Friday, September 16, 2011

Another way of looking at it

Taking another stab at the theme I addressed in yesterday's post. This time, let's use a real-life example.

A few months ago, I got to playtest the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. As part of the playtest, our GM had us all create characters from scratch and then 'age' them to 5th level. So I rolled up my stats, rolled up my random background, rolled up my random fate, bought a little equipment, and was ready to go.

This next bit is How I Work. On a basic level, it's my assumption about how RPGs should be.

Within 5 minutes of randomly generating this random character for a one-shot playtest, he had a name. He had an appearance. He had sketched out a history. He had a couple of personal goals. He had defined a relationship with his amazingly-expendable henchman. He knew that, even though he was a wizard, he was going to wear hide armor for the what-the-hell value. And that the armor was covered in tattoos.

Understand, I didn't set out to do this. The only choice I deliberately made was the character's name. Everything else just fell into place after that. I had a dude, and that dude was Somebody, and I wanted to be that Somebody for a while.

And letting the PCs be Somebody is everything. It's the reason I play RPGs, and the reason I run them. Other approaches may be as valid from a philosophical let's-all-agree-to-disgree stance; we can all do our own thing, and even enjoy trying someone else's thing. But if I'm in your game, my guy's going to be Somebody, and I want to Somebody it up all over the place. If the only place you've got is some subterranean deathtrap, I'm going to Somebody on out of there and go start some trouble in the nearest town.

Adventures should be about the PCs. Otherwise, why bother making them?

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