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18

Were either my expectations to "get started and wing it a bit in the beginning" or her expectations of "I want the whole backstory up front" wildly out of place? Either one is reasonable, as long as it is understood up front. I tend to go with the "wing a whole lot of it" version personally, but I make sure the group knows that up front. And yes, ...


17

The first part, seems like a classic miscommunication problem which can be solved by just talking about it after it first appear but before it becomes a major issue. It is all about expectation and disclosure of what the GM and player want. The first part of your question would superbly server as an example of what you are trying to do. Making sure that ...


16

Your level is about how much experience you have so far. It says nothing about where you are in the story. Consider the Lord of the Rings. At the beginning of the adventure, Frodo is a beginner, level 1, just starting his career. Aragorn, however, has been in many stories so far (even if we don't see them ourselves). When he joins this adventure, the ...


16

The question is a bit broad and rather subjective, but I think it's a good one, nonetheless. There are as many answers as shamans, though: it depends on the person and their circumstances as much as on their totem. Here, let me present a few examples I'd consider stereotypical (though YMMV, wildly, of course.) First of all, imo, practically any shaman can ...


15

The FATE system (I'm most familiar with the Dresden Files RPG which uses it) has this as a major part of character creation. In DFRPG we answer (in collaboration with the other players and the GM) the following questions are part of character creation: Background: Where did you come from? (PC's youth, his life as a "normal person" before getting embroiled ...


14

The GM takes on more work than any individual player in making the world and the game come to life. Obviously a GM without players has nothing, but the lynchpin of the game is still the GM. Having played in many games and GMed many more, I come into any game with the understanding that because the GM has to do so much work just to get the game going, that ...


14

You may try the trap idea with the following twist: The group finds a door that blocks their advance in the dungeon. It has a lock for each member of the group, which cannot be picked or broken open. The door also has several engravings, depicting a fearsome monster, and a mysterious text: Five locks in the door, Five minds in front of it. Five memories ...


13

One good way to get players thinking about their backstories is to pose each of them one question. For example, in my current campaign, all of my players had to tell me the answer to the question, "What one thing does your character wish for above all else?" Other good questions are, "What one thing does your character regret more than anything?", "Who would ...


12

The best way to make sure your players invest in character backgrounds is, in my experience, to actually use those backgrounds, and reward players that provide them. Players will not do something they don't consider worth doing. The rewards vary from group to group. If you haven't done so already, I suggest taking notes of what kind of thing is the most ...


11

SURGE is an acronym of Sudden Recessive Genetic Expression. It occurred in the 2060s with the return of Halley's Comet (SR4A, p. 32 & p. 54). In 2061, a massive mana pulse affected revelers bathing in the holy waters of the Ganges. The traits expressed by some were unusual skin tones and a pair of extra arms. They are called the Nartaki (Dancers) in ...


8

Check out character themes, namely the GuttersnipeDDI (featured in Dragon Magazine #399). Should provide some nice flavor as well as a few mechanical bonuses. Edit: This should give your warlock flavor without making any sacrifices and still get the rogue elements you might like.


8

Full mages and shamans are about half as common as doctors, and can do impressive things if they can even master a few spells. They will usually be fairly well off as a result: if you can cast healing spells all day, you should be able to make plenty of money, but there are plenty of alternatives. If you can cast combat spells, you should be able to make ...


7

Questions There are no mechanics as such, but every White Wolf game has a section in character creation about breathing life into the character. This is just a list of questions that help players think about their relationship to the setting. They also encourage you to play a short freeform session with each character individually. This prelude usually ...


7

The first question is; am I more of a rogue or more of a warlock? If more of a rogue take Rogue as the class, Unseelie Agent as your Theme, take the Warlock MC that gives you a Pact and choose Fey. Now your Theme and Feat represent the benefits you gained from the book, while your class represents the rest of your character's life. Use the Theme's Utility ...


7

Themes and background benefits, though both usually related to a character's background, are separate mechanical elements. Themes usually give a character a class feature and/or a power for free at level 1, and then give additional power options that character can pick while leveling up instead of a class power. With the exception of Dark Sun themes, themes ...


6

There's a French RPG where characters are crusading Templar knights, called Miles Christi (French). It's not been translated into English nor have I used the system, but I've heard good things about how the game succeeds in giving players a feel for the environment. There's a really nice and enthusiastic write up of a small Miles Christi game held at SGA ...


6

Back in the day, and today available as a PDF on the web somewhere, is Paul Jaquays' Central Casting: Heroes of Legend. A detailed, stand-alone system of tables, charts, and role-play guidelines for creating thoroughly individualized role-play characters. By following simple, step-by-step instructions, both game masters and players can give life to ...


6

Good question - a lot of folks concentrate on out of game activities (questionnaires, character background writeups) to generate character backstory (often referred to as Design At Start, or DAS), but it can be very effective to instead do in-game activities that drive Design In Play, or DIP - see also What are the advantages and disadvantages of develop in ...


5

I suspect that players who have problems with that think of the characters they play too much as tools or avatars of themselves, and not as characters different from themselves. The first step would be to point this out to the players and explain that in the interest of a more exciting game experience they should try to flesh out their characters. In order ...


5

I wouldn't go as far as to call myself a medieval scholar but it's a period of history that I know reasonably well. If I was going to be playing a Templar in this period my first step would be to get the relevant Osprey book, in this case Knight Templar 1120 - 1312. This should give you a solid grounding in what the Templars were, their history and their ...


5

Don't try to force it In my groups, some of the players like to really immerse themselves in the story and the world, while others prefer mechanics and combat tactics, and yet others mainly join to have a good time with friends. The first group does enjoy inventing and writing down elaborate backstories for their characters. However, the other two most ...


4

It will depend on your players largely, a lot of the time they will have trouble answering simple character questions derived from "who are you" or "what do you want". one of them will write you pages and pages of "backstory" that tells you as little as the "unacceptable" answers to who are you while another will scrawl a few lines on a napkin at taco bell ...


4

Like has been mentioned by some already; if you are starting the campaign at a higher level, then have it start there. There is no rule that says that a campaign has to start at level 1. There are a couple of different ways you can handle this. Existing Party: Like mxyzplk suggests. The group is an existing party that has already adventured together, but ...


4

Vampire the masquerade and all other WoD games had these questions as the first step of character creation. This is simply a number of question about your character's past and motivations. Dresden Files has a curious system about determining the characters background story, and their previous adventures. In FATE system, characters have aspects, which ...


4

The DDI lists Rapier as a Military weapon: Rapier Military one-handed melee weapon Cost: 25 Damage: 1d8 And asserts that it can be found in: Published in Player's Handbook, page(s) 218, Heroes of the Fallen Lands, page(s) 331, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, page(s) 334, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium, page(s) 21. Check the ...


3

I'm going to take the liberty of assuming that your players are creating their characters in isolation from one another, and therefore simply end up slapping mechanics together without any thought of why the character is what he/she is. I would suggest that your first session of the game actually be a character creation session. Don't think of character ...


3

Anime is a good source of inspiration for this. Because of the length of a show, they can (and do) delve into the back stories of many of the secondary characters. Generally, the story has an impact on the current story arc but not always. A character form their back story comes and seek revenge/help/interacts and flashbacks occur. Those can help flesh ...


3

There are quite a number of ways to start characters off with experience (skills, abilities) but not much backstory. They could be: Graduates of a magical university (think of the latter 2/3 of Lev Grossman's The Magicians, or what might happen after the Harry Potter books) Amnesiacs washed up on a shore with no memory of where they came from ...


3

@Oblivious Sage has a great possibility. He also brings up a great point: Why do you feel that just because the character is a higher level than 'start', the character must have a story already in progress? Depending on your specific mechanical reason for not starting at level 1 (should there be one), you may find that it makes no sense to have the ...


3

SURGE (Sudden Recessive Genetic Expression) was originally detailed in the 3rd edition Shadowrun Companion (published 2001, in-game 2061/2) Year of the Comet; it presented rules for all sorts of weird features: Examples of Class One SURGE include pointed ears, tusks, horns, or the ability to perceive the astral world...[Class Two SURGE causes] ...



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