Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Making A Character Is Like When You Text Message Intimate Things To Your Intimate Partner

By which I mean; it's foreplay. If you get new players, get a new system, start a new campaign, one-off, whatever, your players are going to be turning dice into characters*. This is great for various reasons, but let me backtrack a little...

I don't pre-load my players with a lot of setting information. It's boring, unengaging and your friends probably forget it once they've finished rolling their Strength score. By ditching that junk you keep things simple: Everything gets moving, people start playing and the experience is generally improved. The downside of this is obvious: The players don't know who or what they are, why they care about anything, or what is even around to care about. This is fine, really, because that all becomes apparent eventually, but we can do better.

For me, the trick is to weave the essence of your setting into your character generation. I always include simple and, ideally, entertaining steps in char-gen that A; imply things about the game/setting and B; imply something about the character. These things should either allow or demand creative interpretation from your players, to start them engaging with your setting and their character before you start throwing skeletons at them. The correct answer to any question about what they've rolled is probably “I don't know, make it up”. The players will come up with a reason to have a squirrel for a hat if the dice give them a squirrel for a hat. Trust the dice and your players will hit the ground running.

Anyway, I have for you today some selection of such things that I've included in my chargen for New Feierland. Feel free to borrow or steal, but you'll probably want to change it all to work for your game.

^ Or His, or whatever.

*Unless you pregen, but that's a waste of time and opportunity.


1. A Sense Of Impending Doom (+1 to all saves)
2. An Overwhelming Need To Vomit (+2 to poison saves)
3. An Urgency To Purge These Abominations (+2 to initiative rolls)
4. Contemptible Ambition (+10% XP)
5. A Need For Cynicism And Discretion (Can always safely flee any reasonably fleeable situation)
6. Elf Pox. (Roll D6 at start of each session, flares up on a 1 or 2. Symptoms are yellowish rings over skin, a love for dance and a taste for mead. Must make a Save vs Whatever in the presence of NPCs or grasp their hands and dance for D6 minutes or until struck facewise. Disease is spread by touch (Save avoids). Gains 25XP/Level for each NPC afflicted (Deliberately Or Otherwise). Also gains 5XP/Level for each pint of Mead consumed in the session.)


1. No
2. A heavy, sodden piece of wood
3. A salty spear or axe
4. A leatherbound sword with shadows of rust
5. D6 oily throwing knives
6. A fraying bow
7. D6 Feierlish javelins
8. A battered wooden shield
9. A tarnished coat of hardened leather (Light Armour)
10. An aging iron byrnie (Medium Armour)


1. Bald/shaved
2. A mouldering top-hat
3. A Skullcap
4. A tangled, muddy mess
5. Moustache
6. Sea Captain's Hat
7. A serviceable helmet
8. Irish braids
9. A dark, rain-proof hood.
10. A simple mask
11. Bearded Or Scarred
12. Dark red curls
13. An ill-fitting beanie
14. Long, flowing hair
15. A pigeon or small, furred beast
16. Tattooed
17. Eyepatch
18. Monocle
19. Cultural/religious head-dress
20. A thousand-yard stare

WOULD YOU LIKE A RANDOM THING? (D10 ) (Actually D200 at home)

1. A long-stemmed pipe and some spliced herb.
2. An Arabian-style lamp
3. A small, oiled bag of rat pieces.
4. An accurate local map of browning goat leather.

5. A precious iron pot
6. A pet pig named ________
7. An earthenware tea set
8. A damp, well-used set of tarot cards
9. A full set of Knucklebones in a marshwood box
10. A goat-horn box of beetles.

11. … etc.

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