Persona: Create Characters Together

I just finished a first draft of Persona, a collaborative game where players create interesting characters by building off each other's ideas.

It's inspired by exquisite corpse and aims to help a group create quirky yet consistent characters that no one contributor could have made on their own.

Here's the draft - I'd love feedback and suggestions!


  • I like this! Well done. I'd certainly keep a few sheets folded up in my pocket waiting to spring during a lull in conversation at the pub.

    The order you write could be messed with for interesting results. F'example, what happens when players write a defining moment first and then everyone has to collaboratively justify that.
  • +1
    Very clever game. Would be a great warm-up exercise for another, larger game/campaign (what once was called a micro RPG, IIRC). Or, yes, a funny pub game with the right crowd (a lot of folks at my local would totally go blank or totally go gonzo/lewd... not that the latter is necessarily bad!).
  • edited May 2016
    Personally, I'd like to see the design adding a little more to the picture.

    Perhaps each "character sheet" has different fields on it, for example. One character has a Talent and a Dark Past, whereas another has a Deadly Flaw and a Powerful Asset, or some other combinations which distinguish one character sheet from another.

    Or the "parts" for each character are written separately and then combined into characters (you could use random pairs to create the seeds for characters, for example).

    Or the procedure for creating characters asks leading questions which inspire the details. (For instance, each player asks the next a question about the character.)

    As it stands, the game doesn't seem to inject a whole lot of value into the process: it's fine, but we don't really need design to do this ourselves. "Pass to the right and add a detail" seems like it would work almost as well. I'd like to see the game's design throwing a wrench into that process, to inspire more creativity and send players thinking in unexpected directions.

    For instance, player 1 writes a Deadly Flaw, and then the next player is asked, "How does this Flaw masquerade/appear as a great strength to those who know the character?" That makes me think about the character in a different way, and I might come up with something I wouldn't have been able to think of on my own. That sort of thing can give a character depth in a way that pure brainstorming might not.

    Still seems like fun, though - especially if it's used as a micro game leading to a larger game, as David suggests.
  • I'd let players fill any space in any order; then you would need to consider whatever the other players wrote to fill another space. After all, it's not like you always have a good idea for motivations. Even more, I'd leave the Goal for last, to be filled by the player who would play the character.
  • Thanks for the warm feedback and suggestions!

    @Potemkin + @WarriorMonk - I like your ideas of letting players choose the buckets in any order they wish. I put goal first because I think a strong motivation is one of the most important parts of an interesting character; putting it last might make it too hard for a player to come up with a goal that is strong and consistent. That said - I think the safety valve of "I don't have a good idea for this section" is really nice, especially for less creative players.

    @Paul_T - I like where you're going with the alternate fields. I could see a version of this where the boxes are all empty but there's a shared list of fields (or deck of cards) players could choose from. Your variant where players go around asking a series of questions / followup questions is also super cool, though it's probably worth creating as a separate game / exercise in its own right.
  • For me goals are a very tricky subject, as they may define a story or get lost it it; they may drive one the character and make it pull the rest until the end, or get invalidated by a random event and leave the player at a loss about what to do next. They may make two PCs go into conflict in a game that isn't supposedly PvP or give them a solid common ground and interests in a game that is all about PvP drama.

    If the game is going to be more cooperative than competitive, I actually start asking the whole group to come up with a common goal, right after we have discussed and agreed upon a setting. If it's the opposite, then I need to make sure everyone has conflicting goals powerful enough to generate drama, which will probably mean writing them myself and then letting players choose, warning then that things may go PvP. It's even better to assign those goals randomly.

    Once our group played an Anima campaign, where a misterious event had wiped a civilization of very advanded humans, which eventually rised back changed into a medieval fantasy world with just rare legends to obscurely explain what happened. At some point we went into explaining that event, so we used some sort of freeform Microscope. Each player got to be a king of that advanced civilization, define on which sort of advanced technology their kingdom had specialized in and which technological resources were available to them.

    As I was GMing (or well, more like facilitating that part and playing as well) I wrote, not exactly goals, but ways of doing things that might make harder for players to collaborate or not. Like "you agreed to any solution as long as it's non-violent", "you are glad to collaborate as long as things go your way", "whatever happens, you will put your own people's safety before everything", "Knowledge justifies any sacrifice", and so.

    Then I throwed an extradimendional alien invasion to them, against which their weapons and technology were not too effective. They repelled the first wave, did some damage control, received an ultimatum from the aliens and set a virtual meeting to discuss what to do.

    That's when the fun part started. We all agreed to to something against the aliens, but the plans of each one clashed against the others and only a few things were agreed upon. I had "agreed to any solution as long as it's non-violent" so I propossed to discuss a truce with the aliens and agreed to their terms, at least to gain time. The one who wanted knowledge agreed with me, as it was useful to investigate these aliens and come up with a proper weapon to destroy them. But both things meant a lot of population will be sacrificed or mind-erased, so we couldn't reach an agreement with the king who put his people's safety. In the end this king saved their people's DNA in a secret databank and got wiped. The one seeking knowdledge couldn't defend his researchers from the aliens nor save the data, except for smoething he gave to another king, who got to built a dark metal weapon able to damage the aliens, but couldn't make enough and succumbed on a forever forgotten glorious last stand. I ended making the truce in the most unfavorable conditions and creating a secret global police to avoid humanity from getting smarter/more organized/recovering their technonogical advances. And to our surprise, the king who wanted to do thing his way become the setting villain, often pushing mankind to the verge of extinction to force them to evolve and develope, at least the courage to face the unknown.
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