Below is a short segment taken from the Wordplay text. It describes the process of creating a character in Wordplay. The text is provided out of context and includes a number of unfamiliar terms. However, to those of you who have played a few roleplaying games before you’ll be able to get a feel for how characters are created and in turn something about the game itself.
Graham is guiding Tom through the creation of a new character for a sweeping fantasy epic that the group are playing. The ‘Fantasy’ Theme is being used to generate ideas for the game background and in generating characters. Traits, descriptors that can be used by a player’s character in the game are collected from Pre-play text written by the player, and from templates called People, Place and Professon, taken from a Theme, a prepared background.
In this example Tom has already come up with his pre-play text and has a good idea of what his character is going to be like.
Graham: Ok, who would you like to be?
Tom: I’ve brought some pre-play text with me and some ideas on the Traits I’d like to use from it.
Graham: Great, let’s take a look… yes that looks fine.
Tom is creating a character called Lorth, a northern ‘barbarian’ heading into the south in a hurry. Tom’s pre-play text is:
Lorth had to leave the Northern land of Lhuthia in a hurry, hunted by the Clan Lords for his supposed betrayal. A tall, powerfully built man, encased in fur and metal scale armour, with long raven braided hair, he is every inch the Northic warrior. Brooding over wrongs done to him, he strides south to escape enemies and make a name for himself in the southern lands.
Keen eyed for danger and fearless in battle, Lorth effortlessly carries a battleaxe and round shield. He can look beneath the surface of people and sense their motives. This has saved him on more than one occasion. He is naturally suspicious and wary and will only find friendship with those who prove themselves through their actions.
Lorth’s Traits so far, after taking some from the pre-play text:
Body: Battleaxe, Long raven braided hair, Powerfully built, Shield, Tall
Mind: Keen eyed, Sense motive
Soul: Brooding, Fearless in battle, Hunted by Clan Lords, Suspicious, Wary
Graham: Do you want to note down your character’s concept now or later?
Tom: I ‘ll put one down now as I think I’m pretty clear who Lorth is going to be.
“A northern barbarian mercenary seeking glory in the southern city plain.”
Graham: Ok. Do you want to add any Traits based on your concept text?
Tom: Could I add ‘seeking glory’?
Graham: Nice. I’d say that was a Soul Trait so let’s add it in there. How would you describe his age?
Tom: He’s definitely young, but old enough to have seen a bit of life and disappointment. How about: ‘A young man full of energy and anticipation’.
Graham: Any Traits from that?
Tom: Not for now, no, but I might use ‘anticipation’ in some way later!
Graham: From your Pre-play it looks like you will want to use the ‘warrior’ for your Profession Traits, and ‘The Northern Thane Lands’ for your Places Traits?
Tom: Yes that sounds good. I’ll start with the Place Traits.
Tom picks out the following Traits from ‘The Northern Thane Lands’: Rugged, Dragon lore, Know Clan Stories, Predict weather, Speak own language, Declaim Deeds.
Tom: Right, now to pick Traits from the Warrior profession. How am I doing? Have I got too many?
Graham: No, you’re fine. You’ll want to pick out some combat Traits to establish Lorth as a warrior. He isn’t a wizard or priest so I don’t think we’ll need to refer to the Powers chapter.
Tom picks out the following Traits from the ‘Warrior’ Profession: Brawling, Endure Wound, Sword fighting, Wear armour with ease, Battle Strategy, Horsemanship, Look for danger, Spot opponents weakness, Think with sword, Treat wound, Calm in battle.
Lorth’s Traits so far:
Body: Battleaxe, Brawling, Endure Wound, Long raven braided hair, Powerfully built, Rugged, Shield, Sword fighting, Tall, Wear armour with ease
Mind: Battle Strategy, Clan knowledge, Dragon lore, Horsemanship, Keen eyed, Know Clan Stories, Look for danger, Predict weather, Sense motive, Speak own language, Spot opponents weakness, Think with sword, Treat wound
Soul: Brooding, Calm in battle, Declaim deeds, Fearless in battle, Hunted by Clan Lords, Seeking glory, Suspicious, Wary
Graham: That’s a nice mix of Traits and I’m starting to get a real picture of him. Let’s look at goals now. I’d like you to have two character goals for now. A further one is likely to be added when we get to play.
Tom: I’d like a long term goal for him to avenge the wrong done to him which caused him to flee his homeland. I don’t know what it is yet, can we work that out later?
Graham: Sure. How about a shorter, more immediate goal? You are going to be starting play as a mercenary guard of a long merchant caravan…
Tom: I’ll make the goal to ensure that all caravans get to our destination safely.
Graham: Good. You can equip him with any weapons he has as a Trait in, scale armour, helmet and shield. That should be good enough to grant him a 2d equipment bonus. As a wandering adventurer he has a Wealth of 3d.
Tom: Am I finished?
Graham: Nearly. Let’s just check the Traits you have so far and see if there are any overlaps or things you might like to add in at this stage.
Tom: I have both ‘Calm in battle’ and ‘Fearless in battle’. They’re distinct but quite similar. I think I’ll keep Fearless. Could I have a ‘listening’ and ‘speak other language’ Mind Traits? I’d also like a ‘run tirelessly’ Body Trait just to round him out?
Graham: That’s fine. We have one more step to take. We need to assign numbers of dice to all your Traits. I am giving you a starting experience of ‘Starter Player Hero’, which gives you two Traits at 6d, five Traits at 5d, nine Traits at 4d, and all other Traits start at 3d. I suggest that you first put the high numbers in the Traits you want to have as the most important.
Tom assigns the Traits to his character and readies himself to play.