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Actana Muses on Various Topics

   
I may have misrepresented my overall point here. It's not so much about extensive backstories (though I have a lot to say about those as well), but low level character with a backstory for a higher level character that I find rather curious to see.

Or I may just be exaggerating the problem. That's entirely likely as well.

To some degree, that's a system thing.

Someone who does that in Dungeon Crawl Classics is not getting into the spirit of the thing But a 5e level 1 fighter is, according to the description in the PHB more than just a raw recruit, or even an ordinary soldier. There's similar flavor text for barbarians.

Obviously, that depends on your world. If you as a GM stat up every town guard as a 4th-level fighter, then a 1st level character is fresh off the farm.

Perhaps a bit of both? I could see where a background written could be viewed differently from one reader to the next that might imply either argument here. What one writer sees as simply foundation information, another might see as basis for class-based experience.

There's been times when I write indirectly about a character using the PC's family, friends, adversaries, and neighbors as a way to include events without them being cause-and-effect XP for the PC. Now, I've also been critiqued once or twice that this way of doing things does not provide enough information about the PC to the GM, but perhaps others have had better experiences with it.

Both of you have excellent points. Will certainly be something to think about further.

Yeah, I've seen that before, both as a player and as a DM. 1st level D&D characters are supposed to be teenagers or in their early 20's depending on the class (racial differences notwithstanding) but players often have an idea of a character they want and they are fully formed as adventurers in their minds already. They don't want to imagine the hero they want to grow into but already be that. And so they write the story and description according to that vision. They want a ranger and so they make an Aragorn instead of a young lad with barely a beard on his face. They want a wizard and so make a stern and powerful wielded of arcane magics.

One of my favorite sets of Dragonlamce books were the Tales series which followed the children of Caramon Majere as young noobs with a legacy to live up to. One son was a wizard but didn't have much magic and hadn't even figured out how to work the trick dagger sheath he had inherited. Those kids were first level and it was a good perspective.

The fact is that most of our inspiration that we draw upon in books and movies almost nobody is starting at first level. The exceptions might be the sidekicks that start as noobs and through the series get to level up.

In short, I agree. If a game is starting at first level, then characters need to be presented as relative noobs. If people don't want to do that, then don't start at first level. It's just incongruous.

Would you say that age is a mandatory set too, Penchant? I've often found it refreshing when an app involves an older PC that's still a low level. The ones I've written are stepping into a new profession typically, but I've also seen players put together apps where the old person is just... old. They aren't particularly good at what they do beyond some standard stuff, but instead rely on repetition or ignorance of the people around them to solidify their place as a 'veteran' without having the XP or skill to prove it.

I'd call it a baseline more than mandatory. I'll always make exceptions for good stories. Having 0 XP means mechanically having no relevant experience. In D20 modern, it recognized that many adventure types have some sort of background beyond leveled adventurer and represented that with Starting Occupations. But then they paradoxically went against that by having writeups for leveled NPCs like cops and criminals. The greater problem with d20 systems that this sort of stems from is that it can never consistently decide what to abstract and what to model.

I wasn't expecting to write anything new so fast, but I came up with the most bizarrely impractical yet surprisingly compelling campaign concept yesterday evening.

So, amnesia plotlines, right? They're a bit difficult to do, especially if a character suffers from amnesia during play. After all, it takes a lot of willful ignorance from the player to be able to overcome the fact that the player still knows all that is going on. So I started to wonder how one could actually overcome that? How to properly do a character who regularly suffers from amnesia, reverting back to some prior preordained point in their memory? Perhaps the campaign concept would be a world that resets itself in many ways except a few, which the single PC can influence in some limited manner. Or maybe just a typical world but the PC loses all of their memory periodically. That's all secondary, the real idea of this is how to solve the amnesia problem.

So my downright insane solution is to not only reset the character to a prior state, but to reset the player as well. And to do that, each time you'd have a reset, you would change players. Each "iteration" of the game would have a single player with a single private thread, and they'd do things normally, until the amnesia triggers and the character starts over. But then the player has to end their play of the game and the GM would recruit a new player to start over. Eventually, down the line somewhere, one of the players might figure out what's going on and start making contingencies for the amnesia. And thus, many, many, many players later the character might actually be able to gather all the information possible.


It's a completely stupid and incredibly impractical idea that would never work, but oh boy would it be fun to observe on the macro scale.

As someone who is currently in an amnesia game (and keeping an eye out on another in a similar vein) this sounds... frustratingly difficult.

I've found that when playing an amnesiac, half the time the party is (respectfully) spending their time trying to acquire the mechanical means of the character so that they can correctly write the character's actions and/or know their options. But not knowing vital things makes the writer rather impotent (for lack of a better term) when it comes to interesting prose.

Having that process repeat itself multiple times with multiple writers seems like it might just be a game of repetition without reward.

Now, I'm not saying it's a completely useless idea... but I'm saying the GM would be in for quite the challenge to keep his player(s) engaged and to keep the writing even remotely consistent. Perhaps part of the inconsistency is the point? Sure, but I'm not sure it would help get the story moving in a rewarding/productive direction very quickly (or at all).

Having a singular character may help the process -unlike our team of amnesiacs- but the GM would have to be willing to give large unavoidable hints for a rotating player base, I think.

I think if I run an amnesiac game ever again, I'll allow the players to pick a few independent scenes that are the baseline for the character but do not hint at what the characters have become in present day. That way they have something to work with in those early posts (or later if they don't come up with discoveries/revelations very quickly) because PbP is too slow already for there to be too much regurgitation in the actions of the posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Basil_Bottletop View Post
Now, I'm not saying it's a completely useless idea...
Oh, but I am.

As it stands, the concept is only fascinating in how it would operate on the macro scale as an experiment in player behavior and the like. Not as a fun game itself. Of course, it'd have to be framed in a way to immediately drive the character towards something, but the main interest in me would be to see how the players react to the whole amnesia thing. In fact, I'd say that one of the prime points of the campaign would have to be that the players do not even know they are participating in a collaborative amnesia centered venture. After all, the character wouldn't know until it is revealed to them somehow.

While I do think taking that kind of metagaming prevention to the extreme is a bad idea in practice, the methods used to create such games lend to interesting thought experiments.







 

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