Thursday, December 17, 2009

Role Playing: Fleshing out characters

Role Playing Games: Fleshing out the character.

Of the three games I considered in my comparative review only Castles & Crusades has a formal alignment system with the Law/Neutral/Chaos and Good/Neutral/Evil axes. In Warhammer FRP chaos does exist as an important force, but if a character is influenced or aligned with chaos it does not have the same mechanical effects as in C&C or D&D. In C&C and other games based on D&D there are alignment based spells such as detect law/chaos or protection from law/chaos.

RQ does not have alignments as such, but the runes linked to a cult do give an indication of its nature and again the world has forces of chaos that are usually opposed by player characters.

All three games talk about players fleshing out their characters, WFRP's 10 questions give the move comprehensive set of guidance with the categories being useful for GM to produce plot hooks and ideas from. The other games that I covered in the comparative review tend to have more general sections about how a character should be described with this being very brief in RQII as with most other games from that era.

WFRP's 10 questions are something that I quite like to use for any RPG to get players thinking about what their character is like as a person rather than just a set of numbers on a page.
  1. Where are you from?
  2. What is your family like?
  3. What is your social class?
  4. What did you do before you became an adventurer?
  5. Why did you become an adventurer?
  6. How religious are you?
  7. Who are your best friends and worst enemies?
  8. What are your prized possessions?
  9. Who are you loyal to?
  10. Who do you love/hate?


My emphasis to my players or GM though is that you don't have to put the same amount of effort into all of these or invent all of them. For example in WFRP I use the random tables to select partial answers to questions 1, 2 and 3 which often helps me pick up answers to the others.

For example a character with a peasant background might hate the authority figures like the local oppressive noble, particularly if that character is an outlaw or criminal. But the character could be loyal to their local noble if they actually act benevolently to the peasantry (yes, even if WFRP this can happen).

The great benefit of this information to the GM is the fact that it helps to provide plot hooks and reasons for the characters to act as a party. The main thing that I like to see though is that a character does not just have the clich├ęd "my characters family were slaughtered by orcs and now he doesn't have any close friends or relatives".

I'm going to revisit this theme with more thoughts and tips, but to avoid this being too long I'll leave it here.

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