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Author Topic: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?  (Read 1233 times)

Isanova

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New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« on: 22 April 2012, 18:39:44 »
I've never had the benefit of playing a paper roleplaying game before, wether mechwarrior or DnD or otherwise... closest I have come is things like the Fallout series (1&2) or KOTOR... so I am coming in with a bit of a handicap.

I was wondering though, is it accepted or common to base a character upon an existing cannon character? I was thinking of taking it from the rolls to pluck a former Leftenant out of 3025 and build upon it.

I was also wondering, maybe playing out a game as important characters to get a feel for things... like RPing all the princelings at the Outreach accord during 3052.

I'll be moving to New Jersey and looking for a gaming community, if anyone games near Manmouth county give me a heads up! ;-)
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dieffenbachj

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #1 on: 22 April 2012, 21:36:24 »
I've never had the benefit of playing a paper roleplaying game before, wether mechwarrior or DnD or otherwise... closest I have come is things like the Fallout series (1&2) or KOTOR... so I am coming in with a bit of a handicap.

I was wondering though, is it accepted or common to base a character upon an existing cannon character? I was thinking of taking it from the rolls to pluck a former Leftenant out of 3025 and build upon it.

I was also wondering, maybe playing out a game as important characters to get a feel for things... like RPing all the princelings at the Outreach accord during 3052.

I'll be moving to New Jersey and looking for a gaming community, if anyone games near Manmouth county give me a heads up! ;-)

Well, it really all depends on the gaming group. Typically, there's that One Guy who shows up to a D&D game with a drow ranger named Drizzt, or something equal in BattleTech--a MechWarrior named Aidan Pryde or something. Anyway. He gets much eyerolling more often than not.

In that case, it's really a matter of scale. Are you making a half-Capellan, half-FedSun noble MechWarrior/international spy? That's not so bad--only the people who know the books will realize the connection to Justin Allard. Are you BASING your character off him, like making a half-Drac, Half-Skye noble MechWarrior? That's perfectly fine, as long as it was only an inspiration, either nobody will notice or nobody will care (think any of the Halfling Thieves, Human Rangers or Elf... Rangers... get laughed at for imitating Tolkein? Nah, not if they're only inspiration!)

It's when you start BEING the character that it's a problem. It just makes fans of the stories uncomfortable, in general.

Besides. Who wants to tell a story that someone else has already told? That's handcuffing the players in terms of freedom. I don't want to play Bilbo Baggins or Aidan Pryde or Justin Allard or Senor Vorpal Kickasso, I want to play _MY_ character, and go on _MY_ adventures.

It'd also be handcuffing the GM in terms of story-telling. They can't kill an important character, because he has further stories to tell--can't kill Justin Allard as a young cadet, can you? You can't have him blowing up his 'Mech, or receiving a crippling injury to both of his arms, or anything, because then you're deviating from the story. Unless you don't mind deviating, in which case, why did you even bother making a canon character?

Nah, far better to just roll your own, and play him out.

Frabby

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #2 on: 23 April 2012, 01:33:19 »
As a 20+ years active roleplayer (GM most of the time) I strongly discourage the use of established characters from novels etc. as player character templates. The two main reasons are:

1) It can be a frustrating and unrewarding experience. A player character, much less a startup ("low-level") character, will have to earn his successes and must expect to fall on his face oftentimes, while the Hero he's portrayed after was written to succeed.

2) A player character gains a unique personality after two or three gaming sessions, based on his capabilities, feats, and how he's played. He gains a recognizable identity.
This process is almost impossible if the character's player is struggling to follow some established template. For the same reason I advise against using a name that comes with strings attached.
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Maelwys

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #3 on: 23 April 2012, 04:26:44 »
Established, heavily known characters are usually a no no, as the previous few posts have mentioned. The exception to this would be if the game concept is centered around that.

For instance, it would be a bad idea to show up with Victor Steiner-Davion at a regular game. But if the GM wanted to run a game where you were playing such characters, that would be okay. The Fan Grand Council when it was running was a prime example of this, though on a larger scale.

As for basing a character on an established character, it can be tricky. It can be a very fine line between "I'm playing a character based on Justin Allard" and "I'm playing Justin Allard."

Honestly, I'd just stick to a your own characters. Let your own characters come to life. Its hard enough at times to get into roleplaying without having someone else object when you do something because "He'd never do that in canon."

adamhowe

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #4 on: 23 April 2012, 14:27:46 »
I agree with the others, sometimes I have characters that are influenced by one I've read about, but I put my own twist on them.  For the most part its best to come up with as original a character as you can.

Isanova

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #5 on: 23 April 2012, 15:24:20 »
Guess I wasn't clear...

I was thinking, as a first game / getting used to things, we would play one session as the well known Victor/Kai/STL/etc during their "pet prince training program" on Outreach... to get comfortable with gameplay mechanics before delving into building our own characters to run with.

The other separate idea was to take a character that has little or no fluff, like a name off of TO&E chart, to build a character from with a historical basis. Joe McGruff who was a lance commander in the Davion Guards 8 years ago, now a senile bitter war vet cashiered after losing his mech... that kinda thing.
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Sir Chaos

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #6 on: 23 April 2012, 17:20:12 »
Guess I wasn't clear...

I was thinking, as a first game / getting used to things, we would play one session as the well known Victor/Kai/STL/etc during their "pet prince training program" on Outreach... to get comfortable with gameplay mechanics before delving into building our own characters to run with.

The other separate idea was to take a character that has little or no fluff, like a name off of TO&E chart, to build a character from with a historical basis. Joe McGruff who was a lance commander in the Davion Guards 8 years ago, now a senile bitter war vet cashiered after losing his mech... that kinda thing.

I haven´t heard of doing the former, and purely from gut feeling, I would discourage it as well.

What you could do is taking some generic redshirt characters - perhaps archetypes straight out of the rulebooks - out for a spin to learn the rules, so that if/when you make a particularly dumb move or have spectacularly bad luck in the practice session and they get killed, it´s no harm to your real character.

Heck, if the generic practice session characters belong to the same force as your real characters, you can make "find out why our guys haven´t returned from patrol yet" (or something similar) the first mission.
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Col. Chiang

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #7 on: 23 April 2012, 17:44:29 »
Personally, unless there's been a lot written about a character from canon fiction (for example, the majority of the "Notable Pilot" blurbs in the original TRO:  3025 would be perfect for this), I think taking a character that's had a paragraph written up and running from there is a great idea.  It's how I usually begin to flesh out my own characters:  start with a paragraph to two that says something about the character's motivations, skills, background, appearance, and personality and then build from there.


Now, for taking a canon "scene" and putting folks into those characters...well, the more wiggle room you have for the players (as opposed to their PCs) to act out of established canon, the better.  It's very easy to get drawn down into an argument of, "VSD would never do that!"  "Yeah, he would; see, he's got this Big, Dark Secret that's been gnawing at his soul."  "Why didn't Stackpole ever write about that, then, hmmm?"  "Because I just made it up."  "Oho, so you're not playing Victor, then?"  "Yes, I am; see this character sheet right here?"  "That doesn't mean you're playing him; you're not playing him true to type."  Etc...


Now, if you wanted to do a scene from canon to go over game mechanics, I'd rather pick something from one of the various short fiction pieces out there.  They tend to involve characters that are less well-known and have less universe-changing effects.  Stuff like May Black Cats Cross Your Path from the (2nd ed?) Mechwarrior game book would be better.  It involved a unit that I'd never heard of before or since and didn't go into deep, soul-searching motivations.  Instead, it presented a good action scene involving an infantry unit taking on 'Mechs in an urban setting.


Anyway, what I'm saying is that, while you need to give your characters structure, you also need to not straitjacket them into specific roles and responses.  It's a fine balance, and there have been much better articles written on it than I could ever do.  If you want a good resource for GMing advice (a lot of it is d20-specific, but there's a lot that's general advice, too), this guy has a lot to say, most of it good advice:  http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/creations.html


Hope it helps!
« Last Edit: 23 April 2012, 17:46:20 by Col. Chiang »

monbvol

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #8 on: 24 April 2012, 00:30:20 »
Here is another take on the debate of Established Character versus One of Your Own.

The Established Character will already have a defined personality.  How much of a boon or curse this is depends on the kind of Roleplayer you are.  The main advantage is this definition does give you an idea of how you are supposed to play the character but ultimately like a different Author writing about the same character in another book you will always wind up putting your own touch on the character.  Said definition can also be one of the greatest draw backs and many other posters have given good examples why already in this thread but to expand on it a bit further myself it can create the extra difficulty of having to portray a character in a certain way and that may not always mesh up with your style of play.

One of Your Own making can be daunting for your first time.  Most groups should be pretty okay with at least letting you use the example characters in the book and adding your own details from there.  The main advantage is this character will be YOURS and no one else's.  It is surprising how liberating that fact can be and how easy it allows you to free form your own details and touches on the character.  It also tends to have a profound impact on how much players become attached to their character and thus how risky and suicidal they can get with said character.

Either way you decide to go in the end the most important thing is to have fun but I will offer some other guidance.

-Scale of the game.  For the most part playing someone important with duties of state that must be attended to on a regular basis can be a death sentence for a game where that is not the point of the campaign.  That said there are ways to avoid it.  Maybe because your important person is out playing hero instead of tending their realm they find out their power has been usurped and they now are forced to take a more hands on approach to solve their problems.  Vise versa a humble lowly grunt may not be much use when trying to wade through courtly intrigue.  That isn't to say you can't play one but it can quickly become boring as your talents wind up being poorly utilized or your character doesn't get to do much.

-Character concept.  As I just pointed out it pays to know what kind of campaign you are about to take part in and have a suitable concept to fit into the campaign with.  Some groups can improvise well enough that sometimes it doesn't matter if the character fits the campaign very well.

-Save something to strive for in game.  AToW is a very flexible system that lets you do a lot of things.  But keep in mind what your concept is and what your goals are for your character.  After all it is tempting to start out as an uber-elite Mechjock with an Assault mech but how does that mesh with what you want to achieve with your character?

-Your character should be more than a series of stats and numbers.  Because my group had trouble creating characters that were nothing but stat blocks with no personality traits or background about family or friends I started joking when ever I ran a game that I'd ask 200 questions of my players about their characters and usually fell well short of actually asking 200 questions.  I can't remember how far back it was now but I went and actually committed 200 questions to a Word document.  I still don't use it in any serious manner but it does help flesh out characters to be more than a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper.  I have no qualms about sharing it so drop me a line and I'll see about digging it up if you want.

Kobura

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #9 on: 26 April 2012, 06:50:07 »
It'd be over the internet using a tool like Gametable, and Skype, but if you'd like I can give you a veterans' live opinion on characters, instead of the slow and chunky forum format!

I actually recommend making characters yourself that you intend to play, and just test drive them. Damn the consequences, play 'with all hands showing', so the DM explains the potential options, prompts for rolls instead of waiting for the player-characters to deliberately attempt something, and the players are FULLY disclosing their plans and intents to the DM. The one-off scenario doesn't matter, and everyone communicating can help dispel incorrect theories or opinions.

Right now I'm taking my players through a several game long 'training wheels' scenario, specifically the Gray Death Legion's tribulations on the planet Helm and the discovery of the Helm Memory Core, as a way to expose them to many different types of play, different uses for different skills, multiple paths to accomplish the same objective, and basically a 'limited scope' miniseries campaign, to prepare them for when I make the universe their oyster.

It HELPS AN INFINITE AMOUNT, if you're afraid of disrupting storyline but still want to play inside it, to do plenty of reading on your theaters of operation and time setting! Make sure to pay attention to social and economic happenings, especially during the early 3000s (when I'm setting my events). For instance, House Marik and the Free Worlds League was traditionally known for their insurrections and uprisings... most of which started after the point in time that me and my players are! So here, my long standing preconceptions were... pre-dated!

However, I do discourage using premade and moreso yet pre-characterized characters, mostly for the fact that instead of exploring their own 'not-selves' and creating a character, your players are going to be put in a box of not their own design. Perhaps a player wants that, by all means accommodate! But generally I find that GUIDED character design, to gently aim players into the roles you believe they would, as a player, find the most fulfilling, as well as to encourage a well-balanced and capable party, is the best route. Your players get to have their own alter-ego to boast about in the first person, and the party is able to perform more varied tasks given it.

Also, a player might find that playing their originally desired archetype isn't as fun as they thought, and switch, something that if they were playing a premade and handed-out character, they wouldn't experience.

Perhaps you could have a 'grab pile' of various roled characters and let players choose between them, if you desire certain rules to be tested over and above players learning character creation rules (which are one of the harder aspects of the game for a brand new player, and I 'homebrewed' situationally-heavily in favor of fun over precision)

But to take away from this most importantly: If you would like any help whatsoever, it's easier to be asked specific questions than to try and blurt things I think might be helpful, and I am available. Just send me a message!
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Lysenko

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Re: New to Roleplaying, questions n such?
« Reply #10 on: 26 April 2012, 17:22:56 »
I don't see why one couldn't do the 3052 summit. There were training sessions that we never saw in the novel.  As a one-shot, I'd think it'd be fine as a way to orient one's self to roleplaying and the game mechanic.