Tales from the Gazebo – Character Creation Part 1: Crew Style Creation (Continued)

Character Creation Part 1: Crew Style Creation (Continued)
By Cape Rust

I decided to start this portion of the series out with the crew style or party template method of character creation and last week I discussed at length the importance of selecting a leader for a party with a template. I mentioned a few possible positions characters could fill on a ship and some ways to accommodate player’s wishes in the whole process. This week I’ll finish up the steps to take for creating those characters that will be the cream-filling in your Twinkies template.

If the task of choosing the leader was placed in my hands as the GM, I would tell the person I had chosen before the character creation session and would ask them to help guide the creation session. This helps establish my choice as the leader and can act as a team builder. If no leader is chosen, then I would start the session with a description of the game setting. I wouldn’t get into too many details, but based on the information I had already gathered from the players during my prep time, I should have a good idea of what the players want out of the game. After the introduction I would let the players know what flavor of Firefly game I was running; action, cinematic, hack and shoot/slash, horror…. This lets the players know what types of skills they might want to put a few points in, but by giving them a general overall idea, you can still avoid railroading them. The key is to provide information without ruining the whole game. You don’t want to leave the players hanging. Here is an example:

If there is going to be a bunch of outer space combat, you may want the characters to have an understanding of spacesuits and extra-vehicular combat.

Once this is finished, it’s time to figure out who is going to do what. If you don’t have enough people to fill all the roles you think are important, the GM can assign NPCs to fill the roles, or have the characters dual-hat those roles. A player might have decided they want to play an escort or research scientist instead of a crew member. If this is the case, don’t worry, the game will still be awesome. After the players have decided what roles they will fill, remember this is the crew method character development, based on what the crew needs as much as it is what the players want.

If the players have opted for this type of character creation, then it is time to figure out statistics. The Cortex System that Serenity uses allows the players to assign bigger dice to attributes they want to be best at. So in our case the players who want to be co-pilots would want to assign the biggest dice to the skills that are the most important to them. The Cortex System includes talents and flaws that give players extra buying power when it comes to dice and adds some flavor to the characters.

To round things off, I recommend that each player share their character concept with the group, then have the leader help the players decide how their characters are interconnected and how they got to where they are today. This doesn’t have to take a long time, but some thought should be put into it and the GM should take notes, there could be some outstanding plot hooks buried in those seemingly innocent words.

If you have read many of my articles you know this is my least favorite method of character creation. It focuses on the mechanical development of the character rather than the personality. One of the things that made the Firefly series so popular was the characters. Sure the setting was cool and innovative, but it was the characters that really hooked me! Please don’t get me wrong, I like having a party template, because it lets me know that all of the bases are covered. If that template becomes the main focus of character creation, I become less happy. There are a few advantages to this method. First, you generally can cover all of the bases and if there is a major gap, like missing a pilot, then the GM can plan for this accordingly. The other advantage is that this method does provide a few character development opportunities, and it’s fast. If your gaming group wants to throw dice quickly, this is the method for you. Stay tuned when next week we will delve in the Brown Coat method.

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