Author Topic: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds  (Read 3387 times)

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Offline markc

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Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« on: August 24, 2011, 11:53:56 AM »
  What do people think of randomly rolled backgrounds for PC's, such as in games like Warhammer? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Do you use it or let the players roll twice and pick which one they want?


Thanks
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Offline providence13

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2011, 12:30:38 PM »
Most of my players really skip on background info. But I use it for NPCs.
Generally, they hate being told what to do. :o
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Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2011, 04:56:13 PM »
I generally try to get players to develop the background before they roll the character, rather than the other way around. Bend the chargen rules to fit the character concept instead of bending the character concept to fit the chargen rules.
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Offline arakish

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2011, 10:13:46 PM »
I completely agree with GOF's method of doing it.  I prefer letting the player's generate the character they want to play instead of forcing a character they don't want to play.

However, I also give the players full license on generating their characters as long as it remains within the world setting guidelines.  If a player wants to totally randomize everything about his/her character and play with what s/he rolls up, then I generally let them do it.  Basically, I provide such tables mostly for idea generators for their characters.

In other words, I do not force players to do anything they do not want to do.

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Offline markc

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2011, 10:37:25 PM »
 I agree with you in that I do not like random rolls for big PC background options.
Thanks all
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Bacon Law: A book so good all PC's need to be recreated.
Rule #0: A GM has the right to change any rule in a book to fit their game.
Role Play not Roll Play.
Use a System to tell the story do not let the system play you.

Offline Ecthelion

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2011, 08:30:54 AM »
Generally, they hate being told what to do. :o
So do I  ;)

Offline Grinnen Baeritt

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2011, 03:21:49 PM »
Ok. Going against the flow here... I don't really mind. No, in fact I actually LIKE having a random background both as a player and a referee.

But I really prefer using these random elements to get the creative juices behind the back story rather than it solidily cementing it.

I've seen to many "heroic" starts to backgrounds created by players to really believe that a stand alone player generated background can be "good" for a campaign. Too many "Lone Wolf" Orphan characters for a start.

Some people like lavishing characters with huge backgrounds, some have little interest in doing so. Making it PART of the character creation process, gives everybody a basic background which can add to future campaign development.

As a referee, I like to have some say in the background of the characters development, even of it is to legitimise that character concept in the campaign. This basically what games like Warhammer and Traveller try to achieve. (Creation of a family is a must... check out Chivalry & Sourcery or other FGU games)

This is why I'm a great fan of using Training Packages in RMSS, I make the players purchase as many as they can for the 1st two levels (I start characters at 3rd). This generates a random "backstory" when linked with the contacts and items generated. Fitting them all together breathes life into the character, adds interest, detail and provides plothooks for the future.

Life is full of random elements and you simply don't get to make all the choices.

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2011, 03:42:14 PM »
I'm okay with generating random elements, and even making your character concept from virtually nothing else if you want, that's a fun challenge. My point here

I generally try to get players to develop the background before they roll the character, rather than the other way around. Bend the chargen rules to fit the character concept instead of bending the character concept to fit the chargen rules.

was that I want to find out the who ("grew up in a family of people who hunt and supply meat to the local military") before I'll care about working out the what (1st level ranger). Determining what before you determine who to me seems backwards.

Make sense?
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Offline Grinnen Baeritt

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2011, 02:43:32 AM »
It does, though I find that the two (profession and the "who") are both equally as important when determining the "why and how" the character gets to "Where" they start being played as characters.

I also tend to treat the profession that has been chosen as, at least, a minor reflection of the "character" thus the "who" is generally part of that choice.

Given all that, if the player, after generating a random background, doesn't like it, I'll generally accept a certain amount of customisation anyway. The point is, that any background is better than none and the easiest option is a randomly produced one through whatever rules that you choose to use.

Offline DangerMan

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2011, 03:03:35 AM »
As a GM I would allow any method of character generation, and only worry about inter party balance and the prospects of the group being able to stay together. I detest the "lone wolf characters".

As a player I follow a four way process. 1.) Get a rough idea of the character; profession, race, alignment and social background. 2.) Do all the choices of talents, TPs etc to fit the concept of 1.). 3.) Write out the character completely, with stats, items from TPs, skills etc. 4.) Write the background story. I find that having all the details in place allows for much inspiration storywise. Where did he get that +10 axe? How come he learned 5 ranks i obscure lore? etc

No random elements what so ever.
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Offline Thom @ ICE

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2011, 06:04:16 AM »
Random elements can successfully be incorporated by using them to determine the aspects listed under #1, then do the rest manually and subjectively.  This can often be quite challenging from a roleplaying perspective, but if the challenge is embraced it can work wonders.

Personally, I prefer to go with background concept first - which defines the basics of race, profession, culture, social background and training packages along with the character's family, friends, and personality.  Then begin working with players to fill in the rest of the character sheet details, but all details must match back to the background concept.  It is not unusual to know who the character's siblings and parents are before knowing what profession he is.

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Offline providence13

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2011, 08:05:11 AM »
As a GM I would allow any method of character generation, and only worry about inter party balance and the prospects of the group being able to stay together. I detest the "lone wolf characters".

I agree. One of my players who can only sit in on a game at vary random intervals, often brings a different character. I don't mind this as it's not too hard to bring in another person in the group story arc. Lately the characters he brings have been a bit difficult.
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Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Randomly Rolled Backgrounds
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2011, 09:19:40 AM »
It does, though I find that the two (profession and the "who") are both equally as important when determining the "why and how" the character gets to "Where" they start being played as characters.

Sure, they're equally important, I just find that you get more believable (and really, more playable) characters if you take them in sequence. It doesn't necessarily cut down on the power gaming, but it does force the power gamer to define that character's obsessiveness that lead to those choices. Basically just as the GM has to have a "story logic" he adheres to, sometimes resulting in new house rules, in the same way the player has to have "character concept logic" that sometimes results in his making choices the pure power gamer would find less than optimal, but the character concept wouldn't make any sense without them.

Which is why I'm cool with randomly generated character background elements, as long as the player can assemble them into something that makes enough sense to him that he can explain it to me.

I agree. One of my players who can only sit in on a game at vary random intervals, often brings a different character. I don't mind this as it's not too hard to bring in another person in the group story arc. Lately the characters he brings have been a bit difficult.
Open Door, Psychotic Temper, Wanted Criminal and The Slain. All the same character... "Dude, do not wreck my campaign!" :-\

Exactly. If you make him actually define the mental and social wreck that produced these choices, and then further made him explain how this wreck came to be adventuring, whether or not he'd be allowed in any town anywhere at all, etc, things become a lot clearer, for both you and him.

A lot of the characters pure power gamers come up with can't logically fit into any adventure scenario that's not a party of one. And most of the time if they have to define a person to go with those numbers, they see that for themselves.
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out... Traditional Somatic Components
Oo Ee Oo Aa Aa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang... Traditional Verbal Components
Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, Wool of Bat and Tongue of Dog... Traditional Potion Formula