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.