My character is not a...

edited January 2009 in Story Games
My guy is a Dwarven Runecaster from the Skycrag Mountains, skilled in the arts of Misdirection and Research. His race, class and skills, which I just made up, go on our game's lists of those things, and his homeland goes on the map.

Right after I decide what my guy is, I decide he's not a Hill Troll or a Fairy; he's not a Sneak Thief or a Gladiator, he's never been to the Forest of Glass or the Gibbering Sea, and he knows nothing of the arts of Battlefield Control, Seduction, Undead Heraldry or Shadow Divination. But, having now added those things to our game, I can expect to bump into a Fairy Gladiator upon the Gibbering Sea, or to find myself in a situation where Battlefield Control might come in handy.

(Maybe, after we all decide what our characters are and aren't, we each go back and change one aspect of our characters to someone else's contribution.)

Either way, we play short lived characters in a persistent campaign setting. As our characters die horribly or retire happily or just go off camera for a couple of sessions, we make new ones by picking races, classes, etc. from the list. Every time someone makes a new character, they add new classes, races, locations, and skills to the list for everyone to drool over and say "ooh, I want to be one of those next time!"

Comments

  • edited January 2009
    That's a really cool idea. So, there's a GM then? Do they get input on this sort of thing too, or is it just their job to use the stuff the players come up with?

    Also, tell me more of this crisis trigger, as it sounds intriguingly awesome.
  • Posted By: whiteknifeThat's a really cool idea. So, there's a GM then? Do they get input on this sort of thing too, or is it just their job to use the stuff the players come up with?
    Yeah, there's a GM. The way I envision it, the GM doesn't get to add races, classes or skills; those are solely the domain of the players. At the start of the game, the only races, classes, or skills are the ones the PCs have and the extras that they don't. The GM populates the game world with NPCs drawn from the lists made up at the beginning of the game. The GM can add new locations, but she must include all the ones invented by the players.

    As new characters are made, the list of character options is constantly growing, and the GM gets to start using those options for new NPCs. Also, since for every character element you make for your character you're required to invent two additional ones, the GM always has a wide variety of character options that she gets to play with first. For example, if I decide that "Monster Hunter" is now a character class, but I don't take that as my class, the GM gets to decide what being a "Monster Hunter" really means. By the time I have an opportunity to make a Monster Hunter character, the GM has already decided what Monster Hunters can and can't do -- maybe we've encountered a Monster Hunter in the course of the game fiction, or maybe the GM just tells us at some point that Monster Hunters get this, this, and that special ability, or whatever.

    Basically, it's a player-generated supplement treadmill, complete with the whole "the GM just bought Unearthed Arcana and now suddenly there's all these Barbarians and Cavaliers running around" thing.
  • weird question, Filip: is your use of "Squaresoft" rather than "SquareEnix" intentional? That is, does the game shoot for a style reminiscent of the games prior to the merger?
  • I think this would fly pretty well with Donjon.
  • Please tell us about your GM? I mean the actual person, not the role.
  • Posted By: Ron Hammack
    Basically, it's a player-generated supplement treadmill, complete with the whole "the GM just bought Unearthed Arcana and now suddenly there's all these Barbarians and Cavaliers running around" thing.
    Hmm......Very interesting. I like the idea that the game generates new content itself. I'd never really thought of making a supplement mill into a mechanic, but it does sound like a pretty sweet idea. I wonder if there are any other "metagame" features (like a supplement mill) one could implement as mechanics?
  • What if you had to start character creation with what your character is not, and why. In other words, we start with player A and the topic is 'Character Traits':

    "My character's not a Turncoat. Once his loyalty's given, he might stop working for someone but he will never work against them."
    "Hm, interesting. My character's not a Jackass. He's sensitive to others' feelings."

    and so on. When we get to the end, we've got a list of "Turncoat, Jackass, Thoughtful..." and so on, and everyone picks one from the list to be.

    The only downside I can see to this is that sometimes people pick their character to be a particular way because they just can't stand having people who are the other way around, and that could be problematic if someone just doesn't want (say) "Smart-Asses" in the party and that's why they picked it not to be.
  • Posted By: whiteknifePosted By: Ron Hammack
    Basically, it's a player-generated supplement treadmill, complete with the whole "the GM just bought Unearthed Arcana and now suddenly there's all these Barbarians and Cavaliers running around" thing.
    Hmm......Very interesting. I like the idea that the game generates new content itself. I'd never really thought of making a supplement mill into a mechanic, but it does sound like a pretty sweet idea. I wonder if there are any other "metagame" features (like a supplement mill) one could implement as mechanics?

    I was thinking about those self-aware, old-skool-esque games like Donjon, Red Box Hack, and Dungeon Squad, games that distill the essence of what was cool about playing D&D when you were 14. One of the things I loved most about D&D when I was 14 was all the supplemental material, all the new classes and races and campaign settings and whatnot that TSR was constantly churning out.

    One of the main reasons I loved that stuff was that it gave me some way to engage with the game even during the long, long periods when I couldn't find anyone to play with. Later on, when I started being able to game on a much more regular basis, I came to really hate supplements. They were expensive, it was a pain in the ass to haul them all to whoever's place we were gaming at that week, they were expensive, they introduced new elements that might contrast with my carefully crafted epic railroad-fest, they were freakin' expensive.

    But then somewhere along the line I got old, or at least old enough to start feeling nostalgic about the kind of D&D I played in middle school. I found games that captured some of that wide-eyed, goofy awesomeness, along with a generous pinch of adult self-awareness. But while those games give a pretty good approximation of what it felt like to play D&D when I was 14, they didn't give any attention to all of the things you did between sessions, like amassing ridiculous piles of supplemental material. I thought it would be interesting to take some of that solitary, outside-the-game stuff and fold it back into the actual gaming experience.

    So, yeah, what other kinds of meta-game (meta-meta-game?) stuff could you work into game mechanics? I dunno. I'm trying to think back to the kinds of things I did "with" D&D when I wasn't actually playing it. Collecting supplements. Drawing tons and tons of maps. Plotting out the awesome campaign I was going to run when I finally got a group together. Writing truly God-awful fantasy fiction complete with D&D stats for all the main characters. Naming homebrewed monsters after teachers I hated.

    Ooh, how about at least once per session, each player gets to invent a poorly conceived, badly balanced, totally unplaytested house rule (which, of course, directly benefits their own character) that we then have to play with from then on. Part of the game involves maintaining a central document, a Player's Handbook that we keep diligently updated with all the new rules. At the end of the campaign, we declare the game way too cumbersome and start over with a New Edition.
  • Posted By: JDCorley
    The only downside I can see to this is that sometimes people pick their character to be a particular way because they just can't stand having people who are the other way around, and that could be problematic if someone just doesn't want (say) "Smart-Asses" in the party and that's why they picked it not to be.
    In that case, you just wouldn't pick Smart-Ass as what your character isn't, because you'd know it was going on the list. Presumably, you'd have some kind of discussion ahead of time about what you really, actually, Did Not Want in the game.
  • Ron,

    My game of choice was shadowrun 2e. And I think my favorite part of the in-between activities was reading all of the message board and forum rumors imbedded in the text, and deciding which ones were really true in my campaign. The players would be all like "oh crap! X-rumor is really true! Oh noes, we're doomed!" Great fun, there.

    Adding a rumor list to any given rule or established color would be pretty easy to do. Then as the facts are speculated on in game, new material could be quickly generated, or kept for write up in-between.
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: Ron Hammack
    One of the main reasons I loved that stuff was that it gave me some way to engage with the game even during the long, long periods when I couldn't find anyone to play with.

    Ooh, how about at least once per session, each player gets to invent a poorly conceived, badly balanced, totally unplaytested house rule (which, of course, directly benefits their own character) that we then have to play with from then on. Part of the game involves maintaining a central document, a Player's Handbook that we keep diligently updated with all the new rules. At the end of the campaign, we declare the game way too cumbersome and start over with a New Edition.
    I think that that is one of the main things about supplements. Hell, I know that's what I did (and might still be guilty of doing on occasion).

    I like your other idea though. It's like all the fun of shitty AD&D variants, but with none of the hassle (well actually, with all of the hassle):

    Thrill to players making uber-races based off a fantasy novel they just read!
    Marvel at people designing insanely overpowered custom classes inspired by (i.e. totally ripped off from) some anime they just saw!
    Be astounded as the GM makes a custom monster to kill the whole party, but the min-maxing jerk he was actually after is the only survivor!

    But for a real authentic old-school flavor, you need to have the campaign end half way through the GMs "epic masterpiece" in a PvP TPK.
  • Posted By: JDCorley
    The only downside I can see to this is that sometimes people pick their character to be a particular way because they just can't stand having people who are the other way around, and that could be problematic if someone just doesn't want (say) "Smart-Asses" in the party and that's why they picked it not to be.
    One can probably come up with a two-stage solution when first all participants create the list of all things that matter collaboratively, and then they go in turns saying DoWant/WannaSeeInOthers/DoNotWant.
  • Posted By: whiteknife
    But for a real authentic old-school flavor, you need to have the campaign end half way through the GMs "epic masterpiece" in a PvP TPK.
    Psh. If your DM let that happen, he was a wuss. The correct response is: "And then the Gods bring you all back to life in order to fulfill your destinies, geas you into complying, and grant you total invulnerability against attacks from other party member. And then the grudge monsters show up. Roll initiative!"
  • edited January 2009
    If only my fourteen year old self had been as clever as that. (Plus I like watching the players kill each other).
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