In January, my mention of the game Legendary Lives in one of my Design Curriculum posts led to a comment, that comment led to a for-fun character creation video, and that video led to the organization of a game.
The participants are our fearless organizer Ross, Rod, Robbie, and me. … Yes, I know. The best association that we, the real people, could hope for is a particularly cute boy-band.
I’ve written and talked about this game’s features quite a bit. You’ll see it in action in my original Shining Star video and in the four-part character creation session. The sequence goes:
- Choose or roll the character race. This sets a couple of skillls and a special ability.
- Roll the attributes.
- Roll the background: height, weight, and family background, which sets money and more skills.
- With the attributes as limiting factors, choose one of the Types the character is eligible for. This requires a roll for Devotion value, sets more skills, and provides another special ability.
- Find your race’s religion, and in most cases roll with Devotion or otherwise to find the subset god and/or place in the hierarchy.
- Roll the Religion lifeline event.
- Roll tons of personal details, including hair color, eye color, hairstyle, what you value, what you idolize, what you treasure, a key feature, and two personality traits..
- Roll five lifeline events.
- Place the six lifeline events in a chronogical order, provide the details to make them a “before we start” story, and write one or more goals.
A friend in a long-ago game called this “no-fault character creation,” considering there are so so many high-substance rolls and so few choices. I maintain that they are the right choices at the right times, making this game’s pre-play process far better-designed than “roll on a bunch of tables.” The results are very much yours and typically pretty compelling, as well as quirky.
The results for us bear quite a bit of discussion here. First, we have three guys playing three very hard-assed women, and not I might add the most hygienic. Plus their scintillant personalities, as rolled: Shining Star has ratty hair and is slovenly and rude; Cristabelle has bad breath and is flippant and jealous; and Grrl wears her dead boyfriend’s ear around her neck and is emotional and violent. Our spontaneous individual description of the results included the phrases, “Did we just make the Rat Queens,” and “Charlie’s Skanks.”
Second, is what sort of fantasy just appeared. It’s syncretic to the point of parody: a D&D fantasy elf but with a merchant/prison backstory right out of a 90s action flick, a backwoods hillbilly gal in overalls who wouldn’t be out of place in Li’l Abner, and a tall burly crewcut white-haired warrior woman who can turn into a wolf, or as Rod says, “I saw that movie in the late 80s.” We’re kind of wiggling our way into discovering our genre so it’s not merely parody, although it can’t help being a little commentary-ish on its varying source material, kind of like the Mane Cast do in that TV show.
Third, as Ross must contend with, is what sort of problems and adventures are involved. Does the setting in the book provide a baseline, or is the setting merely there so that such cartoony-diverse yet dramatically reasonably-strong characters can exist?
Anyway, the playlist so far includes the original video, our character creation session in four parts, and our first session in seven parts. The latter encountered video difficulties, so parts 1-3 are video and 4-7 are audio only, but with pictures.