So in the Dresden Files RPG, character creation is meant to happen collaboratively in a unified manner. However, in our party, there are frequently times where one player or another cannot make it on any given day. How bad is it to miss 'character creation day'? Is there a way to seamlessly integrate 'new' characters (generated at a later date) with 'existing' characters (generated on the first day)? What method should be used in this circumstance?
Our characters were actually not created collaboratively in my current campaign, and I didn't see a difference.
A couple of pointers that I could give from my experiences:
- Discuss the characters that will be created in advance, and have them draw up at least a skeleton of the character if possible- perhaps having the high concept already in place.
- As GM, have those characters not there in mind as you discuss the characters that are there, and act as proxy.
- Have a couple of character creation sessions to cover the absences, all before the game starts.
- You might want to have a couple of City creation sessions also. The players are meant to have input into the creation of the city, and giving everyone this opportunity will give everyone buy in.
- When creating the city, have the absent characters in mind to add hooks and stickiness for them when they are present.
If done in this way, there won't be as much in the way of integration, as the campaign will not have truly started when any are created. However, if you do need to integrate a character after the fact, using the hooks that already existing characters have or places/faces that have been created as anchors for these new characters can help make the group gel even though they weren't all created together.
I will point out that it's entirely possible to generate characters "in play" with Fate, and it's also mentioned in DFRPG. (Looking it up, p. 69.)
Do the collaborative for those who can, and then you can legitimately just hand a character sheet and have the guys who missed start filling in during play, while they play. (If you can trust them not to cheat, at least.) You can even have others work in backstory bits in play.
If you want the full "CGen Experience," you just have the others volunteer for the slots on the character sheet of those showing up later in the campaign.
You would definitely benefit from making sure some discussion goes on before the game begins. Let them discuss whether they know each other and discuss the stories from their phase of character creation and work out those last couple aspects and make connections. Even if you won't have everyone know each other, it can help bring the group together without wasting time on a bunch of "I don't know you" nonsense if you can play the Kevin Bacon game and hit everyone.
For characters introduced much later let the group decide what would be best for the story. Just because Newbie Ned hasn't been around the last 8 sessions doesn't meen he didn't guest star in Joe or Jane's first story somehow so now instead of random stranger he's "Hey it's that guy." If you don't then Newbie Ned may have 2 blank aspects.