Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Narrative character creation

RPGs (and computer games in general) are notorious for starting you out with amnesia. This helps keep them from burdening you with too much detail at the start, but can be jarring later if you discover that the charming loner you thought you made is actually a mass-murderer from a large family. Or, if the characters stay ciphers forever, it makes it harder to engage with the game world.

At the same time, character creation can be a burdensome morass of obscurity, full of far too many numbers and unclear tactical decisions. This can be fun, but it can also be daunting.

I may have mentioned this idea before, but... What if you used a more CYOA style of character creation? Where you and the character generator build a simple story to express who your hero is and where e comes from?

Alishtera[type name here] is a [man/woman] reknowned for her [strength/cleverness/knowledge/fighting skill/piety]. She was born [in a small village/in the wild forests/into slavery/a noble's bastard] and grew up yearning for [adventure/freedom/revenge/love/fame]. Five years ago, during the war against the Pact, she [various activities...]

And so you could progress through character creation, picking a choice and then having the next part of the background story appear. Each choice you made would shape the eventual stats and skills of the character you would be handed, as well as setting plothooks for later. The story-generator could be as complex as you wanted... characters who were born slaves might get a very different set of possibilities for where they were during the war, in order to set up their current non-slave status.

1 comment:

Paul Eres said...

Ultima IV did that in a limited way. But this sounds more interesting than the way that did it.