March 4, 2004

Game Wish 86: Midwifing Characters

Ginger asks this week:
What can the GM or other players do to help �midwife� the character creation process?

Ginger quite rightly plugs the Q&A give and take of Everway as an example of character creation done in an interactive fashion.

Arref mentions that in Strange Bedfellows, I took great pains to encourage inter-PC links.

Its harder in a mature game, though, to link new characters to old.

The way I like to help midwife the character creation process is to provide room. I am a believer in what players and their characters bring to my universe. I give them room, so that if they are "up front" or "develop in play", they have the time and space to find their character's voice, personality and niche.

Ginger's character Alais, for instance, is a prime example of this at work. Together we have been fleshing out things in posts, and getting to know both her and her environment. I am enjoying it and I think Ginger is as well.

On the other hand, to name a counterexample, a failed player in SB, in addition to have ungrammatical posts, had a style which did not encourage character or environmental development. Her world was cardboard, every attempt of mine to help give it depth ignored. And none given by her. I was more than happy to unhappen the existence of her and her character.

As for me as a player, I'm used to a little structure when it comes to character creation. I don't mind world-building, in fact I enjoy it--since that is part of my "GM genes". Giving me guidelines on how far to take such building are good, and giving input is what makes me excel as a player. It is when I am not sure where there are guidelines and boundaries that I have to avoid the temptation to embellish too much.

As an example, the re-launch of Galactic Renaissance. I happen to play a currently central character, one of the two potential heirs to an assassinated Duke. Its a complex universe with a lot of backstory and history, and yet there is always room for more. My character has been asked about his travels off-world and I've been hesitant to embroider and embellish them, since I was unsure what I could and couldn't do.

But I am adapting and learning, as always. And learning to be a better GM for working with character creation in the process.


Posted by Jvstin at March 4, 2004 4:07 PM