Last week I made a post about using the “Novel / Guest Star” character creation process from Spirit of the Century…

Last week I made a post about using the “Novel / Guest Star” character creation process from Spirit of the Century…

Last week I made a post about using the “Novel / Guest Star” character creation process from Spirit of the Century as a way to generate Bonds instead of using the stock fill-in-the-blank Bonds, and I wanted to update everyone on how it went – it was great!

Comparing it to games I’ve run with stock Bonds, the PCs felt more developed in terms of their personalities and their goals in the game, and the relationships between the characters were more nuanced than I usually see in a first session. I really got the sense that the characters knew each other and had a shared history – it felt more like a second session than a first. The Bonds that everyone wrote came with a lot of buy-in from everyone involved, so they really shone in play.

Also, the stories they came up with for this process were chock full of stuff for me to incorporate into the game. I had a ton of possible fronts, dangers, locations, and NPCs to tap into before character creation was even finished.

Disclaimer: I played with writers, so it wasn’t hard for them to come up with and write out their adventure descriptions, but even then it took a little while to complete the process. If you’re pressed for time, or playing with players who have a harder time coming up with stuff on the spot, I would probably stick with the standard Bonds.

For reference, here again is the “Novel / Guest Star” character creation phase, adapted for Dungeon World:

1) Take an index card and write down the “title” of your character’s first true adventure – if your character were the star of a series of adventure stories, this is the title of the first in the series. Write a sentence or two on the back that describes what happened in that adventure. No need to get into detail, no need to even tell us how it ends. Think of it like an abbreviated back cover blurb. Leave space!

2) Pass the card to another player and someone will pass their card to you. Read the title and blurb, and think of how your character can make a “guest appearance” in that adventure. Does your character complicate the situation, or help to solve it, or both? Write in a sentence (or two, at most) about how your character gets involved in the adventure. Then, on your character sheet, write a Bond with that character that relates to your involvement in their adventure.

4) Repeat step 2, but make sure you end up with a card that isn’t your own and is different from the one you just had.

4 thoughts on “Last week I made a post about using the “Novel / Guest Star” character creation process from Spirit of the Century…”

  1. Hmm, I like it.  It is simple and brings in the great possibility of actually running the scenereo as well, flash back style.  It also gives the players something to make up right away to get involved in the DW style.  Not to mention some possible plot hooks that would apply to more than one character from the information given.  As a GM, I would collect the cards and ask if they want me to elaborate and include this history in future adventures.

  2. For the first session, I had a little “adventure” prepared for everyone that was playbook / character history neutral – everyone is on an airship going somewhere, the ship crashes over a fungal jungle, they have to trek back to a trading outpost on the outskirts. I did this partially to try out the travel and exploration moves from Perilous Wilds (they are fantastic, btw) and also so that everyone would have something to do after character creation that wasn’t specific to anything they just came up with.

    Thanks to the adventures that everyone came up with, however, I was able to inject a lot of detail specific to their characters into the adventure. I asked them where they were going – they decided they were transporting a mysterious weapon related to one of their backstory adventures to a workshop for closer inspection. Someone failed a roll related to going down into the ship’s hold to secure the weapon, so I decided that some of the bad guys from someone else’s backstory adventure stole it, sabotaged the ship, and bailed out. So now the session was about more than just traveling through wilderness, it was a race to catch up with whoever stole the weapon. And all built from hooks introduced by the players themselves during the “Novel / Guest Star” phase.

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