Last year I wrote about creating characters by using the otherwise worthless cards I’m left with because of active drafting. This is a continuation of that, somewhat based on Tommi Brander’s comment on the earlier article and somewhat based on something Ville said on our forums.
Another Approach to Creating Characters
HeroQuest has an option for character creation where you write a short description of your character. You can then pick parts of the description and use them as your abilities, attributes, equipment, contacts or whatever else you can come up with. Why not do the same with cards.
As before, I’ll use an example from Theros, as it seems to work best for this purpose.
Now, make some ground rules. Lets say that you need to pick your character from the pack you open. This is your Keyword as per the rules. You should pick a human, but if that’s not possible (because there are no humans in the pack), you should choose a satyr, merfolk, or a centaur in this order. If that fails, go with something weirder.
After going through the whole pack, you have 14 cards. Some of them should represent your weaknesses (like [scryfall]Viper’s Kiss[/scryfall] from above, whatever that means), some should represent your capabilities, some should represent your network of people and some should represent the things you’ve gone through in your life.
The HeroQuest rules make all of these easy to use within the rules system. None of the rules text or numbers on the cards need to mean anything. You can disregard all that and focus on the name, art and flavor text.
You can also use these picks to create connections between the characters. Are they both from Meletis? Did they both fight the [scryfall]Sealock Monster[/scryfall]? Did they both take part in the destruction of a certain temple ([scryfall]Demolish[/scryfall])?
Building a World with a Deck
This is a bit more tricky, but here’s some ideas. Look at the pack above. I don’t know what the existence of [scryfall]Sealock Monster[/scryfall] means, but if someone has it as part of his or her character in any way, it means there are some of those in the world. However, did one of the characters choose a different meaning for the Monster? Say, did someone say he has one as a pet or went to one to release it or sat down with one to discuss the Golden Ration? Whichever is the answer, it says something about the world. You can have those as pets or they know a lot about mathematics or can, in fact, speak.
Now, doing this with a pack from a specific set can be very limiting. If you want to give the players some actual power on this, you should get a random selection of cards from a number of sets. Also, the players shouldn’t draft as many cards. Maybe four or five is enough so that the world doesn’t become too cluttered with all sorts of weird stuff.
Randomized Character Advancement
As I said, Ville talked briefly about this idea on our forums. The basic idea is that we might have some ideas about where we are going and where we want to go, but the world is a complicated place, especially if you are an adventurer, who’s job is to take the weird risks no-one else wants to.
Therefore, maybe instead of the usual decisions, you draft your advancement. This shouldn’t be 14 or 15 cards, but maybe five, because giving too many options would take away from the random aspect.
This can also represent your downtime.
You don’t necessarily have to meet or kill the [scryfall]Vulpine Goliath[/scryfall]. Maybe you just heard a story about it, which you can use to your advantage at a later date (by retelling the story or learning something you can use when you actually meet one).
This could make an excellent start for an Archipelago game!