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Old 06-09-2009, 11:11 PM
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Default Making your Characters feel real...

Hello everyone,

You guys know my situation, and how much i love my boys. And how they are always in my thoughts and prayers. And I started to think about the kinds of things that can be incorporated into your characters to make the more than just fictional characters that are based on notes written down on some peices of paper.

What do you do to make your characters more real, believeable and memorable?

Have any of you had your Player Characters carrying around pictures of their family back home? or the last letter they had received from their family, that they read over and over again so much, that they can recite it from memory during those pitch-black nights they can't even see the page?

My longest running Twilight 2000 RPG character that i have played is US Army Ranger CW3 Nathaniel Hale Spaight III, he had two sets of dog tags that he always wore. One set of Dogtags where the standard US Army issue that had his information, while the other set of dogtags had the information for his two sons and his wife (a single tag for each of the three most important people in his life that would be carried pressed next to his heart). That personal set of dogtags also had an additional smaller chain that held a Star of David, an Eastern Orthodox Cross, and a Star & Crescent pendenet to represent all of the children of the God of Abraham. Also on this chain is two titanium wedding rings, and a titanium engagement ring that are made to look like their wedding rings that they normally wear when together.

His Roman Catholic mother-in-law gave him an extra long Rosary necklace w/black hematite beans & a silver crucifix, a 6mm men’s titanium wedding band w/‘Forever and always yours’ inscribed inside, a 3mm women’s titanium wedding band w/’I will love you forever and always‘ inscribed, and a 3mm women’s titanium diamond engagement ring w/ ’When two hearts come together to beat as one is proof that their love will always endure’, a St. Christopher’s medal, a St. Michaels medal, and a St. George's medal that had been given to him by his Step Father-in-law who is a British Army senior non-commissioned officer who was the 'batman' for the Commanding General of the British Army in Europe. And had used this position to get the Spaight family assigned to the headquarters in Northern Germany prior to the nuclear exchanges. Thankfully action had saved their lives. The boys would spend the war getting to know the Field Marshal and his wife, who saw them as being replacements for his own grandchildren who had been lost in the food riots when his daughter and her family was trying to get out of the city to one of the many relocation camps.

In his right breast pocket was the same pocket bible that his grandfather had carried with him throughout World War II (from the Normandy landings at D-Day right up until he was demoblized along with the rest of Patton's 3rd Army). The sonogram of his youngest son is kept in the bible as a bookmark, as is the photo of his wife and eldest son that was taken just moments after his birth as the first child born in Basingstoke.

The only photo of the wedding day of Nathaniel Hale Spaight III and Emma Louise Collette Jones Spaight is kept as a book mark in one of his battered copies of Harold Coyle novels, 'The Ten Thousand.' He has a battered copy of the Larry Bond novel 'Cauldron' in paperback that has several more sonogram pictures of their oldest son.

CW3 Nathaniel Hale Spaight III also carried a rosery that had been given to him by his Roman Catholic mother-in-law. Inside of his combat helmet he kept photos of him and his family prior to his being deployed to the field, kept inside zippy bags to keep them protected from the elements.

Of course he had several notebooks that he would use to write them letters, and sketchbooks to draw pictures of the people around him, and a ruggedized Panasonic Toughbook laptop that he was always writing his journal in the format as being very long detailed letters to his wife and sons. He also used his digital cameras and would transfer all of the photos he would have taken throughout the day onto the toughbook where he could give them a distinctive name, and a page worth of data describing what the photos where of and why the photo was taken. He also has close to a gig of photos of his family, along with audio and video messages to him form his wife and children. If anyone is around while he is looking at the pictures or videos, they are quickly drawn into a conversation all about how much he misses his little family.

Nathaniel also carries a remarkably clean stuffed white lamb (named Lämmchen: German for "little lamb"), and a very clean stuffed monkey (named little baby monkey) that he carries with him everywhere he goes stuffed down in his sleeping bag. In fact he isn't able to get any kind of restful sleep without having them with him. before he falls asleep he has to watch the video of him and his wife giving the boys their nightly bath, and the two of them getting the boys ready for bed, and getting the two precocious boys to sleep. The video ends when he gets up in the middle of the night to give the youngest a bottle for his midnight feeding, and then getting him back to sleep before returning to bed and curls up behind his wife to give her a sweat gentle kiss between her shoulderblades.

He then listens to an audio recording of him telling his wife, 'Good night beautiful, have wonderfully beautiful dreams... Because I know I will be. Because I will be dreaming of you.' To which she responds with 'good night gorgeous, you are such a wonderful husband and father. And I will love you now, forever and always.' It is after this Nathaniel Hale Spaight III finally cries himself to sleep.

CW3 Nathaniel Hale Spaight III, still carries his challenge coins in a soft leather satchel pouch that he wears around his neck. The satchel pouch also has some small little trinkets that his sons gave him the last time they saw each other.





















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Old 06-09-2009, 11:20 PM
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Those are really great details. One of my PCs had the last letter from his love (whom he assumed was killed in TDM). One of the side trips in Krakow had him looking for transparent tape to reinforce the worn edges.

Those are great pictures as well. I am glad you got to spend some time with your boys and I hope that the future has them near you as much as possible.
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Old 06-09-2009, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kato13
Those are really great details. One of my PCs had the last letter from his love (whom he assumed was killed in TDM). One of the side trips in Krakow had him looking for transparent tape to reinforce the worn edges.

Those are great pictures as well. I am glad you got to spend some time with your boys and I hope that the future has them near you as much as possible.
Thank you so much. being apart form the boys is killing me. i still dont understand why fathers in the UK don't get any kinds of rights when their wives take the children to another country saying thta they are not standing in the way of you to get to see your children. and when you are there to see them, limit the amount of time you can spend with them. 30 minute trip at a McDonalds was the shortest amount of time i got to spend with the boys, while 3 hourse was the most time i got to spend with the boys. and they had promised me ONE full day with the boys. But I never got it. the boys where so happy to have gotten to see me. And despte Emma's best attempts to get Jack from calling me Daddy has failed. He still knows who I am, and that I am still 'daddy' to him when she is not around.

I mis them so damn bad. i really want to write or Rp this out in hopes of getting pass this smothering pain.

As for the pictures... Nathaniel had all the pictures and letters lanimated to protect them... of course having access to ID manufacturing equipment is always a good thing when you are trying to make something flimsy into something that can better survive a very rugged envirnonment!

My GM had stated that after our detachment arrived at the British Army of the Rhine Headquarters, Nathaniel got to meet up with his sons who where being raised by the Field Marshal who was the Commanding General of the British Army in Europe. The boys ran up and started crawling and climbing all over his body and perching themselves on his shoulders.

CW3 Nathaniel Hale Spaight III was able to get news back from the homefront, tellling him that his father and grandfather had run into problems when FEMA arrived at the Spaight Homestead and tried to take complete control over the farm and its various operations. Especially with the impossition of D.P.s (aka displaced persons) being placed on the Spaight homestead supposedly to help with the levels of physical labor that the family would need.

Nathaniel Hale Spaight II became angred when FEMA representatives set themselves up in the family home,and forced the SPaight family into conditions worse than even that the DPs where forced to endure after they arrived.

This became the biggest reason that we had frequent trips to the military cantonments of Divisional Headquarters and above, since the headquarters at the Divisional, Corps, and Army levels. The postal services that kept the mail moving back and forth between the United States of America and the troops that where out in the field.

The Mail call part of the evening routine had became a major thing in the lives of the player characters and non-player characters. Espeically when letters from home where there with news about the goings on back stateside.

We explained this as being a part of schooners that where being used as mail ships. salvaged digital videocameras, laptops and the ability to burn data CDs allowed many men and women to amass large quantities of letters and messages back home.

And would give the Player Characters reasons for getting back to the states.

Especially with the "Going Home" module with Operation Omega showing the PCs just how important it was for them to get back to the states to bring justice to the chaos that had been ruling the country side.

We never really had a chance to run through all of the modules for the return back home... i reallly miss getting into a game where we can just play a game and see how far our characters would end up getting themselves into. Nathaniel Hale Spaight III was devoted to his wife, and after having learned she had cheated on him, and taken another lover devastanted him. So much so he didn't even realize that the Iranian American news correspondent that had been following the missions of his team had fallen in love with him, until the boys met her... and declared that SHE Was their new 'mummy' and they wanted to live with their Daddy and 'New Mummy' as soon as possible. While the Field Marshal was sad to see his adopted grandkids leave, he knew it was for the best. Besides he and his wife joined Operation Omega to return to the Spaight Family Homestead to get it back to the condition it had been in before the war had started.
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Old 06-10-2009, 12:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natehale1971
I mis them so damn bad. i really want to write or Rp this out in hopes of getting pass this smothering pain.
I have done the same. I can't imagine what you are going through but there have been times where if I felt if I stop working, the thoughts will come back and the pain will resurface. So I bury myself in work. Know that we all are pulling for you and that you have many people who are waiting to see what you come up with next.
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Old 06-10-2009, 12:54 AM
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Default real life feel in a PC

PC -player character then ,obviously ..

In our campaign we have had some fairly interesting family issues that I added to expand it to another level .

Pcs have married and had kids in most cases .They have also had rows with their spouses and children ,and been forced into doing something that they rather wouldnt by their significant other

Troublesome inlaws have been around too , with snide comments and negativity etc .

Also we have the PCs develop disorders like substance abuse,sleeping disorders and rage fits etc that may or may not affect their skill checks .These develop as a result of witnessing /conducting atrocities,enduring horrifying wounds and pain,mental pressure and stress,etc .

Pretty much every PC has a dark secret and pops pills ,drinks or get fatigued from lack of sleep as well as haveing some kind of stress in the family situation .

I guess its that machinegun toting lifestyle.

So we do try to add a dimention to it thats outside the graph paper maps and stat sheets for assault rifles .
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Old 06-10-2009, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by headquarters
PC -player character then ,obviously ..

In our campaign we have had some fairly interesting family issues that I added to expand it to another level .

Pcs have married and had kids in most cases .They have also had rows with their spouses and children ,and been forced into doing something that they rather wouldnt by their significant other

Troublesome inlaws have been around too , with snide comments and negativity etc .

Also we have the PCs develop disorders like substance abuse,sleeping disorders and rage fits etc that may or may not affect their skill checks .These develop as a result of witnessing /conducting atrocities,enduring horrifying wounds and pain,mental pressure and stress,etc .

Pretty much every PC has a dark secret and pops pills ,drinks or get fatigued from lack of sleep as well as haveing some kind of stress in the family situation .

I guess its that machinegun toting lifestyle.

So we do try to add a dimention to it thats outside the graph paper maps and stat sheets for assault rifles .
I must say that General Pain is a Totem of Sanity in a world of Insanity...if everybody just did what he says....
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Old 06-10-2009, 03:58 AM
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I don't have any of them anymore, but sometimes I used to sit down and write stories about my characters' past and how they came to be the persons they are. Some of them became very detailed -- one ran to five (hand-written) pages.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:07 AM
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As a result of the lengthy and detailed character generation process that Gunmaster:2000 uses, all of the PCs in my campaign have deep and realistic back stories, including close relatives, friends, enemies etc.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targan
As a result of the lengthy and detailed character generation process that Gunmaster:2000 uses, all of the PCs in my campaign have deep and realistic back stories, including close relatives, friends, enemies etc.
It is funny I was literally just thinking I hope Targan posts to this thread. I just found my notebook where I had written down all the character notes you had posted on RPGhost.
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Old 06-10-2009, 03:43 PM
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I love including a good background for my characters. A small background is a couple pages. Once I went as far as to write about a dozen pages it included alot, to include details of prior actions, his part in them, wounds received and where and how he was treated at the recouperation facility.

And another, I included his childhood, highschool in good detail. His training in the military, when, where, special schools to include the yearly class.

I also included his award and disciplinary record as well as past units and an exerp from his courtsmartial proceedings where he was reduced in rank for being drunk and disorderly.

I tend not to load my characters down with alot of extra personal items beyond something small and durable. Unlaminated pictures fade, get stained and mold. Same with larger items, they get broken, dirty, wet, or just lost. And electronics, they don't tend to last to long either, either through batteries and power failing, or an unexpected blow or fall or just plain wear out. And then,of course gear being lost is another issue.

I doubt a character could maintain all of his original gear in the circumstances of the 5th for more than a couple of years unless they were way in the rear with the gear.


As for the whole visitation issue;

I worked that kind of law until failry recently and it is beyond unfair, but hey, justice is equal and all of that without any reguard to gender! Right! And I have a bridge to sell anyone who does beleive that.

Good luck and keep doing what you are doing one day things may change.
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:00 PM
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I usually make a pretty good attempt to detail my characters timeline of life. It helps to underly the skills he's aquired, when and how. I include the extended family usually as the family is a great part of what men fight for I think.

Yes details of pictures, letters, momentos they carry, how they got them and such adds to development. It gets me into the mind of the character as I become the character.

BTW in 20 years of Twilight gaming, I've only lost about TWO characters I can recall. Yes they've been wounded/injured or sick, but I strive to keep them alive as I would myself to the best of my ability.

Scars, tattoos, manerism are all detailed to a sense for the HoG in the intro bios I do, so they know where I come from.
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:05 PM
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When I was in the infantry, I never carried very much in the way of personal items. Every item in my webbing, pack, pockets, etc had some purpose (and often more than one use).
Of course I was the exception to the rule and usually ended up carrying more section stores than everyone else because my pack was so much lighter....

:S
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Old 06-10-2009, 08:06 PM
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It's been so long since I've played, but I'm pretty sure I didn't pack in much detail to background or stuff. When I ran a lot of Twilight, we were all young, and much more into the hack & slash (run & gun?) model of playing than Role-playing. No one really wanted to get into the grittier details of family outside the game.


We did get silly sometimes, mounting speakers on the vehicles, to blare music in battle (Ride of the Valkyries, what else!). My brother's Dutch tanker had a rubber duckie on a string around his neck.

My players in my 10-years-ago Merc game were about half-and-half on details. One guy had been reading a lot of Peter Capstick (South African hunting guide) so he played a South African hunter, and detailed his kahki clothes and weapons. (But he wouldn't wear a helmet! "Cape buffalo don't shoot back, after all.") Again, no one really got into the family or contacts outside the game. I think half a page of background, using the chargen process as an outline, was the most I would see.

Someday, I would like to run a v2.2 game again, and see if people would treat the NPC world in a better, more detailed, fashion. The chargen process for that seemed to boost that kind of thing. {Maybe if I get that Twilight:1919 idea moving next year....}
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graebarde
I usually make a pretty good attempt to detail my characters timeline of life. It helps to underly the skills he's aquired, when and how. I include the extended family usually as the family is a great part of what men fight for I think.

Yes details of pictures, letters, momentos they carry, how they got them and such adds to development. It gets me into the mind of the character as I become the character.

BTW in 20 years of Twilight gaming, I've only lost about TWO characters I can recall. Yes they've been wounded/injured or sick, but I strive to keep them alive as I would myself to the best of my ability.

Scars, tattoos, manerism are all detailed to a sense for the HoG in the intro bios I do, so they know where I come from.
I totally agree Grae...

All the characters im my campaign and players I play allways have detailed pre-chargen history - how when and who...etc....

only 2 characters dead in 20 years!!!!!!! now that means either really soft GMs or a really lucky player or perhaps smart hehe...I must admit the one I'm playing now "General Pain" has survived 5 years (realtime) and 15 years gametime...though he has lost one arm and one leg , multiple stabs,burns ,aircrashes,drug overdoses,chainsaw attacks, blunt weapons to soft body parts, melee attacks, and probably somewhere between 100-250 bullet wounds including high calibre rounds, not forgetting some radiation damage , mental disorders, drinking problems ,sleep disorders, explosions and gravity related injuries he still is a feared and somewhat repsected figure in HQs Campaign....my enemies usually says "Why won't he die?"

On the other hand I lost count of all the characters I have lost in the years...

explosion/nervegass -
explosion/polish army-ammo storage facility - don't remember name
drownings
headshots
and many many more
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by General Pain
I totally agree Grae...

All the characters im my campaign and players I play allways have detailed pre-chargen history - how when and who...etc....

only 2 characters dead in 20 years!!!!!!! now that means either really soft GMs or a really lucky player or perhaps smart hehe...I must admit the one I'm playing now "General Pain" has survived 5 years (realtime) and 15 years gametime...though he has lost one arm and one leg , multiple stabs,burns ,aircrashes,drug overdoses,chainsaw attacks, blunt weapons to soft body parts, melee attacks, and probably somewhere between 100-250 bullet wounds including high calibre rounds, not forgetting some radiation damage , mental disorders, drinking problems ,sleep disorders, explosions and gravity related injuries he still is a feared and somewhat repsected figure in HQs Campaign....my enemies usually says "Why won't he die?"

On the other hand I lost count of all the characters I have lost in the years...

explosion/nervegass -
explosion/polish army-ammo storage facility - don't remember name
drownings
headshots
and many many more
I think you are laying it on a bit thick - there couldnt be more than 75 - 100 bullet/fragmentation wounds.

( Yeah , I know its cartoonesque - but then again its a game )
drowning ? I dont remember that one ..

Anyways as the new house dmg rules come into play everyones days are numbered ( PCs in the game I mean ).

So far I guess the casualty rate has been decent imho for our T2K game .Last I checked it was 4 or 5 KIAs for the PCs.
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:40 AM
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When I was playing I liked to create detailed characters with a good backstory....four to five pages of A4 was the norm for a PC, one to two pages for an NPC. After I stopped playing actively I still used to write up NPC's for a while as a way of finding an outlet for my creative side...
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:52 AM
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One of my favourite NPC backstories in my current campaign is that of Cpl Virgil Morris Price, a Canadian infantryman who, before the war, was an up and coming porn star. He has been the butt of many jokes by the PCs and NPCs in the party and when the party reached New York City one of the PCs even put a lot of effort into finding a couple of video taped films in which Price had starred. Of course the laughing tends to stop when the others sneak a peak while Price is taking a leak... he got into porn for obvious reasons, being rather generously endowed in the trouser department.
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by General Pain
I totally agree Grae...

only 2 characters dead in 20 years!!!!!!! now that means either really soft GMs or a really lucky player or perhaps smart hehe...
Well I don't think it was soft HoGs, rather luck, though I think smarts too has something to do with it. There's a time to fight and a time to get the hell out of Dodge.
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:31 PM
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Best way to get the feel is first.... stop referring to your character in third person and go back to the good Dungeon and Dragon days and keep everything in first person....

"I roll to the left and take a quick shot with my rifle" (dice roll - miss) "and watch my bullet take out the last frame of glass in the window. NOW I was starting to get worried!!"
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Old 06-13-2009, 01:26 AM
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When I'm playing I try to sit down with the GM and work up a story we can both use, and when I run I try to do the same with all my players. It helps get the appropriate feel and gives us material to use to expand the story.

Maybe at some point I'll explain the stories behind my namesake character, or my friend Dan and his wife in a few of our games... As a GM I love to have those backgrounds to use when I need a story on short notice and I'm running low on ideas.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:14 PM
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I kind of like the Traveller char-gen system. For every "term" in a chosen career field, the player has to roll on tables (events & mishaps) that includes mishaps, contacts, rivals, windfalls, life events etc. It really helps create the framework of a pretty comprehensive backstory.

Also, it can deviate a character from the career path that the player chooses, adding a bit of extra realism. For example, a player wants his PC to be a Green Beret. During one of his career terms leading up to the SF term, he rolls on the events table and the result mandates that he roll again on the mishap chart. He rolls and the result is a badly broken ankle during the selection course.

So, the PC doesn't get to be a Green Beanie. He goes back to the Ranger regiment and has a bit of a limp for the rest of his life.

This is a really basic example of how the system works. Some of the events & mishaps are really creative. It's probably not going to happen but I'd love to convert T2K char-gen to a Traveller style.
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:46 PM
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I was able to find a PDF copy of the Freedom Fighters RPG, to replace my old paper copy that I had used to roll up backgrounds and contacts and the like. It was GREAT to use for coming up with hobbies and non-normal skill sets that a person can pick up over the years... If anyone wants to see it let me know.
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
I kind of like the Traveller char-gen system. For every "term" in a chosen career field, the player has to roll on tables (events & mishaps) that includes mishaps, contacts, rivals, windfalls, life events etc. It really helps create the framework of a pretty comprehensive backstory.

Also, it can deviate a character from the career path that the player chooses, adding a bit of extra realism. For example, a player wants his PC to be a Green Beret. During one of his career terms leading up to the SF term, he rolls on the events table and the result mandates that he roll again on the mishap chart. He rolls and the result is a badly broken ankle during the selection course.

So, the PC doesn't get to be a Green Beanie. He goes back to the Ranger regiment and has a bit of a limp for the rest of his life.

This is a really basic example of how the system works. Some of the events & mishaps are really creative. It's probably not going to happen but I'd love to convert T2K char-gen to a Traveller style.
This is very much like the char gen system we use for Gunmaster but our system is even more detailed and is year-by-year after high school.
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by natehale1971
I was able to find a PDF copy of the Freedom Fighters RPG, to replace my old paper copy that I had used to roll up backgrounds and contacts and the like. It was GREAT to use for coming up with hobbies and non-normal skill sets that a person can pick up over the years... If anyone wants to see it let me know.
I'd be very interested in seeing that Nate.
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