MoonHunter Sayeth 20180521


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Character Foundations I Questions

Making characters real is part of the gaming experience. It is more than just the mechanics - the pile of organized numbers. It includes all the bits of color, thoughts, and history, that make this a roleplaying game.

Now you may be making a character the MoonHunter Way. You may not. It all depends on your GM and Troupe. These Posts will help you set up a solid foundation to play your character off of.

There are three (and a half) ways to create your character foundation.
  • The Questions (and answers) - and answers
    The Questions - the Character Sheet
  • In your Head - "trying the character on for fit"
  • On Stage - Various "soft" scenes before play starts

Each of these ways is a way to riff upon the character.
You can touch upon each of these riffing processes in your own order and time. This is just the order that makes the most sense.

Riffing on the Character - The Questions
The Question segment is just that, asking questions about the character and finding "the best answer" for the character. (While you do the process, you may come up with a new best answer for a question... just put the new one in and move on.) This process can be formal or informal. Some people just think over their characters; others fill out Character Questionnaires like the ones Authors use. (In fact, you can google/ search "character questionnaire" and come up with a few hundred online.)

Still, you won't really know how a character plays until you have them "at the table", but before the game. After that experience, the character might need revision.

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Some design considerations.... (*1)

1) As main Protagonist Character, they should be active, not passive. Remember that at some point he/she will take charge of the story/action. Remember to design that into the character and their personality.

2) The character must have needs and wants, and keep on wanting/needing that (or something related) throughout the chronicle even if they may not obtain it. These are its basic motivations - Wants, Needs, Fears

2b) Some people prefer a different way to express Motivations. For many fiction authors, there are only six reasons anyone does anything: Love. Faith. Greed. Boredom. Fear. Revenge/ Anger. A character can have a few motivations in any of these areas. Note: you can combine with wants, needs, and fears to make the character more multidimensional.

3) You must feel deeply about your characters for others to do so. Characters must be in some way likable. All characters should evoke emotion from readers.

4) Make your character larger than life—and yet believable!

5) Yet don’t give your character all qualities you admire. They can’t be a rainforest activist, a nuclear physicist, a social worker, a popular speaker, and a champion of children, animals, and old people. Get the idea? Choose one or two solid talents and stick to these throughout the novel.

6) Each character must have weaknesses and make mistakes. In most chronicles, the characters will grow and change over the course of the story. This is not necessarily the case with adventure chronicles where the action is the story. Still, weaknesses give the character some roleplay areas and make playing the character mechanically more challenging.

7) How is the character perceived by others? Not everyone should love your character. Work on this with the other players and the GM.

8) Use dialog to reveal characters’ traits and views, as well as inner thoughts and actions. Make sure dialog is appropriate to age, gender, and cultural background.

9) Remember RPGs are a "team sport". Keep your the other characters in mind in terms of character story and game mechanics. Build links with them. Do not design a character that will antagonistically conflict with another. (Now friendly opposition like Spock and Bones, Wolverine and Cyclops, or the by the book cop and the maverick cop, are ideal... So work with your fellow players.)

10) This is a game/toy. Make sure the character is useful in the kind of chronicle that will be played. Make sure that "the team" has most of the core competencies covered.

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So here is "The Start".

The Character Sheet should define the basics of the character - the base foundation is you will. It is the numbers and bits that define what the character is mechanically in the universe. Yet, this is only half a way, a part of the bigger process.

This is the first and most important Character Questionaire you should be working with.

Go down the character sheet. Stop at each entry. From Whom or How did the character get that score/ thing/ ability on the character sheet? This builds up the character's profile: the character's family (often the source of attributes), Mentors, Past Experiences, and History.

Every entry might even have "the most interesting/ important use/ scene" the character has related to it. Do not be afraid of the quirky bits or the boring ones. These story entries help you make for a fuller character. They also might inspire the answers to other questions. "Why do you know heavy construction skill?" "Well, I was in the army and we were fighting in this city in Blackenstan. We were trapped in a maze of fortifications and bunkers. There was a construction site. They were just parked there. I use some bulldozers to break down enemy fortifications so we could advance and clear out the invaders..."

Make sure to work with your character and the answer. After working with the character and answers, it might inspire some changes to be made on the character.

To be honest, this is my favorite foundation thing to do for a character. While it is not officially "The MoonHunter Way", it is a lot of fun to do and very useful.

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Now for the Questionaire questions. (*1)

There are an infinite number of questions to define a person. Most are even applicable to gaming. However, these are ones that work well and provoke thought about the character.
  • Relationship to people/Family/Friends/How does he feel about them? People he wants close/Does he have enemies?
  • Religious affiliations or lack thereof:
  • Worst past experience:
  • Best past experience:
  • Greatest achievement:
  • Talents: This might reflect some of the skills that the character has to have
  • Character’s problem(s)/Physical/Emotional:
  • What your character wants most (main goal or dream—can evolve over course of chronicle):
  • Secondary goals:
  • What the character needs to learn most:
  • Emotions Laughter/ Happiness/Tears/Scared/In love/Anger/Hatred/Sadness/Regret/Need/ What cause the emotions? What is the character's responses to these feelings?
  • How your character handles pain:
  • Lying/Has the character lied or been lied to? How does the character feel about that?
  • Biggest fear and Would the character tell someone this fear?
  • Biggest Secrets and Does anyone know?
  • Thing he hates most about himself
  • Things he hates most about others:
  • Thing he admires most in himself and others:
  • Favorite foods:
  • Hobbies:
  • Habits (good and bad):
  • Clothing and appearance elements they can choose
  • Weapons of choice:
  • Favorite Phrase:
  • Additional information you want to note about your character: Do not feel limited to this list. Add more. Add questions that relate to the setting of the chronicle.

Remember, this is a process. You don't have to answer everything or fill in every blank. Do what you need. Work on some other parts. Then come back and check the questionnaire ... fill in more pieces, change entries that have changed, and fiddle with it until you are done with it.

Get it so you are comfortable with the character before play starts.

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The Stone Rule aka The In Stone Rule
Until, The First Official Play at the Table, the character is NOT SET IN STONE.

Until your character "starts play" all of these things are completely variable. Even then, only the things that were revealed in play have to stay. Other things can be changed with the GM's permission.

Just make sure that the GM has a clear idea about the character after the process is over... and that their plot lines are still intact.

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This set of questions and answers help serve as a foundation to build your character up from. They are here to give you ideas about your character and "pin down" certain character elements of personality, profession, or history. From here, you can build up the character. Riffing on the character is a great thing. This is trying to roleplay the character in yourself, using a little immersion. Once you feel comfortable with the character, move on to practice your character with prelude moments and practice scenes.

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*1) This is not a perfect piece. It is just some ideas I have had in the past.


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