I’ve been thinking about my character creation system for Hari Ragat, and how I want it to focus the player more on the experience of being an epic hero in a tribal community. The quickstart version I was running for the playtests relied on random rolls, which could give really funny results, but leave some players shafted.
On the other hand, I’m not totally comfortable allowing players completely freeform choices in this, since most would still be unfamiliar with the milieu. I also want character hooks to be links to the setting, and suitably epic in flavor; that’s why I’m renaming them Ties, and making sure to exclude phobias and neuroses. So I’ve thought of doing this as a simple 5-point questionnaire:
1) The spirits of your ancestors have given you a task: what is it?
2) Someone owes you a favor: who is that person, and what is the favor? Why does that person owe you? The favor is major, but can only be called on once.
3) You owe someone a favor or restitution: who is that person, and what is the price? Why do you owe that person? The favor is a major one, and may be called on at any time, but only once. Or this could be an unpaid debt of some sort.
4) You have a grievance against someone: who is it, and what is the issue? Personal or family honor is at stake.
5) Someone has a grievance against you: who is it, and what is the issue? Personal or family honor is at stake.
6) Option: you may replace any one of the five items above with another kind of Tie – a rivalry, a romantic connection, etc. etc.
You are free to invent characters and locations as needed for your answers to these questions. Each item is a Tie to someone or something or somewhere in the Hari Ragat setting. You may choose to have Ties from among NPCs and PCs within the home community provided by the GM, or to NPCs from outside.
Ties to characters within the community can be beneficial – I suspect a lot of players will choose to have the ruler or shaman as the one who owes them a favor! Tensions within the community are also good for roleplaying. And Ties outside are of course leads to adventure!
Hopefully, the result of this questionnaire will be characters that come pre-loaded with story hooks for both player and GM to follow. The GM will only have to run the game, since every player will be trying to forward their own story.