's review, and my immediate thought was that something like it would be a cool means of character creation. It is already a young adult story line for one's novice character just starting out in the adventuring life. I envision an initial, basic character creation phase, followed by a role-playing session of the zero-level characters' initial training or forays into adult or adventuring life; this is when some elements of backstory or character bonding can occur (rather than the forced "you meet in a tavern"), a bit like university life for some people in the real world, a time when one picks up the basics of one's career and makes new but lasting friendships. Admittedly, I am not sure right now how that would work. BTW uses a workbook, almost choose your own adventure method for character creation and many of those choices are aspects I would somehow shift to being role-played, including a small test or adventure (representing the main adventure of BTW), a kind of graduation into adulthood/adventurehood. This all would be followed and finalized by another, brief character creation session wherein the bonuses, skills, bonds, ideals, flaws, and so forth acquired in the session would be applied to the final, first-level characters. The next session would be the start of the regular adventuring. However, if the players and GM so chose, the character creation session could last longer for more development, or it could be skipped altogether and a straightforward character creation be used, allowing them to jump straight to the regular adventuring.

I have had the evening to consider this since my initial mis-posting of it, so as I have been typing this it has seemed a bit like bullshit or too much work to me. Nonetheless, I think there is a kernal of a good idea here. What do you wiser and more experienced folks think?

(I also have read the 17 May 2016 QOTD: What is your preferred method of character creation?, in which, as with all things, there appears to be a wide variety of preferences.)
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Alan, "Son of Hett"
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post updated and re-submitted and temp'-thumbed and here commented so maybe someone will notice these many hours later. thanks for your patience.

[Edit: unthumbed]
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William Hostman
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I've seen a few games with pick a path type gen...

I wasn't too fond of the one that was closest to a real pick a path...

I don't usually use the family background gen in Pendragon; it doesn't provide skills, etc, just events.

Not my cuppa.

On the other hand, I've enjoyed (usually) the preludes with WWG WoD games... and that is part of char gen, but one without direct quantified impacts.
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Pandora Caitiff
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I stole the idea from a convention game, but when I ran 3:16: Carnage Amongst the Stars for friends filling in the character sheets was roleplayed as a very slack Lieutenant getting them to fill in the gaps in their personnel records and evaluate their abilities.

It also meant I could hurry along ditherers so we could get started.

Me: And under name fill in your name. Or a nickname. Or your dog's name. I don't care as long as you put something.
Player: Erm...
Me: You don't know your own name, Private?
Player: I just... um...
Me: Congratulations. You are now Private Dim. Anyone else struggling?
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Danny Stevens
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I do this all the time with Traveller.

Here is an example of a campaign that starts with role playing character creation: Free Terran Confederation (Mongoose 2e) Session 1 - character gen

And here is an example of using the process with NPCs to help generate part of the campaign: Free Terran Confederation S3: GM Prep Experiment
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Oliver S
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You get a little bit of this in Spirit of the Century, which has a semi-collaborative, sort-of-life-path character generation. The later stages are framed as your characters previous adventures (titled as if they were pulp novels, you know, "Tom Terrific and the Moon Men," that sort of thing) - but in each of these adventures, other player characters appeared as part of the supporting cast. You can do this really mechanically, but in practice it works better, I think, as a bit of meta-roleplaying, so those past stories have some meat to them. I think SoC has really great narrative character creation - it might not be strictly roleplaying, but it's really fun to do together at the table.

There's a bit (less) of this on a lot of AWE games too, right? That's more focused on character relationships (I'm thinking of the fill-in-the-blank bit of character creation in Dungeon World, for example), which you can definitely do as just literally filling in the blank, but I think it invites conversation and collaboration with the other players.

Personally, I really enjoy community/collaborative character creation - I've used a variant of Totally Not a D&D Fiasco to drive this as well, when I can get a group to go for it. I think it's fun in and of itself, makes for better group dynamics and shares narrative authority in a way that I like (and as a DM, it provides a goldmine of plot hooks and adventure ideas).
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Phil Dutré
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In a GM guide (don’t remember which one, long time ago), I once read the idea of playing prequel pr flashback scenes, e.g. playing out scenes in which all the pc’s were kids growing up in the same village (and with the proper adventure hook). This could happen anytime during the campaign, so not necessarily as a first session, but the idea was it could provide a more meaningful bond between characters, as well explain some of the skills pc’s have - with a seed planted during childhood. You often see this plot device being used in movies as well, or in long running graphic novels in which the childhood of characters is explored in a parallel side series.

I tried to use something similar once during one of my fantasy campaigns, having the pc’s play an intro adventure creating relations and skills, and the adventure proper starting 5 years later ... some players loved it, but others found it a bit dumb.
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Robb Minneman
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To expand on what Phil mentioned, and flip this on it's head a little:

Upwind specifically includes rules for flashback scenes that take characters back to their days at the Knights' Academy (a key bit of in-game lore and the default setting for characters.) The idea is that the PCs should have relationships before the game starts and that you can flash back to them at dramatic points in the story to earn a benefit on a task resolution. It works for that game system/setting.
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Alan, "Son of Hett"
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philip.dutre wrote:
I tried to use something similar once during one of my fantasy campaigns, having the pc’s play an intro adventure creating relations and skills, and the adventure proper starting 5 years later ...

Your "5 years later" reminded me of something I omitted from my original post. Speaking of movies or novels, I also was thinking of the introduction to the Dragonlance novels. The childhood friends all go their separate ways, swearing to meet again at the tavern exactly 5 years later. Interspersed throughout the story are vignettes from the characters' lives during those intervening years, wherein we learn such things as why Raistlin is so obsessed with magic and why there is a seed of evil within him. Those are the kinds of scenes I imagined would be very cool to roleplay during an initial session.
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Danny Stevens
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JVgamer wrote:
philip.dutre wrote:
I tried to use something similar once during one of my fantasy campaigns, having the pc’s play an intro adventure creating relations and skills, and the adventure proper starting 5 years later ...

Your "5 years later" reminded me of something I omitted from my original post. Speaking of movies or novels, I also was thinking of the introduction to the Dragonlance novels. The childhood friends all go their separate ways, swearing to meet again at the tavern exactly 5 years later. Interspersed throughout the story are vignettes from the characters' lives during those intervening years, wherein we learn such things as why Raistlin is so obsessed with magic and why there is a seed of evil within him. Those are the kinds of scenes I imagined would be very cool to roleplay during an initial session.

Very hard to flashback those scenes AND role play them, because they have foregone conclusions, so the player cannot make any meaningful choices.
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Alan, "Son of Hett"
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Oh of course, but no I did not mean to suggest doing both, merely to point out that part of my idea stemmed from thinking about the flashbacks from Dragonlance, and that it would be cool to have roleplayed such at the start of a campaign.
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Pandora Caitiff
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DanDare2050 wrote:
JVgamer wrote:
philip.dutre wrote:
I tried to use something similar once during one of my fantasy campaigns, having the pc’s play an intro adventure creating relations and skills, and the adventure proper starting 5 years later ...

Your "5 years later" reminded me of something I omitted from my original post. Speaking of movies or novels, I also was thinking of the introduction to the Dragonlance novels. The childhood friends all go their separate ways, swearing to meet again at the tavern exactly 5 years later. Interspersed throughout the story are vignettes from the characters' lives during those intervening years, wherein we learn such things as why Raistlin is so obsessed with magic and why there is a seed of evil within him. Those are the kinds of scenes I imagined would be very cool to roleplay during an initial session.

Very hard to flashback those scenes AND role play them, because they have foregone conclusions, so the player cannot make any meaningful choices.


Or you could build those contradictions in to plot hooks:

flashback ends
PC1: "Wow! I forgot we killed Abbott Willem"
PC2: "Crazy huh?"
PC3: "But if Willem died, who did we see at the abbey last week?"
GM: Evil grin
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Danny Stevens
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PandoraCaitiff wrote:
DanDare2050 wrote:
JVgamer wrote:
philip.dutre wrote:
I tried to use something similar once during one of my fantasy campaigns, having the pc’s play an intro adventure creating relations and skills, and the adventure proper starting 5 years later ...

Your "5 years later" reminded me of something I omitted from my original post. Speaking of movies or novels, I also was thinking of the introduction to the Dragonlance novels. The childhood friends all go their separate ways, swearing to meet again at the tavern exactly 5 years later. Interspersed throughout the story are vignettes from the characters' lives during those intervening years, wherein we learn such things as why Raistlin is so obsessed with magic and why there is a seed of evil within him. Those are the kinds of scenes I imagined would be very cool to roleplay during an initial session.

Very hard to flashback those scenes AND role play them, because they have foregone conclusions, so the player cannot make any meaningful choices.


Or you could build those contradictions in to plot hooks:

flashback ends
PC1: "Wow! I forgot we killed Abbott Willem"
PC2: "Crazy huh?"
PC3: "But if Willem died, who did we see at the abbey last week?"
GM: Evil grin


Noice!
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