Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Dungeonworld Character Creation Update

When you realise that you've being doing it wrong...

In case you haven't been reading, a quick summary. Dungeonworld, Original, 1994tm, was and is always about player choice. a set of choices for your lifestyle, your background, your career, your path to adventurous glory.

But recently I was reading how GMs and Games designers, typically, put their own psychology, their own views and theories into their games. If a GM has a particular hatred of combat, then they don't include much combat in their games. If a Games designer wants to portray the message to their players that Socialism is bad, then they may make the Orcs socialists.

Well, I may not be trying to say one or the other, oh, while I do have a fear that roleplay games are moving towards a less 'conflict' oriented style of play, as society becomes less accepting of such, and I think its dangerous to stamp out history by making our fantasy RPGs more modern, I hope that I won't be trying to influence players to be more violent in reaction to that.. 

No, instead what I realized is that I give players choice, almost too much choice, because I feel that my own life lacks choice. I'm no unique butterfly, but I do think I'm a dash of an outlier when it comes to life. I prefer not to watch TV, news, sport, facebook, social media and I like control, fine grained, pixel perfect control. So as a player, I want a system that gives me as much control as I can have.

Rolemaster: Critical charts for Broadswords..
Yes, each weapon has its own crit chart!
Yet other people, when presented with that level of control, are overwhelmed. Its too much control! choices? what? more choices? argh!, can't you just, like, give me a list or something? MATH?! Argh.. 

I have equated my full rules system to Rolemaster and GURPS when it comes to character creation.. though I have shaved a few hours off, lol. 

But it hit me recently.. My upbringing was about choice.. I was given a lot of choice, my grandparents encouraged me to try different things and I wasn't expected to 'go get a job' at 17, I was given ample opportunity to make my own choice.

Yet in a medieval environment, we're pretty sure that people would not have much in the way of choice. The rarity of disposable income, university grants, unemployment or student benefits, meant that the bulk of society had to get a job, and that often start at the age of 10-12 with apprenticeships.
Well, I didn't always used to be an Elven Wardancer.. I started out as a shoemaker.. No not that Elf.. Grrr


So, being a medieval fantasy game, it hit me.. just like their characters would have had no choice in their apprenticeships, players should have none either.

Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not taking away players agency or choice, If a player wants to sift through the rules and pick out their first career, their GM has the right to allow them.. I'm just suggesting that they gain the advantage of making it part of their backstory.


Imagine instead of being overwhelmed with lists, choices, bonuses, which one to add first, should I go A or B, which one will lead me to a more effective profession, what will give me more bonuses to my sword skills.. instead, the GM rolls on a chart, based on A) his world, B) what my higher stats would have had my folks deciding on a good career for me and C) what they could afford. This gives me a set of background skills that may or may not have helped in my future adventuring career.. but what it does do, is create some plot, some hooks, some aspect of who I was before I became a great warrior .. 

Its one of the things I loved about Warhammer, but forgot about, the 'building a backstory' from what I got as a starting career. My favourite character started as a physicians apprentice, and while I made some progress, I never ended up completing it, let alone going on to physician, and when I became a mage, I purposely chose not to take spells to do with healing and surgery, because it reminded me of the career I gave up. Now, if I hadn't had a 'rolled' background.. I'd likely have just chosen wizards apprentice from the beginning, and I would missed out on that whole aspect of story & plot.

Also career paths, lead players to try things out that, probably, unless they're deep in LORE, they're not going to even think of.. 

I mean how many of you would have though to play as a mo-hawked suicide axe-wielding Dwarf.. if it weren't for the "Giant Slayer".

Also, it saves a heck of a lot of space in the character creation pages.. which means a decrease in the costs to produce the books..

so WIN WIN!

expect to see the updates to the appropriate google docs over the coming weeks.



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