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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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Depends on the character. Some, like those in the D&D game, which I don’t invest a lot because they could die in first level, and after that the background fills in, often through improvisation. ForHero the backgrounds are fairly involved. 

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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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Quite a lot of time for characters I want to use in campaigns - I can give you the addresses for the homes my super hero owns as well as her IMDB credits...  Affects in-game stuff?  nah...

 

My google search history would look really suspicious without the context of research for a fictional game.

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13 hours ago, Thirtybird said:

My google search history would look really suspicious without the context of research for a fictional game.

 

Oh man, you are not kidding there... :)  

 

Perhaps more, tho, is scientific info.  What's a good density to allow fusion to start?  What's the basic fusion chain, and just how much energy is released?  Ohhh that much...so fusing a gram of hydrogen and going through the whole cycle is massive overkill.  OK, so a fuser isn't consuming himself.  Huh...graphene could be used.  And what's this boron nitride...oohhh how complementary.  My, my....yes, a carbon manipulator can readily be extended for this, since boron is 5, carbon 6,  and nitrogen 7....and boron nitride's structure matches carbon's, for electron sharing.  

 

And even more geeky...yes, you can make a graphene/boron nitride quantum computer.  It is being worked on now.

 

I prefer not going TOO far into la-la land if I can help it.  Or at least cut down the dimensions of how I'm out there.

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My google search history would look really suspicious without the context of research for a fictional game.

 

Its an ongoing sort-of-joke among authors that our search engine would get us put in prison. Ways to kill people, deep dives into Nazi history, information on building deadly things, etc.  It looks like a serial killer's computer.

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  • 3 weeks later...

If you don't come up with the details of your PC, then who will? Maybe the GM, if a detail needs to be decided upon after the fact, and maybe it'll be to your liking and maybe it won't. You never know what aspect of your character's life story is going to suddenly become relevant in game and the last thing I want is for the flow of the game to come to a screeching halt because somebody hasn't fleshed out their PCs background enough to keep the game going.

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On 8/22/2021 at 7:18 AM, Ninja-Bear said:

My problem is that I often get frustrated trying to come up with original and cool concepts. Even settling on a name that I like can be frustrating. So usually I end up with very little information. Every now and again I do come up with something I like rather easily.

 

That's often a pain, especially if you read a lot.  "Oh that'd be...no, wait, that's just X from that series....."  Sometimes that's ok, tho.  Other times, it's just a combo you almost never see...or, not in supers.  Like, one idea for a healer is a "flesh sculptor."  So healing with the SFX of reshaping to fix the injury...and shape shift.  Different.  Healing slots nicely into a MP with HAs that are versus power def, too.

 

But, whatever.  Once that's sketched out, quite often my next step is the descriptive aspects like size, hair/eyes, ethnicity, and getting a handle on the personal interests.  Sometimes quite a few skills might be suggested by the power concept...the flesh-sculpting healer should know anatomy and/or physiology very well, for example, but not necessarily squat about medicine generally...but many things are still open.  I don't need everything all at once;  these lead to establishing the framework, and as you fill things in, usually it gets easier.  Character name's the LAST thing I do, most of the time.  Hero name...sometimes it's quick based on the concept, others...not so much.  

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