Beyond the numbers: Backstory and scaffolding

Here is another new column for you guys.  In this space we will be talking about what makes a character a character, how to be a better player and how to help craft the story of your adventures.  As with rule 1 I am going to start with some basic ideas and build on those as the blog progresses so lets take a look at the proper mind set for character creation.

How you think and what you think about when creating your character has a direct effect on how quickly he will advance in game. Don’t believe me? read on, give it a try and you will be rewarded. When you sit down to make a character were do you start? Do you work from a picture, or think about filling a role in the party?  Do you start with just some numbers on a page and a race or do you think about what you want to be able to do?  For the most part all of these starting places are means to answer the question “what can I do?” which I believe is the wrong question to ask if we truly want to make memorable characters that have more depth then the pools of there enemies blood.

The question we need to answer at the beginning of character creation is this: Who is my character, what is his current situation and how did he get there? The richer the character back story the more dynamic and complex the characters motivations will be. Lets look at three ways to start thinking about back story. Each of wich comes from a difrent first action of character creation.

First action: what is my role in the party.

The idea here is to think of how you will fit in with the group and how you can be effective in the main focal interaction of the game (i.e. combat,, investigation, court intrigue).  So with this thought in mind you desied to paly a pilot or a wizard detective what are some good ways to start thinking about backstory?

While you know why you as a player chose that class or career you need to shift to thinking about why did your character choose that path for there life?  Did you grow up wanting to be a pilot to escape a bad home life or maybe it is the family business, my father was a wizard so I will be.  just setting down this frame work gives you a lot of hooks to hang character personality and skills on.  At the hart of the back story proses this is the key to create a scaffolding so that when push comes together your character is a coherent whole.

First action: rolling stats

If we choose to roll states before we have even a concept of what we want to play we can let the character grow organically from the numbers.  Hun? Look at the states which are high which are low, if your character is particularly week is this an aspect of genetics or does he suffer from an energy suffered in his youth? If you have wisdom what life experience has led to that.  how did these intrinsic aspects of you characters being influence his childhood. Then start to think of hopes and dreams this then becomes the scaffolding.

First action working from an image (mental or otherwise)

If this is were the character creation proses starts for you you have also probably begun to tell yourself a story about the character.  you start thinking about were did that gun he is holding come from were did he get that scar.  These are simple questions we ask our selves and this is probably the essayist place to work from when it comes to back story.  It is also the hardest to come up with consistently when we need to make a character.

When we create a strong scaffolding of backstory for our characters we give our selves and our GMs ample hooks on which to hang story elements. With these hooks in place our characters will be more involved in the action of the game, they will spend more time in the spotlight and as a result we will get more opportunities to show of what we can do and there for more chance to advance in game

Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 10:14 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Love It!!!

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