Wednesday, October 21, 2009

[Anygame system] Defining Character

My wife was asking me about challenging questions to answer for job interviews. She got kinda bored with the IQ tests and the deconstructive thinking questions, So I pitched her my new SOP of questions to figure out how the Player is planning to role-play his character which she found fun.

I've gotten into different opinions about the meanings of some disadvantages, the parenthesis pertains to GURPS disadvantage. I find these essential questions to start on players to answer about their character. A short paragraph each, an essay or a quick discussion would be enough. The GM should take notes, because using this information to add a level of complexity to their game takes very little effort. All these are a key to the decision making process of a Character and allows the GM quickly tailor a scenario to best challenge them.

Social Obligation (Sense of Duty) - How many social obligations does the character maintain (and eat up their time), how strong are they, where are they in their hierarchy of priorities? Note: In gurps, the disadvantage pertains to a size, intensity and the among time these obligations take up is based on other disadvantages (Duty, Fanaticism, and an Aspect of Honor).

Humanity (Pacifism) - the capacity to take another person's life or make others suffer. What does it take for the character to take a life? Can it be over a small thing, a big thing, just his own life, or will it need the threat of loved ones? This also pertains to how much can a character tolerate amounts of suffering vs not particularly caring at all.

Intolerance (Intolerance) - Intolerance usually pertains to a Culture, Ethnicity/Race, Lifestyle, Belief structure, Social Class, or Institution. Figure this one last, because even if someone thinks they are pretty tolerant, their other answers would point to something they are not aware of.

Belief Structure (Discipline of Faith) - The disadvantage pertains to the degrees of commitment and the physical discipline one needs to maintain it. Pan-theistically. Personally, I would ask the Player to describe his character's belief structure with a few questions:
  • What is X's belief structure?
  • What does the belief structure ask of X?
  • How much commitment or sacrifice will X do for his/her belief? Will he sacrifice all possession, loved ones, their own life?
  • Does it affect his tolerance/acceptance for other beliefs, lifestyles, social policies, etc... ?
note: This is a topic, I as a GM, pay a great deal of attention to. How I treat, role-play, or act concerning the beliefs is something I tread carefully on but draw great amounts of Role-playing Drama. Currently, in the flux of culture, information, and innovation we learn that we are constantly reshaping our view of the world based on how to best accommodate the infinite perspectives possessed by the peoples of the world. Then there are those who see this change or this accommodation of others as anathema, because it affects the measure of comfort and structure they have grown up around. I want people to be aware of their character's beliefs not just because of political correctness reasons but because Beliefs determine Character Choices.
This is a game-theory aspect, and thus a strong influence in the over-reaching strategy players will adopt. If a character is empirical, this can lead to a different
set of options a faith-based character would have.

Ex. Lets take a Secular Humanist who will be ready to sacrifice something they hold greater importance than their own life to perform a greater common good falls under what in your referendum?
Personal Integrity (Code of Honor) - How does the character know them-selves, how much do they value their promises, and what lengths the character will go to redeem or maintain their self image. Honor is usually defined by a culture's perspective, I chose Integrity as a broader term to ask players about. Integrity that can lead to one's death, but death in one's own terms is at -5 (like pirate's or professionals), but under the terms of another (like a soldier, knight, warrior following a leader) it is -10, and under worse terms like strange circumstances (a storybook chivalric knight caught up by circumstance) -15.

Respect for Order, Authority and Law (Honesty) - While integrity is internal, Honesty is more external (because it actually grants a reaction bonus from other). Since the Honesty and Honor two tends to blur so often, I will describe these set of questions as how a person Views the place of Order, Government, Law, and Authority in society.

Responsibilities (Duty) - We take jobs for granted, but Characters tend to have jobs to or something they do to support them financially or psychologically. Nothing removes the immersible experience like removing authentic human drama: responsibilities. What is considered a regular set of responsibilities falls under the -10 range of points. More or Less affects the character in their choice of how to spend their time. Characters who chose to have a little responsibility as possible vs those who take on more than they can handle have a notable affect on their mindset. In game aspects, the responsible ones do most of the work while the less responsible ones enjoy most of what the work benefits. Bottom line it is overall productivity, stress levels, and time options.

Notice that Characters who fall outside these parameters (no such disdvantages) have the broadest options, at the same time suffer the social and rational disadvantages from not having defined these traits. The GM should require as part of back story, instances where the character violated any of the 7 basic premises:

  • A person with no social obligation has no person who naturally are obligated to care for them (unless they paid points for it).
  • A person has no problem taking another humans life or making others suffer, has done so to make them realize they are such.
  • Character with no identifiable tollerance, will find one after asking all the other questions
  • A character usually practices their belief structure, lack of any one conviction will show with the many tests of character in adventure.
  • A character with no Responsibilities have very unusual habits because they fall outside the working norm.
  • A character who has no respect for order, authority, and law will have trouble working with any other organized body and will usually work independently.
  • Character who has no integrity will usually take the easiest deal and not easiest deals are good deals. In the character's history, these life defining choices have a tendency to show up at inopportune times.
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