Saturday, March 05, 2011

Flaws, Hindrances and Disadvantages: How Do Character Personalities Evolve?

Good Evening, All:

One of the things I really enjoy about Savage Worlds is that characters are built with Hindrances, which are flaws with a game mechanical impact which helps define the character. I find that systems using such a mechanic, such as the aforementioned Savage Worlds or the Storyteller System by White Wolf, tend to promote roleplaying characters with distinctive personalities among the players of that system. While I've seen some great RP done by players of games that do not have such a system, I've found the use of flaws/Hindrances/character disadvantages to more consistently remind players that the character is more than just a set of game stats.

For a time, I considered adding this game mechanic to MyD20 Lite, but in the end, I decided to fall back on the majority of my D&D experience and not include such. Simply put, aside from a brief period where AD&D 2nd Edition Player's Options provided us with such a system, D&D just doesn't have a consistent non-class-related game mechanic that promotes roleplaying through varied personality traits. (It has alignments, but more often than not, alignment became a indicator of what the character was doing rather than a guide to character behavior.) Since MyD20 Lite is intended to be my go-to system for D&D games, I kept to the core experiences I wanted to build on and recapture when I want that particular level-based fantasy gaming experience.

Fortunately, characters do tend to take on a personality of their own as a result of the gaming experiences the GM sends them through. While you might not always get interesting quirks or distinctive character traits from the player-characters, you definitely find yourself dealing with characters that have specific enemies, hatreds and prejudices based on what you've presented to them over the course of a long-lived game. A good group involved in a detailed game can't seem to resist character evolution and development over the course of a campaign (for the most part; there are always exceptions.)

So, what kind of things do you do when playing in a gaming system that does not offer such clear-cut game mechanics to promote roleplay? Are you a gamer that creates characters around a concept, which then adjusts itself as it interacts with the game world? Or do you start with a character sheet that's a blank slate, and just let the character evolve over the course of the game? Or does every character you play have the same core personality, whether it's an elven ranger, a human mage or a wookie co-pilot? And more importantly, why is it that you build and portray your character in your particular manner, rather than one of the other choices? I'm curious, and yes, part of this may end up in the MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide, paraphrased, of course.

With Regards,

1 comment:

Shane Mangus said...

Personally, I also enjoy games where players can choose advantages and disadvantages for their characters. I prefer a flawed hero in literature and comics. To me it helps make give the characters depth. I think adding this kind of option in the Referee's Guide for MyD20 Lite is a great idea.