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Developing complete character backgrounds
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Deacon Rayne
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Joined: 03 Sep 2019
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:50 pm    Post subject: Developing complete character backgrounds Reply with quote

Hello,
I'm starting up with a new group. I'm currently starting up a new campaign. I'm working with my group to develop distinctive characters. A human from Chantrilla and a human form say, The Outer Rim should be very different characters. I'm going to be making use of the Advantages/Disadvantages system in the new expanded updated revised edition. But I'm looking to expand on that system a bit. Are there any additional resources I should be consulting to help my player develop more distinctive characters both aesthetically and mechanically?

A character background sheet would also be extremely useful. Thank you very much.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Developing complete character backgrounds Reply with quote

Welcome to the Pit!

Deacon Rayne wrote:
Hello,
I'm starting up with a new group. I'm currently starting up a new campaign. I'm working with my group to develop distinctive characters. A human from Chantrilla and a human form say, The Outer Rim should be very different characters. I'm going to be making use of the Advantages/Disadvantages system in the new expanded updated revised edition. But I'm looking to expand on that system a bit. Are there any additional resources I should be consulting to help my player develop more distinctive characters both aesthetically and mechanically?

A character background sheet would also be extremely useful. Thank you very much.

Inspired by Heroes & Rogues and Platt's Smuggler Guide, I ask my players to complete a Character Development Worksheet with the following sections. They can make it on any word processing application and just type as much or as little as needed for each section. The regular character sheet still has the usual background, personality, objectives, etc. but that is considered just a general overview. This Character Development Worksheet is where they really dive into the character and consider every aspect below that may not even come up in the PC template level of detail.

Quote:
Player Name:
Character Name:
Homeworld:

Growing Up:
Family:
Education:
Past Occupations:
Romance:
Critical Events:
Contacts:
Rivals and Enemies:


This Character Development Worksheet is strongly encouraged but not absolutely required. As an incentive for all players to complete it, if they do their PCs get NPC contacts that the players can create. And players can complete it at any time (even after a campaign begins) and the PCs still get the contacts whenever they do.
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Raven Redstar
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oliver Queen over on the G+ Community shared the following 25 question questionnaire for new characters:

Quote:
25 Questions to Ask Your New Character:
1. How old is your character?
2. Are your parents still alive?
3. If one or both of your parents are dead when and how did they die?
4. Who raised you after your parents died?
5. Do you have any siblings?
6. Have any of them died?
7. If any siblings have died how did they die?
8. What do your siblings do?
9. Is your character married?
10. Does your character have children?
11. What social class is your character from?
12. How has their upbringing affected their world view?
13. How did your character get started in their chosen profession?
14. Does your character have any heroes or inspirational figures?
15. Does your character have any significant personal items?
16. Is your character religious?
17. Has your character ever served in the military?
18. Has your character ever been arrested? What for?
19. How did your character meet his current companions?
20. Has your character ever crossed anyone?
21. Does your character have any enemies?
22. What are your character’s goals in life?
23. How important is the accumulation of wealth?
24. If your character died tomorrow what would they be remembered for?
25. Where did your character learn or train their skills?

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Naaman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the advice given so far.

Some other tips that I have used include:

Taking inspiration from pop culture characters: sometimes, it works really well to combine the concepts of two or three pop culture characters into one character. For example, imagine taking elements from Dick Tracy, The Incredible Hulk and Judge Dredd and combining them into one character. You don't need to take ALL of each character... just the bits that work well (or, not so well) together. For example, if the character's detective skills uncovered some heinous crime, his short temper and anger issues might cause him to act in ways outside the law, which is otherwise the very foundation of his values system.

Once you have the "concept" penciled in, you can flesh out the details of how this came to be.

Where do the anger issues come from?
Where does his "respect the law" values system come from?
What kind of detective is he? Intuitive or deductive? (that is, does he go with his "gut" feeling, or is he more analytical like Sherlock Holmes). And why?

Often, whatever decisions you make concerning a character (for example, "my character is really good with a blaster"), always ask the follow up question of "why?" or "how?" and it really helps to flesh out the substance of the character, taking it from a mere concept to being believable and relatable.

Cheers.
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Dredwulf60
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a system where I had a big list of character personality traits; things that they think would really define their character. They were encouraged to play against their normal character types. (we have been playing a long time and a lot of people develop one or a few default character personality types).

Each player selected 2.

As a game mechanic, I had a bonus character point awarded if a character fulfilled their personality trait in a game, as judged by the rest of the group at the end of the session.
At least one scene example had to cited.

This had a couple benefits; players being a team would of course always try to ensure they all got their bonus. It made people really pay attention to each others role playing, and it made people want to look for opportunities to put one of their traits on display.

realizing that some traits were easier to show off because they came up much more often, I rated some of the more difficult traits a little higher, so there was a range of 1-3 bonus character points.
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Naaman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Character points are a great motivator to prompt good roleplay.

They are called "character points," after all. Razz
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Mamatried
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naaman wrote:
Character points are a great motivator to prompt good roleplay.

They are called "character points," after all. Razz


I am not sure where exactly I saw this, but it was basically a 1-10 range of starting character points depending on background, things like starting with dark side points and the like
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CRMcNeill
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Joined: 05 Apr 2010
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Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another idea (I believe I heard it from Daniel Stull on Shooting Womprats) is Round-Out Dice. It’s been a while, so I don’t recall the specific amount, but he would give players an additional 10-15 pips that could be applied to a maximum of +1D to any skills the character hadn’t already improved with their starting 7D of skill dice. The key restriction, however, was that the skills improved by Round-Out Dice had to be directly related to some aspect of the PC’s background as defined by the questionnaire.
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Deacon Rayne
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Another idea (I believe I heard it from Daniel Stull on Shooting Womprats) is Round-Out Dice. It’s been a while, so I don’t recall the specific amount, but he would give players an additional 10-15 pips that could be applied to a maximum of +1D to any skills the character hadn’t already improved with their starting 7D of skill dice. The key restriction, however, was that the skills improved by Round-Out Dice had to be directly related to some aspect of the PC’s background as defined by the questionnaire.


The round out dice idea sounds stellar. Could you please post a link? Thank you very much
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deacon Rayne wrote:
The round out dice idea sounds stellar. Could you please post a link? Thank you very much

I never saw it in writing, only heard Daniel describe it on episode of the Shooting Womprats podcast (can’t recall which one), and it was basically as I described.
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

The CRMcNeill Stat/Rule Index
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Deacon Rayne
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good advice. Do you still have that personalty trait list?

Dredwulf60 wrote:
I had a system where I had a big list of character personality traits; things that they think would really define their character. They were encouraged to play against their normal character types. (we have been playing a long time and a lot of people develop one or a few default character personality types).

Each player selected 2.

As a game mechanic, I had a bonus character point awarded if a character fulfilled their personality trait in a game, as judged by the rest of the group at the end of the session.
At least one scene example had to cited.

This had a couple benefits; players being a team would of course always try to ensure they all got their bonus. It made people really pay attention to each others role playing, and it made people want to look for opportunities to put one of their traits on display.

realizing that some traits were easier to show off because they came up much more often, I rated some of the more difficult traits a little higher, so there was a range of 1-3 bonus character points.
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Deacon Rayne
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll give this a go. Which questionnaire is did you use?

CRMcNeill wrote:
Another idea (I believe I heard it from Daniel
Stull on Shooting Womprats) is Round-Out Dice. It’s been a while, so I don’t recall the specific amount, but he would give players an additional 10-15 pips that could be applied to a maximum of +1D to any skills the character hadn’t already improved with their starting 7D of skill dice. The key restriction, however, was that the skills improved by Round-Out Dice had to be directly related to some aspect of the PC’s background as defined by the questionnaire.
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Mamatried
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deacon Rayne wrote:
I'll give this a go. Which questionnaire is did you use?

CRMcNeill wrote:
Another idea (I believe I heard it from Daniel
Stull on Shooting Womprats) is Round-Out Dice. It’s been a while, so I don’t recall the specific amount, but he would give players an additional 10-15 pips that could be applied to a maximum of +1D to any skills the character hadn’t already improved with their starting 7D of skill dice. The key restriction, however, was that the skills improved by Round-Out Dice had to be directly related to some aspect of the PC’s background as defined by the questionnaire.



I like this too.

In fact I can even see this as in the most extreme cases actually allow for both +1 and +2 to certain skills and even attributes and if well thought out even to things that is against the RAW, like a 18D attribute force trained Chraracter as in 18D+force skills
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dph
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find that, much better than generic, broad questions, ask provocative ones that go deep into the true nature of the character, what they're about and how you as a GM can find hooks to use in game.

I like to ask 10 questions and encourage players to reply with as long, short, literal or metaphorical answers that they want!
I try to be slightly ambiguous and ask questions that cant be answered yes or no.
And... if I CAN, i tailor them to the campaign.

For example:

What brought you here and why can you never go back?
Who do you trust with your life, but why don't they trust YOU anymore?
What would you never do?
Who on your crew would you die for?
Who was your mentor and why haven't you spoken to them in 10 years.
Who do you share your biggest secret with on the ship?
What one item will you never leave the ship without.
You have one last chance to get it right... what is it?
Who wants you more, the Empire, the Hutt's or your previous employer?
What do you hate more than anything else... REALLY hate that is?
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CRMcNeill
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Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deacon Rayne wrote:
I'll give this a go. Which questionnaire is did you use?

I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but theoretically you wouldn't even need a questionnaire. The extra 5D provides an incentive to the players to embellish the background section on their character sheet during character creation.
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

The CRMcNeill Stat/Rule Index
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