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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Leliel's Avatar

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    Default 10-Minute Background

    Well, I was browsing the Wizards boards, and I found this thread by The Stray.

    The Ten-Minute Background

    In an attempt to get all the information I need to create stuff from character backgrounds without having to continually push for information, I am asking that you create backgrounds the following way:

    Step 1: write five things about your character’s concept and background, five things that you think are the most essential parts of your character. You don’t have to stop at five, if you like…this is just a minimum.


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    Example: Martin Tenbones
    1) He is a former pirate and retired adventurer and now owns a tavern in the city of St. Clarice.
    2) He is outgoing and charismatic, and attempts to keep abreast of all the local gossip and juicy secrets that pass his way, because he believes that knowledge is power.
    3) He and his former adventuring band fought against the forces of the pirate captain Craven, who was a major lieutenant for the current Dread Pirate Hellbeard. He used the wealth that he acquired to build his tavern, but he sometimes worries that the pirates may one day decide to find him and extract revenge.
    4) Though he is still friends with most of his former adventuring mates, some of them parted the group on bad terms. His girlfriend went back to the sea to fight pirates once more, but he received word that her vessel was taken by Hellbeard and believes she was killed. He mourns her death.
    5) Although he is retired, he can be convinced to adventure again if he hears that Sasha (his lost love) may still be alive, or if he is contacted by the White Foxes during a crisis (see secrets).



    Step 2: List two goals for the character that you, as a player, think would be cool to see accomplished in-game. During any session in which you take positive action to achieve that goal, I will award you an action point that can only be used in scenes furthering that goal. These Action Points are separate from the action points you gain by resting and reaching milestones. You can change goals later, though you lose all the accumulated Action Points for the goal you abandoned.


    Example
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    1) I would like to see Martin reunited with his lost love and perhaps able to mend fences with some of his former adventuring buddies over the course of this campaign.
    2) It would be cool to have Martin face and possibly defeat the Dread Pirate Hellbeard once and for all.



    Step 3: List two secrets about your character. One is a secret the character knows, one is a secret that involves him but that he is not actually aware of yet. This will help me in creating plots that center around your character. I will also be creating a third secret which you as a player will not be aware of, so expect some surprises!


    Example
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    1) Martin is a member of the White Fox Society, a secret society dedicated to keeping Coralton free of tyranny and evil, as well as keeping local governments honest. He provides information and rumors to them, but can be convinced to take a more active roll if
    2) Sasha LeBell, Marin's lost love, is still alive. She was captured by the Dread Pirate Hellbeard and has been kept as his captive for all these years.
    3) (Example of a secret I might make up about your character): Not only is Sasha alive, but also she has escaped captivity and killed Hellbeard. She has taken over his ship and crew, and has turned to piracy out of bitterness. She now IS the new Dread Pirate Hellbeard!



    Step 4: Describe three people that are tied to the character though blood, romance or honor. Two of them are friendly to the character, one is hostile. All can do something useful for you, if you can get the situations to line up. If you like, you can include an enemy of yours here as well, so I have an instant NPC nemesis to throw at you.


    Example
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    1) Martin's friend Audric Cwellen was one of his adventuring mate. Audric, a holy warrior in the service of the Goddess of Love, is the leader of the local cell of the White Fox society, and provides Martin with information and adventure hooks.
    2) Another of Martin's old traveling companions, Aubrey LeVaine, is not as helpful as Audric, because they quarreled over the love of Sasha, and Aubrey is still bitter about losing her to Martin. Still, he can provide some magical support if Martin can convince him to let go of his hate.
    3) Yebin Thistledown is a strange little creature from the Feywild called a gnome. Martin met the gnome in the Shroudmist Forest and saved him from a pack of Howlers. The Gnome makes all sorts of alchemical items and gadgets, and loves collecting odd souvenirs and items, as well as "recreational herbs." He operates a bizarre patchwork shop in the Rue Angélique district.




    Step 5: Describe three memories that your character has. They don't have to be elaborate, but they should provide some context and flavor.


    Example
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    1) Martin remembers growing up in a tavern as a young boy, helping his mother with the cooking. This started his own interest in the culinary arts.
    2) Martin remembers the panic he felt when he discovered that the ship he signed on to was a pirate ship after a brutal attack on a merchantman. He vividly recalls the smell of blood and burning timbers.
    3) Martin often recalls the goodbye kiss he gave Sasha when she left him. No kiss he's had since ever compares to that memory.




    design notes for the example character
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    Martin began life as an atypical barkeep. He was a retired adventurer, but still young and vigorous enough to accompany the party on their adventures. His tavern became the party's base for a while, until the BBEG of the game let off a necromantic bomb that killed most of the townsfolk and turned the town into a Zombie Apocalypse nightmare. Martin survived, and he turned into a secondary character for one of the players as he became more important to the ongoing storyline. Most of his background came from this transition from NPC to part-time PC.

    After the campaign reboot, Martin returned to his role as the barkeep of the party's favorite hang-out, but the players like him enough that he might return to adventuring status in the future.

    Since I like the thread so much, I decided to start my own.

    Here's my own character:

    Math ab MacCool, Templar of Shadows. (infernal warlock, Good)

    WARNING: ANGSTY CHARACTER AHEAD!

    1) Math has not had a happy life. Before his birth, he was prophesied to be a great enemy of the gods, a servant of a powerful primordial. Although what few friends he had did not believe it, most of the village did.

    2) On his 15th birthday, a war devil named Ahriman decided to set up his base in the wilderness near Math's home. In an attempt to please the "evil spirits" that had created Math, the villiagers made a pact with Ahriman-Math's soul in return for undoing the "things the demon child has done". Math's parents gave their lives to protect him while he fled the villiage.

    3) It was here that Dormin, of Shadow of the Collosuss fame-represented in DnD as a primodial prince-found Math. Seeing both a potential champion who could reinstate his worshippers, and a bit of the man who had freed him, Dormin appeared to the miserable teenager, offering the secret of the magic Ahirman had used in return for Dormin's patronage. Math accepted, becoming the warlock he is today.

    4) The irony, of course, is the fact that the prophecy is not the result, but the cause of Math's servitude to Dormin. Were it not for that accursed oracle, Math would not have the misery that drew Dormin to him. Besides, his patron, while certainaly a primordial, does not actually wish humanity harm.

    5) As a person, Math is, understandably, a depressive. He manages to hide it under the facade of a jovial but sacastic man who isn't sure how he became a warlock. Needless to say, his real personality is, shall we say, a bit more bitter.

    Goals:

    Short Term: Help reinstate the Cult of Dormin. This is the service he was meant to accomplish with his powers, and he isn't the kind of person to let people down.

    Mid-Term: Defeat Ahriman. The war devil was made a laughingstock in the Nine Hells for letting a perp get away, and he wants Math's soul so as to correct this.

    Long-Term: Get over his depression. This one should be obvious.

    Secrets:

    (Aware) Being a servant of a primodial tends to make a few enemies, so he tries to keep it hush-hush.
    (Unaware) The prophecy is actually right, but not in the way Math thinks-he will be an enemy of the gods, but which gods is his choice.

    Contacts:

    1) Dormin, obviously.

    2) Akita, a tiefling who, empathizing with the hand fate had dealt him, told him about the opening for an adventurer.

    3) Ahriman, hostile for reasons outlined above.

    Memories:

    1) I remember the time I found out about the prophecy. I was playing with a friend of mine, when suddenly this man came up to me, calling me "demon child" and that, I "was to blame". I would have realized he was drunk, but I was 5, so instead, I went crying home to my mother.

    My parents were not ones to keep secrets.

    It was probably better that way.


    2) The night my parents helped me escape, when I first saw Ahirman. He was what you would expect from a devil-muscular, big, and frightening.

    But mostly his eyes.

    That was the most frightening of all.


    3) When Dormin gave me my powers. There was this rush, somthing I have never felt since, this infernal power.

    But not beacuse of the magic.

    It was beacuse I realized that for once, I could control my destiny.


    Notes: Basically, he's a character in the vein of Shadow of The Collossus and Ico, ie an unfortunate soul who frankly has a moniker that doesn't reflect his actual personality at all. Heck, even his patron is a character from SoC, made compatable with 4E.
    Last edited by Leliel; 2008-09-23 at 01:32 PM.
    My Homestuck role is Thane of Space of the Land of Insanity and Frogs.

    The Malkavians would be proud.

    ***

    Thanks to Mokipi for the Exalted avatar!

    For avatars of your own, he's on White Wolf.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: 10-Minute Background

    I like the idea, but step 2 seems a little two rigid to me. I mean, I guess it depends on the player, but I'd rather not know which of my motivations is going to come up and be relevant for a particular campaign. It seems like it would take the fun out of it.

    That said, I don't have any better ideas for how to extract this kind of information from a player in a 10 minute background format.
    If you like what I have to say, please check out my GMing Blog where I discuss writing and roleplaying in greater depth.

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    Raz_Fox's Avatar

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    Default Ten-Minute Background

    I occasionally browse on the Gleemax/WotC forums, and I found this gem a while ago. I decided to share this, one of the best background makers I've ever seen, with my fellow Playgrounders.

    The Ten-Minute Background.

    I'll give the basics of the Ten-Minute system here:

    1. Think up at least 5 things about the character and his background that are essential to the character. This is your foundation for the character.
    2. Think up at least 2 goals for the character. These are the things the character or you, the player want to see happen.
    3. Think up at least 2 secrets for the character. 1 should be a secret that the character has, and 2 should be a secret that involves the character but the character doesn't know yet.
    4. Describe 3 people tied to the character through blood, romance or honor. Two should be friendly, one should be hostile. Everyone has friends and enemies.
    5. Describe 3 memories the character has. They don't have to be elaborate, but they should provide some context and flavor.

    Don't worry if you have to start making stuff up about the character - this is what this is supposed to do. I find this works best if you already have a light background and an idea of how you want to play the character.

    Leave feedback - whether here or on the WotC forums. Tell Raz and The_Stray what you think!
    -build that wall and build it strong-
    Kasanip - best artist; Rarity - best smile; Thanqol - good Question
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Ten-Minute Background

    Wasn't this just posted recently?

    Yeah, it was.

    And haven't I seen this in at least one "super-simple storytelling system" ruleset, anyway?
    Last edited by Tsotha-lanti; 2008-10-16 at 07:29 AM.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

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    Default Re: Ten-Minute Background

    Thank you for your helpful feedback. I had never seen that thread before. As for the SSSS, I think it's loosely based on the Minimus system.
    -build that wall and build it strong-
    Kasanip - best artist; Rarity - best smile; Thanqol - good Question
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Ten-Minute Background

    Cheers Raz Fox. I missed Lelial's original link to this (probably distracted by a shiny thing...).

    Should be a handy quickstart element for a couple of the new players we're getting in. Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V
    Last edited by bosssmiley; 2008-10-16 at 07:47 AM.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Ten-Minute Background

    Wow. I feel special. Not one, but two threads for the TMB? Awesome!

    And yes, the TMB is heavily based on the Minimus system, copyright 2008 Ad Astra Games, and is used with permission. Minimus is donation-ware, so if you like the TMB, please consider donating for a copy of Minimus, as per the instructions in the file.
    Last edited by The Stray; 2008-12-12 at 10:57 PM.
    When the Cat's a Stray, the Mice will Pray

    I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: 10-Minute Background

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    I like the idea, but step 2 seems a little two rigid to me. I mean, I guess it depends on the player, but I'd rather not know which of my motivations is going to come up and be relevant for a particular campaign. It seems like it would take the fun out of it.

    That said, I don't have any better ideas for how to extract this kind of information from a player in a 10 minute background format.
    The idea behind Step 2 is to give your DM an idea of the plot hooks you'd really enjoy seeing come up in play. It's not limited to two motivations, though...that's just a minimum. It's also a good place to put motivations that you have as a player that might not immediately be apparent from the background as presented. Step 2 is about player motivations, not character motivations (though many people like putting in character motivations if they can't think of anything else).
    When the Cat's a Stray, the Mice will Pray

    I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!

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