Character Questionnaire

graethynne
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Character Questionnaire

Postby graethynne » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:57 pm

As I am running a roster game with a lot of players, I wanted to whip up something to give folks a narrative (as well as subtle mechanical) guidance for their PCs, that I can then raid for possible hooks twists and so on. I share the draft below (sans number bullets since that doesn't seem to be coming up).

Graethynne

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Not everything below is a question, but it’s all worth keeping in mind. Everyone should have their own shared missions (even though they involve someone else).

Where were you born (location and Home Cosm)?

What is your current Cosm?

Describe your life prior to your moment of crisis.

Tell the story of your Moment of Crisis.

Who are the most important people to you, living and dead?

Tell me about a Delphi Council mission you went on. If possible include another Player Character Storm Knight in this description.

Tell me about another mission, and involve a different Player Character Storm Knight.

Remember that the things you put points into, and the perks you pick tell me what you would like to see more of in game.

Avoid tanking strength. Seriously. Do so at your own peril. Also, don’t feel compelled to min/max stats. Yes, at the margins it looks like the system encourages it, but in the heart of the system it really isn’t necessary. Make the character you want to play today, not the foundation of the character you want to play 70 xp, from now. And see below*

What are 2-3 personal things your character would like to accomplish in the near term, say one to three months of in game time? (these can be war adjacent, but should have more to do with you than with evicting the highlords).

What are 1-2 personal things your character would like to accomplish in the medium term, say four to twelve months?

What are 1-2 personal things your character would like to accomplish in the long term, say one to two years?

Which three Cosms are you most interested running missions in (Aysle, Core Earth, Cyberpapacy, Living Land, Nile Empire, Orrorsh, Pan-Pacificia, Tharkold)

Which two Cosms are you least interested running missions in?

Finally, talk here about anything you are particularly interested in being part of sessions you are/the campaign as a whole. Don’t assume I already know this, seriously, speak up. (This could be anything, from Airship rides, to tomb heists, from holding out against hordes of bad guys, to courtly balls & intrigue, from jousting on dragon back to complex ritual magic - literally any set-pieces or plot devices that you think are cool and should show up sometime, this is where you plant that seed).

*The following stat arrays are examples that are perfectly fine (depending on the character)
6 7 7
7 7 7
8 8 7
9 8 7
10 10 12

Also this snip from the Torg Faq is relevant: (you can sub in any min/max for Dex and the logic holds)

Q: One of my players has Min/Maxed Dexterity over their other attributes, and they're stealing the spotlight from the other players. What can I do?
A: Although Dexterity is obviously an important attribute in combat (in that it's hard to hit them, and they can hit easier, including getting bonus dice), all of the attributes are important to some degree. When someone decides to Min/Max it's important to hit them in the Mins and not be shy about doing so. Use the tactics that players use to take on tough opponents.
Interaction attacks (and with enemies with the Gloater or Insidious abilities it's even worse) can fairly easily end up getting the 'Dex Monster' Very Vulnerable and Very Stymied, and worse, the combo of Very Vulnerable and an exceptionally weak interaction defense opens the character up to Player's Calls. It's not advisable to 'stun lock' them (that's no fun), but doing so at advantageous periods, or applying more creative results from a Player's Call (like say, interfering with another character).
I would warn the player that you will be doing this though, so it's not a surprise. But if a character really puts a lot of their resources into boosting Dexterity, that's showing how they want to shine. But combat in Torg Eternity isn't all just hitting, shooting, and dodging, and if a player intentionally makes themselves weak in one, two, or even three interaction skills, they will have problems, but only if the GM hits them there.

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Kuildeous
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby Kuildeous » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:24 am

graethynne wrote:Avoid tanking strength. Seriously. Do so at your own peril. Also, don’t feel compelled to min/max stats. Yes, at the margins it looks like the system encourages it, but in the heart of the system it really isn’t necessary. Make the character you want to play today, not the foundation of the character you want to play 70 xp, from now. And see below*


This is jarringly out of place. The questionnaire is an awesome tool for getting players to flesh out their characters, and I especially like asking the players which cosms they are interested in so that you can tailor the campaign to work in the elements that interest them the most.

But then this part goes off on a tangent telling players how to make their character rather than encourage them to flesh out their character. I don’t feel it has a place in a questionnaire designed to foster character growth.

It’s a viable warning, but it should belong elsewhere. I like the idea of a list of why each attribute is important. Something like this (but fleshed out):
Strength – Melee damage, resist damage, possibly stop dying
Dexterity – hit and be hit, maneuver
Charisma – Delphi Council requisitions, taunt
Mind – resist psionics, trick
Spirit – resist many spells/miracles, soak damage, shock limit, intimidation, possibly stop dying

That way, players can decide on their own which ones to tank, and they’ll be aware that tanking Strength can have repercussions. If you want, remind them that the average weapon damage is around 12 or 13, so having a Strength lower than 8 will almost always generate a Wound when damage happens.

But that’s not the end of the world. One of my players has a 5 Strength. She doesn’t even have armor yet. She has this mask, which protected her in the Nile Empire, but clearly she’s coping with the reality that the mask does no good outside of Nile. And she’s taken some serious damage because of it, but she’s managed to soak it with her Reality skill. That’s pretty important too. Also, her Dexterity is high, so her defensive skills have protected her from a lot of what would ordinarily be nasty damage. A low Strength is not a death sentence, but a warning is applicable. Just not part of the questionnaire, I feel.
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Atama
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby Atama » Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:11 am

Every attribute is a defense and any dump stat is a vulnerability.

Low Strength: You have low Toughness and may take a lot of damage if hit, you

Low Spirit: Vulnerable to Intimidate, low Shock, have trouble reconnecting, susceptible to fear (okay you know what, never make this a dump stat).

Low Dexterity: Can be hit easily in combat and vulnerable to Maneuver.

Low Charisma: Vulnerable to Taunt.

Low Mind: Vulnerable to Trick.

So you’d be tempted to put all stats at 8, and that’s viable. You could make a cool character that way; with the right Perks and Skills you could still be exceptional in some areas. But don’t be scared to take a dump stat either. Having a weakness can be fun and interesting.
“You are a bad person, and should feel bad.”
-TorgHacker (being tongue-in-cheek :D)

graethynne
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby graethynne » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:42 pm

Kuildeous wrote:
graethynne wrote:Avoid tanking strength. Seriously. Do so at your own peril. Also, don’t feel compelled to min/max stats. Yes, at the margins it looks like the system encourages it, but in the heart of the system it really isn’t necessary. Make the character you want to play today, not the foundation of the character you want to play 70 xp, from now. And see below*


This is jarringly out of place. The questionnaire is an awesome tool for getting players to flesh out their characters, and I especially like asking the players which cosms they are interested in so that you can tailor the campaign to work in the elements that interest them the most.

But then this part goes off on a tangent telling players how to make their character rather than encourage them to flesh out their character. I don’t feel it has a place in a questionnaire designed to foster character growth.



Apologies, some additional context - one of my players had become a bit obsessed with min maxing his character stats. Every few days he would ask me a variation of "why not just boost Dex and tank everything else?" I told him he really could stat his character out any way he liked, but offered a number of different observations. Eventually he explored enough of the game and saw not only why such choices were not only not mandatory, but not even necessarily bleeding edge optimal. Then he had a conversation with another player sharing this insight and was rewarded with a speech along the lines of "you fool, the system *wants* you to buy up a key stat at the start, it's so much cheaper than with XP!!!" And while he didn't immediately spiral back into how to make 14 dex gun monkey with 7s across the board elsewhere, he recommended I add that stuff in so players didn't feel trapped by the math.

It may still be too on the nose, but it's there to address a specific problem that had come up (probably could have cut it from the shared here version)

Oh and the strength comment was triggered by another player who made a 5 strenth PC with mind control, that had the weakness of not being available when wounded. Basically I've noticed that Torg has enough moving parts that players can miss things that seem obvious. I roll in the open so *I* don't want 5 toughness PCs running around, because I don't want to slaughter them on one lucky die roll :D

Thanks for your thoughts :)

Grae

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Rabbitball
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby Rabbitball » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:48 pm

Thanks for sharing. I will be putting it through the Rabbit Trail and let you know what comes out the other end...
Dominick Riesland, aka Rabbitball
Co-author, Aysle Sourcebook for Torg Eternity
Creator of the Cosmversal Grimoire
"Those who will not follow are doomed to lead"—Anarchist, Magic: the Gathering

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Kuildeous
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby Kuildeous » Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:58 am

graethynne wrote:Oh and the strength comment was triggered by another player who made a 5 strenth PC with mind control, that had the weakness of not being available when wounded. Basically I've noticed that Torg has enough moving parts that players can miss things that seem obvious. I roll in the open so *I* don't want 5 toughness PCs running around, because I don't want to slaughter them on one lucky die roll :D


Wow, Strength 5 with a flaw that a power won’t work while wounded? That’s hardcore right there. And if that’s not the player’s intention, then I certainly see the need for GM intervention.

In terms of minimizing attributes, I like the idea of giving examples of how life will be harder for you if you dump a stat. I’m all for a Mind of 5 if the character concept is that he’s simply dumb as a post, but that player should be aware that he will fall for simple tricks and could be a punching bag for mentalists. Each one has their own downfall, though some attributes are more painful at 5 than others. But it lets the player go into the game with eyes wide open. Sure, you could explain that with a high enough Charisma you can requisition cooler stuff and boss around the minions with a well-placed taunt, but the player might be more interested in knowing that a low enough Charisma means he’s probably never getting anything cool from the Delphi Council and that he’s going to be some charismatic villain’s plaything.

But I do love asking the Storm Knights questions about their backgrounds and personalities.
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Atama
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby Atama » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:16 pm

My current character has starting stats:

Strength 12
Dexterity 9
Spirit 9
Mind 5
Spirit 5

He’s a human from the Living Land. Big and strong but has the mind of a child and has difficulty communicating with people. I try to play that beyond just mechanical differences; on occasion I have him do very ill-advised things like jump into a hole in the ground out of curiosity (that was a bad idea) or blurt out the wrong thing in a discussion. I make the weaknesses fun, in fact being stupid and socially inept is far more fun than being strong or having powerful Miracles. (He’s the group’s muscle and also the main healer.) I am not ashamed to min-max when it’s to support a character concept and not just to play like a munchkin.
“You are a bad person, and should feel bad.”
-TorgHacker (being tongue-in-cheek :D)

Wakshani
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby Wakshani » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:19 pm

Atama wrote:My current character has starting stats:

Strength 12
Dexterity 9
Spirit 9
Mind 5
Spirit 5

He’s a human from the Living Land. Big and strong but has the mind of a child and has difficulty communicating with people. I try to play that beyond just mechanical differences; on occasion I have him do very ill-advised things like jump into a hole in the ground out of curiosity (that was a bad idea) or blurt out the wrong thing in a discussion. I make the weaknesses fun, in fact being stupid and socially inept is far more fun than being strong or having powerful Miracles. (He’s the group’s muscle and also the main healer.) I am not ashamed to min-max when it’s to support a character concept and not just to play like a munchkin.


Never has a forum avatar been more appropriate. :D



Beyond that, this is nearly an archetype right out of the Living Land, so, kudos for that as well! A fitting, if *difficult*, concept.

Would you be willing to share the whole sheet? I'm terribly curious.

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pkitty
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby pkitty » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:07 am

Yeah, one of the things I love about Torg is that (with one caveat) no attribute is a "safe" dump stat.

If you dump Charisma, you're vulnerable to taunts and times where the GM calls for everyone to roll persuasion (instead of letting the "face" do it for everyone). That said, it's still the "dumpiest" stat in Torg which is one of the reasons we house-rule reality skill based on Charisma; with that change, the "no dump stat" thing I said is actually true, as Charisma equates to soak and reconnect ability.

If you dump Dexterity, you're going to be bad at combat in general, from offense to defense to maneuver interactions. And so many physical effects are resisted by or overcome with it.

If you dump Mind, you're going to have the majority of skills at bad levels, not just the "brainy" stuff but basics like perception (find), interaction defense (trick), seeing through lies and red herrings (evidence analysis), and more. And don't bother trying to be a well-rounded mage or psi.

If you dump Spirit, you've got low Shock which makes you easily taken out (possibly by simple fatigue!), vulnerability to intimidation, and weakness to pretty much every non-physical arcane attack and enemy ability. Plus literally every type of supernatural power uses it. (And if you leave reality skill here, Spirit becomes unquestionably the best attribute in the game as the one-stop shop for staying in a fight.)

If you dump Strength, you're going to get hurt a LOT. I had one player say "but I'll just raise Dex and avoid attacks" and then I point out things like area effects which don't bother with defense (from blasts to special abilities that just say "everyone takes 12 damage") -- along with things just resisted by Strength like poisons.
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  • House rules, indexes of all perks/spells/etc, form-fillable character sheet, and more

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Kuildeous
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Re: Character Questionnaire

Postby Kuildeous » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:30 pm

pkitty wrote: area effects which don't bother with defense (from blasts to special abilities that just say "everyone takes 12 damage")


Blasts do rely on defense though. It’s possible for someone to get hit hard with a blast while the person next to them gets off scot-free.

But yeah, not everything is defended with Dex. Psionics, many miracles, and falling uncontrollably can all do damage regardless of Dexterity. In fact, one of my players is going to be really disheartened to learn that the foes they’re facing right now target Reality and not Dexterity.
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