This past week, I’ve been working through the character creation process for Traveller as I prepare the “Stars, Darkened” game tomorrow night. Along the way, there have been some surprising events that arose from the process and which radically changed the way I am setting up the first adventure. I see this as a very good thing.
The reason why I often prefer random (but guided by player/GM decision) approaches to character creation is that you generate some elements of play that you didn’t expect. For a GM who enjoys the emergent narrative, finding out what happens through play, Traveller’s approach spices up the process of beginning a game.
For example, the process has forced me (as GM) to add in potential Allies, Enemies, and Rivals. We’ve also had to deal with dangerous missions, the trials of going to prison, and the possibilities of obtaining a starship through differing methods. All these events (and, yes, I am deliberately keeping it vague) enrich the setting and give me options for ways to engage the characters in adventure.
I don’t think the players would have come up with anything like the same interesting “backstory” ideas. I also think that, because these events arose through play, they feel more organic and tied to the characters. Instead of adding what is in essence colour through a “backstory”, the events invoke a sense of the world as a living environment.
I find myself increasingly curious to find out what happens next.