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FableTop Tips - Character Creation

solbor Sep '17  /  edited Sep '17

This thread aims to collect words of advice, from players and GMs alike, regarding the first thing that defines a session: character creation!

GMs, do you like to keep it short? Or instead dedicate an entire session to it? Any tips on getting the characters involved with each other?
Players, what are your habits for coming up with names, backstories, and personalities?

Of course there are many more aspects to fine tune. A good CC ensures the adventure kicks off well, and can be what makes (or brakes) a campaign!
hustle Sep '17
Character Creation as a GM:

For long campaigns, I like long CC sessions. I want to take time to discuss the world and the characters my players will be making. This has paid off tremendously, as my favorite party and story to date came from the group that took several days to finalize CC.

For one-shots, I like CC sessions that last thirty minutes or less. I feel like we should be able to use the core rules and take a minute to explain an exception or two, then get straight into the game. Backstories can be as small as a few sentences.

Having a cohesive party can come from two areas, in my opinion. Backstories that are rich with world details and entwine with other party members (for long campaigns), or an intro to a session that establishes the party's history, which is more game play than CC, but worth mentioning.


Character Creation as a Player:

If I'm joining a campaign, I ask questions about the world, the players, and the theme to choose my character's name, make his backstory, and give him a personality.

If I'm joining a one-shot, I'll simply do my best to stick with whatever theme has been decided upon and try to fill out the party roles with my character.
oman1666 Sep '17
Hustle has said already most of what I wanted to say, so I just thought I'd add this;

As a player, it can be too tempting to get bogged down in optimising your traits for lots of dice in lots of areas. I think this is the wrong way to go around things. My process for CC is as follows;
1) Come up with a concept for a character
2) Outline their basic abilities with base traits, life and power.
3) Define that character, writing out a description which focuses on who they are, not just what they look like.
3) Pull two defining positive qualities or skills from the description, for example 'master archer' and 'excellent singing voice'
4) Finally, I make my traits. I try not to worry about how useful they will be, because they mainly exist as an expression of the character. I now I have Master Archer: 1 - ranged combat. and Excellent Sing: 1 - performance.


Now putting that aside... we all game the system every now and then.

Let's have a look at those traits again... Just ranged combat is weaker than the trait 'warrior' and just performance skills is worse than the built in trait 'performer'. At this stage you can reasonably build to balanced traits, without power level being your first thought. In this case I'd buff up to the nicely balanced traits:
Master Archer: 1 - ranged combat, keen eye sight
Excellent Sing: 1 - Performance, charm
solbor Sep '17  /  edited Sep '17

You may want to present a shared backstory element to players during CC, as means to ensure the game starts of smoothly. This way characters have things to discuss from the start, and can come up with common short term and long term goals. This is especially useful for one-shots, or if you are afraid the PCs would have no ground for cooperation.

Examples of this are having a common enemy they wronged, being members/associates of a guild, looking for the same macguffin.
It's good practice however to let the player decide the specifics of how this shared story element applies to their character.

E.g. What have they done to anger the mafia? For what reason do they seek the wish granting gemstone? Why do they need lots of money, like, right now?

Also: Don't worry if the party is not "balanced". I've played in an all bard oneshot before (super fun), and there are many things you can do to complement missing roles.


Feel free to ask another player if you want to have a common backstory! It's fun to play family members or established allies. Don't be afraid to set up a dynamic where you owe a couple favours to another PC, or you've done them a good turn already. On the other hand, give being rivals a try too, provided you both can find reasons to (begrudgingly) work together, and not bog down the game with bickering.

E.g. Han and Chewy, Aragorn and Boromir

Also: Don't come up with secret backstories if you don't discuss with the GM on how to actually reveal it during gameplay. A secret backstory is a nonexistent backstory.

Furthermore: I'd recommend not carbon copying characters from one game to another (I'm somewhat guilty of this). Try something new out with each one-shot! Even if it's just a different attitude or character quirk you RP.

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