Master Mines

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Building a Character, not just stats

So, one of the big issues that came up in the OrcCon playtests is that here was little character beyond “dude, I’m awesome fighter guy!” So, in chewing over that, I thought about a lifepath-esque idea blended with FATE-style chargen. Here’s my initial outline:

I. Birth of a Hero

  • Where are you from?
  • Are you a paragon? Create a Trait that is iconic of your people
  • Or are you a rebel? Create a Trait that represents how you are not of your people.
  • Define your first Relic — an heirloom, something found, something you have had (or your family has had) this since your childhood

II. Trial of a Hero

  • You have come of age, and the world of Mortal Europe is trying on Heroes
  • What was your trial?
  • Did you succeed? Create a Trait based on your success
  • Did you fail? Create a Trait based on your reaction to that failure
  • Define one of your Convictions

III. Call of a Hero

  • The world as it stands is never good enough for a Hero.
  • What is your grand Ambition?
  • Create a Trait based on your need for this, or how you seek to accomplish this
  • Define one of your Convictions

IV. Journey of a Hero

  • This is about your hard journey to Mythic Norden. This journey is the first step to becoming a Mythender, and your first taste of Mythic Power.
  • What was the hardest moment in your journey? How did it change you?
  • Create a Trait based on how you handled yourself in that moment
  • Create your first Signature Move

V. Mantle of a Hero

  • Upon stepping onto the land of Mythic Norden, all around you know, without a doubt, that you are a true Hero
  • The other players at the table describe what it is the people see when they see you — it’s not overt, yet, but it almost feels visible
  • Create a Trait based on that

VI. Fate of a Hero

  • This is filled out at the end of your story

Any initial thoughts? I’ve had it suggested that I get with a bit more of a concrete lifepath system, like out of Cyberpunk 2020 (which I haven’t played in ages). I’m thinking about codifying this up a little bit, with lifepath options that you can socket into each of the slots (aside form slot VI, which is there on the character sheet so you are reminded that your character has an ending — hopefully). Or, that is to say that you’re playing out the game in order to find out what happens at the end, which lifepath slot you get to take at the end.

For this lifepath idea, I’m thinking about taking some of the options where I have a split, and turning them into individual paths — like with “Birth of a Hero,” options like “Royalty,” “Prophet,” “Peasant,” “Cursed at Birth,” etc. They have their own questions, but they’re more leading based on what path you took. They also narrow down the sort of Trait you should take. At least, at the moment that’s where I’m headed with this lifepath idea. I won’t intend it to be exhaustive, that’s for sure. My audience is definitely more creative than I am, if by sheer numbers alone. 🙂


February 23, 2008 - Posted by | Mythender


  1. Weren’t you on about play-as-character-creation recently? I mean, this seems like a lot. Maybe I’m misreading it and it can be banged through in a couple minutes, but… gosh.

    Comment by misuba | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. Mike,

    Earlier, I was working on the idea behind a battle as the endcap of chargen. This sort of chargen is intended to be analogous to SOTC’s full chargen — where you have a broad question to ask and a couple Aspects to fill out on each phase.

    Does this seem intimidating? Where’s the disconnect for you?

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  3. I should also say that the previous idea was really more about turning the individual characters into a team via an initiation battle, rather than building characters from scratch during a battle.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  4. Hey Ryan,

    So that’s the Hero’s Journey for character generation. Where are you planning to go from there? What are you trying to accomplish, it’s not immediately clear to me. I’m not against the length necessarily, of course I like Hero (Champions,) and Ars Magica third edition character creation. It does seem quite far from spontaneous character generation and makes me wonder if you’ve really nailed down what you are trying to get from this game.

    I think the idea of saying you’re a hero. How did you become a hero? Now let’s dance and see who’s really a hero, might be cool. Is that what you are trying to do? What is Mythender really about, I don’t have a hold on it yet.

    If you stick with this Hero’s Journey character generation, and I see no reason not to per se…, give the other players input somewhere, and tie them together so you can forsake meeting the dwarf in the bar, insulting him, and finding he’s taken the Dwarven Berserker kit and must now kill you. (That’s a true story. A game over moment.)

    Comment by iamclyde | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  5. Clyde,

    At its core, Mythender is about punching a dragon in the face with rock-and-roll awesome — things that Exalted & high-level D&D want to do well but don’t. But, it has an undercoat of a sense of cultural destruction & going native — something that can be ignored if you don’t want to deal with it, but if you do, you need more of a character than “here are some stats.”

    Mythender characters are heroes who come to Mythic Norden for a reason, and hunt down being of myth (and conquering pieces of Mythic Norden) to steal their power for their own purposes. They’re already “high-level” in the D&D sense at game start — the character creation is meant to talk about the character at the lower levels.

    I wrote this up in response to a player who felt that a “pick five traits” approach to character creation didn’t give her enough hooks into getting to know her character before the initiation battle happened. I also have seen people struggle to come up with five different traits about who they are as a person — three is easy, but after that things slow down. As a set of targeted questions, I find that helps facilitate creativity.

    I have an expanded version of this idea that I tested out the other night. It didn’t take long to make the one character, and it seemed to give the player an instant understanding of his character’s mindset.

    That said, I’m still struggling over the last piece, which is about getting the players cooperating together (which is necessary for the combat system to work). That’s where, in the current version, other players have input — I’m mechanizing the “PC glow,” and asking them to tell a player what they see when they look at him. That hasn’t been properly battle-tested, and I’m sure it’ll take my careful explanation even if it does work.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  6. Dude – the first two or three paras above MUST go into the game. I totally understand what you’re after now better than before, and I’m psyched.

    Comment by misuba | March 1, 2008 | Reply

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