Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 120: Character Generation as a GM Skill
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Main Topic

Character generation can be something that you will need to be pretty proficient with doing before you run a game. I hear you ask why is that? Well remember you will have to be creating all the characters that the players are going to be interacting with. Now this might seem a bit overwhelming, remember most of the time it will never be an issue. The reason is that the vast majority of the NPC’s are never going to have a single moment with the PC’s. It is the ones that are going to have an actual interaction with the players that are going to take up the vast majority of your time that is devoted to fleshing out the people of the world. 

So what are the kinds of things to keep in mind when developing those NPC’s in the character gen cycle. Some systems are very crunch heavy and therefore you need to have a solid handle on the rules for generating characters. Where if the system is a more narrative one you can get by with a bit less. Each system will usually have a way to build out NPCs in the GM. You just need to take the time to understand how it works. 

Rational for Character Gen

When you are making an NPC for a game with a full CharGen, you want to think about how to support the PCs.  Making sure that you are not overshadowing the players means filling in some holes in a campaign group – if nobody wants to play a cleric in a world where that can make a big difference – have a cleric NPC.  

Relatedly, think about how your NPC will be interacting with the players.  You may build an NPC with the intent of being a specific character’s foil so make choices based on that.  The backgrounds you build can be similar to your players, as in stories you see shared backgrounds often enough like the boarding school roommate, or wizarding college rival.  

Another tactic to use for CharGen on your NPCs is to highlight a mechanical choice that or combination that your players are not using or that you want to test out (ahead of a BBEG using it).  I like to do this in especially crunchy games so I have a chance to make sure I see how a particular rule interacts with others.  

Some games have great shorthand for statistics you need for characters – an average pool of dice for certain skill levels or expected bonuses at certain powers – and so you can skip over some of the nitty gritty if you are so inclined. 

Stat Blocks

Zendead

Broomhilda

Broomehilda is what some might call a GunGurl. She prefers to call herself a corporate troubleshooter. With a heavy emphasis on the shooter part. Most of her wetware is unnoticeable unless you happen to know just what you are looking for. She has paid top script for the doctors to make it so that it is all but impossible to tell.  Once she starts to move then it is so very obvious that she has been augmented. 

Her gaze is unsettling to say the least. Not because she never blinks but actually just the opposite. She is blinking because she is switching between different Light spectrums as well as pulling up data about you in real time. This is after Hilda has done hours of background research on you. Did you truly expect the company’s biggest troubleshooter to go in blind to a negotiation, no you didn’t. She keeps all the intel she has gotten stored in her headware data storage module. 

Once she has started troubleshooting what the company has identified as a problem it generally is over pretty fast. She has shooting interfacing to let her know everything from the speed of the target to wind speed and the processor does all the math to keep those crosshairs firmly locked on her target. While not all things can be calculated out to the end result. This is why she is there and not a robot. Sometimes the company makes a mistake and Hildi’s data analytics makes it so in the end a human or a mostly human is there at the end. 

Hildi has a true soft spot for children. When the company has decided that the trouble is a child then they send someone else that might be just a bit more machine. She has been known to show up to those encounters as a silent observer. If that other steps out in the least amount she takes them out and saves the child. She has had to stop only three from being finished. Each one weighs heavy on her soul and mind. She has recorded each one in high def so she can never forget a single frame of this happenings. 

How to Use Broomhilda in Game:

She can be a great redemption character if she feels that one of the children has been neutralized wrongly. Broome actually knows where all the bodies are buried since she has put almost all of them in the ground. She might also just be a great way into the company’s buildings

Joules

Tezzy the Bartender

The bar itself is nothing spectacular.  The front facade and inner decor are nearly identical from the other dozens of bars in town.  The only distinguishing element is the lady behind the bar.  She smiles and beckons you to sit and introduces herself as “Tezzy”. 

Tezzy the bartender is quite peculiar in appearance.  She stands at about five feet six inches with a ruddy light brown complexion.  Well toned arms sport various tattoos; a mix of intricate mezoamerican tribal patterns interwoven with a feline motif.  She wears a jet black leather biker vest with a “Mictlan or Bust” bottom rocker.  Her hair, a mixed tousle of sanguine red and pitch black.  When questioned about it, she’ll laugh and say that’s her natural hair colour.  And you can’t quite tell if she’s lying.  Her smile seems warm and genuine, though, which is at odds with the somewhat regal sharpness with her facial features.  And it’s impossible to make a guess at her age.  And you get the feeling that asking is dangerous.

“Rough day I take it,” she muses while expertly cutting a lemon, “You have the eyes of a condemned man.”

You nod solemnly as you play over the events of the day in your head.

She catches your gaze for just a second, as you look up and are about to order, and holds up her hand.

“Whiskey Sour, Gentleman Jack” and in less than a minute it’s in your hands.

“How on earth did you know that?!” you exclaim with surprise and bemusement.

She’ll laugh again, and say “I’m psychic!” with a wink and finger pressed to her lips.  “Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.”

“Hot Damn” you whisper sipping on the drink. Perfection shouldn’t exist in bartending, yet this drink exists.

You catch her gaze once more, smiling back and promising to keep her secret.  Then you notice her eyes.  Really notice them. One silver, one obsidian.  You catch your own reflection in them.  Transfixed.

The world tilts.

It’s midnight; you’re kneeling in supplication and penance.

A voice on the wind. Ancient and powerful. Cold and dark as the void itself.

“I do not offer mercy nor forgiveness.  Complicity is the path of the coward.  Claim your life with your own power or feed it to me”

Your eyes catch the glint of the obsidian blade just before it silently slices across your throat.

The world rights itself again.

You take a massive swig of your drink, willing the contents to slow your heart rate and steady breathing.

“I’d recommend standing up for yourself and your subordinates tomorrow at the status meeting.  They don’t deserve to be sacrificed to hide the bumbling idiocy of the CFO’s son.”

“How the hell do you know that?” you croak.  

“I told you, sweetie, I’m psychic.”  She smiles and winks again, and you notice her teeth seem to have grown pointed and sharp.

“And I’m expecting to see him here tomorrow, for lunch.” 

How to Use Tezzy in Game:

Tezzy can be used as a pseudo-deity stand in. To offer warning regarding a path or the promise of justice if the party can’t deliver it.  

Guard-a-Manger

Curate Brasa

Nebbish, and a little shy, it is a shock when Curate Brasa’s iron certitude laces their speech.  Clad in the traditional oversized robes of The Recognized Orders, Curate Brasa carries themself with a quiet dignity and sense of distinct intent. Each step seems chosen and each of the very few words spoken seems to carry import.  Significantly, Curate Brasa is accessible to the public and a face, such as it were, for advancing the needs of The Recognized Orders in public. 

The Curate has gone through the formal training that all Curates face, making good use of the natural intellect and curiosity that had them chosen to be Enrobed.  Learning from the greatest minds of each of The Recognized Orders – be it strategy, healing, history, rhetoric, or commerce – Curate Brasa showed promise.  Perhaps more promise than some felt comfortable with as Curate Brasa has seemingly been stymied in advancing for the last 5 years.  This is no great loss, though, as Curate Brasa is happy to provide services and counsel to those who come to worship and those who come to trade.  

The oversized robes hide the body from view, purposefully obscuring whoever is beneath as The Recognized Orders wish for the power of the Spirits to be what is remembered.  The relative quietness of Curate Brasa’s voice stands out in contrast to the bombastic volume that some use to sway the crowds but combined with the stark paucity of words spoken give Curate Brasa’s pronouncements more weight than they may otherwise see.

Despite it all, Curate Brasa is still intensely curious – it is somewhat of a flaw one could say – and can be convinced to accompany groups or perhaps send them on a trip to learn more, or even just to listen to learn a little.  It is in this timid but driven dichotomy that Curate Brasa is the most useful – able to answer questions of great learning, discern the political movements of The Recognized Orders and the Prelates, or perhaps just listen to stories of the road over a relaxing kettle of tea. 

How to Use Curate Brasa in Game:

Curate Brasa is there to answer questions or provide some direction to waywards characters.  As a font of knowledge, and potentially healing, Curate Brasa can be a recurring NPC who offers more than they take but also will eventually come back with those favors to cash in. 

Lexicon

Bohemian

Bo·he·mi·an 

noun 

\ bō-ˈhē-mē-ən  \

Definition of bohemian

1a: a native or inhabitant of Bohemia

b: the group of Czech dialects used in Bohemia

2or bohemian

a: a person (such as a writer or an artist) living an unconventional life usually in a colony with others

b: vagabond, wanderer  especially : romani

bohemian or Bohemian adjective

Origin of BOHEMIAN

see BOHEMIA

translation of French bohème

First Known Use: 1555 (sense 1a)

Look-up Popularity

Top 2% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Aim to Head Mix on YouTube. I have been really digging the music for when I want to write certain types of content for the show. 

Joules – Eddie Izzard

Guard-a-Manger – Are You Being Served – British 70s comedy gold.  While it certainly shows its age at times, Are You Being Served was a sitcom that lasted a decade and we could all use some humor and laughter these days. Currently available on Britbox or through Amazon rentals.

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us

 

Author Pages with all of our contact info

Zendead 

Joules 

Guard-a-manger
And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

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