Home RPG Games The Unification Occasion — How To Get The Occasion Collectively

The Unification Occasion — How To Get The Occasion Collectively


Roleplaying Ideas E-newsletter #1136

Character backgrounds are key instruments in your GM Toolbox. Mine them for plots, NPCs, and character motivation.

Nonetheless, it’s a wrestle to get helpful and game-full backgrounds from gamers.

Usually, you simply get a pair paragraphs explaining how the PC grew to become an orphan.

Or, you would possibly get the inverse. Pages of narcissistic background explaining why the character’s a sufferer and doesn’t need to do something. Nice stuff for a novel, however not a lot for campaigns.

You would possibly even get nothing. After I play, I don’t need a lot of a background in any respect. I need to determine my character out as I’m going. You probably have gamers like me, then you definately get zilch to assist prep.

You may’t blame gamers. They’re attempting to determine who their character is and what they’re about in a approach they’re comfy with. Their focus is find out how to roleplay this new particular person.

However we GMs need story integration concepts, celebration cohesiveness, and clear motivations to plot round.

The Answer

If we don’t ask gamers for what we wish, we aren’t going to get it.

So let’s assist gamers make the form of character backgrounds we are able to use for marketing campaign constructing.

The excellent news?

It comes right down to 4 easy bullet factors.

Bullets make it quick for gamers to put in writing — particularly on the sport desk.

In addition they lower to precisely what you need as a sport grasp for marketing campaign planning.

They usually prevent combing by pages of angst and self-loathing from a damaged character.

A few bullet factors developed in the course of the first session are all we have to kick-off our marketing campaign whereas giving gamers the roleplaying and persona cues they search.

That’s what we’ll discuss at present.

Let Gameplay Be Your Character Historical past

Earlier than digging into these bullets, right here’s a quote I learn final week that describes effectively my character background philosophy:

“Backstory is what occurs within the first 3 ranges.”

This works finest for campaigns beginning with novice characters the place you get to play out the early adventuring days of the celebration.

Why develop a background throughout gameplay as a substitute of writing one up entrance?

A narrative instructed collectively bonds gamers collectively.

What’s higher:

a) A celebration of PCs who journey with and belief one another due to one thing written on a personality sheet.

b) A band of characters who’ve earned one another’s belief and loyalty by slugging it out collectively by the gloomy mud, the darkish holes, and the terrifying monsters.

My vote is B. Trial by fireplace will get the sport going quick, units up a improbable marketing campaign begin, and helps gamers determine themselves and one another out by enjoyable gameplay.

As well as, villains encountered through play create a united participant entrance and stronger feelings than any enemy talked about in a backstory.

Cue villains early in your marketing campaign to earn these results.

Meager backgrounds proffered by most gamers carry inadequate element to grasp the characters.

If a fellow participant tells me their background, I nonetheless don’t know who their character is. I must roleplay with my celebration members to expertise the true nature of my companions.

What Do We Need From PC Backgrounds?

If we let early gameplay present (not inform) us who the characters are, then why do we want background particulars in any respect?

The reply lies in nice story construction. The most effective tales start with a character’s downside. Or, the celebration’s downside.

First although, we have to set ourselves up for fulfillment.

Think about we’re enjoying Tetris and a circle drops down. After which a hex. After which a chunk formed like a wyvern.

There’s no approach these items will match to finish our rows.

Likewise, if Sandy says Roghan is an orphan who escaped orc slavers, Terry shares that Krug’s dream quest is to search out their spirit monster, and Tracy declares Sir Valiance seeks to eradicate all evil and injustice on this planet, we’re going to have a difficult time getting these items to suit.

What we wish is a unification occasion.

Let’s Get The Occasion Began

Certain, let every character have their very own unusual story of marvel and woe (or haven’t any story in any respect).

No downside.

We are able to mine these tales later for gameplay alternatives.

Nonetheless, proper now, we need to create an preliminary unification occasion that will get your PCs joined collectively as a celebration with the similar focus and pointed in the identical course. Dire cats herded efficiently!

We need to insert the blue field and pink field into our regular marketing campaign begin recipe.

Instance Unification Occasions:

  • PCs are a navy unit cut-off and on the run from highly effective enemies
    As a part of a magic faculty, the PCs are despatched off to accumulate one thing for a senior magus
    PCs are fellow villagers when the orc slavers strike
    PCs are members of a cult and the summoning truly works, inflicting terror and chaos
    PCs are
  • As a part of a magic faculty, the PCs are despatched off to accumulate one thing for a senior magus
  • PCs are fellow villagers when the orc slavers strike
  • PCs are members of a cult and the summoning truly works, inflicting terror and chaos
  • PCs are metropolis denizens when the comet strikes and floods bury town underneath water

These occasions don’t implement strict roles on the characters. This provides gamers freedom to work their tales into gameplay.

What this Unification Occasion does for us is give gamers their freedom whereas providing us a transparent, singular level with which to launch our story.

A lot simpler to plan. Prompt celebration cohesion. And participant freedom to put in writing pages of historical past or none.

Group Exercise

Throughout our first session, no matter how a lot or how little character background we get from every participant, we run a fast little exercise to get the celebration collectively.

On this exercise, we ask one query for every of the 4 bullet factors.

This shall be a group exercise. Gamers collaborate, get concepts from one another, talk about finest choices, and agree upon a solution for every.

Background Bullet #1: Id

  • What faction or group do the PCs belong to?

When you can attempt to make an athletics test to squeeze your tossed salad bowl of characters into some form of celebration cohesion story, it’s simpler to imagine the PCs are already united.

A father or mother group, patron, or group solves our downside immediately.

For instance, in Night time’s Black Brokers you may need a sniper, a pc genius, an explosives skilled, a pacesetter, and a driver/pilot.

“You all meet in a bar. A stranger within the nook beckons you over and drops a roll of payments on the sticky desk. ‘Received a mission for ya,’ he says.”

In case you can swallow the concept of such a various group of specialists being randos in a bar who tackle a mysterious stranger’s quest collectively on the drop of a hat, go for it.

Nonetheless, if the characters are already members of an elite unit of vampire killers who drew the project to take a look at a identified legal’s declare of invaluable intel, we’ve received cohesion, goal, and plot with none stretch of perception.

Ask your gamers what group they belong to.

In case you fear a couple of incorrect decide, then give them three decisions that mesh effectively together with your marketing campaign plans and have them decide one.

Permit them to tweak their alternative a bit to match character ideas, together with your approval.

Our first bullet objective is for gamers to provide us a company all their characters have a powerful connection to, whether or not it’s a neighborhood, an employer, or a faction of circumstance.

Background Bullet #2: Inciting Incident

  • What simply occurred that turned your characters’ world the wrong way up?

Nice tales begin with issues.

Sooner or later it’s solar and roses. The following, it’s thunder and lightning.

If you give gamers one thing to repair you hook them instantly.

An ideal setup for a brand new group tentative about their PCs and maybe one another.

And an prompt kickstart to the sport, journey, and marketing campaign.

Our second bullet objective is for gamers to provide us an occasion that will get us an issue all characters share.

Background Bullet #3: Imminent Hazard

  • What is going to occur to your character if the celebration can’t remedy the issue?

We set the stakes up entrance. Everybody now is aware of the price of failure.

By having your gamers provide you with private stakes (“What is going to occur to your character”) we get speedy buy-in to the journey.

It’s additionally a improbable immediate to floor a background element.

It’s a tough query to reply simply with a personality sheet.

“My power will go down.”

“My tools will break.”

“My spells shall be misplaced.”

You’ll not often get fundamental solutions like this. In case you do, immediate for one thing background associated.

The objective of bullet three is to search out out what’s in it for every character to unravel the celebration’s downside.

Background Bullet #4: Danger

  • What is going to your character acquire by fixing the issue?

One other private query.

This time, we ask gamers to supply the inducement for motion.

If the celebration does nothing, the Hazard comes about.

If the celebration fails, the Hazard comes about.

And if the celebration succeeds, they earn one thing they really need.

It’s okay if gamers select short-term objectives.

“I desire a magic sword.”

“I need to discover my dad and mom.”

“I need to get extra spells.”

We’re not establishing marketing campaign objectives right here.

As a substitute, we’re motivating motion and making use of strain to make good decisions so everybody takes issues severely.

The objective of bullet 4 is to make sure gamers have a powerful want to unravel the issue.

On this approach, the celebration has sturdy motivation to stay collectively and concentrate on one factor.

The right marketing campaign begin.


For instance, Sandy, Terry, and Tracy have characters with no frequent backgrounds. One’s an orphan, one’s on a spirit quest, and one seeks justice.

We ask our gamers the first bullet: What faction or group do you belong to?

After a couple of minutes of dialogue, the group says, We want cash so all of us employed on as caravan guards.

Excellent. Cliche, sure. However the essential factor is we’ve now introduced the disparate characters collectively in a approach the gamers need and approve.

Bullet two: What simply occurred that turned your characters’ world the wrong way up?

Gamers: The caravan was attacked by orc slavers. Roghan is mad, and Sir Valiance needs justice!

Improbable. Customary fare, however we’ve received two characters who’ve tied themselves into this unification occasion, and we’re constructing momentum.

Bullet three: What is going to occur to your character if the celebration can’t save the caravan and rescue prisoners taken by orcs?

Sandy: Not going to occur. Roghan hates orcs! He’ll combat to the demise in opposition to the beasts!

Not a transparent reply there, however we’ve confirmed Sandy is invested.

Terry: I’ll be out of a job and broke once more. Plus, the caravan individuals would possibly give Krug a bonus or reward for rescuing them.

Tracy: Sir valiance would fail his quest earlier than the marketing campaign even received began! He would possibly lose his paladinhood.

Excellent. Everybody cares about the issue and consequence now.

Bullet 4: What is going to your character acquire by fixing the issue?

Sandy: Loss of life to orcs! And, possibly, instructions to the orc lair… For extra demise to orcs!

Terry: Gold. A greater sword from the caravan or orcs or one thing. And possibly extra loot from the orc lair to purchase some new armour.

Tracy: Maybe a small divine signal or blessing?

Improbable job.

We began with characters who had nothing in frequent.

We ended up with a powerful marketing campaign begin, good participant engagement, and most significantly, a unified celebration with shared goal.

All executed in your first session in couple of minutes.

Subsequent marketing campaign or journey your begin with a recent celebration of PCs, use a unification occasion and these 4 bullets to get the celebration collectively:

  • What faction or group do you belong to?
  • What simply occurred that turned your characters’ world the wrong way up?
  • What is going to occur to your character if the celebration can’t save the caravan and rescue prisoners taken by orcs?
  • What is going to your character acquire by fixing the issue?


No comments

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here