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> Adventures In Character Creation, The GM Experiences
booklord
post Aug 17 2003, 10:00 PM
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I've decided to let my 11 year-old daughter into playing Shadowrun. She's seen me play and she's interested. So I sit down with her and work on developing a character. I've got nine sourcebooks out since I haven't a clue what type of character she wants to create.

Given her inexperience I've decided to use a more free form character development style. She'll describe the character, I'll give it stats then we'll whittle it down to an acceptable power level. I begin by describing the different types of characters. Street Samurai, Mercenaries, magicians, deckers, riggers,..... Meanwhile she draws a picture.

Interesting, most players don't draw pictures. Those that do generally do it after the character is created. But this is actually helpful. The picture is of a red haired young woman dressed like she's ready to go to a rock concert during a heat wave. Well she's obviously levitating so magician she is. She's also human.

So I describe the two basic types of magician. I describe the mage as the studious one who draws magic from formula and memorization. ( Silly me school starts soon, she has no interest in even pretending to study now ) I describe the shaman as a magician who calls on spirits and is guiding by her totem. She decides on that.

"So what totem do you want?"
"Human"
"Most North American totems are based off animals. There are some European Totems that are based off idols."
"I'll have one of those then"
(Opening the Magic in the Shadows sourcebook)"So what's her personality like?"
"She's kinda selfish, but she's really nice to her friends."
"What kind of Spells does she like to cast?"
"She can jump from rooftop to rooftop and she can cast fireballs."

I narrow it down to Dragonslayer, Moon Maiden and Wise Warrior. After reading the descriptions of each she chooses Moon Maiden.

Attributes go easy enough. ( She maxes out on Charisma ) However active skills provide a bit of a problem. She takes way too many. I assign each of her skills a value in karma and tell her she has to cut about half of them. She tries for a minute then bats her eyes and says "I can't decide, Please daddy can I have them all?" I refuse and suggest we work on her background. Once we know that we'll have a better idea what type of skills she'd have.

"Well she's from Europe and her family kicked her out because she's a shaman"
"Really, well there's a German state that's really intolerant when it comes to magic."
"Okay she's from there"
( Getting old Germany sourcebook to look up Westphalia) "So you were born and raised in Westphalia"
"So when you became a moon maiden shaman you left."
"Yeah They're hunting me."
"hunting you? I guess you were the daughter of someone important"
"Sounds good to me"
"So after you left Westphalia who taught you how to use magic?"
"She did."
"Who?"
"The woman on the front of this book with the bow and the glowing arrow" (Shadowrun Companion)
"So she taught you how to use magic, and from your skills I see how to use a bow as well?"
"Yeah"
"Then you left Germany for Seattle because you were hunted"
"Sure"

Well that was enough for me to write her character description. ( as well as add the hunted flaw ) Using that information I managed to decrease her skills down to a reasonable amount. Next came spells. This time I determined not to allow her to exceed the limit, and instruct her that the combined force of all her spells cannot exceed 50 and no spell can be greater than 6. Silly me. 20 spells later she doesn't have a spell over force 3. Half of them so weak as to be near useless. Once again we're forced to make compromises. Turns out she throws lightning bolts not fireballs. Though she's suprisingly well rounded with spells from every category.

Almost there. Just the knowledge skills and the shopping. Knowledge skills include Catholic background ( chosen by me ) and Synthaguitar ( chosen by her ) among others. She also choses Focused Concentration edge and Bravery edge.

Finally we round out her contacts, she's got a fixer, a talismonger, a bar club owner ( where she plays in the band! ), and her buddy level contact in Germany. ( I gave a discount because of her remote location )

Now its shopping time. I calculate the amount of karma she's spent so far against the Becks system and subtract it from 500 karma. ( I'm giving her a slight advantage so as to not be completely out-classed by the others. ) She's got about 48,000 to spend. Not difficult at all really. She's not got a lot to buy. I get her the standard equipment. She goes with form-fitting armor and a armored vest and draws another picture. ( silly me again, I thought form-fitting armor was meant to be concealed... ) Medium lifestyle ( I'm too tired to go through the Sprawl Survival Rules. ), shamanic equipiment, a racing bike, and of course a nice synthaguitar. There's some money left over so I give her two strong expendable spell foci ( 5 rating each ) for her lightning bolt spell and convert the rest to cash.

It's only later that I realize what I've done. I've helped my 11 year old daughter create a moon maiden shaman character who was a Catholic schoolgirl who became a scantily clad rock musician. Lord help me.
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Everial
post Aug 17 2003, 10:22 PM
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Yes, and?

Coming from a Catholic-gone-atheist...

You did good! ;-)

[Edit: I mean this seriously... it's good to have something to share with your children =)]

This post has been edited by Everial: Aug 17 2003, 10:23 PM
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Sepherim
post Aug 17 2003, 10:36 PM
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And it does sound as she did pretty well, even if you had to help her that much. How are you going to try the character? Will she join your game (which I'd say has players quite older than her, right?) or will she show her friends and play with them? Both?
Oh, and by the way, from a catholic-gone-atheist-bass-player, you sure created a great character for her!! :D
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Everial
post Aug 17 2003, 11:24 PM
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to Seraphim (speeling) the Catholic-gone-atheist was (me)...

sorry for the lack of clarity there... I was referring (or trying to) only to myself.
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Sepherim
post Aug 17 2003, 11:36 PM
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QUOTE
to Seraphim (speeling)


Sepherim, please, the Seraphim are others. ;)

QUOTE
the Catholic-gone-atheist was (me)... sorry for the lack of clarity there... I was referring (or trying to) only to myself.


No lack of clarity at all. If any, it was mine. The catholic-gone-atheist-bass-player is me. ;)
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Everial
post Aug 17 2003, 11:42 PM
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(Again... sorry to drag this out...) the spelling correction was because I had no idea how your name was spelled... and I was too lazy to go look it up. =(

I'm not implying that you spelled things incorrectly...

I don't give a dam-um aboot pwonunceeayshun or speeling.
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annachie
post Aug 18 2003, 04:34 AM
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booklord. Perhaps you should scan her drawings and post them to the gallery.

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Sphynx
post Aug 18 2003, 06:08 AM
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Booklord, that's fraggin awesome. Great story.

Personally I'd have made alot of her spells Exclusive with her since new players don't usually try casting spells while sustaining others, or try multi-casting. That would surely have gotten her all her spell list. :P

Good luck with the game.

Sphynx
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MrSandman666
post Aug 18 2003, 08:57 AM
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Uuhm... So you're teaching an 11 year old kid how to run the shadows? I assume you're running a towned-down campaign for her, yes?

I'm saying this because from experience Shadowrun games tend to get rather gritty. At least the ones I played or GMed always had at least one death in them, several drug addicts (most of them in a horrible state), agression (intimidation by use of violence, etc) and prostitution. In my current game one of the characters is a victim of a rape. There are quite a few shattered existences. Yes, it's a miserable world. People are mean.
Also, there's a lot of cursing going on, but that might not disturb you. Anyways, Shadowrun took care of that by introducing its own slang... (which is one of the worst features, as far as I'm concerned. But then again I don't have to use it.)

This coming from someone who always voted for having Shadowrun rated R (not available to anyone under 17 without accompanying parent or aduld guardian).

However, I think it's always great to get some more 'disciples'. You gotta know how you raise your daughter and I'm convinced you're doing a great job. (seriously, roleplaying at such an early stage must be a good thing! Although I would have thought that AD&D might be more suitable... But then again, I even tend to find my 20 year old players behaving too childish.)
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snowRaven
post Aug 18 2003, 09:38 AM
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booklord - great job! It's not easy having someone more or less totally ignorant of the rules create a character for an existing campaign, but it seems your daughter and yourself pulled that one off very nicely!

You gotta admire the way younger minds think, too - I loved the part where she pointed to the lady on the SRC as her teacher. :upsidedown:

Now, if only my players could be like that... *sigh* :grinbig:
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Erchael
post Aug 18 2003, 09:53 AM
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Well, I don't want to reply for anyone but only to share my opinion : I began RPG at ten years old (by Stormbringer, based on writings from Michael Moorcock... let's just say it's HF centered around an eternal Law/chaos struggle and reasonably dark)) with a group of kids around my age and I remember that our games were more brutal, violent and amoral then than those we play today. Kids are faced every day with violence, either from the "outer world" or from their conflicting interests/wills, I think it's a mistake of our time to overprotect every aspect of our lives to the point where the sheer mass of protective layers suffocates us. Kids aren't pure little thingies : they are human beings -not totally developped in many ways and with their own range of capacities/interests/games/violence/...- and I guess the main difference lies between knowing about horrors that make "fun" discussions with friends your age (child "humour" is often more cruel than adult's...) and really living through these things (a fact is that no child -and human being at large!- should ever be faced with torture, violence, hate, etc). IMO, by insulating the children from the world and it's horrors, I guess it's mainly their conscience that the parents want to protect...

...and I'll continue to support the RPG=good for kid's education/life idea (opening, imagination, logic thinking, socialization, etc) until faced with a pack of 10-years-old-super-mutant-zombie-ninja :P
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MrSandman666
post Aug 18 2003, 12:32 PM
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Oh, I sure think that roleplaying is a good idea for children. It helps build imagination, social skills, creativity, logical thinking and probably much more.
However, for my personal taste, Shadowrun is too much like real life. Of course it has lots of SciFi and Fantasy elemtents in it, but still... I just have a bad feeling imagining an eleven year old girl saying "I pick up the gun and shoot him". I'm certainly not one of those guys who is after too much protection. I know that this is not the way to go since it makes the children over-sensitive and dependant. I say expose them to life as soon as possible. And I don't have a problem with an 11 year old watching movies with explicit violence and sexual contents. But this is passive. They don't actually do anything. And when you talk about it later it might actually do something good. However, in Shadowrun it's easy to learn that violence is the way to go. I'm just somewhat worried that she (or any other kid playing Shadowrun) notices how she can reach almost any goal by killing/hurting/threatening people. Of course this also really depends on the GM, the parents and the kid itself.
I guess it's up to booklord to know what's best for his daughter and I agree with most of you that he did an admirable job going through the process of chargen with her. I sometimes find it harder doing this with 'grown-up' Shadowrun newbies or even worse, with munchkins. :please:

I guess I'm just a little over-worried here...
And I'm also the GM who strictly encourages non-violent behaviour in his games, so I guess I'm just that kinda guy...

I was just a little shocked when I first read this, so I'm sorry if I stepped on anybodies feet.
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Ed_209a
post Aug 18 2003, 02:50 PM
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Kids reach a point of development where they can realize the difference between "OK in this game" and "OK in real life". All kids reach this point at different ages.

I would not put my kids in any RPGs until they reach this stage.

I'm not suggesting that 11 is too young, either. Booklord knows his (her?) daughter infinately better than I do. I'm not even a parent yet.

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JongWK
post Aug 18 2003, 02:59 PM
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QUOTE (booklord)
It's only later that I realize what I've done.  I've helped my 11 year old daughter create a moon maiden shaman character who was a Catholic schoolgirl who became a scantily clad rock musician.  Lord help me.


:rotfl: :notworthy:

Congratulations, you are officially a Steve Martin poser :P
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Frag-o Delux
post Aug 18 2003, 03:26 PM
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We have my age 11 brother playing shadowrun. We play in a world sort of like MrSandman666, we do tone down some of the graphic stuff when he is playing (mainly right now seeing that we are playing a bunch of partially pacafistic charaters). It is amazing how violent he becomes when he plays, it is like a 180 from his normal personality. In game he is always wanting to kill, but the character I am playing is a Snake shaman which is pacifistic. My brothers character background has him as a fresh newbie, his first run was with my shaman, and I am playing a guy who was an orphan that was in a gang. I try to be his mentor of the streets, showing him how the shadows work, and that violence is not always the answer, my character is the defacto face, since our real face is not playing right now. It is fun trying to show a big ass troll clubing people with their own arms is not always the answer. After a few games he started to increase his Mental stats before his physical(his troll doesn't have very high physical stats). He even wants to take up stealth and athletics, so he can "sneak" into buildings with the rest of the team. One game session we made him sit in the car with the rigger, to make him realize a big ass troll without stealth skills or charisma skills, or any real skills other than combat he is pretty much useless in 90% of the game. It is great though for 11 he is rather smart, but his is still 11 so his intelligence matches great with troll intelligence 4(Which he raised on his own). He likes to try to come up with a game plan while planning missions, some of his ideas are good but he then adds something that will only work in cartoons. He does some good roll playing to. Like if an interrorgation is going bad, he tells the GM he looks at the victim and says "I need to kill something" and then rolls his itimidation dice. Or when we are in a bad spot with a gang or something, he tells the GM he looks at my character and says "I've been good all day can I kill something now?" and rolls intimidation. He likes intimidation. All in all I think having a kid that is mentally capable of playing this type of game is fine, but a few of his friends I would not let play Mario Golf, let alone a violent game. He has also been playing role-playing games since about 8 or 9, starting with D&D, then Shadowrun, later D20 Starwars, d20 Modern, and a bunch of others, soon we'll start Earthdawn.
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MrSandman666
post Aug 18 2003, 03:47 PM
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That boy sounds like me when I was... younger... :D
I didn't play RPGs yet his age but when I started to play I always played the intimidating thugs though in real life I would have qualms about smashing a fly (not with mosquitos though... whole 'nother story :))

It really depends on the kid. I guess I was a bit over-reacting in my initial post.
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Hida Tsuzua
post Aug 18 2003, 03:53 PM
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I started on D&D around that age as Dupo (the likable but dumb fighter). First game, we raided a green dragon's den in said battle, I died. Thankfully there was enough loot to bring me back to the living.

I've been trying to teach my 14 year old sister to the ways of RPing. She's a decent RPer though she is rather shy about it (hard for her to act out in character). She also tends to draw pictures of her characters.
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Fortune
post Aug 18 2003, 04:27 PM
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QUOTE (booklord)
...silly me again, I thought form-fitting armor was meant to be concealed...

Not if it is from the Second Skin™ line. :D

I think you (and she) did great. This is how almost all of my players go through chargen (except for the pictures!), in a one-on-one session with me, developing both background and 'stats' at the same time. I hope you both have a blast.
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JongWK
post Aug 18 2003, 06:04 PM
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It puzzles me why some people think D&D is better for newbies because it is "less violent". Are we speaking about a game where people get chopped down by axes and swords, drained of their souls, make deals with fiends, etc. or did I just missed something?

D&D tends to make more munchkins (loot, treasure, etc) and reckless ("yeah, they'll raise me afterwards"). SR players quickly discover the value of stealth, discretion and smarts (of course, gunfights can be fun, but they are not what you're looking for as a character who plans to retire at an elderly age, right?)
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Talia Invierno
post Aug 18 2003, 06:15 PM
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Well, some SR players do :D

As to eleven: some 11-year-olds are older than others. It's not something I would do with the "younger" ones, but the "older" ones are definitely mature enough to tackle those themes.

I'm with most of the group here: booklord, that was an amazing story, I especially like what it shows of the rapport between you and your daughter, and I greatly appreciate your sharing it.
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MrSandman666
post Aug 18 2003, 06:20 PM
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First, I didn't say that D&D is better for newbies. I said it's better for children.
Of course it can be gruesome, too, but hey, it's fantasy! There are no guns, no cars, no drugs (well, there could be drugs)...
When is a kid gonna get his hand on a sword in real life? It's SO clearly not real, that there's no way to confuse it (unless the kid is really wacked, of course)
And it tends to be a lot simpler, too. Clear good/evil, black/white distinctions. The bad guys usually look bad and the good guys look good. You don't have so many double crosses, murders, paranoia, etc. (all the stuff I love about Shadowrun... I'm a GM, can you guess? :grinbig: )
Also, this whole classes stuff helps set it apart from the real world and makes things simpler.
That's why I think it's better for children then, say, Shadowrun or Call of Cthulhu (or however that bastard is spelled).

Of course, I'm generalizing here. Of course you can turn D&D into an amoral RPG like Shadowrun. But most people don't.
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D.o.d.d.
post Aug 18 2003, 08:13 PM
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11 years old... Is that the magic number or something? (I started RPing when I was 11. scary thought, that...)

congratulations, Booklord, on bringing your daughter into the realm of Roleplaying. May she have a long and bountiful career in the shadows as she scares you with her choice of words and actions. Really, as if anyone wears Form fitting armor to HIDE anything... :D Seriously though, it's nice to know that your getting her involved in that age, and that you have that type of relationship with her. Keep us up to date on how she's doing, how she shocked you this week, things like that.

Also congrats to Frag o-Delux: For properly educating him in the art of Roleplaying and preventing the ghastly infection of the Munchkin from taking hold in another potential player, I hereby award you the 'Shadowrun Medal of Honor'! We GM's thank you from the bottom of our hearts! *Cheers and Clapping* :D

As for my story on this topic, it is a simple one from my POV, best described the same way I did nearly 12 years ago to my mother:
"He's really cool! He's a Mexican Freedom Fighter Arms Dealer guy who has a really cool motorcycle and can sneak and pick locks!"
My brother almost didn't let me play after that...
Oh, Rodríguez Delgado, aka 'Jack Daniels', how we miss ye so...
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Strobe
post Aug 19 2003, 12:42 AM
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Ah, if only I could have afforded sourcebooks when I was 11.

I remember I ran a game of AD&D when I was about that age with only about 10 pages photocopied from the back of my brothers Players Handbook. This lead me to develop a more story based approach (due to having almost no rules and not understanding the snippets I had very well). I think it is great to get involved at such an age. Good work.

-Strobe

[Edit: Spelling, really should use that spell check thing]
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ToThePain
post Aug 19 2003, 02:40 AM
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QUOTE (D.o.d.d.)
11 years old... Is that the magic number or something? (I started RPing when I was 11. scary thought, that...)

No. It's Not 11... I had already been gaming (Rollplaying, Not ROLEplaying) 6 years by the time I was 11... The first game I played was Shadowrun 1st Edition.
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Kagetenshi
post Aug 19 2003, 07:43 AM
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QUOTE (MrSandman666 @ Aug 18 2003, 08:32 AM)
I'm just somewhat worried that she (or any other kid playing Shadowrun) notices how she can reach almost any goal by killing/hurting/threatening people.

The thing is, there truly are few problems that cannot be solved with the intelligent application of the right amount of violence.
Of course, the right amount of violence is usually overwhelming, and the whole intelligent application part is sorely lacking in most cases. Violence is always an answer, but a lot of the games I've seen around reinforce that it isn't very often the answer (though I could still imagine you being uncomfortable with the fact that the reason for why most Shadowrun problems can't be solved with violence is because the problem of the Shadowrunning group is one that, if they become aware of it, the guards can usually easily solve with violence).
I personally started playing RPGs... well, my first introduction was in 3rd grade, and I actually made up a freeform RPG before I'd even heard of the concept in 2nd, and have been spreading it around since then. I think I was about 11 or 12 when I first learned Shadowrun, and I still remember the group I was with using the rocket launcher they'd gotten to blow up indiscriminate floors of an office building to soften up security before going in and getting out a hostage. Eventually the GM just told the players that they'd blown up the floor with the hostage. These kinds of lessons stick in your mind.
But yes. I love the story, and while I never plan to have hellspawn of my own, I am more than willing to corrupt someone else's hellspawn in this fashion (I have a few friends who might potentially reproduce at some point in the future...). I also like the moral lessons involved in Shadowrun. I've met far too many people who think that things like good and evil really enter into life much at all, rather than people just doing what is best for themselves, regardless of whether that means harm or good for others. It's a self-serving world out there, and I'd prefer to not build up any illusions in the first place than cause disillusionment down the road.
Note: use of the word "corrupt" is entirely facetious.

~J

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