"You wake up and find yourself in a cell with three strangers. The last thing you remember is being attacked by a group of thugs ..."
"The bartender tells you that the hooded man at the corner table is looking for a few good adventurers. It looks like three others have already found their way to his table. He noties you looking, and beckons you over ..."
"As a member of the local adventurer's guild, you have been given an assignment to work with three other apprentices ..."Just throw the party together on the first day, and they'll get along fine--each with his or her own agenda, each optimized to survive alone. If the party doesn't get along, you penalize the players for not acting like a team. Except, they aren't a team--they just met, and know nothing about each other. While I have often use this method in the past, I would like to repent of my ways and move on.
The system presented in FATE is a great way of not only conceptualizing characters, but also unifying a party. So, I figured I would adapt something like it as "Step Zero" in the character creations process in my games of 5th edition. To do this correctly, the entire player party should be present without having yet created characters. Players should have an idea of what they want their characters to be, but should not have put anything to paper yet. For the party to be cohesive, every element should be fleshed out together.
These Questions ThreeDuring this process, you will identify "aspects" for your character (to borrow the FATE term). Each of these will be a short statement, formed as an answer to a specific question. These aspects should be specific without being too detailed. After defining these personal references, the party will use them to interact with each other.
In FATE, aspects are very short statements that form a fundamental, mechanical part of the system. When transferring them over to 5th edition D&D, their nature changes to accommodate the rules of this system.
What is your Name?
What is Your Quest?
What is ...?
... Your Favorite Color?
... the Capital of Assyria?
... the Air Speed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow? [African or European?]
Name and Trivia are just character flavor--they will help in creation of the character, but not necessarily in the character's developing story. Quest, on the other hand, will continue to be in play until is it completed (see "Objective," below).
- Write down every payer's name on individual strips of paper, and put those strips in a hat/bag/bowl.
- Each player, in turn, should draw a name.
- If a player draws his or her own name, he or she should draw a second, then put their own back.
- If the last player to draw a name draws their own, the first and last player swap names.
If your party is particularly large (more than 4 players), pool all the name together again to draw a second time--being careful not to draw a duplicate name. This second player's character has also assisted you on a different stage of your quest.
After making connections with your party, it is time to detail out your character. Follow the general steps of character creation--making minor adjustments to your Identity, Quest, and Triva if necessary. Ever decision made about your character should be a reflection of at least one of these aspects.
To determine a character's objective, the DM must pose a question: What about your Quest brings your character to [starting location]? The location is set by the DM--but the reason for being there is up to each player.
Work with your DM to make sure your Objective is achievable, but not too easy.
Invoking aspects is an integral part of the FATE system. By incorporating the Hero Points system from the Dungeon Master's Guide, something similar can be used in 5th edition D&D as well.Hero Points are a reward for achieving Objectives. At any given time, the maximum Hero Points that a character can have is 3 + 1/2 character level (rounded down; 3 at 1st level, 4 at 2nd & 3rd, 5 at 4th & 5th, etc.). At creation, a character has 3 Hero Points, which is the maximum--he or she cannot earn more until these are spent.
Hero Points are earned on the following occasions:
- Each time an Objective is achieved (and therefore evolves to the next step), the character earns 1 Hero Point.
- Each time a character takes an action that advances both one's own Objective and the party's current adventure/campaign goal, the character earns 1 Hero Point.
- Each time a player willingly takes Disadvantage (or grants a monster or NPC Advantage) because of his/her Quest/Objective, the character earns 1 Hero Point.
NOTE: If using this system, do not refresh Hero Points each time a character gains a level. Instead, track both maximum and current Hero Points as noted above.