Headline:Character Creation
Date:Sunday, June 30, 2019
Posted By:Plaid Hatter Games

I am working out the character creation process, and I've been nailing a lot of jelly to the wall about the game. I am picturing this game will appeal to two different audiences: the casual reader (who just wants to see the story develop) and the hardcore RPG-er (who wants nothing less than a complex mess). And, perhaps, a third group who is somewhere in between. They will want a few knobs, but trust the computer to do the grindy bits of math.

For the casual reader, character creation will come down to 5 choices at the beginning.

  1. Occupation - What one does for a living
  2. Career - What one dreams of doing for a living
  3. Personal - Goals for personal life
  4. Hobby - Hobbies and interests
  5. Secret - Dark secret that the player has to hide from the rest of the crew

Occupation

Every person on board the Iliad has a job. Each job requires certain skills, and a certain range of personality attributes to do it well and be happy doing it. Each job also has perks and annoyances. Players start as an apprentice, and thus they have a limited set of jobs that don't require experience. However, each job offers different opportunities for advancement.

Career

While the player may be stuck in an apprentice job, they have to have a goal for where they want to end up at the peak of their career. A career helps the computer select the coursework for the player to follow in order to build the skills and personality to match the ultimate job that they want.

Some career goals, like "captain of the ship" are highly competitive. They also require a lot of politics and random opportunity. While the game will try to steer fate the way you ask, there is no guarantee it will come to pass. Thus, think of Career as a long term waypoint for navigation. Players can always change their career goal later. There are also plenty of non-competitive careers out there too. And several which the ship is perennially in need of, and while not glamorous, they are richly rewarded.

Personal

Personal goals are less a singular choice than a list of priorities. These goals are pretty squishy, but they will help the game provide guidance to your character to have them become the person you want them to be. Will they develop a family? Do they have a lot of friends? Do they have one truly trusted friend who would hide a body for them? These choices will also shape the fate engine to stack opportunities up for the reader to see these things come to pass.

Hobby

Hobbies are not singular, but eventually there is one thing that we all get to be known for. If anyone asks what me (the author's) hobby is, if they don't answer "Computer Programmer", they don't know me at all. Likewise every character in the game has one dominant hobby. Something, ideally, completely unrelated to work. Or... is it? Completely up to you, the player. Though I should probably add a secondary hobby. They key thing is, that these hobbies allow the player to develop skills they otherwise would not have. Like a career and an education though, hobbies require time and training to develop. And like a career, they player can always change them later.

The other thing that a hobby will do is expose the player's character to like minded individuals. There are bonds that form between those engaged in the same hobby that can cross over into other fields. Some hobbies are less "fun" than a way of ninja'ing one's way into a particular social scene.

Secret

Every player needs to have some sort of dark secret. This secret must be shielded from the rest of the crew. Perhaps, one day, you will cultivate a relationship where that secret can be shared with another individual. It could be something major like "player is a secret agent." It could be something odd like "player is an alien observer." Another possibility is "player is a boring person." The description for each secret is vague. But the secret will worm its way into the story through random events. Players will get secret missions based on this selection, that must be performed or they will lose the game. Depending on the secret, if the secret is revealed, it could also lead to the end of the game, or loss of social standing.

Rather than blab it all out here, I'll be adding the specifics to an interactive character creator teaser that I'm developing on the Iliad's preview site