While there are many reasons I love Arrowflight, topping that list is character creation. The combination of freedom of choice with the limits imposed by the system combine for a balanced system that makes creating a new character excruciatingly fun. So many times I’ve had that moment of “Just give me one more point for my stats, damnit!” which has forced me to get creative and find a new way to approach the character. (I am a little addicted to it and have drawn up more than a few characters I will probably never play. My wife says I am playing dress up with my Barbies. She’s…. not wrong.) Almost as much fun is helping players generate their characters, giving advice through dilemmas and working together to generate backstory. I have a ton of fun at this stage.
With that in mind, let’s look at the characters our players created. We have 6 players so I am going to focus on 2 characters per post. It will allow us to compare and contrast the differing styles of the players.
Todd is the most experienced with the system since he is the one who created it. And so he is the one who needed least assistance from his humble game master. He knew he wanted a distance fighter. In rolling for his background he hit on nobility and a special weapon, both of which were a good boost for what he wanted. In creating a character who could cut loose and do some serious damage he was in danger of making her way too fragile. One hit and down goes Lady Z. So he took a few liabilities and behavior tags and tailored them to his character concept. Specifically he took an obsession and a ritual both centered around the bow. This was at the cost of some skills like social ability (which Todd failed pretty spectacularly when pleading not to be arrested in the first game – failing those kinds of rolls are so much fun) but fit the concept quite nicely. She is happy to talk about bow making in general and her bow in particular but with other topics she flounders.
And then, almost as an afterthought, Todd took an enemy as a liability and made a small mistake that turned into the major villain of the piece. He developed a fun story about how a manticore killed Lady Z’s family and was now stalking her. The winged creature had surprised everyone and she barely escaped. The mistake was Todd had forgotten that in Arrowflight manticores don’t have wings. His written description of the fight was so good I didn’t want to change it. He suggested a chaos mage had made the creature and I said great. Away we went.
But that unnamed, unknown chaos mage stuck in my head, kicked some doors in and settled down refusing to leave. And after a few weeks I had a villain in the shadows for the group to discover. Which just drives home that game masters need to be open as players create characters because ideas can come from anywhere.
Heather is brand new to role playing so she and I worked a little more closely. She had a strong initial concept with a few gaps to fill in. She knew right away she wanted to play a montaka. We were basing the campaign where there are few if any montaka but I fall firmly in the say yes to your players as often as you can camp of game mastering. Her ambassador idea was idea was perfect for getting around that. Of course since montaka tend to be a tribal people she wasn’t coming in with the full weight of a powerful nation behind her which is good as there is no automatic lifeline when she is danger. She also decided to make a mage but she didn’t purchase any initial spells. Her idea was that her training was interrupted for some reason. This was a new one to me but we found a story reason to make it work. Even with not buying spells giving a character magic abilities takes point from other pursuits. To make up for this Heather took a few liabilities. Her big liability was moral restriction. She hadn’t decided exactly what she wanted except that the moral restriction and the interrupted training both centered around her family.
Working together we came up with a neat little backstory. Korfé was the second child of a tribal chief and was happily learning mage craft. Her older brother was killed when stabbed in the back by a rival. It forced Korfé out of her training and into tribal leadership – and gave her a strong code against participating in sneak attacks. She was miserable. And then her father had a third child and everyone decided they would all be happier if Korfé was no longer in line for chieftain. To save face her father sent her on a mission to recruit allies to fight off the slavers raiding the tribe. Knowing they had little to offer neither had much hope for success but it allowed Korfé the chance to explore and learn and maybe complete her mage training. And it gives her a reason to land in Corvel to join our merry band.
She added a few more small liabilities like a pettiness around craftsmanship which is a fun bit to role play and also took a mount asset (she got a sweet lesser dragon called an Oodong to ride).
Both Todd and Heather generated strong concepts. Their characters possess some strong skills and good weaknesses that add to the role play. They also give me as game master some new problems to throw into their paths. With an obsession around her bow you can bet I am going to take it away from her for a while (which I did and it was fun). And Korfe will certainly find herself in the middle of a situation that is best solved with an ambush (hasn’t come up yet but I am patient). It gives the players tough choices to make and emotions to role play and forces some creative problem solving. And their creative ideas kicked up some new ideas for me too.
Next up two new players have two opposite approaches. We will look at the creation of Turin the elf mage and Sarkany the shal’taka sailor. ‘Til next time. Game on.