Against the Inevitable: Quick Draw Character Creation

Now that I’ve got a solid idea on how the game progresses, I want to take a step back and look at character creation. As I’ve mentioned, I’m leaning toward having quick start characters that are fleshed out during play. Here’s how I’m thinking of handling it.

Creating Characters

To create a character, just give them an identifier and a description. The identifier will usually be a name, but place holders like “the captain of the guard” or “the lady in red” work as well.

The description is just a few sentences that cover who the character is. This may also include what they do, what they look like, their species and nationality, and so on. During play this description can be treated like a background.

Backgrounds give the character a basic rating on ability checks. This rating should be “fair” if those with the background commonly perform that task, “poor” if they can perform the task, and “terrible” if the background suggests no ability to do the task. Some backgrounds will let characters do things most people can’t. Any such extraordinary ability checks should be rated no better than “poor”.

Behind the Scenes

The idea here is to make character creation extremely quick and easy while still having mechanical support for them. Backgrounds provide that support by giving characters ratings based on how closely the task matches what characters should be able to do.

I do have some concerns about having one player choosing an extremely versatile background like “demi-god” while another takes a more limited one like “diseased beggar”. However, this really just gives the character more opportunities to participate in a challenge (and potentially suffer the consequences). The “extraordinary ability” rule should help curb this further as the versatile character can try to do more things, but has a greater risk of failure when they do so. I may also add a rule that gives perks when a background is used against you to help the underdog backgrounds.

Note that this concern mainly deals with heroic backgrounds. Having an apparent power mismatch is fine between villains as they’re often portrayed at a wider range of power levels. A feeling of equality seems generally more important on the heroic side than the villainous one.

Wrap Up

This should give us a nice minimal basis for character creation. Next time I’ll be looking at “revelation” mechanics to help flesh out characters in play.

Published in: on December 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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