Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Color-first character, part 2: Getting this far

Started by Ron Edwards, January 07, 2009, 01:20:20 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Clinton R. Nixon

Her unworldly looks definitely pushed me towards choosing the Elfin race for her in Legendary Lives. I got the idea she was primitive, also, Eero, and so assumed her human mother was from the Bush People. Lastly, it was definitely her stance and gaze that led me to choose Shaman as her profession. She looks like she's seen things you can't imagine, and there's nothing about you that's going to faze her.

A lot of what came after that was random, but even random character data gets filtered through our perceptions. I was amazed at the similarities that occurred between her randomization and others' choices. Like your version, Jason, she ended up not strong, but very dexterous, and also like yours, she comes from the upper class elite, but has chosen a more rugged, more primitive life.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Ron Edwards

Here are two characters I'd made up before posting the first thread, which tie directly into the points you're making, Clinton.

Both are one-step-removed characters, meaning that the character who's most directly played is actually not a real person, and there's an intermediary fictional person or persona between the player and that character. This has been done a lot, with various concepts for the "in betweener," ranging from Amazing Engine to Hong Kong Action Theater to Tales from the Crypt to Ruby. I happen to enjoy the technique greatly and think it has some strong implications.

Solipsist: Jenna Fahr
Vision (up to me): underground-comix style, vague-but-gritty fantasy adventure world, in which I wander, scattering love and violence like leaves
Obsessions (5, allocate 9 points): The world is unmapped 2, I am a barbarian warrior-woman 3, I am passionately sexy 1, I am coldly threatening 1, Magic is everywhere 2
Limitations (ditto): This murder case is about to break 3, My colleagues depend on me 1, I am lonely 1, I love my coffee in the morning 2, I'm getting older 2
Infestation 5 (this value is pre-set)
Tears 0 (ditto)

The text requires rounding it out in a bit of description. She's a homicide detective, 34 years old, living alone in a major city. She's had at least one major relationship but is currently single; she gets along with her family but they don't live in the area and aren't especially close. Her main personal connections are developed through work. She's generally professional, given to dark humor, and capable of fearsome payback when pushed.

I now realize that making up this character is about (a) being affected by the Color myself, and then (b) thinking about how someone else might be affected by it to the point of solipsistic power over reality. In this game, the intermediary character is not absent from play, so who she is matters a lot. But the neat thing is that other game mechanics really have little to do with who the warrior-woman is, but everything to do with what Jenna Fahr wants. Talk about Color as the driver! That's how I think it ties into your point about the "filter" that all other results, even random ones, tie into.

This also goes some distance to explain why I didn't use the obvious Limitation of "I'm a man," even beyond its obviousness. I think I wanted to stay with the concept of fantasizing, which is not about core issues of identity in the same way.

There's another bit of Color too, that I reached out to in addition to being inspired by the picture. I rather like the acting/presence of Catherine Dent, who's played police officers in two shows I've seen, and she was sort of on my mind in iconic terms (age, expressions, job issues) when I made the character. So that's two Color-inspirations coming together in one.

The next character is more complex to discuss, partly because the intermediate character isn't a character at all but an abstract persona, and partly because the game itself is poorly known and in my opinion, based on a variety of internet comments, sometimes misunderstood among those who do know it.

Extreme Vengeance: Lina Handermann, "the Icelandic Angel"
(The fantasy illustration only means that's her most familiar venue; an action hero can of course be just as exciting in a modern-set film too, wearing slightly different clothes and fighting drug lords, terrorists, martial arts masters, and muggers)

Typecast: Maverick (Guts 2, Coincidence 3) + Fighter (Guts 3, Coincidence 3), for  Guts 5 and Coincidence 6
Maverick is sadly not one of the more interesting builds, but her quirky smirk doesn't say "Grim" to me. In fact, this whole persona is built around the Maverick thing.

Repertoires: Catch-phrase 3, Cue Card 1, Dramatic Slo-Mo 2, Flashback 3, Go Ballistic 2, Lethal Exchange 3, Multiple Angles 3, Re-shoot 2,* Soundtrack 2, Avenging Fury 1, BS-Melee 3, Cut-away 1, Dynamic Duo 1, Gratuitous Violence 1, Tough It Out 1, Zoom 2*
What these basically mean is that she gets a lot of hard-core effectiveness with a modicum of tweaking – a middle-road character compared to (e.g.) Pumped-Up or Avenging (all effectiveness, no tweaks); or on the other side, Bumbling or Suave (all tweaks and plot, little hit-it)
* used Free levels to upgrade these, going for effectiveness rather than range, i.e., choosing other Repertoires

No-Goods: Bad Bonk (1), Pray for Miracle (2); I immediately began to think of applying these in romantic-interest scenes.

To clarify, all of these came from the lists accompanying Maverick and Guts; this is almost entirely a column-A-column-B build.

Despite the unfortunate prose style in the book, Extreme Vengeance isn't a parody game. Its mechanics are based on the interaction between the persona (not the character immediately being portrayed in a particular movie) with the audience (which is not actually the group of players, but is referenced by them via the system and often the GM specifically). To emphasize, the persona is not an actor making a movie, it's an abstraction that sums up a given image and icon that is applied across movies. You never ever play the actor or talk about the movie-as-being-made during play, but as what the film is in pure audience experience. So "Typecast" is not just a fancy name for character class, but rather literal. Anyway, back to the persona-and-audience thing, the whole point is that that is, itself, strictly Color!

That goes a long way toward understanding why, in this game, you get experience points 1:1 from (a) the total pips of your own rolls and (b) the total pips of rolls made against you - regardless of who succeeds, and also, at the same time.

Best, Ron


Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 07, 2009, 01:22:48 AM
What struck you the most, and how did you express it through the system's options?Clearly people were indeed struck, as expressed by the humorous but nevertheless sincere introductions made by several, in that the character was "obviously" suited for this-or-that system and concept. Other bits and pieces throughout indicated key features, such as her eyes, which played the same role.

I think a lot of my other inspiration processes were pretty much covered in my original character generation description, So I'll try not to repeat myself too much here.

Choice of system wasn't hard for me.

I originally designed the Eighth Sea to work for any part of our world (as long as there was some coastline nearby) and any stage of our timeline (past, present or future). So while I could have gone with a more genre specific game that fit the image, I quickly looked at my bookshelf and none of the games immediately leaped into my hands saying "use me, USE ME!!!". So I naturally went with the path I'm most familiar with at the moment, the game I'm promoting as much as possible up and down the eastern seaboard of Australia.

As for pulling out the images features and translating them into game options, that was a little bit of observation, some deep thought, and a chunk of zen. It's how I do most of my characters.

Step 1. I look for something interesting that I'd like to portray or explore as a concept.
Step 2. I examine the system to see how this concept is handled.
Step 3. I refer to source material to round out the concept.

I never try to get too attached to a complete character at the early stages of design, because system mechanics will often render certain ideas unworkable, while party dynamics might vary the importance of certain features, and a game's setting has the tendency to do the same.

So when it comes to designing a character around an image, I look to two or three key things that give me a germ of inspiration. In this case, the white hair [which indicates something otherworldly or mystical to me], the pommel of the sword [while the sword indicates she does a decent amount of fighting, the birdlike head almost seems totemic to me], and the sensual curves of the hips [which give me a distinct that she can get her way without resorting to violence]. These form the basis of the character, pretty much in this priority order.

"A mystical warrior, with a bird totem, who isn't hard on the eyes."

With this in mind I refer to the system, and see what options are available. The Eighth Sea is very open in this regard, but it gives two dozen templates to speed up the character process for players who are suffering option paralysis. The image immediately lends itself to any of the fighting types, and basically rules out anything like a ship's surgeon. A number of the character templates would work as awkward fits, but I aim toward the option that first instincts brought to my attention.

Using the image as a grounding point, I think of a hook. "Last warrior of a dead tribe"....a bit stereotypical, but I know that rounding out the character will give her some better depth as the process continues. It also gives me another grounding point in case I'm stuck with an awkward decision later.

Aiming toward the character idea I've chosen, I find that there are no prerequisites for any of the occupational templates, so attributes can go pretty much any way. I prioritized these pretty much according to the way I perceived the picture.

After assigning the remaining skills, I find that the character concept so far has been missing the "sensual curves" part so I bring it back to the fore by choosing one of the positive traits that turns this into a mechanical benefit. I also find that the character doesn't quite have enough socially related skills to cover this, so I make sure another Talkin' skill is added to her repertoire. The other positive and negative traits I try to tie into the image as much as I can [or the developing back story where spontaneous ideas hit me].

Alluring: As described.
Instinctive: At first glance, she seems more wild than civilized. And since I've just added the Animal Ken skill, it seems like a nice fit.
Tough: She ain't wearing much protective gear, so either she's damn quick or hard as nails. Nimble swordswomen are a bit too stereotypical, so I break away from that.
Callous: Her eyes strike me as having a look of deep concentration or anger, but combined with the lips I feel that it gives more of an expression of disdain, contempt or even disappointment ["Oh no, not again..."]. Between this and the death of her tribe, I feel that she wouldn't really get on with people too easily, she seen it all before and she's learnt that people will keep making the same mistakes no matter how much you tell them otherwise. Better to just not let it get to you. 
Antisocial: Basically reinforces the previous trait, but also reflects the fact that her entire tribe has died and she probably doesn't want to get close to people in case it happens again.
Outcaste: This can be read a few ways, she may have been a highly ranked in her tribe and has imposed an outcaste status on herself for being unable to protect them in battle, maybe the entire tribe were outcastes from a civilised land. It seems to fit the image but I'm not sure how yet...I'll let the unfolding story determine that one.

The illustration doesn't have much in the way of equipment, and since the system only requires that I name a single weapon and a temporal compass, that's all I do. Anything else is generated on the fly as the story demands. I could related more game mechanics to the sword, but I've used this as a focal point in a couple of decisions, so I just make it a standard weapon.

The piracy-integrity decision I covered in the character generation post, the same with the background elements.

Character goals were chosen based on the ideas that had arisen through the generation process so far, making sure not to conflict with the image in any way. I look through some of the sample goals in the rule book and many of them just aren't appropriate. A few come close and I tangent off them.

I make the goals reflect her two strongest suits, and make them the kinds of long term effects that can't be resolved in a single session. The character becomes obsessed with restoring her people and taking vengeance on those who caused her people harm. I know that there will be numerous other goals across the ship and that the character won't get the chance to be 100% obsessive about these, but it certainly tips the scales morally in many situations.

I think that there is enough at this stage to give the character a starting point and an intended direction. At this point I'd typically write down two or three short term goals for my own reference only...things I'd like to see brought into the game to reveal aspects of my character to the other players. It's not required of the system, but I find it gives me a better sense of the progression in the character's story. Once I manage to incorporate one of these into the game [or once a better situation comes up in the game that I can take advantage of], I'll archive that as a part of the characters history and add a new one to the list.

I hope that gives a bit more insight into how I interpreted the character.

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.


Compared to others I confess I had a very down to earth approach. When I saw the drawing, I just thought : well this is a R.E Howard character drawn for a Ralph Bakshi cartoon. It just screamed Sword & Sorcery. And these times, when I see S&S, I think Barbarians of Lemuria.

The elements of the picture that I thougth were important :
_an eerie look
_white hair
_a "special" sword
_clothing reduced to the minimum

Attributes were a bit tricky, Strength and Agility were easy, but Appeal and Mind ? The eerie look spoke to me more of intelligence than charm, so Mind was to have the best score.

As I made the character "by the book" I had to choose an origin tied to the gameworld of BoL which I don't like that much; I would have prefered to design a custom origin for the character but that weren't the rules set by Ron.

The career system of BoL is a very simple and effective way of building a character history.

the white hair and clothing => barbarian
the special sword => a warrior ? No she became a mercenary to leave her mountains.
the eerie look => sorcerer of course.

But well, how does a barbarian mercenary starts dabbling in magic ? I needed a link and looked at all the available careers. "Slave" immediatly clicked. A mercenary, captured far form her mountains, in some southern land, becoming the slave of a powerful Sorcerer. Maybe she escaped, maybe he let her go... But the experience changed her (maybe turned her hair white too, maybe she stole that strange looking sword from one of her captors...).

I really appreciated the way rules served my vision of the picture, not the other way around. And the fact that they allowed me to build on my vision to flesh out the character. Plus the fact that it only took 15 minutes.

Ron Edwards

Looking over the thread, here are some notions about Color and role-playing-oriented creativity.

1. Everyone utilizes (say) an illustration selectively. Things or aspects which are not part of the selected "set" sort of fade back in terms of importance, becoming an artifact of the picture and not the "what it is" to be used as inspiration.

For instance, some people saw the specialized cartoon style as a key indicator; others saw it as a detail that didn't need to be carried through at all. Some saw the white hair as eery and indicative of magic; others saw it as merely ethnic and perhaps not different from simply light blonde. To some, the sword took on significant content, and to others, it was just a sword (OK, system options were sometimes involved with that, but the starting impression did show up in the post too).

2. Putting Color first does interesting things to working with the game system. Instead of designing toward stuff to happen later, one often finds decision-points to be already settled with a moment's reflection about what the Color dictates (or that's how it feels, because at this point it's your Color-set and not the illustration any more), and then the system produces new and emergent things or specifications.

The neat thing about this is that the system's unexpected results or constraints take on a weird feel of inevitability or "rightness" which is very different from merely stacking up the pieces to meet pre-set specifications toward a desired play-result. I'm especially charmed that this happened with fully point-buy systems as well as ones with randomized elements.

Choices which otherwise seemed "agonizing" in your words, Jason (and believe me, when it comes to TFT, I totally agree), become almost poetically just in their application. I'm thinking as well as the dice results and Type requirements in Legendary Lives.

Geez, all that yipyap and you already said what I'm talking about, Alexandre.

3. If I'm not mistaken, for everyone who's posted, there is no doubt in your mind that once play begins, and once some kind of SIS is established among everyone in the group, then you will have no problem contributing how your character will act and react. Is that right?

What are others' thoughts on any points that have emerged across the posts so far?

Best, Ron

P.S. Remember that this is only the first of ten questions!

David Berg

I came at this with "how would this work in my game?" from the beginning, thus demanding some level of real-world plausibility (like Eero, I translated the more fantastic elements as art style).  That said:

Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 07, 2009, 01:22:48 AM
What struck you the most, and how did you express it through the system's options?
Gaze + prominent weapon contrasting with totally impractical outfit. 

Q: Who the hell goes out spoiling for a sword-fight with an exposed belly? 
A: Someone who wants to broadcast how tough they are.

Q: How would a player achieve that for their character in my game?
A: Loud & dominant personality color, plus enough non-lethal fighting ability to weather social friction.

Q: What's she good at?  Should we back up the attitude, or have her be all posture?
A: There aren't any countersignals to "can back it up" in the image, and Delve PCs are bold, ambitious, risk-taker types.  So, time for some combat skills.

Q: Won't a pushy ass-kicker get old & annoying?
A: Let's throw in some complexity: 1) Carving up mofos is a job, not a passion.  She hungers for broad, influential power, and looks to magic for this.  2) There's something well-maintained about her look... maybe just the smooth lines of the drawing?  In any event, let's say she is meticulus about something.  Fingernails.  Sure.  Maybe she'll get to deck someone who thinks it's prissy.

Hmm, that last question isn't asked by my char-gen process.  Maybe it should be.  Some sort of "diversify" suggestion, perhaps.
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

Christopher Kubasik

Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 07, 2009, 09:07:07 PM
3. If I'm not mistaken, for everyone who's posted, there is no doubt in your mind that once play begins, and once some kind of SIS is established among everyone in the group, then you will have no problem contributing how your character will act and react. Is that right?

Baroosa is so ready to act and react it's insane.  

I don't think I've ever had a PC so streamlined and ready for motion before.  In fact, honestly, that's a concern of mine.  I look at everyone else write-ups and they seem "meatier" somehow.  Baroosa is Vegeance, Stubborn and a Plot Stealth Missile.  She almost seems too sleek.
"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield


Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 07, 2009, 01:22:48 AMWhat struck you the most, and how did you express it through the system's options?Clearly people were indeed struck, as expressed by the humorous but nevertheless sincere introductions made by several, in that the character was "obviously" suited for this-or-that system and concept. Other bits and pieces throughout indicated key features, such as her eyes, which played the same role.

Please, I'm not asking for your motivations, but rather your process. What did you see and which specific choices about existing options arose from what you saw? Also, please limit your answer to one or two of the most important things, not a blow-by-blow of every detail.

Forgive this post if it's scattered, I'm trying to write it with three different kids interrupting me every few minutes with nonsense they've been told not to bother about. *grindteeth*

To own-up: I wrote up the ORX version first, then based the Risus character on that specific design. The color for the character came from the ORX design, which definitely affected how I set things up when I decided to re-write her with Risus, but Risus certainly had its own impact on that design, skewing it away from the original and towards a much-more over-the-top stereotype.

Honestly, when I wrote it up for ORX, I just made it up as I went; other than a few details, it wasn't carefully planned or thought-through. I just let my fingers did the writing and put down what came to mind as it did. I later ported what I'd done for ORX over to the Risus system and made some alterations to the underlying details.

So, here's a curvy girl with no armor packing a huge sword and an I-take-no-shit look; I didn't notice hair-color, eye-color, cartoonish proportions, or other little details, and actually didn't even notice that she was even more naked than a loincloth until well into the later design. Heck, I accidentally wrote down "dark haired" in her description first.

More importantly, what I saw was the male fantasy version of a strong warrior woman archetype: completely unrealistic but fundamentally perceptive (in regards a very human picture of the perception and appreciation gender on an individual's level), and I liked trying to do something with that. Which is why even though I initally thought about making her strong foremost, I then decided it would be far more interesting and far less patently cliche to avoid the beef-based testosterone and have more social muscle behind her concept.

It was clear she had an attitude, and who wears that little armor while giving that look and carrying that arsenal? All of which said to me she was skilled at influencing others, getting her way, and distracting her opponents in a fight. Someone who could fight if necessary, but whose true strength was in her social adroitness, in intimidation and distraction: a girl who knew the game and how to play it to her own advantage, and someone who knew how to stay out of fights or end them without violence, but who was very capable as well of holding her own when things shifted elsewise.

When I moved her into Risus, this trait (combined with one interpretation of the low Grok from her ORX version) became the "Bimbo" Cliche; originally, I set it with fewer dice than "Warrior", then swapped it back and forth until I decided the social-sexual aspect should be front-and-center, rather than the warrior concept. And I knew that would likely annoy the second-wavers no end, but I went with it and used that snarky moment of sexual liberation to color the rest of the design, going over-the-top with the descriptions and including as much sexualized humor as I could. Money and flesh-toys as a goal also came into play at this point, and more of her history started falling into place (in my head) from the pieces I'd already written.

The "Novice Wizard" Cliche is notable because while I went into the Risus design knowing the armband was magical from what I'd done for the ORX write-up, but I ended up choosing "Novice Wizard" when I couldn't think of an appropriate one-word Cliche for someone carrying around a mysterious magical armband. I threw more comedy into the mix with a re-imagining of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia (I will note the ORX version would have been far more (narratively) competent with whatever magic resided in the armband, but was also not in any way a wizard or proto-wizard, just a girl with a magic item).

I would also like to note that both versions were based on a real woman I've known for years, and both designs are what (I imagine) she would be like if she carried a sword and was more self-aware of her own oft-used sexual power -- though with an obvious extremely "rude comedy" slant on the Risus version (which, on consideration, I realize isn't really all that different from my model's actual behavior).

Hopefully, that's enough description of the process and avoided enough motivation for the question, Ron.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio


Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 07, 2009, 09:07:07 PM
If I'm not mistaken, for everyone who's posted, there is no doubt in your mind that once play begins, and once some kind of SIS is established among everyone in the group, then you will have no problem contributing how your character will act and react. Is that right?

Yes, my vision of the picture led me through the character creation and in return those rules brought some new light on the character. In some way the rules allowed a "random" picture to become my character.

Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 07, 2009, 09:07:07 PM
What are others' thoughts on any points that have emerged across the posts so far?

So far I got only more interrogations and some random thoughts, so I'm afraid it won't be that useful. I'm still amazed by the relation between rules and color. I start thinking about the games I played, run or wrote.

Everway's character creation was a great success with my gaming groups. Even the most shy or dense player was able to come with ideas about his character. Color seems to lead to more color. Can rules get in the way of the process instead of allowing it ? (I tend to think yes when they are poorly written but how do I write "good" rules for that ? Am I completely mistaken ?)

Maybe that's why Rifts has such a strong appeal (to me at least) but in the same time turns me off : the rules don't allow me to make those pictures (=possible characters) mine. Is it possible for rules to work against color ?

Does a random table (encounter, scenario, equipment, whatever...) works as a picture ? Color that you process through the game rules to make the results yours ? (Running In a Wicked Age, I tend to say yes too).

Jason Morningstar

Yeah, I want to play the character I developed.  I really want to set her free and put some sensible clothes on her.  I can even see her world, it's got an M.A.R. Barker vibe!

Lance D. Allen

QuoteWhat struck you the most, and how did you express it through the system's options?Clearly people were indeed struck, as expressed by the humorous but nevertheless sincere introductions made by several, in that the character was "obviously" suited for this-or-that system and concept. Other bits and pieces throughout indicated key features, such as her eyes, which played the same role.


First, to answer Graham: A good excuse to advertise was absolutely in my mind. I won't even try to deny it.

Second: The moment I saw this picture, I thought Sexy. Deadly. Check.

How that translated into the final concept of the character: First, it's the subtly overstated lushness to her figure, the boldness of her pose. She's a fantasy female badass. She's primitively dressed and armed, which suggests the Amazon, the archetypal primitive women warriors. But like most heroic cultures from classical mythology, they value knowledge and learning as well as martial prowess, which was why the Sphinx won out as an archetype.

So now we go into traits; More than a Woman: Forethought. She's a queen. Maybe I got that from the golden belt. I dunno. It wasn't a conscious thing if I did. She was the Amazon Queen before I had a name for her. Anyway, a queen would think things through deliberately. That also came from Sphinx, definitely. Less than a Woman: Contemptuous. As I explained, she's an Amazon, but there're also those cold eyes and that bold stance. She's daring you to try something, to underestimate her. You're beneath her. Motif: Back to the sword. She has a bow, but it's not pictured. The sword is important, so it's there. I want her to have something more combative to complement her non-combative MtaW. She's also the Sphinx, so it's something more than brute force or simple skill. It's the riddle of steel!

That's it from the picture. The rest stems from the build up of the concept.

I could definitely go in and play this character. She's got style, personality and attitude. She's aces in all four suits; Sexy, Deadly, Smart and Tough. Narration for her will be easy; She was almost Death-by-Surprise, so that will be a common motif in the narration, though she wouldn't gain any mechanical value from it. I know she would probably get a comparatively large amount of challenges in the arena of Sexy, so that my opponents could call in Contemptuous on me.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls


Because Storming the wizards tower characters are constrained by their initial in order dice rolls (no moving stats around!) and their starting communities (which determine their beginning powers, maps, spells, weapons and equipment), my character had to "fit" the both the picture and a bunch of other things as well.

What struck me most about the picture is her power and confidence. She's totally self assured. Also, she's a member of sorority of the chain mail bikini, and I felt I needed to honor that. In practical terms that lead me to....

1) Choose a character type that was both martial and only open to women.
2) Choose not to give her armor, only a shield.
3) Choose jewelery as her one gear, which accentuates the sensual.
4) Her mix of spells, which make her more effective in combat.

The funny thing about it is that this picture totally effects the color of the Horse Lords text in the main book. The text reads as mostly historical but with more accessibility for powerful women that real history did. The picture doesn't contradict that, but the image injects some Heavy Metal Magazine into the Buffy the Vampire Slayer-ism of the game text.

Antoine F

First, thanks to Ron for taking my character in despite the late entry time. Your are a prince among men.

I agree that my vision of the picture was selective with back and forth rereading along the creation process. I totaly overlooked the cartoony appearance and the codes of female depiction that Jason noticed as opposed to a martial background for instance. I think it's because of my tastes in comics (Joann Sfar, Heavy Metal authors, Miyazaki, lots of manga, etc...) where totaly deadly badass chicks can look like fragile adolescents.

What I first noticed were the eyes, this straight in the eyes look, and the sensual but twisted lips. Realy, despite what I said about the green brassiere. I wanted that in my character, the mix of aggressivity and sensuality.

There was no choice of game : I almost play (for playtest and for pure enjoyment) only the RBH since winter 2007 and I've juggled with dozens of characters concepts since then. The mix of sensual naked aggressiveness was instantly transformed into class and talent, as I said in the character post, because of the no armor thing. Partly because of the talent name ("loincloth sexy", remember) partly because of character effectiveness. Fights are quick and deadly in the RBH. No armor and aggression meant I had to go with a character able to generate a lot of tokens on her show-off actions before falling to the monsters' attacks. I wouldn't be content with a no-fight character or an only assisting one (generating tokens for the other characters). That wouldn't fit with what I saw in the picture.

Then I had to hope the rolls for the attributes would let me go with that. I fact I wasn't too anxious of the results. Except with exceptionally bad rolls (which the rules would let me mulligan anyway) I would have had the character I wanted. I just needed a least a good roll for Daring. So I rolled in order, attributing the stats as they went and refining my vision of the character along the road. The first two rolls were realy bad (2 and 6 on 2D10) meaning the worst stat in the game : -1. Color entered play. What did the picture let me do ? Bad Sneakyness seemed natural : she was soooo Showy this one. Then bad Size : no armor let me do that (and that's where I noticed the sword and said that the girl could be small according to the size ratio in the drawing). 0 in Alertness was a bit problematic but not so much : it went with the self-absorbed limitation of the RBH warriors. Here, color trumped combat effectiveness without any regret. Then my best roll : +5, the max stat. It went straight to Daring and I had my character. Good Eloquence and Stubborness were just pure bonus and she turned out to have a sharp tongue and a hard head (becoming the badass look). I would even have been satisfied with medium results here and just the very good Daring but that's how it turned.

I pass the gear. Last thing is the motivation for adventure. It thought a bit here and that's where the picture came back with the strangeness of her colors. At first I though about it as pure plastic or aesthetic components (when I draw characters, the naturalism of the colors is not my first thought). But then it seemed to me as compatible with an alien origin. As I am now into pure pulp wackiness, the outerspace origin imposed itself. She is here for the sport and the thrill. Her spaceship is waiting somewhere for her to hit retirement at the 5th level and to come back on her planet with exotic alien jewels, treasures and beast hides. She is a kind of Predator with a bikini chick appearance. I could play her right now.

Now, it's your fault if I want to play her next time and not be the GM.


Doing her up in Trollbabe was easy as hell, because Trollbabe character creation establishes almost exactly as much knowledge of the character as a good illustration does.  You get looks and attitude and equipment (all of which are also present in the drawing).  I mean, we know a *bit* more on the character sheet, like the fact that the skull has some kind of Trollish magical mojo going for it, and the "well-worn bracers" have some personal significance to her (but we don't know what), but I felt like I was just putting tracing paper over the drawing when I wrote up the character sheet.

Now, that's not *true* -- because in fact different people got significantly different things out of the illustration.  So in fact I wasn't just "copying what was there," I was copying what was there *for me*.  But it didn't feel that way.

And yes, I think I'd be ready to run with Griselde.  She's pretty spare, but Trollbabes are supposed to start that way.  She's got meat where it counts.  Hm, that didn't quite come out right...

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Alexandre (Kobayashi), you're really nailing some important stuff for me, the kind of thing I'd hoped this dialogue would reveal and probably couldn't manage on my own.

QuoteEverway's character creation was a great success with my gaming groups. Even the most shy or dense player was able to come with ideas about his character. Color seems to lead to more color. Can rules get in the way of the process instead of allowing it ? (I tend to think yes when they are poorly written but how do I write "good" rules for that ? Am I completely mistaken ?)

Maybe that's why Rifts has such a strong appeal (to me at least) but in the same time turns me off : the rules don't allow me to make those pictures (=possible characters) mine. Is it possible for rules to work against color ?

Does a random table (encounter, scenario, equipment, whatever...) works as a picture ? Color that you process through the game rules to make the results yours ? (Running In a Wicked Age, I tend to say yes too).

I had the same experience with Everway, and have always wanted to bring that particular design feature, the Vision Cards (as opposed to the Fortune Deck), into a new game. And yes, "rules" become an issue - do they permit you to take what you get from the picture and make it breathe? Or do they and the picture merely express what the author has decided is already there? It brings up other issues about creation vs. depiction.

Regarding Rifts, I think it sings best in a particular, fully Gamist application, and as such, perhaps the relevant design feature is that character creation is menu-driven maximization of strategy and tactics (this isn't the case for all Gamist-facilitating designs, just this kind). The question is, do its rules work against the inspirational Color? I'm not so sure ... I think that might indeed be a Creative Agenda issue. If one sees the illustrations and reads up even a little of the whacked setting material, and personally processes that toward strategic and tactical ends, then the experience might be seamless. But if one processes it in a Simulationist or Narrativist way, then yeah - I can see how the application of the character creation rules and possibly the goals-clash among group members would be experienced as having one's starting Color-commitment (and hence SIS-commitment) stopped in its tracks. That'd be a good topic for an actual play thread, especially since there was a great thread a while back about a very high-Color, balls-to-the-wall Gamist Rifts game.

Maybe that's a fancy way of saying that the rules work against Color if the rules aren't what you want to do. So it feels like a bait-and-switch. That was certainly my experience with Vampire 1st edition.

I think random tables are ripe for more development along the lines you describe. Many of us remember the insanely long tables at the end of the 1979 Dungeon Master's Guide for AD&D, and I'm given to understand AD&D2 was notable for them too. I can't say those tables did more than clutter my play-experiences, speaking for myself. "You find a gem! It's an agate!" "Uh-huh. How much?"

Whereas as Clinton mentioned, and as I'll be talking about in an upcoming Actual Play thread, the lifelife and other random character generation tables in Legendary Lives are shockingly satisfying, both in terms of confirming what you originally wanted, and also in terms of throwing in angles that retroactively make perfect sense.

Christopher, I wanted to address your point about your character's sleekness. I think that's a feature of The Pool at its finest, and also of The Path of Journeys, Trollbabe, Universalis, InSpectres, and Primetime Adventures, among others. The thing about it in play is that remarkably, despite being in rocket-charged motion, the character is not actually locked into a course of action - therefore a meaty (not necessarily complicated) situation and some interaction with equally-with-it characters results in astonishing play. I don't mean hysterical play, nor automatically blood-opera player-character conflict play - just astonishing. Because every decision is made in the moment and yet, upon being established, feels inevitable in the best dramatic sense of the word.

Best, Ron