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Game Themes
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shootingwomprats
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:50 pm    Post subject: Game Themes Reply with quote

Something I have been introducing into my game's Zero Session has been the discussion of Themes within the game. I like to open the table up to the players to come up with three or more themes. Typically I start with a couple to show them what I mean. Does anyone else do this in their games?

1. Will of The Force: The Force moves through the galaxy ebbing and flowing. It attempts to work through nature and sentients.
2. Black Hats & White Hats: The player's are heroes. The bad guys are ... bad.
3. Never Tell Me the Odds: There is always a chance at a dramatically appropriate time.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Game Themes Reply with quote

shootingwomprats wrote:
Something I have been introducing into my game's Zero Session has been the discussion of Themes within the game. I like to open the table up to the players to come up with three or more themes. Typically I start with a couple to show them what I mean. Does anyone else do this in their games?

Every campaign. We talk about the campaign type, themes, story arcs, archetype role allocation, character concepts and character arcs, etc. Even making characters is a group effort. I really dislike the extremely individual style a lot of GMs have that's like, "Show up on Thursday at 8:00 with your PC." That's often viewed as 100% player freedom, but roleplaying is a group effort. I am strongly of the philosophy that all players and GM should be a part of the discussion of the story of the campaign and the party as a whole. Fine tuning a PC is still largely individual (subject to final GM approval), but the conversation always starts with the group. As GM I want to know what kind of themes the players would like to see.
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Naaman
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed. I tend to be a character creation snob (call it a quirk or a hubris, if you will), but there is certainly dramatic value in that little section on the character sheet called "connection with other characters."

To elaborate on Whill's post, if the player gets to create his character, that is also a chance for a player to either completely or partially create an NPC (such as his characters arch nemesis or a friendly--or unfriendly--rival or whatever).

The relationship between the PCs and any NPCs in their backgrounds can be a valuable tool for developing themes within the story. Heck, the relationship can be the focus or manifestation of the theme if so desired.

A theme I enjoyed was a family theme (playing an orphaned character who had to learn about familial love through non-familial interactions and through observation of familial bonds).
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That section, in my experience, has probably been the LEAST used section on character sheets.. Whether using established templates (Just cut/pasted from the book), or home made character sheets.
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Pel
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Game Themes Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
I am strongly of the philosophy that all players and GM should be a part of the discussion of the story of the campaign and the party as a whole. Fine tuning a PC is still largely individual (subject to final GM approval), but the conversation always starts with the group. As GM I want to know what kind of themes the players would like to see.


Yes, that's my philosophy also. We quickly learned early on that it takes both the players and the GM to have fun and both must engage and invest in the story for that to happen. How do you know what your players want or need if you don't ask? Now, in my opinion a good GM doesn't just play Santa with the players' wish lists but always listens and takes their desires into account. Likewise, good players will listen and help the GM craft the universe they get to play in. It's a two way street paved with respect.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Game Themes Reply with quote

Pel wrote:
Whill wrote:
I am strongly of the philosophy that all players and GM should be a part of the discussion of the story of the campaign and the party as a whole. Fine tuning a PC is still largely individual (subject to final GM approval), but the conversation always starts with the group. As GM I want to know what kind of themes the players would like to see.

Yes, that's my philosophy also. We quickly learned early on that it takes both the players and the GM to have fun and both must engage and invest in the story for that to happen. How do you know what your players want or need if you don't ask? Now, in my opinion a good GM doesn't just play Santa with the players' wish lists but always listens and takes their desires into account. Likewise, good players will listen and help the GM craft the universe they get to play in. It's a two way street paved with respect.

It's a two way street paved with respect, indeed! That's the ideal.

Naaman wrote:
Agreed... To elaborate on Whill's post, if the player gets to create his character, that is also a chance for a player to either completely or partially create an NPC (such as his characters arch nemesis or a friendly--or unfriendly--rival or whatever).

The relationship between the PCs and any NPCs in their backgrounds can be a valuable tool for developing themes within the story. Heck, the relationship can be the focus or manifestation of the theme if so desired.

A theme I enjoyed was a family theme (playing an orphaned character who had to learn about familial love through non-familial interactions and through observation of familial bonds)

At the beginning of every campaign, I have the players design a handful of their PCs' NPC contacts, which could be underworld acquaintances or characters from the PC's past with a deeper connection to the PC who might show up in the campaign's story a some point. These NPCs are usually statted out to be starting PCs, and many of them also serve as a pool of possible replacement characters should any PCs die on the campaign. One time a player whose PC died choose to play an NPC contact created by another player (with the other player's consent because it wasn't that player's first choice replacement character). I also like player input on any NPC nemeses or competitor/rival NPCs for their PCs.

Naaman wrote:
I tend to be a character creation snob (call it a quirk or a hubris, if you will), but there is certainly dramatic value in that little section on the character sheet called "connection with other characters."
garhkal wrote:
That section, in my experience, has probably been the LEAST used section on character sheets.. Whether using established templates (Just cut/pasted from the book), or home made character sheets.

Peep this. Some of you will probably feel this is too small world, but here is the way we set up my first campaign. The Bounty Hunter and Pirate were childhood friends from the same orphanage on the hick planet they grew up on. The Retired Imperial Captain and Brash Pilot were uncle and nephew. The Alien Student of the Force (and a couple droids) saved the life of the Outlaw Cyborg Engineer. These three oddball pairs were created in our Session Zero. An unexpected player showed up for the first adventure and we quickly made him a Gambler to play, and I tied his background into the ship they acquired in the first adventure. The three pairs and the Gambler all met up when trying to join the Alliance. After the campaign got going, the Pirate realized that the Retired Imperial Captain had been partially responsible for the destruction of his pirate fleet and death of all his pirate buddies, but he didn't let on that he knew at first and just occasionally acted like a d**k to the captain for no apparent reason. The Bounty Hunter eventually realized that he was the one that had made the Cyborg by killing his family and attempting to kill him on a job. The Hunter felt very guilty about it but withheld that he knew for fear of the Cyborg avenging his family. Eventually the secrets came out and we had some more good roleplaying moments. The campaign's final adventure explored the concept of destiny, and it was implied (but not explicit) that these characters may have been "meant" to come together as a team.
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Naaman
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Destiny is a very easy thing to sell in Star Wars, so, it works in my book.
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Naaman
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
That section, in my experience, has probably been the LEAST used section on character sheets.. Whether using established templates (Just cut/pasted from the book), or home made character sheets.


Bummer.

But, I do understand that most players want to play "their" character without other players' ideas corrupting their "concept" or "build."
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it MIGHT be a solid 65% or more of my SW gaming has been convention games, where players don't really have time or the inkling to worry about their character's ties to other characters. But even in the home games, i've often seen players ignore it, unless the GM brought that up.
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