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What are your character creation inspirations and shortcuts?

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  • What are your character creation inspirations and shortcuts?

    As someone who usually takes quite a long while, sometimes even months, making a single character, I wanted to ask what other players do when they intend to just take a weekend to write something up, before a game?

    Shortcuts, potent sources of inspiration, general advice, Anything is welcome.


    Currently Playing: A large, mixed splat game of CofD. As: Nobody. I'm between characters and haven't been able to get a new concept to stick.

    And can you hear the choir sing? For pale blood satellites, to watch the end of everything, on this longest night.

  • #2
    First I start with a key phrase, a short, unpaused sentence that expresses the character's concept. Every design decision must return to this idea. So if you have a reference character you want to play, figure out his phrase so you can make your own. So lets say I want to play James Moriarty, his phrase would be "the monster behind the mask"

    So now I know his skills will involve manipulation and acting behind the scenes. So next I ask why did he develop those, what circumstances or needs made him take an interest in them ? What was his family like ? What are their goals and hobbies ? This is where you need to diverge from your original reference and ask what you want to focus with this character, then work that in.

    When choosing you X splat (mage Path, werewolf Auspice, etc) and Y splat (mage Order, werewolf Tribe, etc), go back to your original design phrase. A monster behind the mask is well spoken and deceitful, what combination resounds with them ? Why would they want to join said Y splat ?

    Your Z splat (mage Legacy, werewolf Lodge, etc) represents your focus. Lastly, you make their story of becoming supernatural reflect the design phrase, to leave a strong impression upon them, yet seasoned with the themes of your X splat.

    So if he was a Mirrorskin changeling, for example, the Durance would involve a maddening masquerade party where places, monsters, plagues and even times move about in costumes. Stealing the right ones and manipulating the right guests to backstab the others would create the chaos you need to escape.

    That process should give you a first draft. Then talk to your GM so you can brainstorm any other details that help synergize them with the feel the group wants for the chronicle.
    Last edited by KaiserAfini; 07-02-2019, 11:21 PM.


    New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


    The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists

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    • #3
      I generally use characters from the books as a starting point. Sometimes I meld two different ones together to make something new.


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      • #4
        I don't take months to make a single character because I am pretty unsentimental about them and want to use them to run or play games. I feel like lingering over a certain story or detail for a character really forefronts the game they will be in. That said, I purpose-build characters usually from an initial visual or situational inspiration. So that means I'll work out what fits with the initial skill-attribute builds and specialties before I fill out breaking points or aspirations, but sometimes an aspiration naturally fits in. I also don't usually differentiate too much between the pre-gens I mass create (usually like three or four at a time as inspiration strikes) and NPCs so I have files of them for each game, but I do have a file of "monsters" for cofd core games.

        I try to make them surprising if they're a supernatural creature I try and play against type with them.

        If I want to make the character a little supernatural but not fully, I'll give them some specialty like Persuasion (Asking the Third Time) or Stealth (With Hand of Glory) or something.

        I usually try to scare myself with supernatural splat members I make.
        Last edited by elzopilote; 07-03-2019, 10:52 PM.

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        • #5
          Most of the time, I have a rough character concept ready already because I tend to write them down and just flesh it out. Or I just use these boards for inspiriation, taking a concept a like and bending it to my tastes. Sometimes I have a concept or 'feeling' (can be taken from a reference Character as KaiserAfini said. Funnily enough, I have a Moriarty-inspired Ordo Dracul Ventrue Banker) that makes the foundation.
          Occasionally, I start with a job and the character's view on their job, then get to know them better by asking myself what their hobbies are, what their friends and family are like. Where are they from? (I like playing immigrants or people new to the city.) From here on, it's probably the usual. Except maybe to me, food and drink is an important factor, so I wonder about their favourites: asian-style dumplings or italian? Whisky, Gin, or Beer? Maybe Herbal Tea rather than Coffee? Sweet tooth or savoury? That information might be useless for play, but it fleshes out the character in my mind and helps me a lot in grounding them.
          Sometimes I start with what I want to play right now, e.g. a certain x or y splat, and work from there: what would be a good job for a Storm-Lord to have? (To me, that answer was military cook.)
          What are the base stats necessary for that (not spending all my points)? Their hobbies? At this point, I usually have a concept coalescing.
          Maybe the process goes like this, instead: "I want to play a Makara, and I want to play up some Cthulhu-esque themes, so forbidden lore... nemesis, then? And Feeds on people looking to learn about the Supernatural... by showing them more than they can deal with, so trying to instill as many Integrity Breaks as possible in a short timeframe. Sounds horrifying enough. But what does the guy do? Could work in a shop, bland as it is. Let's lovecraft that up; selling books and statues and stuff that gets people interested in the first place? So esoteric shop-owner. Could be middle-aged, or quite old. Eh, I want to play someone who's young and stumbles into that dark world... hm.. So, late twenties I guess. How did he get a bookshop that early? Inheritance, maybe. So young guys inherits the weird grandpa's shop. Which triggered the whole Devouring in the first place, because his Horror is inherited via Obcasus Rite, too! Which is why he tries to keep other people away from this world: resentment over his fate! Heading for the seperation of Horror and Begotten or even Hunter of his own Kind, fits some lovecraftian concepts, works for me. So we got the bare bones: resentful young owner of esoteric shop. Now we need some flesh..." Something like this, with certain ideas triggering others (marked in italics). In other news, I need to actually flesh that concept out because I like it (probably gonna turn it into an NPC), so thanks!

          Other than that, I like to take existing characters and smash them into the system, on the way things about them change anyway (cannot play Queen of Blades at the height of her power as a beginning character, anyway, so let's take some elements from pre-Zerg Sarah Kerrigan, add some Zerg for the supernatural side which sets up a nice path of development, and see where that takes us).
          The Inspirational Images threads are also a treasure trove: "How would I play that as a character?" leads to concepts quite quickly.


          Since you take a lot more time to develop a character, I'd like to know your general process, because it seems like your chars will be extremely detailled, which is intriguing.

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          • #6
            Another thought: generating PCs is the main way that I learn a new system. Following the procedural ways in which PCs can affect the game is helpful to me to think about how to balance that with other mechanics or events I want to have in games. I recommend trying to just go in and mechanically make something even without a strong narrative or overarching pre-existing idea about a character.

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