During character creation, only determine stats and gear. Then, if the character survives the session, they earn more detail. At the start of the following sessions, let everyone roll on one of a number of character aspect tables to flesh out their character, background, and relationships.
|Atlas Slave - Michelangelo|
Conceptual Status: Seems To Works In My Game
I think this simple house rule can have these benefits/effects for old school style play:
- It helps speeds up the first session to get into gameplay more quickly
- It adds a fun ritual to the start of every session
- It dulls the impact of an early death, due to being less attached to a particular persona
- It increases their desire to survive in order to discover more about their character
- It emphasizes the tentative nature of the PCs
- It helps orient the players' focus on the game situation and environment, rather than inward to their character
This can also be done in a game where players create bespoke character backgrounds, rather than discovering them by rolling on tables. In that case, players simply reveal (brief) bits of their character at the start of each session (or perhaps in scenes around the campfire, etc).
In My Campaign
My players loved this aspect of our campaign, with each session starting with a brief ritual where we flesh out the party with more interesting detail, inferred background, and relationships between the characters. One of my players has refused to roll a name yet, so we've refer to him as Nameless all this time.
This probably shouldn't be continued ad nauseum; eventually (maybe after ~8 sessions/details), we got to a point where we felt like the characters had enough meat to them and coherence between each other that, while it was fruitful when they were more skeletal, adding additional random aspects would induce non-sequiturs that would strain our ability to rationalize them in light of the preceding discoveries. But I think we all miss it now!
These are the tables we rolled on for my campaign:
- Almost all of the character tables from Maze Rats and Freebooters on the Frontier
- A list of character inter-relationships which I've compiled and curated down to 20 that I revised to my liking, from this list of 100 from the Fictive Fantasies blog and some other sources I've forgotten, all of which I felt were too bland as-is.
- 500 Backstories to Inflict on your Characters from The Toast, via Skerples, which can be absurd but fun. They are not uniformly suitable however, so maybe offer a reroll.
- And this great series of class-specific starting items from Joseph Manola of Against a Wicked City:
I encourage you to comment below, rather than elsewhere.
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