Monday, March 21, 2011

Finding the Path of Fate, Part 2

In the first part of this three-part posting, I covered the basics of aspects and how to determine your first two aspects (your high concept and your trouble). In this part, I'll go over the remaining steps for determining your remaining five aspects.

After deciding on your high concept and trouble, you will want to determine your background, or where you came from. This can be as simple as a paragraph or two describing your childhood, or can be substantially longer. For older characters, this can be expanded to cover young adulthood, but in most cases, it will deal with your early life. In the end, there should one element of your background that becomes your aspect for this phase of character creation. It might be a person, place, thing, event, belief, or something similar, but it should be something that is an integral part of your character. Also, since we are merging the F.A.T.E. mechanics with Pathfinder, this background can help inform your choice of traits (from the Advanced Player's Guide and other PFRPG products). Sample aspects that might come out of your background could be "raised by an evil sorceress," "family heirloom - longsword," "kidnapped by goblins," "religious visions," or "grew up in a waterfront tavern."

The next step is called rising conflict and deals with what shaped you after your childhood. Again, this can be a paragraph or two, or more if you're feeling inspired. Your rising conflict should generally cover people, events, and choices that lead to your becoming an adventurer, and in particular should reinforce your class choice. Your aspect for this phase will be similar to your background aspect: an important person, place, thing, event, belief, et cetera, and is also another good indicator of appropriate traits for your character. Continuing with our background examples, some good ideas might be "turned away from evil mother for true love," "father died, passing the longsword and responsibility to me," "began hunting goblins for revenge," "accepted a calling from a god or goddess," or "began entertaining the tavern-goers with song and poetry."

The fun really begins with your first adventure, a step called the story. This is your character's first real foray into the world of adventure, but shouldn't be fully fleshed out. In fact, a simple sentence or two works best, as other characters will be adding some meat to your story in the next couple of steps. It's helpful to start with thinking of a simple title for your first adventure. You don't need to spend a lot of time on the title - think of something that would be fitting for a short story.

If you're having problems writing your first story, think about your character's trouble aspect, and see if you can come up with any ideas that reinforce that theme. You can also try using this great story skeleton (published in the "Dresden Files RPG: Your Story"):

When [something happens], [your protagonist] [pursues a goal]. But will [your protagonist] succeed when [antagonist provides opposition]?

You'll probably want to write this down on a large index card in order to make the last steps of this process easier.

Once you are finished with your story, you'll want to pull something out of it for your aspect. Most likely it's a quality about your character's personality that would be integral to the movement or conclusion of your character's story.

Now you've only got two aspects remaining, and those are going to be determined by guest starring in the first stories of two other characters. You'll also have two other characters guest starring in your first story.

There are a few ways to determine whose story you'll be guest starring in and who'll be guest starring in yours. The GM can simply collect everyone's first stories, then shuffle them out randomly, making sure that no one gets their own. This would then be repeated a second time, making sure no one gets a story that they've already guest starred in. Alternately, you could simply have everyone pass their story to the left or right, then do so again. Lastly, if the players are familiar with one another and amenable to the idea, everyone can share their character's details from high concept to first story, and the players can determine whose stories they would best fit into. In this case, if there are more than two players interested in guest starring in a character's story, the player in question should make the final decision on who the two guest stars will be.

When guest starring in another character's first story, you will add a sentence or two to the story, with your character a minor but crucial role in the story. You can contribute in one of three ways: complicate the story, solve a situation within the story, or solve one situation but complicate another.

You will draw the last two aspects of you character from these contributions to others' stories. Like all previous aspects, they will be short phrases and should be related to how you complicate or solve (or both) the story in question.

Once you've finished the guest starring phases, you're done. You can finish off any parts of regular Pathfinder character creation that are remaining, using all that you now know about your character as a guideline. As an added bonus, not only will you have a good idea of who your character is, you'll also have links to the rest of the group and the beginnings of some great stories.

So, now that you've got all these phrases that describe and define your character, what do you do with them?

That's what I'll be covering in part three.

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