Collaborative Character Creation

Collaborative Character Creation

One of the biggest problems with any RPG campaign is a lack of party cohesion.

Why in the hell would this band of odd balls join together? Why wouldn't the surly Dwarf Fighter leave the poncy Elf Bard in the dust like he keeps saying he will? Why wouldn't the LG Human Paladin kill the CE Half-Orc Cleric the second he gets the chance? Why would anyone want to hang around with the broody fool who always goes off by his own and never says anything ever?

If you've ever sat there thinking anything even remotely like this when looking over your notes, you’ll know what I mean. Usually the only reason that can come to mind is “Because they are all being played by a group of friends who want to game together”. Good reason out of game, but not even slightly an actual reason in character.

So, problem, meet my solution.

The Power of Veto

First of all, when creating characters, everyone should be present at the same time. You'll need to set up an entire session for this, but it will pay off massively in the end.

Everyone sits around the table, and one by one says a sentence or two about their idea for a character. Just bare bones at this point.

After everyone is finished, go around the table and ask each person if they are happy with the other characters and anything they'd like to veto. Popular vote changes anything in the game, but no one should ever be left playing something they dislike. The player of the character in question always has veto power of any changes the others make, but must remove anything that the others are against.

This way, each character has nothing that other people dislike, but everything they do have the player themselves is still fond of. You'll also find during this step people will develop and understand their ideas a bit better anyway.

The Bumping Game

Next, everyone around the table has to choose 2 things that their character has done in the world that has affected two other characters in some way. The first one has to be mutually beneficial, and the second one has to be to the detriment of the other character.

These things could be direct, such as "Character A went into business with Character B where they both became rich" or could be more distant "Character A discovered a trade route through the mountains which brought much needed wealth to Character B's home town". The characters need not have actually met before, but somewhere in their back stories, they crossed paths however remotely.

The catch it, however, no two players can choose the same two players for anything, so, for instance:

Gerald, Stephanie and Lana sit down to make characters. Gerald decides that his character, Mortimer, built an orphanage in Francis' - Stephanie's character - town, which is where Francis grew up. Mortimer grew in his God's esteem, and Francis was able to grow up safely. Mortimer also went on to clear a local mine out of kobolds, but, when they fled their tunnel homes, they invaded Harriet's - Lana's character - village, leaving it damaged, but still standing. Stephanie then decides how Francis affected the other two characters, but she has to negatively affect Mortimer now, and positively affect Harriet, as Mortimer already has a mutual boon, and Harriet already has a tragedy.

During this phase, any player can veto any other player's affects, but not without good reason. Again, no one should be forced to play something they don't want to, but players should keep an open mind. These exercises will create instant hooks.

Cement It All

Once the basics are figured out, now it is time to roll stats and begin playing.

Hopefully your players will be more comfortable with each other's characters, seeing as they helped in build them, and they should mesh a lot better.