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General Forge Forums => Game Development => Topic started by: dindenver on December 19, 2010, 06:26:30 PM

Title: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: dindenver on December 19, 2010, 06:26:30 PM
Character Creation
   1. Come up with a basic character concept, what is the character you will play like?
   2. Name - What is your character’s name?
   3. Origin - What Nation was your character raised in?
   4. Talent - What is your character’s special Talent?
   5. Talent Level - What level is that Talent at? Choose between 1 and 6. It us used to determine the level of effectiveness for your character’s Talent, as well as some other things (e.g., Friends, Enemies, Luck, Reputation and Wealth).
   6. Set Friends, Enemies, Luck, Reputation and Wealth to one.
   7. Destiny Points - Subtract your Character’s Talent Level from seven, these are your character’s Destiny Points. This will also determine how many skills they will start with.
   8. Background Points - Multiply your character’s  Talent Points by three. After that is done, subtract one. That number is how many Background points your character has.
   9. Childhood - Choose a background, select a skill from each Aspect and spend Background Points to start with more Friends if you like.
  10. Early Schooling - Choose a background, select your Destiny in Skills and spend Background Points to start with more Enemies.
  11. Professional Training - Choose a background, select your Destiny in Skills and spend Background Points to start with more Wealth.
  12. Experience - Choose a background, select your Destiny in Skills and spend Background Points to start with more Reputation.
  13. Determine Luck - However many Background Points you have remaining, these are your Luck Points. If you have more than 6 left, the excess points add to the number of Enemies you have.
  14. Determine if your Reputation is positive or Negative.
  15. Select Friends and Enemies. Each Friend and Enemy must have a Name (it can be that of an NPC introduced by the GM, a PC or you can use that slot to introduce a new character to the setting) and an origin (why are they your friends or enemies?).
  16. If none of the PCs are one of your Friends, create another type of relationship with a PC.
  17. Describe their personality
  18. Describe their Motivation
  19. Describe their Goal
  20. You are done!

  What do you think? will this create interesting characters?

Title: Re: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: Ar Kayon on December 19, 2010, 06:47:41 PM
In my opinion, having pre-made plot points (e.g. picking friends and enemies, etc.) is a good idea.  Perhaps it may help stave off the obligatory tavern scene where the game master forces you into some contrived quest as a mysterious stranger approaches you.

Title: Re: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 19, 2010, 06:55:52 PM
Hi Dave,

The question is whether we are engaged in portraiture or in role-playing. If it's the latter, then character creation is best understood as establishing a particular starting point for change. The way such change occurs is (i) for the character to be involved in fictional situations and (ii) as a consequence, for numbers and terms to be affected either temporarily or permanently.

"System is a character sheet's way of making another character sheet."

Therefore a character sheet is only a viable role-playing object or tool insofar as it positions a character into fictional situations and as it changes as a consequence of those situations. I should clarify that by "positioning" I do not mean that the sheet itself provides the specific problems and situations; it might, for some games, but in others, it only provides key information that helps someone else construct situations. Either way is OK, as long as the content is there.

So when I see a list like this, I find myself contrasting two characters I've played in the past: Kakita Gan, my Crane Clan bushi character in Legend of the Five Rings; and Brother Newton in Dogs in the Vineyard.

The character creation rules in L5R include a list of twenty qualitative questions about the character which are, with the possible exception of the last one, quite ambiguous regarding what they're for. They could either be a means for further refining, shading, and perfecting the portrait of one's character; or for highlighting points of critical instability in the character's social circumstances and psychology. The former is probably most consistent with the rest of the text in the book, especially certain mechanics concerning Honor. Most importantly, there is absolutely nothing in the mechanics or even qualitative processes of play which harks back to these twenty questions, once you've started play.

The character creation rules in Dogs in the Vineyard mainly produce a substantial list of Traits, or short descriptive bits with various dice appended to them. There is no ambiguity about what they are for - they show the character's strengths and weaknesses, both of which can make him or her more effective in conflicts. So a "weakness" in Dogs is not so much about being less effective, but being able to be effective even though one is being (e.g.) vicious, selfish, resentful, or similar. And you know what - the kicker is that the Traits are always on the block via the Fallout follow-up to resolving conflicts.  In fact, the last act of character creation is to run such a conflict, so the character is already "running" before the formal scenario starts. The trait list at the start is going to look a lot different after a session or two, and especially after a whole town scenario.

Let me know if this contrast is making sense to you. It strikes me that you have put a lot of work into permitting me, as a player, to paint a portrait. But a portrait isn't a viable starting point for role-playing. It is also possible that I don't know the system well enough to see how certain things on your list are in fact crying out for inclusion in situations and ripe for change. If that's the case, then describe those things in action for me.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: dindenver on December 19, 2010, 10:50:57 PM
  I do see where you are coming from.

  There are a couple of handles that players can use to create role playing situations:
1) Friends an enemies
2) Reputation (and the number that goes with it) can be used to measure how well known your character is an if they are known to be selfish or selfless.
3) Goal
4) Also, in steps 9, 10, 11 and 12, the players are describing the environment that the character lived in during that period of their life (actually selecting from a list, helping the players to build a mutual understanding of the setting). This both creates an identity for the character to latch on to, but also lays potential seeds for further situations.

  The rest of the steps are designed to build the numbers you use to resolve conflicts. For instance the number of skills in one pool determines the level of that pool (e.g., 5 skills equals a 5 in that aspect).

  I don't know. These are not the strongest tools for creating situation or conflict, but I have used them successfully in the past and hope to show other players how cool they can be. And I have supplemented that by giving the PCs Destiny Points. These can be used by the players to create a new situation (from whole cloth if need be).

  Also, I have played a lot of Dogs and have an idea for a ditv-style trait system, but it is a supers game and is on the back burner right now.

Title: Re: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: Callan S. on December 19, 2010, 11:40:07 PM
Hi again Dave,

I may have missed it in a previous post, but what is the thing that troubles the setting your game is in? Or troubles, if there are multiple ones?

Could you have a step where the player describe their character physically in the middle of those world troubles in some way or another?

Title: Re: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: dindenver on December 20, 2010, 06:13:26 AM
  Thanks again for checking this out, I appreciate it.
  Well, that is really what Goal is for. I guess in the game text, I will use that to describe it better. But that is the idea, Goal means what about the setting does your character want to change?
  Does that make sense?
  Did you have an alternative approach?

Title: Re: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: Callan S. on December 20, 2010, 04:56:18 PM
For some reason 'goal' just doesn't ping me? To me the semantics of it seem to validly include starting the character off in play absolutely nowhere near the world troubles, even if his goal is something to do with them. Alot of goals are met not by standing in the middle of them - yet standing in the middle of them makes for interesting play. Maybe the PC will get to those troubles eventually - but after how many hours of gameplaying through nothing much exciting in regards to his goal?

My alternate approach is like I wrote - the player describes their character starting play physically in the midst of those world troubles, in some way invented by the player.

I mean, your setting has it's world troubles - do you want the characters to engage that world trouble? I'll grant what I'm describing is a bit like porn, it skips foreplay and gets straight to it. But on the other hand it does get right to it.

How do you imagine play going? Have you tried writing up a quick mock up of how you'd imagine a session starting and going?

Title: Re: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 20, 2010, 05:16:31 PM

Your use of a character goal statement is very similar to the approach taken by Hero Wars, later HeroQuest. That feature was kind of a make-or-break for a given game, at least in terms of thematic punch that other parts of its text encouraged. If a group bought into the character goals as (i) compelling and (ii) potentially problematic, then they really helped play flow and develop. If, on the other hand, they thought of character goals more-or-less like they thought of character hats, then play fragmented, at least in terms of thematic punch, and shifted very drastically to a setting-based travelogue or color-fest.

I think it's time to move away from personal reactions in this thread. "I like it," It pings me," et cetera, is not really going to help you much. I'm hoping that we can take it to a more comparative level as I tried to do in this thread.

More generally, though, I think it's time for you to playtest it and get an idea of how you phrase your procedures to other people, in practice. At this point, we can speculate all we want about what will or won't work, and for whom, but the fact is that you are going to have to shift into a practical and judgmental mode toward the game itself.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [Legends of Lanasia] Character Creation
Post by: dindenver on December 20, 2010, 05:47:12 PM
  There is some truth to that.

  As an aside, Callan, your comments have sparked me to add a step before step one that includes the GM working with the players to select a trouble from the setting that they all want to play with.

  And yes, I am working towards getting a playtest draft and getting it in front of players. Frankly, I have to make a few more threads before it can be playtested.