Although the first table-session for new Villains & Vigilantes 3.0: Mighty Protectors campaign isn't due to start until early December, the other day I sent the Tuesday Knights a small PDF to (hopefully) nudge them towards creating characters (without the distraction of rules mechanics).
In this fashion, the game is starting in a very similar vein to the original HeroPress play-by-post campaign that this blog is named in honour of.
If anyone is interested the main text of the document is below, beginning at "PART ONE".
After a personalised intro for the Tuesday Knights, the document breaks down into four sections.
The "friends & foes" section comes from an old gaming idea that I think I first came across attached to the original Serenity RPG, while the "questionnaire" is a modified version of the one I cooked up for my proposed Ghostbusters game that never took off; and the "finally" section I owe totally to Brian Rogers in the Villains & Vigilantes Facebook Group. He threw that idea out in answer to a question I posed about 'starting adventures' for campaigns.
The first section, and largest, is simply a list of ideas I had about possible characters. This is by no means meant as a limitation, or a tick list of ideas that the players have to address. It is designed purely as a bunch of random concepts that might spark some ideas if the players are stuck for creativity.
PART ONE: WHO AM I? WHAT KIND OF HERO AM I?
Think epic. Think JUSTICE LEAGUE or AVENGERS, look at those characters and how layered they are, their personal lives, family, friends, and work colleagues etc This isn't a tick list, these aren’t your only options, rather it’s just some ideas that might fire your creativity; run with one or two, or none…
Are you a champion of nature or the manifestation of an animal totem?
Did you let down someone you respect and are now trying to redeem yourself?
Is your true parentage a mystery?
Is your life governed by a religious prophecy or curse?
Were one or both of your parents the subject of government experiments in the 60s or 70s, resulting in you being born with mysterious powers?
Or perhaps one or other of your parents perished as collateral damage during a supervillain conflict? How does that make you feel?
Have you lost years of your life through amnesia, forced to live the hobo life until you were recognised by another hero?
Were you kidnapped from home at an early age and raised by someone... or something "Other"?
Are you a celebrity superhero complete with a manager and, possibly, an entourage? Or do you lurk in the shadows, concealing your secret identity from your fellow heroes?
Are you a kawaii idol with magical powers, an exiled alien monarch, or a creature of the night given unholy life and seeking to cleanse your eternal soul?
Do your powers derive from an experimental nootropic drug with a limited duration and unknown side effects?
Is your body pumped full of molecular nanotechnology? Or boosted by 3D printed bio-fabric organs?
Are you a robotic avatar that has gained independent sentience?
Are you an anthropomorphic animal? (If so, how do you conceal your appearance from the general public?)
Are you nobility from a secretive or little known nation (e.g Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Black Panther)
Are you the heart of your team (eg Ray Stanz, Hawkeye, Rick Jones, Snapper Carr)?
Are you an alien (If so, where does your race come from? Why did you leave? Are you a typical example of your species or an exception?) Are you stranded on Earth? Exiled? An ambassador, hero, explorer, escaped convict?
Are you a practitioner of magic, able to weave wonderfully alliterative spells? Do you hide in plain sight as an extravagant stage magician or do you operate in alternate dimensions unknown to common man?
Do you generally mix with the city's underworld or rub shoulders with the wealthy elite?
Does power run in your family? Are one or both of your parents superheroes (or supervillains!)?
Are you the best at what you do or the worst hero ever? Are you a reformed supervillain, seeking redemption for past misdeeds, and looking to win the trust of your fellow 'heroes'?
Is this not the time period you grew up in? If so, how are you adapting to the 21st Century? Are you an immortal whose life essence is tied to an object you keep hidden or are you a caveman granted eternal like by a radioactive meteor?
Do your powers rely on bleeding edge technology or something more arcane?
Republican or Democrat? Hawk or dove?
PART TWO: THE QUESTIONNAIRE
Once you have your general idea of the superhero you want to play, move on to this quick questionnaire:
Who Would Portray Your Character In A Film?
What Do You Do When You’re Not Being A Superhero? (job, school, hobbies, family etc)
What Is Your Character's Greatest Passion?
What Is Your Character's Greatest Fear?
Where's Your Character's Favourite Place To Hang Out? (Is it a bar, book store, strip joint, public park, deli, bodega, Internet cafe etc) What's it called, what type of neighbourhood is it in, who else goes there etc)
Summarise Your Character’s Origin Story In A Paragraph (e.g. “Bruce’s wealthy parents were gunned down when he was a child, so he swore to use their wealth to train himself to become the ultimate crimefighter, taking as his symbol ‘the bat’ because criminals are a superstitious lot” or “Kal-El was sent to Earth just before his home planet was destroyed. Arriving here he found our sun gifted him incredible powers. He was raised as Clark on a Kansas farm by loving adopted parents, but has moved to a major city to use his powers for the good of mankind” or “Gangling nerd Peter was bitten by a radioactive spider at a science exhibit and gained the powers of a spider. Because he tried to use his powers selfishly, his uncle was killed and now he has become a superhero to make up for his mistake.”)
POKE AROUND THE CAMPAIGN WEBSITE - http://knightcityvigilantes.blogspot.co.uk/ - FOR AN OVERVIEW OF YOUR CITY. FOR INSTANCE, IF YOU WANT YOUR ‘FAVOURITE PLACE’ TO BE SOMEWHERE THAT ALREADY EXISTS, THEN PERSONALISE IT, OTHERWISE YOU MAKE IT UP WHOLECLOTH AND IT WILL BECOME PART OF THE CITYSCAPE.IF YOU WANT TO BE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL, PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THE ESTABLISHED ‘ALIEN HISTORY’ OF THIS WORLD!
PART THREE: FRIENDS & FOES
Detail for your character –PART FOUR: AND FINALLY...
• Three Allies (people who will help you, and you will help. Loved ones, family members, drinking buddies etc)
• Three Antagonists (people who will hinder you. These can be supervillains who only know your costumed identity, love rivals, an annoying boss at work etc)
• Three Contacts (people you can go to for information, but you might not fully trust)
These don’t need to be too detailed, a name, an overview of their personality and their relationship to your character is the minimum. Maybe a physical description, age etc
You’ve been at this superhero lark for a while, so describe your last adventure, what evil were you thwarting, what villain did you face, where did it all go down in Knight City? This can involve some or none of your ‘supporting cast’ (as established above), it could have occurred at your ‘favourite place to hang out’ or somewhere in the city you’ve never been before, it could have been a small affair (e.g. interrupting a hold-up at a corner store) or stopping your nemesis’s latest dastardly plan… as long as it is appropriate for your character.