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Online Gaming 101: Chapter 1 - Getting Started

Written by Kimberly Shay


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BACKGROUND: This is your character's personal history. From beginning to end, this helps define who your character is by explaining WHY they are. Personal goals and motives are revealed in a background. It also explains how they obtained their skills or magical gifts. Possible contacts, problems or past history can be revealed, for future use in plotlines. The more detailed a background the better. This is usually one of the later aspects to write up as it helps glue together all the other facts you have jotted down. Anytime you claim "natural talents" or gifts for your character in a sheet, make sure it is either backed up by your stats, or use words like "seeming", "perceived", "learning" or "has been told." See the bolded text in the DO example for an demonstration.

DO's:
Quenyeve the Wylde grew up as the oldest daughter of a fairly well-off merchant family, until her 15th birthday when her father announced he had entered her into a marriage contract with the local lout. In a fit of her typical temper, and believing herself in love with someone else, she left home in a fit of pique, disguising herself as a boy. She has been on the run and in disguise for nearly two years, and has done fairly well. She has concentrated on learning the skills and talents of a Scout/Ranger for Viking Raids. She has a seeming natural talent in the woods and makes a great tracker.. Her only concern is her changing body, and her lack of knowledge about it, not to mention her fear of what will happen once her secret is discovered. No matter how good she thinks she is at her job.... Many already begin to suspect.

DONT's:
Deathwalker IV is an all powerful mage with the ability to blast whole cities with his thoughts. He was born in a cave and raised by wolves. He hates people. He has a bad temper. All must fear him.


PERSONALITY: A character is just a flat piece of paper until you add their personality. Their virtues, their faults, and their tiny secrets quirks are all part of this. Does your gambler twitch when he bluffs? Does your vampire hate the sight of blood, despite his hunger for it? Perhaps your paladin has a fear of horses. All these little things enhance your role play, and make your character uniquely yours. It also makes them a little less perfect then many newbies try to make their characters, and more fun to play!

RiverLark is well known for her usually serious mindset, punctuated by rare fits of mischievousness & silliness or a retreat into quiet introspection. She exhibits a tendency to stay on the outskirts of gatherings and an innate ability to see both sides make her an ideal confidant, much to her bemusement. She is a quiet observer, saving her comment till the last, after everyone has had a chance to speak -- and her opinion is usually worth waiting for. This is not to say she is anti-social. If asked, she will gladly join in, she just rarely makes the initial overture. This at times means she is left feeling lonely and left out.

RiverLark, besides being a master mage, is an artisan of sorts, her art being the sculpturing of water gardens. The complexity and beauty of her gardens, combined with the ability to reflect the personality of the person whom they are designed for has earned her a small amount of fame. From gently trickling burbles to clever miniature rapids, from jungle like bowers to stark rock springs, she seems to have a natural affinity for dealing with the water element.


SKILLS/GIFTS: Now we've reached that part that makes GM's cringe, and power gamers crow with glee. The skill's list is where a player's creativity can get them in trouble. If a game has a set list of skills to choose from, and a limit of how many you can start with, you can't go far too wrong. Just pick the skills and gifts that will allow your character to obtain the career you have planned for them. Fighters need combat skills, but healing would be helpful too. A mage needs magic, but some diplomacy or a smattering of defense techniques could come in handy. The key in that type of skill choosing is balance.
In the opposite scenario, where you can create your own skills from a free for all of ideas, the thing to keep in mind is moderation. Most games that allow such things are either A) Total Chaos, or B) Moderated by GM's who are on the watch for metagamers. Don't be overly ambitious, or try to create an unfair advantage for your character and you should be fine.

DO'S:
Example of FreeForm Skills:
Storm is highly placed in the council of the local Witches Coven. The Silver Ring is pretty open about its existence and its members in a place where magic is common place. Her powers are strong, she prefers to rely on ceremony and earth power, a lot of her rituals and beliefs based on Indian ceremony and pagan beliefs. She is also gifted with telepathy and telekinesis, a small gift of illusion, and the ability to manipulate light and shadow. All which are a great enhancer on the few rare occasions for which she dances. Any night Storm is scheduled is a guaranteed packed house.

Example of Skill List:
Swordmanship 8
Thrown weapons (dirk) 18
Archery 5
Speak Norse 22 (20 automatic)
Read and write Norse 10
Healing 12
Stealth 8
Riding 9
Woodlore 10
Herbalism 8
Fishing(seawater) 5
Astronomy 5

DONT's:
Deathwalker IV has the ability to control all the weather, and throw magic fireballs that can not be shielded against. He can ready anyone's mind, and make them do his bidding. He is virtually indestructible, and his only weakness is invisiblity, so no one can find it.


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