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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 61 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Color-first character, part 2: Getting this far  (Read 12022 times)
Kobayashi
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« Reply #45 on: January 09, 2009, 04:15:47 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 08, 2009, 08:53:20 PM
Is any part of the sheet you established, including those with randomized methods, easily connected to one or more of the four components that are not

Let me know if totally beside the point.

Setting
In Barbarians of Lemuria, your character must have an Origin tied to the gameworld. If I don't use the setting used in the rules I still have to make up an origin for the character, thus creating a setting. Setting and character are tied in the chargen process.

Situation
This one is not present on the character sheet. We know who the character is and a little bit of her story. But Barbarians of Lemuria tries to emulate a vision of the Sword & Sorcery genre where characters are often drifters with no real goal in mind. The game has a "The Situation comes to you" approach rather than player defined goals.

I can use elements of the character sheets to actively build a situation but it's not there, it will merely be interpretation on my part.

Character
The origin leads to a choice of traits and flaws that contribute to the character definition, so are the Attributes, Combat Abilities and careers. These stats don't only measure the character's effectiveness but help define him.

Color
The color was given by the picture. I "translated" it using the chargen rules which in turn gave me more color. The choice of careers implies that the player consider his character history. What careers and why ? Combat Abilities are not tied to careers so a a gamist approach to careers is pretty much irrelevant. And even if a player choose careers only based on effectiveness (let's say Assassin, Mercenary, Sorcerer, Noble) it still gives the character a backstory. And once again the Origin adds color to the character.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #46 on: January 09, 2009, 04:24:55 AM »

Quote
is such kind of half-demon, and some sort of frosty dimension she came from.

- Frank
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #47 on: January 09, 2009, 09:43:31 AM »

i]literal<you<all<Character<look<make up<cause you to use<Now<exceptionally<this question is about and I think we should stay with it and really look at the three characters.

Frank, this is my take on the sheet, which is almost the same as yours.

Stuff like Anti-social and Humorless are Character as<very much as Setting features, similarly to the way Lifepaths establish Setting in Burning Wheel.)

Joel, you wrote,

Quote
So maybe I'm just fretting that a dud system, or a dud System/Color combination, will kill even my best efforts? Which is kind of a 'duh" thing; of course you want functional social dynamics, functional procedures, and so forth. But considering that it's such a point of struggle for me (and I'm not alone0, it doesn't seem like an empty worry. System Does Matter<not<
Quote
From an odd perspective, I'm thinking Color is an attribute that resists easy classification as either this or that. It multiplies AND contains, like some weird elemental Elder God of theory components. It is all that other stuff, and yet it is also its own distinct thing. fuel (although I see why you say that, Alexandre), so much as material-in-use, along the lines of paint in painting, raw medium, as I said earlier.

Best, Ron
literyou<all<Character<look<make up<cause you to use<Now<exceptionally<this question is about and I think we should stay with it and really look at the three characters.

Frank, this is my take on the sheet, which is almost the same as yours.

Stuff like Anti-social and Humorless are Character as<very much as Setting features, similarly to the way Lifepaths establish Setting in Burning Wheel.)

Joel, you wrote,

Quote
So maybe I'm just fretting that a dud system, or a dud System/Color combination, will kill even my best efforts? Which is kind of a 'duh" thing; of course you want functional social dynamics, functional procedures, and so forth. But considering that it's such a point of struggle for me (and I'm not alone0, it doesn't seem like an empty worry. System Does Matter<not<
Quote
From an odd perspective, I'm thinking Color is an attribute that resists easy classification as either this or that. It multiplies AND contains, like some weird elemental Elder God of theory components. It is all that other stuff, and yet it is also its own distinct thing. fuel (although I see why you say that, Alexandre), so much as material-in-use, along the lines of paint in painting, raw medium, as I said earlier.

Best, Ron
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Antoine F
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« Reply #48 on: January 09, 2009, 10:25:56 AM »

Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #49 on: January 09, 2009, 10:59:20 AM »

I've actually been trying to lay out how Color is used in Play Sorcerer.  (Though I kind of forgot about the whole formal thing worked up in the Big Model till last night!)

An analogy I use is, again, from painting.

When painting, an artist uses what is called a limited pallet.  The artist selects a few color -- anywhere from 2 to 11, usually -- and uses these, and only these colors for the painting.

However, these colors can be combined to produce NEW colors, hues and values.

The point is this: If you just grab 100 tubes of paint and use them to make your painting, you're painting is going to look very cluttered, no matter how clean the composition, because all these colors are coming from everywhere.

But, if you use a limited pallets you get order, because the colors will be drawn from the same stock of limited colors, but you'll also get variety because you can combine all the colors from you pallet in new ways.

So, in Sorcerer, I see Lore, Demons, Humanity, Price, Kicker, Stamina, Will, Cover (and the descriptors for each of those, including info on the back of the sheet) as the limited pallet.  It's specific to each PC, but tied to the shared elements of the game world.

And then we start play... and we start producing new Color from the limited pallet we've created. 

I see Color not a multiplier of System and Situation and Character and Setting as defined before play begins. 

I love Antoine's point that this Color doesn't exist until it applied or made.  It's like mixing a yellow and a blue together to get a green.  You didn't have the green before, but now you do.  It is at once new, but still a product of what had been laid out for the foundation of the painting.

Sorcerer is pretty robust in this regard, but off the top of my clouded head I see how In a Wicked Age... and The Pool, Polaris, all work cleanly this way.  (There are others!  Maybe all of them!)

So, Color (in the Big Model sense), is paint created and applied through the limited pallet of the character sheets and what the GM's... what?  Notes?  What he says to the Players?  Not sure here.

Anyway, I don't think Color is a multiplier.  I think it is a result of the application of the other elements in combination in play.
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Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #50 on: January 09, 2009, 11:15:08 AM »

Oh.  The GM. Notes.  And whatnot...

I think this is where things get really tricky.

So, in Sorcerer, at least how I play, the Players clearly don't know everything.  They certainly don't know the NPCs that weren't mentioned at character creation.  But they might also not know a secret the wife of a PC has.

But the key is, I try to "grow" -- or mix the color from -- all the fundamental elements already defined: Lore, Demons, Kickers and so on.  The unknowns should both be unexpected but feel like they're coming from all the fictional elements defined so far.

In some play or games, however, the procedures are unclear, undefined, or not really thought about or ignored.  So the GM has "his stuff" and the Players have "their stuff" and the colors might get muddy and brown when mixed, since the variety isn't being produced from the same limited pallet.

A different problem is the "Star Wars" problem.  We all know what it is. And it's huge.  And there's too much.  But we go in thinking we know what it is.  But we haven't nailed down the limited pallet to mix the Color from.  So sometimes everyone grabs fist-fulls of paint, but they might not work out that well together, and no notices until the Color is being mixed.  This can be avoided, of course, by doing so narrowing of the pallet pre-play.  But often picking Star Wars is seen as the narrowing of the pallet... when really it isn't.

And even then, because Sorcerer is so big, people could start grabbing new tubes of paint willy nilly as play progresses -- in a perfectly justified way -- if the character creation and prep doesn't help limit this stuff. Compare this to HeroQuest and Glorantha.  People flip out because of the size and scope of Glorantha, but fail to realize that HeroQuest helps limit that crazy scope considerably.  If the GM and the Players build characters together, with the GM defining setting and opportunities of situation, and then the GM stays focused on Traits on the PC sheets, the game won't spin out of control with a gazillion extra Glorantha facts.

I say all this with hesitation because I've got my head so far up Sorcerer it hurts right now.  Certainly what I'm describing is what I like, and how I prep and play Sorcerer, Sorcerer & Sword, Primetime Adventures, HereQuest, and The Pool.  Other games might handle producing color differently, and be very successful in producing it in different ways.
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Graham W
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« Reply #51 on: January 09, 2009, 04:17:44 PM »

As I understand it (and do correct me if I'm wrong, Ron, because it'll help me)...

Ambitions and Bargains, on my Poison'd character sheet, are Situation.

Some of the crimes are arguably Situation.

I'm unsure exactly what System might look like on a character sheet. Perhaps it's the scores for Devil, Soul, Brutality and Ambition and other things that have a mechanical effect (including the occupation, Surgeon).

Everything else, I think, is Colour.

Graham
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #52 on: January 09, 2009, 05:04:55 PM »

System Does Matter<

Heh. It's funny that, on reflection, this is definitely a value I learned and refined right here on the Forge, but it's internalized to the degree that I just think of it as "duh." I wasn't thinking, "well, the Forge answer is. . ."; I was just answering from the hip regarding the baseline for functional activity.

At least, I've internalized the idea. Putting it into practice is still hit and miss, which leads us to, among other things, Cascadiapunk and this series of threads. I'm very much enjoying the discussion.

The conventional wisdom, even a core value, was that system did not<
Neither the group of my adolescence or my long-running group of adulthood subscribed to that wisdom exactly, but it did crop up in subtly different forms. The teen group was very much about "following the rules" as a general MO, but our understanding and application of them was usually pretty spotty, and of course we "knew" that you had to fudge on occasion, but it had to be invisible. If someone could recognize it and invoke a rule to prevent it, that rule was gospel.

Then we'd just argue about its interpretation for half an hour. Wink

I think that experience (and the fact of 'the rules" getting in the way of what i wanted for my characters and "the story") paved the way in adulthood for more of a "the rules are the enemy" kind of mindset, though they were still a necessary enemy. It never occurred to us to throw out the rules or feel smug that "we never rolled dice all session!" or anything like that. But we knew well the pain of a set of rules not doing what you want them to do, for a particular game or particular situation. We just kind of passively-aggressively (that's right: passive-aggressive toward an abstract set of precepts!) added, dropped or tweaked rules without actually saying "OK, this doesn't work, so we're changing it, right now." It was always, "oh, it doesn't work that way in my game" or "What? No, we don't play with those rules, didn't you know?" or just "The thing you're doing doesn't work this time [without actually saying "I've decided to momentarily suspend that rule]." A voice of dissent on this matter is always met with a look, like "c'mon, we've always done it this way" or "what, are you a slave to the rules or something?" But of course the rules were always available to exploit for advantage, leading to a "c'mon, you know we follow the rules around here" attitude that looks like a frickin' multiple personality.

. . .

Wow. I never realized before I typed it out just how strongly The Golden Rule was operating, despite nobody in that group cracking open a White Wolf book. Shit.

Apologies if this is too far afield from the topic. From the initial question to the above musing, I can see the trail but I fear I've wandered into different territory.

Peace,
-Joel
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #53 on: January 09, 2009, 05:33:27 PM »

Hi everyone,

Joel, I see what you're saying and how you got there, but yeah, I think you've taken as far as it can go in this thread.

Christopher, everything you're saying is so ready for my Questions #3-5 it's just silly. Hold onto those thoughts!

Graham, you got it. Maybe it will help to think of most of the things you write on a character sheet as "Character and ..." In other words, the scores are definitely System, although they are indeed your character's System. I am inclined to think of an ambition as Character (& System, with its score), rather than Situation, because situation really is a definite place and location and "who's there," on a scale that's even smaller than the ship. The Ambition tells me what your character will bring to a situation, possibly, but not what the immediate situation is. Bargains do sound more like Situation, though, but only because they are made with a pirate who is guaranteed to be arm's-length away from yours when play begins.

I picked Filthy Jackie because it's a Situation-first game: the ship is indeed out there in the ocean, the captain did indeed get poisoned, the perpetrator is indeed alive and defiant, and a dozen different things are a hair's-breadth from complicating it even worse. Interestingly, that's actually a lot like a dungeon prepped ahead of time, then showing up to make up the characters and begin to play right afterward. Whereas in Sorcerer, Situation doesn't gel for the session prep until after each mini-Situation of each Kicker has been considered, i.e., after the characters are finished.

As a final thought, I'm not claiming every last thing on the sheet is always "Character and [fill in the blank]." Sometimes a sheet feature is Character "... and nothing," and sometimes (rarely) it's not Character at all. I confess that much of Juno's character sheet intrigues me because I'm not sure about what it means in these terms, and would like to know.

Anyway, that's almost all the characters I mentioned, right? Others' input is certainly welcome, and it's possible that practicing this step is a little more necessary than I'd thought. I'll probably bring in a character for examples soon too.

Best, Ron

edited because I apparently cannot count - RE
« Last Edit: January 09, 2009, 05:38:04 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #54 on: January 09, 2009, 05:37:17 PM »

Thoughts held.
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #55 on: January 09, 2009, 10:56:21 PM »

Is any part of the sheet you established, including those with randomized methods, easily connected to one or more of the four components that are not

Hmm. On Yaeta's sheet I see:

Name: Character plus Color. Name is a non-trivial element of the character; it elevates her from merely "the faery-barbarian chick with the sword." And it's your first chance to show off your PC's unique flair.

Appearance: Character plus Color. Not just in the sens of "color about the character" but in this case a chance to give a sample of the game's color in general: i wrote a nice little run-on sentence kind of blurb that waxes all florid in a Sword and Sorcery way about Yaeta's looks. I feel it give a nice general impression of what style Gorias would be narrated in.

Telltale: Character plus Color, and Setting, maybe? At least it seems to me that Telltales contribute to the sense of "what stuff there is in the setting," i.e. what sort of things ARE signs of Sorcery.

Humanity: Character plus System and Setting. It's a score with mechanical effects, yes. But it's also something that, by it's definition, tells us something about what "humanity" means in this setting. Or maybe that should be "Situation"? After all, the Humanity definition specifically points toward what kinds of situations are the point of play.

Scores: Character plus System. the scores are the means of getting things done in the game, and interact in interesting ways.

Descriptors: Character plus Color and Setting, with a bit of System. Descriptors are evocative of the character and her surroundings. She's not just "4 Stamina," she's "Savage-raised"! How cool is that? And what Score descriptors exist tell us a lot about the wider world the character exists in, in non-trivial ways. For instance, Yaeta's descriptors tell us there are Savages, Outlaws against an encroaching empire, and Faerie folk that transform those who have Brushes with them. As for System, the Descriptors inform the range of circumstances where the scores can be used.

Price: Character plus System and Situation. The price has an effect on rolling scores, but also tells us what sorts of situations will be complicated by it. "Unlucky in Love" is especially informative of the sorts of Situations that do or can exist for the character.

Destiny: Character plus Situation and Setting. It speaks to the general array of situations that Yaeta will progress through and toward, and also points to key elements of the world around her, on which her Destiny hinges and vice versa.

Kicker: Situation, situation, situation. And a bit of Setting. Pretty obvious, since a Kicker IS a player-crafted Situation. And it paints some nuances and flavor of Setting as well.

Bound Demons: Character plus Setting, Situation and Color. The fact that the PC summoned and bound this demon plants it squarely in the Character category, plus the Demon is a Character too. And the demon's nature and existence contribute to Setting. And it's Need actively informs Situation. And the evocative aspects of the Demon-name, type, telltale--are great Color.

Back of the Sheet:
Character plus Setting, Situation and Color. Everything but System, really. Placing all the "people, demons, places, and possessions" on the sheet flesh out and form connective tissue between: the people in the PC's life, the elements of the world at large, the specific circumstances and relationships surrounding the character, and all the evocative details the bring them to life. Like, after I wrote "Faerie Wood" in the Lore section, I wrote "Harvest moon," and now the circumstances of Yatea's brush with the Fey have that much more life. And I've established that, for instance, the portents of the sky are important to Sorcery, which informs further Ritual in the game, and so on. And, to look at a different vector, I wrote the name of a Faerie Prince and former lover in the Price section, just across the border from the Faerie Wood. Just having that border made me think of doing something like that: Oh, look, her Lore is spilling over into her troubled love life. Of course! Only I might've never done so without the sheet pushing me toward that.

The Demon's sheet: Character plus. . .everything. No wonder, it's just as much a "character sheet" as Yaeta's is. As I noted above, the most interesting markers are the Situation-pregnant Need and, now, Desire.

*                              *                              *

One thing I note after working through that; I'm rather fuzzy on the "border" between the different elements in the equation. Like Color: Since it suffuses everything, how can I tell if a setting detail is capital-S Setting, or just Color about the Setting? Like, in Gorias I have very Roman-ish conquerors/colonizers. Is the fact that they're "Roman-style," just Color? To me it says a lot that they're Roman-like: that they're neat and organized, bringing roads and hygiene and such, that they're founded on law and order and a clear authority structure, and that they're supremely presumptuous of their "right" to move in and take over--doing the filthy pagani a favor, in fact. So is that Setting? Or is just the bare fact of "There's a civilized conqueror moving in on the scattered tribal folk" the Setting component, and the Roman "Skin" is just Color? Or is that even a useful distinction to make?

And the bits in the innermost parentheses are even more perplexing. If Situation is Character + Setting,then how can anything every be "just Setting?" Like the Appolonians again, their invading Gorias constitutes a Situation. Or, if you will, a whole passel of Situations, that is, all the local results of their moving in. A Setting IS it's people, so saying you ADD Character to it to make Situation just seems redundant to me. Or is it that Setting is the past actions of people, and the current actions of select people (the "Characters") create Situation? That would make some sense to me.

peace,
-Joel
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #56 on: January 10, 2009, 04:18:15 AM »

This notion of the equation has really got me thinking, and I've been seriously considering where my own game design stands with regard to this issue.

Especially if I take into contest the current thread about setting.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=27396.0

Is colour a part of setting?

Is colour independent of the whole thing?

I can play RIFTS using a manga feel to it...there are certainly enough tentacled monsters, enchanted weapons, strange aliens and post apocalyptic hi-jinx.

I can play the same game with a dark gritty and gritty feel, or a even play it as a world of superheroics.

What is the "feel" I'm describing here, if not a manifestation of colour?

I'm using the same setting, the same rules, possibly even the same characters...but each game feel has a dramatically different style of play.

I actually explored this quite specifically at a recent convention when running the Eighth Sea.

Basically, the game ran with the same characters, but I gave the players a choice of "genre" at the beginning of each session. This "genre" choice was 'Steampunk', '1950's Sci-Fi' or 'Manga', the character sheets didn't change, the rules of the game didn't change, just a few of the descriptive elements when setting some of the scenes.

Yet in each of the games there was a definite vibe that felt different as the "genre" choices had been felt across the room.

So I'd have to say that this choice of "genre", "feel" or gaming style simply isn't manifest on the character sheet at all.

Instead it is a conscious choice that becomes manifest when players interact with the storyline, rather than when characters interact with the game world.

V
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Antoine F
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« Reply #57 on: January 10, 2009, 06:16:53 AM »

Oups,

I got so carried away by the drawing analogy that I forgot to answer your question about class and level in the RedBox Hack and why I didn't see System in them, Ron.

Each class lists 5 talents and 1 limitation. The player of a first level character can chose 1 talent from the list and can take or not the limitation (without any compensation). That's it.
When you gain a level, you can chose a talent from your class or another one but you must never have more talents from another class than from yours.
Besides that, you gain one attribute point per level after the first and must retire when you gain enough experience to attain what would otherwise be the 6th level.

That why I think that level and class speak about Character but not about System. There's nothing here to use directly in the game. Important values and notions where derived from level and class but before play.

Also, now that I have a clearer vision of the thing, I can see that a lot of parts of the sheet are realy full of system, like you said.

Antoine
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #58 on: January 10, 2009, 09:19:10 AM »

Thanks everyone. In the interest of clarifying what I'm asking, because more than one person has contacted me to say they're confused or I"m not being clear, here's a quick made-up example.

Imagine three character sheets. Each one has "Bob" written at the top, the character's name.

On one sheet, we learn that Bob is from Narnia, that he speaks Narnian and two other languages, that he reveres Aslan, and that he has pledged to the service of King Edmund, or his memory, as he'd vanished from the land while hunting some decades before.

On another, we learn that this Bob stands six feet tall, that he can bench-press 220 pounds, that he is skilled with longsword and axe, and that he has the special abilities to "charge" and "alertness."

On still another, we find that Bob III met his lover years ago, that they fell out over differences concerning a clan feud, that she moved far away, and that he owes her money. Plus, there's a "Goal" listed on the sheet that says "Escape captivity and reconcile with lover."

Here are my points about this. (1) Yes, all of them are about Character. No problem there. (2) I left out the System consequences of some or all the things I listed in each case. Most of them would, in most of the games we're familiar with, be followed up with numbers or ratings that factored into resolution of some kind during play. So yes, System consequences are common. No problem there either. (3) The first Bob has tons of Setting material; the second has nothing but Character; and the third is all Situation (which of course includes a bit of setting, the clan, by definition, but not very much).

I'm not talking about play! Of course any of the Bobs, in action, is fully ensconced in all five components. And whether something is "only" Color* or not is strictly a matter of how it's expressed in play; in one game, Bob II's height would be Color, and in another, it would integrated into some kind of System application. So we shouldn't get wrapped up in those concerns.

My interest lies in how Setting and Situation are involved in terms of mere presence on the sheet. This question is merely looking, without concluding much, at how such information is distributed across different game systems' sheets. The next couple will get more detailed and begin to extend into play.

I want to be very clear that I'm not claiming any one way to include or distribute such information on a sheet is the right way, and I'm very skeptical of the idea that "all of it!" would be a path toward good design. But again, that's getting ahead of myself.

Best, Ron

* I use the quotes because I consider the issue to be a work in progress.

P.S. Antoine, that point is important because it's involved in a later question about something called Layering, so let's remember to talk about it then.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #59 on: January 10, 2009, 09:53:05 AM »

Juno's key name is Character. It's also part of the Setting as there can be only one Juno on FreeMarket... this name translates to a serial number that's part of her "key" (a network interface in her noggin) that is like an ID/telephone number/social security number/email address/birth certificate.

My name for the purposes of this exercise is irrelevant. It does establish that in the game I'm a user and not a superuser (GM).

Concept is Character and Situation. She's a LARP Goddess, which means there are LARPs in this world.

Template is Blank. This defines her in terms of the System (point allocation!) and Setting (he's a bio-engineered human implanted with memories).

Geneline is descriptor that tells the users what her base genetic structure is from. Sometimes this is a family name (Sorensen), other times it can be a brand name or a model number. Juno's Bode geneline is a sly nod to the artist from the 70's. The three descriptors tagged to geneline are called tags. They're Character + System.

Experiences are learned skills. There are essentially 14 things you can do on the space station. Juno has an edge in three of them. Negotation and Social Engineering are used to engineer contracts and to manipulate people, respectively. This is System + Situation. Wetwork as well (it deals in nasty physical business, anything from fighting to killing to torture to kidnapping). What's interesting is that she was created to be part of a live action roleplaying game but she does not have Ghosting (spying/sneaking/surveillence), which would be good for a thiefy character, nor does she have Ephemera (creation of memes through religion, art, debate, etc.). So she's a straight-on fighter type in terms of the game within a game, but she's there to pummel and provoke, not to generate any great ideas or artistic excellence. Since it's not about her personal expression, she's literally an NPC working at the behest of her sponsor. She might have something to say about this once the game begins.

Interface and Technology are the same thing, more or less, save one is internal and the other is external (creation methods differ as well). Technology can be traded or gifted, which is a neat thing to do in this game as you rise in flow from gifting/trading rather than making/acquiring. Again, names for Color and tags for System. Each of these objects is affiliated with one of the 14 experiences and each object has two additional tags that serve to define the item. With her experience, her enhanced reaction and her boffer sword, Juno is going to be formidable at wetwork. In FreeMarket, we call this the "triad" and have three complementary characteristics is way powerful.

Flow (social status) is determined by Template + any relevant experiences (be they actual experiences or part of interface/tech). The experiences marked with donut symbols are beneficial to the day to day lives of the residents of the space station and they're rewarded with bonus flow. Flow is integrated with just about every part of the game's setting and situation and system, and it's also part of the setting's system. In fact, everything on the character sheet except for User ID can be talked about by the characters. It's perfectly in character to say, "Juno upgraded her experience after being flood/bleeded with a long-term memory and now she can raise her flow by a few points if she successfully brokers this negotiation challenge." It's weird.

Memories are setting (they allow users to define the setting), situation (they determine what is going to happen during the game session), and system (they can be manipulated, destroyed, earned, upgraded, traded and are used for character advancement).

The back of the character sheet outlines the character's MRCZ (social group) and is chock full of more information but that was outside the scope of this task.










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