MoonHunter Sayeth 20181015

MoonHunter

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#1
Character Weaving
Do you understand Six Degrees of Separation?

Given a Boyscout Outing over the weekend, a Boyscout meeting Monday, and a busy work schedule today, I have not been able to do any writing these last few days. So I pulled out something I wrote 10+ years ago. It is still all true, just not as clear. We now return you to a more regular post.
When you read a story or see a movie, how often are the characters just there, with no attachment or place in the world or the other characters in the setting?

The answer you are looking for is basically “NEVER”.

Writers know that audiences won’t believe characters that are just “plopped” into the world. Things and people need to come from somewhere and have a reason to do the things they do. (Even amnesiacs soon find a place in the world, being the exceptions to the general rule).

Most players are reasonably good about creating a character conception and history, no matter how lame. It is easier to play a character when you have a strong background behind it and most players like making play and roleplay easier, so they make characters with a strong conception and history. Yet often these stories do not have any attachment to the world around them.

It is always best to make a character part of the game world, weaving them into the tapestry of the background story. Players should talk with the GM about elements in the game world that the character could have a connection to: recent history, NPCs, organizations, other characters, or even just random things. Form a connection to these things and the character is connected to the world. This helps better define the character and gives the player/ character more options in play.

Now, when you read a story or see a movie, how often do a group of four to six total strangers, with little to no knowledge of each other, get thrust together to do something and work together well if they had all been part of a well-oiled machine?

The answer you are looking for is basically “NEVER”.

So why do we accept this in games? They are supposed to be inspired by literature and action/adventure movies. Even video games have a backstory explaining why the various characters are working together. No matter how flimsy, there is always a back story to make sense of things.

Not so with game characters. In most cases, they are thrust by The Fates into a group of complete strangers facing life and death risks. You would hate this in a movie, why accept it in a game?

So where is your group’s backstory?

Some players will say, “Well, they are PCs”, so they will interact with characters that normally they would of ignored or run away from. The PC halo is a hackneyed game concept that says, if it is PC you are supposed to embrace other PCs, no matter how weird, lame, or dangerous, the character is. (The concept of halo came from the little bright ring that surrounded characters you were specifically using in early computer RPGs, much like the green polyhedron in a Sims game or the gold circle at the feet of a character in most modern games).

Players really want stories, though they will often settle for less. However, if they want a story that includes their characters, they should work with the GM to make it happen.

First and foremost, they need to have a “Group”. To make a group, there needs to be some kind of relationship between the members. The Character must be weaved together, not only weaved into the tapestry of the world, but into the tapestry of the group.

Now for players: to help the campaign story along, work with the other players when you create your characters. Find a connection, something in the characters’ mutual past that links the characters together. When did they first meet? Did they work together? Did they grow or attend school/ training academy together? Do they have a mutual friend? Was one character the best friend of another’s older sibling? Did they meet once at a party? The more connections and history a character has with the other characters, the easier it will be to play with those characters. Your character will have a reason to work with the other character, rather than the lame.. “well he is a PC”.

The GM should always be involved in character creation. Not only will they supply information about the world, but they are a source of ideas about characters as well. They can make sure each character has a protected nitch and that every character will have something to do in the campaign.

One other thing they can do is run mini-weaving scenes: Players play out or narrate scenes between their characters at sometimes in their histories. This gives them a chance to practice their characters and develop a mutual history.

The various weaving process gives the troupe reasons to be together, some depth to their relationships, and the chance for the group to work out who does what, in addition to adding depth to the character’s history and the GM’s world. The GM should work with the players to see how the characters are woven together.
 

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#2
Not quite The MoonHunter Way, but I was still looking for a good way to formulate and explain this concept 10+ years ago. The piece isn't as focused and additional information as one of my newer pieces. However, some people like my older pieces better because they don't have to know (or go and read) all the various MoonHunter Way pieces.

I also noticed that this got published today instead for tomorrow. Not a big worry, just an annoyance.
 
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