Saturday, November 2, 2013

Character Card Creation Game

Going to post this since its a thing I've been toying with.  I'm hoping to implement it in a game soon(er) rather than later, but this is the gist of the kernel of the idea.  In games like Fiasco and FATE, character creation is its own mini-game, a game part of the greater game that everybody joins in together.

This still doesn't help generate a group concept, but concepts aren't the goal with good character creation.  Good character creation is about generating inspiration and excitement in Players and the GM.  Especially if the players get to have some or a lot of agency in their action.  There is an article or two on RPG.net on the subject, which does a good job of explaining methods of character creation: conceptualization, inspiration, mechanization and dramatization.

I find developing the first two- inspiration and conceptualization with players can be a hit or miss affair in the getting ideas rolling for players.  I don't have as much as problem with that- but that isn't always true for players.  Getting ideas going and brainstorming is best with some walls to constrict.  Constrictions inspire, because limits have that effect on creativity.  Creativity is driven by necessity, and players might latch on to something that is based on a limit.

Perform this game before doing any sort of character creation generation, be it Fate's Phase Trio or rolling stats in 3.5 d20.

I've created a mini game, intended to be system-neutral, but to be skewed by setting and group template.  Still its a work-in-progress, including the name... Gotta find a better name...

This mini game requires the use of cards like Story Forge cards or Short Order Heroes- you'll need cards that have phrases, words or general idea fodder on them.  You can make up a deck with index cards, if you need to.  Look at Story Forge or Short Order Heroes for ideas- or use a Tarot deck and see where things go with that.

You'll also need some index cards.  The GM should prep 20 questions before hand (any number of questions can work for this, but preferably 20 because part of this involves rolling a 20-sided die).  Each player should get a handout copy of these questions, and they should be the kind of 20 questions you expect in a RPG- fodder for background brainstorming mostly.  Personalize it if you can.

Setup: Deal 5 cards to each player.  The GM deals themselves a hand of seven cards (and keep a stack of index cards nearby to write up ideas they think up).  These make up each player's hands.  Determine (randomly) the first player to go first.

On each player's first turn, they roll a d20 to determine what question they are trying to answer randomly. They then play whatever card they feel most fits to it from their hand.  Each other player (including the GM) then can choose to make a Suggestion: they hand that player a card from their own hand.  The current player can choose to accept that card, adding it to what their answer to that question will be.  Or they can choose to Refuse that suggestion.  If they refuse, they put the suggested card into their hand and ignore it.

The player then determines an answer to the question.  The only restriction is that it a) has to be in-character, b) use all the cards they played and accepted as suggestions, and c) be something the player likes, that is short and concise, like two or three sentences.

Once the answer is arrived at, the player writes it down.  Then they can choose to discard a card of their choice or keep their current hand.  Once their hand is empty, a player draws a new hand of 5 cards.

Note: Players are free to twist or ignore a card if a waaay better answer exists between the lines.  The GM can always hand you a blank, or let you answer a question freely.  The first few questions should be based on cards, but the more in-character you try and answer questions, the quicker you should find the character emerging.

*Still haven't playtested this yet.  I hope its a quick session, but so far my base set of questions is thus:
1. People disappear all the time in Portland. Who have you lost? Do you know how or does it still haunt as one of those mysteries you want to solve?
2. Everyone could use something more, be it money, clout or time. What would you do with power? Who would you stop? Who would you save?
3. Portland is weird, and you lived here for some time. Why did you first move here? When did you first move here?
4. Everyone has ties to history. Family that has seen or done things. Events they've lived through or they know loved ones had gone through. What did your favorite grandparent do during World War I? Does that help define who you are?
5. How far would you go to help a friend in need? How many friends do you have left?
6. Think about someone you’ve known since childhood, and never gotten along with. What was that person like?
7. Its a dark world. What is the worst thing you can imagine yourself doing?
8. What would you like to believe you would die for? What is the foundation of your beliefs?
9. A lot of people want companionship. What do you look for in a lover? Are you in a relationship or did you just leave one?
10. Whats the best quality in a leader? What is the worst?
11. What was your character's childhood like? What was your early weaknesses and early strengths? Did anything strange happen that you never found the answer for?
12. What is the strength of your parents' relationship? How have they affected you? How often do you stay in contact with them? What conflict defines their relationship?
13. Dreams always speak to the future and the past. What’s a recurring theme in your dreams?
14. What kind of education have you had? Any career because of it? How did those experiences affect your life?
15. How do you pay the bills (or are you still in college)? Is it your passion? Do you suffer or enjoy it?
16. What experience have you had with the supernatural in the past? Have you seen things that can't be explained away? Are you open minded or do you fear the works of the Devil? What have you forgotten?  What scares you most about magic?
17. Describe yourself: how old are you, what do you look like, how do you dress? Emotionally are you an adult or are you still trying figure yourself out?
18. What is something you want to keep secret? What thing haunts you in your background? What will happen if this secret gets out?
19. What is the worst thing you can imagine someone else doing?
20. Horrors exist. Shit happens. What is the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to you?

What do you think?  Need any more work?