Palladium Fantasy: My turn behind the dice

I haven’t had an opportunity to play in a Palladium Fantasy game since 1989. In a few weeks, that will change. Imagine my anticipation~  A close friend, and one of the people for whom I am running my own Palladium Fantasy PBeM, will be returning the favour, taking up the mantle of GM for the first time in 25 years.

Are you getting a sense of our ancientness, yet?

The campaign is to be set in a GM-created area within the Disputed Territories between the Eastern Territories and the Wolfen Empire, and it has been a blast to see him rekindle the engines of destruction and imagination in the long dormant seat of his RPG Creativity. A lively and creative player, he has all the makings of a stellar GM… except he hasn’t been GM-ing since before White Wolf took its first territorial wizz and TSR closed its doors.

While I wait for the stars to align and the first session to begin, I have been making characters, and fleshing out the details I like to have before running a character – now. Twenty+ years ago, I used to pride myself on how quickly I could generate a character. These days, I like to take my time, and really open the character up to as much interaction as possible with the setting and with potential NPC allies and enemies.

We will be engaging in troupe style play to minimize the negatives of PBeM, but take advantage of a larger group’s ability to generate more and greater interactions with the game world. I set about to create three different characters, all of whom could be tightly knit together or who could adventure by themselves at a moment’s notice.

This choice of play style will see me running three different characters, sometimes individually, and sometimes as a unit – once they meet. I actually prefer this style of play in many cases, although if a game survives in the long-term, I do tend to notice that one character will become a favourite.

The location seems like it will offer a lot of cultural conflicts, as well as showing divisions between races, locals and immigrants, rich and poor, as well as the honest and the dishonest. To explore this, I decided to make my characters have strong personal identities but be open to egalitarian interaction with others.  I built them under the influence of the idea of being fish out of water, trying to get a sense of what this new land, and all of these competing clashes mean. To this end, I rolled up a Palladin, a Druid, and a Mercenary; OCCs I would not normally choose.

Character creation followed the course laid out in the book, using a ‘4D6 drop the lowest’ approach. The results for the three characters were quite different. The Palladin had a dynamic mix of moderately high and low traits, which with the addition of certain skills produced some interesting highs and lows, sparking my initial thoughts on the character’s background and personality. The next had a very smooth arc of average scores with really only two outstanding traits. It was these two traits which served as the spark for who the character was, and allowed me to break away from the somewhat stereotypical personality I was previsioning for the Druid. The Mercenary got an even spread of exceptional (including one maximum trait), average, and low scores, which fit right in with the sort of idea I had for this character – off-kilter and looking for a place of balance and belonging between his extremes.

I will go into further detail on each character, their personalities, and how I will attempt to make them seem distinct in play even though I am running each of them, in another post.

From the first realization that I was going to get to play this game,  I knew that I was going to do character generation complete with each stage of the random character background. It was interesting and refreshing to see how random background generation can still spark ideas, and how fate can let them hang together into a very compelling and satisfying backstory. I think it was reading Icons that got me thinking about all of this again for the first time since we created the characters for Long Winter Shadows, more than two years ago. Once the ideas started to flow, I would roll on subsequent charts to see what I got, and  in almost every case found that the result served to enhance the character ideas I was getting, not interfere with them. I see this as the influence of beneficial luck, and nothing more. Regardless, I really enjoyed the whole process, and came up with characters I would not likely have made if left solely to my own devices. Only time will tell if I distort them to something else in play.

Once play starts, I will be going into it with a fully resolved sense of each character’s family, outlook, and personal history, and have built-in conflicts and agreements to allow the characters to fit together and/or irritate each other in as realistic a way as I can manage. Each one was built as typical members of their profession and class, and are able to survive on their own in the wilderness as long as  no one is checking random encounter tables with things like Bandit Army, Dragon, Devil Digger, or Catoblepas on it. Each character has clear skills, interests, and goals, and for the first time in a very long time, there are few if any shades of moral greyness. The Palladin is vehemently good, but not terribly nice – despite his warm heart. The Druid is dedicated to good ends, and is unashamedly into the enjoyment of life. The Mercenary will fight for good causes, and is looking for a place to truly belong. I haven’t played characters with such earnestness in their make-up since… Actually, I might not have ever played characters with earnestness in their make-up. Hmmm…

I am very enthusiastic about this opportunity to return to play in a setting I truly enjoy, explore the waters of my friend’s imagination and love of detail, and get another taste of the fun elements of the Palladium game system from the player’s side of the screen.

It has been too long!

Do you have any thoughts about character generation, random or otherwise? Comment and let us know~

This entry is the start of a series:

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