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Thread: Protagonisting

  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Again, the issue is that when people write (especially long) backstories before talking to the rest of the group, it's entirely too easy for them to get way too invested in certain questions/aspects of their character that don't actually fit with the rest of the game.

    In many ways, it's the same problem as a GM deciding "this is the adventure" and trying to force it when the players are uninterested, or in forcing a specific outcome. Since everyone has input into what happens (through the actions of their characters if nothing else), gaming works best when everyone has a fairly open mind as to how things will turn out.

    And OTOH I've had people bring characters to a game where the character was an extreme anti-human elf that basically wanted to kill all humans and was in love with the princess of hte elves and a bunch of other crap.

    This in a game that was supposedly about hunting monsters.

    I'm not against backgrounds. But I am against people writing entire backgrounds on their own before even discussing their character with the group. That character idea wasn't bad per se. But it didn't fit in with the rest of the group at all.


    Let me quote myself from earlier in the thread

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I agree, too long a back story is not very useful for me as a GM.
    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    The group I am in tends to work together on characters and backstories.

    We have a session zero and then we might use a couple of months throwing ideas back and forth online until we are ready.

    For instance I'm going to run a mini campaign over a long weekend (3 days of play) in late september. The group is already preparing.

    As been mentioned the key is communication. Another factor is trust and knowing your fellow players
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    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    Let me quote myself from earlier in the thread
    Yeah, I think we're on the same page.

    My point was just that there is a degenerate and toxic form of "backstory creation" that causes issues.

    To quote myself from earlier:

    Quote Originally Posted by Some Handsome Guy
    There's a huge difference between:

    A) Focusing on the characters

    B) "Okay, this is the story I want for my character, and we've got to have it in the game, and I've chosen this in a way that doesn't really fit in with the premise and in fact will make fitting in with the premise more difficult, but this is the story I want."
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2018-06-12 at 02:35 PM.
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Yeah, I think we're on the same page.

    My point was just that there is a degenerate and toxic form of "backstory creation" that causes issues.

    To quote myself from earlier:
    You know there are so many issues about everything in Roleplaying that sometimes I can't help myself thinking that nobody is having fun. We have issues about railroading, versimilitude, power gaming, martial vs caster, story withing RPG's, That Guy and so many more.

    Then I think back on the 30 years of playing and almost all of the time I have been playing with a steady group that has common ideals about Roleplaying (mostly) it has been fun.


    But back to backstories. I often build my campaigns around my characters and their backstories. This means I have to get a backstory, occasionally I have a player that doesn't want to be part of the drama, he just wants a supporting role and then I just respect that. On both occasions this has happened the players have put combat in focus even to the degree that I have had to rein them in because they were starting to get disruptive and being detrimental to the game.

    This isn't because they were bad players, it's just because they wanted to play a combat oriented game that focuses on killiing monsters and looting them and I and the rest of the group weren't catering to their needs.


    Basing a campaign around the characters and their backgrounds means they are invested in the campaign from the start. Some people have pointed out that other players get bored when they aren't in the limelight and roleplaying is a collective experience and focusing on one PC is badwrongfun. I'll just say this, the kick I get out of GMing almost all the time is the happiness of my fellow players. When they experience that cool moment that they talk about for numerous sessions afterwards, when they are excited about the next sessions, when they are theorizing on messenger about the game and planning their next move. That is my fun, in a way it's the joy you expericence through others ( if you have children then you really know what I mean). It's also the same energy I got when I was performing on stage and got reactions from the audience.

    I am invested in my players and my players are invested in each other and their characters. They sat together and made their characters, they helped each others out with their backstories and even made some connections between some of the characters. They have read each others backstories. So when Luzio (PC) first met his nemesis the other players had been waiting for that showdown just as long as the player who plays Luzio. When Alma had been bloodbonded by a Vampire and turned against the group, the group went after that Vampire with a vengeance to free their fellow from the bond.

    Because how can a guy at a shady inn doling out a quest to the group be better than a fellow PC wanting you to come on a quest that is important to him.

    It's like I meet a guy at a bar who asks me and my mates to murder some goblins in a cave or good friend and companion wants me to help him track down the nefarious Slayer, Casimir Blaylock, who killed his master.

    Even when the group is resolving a personal quest of one of the PC's it doesn't mean they don't have a voice, an opinion or can't make decisions, or that there aren't plenty of roleplaying opportunities. The talker still uses his skills to persuade, the sneaky guy still uses his talents for skullduggery, the warrior still fights common enemies and the wizard still uses his magic to solve problems.
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2018-06-12 at 04:52 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    Because how can a guy at a shady inn doling out a quest to the group be better than a fellow PC wanting you to come on a quest that is important to him.
    There's a lot more I want to respond to later, but let me start with this: based on the many games with the many groups at many tables that I've participated in (on both sides of the screen), IME, the shady guy at the bar has a much higher success rate than the PC does to get the PCs to go on a quest.

    That's how it's better.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-06-12 at 05:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    There's a lot more I want to respond to later, but let me start with this: based on the many games with the many groups at many tables that I've participated in (on both sides of the screen), IME, the shady guy at the bar has a much higher success rate than the PC does to get the PCs to go on a quest.

    That's how it's better.
    I think that depends entirely on the group :D The two groups I'm playing with atm are more interested in adventure that pertains to their characters.

    Don't get me wrong we still play games where we are solving all the problems in town for people we don't care about, either for money, power or prestige.

    Some campaigns even revolve around the operation or mission like Shadowrun, Cyperpunk or Gurps:Black Ops.

    It's just my groups prefer to have personal involvement and personal stakes at risk.

    One thing I dont get is why? Why would anyone do a quest for a unknown NPC instead for a fellow PC?

    If my good friend Frederick, who I've been playing with for almost 25 years makes a Druid who is trying to protect his forest from some ancient evil that is corrupting it, why would I not get involved? I know he's going to help my character to recue the soul of his beloved from hell. And we are going to have fun, plenty of RP opportunities and plenty of banter. "By the Gods Fred, trees don't need rescuing, maidens do!"
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2018-06-12 at 06:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    One thing I dont get is why? Why would anyone do a quest for a unknown NPC instead for a fellow PC?
    Beats me. I'm just reporting my analysis of observed behavior in the field. Humans are strange enough that I've got a huge backlog of "why the ****" to ponder. At my current rate of figuring out (or giving up), this particular one is probably slated to get my attention around 300 years from now.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-06-12 at 07:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    One thing I dont get is why? Why would anyone do a quest for a unknown NPC instead for a fellow PC?
    They're not - they're doing a quest for the DM instead of a fellow PC, the unknown NPC just happens to be the DM's way of introducing them. The whole idea that a GM makes a story that the players deliberately follow (at least to some extent) is pretty ubiquitous, as is the idea that the GM makes material for the players to use.

    I've had to specifically untrain this habit before, with players new to me but not to the hobby trying to suss out the existing story and get the group to find and follow it, when I'd never made one, just set up a situation for the PCs to react to and enough material to let me improvise from there, where the campaign was going to go much more smoothly with proactive players following their own agendas.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    As time goes by, I've been moving more and more toward letting players start with just 1 or 2 sentences of back story and fill in the rest as things come up during play. I'll veto something if it violates the established continuity, or steps on some important secret, or if the other players object to something that feels too contrived or is unbalancing. Otherwise, if you want to reveal something about your past that's relevant, I'll usually just charge you a plot point/hero point/inspiration/etc. and go with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    They're not - they're doing a quest for the DM instead of a fellow PC, the unknown NPC just happens to be the DM's way of introducing them. The whole idea that a GM makes a story that the players deliberately follow (at least to some extent) is pretty ubiquitous, as is the idea that the GM makes material for the players to use.

    I've had to specifically untrain this habit before, with players new to me but not to the hobby trying to suss out the existing story and get the group to find and follow it, when I'd never made one, just set up a situation for the PCs to react to and enough material to let me improvise from there, where the campaign was going to go much more smoothly with proactive players following their own agendas.
    This is a bit funny though because in the end the GM is running both quests, both the one introduced by the NPC and the PC.

    I guess my experimental RPG period served me well. We experimented a lot with the GM and Player roles by both allowing players to introduce things during play or just switching roles during the session where the one that introduced a plot would run it as a GM.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    As time goes by, I've been moving more and more toward letting players start with just 1 or 2 sentences of back story and fill in the rest as things come up during play. I'll veto something if it violates the established continuity, or steps on some important secret, or if the other players object to something that feels too contrived or is unbalancing. Otherwise, if you want to reveal something about your past that's relevant, I'll usually just charge you a plot point/hero point/inspiration/etc. and go with it.
    There are a lot of background techniques. I got a new player into my group and she is playing a sister to another character. Instead of making a background I've just used a interview where I interview the character by asking the questions I want answers to as the GM.

    Another thing is I introduce a NPC and ask the player how his character knows the NPC. This has resulted in jilted lovers, childhood friends, petty rivals etc. It makes the PC seem a part of the world with relations to it's inhabitants.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    You know there are so many issues about everything in Roleplaying that sometimes I can't help myself thinking that nobody is having fun. We have issues about railroading, versimilitude, power gaming, martial vs caster, story withing RPG's, That Guy and so many more.
    90% of the issues boil down to people issues. A small few are actual system issues that can be papered over if you're dealing with reasonable people.

    It's all symptoms of playing with toxic people, which seem to be sadly common amongst RPG players (ironically, for such a fundamentally social hobby).

    But still, I think there's a number of best practices that can reduce friction amongst generally-decent people. "Writing backstory after we've communally come up with the party" is one of them.
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2018-06-14 at 11:12 AM.
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    90% of the issues boil down to people issues. A small few are actual system issues that can be papered over if you're dealing with reasonable people.

    It's all symptoms of playing with toxic people, which seem to be sadly uncommon amongst RPG players (ironically, for such a fundamentally social hobby).

    But still, I think there's a number of best practices that can reduce friction amongst generally-decent people. "Writing backstory after we've communally come up with the party" is one of them.
    I'm not sure what to make of your "sadly uncommon" comment.

    For the best practices, it makes a number of assumptions. First, it assumes that the party exists before the characters do. This is only one way to play the game.

    Second, it assumes that everyone will have the patience to wait for a background to be created once people have their characters ready. I've generally not seen such patience in the field.

    Last, it assumes that one can put the cart before the horse, and have a character first and a backstory second. Personally, I could do so with a playing piece, but not so readily with a character.

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    If it's like what happens to me when I'm writing posts, the phrasing of that line was changed at least twice but one of the words was missed during the changes made before hitting "SUBMIT".

    (It actually happened writing this post, I had typed "wasn't changed", decided to to switch to "was missed" and almost posted "wasn't missed".)
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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    But still, I think there's a number of best practices that can reduce friction amongst generally-decent people. "Writing backstory after we've communally come up with the party" is one of them.
    That's a nice concept that I like to follow, but for example, I have some players I play with regularly that, when starting a new campaign, seem to be pathologically unable to have their character finished before the first session of actual play. Even having a session 0 does not help, at this point I've just given up changing them, just stating very clearly that a) they can't expect the campaign to be tailored to their characters if I don't know them in advanced and b) if they show up with something that completely doesn't fit the bill, I'll just veto it. But connecting those characters to the others is something that simply can't happen before we start playing, for obvious reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If it's like what happens to me when I'm writing posts, the phrasing of that line was changed at least twice but one of the words was missed during the changes made before hitting "SUBMIT".

    (It actually happened writing this post, I had typed "wasn't changed", decided to to switch to "was missed" and almost posted "wasn't missed".)
    That would make sense. As would autocorrect shenanigans. But there could have been deeper wisdom intended, like MtG common / uncommon / rare / mythic, or something. Or it could have been an unexpected (and possibly incongruous) opinion altogether. Thus, I wasn't sure.

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I'm not sure what to make of your "sadly uncommon" comment.
    Typo! I meant 'common'. Way too many toxic people in this hobby.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    For the best practices, it makes a number of assumptions. First, it assumes that the party exists before the characters do. This is only one way to play the game.
    But... it kind of does, right? Like, we have a bunch of people that are going to play together, so they need to be a party. So the idea of a party exists.

    Are there cases where it doesn't actually make sense to use this? Yeah, I can see some adventure starts where people are somehow thrown together or whatnot. Outside of this, does it make sense? I think it does. I use this whenever there's not a reason to avoid it, and it cuts down soooo much on a bunch of the BS friction and "party deciding why they should work with each other BS".

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Second, it assumes that everyone will have the patience to wait for a background to be created once people have their characters ready. I've generally not seen such patience in the field.
    I'm not entirely sure what you mean here. What's the sequence you're thinking of?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Last, it assumes that one can put the cart before the horse, and have a character first and a backstory second. Personally, I could do so with a playing piece, but not so readily with a character.
    I think I know what's going on here. You're assuming I mean a full mechanical detailing like in D&D 3. I'm not really talking about that - I'm more talking about coming up with the character concept and a basic level of background/personality/etc. Since I usually run Fate, we usually put in the basic mechanical bits (that aren't background/personality/etc.) at the same time, but that's a matter of a few minutes at most. For a game with higher mechanical-creation time (GURPS, D&D 3.x, etc.) I'd probably leave that as "post-session-zero" stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta View Post
    That's a nice concept that I like to follow, but for example, I have some players I play with regularly that, when starting a new campaign, seem to be pathologically unable to have their character finished before the first session of actual play. Even having a session 0 does not help, at this point I've just given up changing them, just stating very clearly that a) they can't expect the campaign to be tailored to their characters if I don't know them in advanced and b) if they show up with something that completely doesn't fit the bill, I'll just veto it. But connecting those characters to the others is something that simply can't happen before we start playing, for obvious reasons.
    Again, define "finished". I'm mostly talking about character concept, and a rough version of the personality/backstory/etc.
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta View Post
    a) they can't expect the campaign to be tailored to their characters if I don't know them in advanced and b) if they show up with something that completely doesn't fit the bill, I'll just veto it. But connecting those characters to the others is something that simply can't happen before we start playing, for obvious reasons.
    Good point. When the characters the players bring aren't guaranteed to be acceptable - as is often the case IME - it's kinda silly to build everything around them, only to have it all fall apart when they have to bring someone else.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Are there cases where it doesn't actually make sense to use this? Yeah, I can see some adventure starts where people are somehow thrown together or whatnot.
    In Ocean's Eleven, the characters were not thrown together randomly - they were picked for a very specific set of skills.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    But... it kind of does, right? Like, we have a bunch of people that are going to play together, so they need to be a party. So the idea of a party exists.
    Yes, it exists. As of today, we know that we'll be playing through Ocean's Eleven. The character I'm looking at bringing has existed for 12 years, and can fill the role of...

    ... Oh, and you're thinking of bringing that character? Cool, we've got history together.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Outside of this, does it make sense? I think it does. I use this whenever there's not a reason to avoid it, and it cuts down soooo much on a bunch of the BS friction and "party deciding why they should work with each other BS".
    There are a bunch of "BS friction" things to consider. Why should we work together is one. Why should we (collectively) do this particular mission is another. Why should we (individually) do this particular mission, and, as people bail, why are we accepting and working with this new guy is another. Maintaining "immersion" / suspension of disbelief when "always, there are two (or four, or eleven) of them" is another.

    Different groups will have more or less trouble with different parts of this.

    A group with no session zero is at the most risk overall. A new character, whose player doesn't know who he is, is at the most risk of developing incompatibility with the adventure, or the party. Players who value characters, and character growth will have the most problems, whereas groups that value gameplay will have the least. A group of war gamers is actually at the least risk of having any of these problems.

    Tailoring your technique to the needs of your group seems optimal.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I'm not entirely sure what you mean here. What's the sequence you're thinking of?
    Well, I was responding to, "Writing backstory after we've communally come up with the party". So, game is declared, session zero is had, and, IME, most of the players are done with their characters by the end of the planning session, and want to get started playing right now!

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I think I know what's going on here. You're assuming I mean a full mechanical detailing like in D&D 3. I'm not really talking about that - I'm more talking about coming up with the character concept and a basic level of background/personality/etc. Since I usually run Fate, we usually put in the basic mechanical bits (that aren't background/personality/etc.) at the same time, but that's a matter of a few minutes at most. For a game with higher mechanical-creation time (GURPS, D&D 3.x, etc.) I'd probably leave that as "post-session-zero" stuff.
    Yes, it's fair to say that most of my experience congress from D&D (pun). Seems to me, that such simple mechanical playing pieces would utterly guarantee that must everyone I've ever gamed with would want to start playing the moment that session zero was over!
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-06-14 at 03:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Delta View Post
    That's a nice concept that I like to follow, but for example, I have some players I play with regularly that, when starting a new campaign, seem to be pathologically unable to have their character finished before the first session of actual play. Even having a session 0 does not help, at this point I've just given up changing them, just stating very clearly that a) they can't expect the campaign to be tailored to their characters if I don't know them in advanced and b) if they show up with something that completely doesn't fit the bill, I'll just veto it. But connecting those characters to the others is something that simply can't happen before we start playing, for obvious reasons.
    What do you mean by having their character finished? I don't consider any character finished until they're retired from play. Until them, they're still growing and changing in response to events.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    What do you mean by having their character finished? I don't consider any character finished until they're retired from play. Until them, they're still growing and changing in response to events.
    I mean having a playable character. To give you one example: Last time I tried running Shadowrun for that group, those two players first during our session 0 told me that they were thinking about maybe some kind of "monster hunter" adept and maybe a "black mage" style concept, but they weren't sure. They did know they already had an orc hacker girl and a ninja assassin type character in the group. The campaign hook was focused on gangs, drugs and organized crime, I had warned everyone in advance this would not be a campaign for "nice" runners, it would get dirty, it might well get ugly along the way.

    When we met for the first session, what I got was a drone rigger specializing in civilian water drones working as an honest to god lifeguard at a private swimming facility as a day job and an amateur driver, not even a rigger, who was still living with his mom and almost walked out of the first meeting because he wasn't sure he could accept working for guys selling drugs. He had absolutely no useful skills the rest of the group hadn't already covered.

    That one example was the moment my "I will veto your characters if they don't fit" rule. They didn't even do it to be obnoxious or anything, they're just... clueless. They had heard everything I had said about the campaign and for some reason thought those character concepts would fit in perfectly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Delta View Post
    I mean having a playable character. To give you one example: Last time I tried running Shadowrun for that group, those two players first during our session 0 told me that they were thinking about maybe some kind of "monster hunter" adept and maybe a "black mage" style concept, but they weren't sure. They did know they already had an orc hacker girl and a ninja assassin type character in the group. The campaign hook was focused on gangs, drugs and organized crime, I had warned everyone in advance this would not be a campaign for "nice" runners, it would get dirty, it might well get ugly along the way.

    When we met for the first session, what I got was a drone rigger specializing in civilian water drones working as an honest to god lifeguard at a private swimming facility as a day job and an amateur driver, not even a rigger, who was still living with his mom and almost walked out of the first meeting because he wasn't sure he could accept working for guys selling drugs. He had absolutely no useful skills the rest of the group hadn't already covered.

    That one example was the moment my "I will veto your characters if they don't fit" rule. They didn't even do it to be obnoxious or anything, they're just... clueless. They had heard everything I had said about the campaign and for some reason thought those character concepts would fit in perfectly.
    That's strange. I wonder why they misunderstood so badly.

    I make character creation part of session 0. I don't mean I talk about it then, I mean that's when the characters are actually created. That way I can provide input about what is or is not going to work well, as well as answer any questions. And the players can bounce ideas off of each other, make sure they have all the niches that they think they need covered, and work out among themselves how their characters know each other and why they're hanging out together. (It also reduces the temptation to fudge die rolls, since everybody is sitting around the table together.)
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
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  21. - Top - End - #81
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    That's strange. I wonder why they misunderstood so badly.

    I make character creation part of session 0. I don't mean I talk about it then, I mean that's when the characters are actually created. That way I can provide input about what is or is not going to work well, as well as answer any questions. And the players can bounce ideas off of each other, make sure they have all the niches that they think they need covered, and work out among themselves how their characters know each other and why they're hanging out together. (It also reduces the temptation to fudge die rolls, since everybody is sitting around the table together.)
    Those two are just too good at hearing what they want to hear. And it hasn't happened only once, another example: I ran a new fantasy campaign, and my pitch for the characters was "Okay, your characters will be at the top of the list if the Empress wants something done, and if she sends you on a suicide mission, ideally, your guys answer should be 'I am sorry I have but one life to lay down in service of the beloved Empress!' and charge at the almost invincible ancient undead dragon and its undead army threatening the empire", and also told them that the hook to get the adventure started was the biggest tourney of the year held in the capital at the same time as a big wizards summit was being held in the capitals magic academy, so plenty of reasons for characters to be there. So... what I finally got from one of them was a dwarven master crafter specializing on siege weapons and the like whose only relevant ties to the human Empire was having worked as a mercenary there for a couple years.

    Again, said player had absolute no idea until I told him that his character didn't really fit in. I have long since given up trying to understand the thought process that led him there, that way lies madness.

    Ideally, I'd love to do the character creation together, but often, it's not realistic. Even if we do have a session 0 (which doesn't always happen since we often only get to meet up every couple months or so, so we try to get most of that stuff done online beforehand if possible), the games we run tend to be set in a rather complex system and setting, many of my players as well as myself if I'm playing have been known to spend several days on our characters and backstories, so most often it doesn't go beyond "I'd like to play a noble warrior who may be somewhat of a group leader type" and another going "I'd like to play a primary spellcaster this time, maybe a wizard from the academy in city A", it usually doesn't get much more detailed than this and things often get changed between then and the first session. Usually this isn't a huge problem because most players will ask me "Hey, I had an idea about my character and background, is that alright?" and I can tell them what works and what not, or even flat out say "Hey, your character sounds like it might fit in with another players background, why don't you two talk about it and figure out if and how you know each other?"

    This has worked out very well in the past, except for those players, because I feel like most often, those characters get done just in the nick of time and often have absolutely nothing to do with the concept they first came up with (one of them is extremely guilty of this because I have noticed in the past that she's terrible at articulating what she actually wants, if you ask her what she wants to play, she overthings it long enough to come up with something complex, layered and whatnot because she thinks that's what she should want to play, when all she really want is to play a gal with a big hammer smashing things), but telling them to do it any earlier hasn't worked out either.

    All this has lead me back to the two rules I first mentioned because it was the simplest way for me as a GM to deal with stuff like this. Every player knows my door is always open to talk about ideas and I'll gladly give them hints and recommendations if they want it, but if you show up with a character you just built minutes before the game, yeah, you can't expect the setup to be about your character early on and if it doesn't fit at all, I reserve the right to say so.

  22. - Top - End - #82
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    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    As someone said, for such a social thing, pen and paper games do attract a lot of problem(ed) people.

    From experience; All new players to a system should play simple characters and not purposely indulge in making multiple, contextually unusual plot threads. The less baggage your character has the better*. You shouldn't really try to play against type either**. Once you're more familiar with the system and who you're playing with; go for it. But people really jump the gun.

    *social flaws/merits in WoD are awesome but you really need to keep them grounded.

    ** Playing against type isn't a simple thing because some things are stricter than others. It's more of a problem to overplay the type of a brujah vampire (you'll get into a lot of trouble) than it is to play a brujah standing out from the other rabble, but it's downright abominable to even consider playing a less-than highly competent lasombra vampire; They'd never pick you, or they'd kill you off.


    If you can't sum the entirety of your character's backstory in a paragraph (no, an unbroken wall of text doesn't constitute a good paragraph) then either your character needs revising or you're starting at a much higher level.

    I think people need to consider others as much as themselves, maybe moreso, when they create a character. I'm happy to have characters have disputes or try to take control. But players shouldn't be doing those things.

  23. - Top - End - #83
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    ElfPirate

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by The Jack View Post
    I think people need to consider others as much as themselves, maybe moreso, when they create a character. I'm happy to have characters have disputes or try to take control. But players shouldn't be doing those things.
    I just started reading the FATE Core rules, and one thing near the beginning that I found is that you're expected to include two other PCs in your own character's backstory. I think that's a very cool idea, and I plan to poach it for other games as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    I've tallied up all the points for this thread, and consulted with the debate judges, and the verdict is clear: JoeJ wins the thread.

  24. - Top - End - #84
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    I just started reading the FATE Core rules, and one thing near the beginning that I found is that you're expected to include two other PCs in your own character's backstory. I think that's a very cool idea, and I plan to poach it for other games as well.
    The Phase Trio is utterly brilliant and is a huge benefit for just about any game.
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  25. - Top - End - #85
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    I just started reading the FATE Core rules, and one thing near the beginning that I found is that you're expected to include two other PCs in your own character's backstory. I think that's a very cool idea, and I plan to poach it for other games as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    The Phase Trio is utterly brilliant and is a huge benefit for just about any game.
    I have a love/hate relationship with this idea.

    I like the idea of characters being connected - there's nothing like signing up for an Ocean's Eleven gig, and finding out that your character knows one or more of the other PCs.

    But trying to roleplay "suddenly, an existing relationship" often falls flat, and hurts immersion.

    Further, from a roleplaying perspective, having that character in that position in your background is often as detrimental to the credulity of your personality as when the GM totally misrepresents your other background elements. It's just really tough to build a believable character with such dissonance thrown in.

    So, I think I'd prefer to stick with character reuse, and actually knowing other characters, and actually having formed relationships with them, over trying to fake it.

    But I do love it when it works.

  26. - Top - End - #86
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    ElfPirate

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I have a love/hate relationship with this idea.

    I like the idea of characters being connected - there's nothing like signing up for an Ocean's Eleven gig, and finding out that your character knows one or more of the other PCs.

    But trying to roleplay "suddenly, an existing relationship" often falls flat, and hurts immersion.

    Further, from a roleplaying perspective, having that character in that position in your background is often as detrimental to the credulity of your personality as when the GM totally misrepresents your other background elements. It's just really tough to build a believable character with such dissonance thrown in.

    So, I think I'd prefer to stick with character reuse, and actually knowing other characters, and actually having formed relationships with them, over trying to fake it.

    But I do love it when it works.
    It's great if you can run a second campaign in an existing world and all the PCs already know each other. That's usually not the case, though. Or throwing a bunch of strangers together in perilous circumstances can also be a lot of fun if you want a campaign where much of the focus is on the interaction between the PCs. (Especially if you're playing a game that does non-lethal PvP well.O Most campaigns that I've played, however, have been focused outward; the story is all about the party interacting with the world. In that type of campaign, having the PCs begin with an existing investment in each other and a reason that they're adventuring together adds enormously to verisimilitude.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
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  27. - Top - End - #87
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    But trying to roleplay "suddenly, an existing relationship" often falls flat, and hurts immersion.
    That's a bit of a misconception of how it works.

    In general, I pitch the trio as "the first six or so episodes of the TV show that our games is". So the "relationships" are "we met fairly recently and have a reason to work together. We're past the 'do we shoot them stage', but not to the 'best buddies' stage".

    The "do we shoot them" stage is utterly boring to me. We know they're going to team up because that's the game. So let's just skip that.

    (The Phase Trio also gives players a chance to say exactly what they think an adventure in your game should look like, which is super useful to the GM).
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  28. - Top - End - #88
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    It's great if you can run a second campaign in an existing world and all the PCs already know each other. That's usually not the case, though. Or throwing a bunch of strangers together in perilous circumstances can also be a lot of fun if you want a campaign where much of the focus is on the interaction between the PCs. (Especially if you're playing a game that does non-lethal PvP well.O Most campaigns that I've played, however, have been focused outward; the story is all about the party interacting with the world. In that type of campaign, having the PCs begin with an existing investment in each other and a reason that they're adventuring together adds enormously to verisimilitude.
    All? No, I find that having all the PCs know each other usually strains verisimilitude, unless there's a darn good reason. No, I was just talking about knowing / having worked with one or two of Ocean's Eleven before.

    Not really generally a fan of PvP, but I am a fan of building relationships (and tactics) with other PCs.

    Whether the focus is inward or outward (to use your shorthand), I'm a huge fan of the PCs being invested in the adventure. However, for sufficiently Sandboxy play, that can get a bit tricky.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    That's a bit of a misconception of how it works.

    In general, I pitch the trio as "the first six or so episodes of the TV show that our games is". So the "relationships" are "we met fairly recently and have a reason to work together. We're past the 'do we shoot them stage', but not to the 'best buddies' stage".

    The "do we shoot them" stage is utterly boring to me. We know they're going to team up because that's the game. So let's just skip that.

    (The Phase Trio also gives players a chance to say exactly what they think an adventure in your game should look like, which is super useful to the GM).
    Ah. That is different from what I thought. Hmmm... That sounds roughly equivalent to a good session 0, then, I think.

  29. - Top - End - #89
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    ElfPirate

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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    All? No, I find that having all the PCs know each other usually strains verisimilitude, unless there's a darn good reason.
    I don't understand what you mean by "a darn good reason" to know somebody. You know the people you've met. For most of us, the people we usually hang out with are a subset of the people we know. Why would it be any different for adventurers?
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
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  30. - Top - End - #90
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    Default Re: Protagonisting

    On Knowing PCs: I think if it supposed to just be a bunch of chance meetings that just happen to connect everyone yes that is a bit of a stretch. On the other hand I have played a campaign where the opening was "you are on patrol when". The party was the patrol and have been working together for a while. And we had it worked out that one person had almost got another killed previously, two were rivals, two were best friends and one had saved another's life before play even started. I think the

    On Backstories: I think the best backstory I have ever written was just 3 scenes. An actual story if you will rather than a plot description. Really these didn't establish anything that wasn't in the character description, although it went into more detail on the personality because you got to see it as opposed to read an overview. Other than that I don't do backstories. You (and I?) will figure out who the character is once the campaign begins and I see no reason to rush that.

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