Long ago, slightly after the Oceans drank Atlantis and we learned about the rise of the Sons of Arius, I became a gamer. It was the third grade, a box set of D&D and then trips to the local base bookstore to gawk at Dragon Magazine and the various modules they carried. I eventually bought second hand AD&D books and started diving into the mysteries of roleplaying, dungeon building and character creation. I would sit for hours, listening to hair metal and dream of various characters from the fantasy books I was reading and how they would be stated. Let’s face it - I was a nerd.
Thirty years later that hasn’t changed. What’s changed is that games have grown more sophisticated, both in rules as well as content.Modules I once emulated and revered seem shallow and sophomoric. I moved on from tabletop games of all varieties (we could goob all day about all the games I’ve played) and started live action roleplaying. I found it less painful than combat in the Society of Creative Anachronisms and it still allowed me to dive into character development, costuming and a shared communal storytelling. The one thing I don’t remember ever really doing is concentrating on mechanics.
Everyone knows that guy – the guy whose mind is whip sharp,statistically oriented and he could rattle off the exact method and combination of necessary spells and feats to maximize a magic missile to kill a dragon. But when you stop him during his mathematical wizardry and you ask him who his characters father is, he blinks, looks at you like a five-headed hydra and then begins to hum and haw. In all his concentration of mechanics and rules, he forgot in many ways what I feel is the point of it all – the concept and character.
Though the above example could be embarrassing to many players, please understand that’s not my intent. Should you feel this is targeting you and your play style, I’m not calling you out or belittling the aspect of gaming that you find appealing, just pointing out the differences between you and I. Matter of fact, I need and appreciate folks like you. You help me see how things line up; you know the odds (never tell me the odds!) of something being possible. But this is where you and I instead of being atodds now need to join forces - you with the statistical brilliance and I with a desire for concept and character.
Concept – you’ll find a lot of articles out there on the web about character concepts. It’s been something discussed from the day many of us bought our first set of acrylic crystal dice. It’s that core idea of what the character is to be. “A loner, a driftless wanderer of the wastelands, haunted by his past, constantly seeking something that he cannot explain, but always seems to be elusively beyond his grasp. A man and his car. Or a man and his dog. Or a man and his crazed kola….” This, to me, is the foundation of a concept. It’s that kernel of life that you are going to breathe into the character. And through that kernel will be birthed his story – a story that you’ll bring into the world through characterization and roleplay with your fellow players.
Character – taking that rough sketch of a concept and beginning to hammer it into a form with greater substance. Why is he haunted by his past? Why is he wandering? What the hell is with the kola? This is where you’ll start really building out who the character is and what his motivations are.
When building your characters, and this goes out to all of you, please know that my staff and I will be looking at concept. We’ll be looking at character. We’ll notice how you are building the sheet, but we will focus on the story you are looking to play. If you aren’t sure, we will be there to help you, guide you into shaping and molding a character story that you will enjoy playing and fits into our little slice of the apocalypse.
Also, if you already have your eye on the elusive ADVANCED PROFESSION (cue ominous music), please know that it’s not going to be the sheet that we pay attention to. It’s going to be the concept, the character and how you as a player have contributed to game and helped craft the amazing tapestry of what will become Dystopia Rising Colorado.
See you in the wasteland!
DRCO: Director of Storytelling