Saturday, June 13, 2009

Making interesting characters

I read a good blog post today, which got me thinking about how I generate the characters I play. Our Sunday Group have been playing different kind of New School, indie games, for a while now. Many of these games come from the movement to empower the player which can be said to have started at The Forge. In those games you usually focus a lot on the player characters, naturally. To then just roll the bones and play what you get is kind of antithetical to that idea. My problem is that rolling the bones is how I go about such things!

I was once very fond of GURPS. My love with that system ended when I tried to make some characters in that system. It's a great system in many respects, but it showed to me an aspect which I know about, but hadn't felt before. If you ask me about what kind of character I'd like to play in this or that game, I usually think a bit and then give a few words of the attitude I'm aiming for. When using GURPS that is usually where you have to start, but for me that is the end. Sitting down and actually design a character built upon that vague attitude and you'll find me flailing about indecisively. I don't design my characters. I play them, from the start.

Rolling the bones and making up something as you go along is my way of doing it. I have nothing against detailed concepts, but I suck a making them up on the spot. Using life path systems is something I love, since it gives me a character with a lot of interesting wrinkles and also helps me start imagining things. So, having a table like the one on bloodlines which Mike is working on is right up my alley. Something like this in the rulebook of my beloved T&T would make me happy. As far as I know, neither Flying Buffalo nor anyone else have every published anything like that. A new character could always use some polish, right?

Here's some rough sketches, and a few newly cut facets which shows the jewel beneath. Now, imagine the hell out of it!


  1. You could do something similar to RuneQuest, where your profession before becoming an adventurer gives you a set of skills. I have an example here:

    There's a similar system for OD&D in Fight On! number 5.

    Also, I have several random tables that could be adapated on my tables website: (see the 'Personalising Characters' section).

  2. @Nathan: I must confess that having seen Risus, I really don't understand what the fuss is all about! It must be hiding something in its simplicity which I don't get.

    @anarchist: Your tables are wonderful! Love them. I guess I really need to catch up with all the issues of Fight On! that I've bought...


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