We've played two sessions of a game using the methods discussed in this thread
: one devoted to character creation, one of Actual Game. I'll talk about the character creation thread in this post, full group play a little later.Quick summary of What Has Gone Before: Back in the mid-2000s, a poster on the Forge called Silmenume poured out thousands of words about his particular group's Middle Earth game, run by a Christian film-maker named Cary Solomon. I call these old posts the Canon. The group valued player skill (in the "knowing how the GM will react to what I say" sense), 1st-person immersion, acting with conviction and without hesitation, and deep involvement in the myth. There was no written system for the players, but the game seemed to revolve around the d20 roll, with natural 1s and 20s being particularly important. It often seemed like after the roll, the GM cary would just narrate whatever he wanted—as modulated by the character's particular abilities, the situation at hand, and personal & table gut reactions to very high or low rolls.Before Play
Preparing for this game took a while, in a few ways. One, in the months after our last big campaign, while we did board games and one-shots, I got everyone on the same page about playing a long-running heroic fantasy game that puts a lot of trust in the GM, and a lot of weight on the game's Myth.
We talked about the mechanic—it was hard to find language to explain it eloquently, even though people took to it very naturally in play. We talked about how combat would be without rounds or formal action economy, without real to-hit numbers, fast and tactical in a first-person kind of way rather than a top-down way. We talked about the importance of acting quickly, of not hesitating to take up leadership roles.
And two, I poured a lot of work into that Myth, writing in a little notebook maps and lineages and histories and constructed languages and notes on how we'll be using historical languages. I love that kinda thing and put a lot of effort in, especially into languages.
I sent out two documents to each player: the full rules, and also a players' guide with rules and setting summaries, and lots of language resources. I think people most enjoyed the bits on making anglo-saxon names that didn't sound too Wagnerian, and making names in Giantish.How We Made Characters
When we sat down for character creation, I tried to build the process out of what Silmenume had written about Cary's game. First we talked about who the player wanted their character to be at the end of the chargen process, and the outline of their lineage / birth / early life, and a name. Then the player divides a pool of 25d6 between six Ability scores, and rolls them to generate actual scores.
Next, we go through four life phases. In each phase, we start by chatting about what the player wants to get out of this phase. Where they want to be at the end, what they want to learn during it. ("I'm a slave now, but I want to gain the trust of the crew and rise to a position of authority!") We decide how old the character will be at the end of the phase.
Then we do a little one-on-one role-play—mostly freeform, but we resort to the core throw-a-d20 mechanic at least once each phase, sometimes quite a bit. Sometimes this play is more abstract, just hashing out where the character was, what they were doing, who was important in their life. Sometimes we got into playing through scenes in as much detail as we would in full group play.
A particularly high or low d20 could really swing the course of a character. For instance, Peter wanted to play a smith from Corgesse-town, whose forefathers had learned to sing to iron in the forging as the giants do. When we were playing through him learning this skill, he rolled a 2 or a 3—he just didn't have the knack, he couldn't learn it. He ended up apprenticing himself to an alchemist and learning metallurgy, as he strove to achieve through study what he couldn't through natural talent; and eventually discovering that he could only hear the true purpose of sky-iron from the heart of a fallen star, not the base iron divulged from the fiery bowls of the earth.
At the end of a phase, I hand out Wises (things the character knows a lot about, explicit permission for the player to ask me what their character knows, to make up minor fitting details, to learn about the subject matter out of game and bring it to the table), Manners (the styles of social interaction that are natural and comfortable for the character), new Proficiencies (like skills) at the lowest rating, and very rarely a special Gift.
Then, I give the player a few d6 (2 for the first phase, 4-6 for each of the next three phases) that they can allocate to advancement checks for their Abilities and Proficiencies. They divide up the dice, putting at most 2 into any trait, and then roll them open-ended to see how much experience they gain.
At the very end, the player answers twelve questions. Their answers can adjust the target number values of four saving throws by a few points: a save versus Dread, versus Hesitation, and versus Trauma. Then we calculate hit points and we're done!
So there's lots of negotiation, lots of role-play, lots of constrained choices, lots of randomness, lots of unexpected outcomes: we're discovering the character together as we go. I don't think anybody's character ended up as precisely what they or I expected at the start of the process.