Monday, July 13, 2015

Something New vs. Finding The Character

On Friday we came to the decision that it was time to retire our FATE infinite worlds game. The reason wasn't because of lack of interest or lack of fun, but rather lack of time on the part of the GM to do proper prep work for each session. After some deliberation, we decided that the group would be taken back over by its original GM and we would give the system "Shadows of Esteren" a try. Shadows is one of the games I brought back with me from GenCon 2014, and being able to finally try it has me excited but I'm also finding myself in a familiar quandary when it comes to making new characters.

The Trouble With Branching Out
The trouble for me is when it came time to do character creation I decided I would try something that goes against the grain of the type of characters I usually make. I opted to go with a bard (a performer, not the D&D class :) ) from the race of people similar to the Romani. The build for the character, at least at first, was easy enough and I gave the character some quirks. All in all, it should be a fine character. There is only one problem: while I have personality traits and quirks on the sheet, I can't for the life of me come up with a Character to go along with the sheet.

New For The Sake Of New...
This normally wouldn't be a problem for me, but when I think about it it makes some parts of what is going on stack up. It is a new system with a new world for starters. Add on top of that I am playing a character type new to me and I think perhaps I am a bit daunted. I keep getting struck with advice that I give to parents of incoming freshman every summer at work "enough things are going to be new here that you don't want to add more in just because." And yet, I do want the opportunity to branch out a bit and play something different.

My Solution
My solution to this is a simple one. Due to scheduling constraints I have about 28 days before our group next meets for a game session. That gives me about 21 days to try and find a character to go with this build, read about the world, and try to make it less strange so I can find this person hidden inside the charactersheet and draw them out. If that doesn't work, or I come to terms that it may be a moot point, I'll have to discuss it with my GM and perhaps remake the character.

Either way, it makes for an interesting conundrum. I could just try to play the character, but I know from my own history as a gamer and even recent history with certain characters, that if some aspect of the character doesn't reach out and grab me then I'm going to be in trouble. With the group launching a new game, and a GM returning to behind the screen, that isn't a hurdle I want to place if it isn't necessary to be there.

I guess the only thing to do now is see what happens.


  1. I usually work the other way around, start with a character concept and then try to find if I can make it work ingame, look at what is possible according to the rules and what not etc. And I either try to find a picture or make a drawing myself that looks like the character.
    If you want to branch out and try new things and you have the time, try reading a book in which you know there is a similar character. You want a Bard performer, so if you're familiar with the Wheel of Time books you might want to look into the Thuata'an or gleemen. I'm sure there are many more books with bards but that's the first that comes up here... Oh, and Laurie from the books of Raymond Feist of course, he's in the first book (or second? I have an omnibus of the first books). Feist's book even have the bonus of being based on a RPG world, so it's easy to see what Laurie's underlying concepts are.

  2. I do too. Normally I know exactly what I want to play before I even start to make the character. I sit down at the table and have an idea in mind that not only covers the standards (race, clan, class, etc) and certain mechanical desires, but also who the person is, what they want, and where they are going in life (or want to go in life) and all that.

    This one is throwing me for a loop though because I don't know the world, and it is a well developed world so knowing some intircacies is important. Especially for a character like a bard that, through being social, will be important.

    I've read most of Wheel of Time and do like the gleemen. I'm thinking of some others. Mostly, I need to read about the world though. I think once I have an idea of how the world works I'll be able to fit the character into the world better with the personality traits that I have. If not, I have several other character building exercises I can try and see if I like what comes out. It also could just be a case that I need to iterate on what I have and what I want to massage the mechanical build to represent the narrative idea for the character.

    Time will tell, and I do have time to explore the idea.

  3. Will you blog more about your exploration then? It sounds interesting. :D There's one thing I always ask my players if they're scared of entering a 'premade world' though: "If you change the world through your actions, is that a good or a bad thing?".