So I've sent out some emails and got some notes down for the upcoming Mage game. Among the things I've noted and tossed out is the Group Template. I first learned of it from the guys at Fear the Boot.
Listen to me, like I know them or something. Ha. Anyway, back to the Group Template.
I love the idea of the Group Template. Its a great concept, where the entire party in the game share a common history and relationship. It avoids the age-old tavern meet between strangers. I like it because it makes the roleplaying easier.
I've only gotten it to work right, and that involved the right players and the right amount of control over character creation. It was my Werewolf game, the Robot Lords. Games where I've been a player and not a GM, I've been unable to get the idea across. Not the same group of players as the Werewolf group mind you. But in the latest pathfinder game one of the other players told me that he 'wondered what was the point' of that. Yep. Backstory of a character to him was pointless.
As a GM and Storyteller, I can't and don't think that way. I love character backstory and always try to use it best I can. It helps write the story for me. So to encourage group unity and get some ideas rolling, I always have tried to use a Group Template.
How it works:
The Group Template, to work its best, needs to be the first step in character creation. Now, character creation needs, no SHOULD be done in group. I've tried to iterate this many, many, many times to my own players: GROUP character creation. Learn what group you belong to and why your characters get along.
Quick Aside on that: Character Creation should be shared if possible, mostly to share ideas. Sometimes other players can actually HELP you get a backstory figured out with questions and the like.
First make a group concept. Is the group a paramilitary squad? A order of knights? A cabal of wizards? Are they all dedicated to the pursuit and elimination of the same villain? Have they all died and come back the same way? What is the binding trait among them?
This can be simple or complex. No wrong answer.
After you know the group concept, go ahead and try to define the shared history between your characters. What has the group done and experienced together? Have they already faced a dozen battles together or did they all share the same lab table when they were created?
I'll post more thoughts on this later. Current theme ideas for the game:
Day and Night
New York City (manhattan)