RPPR Episode 82: Back That Story Up

News: I’ve redesigned Raillery as a Video Game Actual Play podcast/Youtube channel. Check out our new videos! In Base Raiders news, the Pariah ebook has been released to Kickstarter backers. It will be made available on Amazon and Smashwords in the near future for people that missed the Kickstarter.

RPPR is pleased to announce a Know Evil Fan Creation Contest! Between now and the end of the Know Evil Eclipse Phase campaign on RPPR Actual Play, any fan that submits a bit of fan art or fan fiction will be entered into a contest to win a Know Evil poster, signed by Caleb, Ross and other RPPR regulars!  Read this thread on the RPPR forums for more details.

Synopsis: Player character back stories and motivations are a tricky subject in RPGs. Meta gaming motivations or creating inappropriate or useless back stories an hinder a game.  Tom is out of town, so Caleb, Aaron, and I discuss our thoughts on player motivations vs PC motivations and back stories in general. We also have shout outs and Caleb shares a special anecdote about the ‘Fun Factory’.

Shout outs

  • The Phantom of Wilson Creek: A RPPR listener, Max Writer on our forums, published this monograph through Chaosium. Congratulations!
  • Synnibarr Kickstarter: Yes, I backed it. I am a horrible monster.
  • Danger Club: Watch out olds, the sidekicks are kicking ass and taking names. A good comic.
  • FATE Core Kickstarter: FATE is a neat RPG system and the Kickstarter for it offers crazy good rewards. Check it out!
  • Hellboy in Hell: Pretty much what you would expect.
  • Saga: An epic fantasy comic about a young couple, their baby, and some crazy fantasy bullshit. Read it. It’s great!
  • Neocolonialism: Kickstarter for a new video game about global economics. The tagline says it all – Ruin Everything.
  • Title Builder: From the Doug Benson podcast.
  • Wrath of the Lamb: DLC for the Binding of Isaac.
  • AMV Hell 6: Animu is funny with silly music.
  • Rifftrax shorts: Find out what is more dangerous than dynamite.

Music: Looking at Black Clouds by Serphonic

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  1. My god, one of the funniest episodes to listen to guys! seriously caleb, the meth/world of darkness story oddly explains a lot! Thank you. I was on the ground, dying of laughter almost the entire episode.

  2. Caleb, you can’t not play WoD. As someone as creative and knowledgable about literature you can’t turn your back on Changeling the Lost. You would be a kid in a candy store of soul warping terror, morally ambigous pc decisions and wolves made out of bark and leaves with thorns for fangs that bark bees.

  3. so in the New World of Darkness they’ve replaced the Appearance stat with an optional merit called Stunning Looks that means your character’s hot. I play on an nWoD MUSH. just the other day, we finally reached the Stungularity. there were more player characters in the game’s OOC room WITH Stunning Looks than without Stunning Looks. WoD players…like their stats that mean they’re sexy. fuckin sex magic.

    but you pry would dig Changeling, Caleb. maybe even Wraith, old school.

  4. In the vein of games that require backstory, anything by The Burning Wheel press makes it impossible to build a character without a backstory. The Mouse Guard RPG at least makes your hometown, parents’ trades, and mentor all provide specific mechanical benefits (namely in that they give you specific skills). It makes for imperative character building with the right players, but also takes a an incredibly long time because everyone needs to be familiar with the setting, and also removes the ability to play in any other setting.

  5. No mention of the noble lifepath? Remember the joys it gave the RPPR crew and by extension the internet in Gaga 2.0?

  6. When it comes to backstories, I think it’s best to consider them in two different lights.

    The first is your character’s biography. This is mainly of interest to the player, and can really be as long and as detailed as one prefers without affecting the game. If writing it out in great detail helps your conceptualize your character or inform your roleplaying, then great.

    Then there is the character background that you are giving to your GM and the other players. In my opinion, this isn’t a chance to show off your fiction-writing skill; it’s a functional document. The goal here is to tie your character into the group and the setting in ways that the GM and other players can use. It doesn’t even have to be prose–you could hand over a bulleted list of biographical facts and NPCs and have a completely useful character background. If you pad this document out with events and descriptions that are irrelevant to the way that other people at the table are going to interact with your character, then you’re doing them a disservice, making it more likely that they’ll skip or forget the interesting parts of your backstory because of tl;dr.

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