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How long do you spend thinking of background aspects?


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Me...way too long.  :)  

 

Started with...ok, need a dark, rich skin tone.  Lots of variations there, but the Pueblo tribes hit my fancy.  Had a wealth perk listed...cuz I can, of course...so that went into...why?  And that led to "tribe found a small but rich silver and gold deposit"...then moved forward from there.  So, WHICH tribe?  Map time...where are the New Mexico reservations?  Mescalero Apache...cool, and I love where they're located, but their reservation is also national forest land.  Keep looking.  Isleta...ok, that works....

 

Then there's the name.  Hmmm...mama's Catholic, lemme see some good patron saints.  Yeah...oh and there's a cool middle name.  Now...last name.  That's actually tough;  I did find a repository of native American census-based names, and they included Pueblo and Tiwa (the actual tribe) names, but a LOT of them are Spanish origin.  Hmmm...well..there's one that looks and sounds good...

 

All in all, probably an hour spent, but hey, it's Sunday afternoon.

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   Generally, I would come up with a concept that comprised the person and the powers at the same time. But however it started then would come the insane days & weeks of research.

    Whether it was on the history of the Navy Seals during Vietnam for a character who was a cross between Captain America and Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD or creating an entire history of a system of planets for the home worlds of aliens based on the D&D races because I had the notion of playing a Dwarven starship engineer for a Star Wars campaign. 
    It helps to have jobs with a lot of mental downtime.  Running a copy center, driving a courier truck, etc.

 Busy body, Zen mind.

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2 hours ago, unclevlad said:

All in all, probably an hour spent, but hey, it's Sunday afternoon.

 

And if you enjoyed that hour, it was time well spent. :D  What are these games supposed to be, if not fun? Whatever part of the game experience is fun for you, you never have to apologize for.

 

As for me, I eat up background details with a spoon. As a theater teacher I resonate with the Realist school of drama, in that I love to be able to draw a psychological through-line delineating how characters become the people they are; what environments and experiences shape them into the form in which they enter a book/play/movie/game. In role-playing I want a thorough understanding of what makes a character tick so I can imagine how they'll react to any situation that comes up. I can build on that foundation as the character evolves over the course of a campaign.

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Uhm, probably far more than I'll actually ever use. If based on real life, I like to have read at least two history/biographical book on the subject, establish a time line, photos spanning their life time. Add in a brief blurbs about the education, religion, family and major events. Fictional character I like to be fairly comprehensive with as well, trying to flesh them out as completely as possible. If they're going to be a feature character and I can afford it at the time, I have a one or another artist friends do a reference sketch for me. Then create a character sheet in one or more game systems I expect to use and file it, for the day I may need it.

 

*closes the walk-in closet filled with plastic bins of hanging files with all my research notes in them*

 

I swear I don't have a problem!

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The original concept can come from a fictional character, or a need in the group, wild imagination,  or from a power gaming desire to work the system.   The character concepts and powers usually take several day-dreaming moments followed by number crunching.  Total time,  an hour or two.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

When it is applicable, I shortcut some NPC creation issues (and come up with a much richer character to boot) by using what I remember of people I have known in Real Life as NPCs, with genre-driven changes as necessary.  (That requires that none of my players have known that person, but that is almost never a problem.) 

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Since I've written two books set in my fantasy campaign and am publishing detailed info on how to run games in the setting, I've put in a lot more work than was necessary.  But it developed over time, for the most part.  I've run games in this setting since the mid 80s, so its grown as time had gone on.   When I published the Field Guide, it underwent a soft reboot, changing the map and nations slightly.

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