Is this all that I am?
The whole point of role-playing is getting a group, as small as 2 in some cases, to play characters that will live in the game world and solve all of that worlds problems, or at least the one at the end of a story arc! This post is actually aimed at the players and is aimed at the creation of story relevant characters. However, I would encourage the refs to continue reading to see how I tied the two pieces together. To give a bit of background on this (and it’s companion post earlier)…I have been looking at making a new Shadowrun campaign, and have been thinking about characters and the runner team. I began wondering what sort of ideas I might be missing, so I have been doing some research looking at several blogs, and forums, and reading the well thought out “The Game Master” by Tobiah Panshin (http://tobiah.panshin.net). I found things I liked, some I didn’t, as well as things I did and did not agree with, but it was definitely enlightening. Putting this stuff together I’ve come up with the following guidelines players when they are creating characters. I have not used this procedure, but it seems like it would work, and I will be using it for at least the simmering idea I have. This is, in some ways the player view on the earlier post, but it does include player only info, as well. Although not quite the same rules from the other side of the screen, they are closely related:
- Grok the world around you!
- What Am I doing?
- Do I know you? Or “Jinkeys!”
- Uphill, both ways…
Rule 1:Grok the world around!
This is the player side of the ref’s first rule. While the ref needs to give you the setting and the general direction of the plot, it is incumbent upon a player to make sure they understand the world in which the character they are about to make has lived in for all their life. This includes if they have lived in multiple worlds or realities! Even if the plot revolves around normal characters being caught in extraordinary circumstances, you need to understand that. When you start thinking about your character, keep in mind exactly what the plot and setting are. And never be afraid to ask questions, because your questions might spark a thought by your ref that had not been considered… you may have just modified the setting! However, don’t start thinking character yet…this is purely an understanding step. If you already have a character in mind, don’t let it solidify too much yet…there are things that need to be hooked onto the thought frame before too much flesh is added!
Rule 2: What am I doing here?
This is kinda like the corollary to the second and/or third ref rule. Now you start working with the other players and the ref, and deciding what role your character will have in the party. If you are a BESTER, then this will be easy or very hard. Each party member needs to have a specialty…the role that they are the go to person for. In the Refs post, I talked about 4 soldiers…we know that they all have similar skills, but there needs to be one person who is the expert. Of course, if the setting requires every character to have First Aid, Shooting, Lock Picking and Projectile Vomiting, well…everybody needs them, BUT…each person must be best at one of them…If you have 7 players and these are the only required skills, then you can have experts in other skills, but you should always have a person who is the first choice in a situation. This will allow every person at the table to have a chance at the spotlight. Now is when you start fleshing out your character idea…but don’t fill out too much…(starting to see a pattern?)
Rule 3: Do I know you? or the “Jinkeys!” rule…
This is the rule that insures the character has a reason to join the party and go on the well thought out, meticulously planned adventure that your ref has created…The whole point here is to give your character a bit of a motivation… Talk among the other players, and see how you can connect them. This can be because they know one another, perhaps, and makes them want to join together to accomplish a task. Maybe they have never met, but know OF one another… If they don’t know each other, maybe they are employed by the same employer…very typical of Shadowrun, where they might all be from the same fixers stable. But, sometimes this is not enough to reasonably keep them together. So, the Jinkeys rule comes into play…Your player should have a natural reason to WANT to go after things. If they can all support one another, great…but…if your character is one who never takes a risk, and allows the authorities to deal with everything, then they are not much of an adventurer…and have very little reason to be part of adventuring party. Even better…If they know one another AND they are “natural self starters,” then the have great reasons to be part of the party. (Jinkey’s, of course, was Velma’s version of “The game is afoot!” (Scooby Doo!)) Somewhere around this time, your character might be close to gelled! You notice that we have got a fairly complete character build so far…but there is one more part before you start to finalize that alter ego.
Rule 4:Uphill, both ways…
This is the final rule to be addressed, and it the direct translation of the Refs 4th rule: HOOKS! If your ref is using the tool I proposed in the earlier post, then they will have some built-in hooks for you to use. (Of course, at this point, I haven’t used those tools either…so they may just not work!) If they don’t provide you some built-in hooks, now you should consider creating the hooks to tie the story to your character. If you are a Profiler, or a Storyteller, then this is meat and potatoes…build your background, but keep in mind, in your novella of the pre-story story, you should be providing the ref with 3 or 4 hooks that can come up and be used for OR against your character. Make them obvious and clear…Bold them…Highlight them…write them in different colors…That way both you and the ref know what you intend. If you are not really into making deep background character, then think of a tv show or movie, with a character that might be like your character…Talk it over with your ref, and then you can work up some hooks…Remember, hooks can be just about anything…something that you want, something that you regret, something you are looking for, some one that wants you, something you stole (of course the previous owner is still not happy…) If the ref has provided you with hooks, talk them over with him (and you may want to do it privately) make sure that nothing in the hooks is outside of your comfort zone (beyond the contract).
After these four rules, you build your character! You have decided what their specialties are, how they will fit in the group, and what “surprises” may show up (based on the hooks). It is possible that if your ref gives you a very specific hook, that it might give a bit of the plot away…consider it foreshadowing and just go with it…It may not be what you think…Remember that this is my experimental rules for character creation to make a better character party. I would recommend that, if possible, you go through the same procedure for replacement characters. (By the by…you might check this web site that I have just found if you want to work out some sort of alternate persona for your character!) Keep in mind the table contract. Every one is here for fun. But if they want to ham up their character, let them! If you harass them about it, be absolutely certain they won’t be upset, or be driven to put away the ham. On the other hand, If somebody is not comfortable choosing a voice, and an accent, wearing character attire, and never breaking character, then don’t tease them about it! They may be uptight…but haranguing them about it will certainly not make them get outside their comfort zone! And remember…HAVE FUN!!!!