PDA

View Full Version : Character vs Setting focus



CharonsHelper
2016-02-03, 08:56 PM
A couple of recent threads have got me to notice something. There seems to be a somewhat subtle divide (possibly more of a spectrum) of RPG players who focus more upon character vs setting. There's nothing wrong with either - I just wanted to get some feedback on it.

It seems like some players go into a new RPG excited about the new character that they just came up with, and they want to play that exact character in whatever setting it is. These players tend to prefer more open character creation systems, likely a classless point-buy.

Some players get more into the setting of a game. They get more excited about a new world to explore and want to create a character to explore that world with. These players seem less likely to get grumpy about character limitations so long as those limitations fit the game's setting and help to make it feel more real.

Now - I am not saying that either is right or wrong. They just seem to be somewhat different reasons that people play RPGs. Does that seem about right? Also - there are of course many other reasons people want to play RPGs, but appeasing these two seem that they may be at cross-purposes when creating a system.

Lord Raziere
2016-02-03, 09:20 PM
.....well I do recall that my main problem with Exalted is that I can't really make the characters I want and I don't really seem to care about the world in the same way others do. so I guess there is some weight to that.

but at the same time, when I have a system that CAN make the character I want to play, I find myself wanting a setting where that character can be played and make sense, even if they are kind of special-snowflake-y. I mean sure in Superheroes, literally any character is possible but some heroes are designed for certain venues and times and not others, at least mine are.

I mean sure I want to play Nihilon Terminus, Vetala Nephilim with two bloodlines: Eyes of Death and Existence Eater, who also knows Nemesis Ki. and sure I could probably make this in a generic superhero setting....BUT. the character idea is from and fitted for Anima Beyond Fantasy and its world, even if its kind of not a normal character even for that world, because none of those concepts make sense outside Anima Beyond Fantasy in the same way it does within it. you have to do more than transfer over the character, you have to transfer over some of its setting baggage that comes with it like being hunted by an Inquisition, reincarnation, Nemesis being the enemy force of ki, things like that.

so yes, your right, I care more for what character I can create and the story I can tell with that character, its just the story also has to have some way of making sense with that character, because I can't play the story of say, a Khornate Berserker who can literally only say "Blood For the Blood God." like Groot in someplace that isn't Warhammer 40,000 without a lot of tone dissonance.

So yes, I like to create my own characters first and foremost, but then I have the annoying problem of finding a setting that fits the character so that it doesn't feel weird. I mean sure, I can make whatever character I want in the freeform roleplay in Nexus, but that doesn't guarantee the characters that will respond will be just as serious or fitting with my own character's story, so any character story I want to play gets neglected by the fact that none of it really gets taken seriously in Nexus.

So yes, in short: I do want to make my own characters first and foremost, but then I want a setting where the story they are meant for won't be clashing or nonsensical.

goto124
2016-02-04, 03:18 AM
Some players get more into the setting of a game. They get more excited about a new world to explore and want to create a character to explore that world with. These players seem less likely to get grumpy about character limitations so long as those limitations fit the game's setting and help to make it feel more real.

Huh, I realize I tend to make bland generic characters so that I can fit whatever the style of the setting turns out to be in practice.

Not sure what you mean by 'character limitations'.

BWR
2016-02-04, 03:56 AM
I come down very strongly on the side that making characters that don't fit the setting is wrong. It is downright jerkass behavior if you do it intentionally, and just plain frustrating for everyone if you do it accidentally. If you do it intentionally, you're basically saying that your own preferences are more important than trying to go along with the guidelines the DM has set down and the rest of the group is trying to play by. If you don't like the setting, fine but don't go around ruining it for other people. Now, people not knowing the setting well enough and making something that doesn't fit through ignorance is another issue, and being told what you make is wrong is frustrating for both GM and player. There is absolutely no necessary disconnect between focusing on characters and focusing on setting. Heck, most of my detailed and loved characters were ones who were created within a well-defined setting with plenty of cultural and historical information to work with. Setting restrictions are not obstacles getting in the way of the character, they are structures to build the character on.

As for the assertion that character-focused players generally like point-buy classless instead of something more structured, that is not my experience. I've seen numerous examples of people being overly enamored with what things are possible in a D&D system at the expense of setting-appropriateness, and no examples of the opposite.

Lord Raziere
2016-02-04, 04:01 AM
Not sure what you mean by 'character limitations'.

Easy, I have a lot of experience with character limitations. take DnD 3.5, and use only the corebook for it, now list all the races and classes you can play with it. thats a character limitation. you can't play anything outside that. want a dragon? nope. want to play a catfolk? out of luck. want to play a psion? lolno, and no can't reflavor. and so on and so forth. now imagine you find all the core options boring because they're so generic and your GM won't let you play anything from a splatbook because they hate that for whatever reason.

whatever restricts your options for the character you want to play, is a limitation and yes I'm fully aware this includes the setting and even reasonable measures of limitation. thats why I don't even try to get into games with premises that don't fit any of my characters, even if I am otherwise given free reign with powers I want to use in systems like M&M.

nedz
2016-02-04, 04:10 AM
It's really all about exploration.

Do you explore the ruleset ?
In which case you are interested in Builds and their fruits: Characters.

Or do you explore the world ?

The difference you see could also be the difference between Players and DMs ?

lacco36
2016-02-04, 04:25 AM
A couple of recent threads have got me to notice something. There seems to be a somewhat subtle divide (possibly more of a spectrum) of RPG players who focus more upon character vs setting. There's nothing wrong with either - I just wanted to get some feedback on it.

It seems like some players go into a new RPG excited about the new character that they just came up with, and they want to play that exact character in whatever setting it is. These players tend to prefer more open character creation systems, likely a classless point-buy.

Some players get more into the setting of a game. They get more excited about a new world to explore and want to create a character to explore that world with. These players seem less likely to get grumpy about character limitations so long as those limitations fit the game's setting and help to make it feel more real.

Now - I am not saying that either is right or wrong. They just seem to be somewhat different reasons that people play RPGs. Does that seem about right? Also - there are of course many other reasons people want to play RPGs, but appeasing these two seem that they may be at cross-purposes when creating a system.

I had to read it thrice to see your meaning clearly and... yes. I would agree with most of it. My first thought was somewhere around "this makes no sense, I make my characters..."... but when I thought about it...

When I get to play, I usually look at the other characters and fill in the empty spot (e.g. party without rogue? I make one. Party without tank? Hit me!). If there are no visible empty spots, I create a character more freely. I listen to the GM's explanation of the world... and if it doesn't provide me with sufficient options for me, I don't play. And if it does, I am usually interested in playing certain types of characters. I can move away from my idea, but for example, I don't play high-fantasy high-magic settings, because I like to play human swordfighters.

As for my GM experience - yes. I have had players, who at first listened to my explanation of world and then came with an idea about a character...and I have had players who came even before I explained the setting (e.g. low-magic, mainly human race, sword and sorcery, lots of fighting, realistic fights, no magic weapons, armour that encumbers) and came with characters that didn't fit (magic users, full-plate elven spearfighters). I usually talked to them and the ones that really wanted their character to be the special snowflake magic-user in a world with nearly no magic, usually didn't want to play, as opposed to the ones who first listened and then said "Well, can I have at least some magic...?".

In the second point, these people usually came with a compromise (e.g. yes, you are able to do some magic, the most powerful spells will be on level of cantrips, if you find tomes of magic you can read from them, but every time you do so, you risk madness or the elder things noticing you) and thought it was well. However, if they had idea of character (e.g. centaur mage in Shadowrun), they were usually unwilling to let go.

And we all know at least one person, that wants to play a ninja/catfolk/elf/sparklypyre every time - even if you play a modern setting.

So thank you - this has been a bit eye-opening for me. I usually get really excited about interesting characters, but get unhappy very quickly if they don't fit the environment/setting and the person making them does not want to work within the framework that is present. However, my question would be - if a GM presents a setting (let's say the above - adventurers in low-magic setting, mainly human races, fantasy-medieval Europe in sword and sorcery style with magic being very subtle and mostly on the evil side, lots of fighting and realistic/lethal fights, nearly no magic weapons, you start poor), and you present him with your character...are you OK with him telling you you need to change it/make a different one? How should one proceed with a character that does not fit (and will make the play not enjoyable/really complicated for either the GM or even some players)?

hifidelity2
2016-02-04, 04:42 AM
So thank you - this has been a bit eye-opening for me. I usually get really excited about interesting characters, but get unhappy very quickly if they don't fit the environment/setting and the person making them does not want to work within the framework that is present. However, my question would be - if a GM presents a setting (let's say the above - adventurers in low-magic setting, mainly human races, fantasy-medieval Europe in sword and sorcery style with magic being very subtle and mostly on the evil side, lots of fighting and realistic/lethal fights, nearly no magic weapons, you start poor), and you present him with your character...are you OK with him telling you you need to change it/make a different one? How should one proceed with a character that does not fit (and will make the play not enjoyable/really complicated for either the GM or even some players)?

As a DM I explain the setting - lets take your example above. If a PC says I want to pay n Elf MU with a majic Staff / Sword/ Pinkie Ring then as DM I ahve the right to
- Refuse any Magic items I dont agree with
- Advise him that as an Elf in this world he will be second class citizen and I will treat his character (in game) like that - he will be barred from some taverns, not allowed to meet importanat people etc. If he uses spells (as they are in your world deemed evil) he may be hunted down, burnt as a witch etc. If the PC still wants to pay that Character then I wil let them as they have been warned.

BWR
2016-02-04, 04:52 AM
It's really all about exploration.

Do you explore the ruleset ?
In which case you are interested in Builds and their fruits: Characters.

Or do you explore the world ?

The difference you see could also be the difference between Players and DMs ?

Are you really trying to say mechanics = character?
And that interacting with the setting is not based on character?
Because that is almost the exact opposite of how it really is.

lacco36
2016-02-04, 05:07 AM
As a DM I explain the setting - lets take your example above. If a PC says I want to pay n Elf MU with a majic Staff / Sword/ Pinkie Ring then as DM I ahve the right to
- Refuse any Magic items I dont agree with
- Advise him that as an Elf in this world he will be second class citizen and I will treat his character (in game) like that - he will be barred from some taverns, not allowed to meet importanat people etc. If he uses spells (as they are in your world deemed evil) he may be hunted down, burnt as a witch etc. If the PC still wants to pay that Character then I wil let them as they have been warned.

Ok, that's a GM's point of view. And I agree with you completely (in my world, elves rarely are adventurers - and if a player wants to play an elf, I require them to roleplay an elf... and the closest adventurers usually get are half-elves - and those characters have to hide their ears and teeth because they are severely disliked, usually thought to be evil/devilspawn). If they choose a such character, they get fair warning, but will have to bear consequences.

However, I am interested more in the players' point of view - what is acceptable for them and how to make them satisfied without making the game non-enjoyable (e.g. being the only magician in the world without magic can easily make the whole premise fall down).

JoeJ
2016-02-04, 05:18 AM
When I approach a new game I'm almost always thinking as a GM, and what's important to me are what kinds of stories that game facilitates and what kinds of worlds I can create without a huge amount of homebrewing.

A default setting, if there is one, is sometimes interesting as something I can mine for ideas, but I'm not usually interested in just using it; creating my own worlds is way too much fun!

nedz
2016-02-04, 05:45 AM
Are you really trying to say mechanics = character?
And that interacting with the setting is not based on character?
Because that is almost the exact opposite of how it really is.

No.

I was pointing out that different players get different things out of a game; and, as a consequence, look at the game differently.

Some players focus on the mechanics of the system, others on the role-play side. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

BWR
2016-02-04, 06:26 AM
No.

I was pointing out that different players get different things out of a game; and, as a consequence, look at the game differently.

Some players focus on the mechanics of the system, others on the role-play side. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

My mistake.

Raimun
2016-02-04, 06:44 AM
I like a happy balance. Yes, I want to make a character that's mine and at least a bit original but I also want to make sure that character makes sense within the setting. Unprobable? Yes. Out of the place? No.

lacco36
2016-02-04, 06:54 AM
I like a happy balance. Yes, I want to make a character that's mine and at least a bit original but I also want to make sure that character makes sense within the setting. Unprobable? Yes. Out of the place? No.

I think it's quite achievable, even if not always easy :smallsmile:. And if I may push the question further - what do you consider original on your characters (mechanics? fluff ideas? roleplaying stuff?... I can't really put it into correct wording, but I hope you get my drift...)? And where is your border on "character, that's mine"?

Eisenheim
2016-02-04, 08:55 AM
I always try to run things like this, whichever side of the screen I'm on.

First, the whole group talks about/agrees on a game. This might be something the GM has built up already or something we mostly define together. We talk it out, ask questions, about both what's mechanically possible/allowed for characters and what the setting is like, and also about what the themes and focus of the game we're going to play in that setting will be.

While that's happening, players are, hopefully, starting to get characters inspirations, and once we know enough about the setting and the game, people pitch concepts, and work with GM to find a way for that concept to fit the setting and the game, or the GM says "that won't really work for this game", but a good discussion of the setting should preclude that.

I can't imagine building characters without aiming them at a specific game/story. They don't exist in a vacuum. I also don't really care about mechanics on their own anymore, and almost exclusively play fate, so optimization is very far off the table. For me, the goal, as player or GM, is for players to build characters who can have satisfying personal narratives and also be strongly tied into the larger narrative of the game. I want characters that the players care about doing things the characters care about.

Earthwalker
2016-02-04, 09:37 AM
I seem to be the only GM here that encounters that way too often.
Me – “Ok guys we are using Fate and I will be using it for a cineverse setting. Imagine if all the movies that ever existed were real places and characters could move from one movie to another. I want you to build characters that are characters from movies. What ever your home movie is will dictate some world laws you carry with you. You are free to choose the genre of your movie, there is only one rule tho. For the story I want to tell you can’t play a Film Noir hero and be from a colour movie”
Player 1 – “I want to be a film noir detective from a colour movie”
Me – “I just finished explain you cant be that”
Player 1 – “But I will be so unique”

Any who all that aside. On character me and a friend I role play with regulary have completely different ways to make characters. I always found it odd, we both can’t see how the other does what they do.
I know before my character appears in the game who they are, what they have done and have a good idea how they will face situations. I make up a back story and if setting is provided tie it all into the setting.
My friend just makes a character. Gets mechanics sorted and then is good to go. After about 5 sessions he will know the character well and have a much better idea. He loves to find his character in the game.
Two different ways of looking at it, but we both do just fit into the setting. I mean you have to fit in to the setting

I am just filling in musing on character and setting here. This is another little oddity that comes up but to do with Gming. Lets talk rangers. Me and Sam are running a game. Bob comes along with an Elven Ranger call Ork Slayer Bob.
Now Ork Slayer Bob has started with favoured enemy Ork.
To me it tell me that the game better include some orks for Bob to slay. If I was thinking of having the armies of the BBEG being Kobold maybe I should change it to Orks.
To Sam it means he has to speak to Bob and suggest that favoured enemy Kobold might be better.

Faily
2016-02-04, 10:20 AM
For me, the more I know about the setting, the richer it is, the more motivated I am to make interesting characters (not only for myself to play, but for the rest of the group to play with and the GM to use in his story).

If I'm invited to play in generic D&D world... well, I usually end up with generic D&D character.

But in various L5R games, I've played many characters who are lackeys of high-ranking NPCs, or related to ruling lords, etc... because it ties into the setting and makes the setting become more alive.
In War of the Burning Sky, I was dead-set on not playing an Elf before we learned the world-setting (I've played a lot of Elves with that group, to the point that some have assumed I was an Elf when I wasn't). Then I rolled amazingly good stats and figured I was almost obligated to play Paladin with that lineup... and lo and behold, when I learned that the Elven kingdom in War of the Burning Sky was basically a fascist-ruled aparthaid society, I quickly latched onto the idea of an Elf Paladin leaving her more Evil-inclined homeland to fight for good.


Sure, I have lots of ideas of character concepts, but they are all tied to specific worlds and settings. I never make a character first, and then try to find a game to squeeze them into.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-04, 11:29 AM
I had to read it thrice to see your meaning clearly and... yes. I would agree with most of it. My first thought was somewhere around "this makes no sense, I make my characters..."... but when I thought about it...

Yeah - sorry. I'm bad at explaining things - and it's a somewhat subtle difference too. >.<

CharonsHelper
2016-02-04, 11:37 AM
I come down very strongly on the side that making characters that don't fit the setting is wrong. It is downright jerkass behavior if you do it intentionally, and just plain frustrating for everyone if you do it accidentally. If you do it intentionally, you're basically saying that your own preferences are more important than trying to go along with the guidelines the DM has set down and the rest of the group is trying to play by.

It depends.

If a player simply avoids games which don't have open-ended character types because they want to play what they want when they want - it's fine. It's just when they go into a restricted setting - knowing it's restricted - and still keep insisting upon playing their oddball concept that it's annoying.

JoeJ
2016-02-04, 12:18 PM
It depends.

If a player simply avoids games which don't have open-ended character types because they want to play what they want when they want - it's fine. It's just when they go into a restricted setting - knowing it's restricted - and still keep insisting upon playing their oddball concept that it's annoying.

I've never been unfortunate enough to actually encounter a player like that*, although I've heard stories about things like a DM creating a Charlemagne's Knights campaign and the four players come up with, 1) Frankish paladin, 2) Frankish fighter, 3) Danish barbarian, 4) Ratfolk Warlock/Gunslinger.

(* Possibly because I always have a session 0 where the players all create their characters together.)

Felyndiira
2016-02-04, 01:03 PM
As a character focused player, I find that it's very rare that my character concept actually conflicts with the setting. It might be because of how I approach my characters - focusing more on things like philosophy, personality, and past experiences than mechanics or tropes - but as long as it's not a thought-police kind of setting, free thought, ideas, and human nature are not things that tend to be setting-exclusive.

Generally, I tend to break my concepts down to why I want to play them. Take my boomerang bigot, human supremacist Goblin cleric for instance - the character is definitely meant to be Goblin, but the focus of the character is to explore internalized racism and its effects on an individual. If a GM tells me "no goblins in the setting," I can easily just ask for an example of a heavily disenfranchised race in the setting, and change the "goblin" part of the character sheet to whatever that is. It would still be the same character, maybe a bit creepier (depending on how much it relates to IRL) and maybe minus some minor Goblin hijinks.

The same can apply to all of the so-called "snowflake" characters that supposedly don't fit in - when you boil them down to the essence of what the character is rather than some arbitrary race and class combo, most of them fit pretty snugly in settings you would never imagine for the character. Is there a reason that the character has to be a fey? It shouldn't be too difficult to invent a background that gave the character such a chaotic worldview as well as fey-like charms, and have pretty much the same character. Do you want to play a samurai character? A martial with a strict code of honor can be played in anything from Exalted to Mouse Guard, regardless of whether a Japan analogue actually exists in the setting. A ratfolk? Is there a reason you specifically need the rat's body? If not, an stubby human with a gaunt figure and a disfigured face should work as a reasonable approximation of the race in a human-only setting, including the very important social prejudice against your character.

I find that a greater problem is that GMs sometimes (though understandably, in some cases) reject concepts based on broad biases using "setting" as an excuse. I can find millions of reasons why a kid who has been kidnapped by drow at a young age, learned to identify with their Social Darwinism, and is just now starting to understand the benefits of normal human interactions in a purely statistical manner can fit into any campaign (even heroic ones), but there's very little chance to present an argument when the GM straight out says "heroic campaign, no CN, doesn't fit with the setting, no arguments."

Lord Raziere
2016-02-04, 02:48 PM
The same can apply to all of the so-called "snowflake" characters that supposedly don't fit in - when you boil them down to the essence of what the character is rather than some arbitrary race and class combo, most of them fit pretty snugly in settings you would never imagine for the character. Is there a reason that the character has to be a fey? It shouldn't be too difficult to invent a background that gave the character such a chaotic worldview as well as fey-like charms, and have pretty much the same character. Do you want to play a samurai character? A martial with a strict code of honor can be played in anything from Exalted to Mouse Guard, regardless of whether a Japan analogue actually exists in the setting. A ratfolk? Is there a reason you specifically need the rat's body? If not, an stubby human with a gaunt figure and a disfigured face should work as a reasonable approximation of the race in a human-only setting, including the very important social prejudice against your character.


Nope. If I want a specific concept, I want to play that specific concept. If I want to play a goblin, thats what they are until I find out in play who they are developing into. Sure I start with a certain personality and such, but a lot of my characters are about discovering what their story is at all. all that your talking about just waters down the concept and is a disincentive for me to play it or with you, if I want to play a gorgon that blindfolded herself so as to not petrify people and searching for a cure to make sure her eyes don't petrify people permanently, there is no replacement concept in this world for it, and I don't see why I would want one; I don't like modern non-magic games anyways, I wouldn't use her in any cyberpunk or sci-fi setting because it wouldn't make any sense, things like that.

quite simply, you recommending these changes on the assumption that I like any of the settings you want to alter these characters to. if its human only, its probably not a setting that I'd want to play in at all anyways for example. if it doesn't have magic or super-tech, I'm not even going to bother because I like magic and super-tech. its pointless to change the characters, because even if I came up with characters that fit, I probably wouldn't have fun in the setting anyways.

Felyndiira
2016-02-04, 02:57 PM
quite simply, you recommending these changes on the assumption that I like any of the settings you want to alter these characters to. if its human only, its probably not a setting that I'd want to play in at all anyways for example. if it doesn't have magic or super-tech, I'm not even going to bother because I like magic and super-tech. its pointless to change the characters, because even if I came up with characters that fit, I probably wouldn't have fun in the setting anyways.

I think you are assuming a bit more than what I actually said. My response was to the OP's mention of people trying to force-fit character concepts into settings that they don't belong in, despite still wanting to play in those campaign settings. If you don't like a setting and don't want to play in a certain campaign in the first place, then that's completely fine. I'm not advocating holding a gun to people's heads and forcing them to play in any setting, let alone mine.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-04, 03:31 PM
Do you explore the ruleset ?
In which case you are interested in Builds and their fruits: Characters.

That actually qualifies more in what I was thinking as the latter category. You're still making a character which fits the game - just with more of a mechanical focus rather than a roleplay one.

The former category is more likely to have a character concept in mind before they ever crack open the rulebook at all, and will likely be annoyed if the mechanics don't let it work halfway decently.

nedz
2016-02-04, 05:15 PM
That actually qualifies more in what I was thinking as the latter category. You're still making a character which fits the game - just with more of a mechanical focus rather than a roleplay one.

The former category is more likely to have a character concept in mind before they ever crack open the rulebook at all, and will likely be annoyed if the mechanics don't let it work halfway decently.

There are a wide spectra of play-styles even within one group, and there are several dimensions. My point was mainly linked to your fourth paragraph in the OP in that one common reason people play RPGs, of many I'm sure, is the desire to explore some idea - usually the game system (in terms of a character concept) or the world.

Quertus
2016-02-04, 05:50 PM
I could say a lot, but... I'll try to limit myself to the larger concepts.

First, I come from a diverse set of play groups; however, in many, there were people - myself included - who would care about things being done right, or being done wrong. For example, no one could ever play The Doctor in any such group that knew him, as someone would say that they were playing him wrong.

As such, I make characters who I understand, who have backgrounds that I understand; namely, my play experience. That is, instead of using, say, forgotten realms "wrong", I'll use my play experience (which may at times share some similarity to what "you" / the DM / the other players view as forgotten realms) rather than one view of "the setting" to make my character.

I care about stories, about the stories I can tell with my character. Sometimes, I lament my choice of character, when I realize playing a different character would have resulted in a much better story, or much more fulfilling role in said story.

My character's history is also a story I care about. Thus, I'm not fond of things like, "can't your genocidal orc hater love orcs just for this game?" No.

Although I love "mysteries", by which I mean things in the setting (or in the plot) that almost demand to be investigated, I rarely care about the setting otherwise. There is one exception, though. If you give me a setting with which I am entirely unfamiliar, I can care. I will want to bring someone who does not fit the setting at all - a Christian missionary to the Viking culture, a D&D character in rifts or star trek, etc. Someone who shares my lack of familiarity with the setting, someone whose role is to interact with and investigate the setting. Then I'll care about the setting for the setting's sake. Otherwise, the setting is at best of no importance, or, worse, an obstacle to telling an interesting story.

goto124
2016-02-04, 07:42 PM
Don't create characters without tailoring to the style of the setting and the game first.

TheIronGolem
2016-02-04, 08:13 PM
Don't create characters without tailoring to the style of the setting and the game first.

That's not necessarily...necessary. Some characters can exist in almost any setting. I have a small stable of such characters that I use for drop-in games where I don't have a previous familiarity with the setting. One can hardly be expected to tailor a character to a setting they don't know anything about.

Eisenheim
2016-02-04, 08:38 PM
Otherwise, the setting is at best of no importance, or, worse, an obstacle to telling an interesting story.

Have you run into a lot of terrible, boring settings?
How do you build a character without reference to the setting?
How do you tell their story other than as an interaction with the setting and the other people in it?

Quertus
2016-02-04, 11:23 PM
Have you run into a lot of terrible, boring settings?
How do you build a character without reference to the setting?
How do you tell their story other than as an interaction with the setting and the other people in it?

I've run into... the whole gamut of settings.

Since I can't guarantee I can build a character who successfully references any one person's interpretation of the setting, I build characters who reference my gaming experiences... sometimes selected or refluffed based on what I perceive the setting to be.

You tell a story as an interaction with people, with the plot, and with your character. You don't normally interact with the setting. To perhaps over simplify... The setting determines what you can encounter to interact with, how they will react to different stimulus, and what experiences your character could reasonably have as backstory.

For a game set..... whenever call of cthulhu is set... you should call a flashlight a "torch", or so I'm told. That's part of the setting. You don't interact with that, it simply alters your world view. Unless you are running a character foreign to the setting - then you interact with people calling it a torch, or with the idea of a flashlight altogether.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-04, 11:45 PM
For a game set..... whenever call of cthulhu is set... you should call a flashlight a "torch", or so I'm told. That's part of the setting. You don't interact with that, it simply alters your world view. Unless you are running a character foreign to the setting - then you interact with people calling it a torch, or with the idea of a flashlight altogether.

I don't think that's a significant part of the setting.

Quertus
2016-02-05, 01:26 AM
I don't think that's a significant part of the setting.

Depends on who you ask. The first people I ever heard talk about CoC certainly thought it was important - that's why I remember it. Words have incredible power, and immersing yourself in the "setting vocabulary" , while not the only path, is certainly a path to immersion. Did you know that the drow tongue has no word for friend?

Milo v3
2016-02-08, 09:18 AM
I sorta need a setting to make a character, setting and restrictions when it comes to character creation gives structure and expectations, which one of the reasons I don't like flavour-less point-buy systems.


Depends on who you ask. The first people I ever heard talk about CoC certainly thought it was important - that's why I remember it.
Little details can be nice, but in this case I think they were yanking your chain.... Wasn't in any Call of Cthulhu RPG books I read/played. :smalltongue:

Âmesang
2016-02-08, 10:47 AM
Lately I find I'm… in between the two concepts? I love crafting a character based on a certain concept, but I also like crafting that character to fit into a particular setting, using its history to drive the character's backstory and motivation, including taking a regional feat. Recently it's been WORLD OF GREYHAWK®, and next time I'm hoping for FORGOTTEN REALMS® with all of the history behind it.

Amphetryon
2016-02-08, 11:06 AM
I think a Player can create a Character that seems 'out of focus' to the Setting for a variety of different reasons - some productive, some less so. As an example, consider a 'wild man' Character concept in a game pitched as 'metropolitan political intrigue:'

Are you making the 'wild man' in order to explore how that Character would interact in that setting, as a 'fish out of water' or 'clash of cultures' idea? Is your aim to deal with the outsider's perspective, with its potential feelings of isolation and lack of belonging in the present environment? Then you're probably productively meshing your Character concept with the Setting.

Are you making the 'wild man' concept because you don't care for (or, don't care about) the Setting the GM pitched and simply want to play that archetype, regardless? Is your aim to ignore the incongruities of your Character's worldview with the realities of a metropolitan setting rife with political intrigue? Then you're probably not productively meshing your Character concept with the Setting.

I've seen both motivations at play at tables I've gamed at.

Kol Korran
2016-02-08, 02:17 PM
This is basically a discussion about 2 of the gaming aesthetics- Fantasy vs. Expression. I found a few articles and it has been a bit of a hot subject on game design. The Angry DM sums it up quite nicely I think (http://angrydm.com/2014/01/gaming-for-fun-part-1-eight-kinds-of-fun/). Take look, it's kinda neat. :smallwink:

veti
2016-02-08, 05:19 PM
One of my pet hates is DMs who won't tell me enough about the setting and campaign to build a character that I want to play and will fit into it. They say something like "it's a kinda pseudo-medieval setting with low-key magic and gritty combat", and think their job is done. Err... no. Given that information, I could build a court jester, a pickpocket, a friar and a weaver, but when it turns out we're crusading with the Teutonic Knights, none of them will be much fun.


Little details can be nice, but in this case I think they were yanking your chain.... Wasn't in any Call of Cthulhu RPG books I read/played. :smalltongue:

"Flashlight" vs "torch" is mostly a regional thing. In North America it's a flashlight, and has been since the early 20th century; most anywhere else in the English-speaking world, to this day it's a torch. (Possibly an electric torch, if you're being extremely pedantic for some reason.)

Milo v3
2016-02-08, 06:36 PM
"Flashlight" vs "torch" is mostly a regional thing. In North America it's a flashlight, and has been since the early 20th century; most anywhere else in the English-speaking world, to this day it's a torch. (Possibly an electric torch, if you're being extremely pedantic for some reason.)

I know, that's why I'm sure they're yanking his chain.

goto124
2016-02-08, 07:27 PM
If you say 'torch', I'll first think of a medieval pre-electricity torch, the 'stick of wood with a fire on top' kind :smalltongue:

Âmesang
2016-02-08, 09:50 PM
So in d20 Modern is an everburning torch just a flashlight with a perpetual energy generator? Nuclear batteries? :smalltongue:

oxybe
2016-02-08, 09:59 PM
no no no. it's a flashlight that's just always on fire due to faulty wiring.

not the most useful item, but any port in a storm.

Talakeal
2016-02-09, 12:44 PM
I don't think it would be possible to design a game in which both Lacco and Raziere would both enjoy playing together. I think that might go beyond the scope of this thread.


I have a personal anecdote to share. Recently we updated our long running Mage game from the old Ascension rules to the new Awakening rules. The game was going great, but the switch nearly killed it. Awakening is a much more focused game compared to Ascensions kitchen sink approach, which meant that a lot of the players, myself included, had character concepts that were mechanically impossible for the new system to handle.

For example I was playing bassically a mad scientist who healed and changed bodies, but in Awakening everyone knows they are a wizard and uses the same spells, and changes to living creatures never last more than a few hours or days on the outside.

The resulting shakeup made the game no longer fun for a lot of people, and their resulting complaining / discontent made the game no longer fun for the GM. As a result the game was very nearly ended several times, and though it is stabilized I dont think the game will ever again be as fun as it was before the change.



Also, something I have noticed recently is how the speed of the plot can affect this a lot. For example, I noticed that the game I am currently playing in moves a litttle too fast for character development. The GM glosses over downtime, meaning that I rarely get a chance to talk to the other PCs in character about anything other than the task at hand and rarely get to pursue personal projects, and I found myself asking the DM if he could find a way to give us more downtime or just slow down the plot in general so I could get a chance to breathe.

On the other hand, when I run a game my players expect nonstop action and dont care so much about their character stuff. If I give them a few minutes to talk around the campfire between days of dungeon crawling they just sit around looking bored, and if I give them downtime in a city between adventures they do nothing except look for magic items to buy or craft their own.


In my mind world building goes both ways. The players need to come up with a character and a personality and background elements and ambitions, and at the same time the GM needs to provide them with a world to see and all sorts of exciting and novel people, places, and events for the, to experiance in it.