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Penta
Okay, just because.

I very rarely am a player of Shadowrun, of any edition. Or, honestly, of any gaming system - I find I have more fun with pen and paper RPGs, especially since I do them online primarily, as a GM.

Now, as I GM, I have certain quirks. The group playing with me in the IC section here on Dumpshock can attest to these. (They've been real troopers in dealing with their GM's oddities, I'll say that much!)

Among them, most prominently: I'm huge on character development and world-building. I will take the 20 questions or whatnot as a frame, a skeleton, of character development, but I often insist, crankily I suppose, on seeing actual backgrounds. To explain skills and gear, yes, but also just to develop the character, make them something more than stats. (In return, I as a GM usually have at least something sketched out for major NPCs that recur, and I'll frequently do a lot of research IRL just to make my game worlds have more of a feeling of reality to them.)

Not because of anything in particular, but just generally, I'm wondering - how odd is that?

It feels, off-hand, like I'm a rare GM for doing that...When, maybe because I come with MUSHes and MOOs as my RP background, it feels like a character is woefully incomplete with just the stats done and maybe 20 questions.

How many other GMs out there are like that?
Draco18s
As a player with poor story telling skills I often times have trouble naming my characters, much less writing a background for them.
Blade
When I GM in a campaign, I require each player's background before starting the campaign. I can let them change things a bit after the first sessions if they feel like they need to correct something, but they have to start with a background.
otakusensei
I like a good back story, but I can't require it. I tend to play up back story that is provided and give rewards (a community world building "bounty") for players that provide detailed and useful back stories and NPCs. I do the same for art, both written and visual. I started writting up weekly "wrap ups" for our games; news reports, shadowy first person perspective stories or simple fact sheets. These seemed to give players an additional connection to the world that they don't necessarily get in the heat of the game. As they became more interested in their characters I started seeing more collaborative work and more invested players. That wasn't from everyone mind, but the experience for all is improved if I can get just a few players really into what they are doing.

For my characters I tell GMs it takes me roughly 3-6 months to make a character. The math and stats are done in the first week generally. They get tweaked over the course of the design, but I also do the 20 questions and start to write the back story of the character as well. I'm currently in three SR games with detailed characters; a rebuild of a 3rd ed character that I played for a few years, updated 7 years and returning from a trip into space a little bit harder and a lot wiser; a technomancer on a mission to find what was trusted to him and lost during his traumatic emergence; finally an adapt former company man turned Imperial guard who has voluntarily taken the blame for a crime iand fled to Seattle in order to protect the secrets of his charge.

I can put together a character in a half hour and play it no trouble, but I frequently find myself rehashing some other character or focusing more on the design than the character. I know not everyone gets into it as much as me, and I have yet to have a GM really tear into my back story, but that's fine. I frequently keep a running fiction going and fill the downtime with my own writing.

I'm also starting up an online game via Skype that I hope will provide a written log and bridge for some of the players I know who like this style of constantly developed character.
crash2029
As a player I like to have a good background for my characters. It gives me a baseline for judging reactions. As a GM, however, I realize that not everybody likes to come up with backstory. Therefore it is not required. Although they had better have an answer when I ask them why their character runs the shadows.
otakusensei
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Feb 24 2010, 12:16 PM) *
As a player with poor story telling skills I often times have trouble naming my characters, much less writing a background for them.


I noticed some of the spam I get include some pretty decent or interesting names. I made a list of them and update occationally if you want to farm it:

http://docs.google.com/View?id=df5g6dkw_49cm89p5

Acts as a great GM resource to cut back on the number of people named "Dave" or "Joe" you have to come up with on the spot.
Karoline
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Feb 24 2010, 12:16 PM) *
As a player with poor story telling skills I often times have trouble naming my characters, much less writing a background for them.


Personally I have no trouble coming up with a background that is a couple pages long, but I have trouble thinking up a name without going to one of those baby naming books/sites.

I for one like having an idea of where my character came from and such, but I'm going to throw out that when doing a more detailed background, I prefer using karmagen, because karmagen gives you more lineancy to grab a handful of 1 and 2 point skills to represent 'Jane was taught the piano as a child' or 'always enjoyed drawing' or 'liked to write simple programs' or whatever. Basically things I don't expect to really come up in play, and don't feel bad because it is only a couple of points of karma as opposed to several BP. Same with specialties.

Karmagen rant aside, yeah, I like having at least some basic level of background for my characters. Some of the 20 questions I'm not very fond of, but that has more to do with a limited personal background in SR (I don't know all the important events my character may have lived through, I don't know which megacorps my character might like because I don't really know anything about the corps).
pbangarth
I love detailed back stories, and ask for them when I GM. Almost always I get some great hooks for side stories, or even a main story arc from the backgrounds.
X-Kalibur
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Feb 24 2010, 09:16 AM) *
As a player with poor story telling skills I often times have trouble naming my characters, much less writing a background for them.


My problem is similar but different. I can write up a several page background and get totally stumped by the time I realize I still haven't named the character.
Godwyn
I always ask for characters to provide a background. However, I try to never make it set in stone. Background writing is a finicky process, and I find it hard to have everything 100% to my satisfaction before the first session that character appears, so I find it hard to hold players to a higher standard.

I also do not mind a background that is lacking for players that play their character well. Some players know the concept they want, and how they want to play the character, but get stumped on how the character got that way. When they are willing to let the background develop through interaction with the group and the world, it often generates a better character.
Bignaffer
when running pretty much any system i require at least a simple background story and will take as much as i can get.

as a player i will typically write the frame work of a background before starting my character and mold the two together to make everything mesh.
SQLCowboy
I always ask for at least an attempt at a background when I GM. If nothing else, I'll sit with the player or email back and forth to get an idea of where the character is coming from and what his or her goals are. That allows me to better tailor the campaign to the characters and make them feel part of the world. The more background someone gives me, the more I can do with it.
Garou
I search for character names at babynames.com. smile.gif seriously.
Khyron
As a player, I always write up, or at least think up detailed backgrounds for my characters, and not some mary sue crap either. Just valid reasons why they're doing what they're doing at this given time, why they've turned to running rather then being legal and so on. As a GM, I did actually require my players to do the same and used that to add flavor to the game, though not the stereotypical act of making sure all distant family members of the PC's are kidnapped or killed by BBEG/Corpsec/evil wizard/ect. I prefer the more subtle flavor of maybe the PC receives a Christmas/birthday gift from a mentioned family member, or they run into that guy he was friends with back in his knight errant training days. And so on.
Tymire
Bah why spend time with names? They should change every other mission.
X-Kalibur
QUOTE (Tymire @ Feb 24 2010, 11:37 AM) *
Bah why spend time with names? They should change every other mission.


Now you need to come up with even MORE names for all your alternate identities. And make sure you don't mix them up.
Sengir
Well, I think our current GM pays not enough attention to background...more power to people like you
Angry Ork
As a player, i usualy come up with a paragraph or two that gives an overview of my characters, usualy giving as much info as one might give a newly met team member, then introduce more personality and quriks over the course of the campaign
DireRadiant
Personal Preference

BG > CS
Caadium
QUOTE (Karoline @ Feb 24 2010, 09:31 AM) *
Personally I have no trouble coming up with a background that is a couple pages long, but I have trouble thinking up a name without going to one of those baby naming books/sites.


I echo that thought completely.
nezumi
I actually made a three page interview questionaire for all new D&D characters when I was running the Other Game. I require backgrounds for all my Shadowrun PCs (funny enough, Shadowrun players never seem to need any sort of prompt - I say write a background and they do) and I reward them with 1-5 karma for it. I more often have to tell people to STOP writing so much than vice versa.
Brazilian_Shinobi
QUOTE (X-Kalibur @ Feb 24 2010, 04:40 PM) *
Now you need to come up with even MORE names for all your alternate identities. And make sure you don't mix them up.


Just make a program containing the TOP 20 names given to babies this year and the TOP 20 names of products bought at stuffer shack. Make a randon selection of baby name + item to give you a name.
Then you can have names like: John Doritos, Allan Budweiser, Michael Adult Dipers, etc...
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (nezumi @ Feb 24 2010, 10:01 PM) *
I more often have to tell people to STOP writing so much than vice versa.

Well, if people enjoy wrinting that much, they can write an abstract, too.

Most of the time, the useful information about a character should fit on a single page at normal font size.
Warlordtheft
I ask for one, but don't get upset when I don't get one (or a copout of one by taking amnesia or a similarly low effort back ground). One thing I do require is that they describe (brief or not) how they met their contacts, and how they relate to them.
X-Kalibur
QUOTE (Brazilian_Shinobi @ Feb 24 2010, 12:11 PM) *
Just make a program containing the TOP 20 names given to babies this year and the TOP 20 names of products bought at stuffer shack. Make a randon selection of baby name + item to give you a name.
Then you can have names like: John Doritos, Allan Budweiser, Michael Adult Dipers, etc...


Funny as that sounds, it's not a terrible idea at all.
Brazilian_Shinobi
QUOTE (X-Kalibur @ Feb 24 2010, 05:41 PM) *
Funny as that sounds, it's not a terrible idea at all.


It is a win-win idea. Funny AND useful.
SilkwormXL
I have yet to GM a game of Shadowrun (just bought all the corebooks - learning everything), but in past games I've GM'd (Heroes Unlimited, TMNT, Battletech) I required my players have SOME sort of background for me to build on. It helps them feel their character is more than just a sheet of paper and some stats. If someone just out-right refused, or couldn't come up with anything, I had a standing rule - I get to make up your past, and you can't argue about what I come up with. Most people didn't have an issue with it, but I'm sure those were the less creative players. I mean, the character is basically mine now - you're just playing some NPC I made up.

PS - Forgot to add that their past was revealed as the game went along. Kids showing up at their door (baby-momma drama), old enemies, debt collectors, etc.
forgarn
I don't require one from my players, however there is a standing award of +1 Edge for each player the comes up with a background enough to explain how they started running the shadows. Have not had one player yet (creative or not) that has not taken me up on that. Just wish I could do the same for the Mission Run characters biggrin.gif
Whipstitch
It really depends on what you mean by "background." I sorta like having a few bits of information here and there on the character that could be built into potential run hooks, but aside from that I prefer to give my players as much room to roam with their characters as possible. Basically, as long as they can fit in with the rest of the group, (A vindictive pink mohawk or ice cold pro just isn't the best fit for every game) I have no real investment in what their personality is supposed to be like. In fact, I encourage players not to play up marked personality flaws and quirks in their backgrounds unless they are absolutely sure they want to play them out. After all, not every character concept is going to be gold and even promising ones may turn out to be a bit disappointing to actually play. At the end of the day, telling a story isn't worth a damn unless you have fun doing it. I've set out to play a wet behind the ears former wage mage before only to end up playing him mostly as a bit of an arrogant tosser instead. So really, what's more important there? Sticking with the program or playing a character that ended up being a load of fun. Sometimes letting a character play out organically is for the best.

TLDR version: Backgrounds are nice, but I never allow them to slow down character creation or interfere with the organic development of interesting roleplay. All things in moderation.
Shinobi Killfist
I honestly don't care if they come up with one or not as a GM, I wont use it for the first couple adventures as people personalities shake out anyways. Then I'll use things for plot hook here and there but I don't want to give favoritism to one or two players just because they spent 30 minutes spinning up a story. It is great that they invested effort into the game, but as long as you invest effort during the game I think you deserve equal treatment.

As a player I find(obviously in my experience) two things come about way too often from forced background GMs. No matter how awesome you think your background is the GM will basically ignore it except for the occasional your mom is calling etc. and focus on the one background he liked and thought was awesome from the group. And two, you find out more of how you want your character to be in game than before the game and while they don't mind a mod here and there they don't look to favorable upon a total rewrite.

In my experience GMs who are happy to get backgrounds but don't force them use more of the backgrounds and show players a more equal treatment. I've unsuccessfully tried to emulate that, eventually I might consider my self a decent GM if I get this and others things down pat.
nezumi
I do strongly encourage characters to take the amnesia background (and give double points for it). Rarely will characters find such amusing plot twists as those they discover about themselves (you're actually a time traveller! You were a corporate planted Typhoid Mary at a competing corporation, set to explode and release your deadly payload in precisely 42 hours!)
LurkerOutThere
I require people to come up with at a minimum:

1) Where they grew up and got their skills ?

2) Why are they running the shadows?

Now most of my players will do a fair bit more then that, and the more they do for me the more benefits they can get out of it like waiving the availability rules and the like. But no OP you are not alone.
nylanfs
QUOTE (Karoline @ Feb 24 2010, 12:31 PM) *
Personally I have no trouble coming up with a background that is a couple pages long, but I have trouble thinking up a name without going to one of those baby naming books/sites.

<snip>


I generally end up using PCGen for coming up with names, especially when I'm DMing. There's various fantasy themed sets, RW name sets and my favorite the 1990 US Census. We have some odd names here in the US. smile.gif
Shinobi Killfist
QUOTE (nylanfs @ Feb 24 2010, 08:28 PM) *
I generally end up using PCGen for coming up with names, especially when I'm DMing. There's various fantasy themed sets, RW name sets and my favorite the 1990 US Census. We have some odd names here in the US. smile.gif


Yes we do have wierd names. Which weirdly enough that is something I bring up on MMO forums when people whine about player names. I'm like I knew someone whose birth name and they kept it was 3, not Three but 3, and that isn't the weirdest, ms. Littlebirdwithbroeknwingshallflyagain.
toturi
During character creation, 2 primary skills are being used. Numbers crunching and story writing. The hard numbers of the character should tally with its background story. Not all players can number crunch and write a good background, but most experienced players I have met can.
Caadium
QUOTE (toturi @ Feb 24 2010, 04:57 PM) *
During character creation, 2 primary skills are being used. Numbers crunching and story writing. The hard numbers of the character should tally with its background story. Not all players can number crunch and write a good background, but most experienced players I have met can.


My friends have often worked together in the past. Those that were better at number crunching helped fill in the dots (as it were) for the storyteller PCs, and then got story help based on what they were working on. I don't expect everyone to be great at everything (I know I'm not), but I do like at least enough of a backstory to explain how they got the gear they've got and why they are doing what they do.
Daylen
I dont like backgrounds at char creation in general. either it is a painful hurdle for those not inclined to make one or it is a discusting attempt by a player to make their character important or superawsome without their character accomplishing anything. I find players usually put in elaborate stories of how they are made men with any major NPCs.

However, there are some cases where not only do I like backgrounds at char creation, but I actually like making them at char creation. Flaws. I enjoy more than anything making up an awsome char and then picking some nasty, usually social or general, flaws that invite background and then writing up a background that might highlight some char strengths and show the char in a good light but will set the char up for some pain. So if I take maybe enemy for the most points I would put something in the background such as my char having had an intimate relationship with an NPC on the level with Nadja but having a falling out with said npc to the point where they want my char dead by the most horrible means possible and my char starts play right after grabbing his leather jacket and pants and running out the building and waving down a taxi. oh and the char was living with the big npc so now has no prepurchased lifestyle or place to run to. time to call up some runners and make some money...

or if another player takes a flaw like criminal sin or some injury then perhaps take dark secret and put in my background that perhaps my char turned in the other players char for some cred. or even better for dark secret is to put in that the char is actually a lonestar informant working on a case to put away the other runners for life.
kjones
I prefer when my players bring a good background, but I don't require it, and I think I'd rather have no prepared background than some overcomplicated treatise that neither the player nor I will remember. Seriously, I love working in bits and pieces of backstory into my games, but if there's too much, I just don't bother. Your backstory should fit in a few paragraphs, at most.
Acidsaliva

I appreciate it when players craft an elegant back story but yeah, sometimes it is hard to either incorporate the whole thing into your game or not give too much lime light to those with the huge background.

I do think that brief backgrounds are necessary as they help you understand the players/characters motivation and help your player get connected to their character, care about their characters actions & consequences and get into their role/personality of their character.

Some questions I would consider to be mandatory would be

1) How and why did your character become a shadowrunner ?

2) How and why did your character pick up their skills ? (Helps with consistency and prevent too much muchkinism)

3) What are your characters morals ? Where do they draw the line and whats their motivation ? (I insist all characters have some sort of moral code that they try to stick to. This also helps make sure all 'runners within a party are roughly on the same page)

4) Describe your character
toturi
QUOTE (Daylen @ Feb 25 2010, 10:25 AM) *
I dont like backgrounds at char creation in general. either it is a painful hurdle for those not inclined to make one or it is a discusting attempt by a player to make their character important or superawsome without their character accomplishing anything. I find players usually put in elaborate stories of how they are made men with any major NPCs.

As long as backgrounds tally with the stats, that should not happen. They want to be made men? Which part of their stats state so? If not, they aren't made men. They know major NPCs? OK, are the NPCs paid for as contacts? The player can write whatever he wishes, as long as his character's stats fit with his story.

There are 2 primary problems with story and stats.

1) The stats are unable to justify the story, the story is overambitious, the stats cannot support what the character can do or is supposed to be able to do in the story.

2) The story is too cursory or brief, it does not adequately explain how or why the stats came to be.

Personally I find it a lot easier to crunch the numbers and then write a story to explain the numbers than to write a story and then having to fit the stats skeleton to support the fluff, because, like Han Solo said, I can imagine quite a bit.
EuroShadow
QUOTE (Penta @ Feb 24 2010, 07:11 PM) *
Among them, most prominently: I'm huge on character development and world-building. I will take the 20 questions or whatnot as a frame, a skeleton, of character development, but I often insist, crankily I suppose, on seeing actual backgrounds. To explain skills and gear, yes, but also just to develop the character, make them something more than stats. (In return, I as a GM usually have at least something sketched out for major NPCs that recur, and I'll frequently do a lot of research IRL just to make my game worlds have more of a feeling of reality to them.)

Not because of anything in particular, but just generally, I'm wondering - how odd is that?


Not odd for me.

In my 10 years as GM i have sometimes required mandatory backgrounds from everyone and sometimes I have allowed to let it slip. Some players write backgrounds anyway, but for some it is very very hard to do - not creative personalities. At the end of the day, I have observed that backgrounds are most useful for players themselves and now for any game with roleplaying i always insist on detailed backgrounds. They help players to feel the character, to be more part of events and timeflow of the game, they answer many players own questions ('do my character know about it') etc.

However, I believe that GM should actively help players with background, especially for those that have hard time with it. The 20 questions are good, but I ask players to send me draft, and then i ask more questions and then they write answers and i ask more questions. Best questions are Why and How questions. For sentence "I worked 5 years as a bodyguard before moving to UK", there is lot of good questions to exand ("Why worked as a bodyguard/why was hired?"; "Why left the job", "Why moved to UK", "How traveled to UK").
Mantis
I like my players to have detailed backgrounds before game play and reward them with karma for doing so. However, if you don't do it, I'm not going to force the issue so long as you have some personality to the character when playing. I don't want players to have carbon copies of themselves personality wise while role playing. For me, half the fun of role playing is trying out personality quirks and types that aren't easy or familiar to you. Some times it works and some times it flops but you always learn something from it and either way the character is more memorable for the effort.
I work with my players to create their backgrounds, asking more questions and generally won't let one word or in some cases one sentence answers pass if more is warranted. I was using the 20 questions from Runner's Companion but found it just wasn't detailed enough so 'borrowed' some of the character creation tools screen writers and novelists use. This works to make much more realistic and detailed characters.
As I stop really caring about the numbers beyond the basics of the character, I allow players to tweak those out for a few sessions to help the numbers mesh better with the character background and personality. It works in my games and since I will use things you have in your background in game, it allows the players to develop more connection with the game world and events in it.
I've never had a player try to make a character who has connections to important figures though. They must figure that is just asking for trouble and never tried it. So no, I don't think the OP is weird for asking his players for them. I actually thought it was pretty standard.
xsansara
I hate giving background to a character I have never played. I usually talk the GM into giving me time until the second or better third session. By then it is usually no problem coming up with pages and pages of stuff.

I feel that background written before the game starts tends to be detached from the world itself and focusses on the writing a closed story, justifying the stats, rather than something that can be utilized for further games.

Also, as a GM I have often been unhappy with backgrounds provided for me before the character has ever been played. The extreme was a 20 page story about having been abducted by a slavers, send to work in a Harem, falling in love with the princess, getting branded on his face for this insolence, and after years of prison freed by a war, captured again by a blacksmith, forced to learn the art of making folded steel, having the kill the master smith to escape, fighting in the Crusade to free Jerusalem, failing, heading for home. All that for playing a blacksmith with some fighting abilities and a Damascene sword. The game was set in Northern Germany and about the Reformation conflict and the player made sure that none of his backstory would ever be likely to come up in the game, e.g. all major NPCs were dead when he left them.

BTW he abandoned the story, when I told him to invest points in learning Arab.
Wesley Street
I only require that, when my players create a PC, that they not abandon him when if they become bored. That nonsense is my biggest pet-peeve as a GM, followed closely by grown men playing lipstick lesbian characters.

While I love it when players thoroughly plot out their character's back story it's not something I feel I can require. The ability to write a convincing piece of fiction isn't every player's strength. I do reward players for the effort of filling out The 20 Questions survey. I also believe players will only get out the game what they bring to the table. If they bring me details that I can work with, the experience will be that much richer for him. If I'm brought nothing or nonsensical crap, well, there's not much I can do, is there?
xsansara
Wait. You force players to play characters they find boring? Isn't the goal of the game that everybody has fun?
Shinobi Killfist
QUOTE (xsansara @ Feb 25 2010, 10:55 AM) *
Wait. You force players to play characters they find boring? Isn't the goal of the game that everybody has fun?


I suspect its frustration dealing with the guy who can never find a character they like and constantly need to make a new one. I've played with people who constantly want to make a new character, usually because X guy's chopping people in half talents weren't as cool as expected, or whatever.
Mikado
I used to care about writing backgrounds for my characters... I don't anymore.

After being on the receiving end of background haunting...
"I'm your kid from 10 yrs ago" Yea, thatís nice... if a multi-billion nuyen corp. can't find out where I am how the hell did you... BANG!
Or
"Remember me, you made me loose my job back in Germany" Dude, you worked in a stuffer shack in Germany and we are in Seattle... How did you get here? BANG!

Or having the campaign collapse a few months into playing (or sometimes even before we start) why make a background.

And they can and have gotten stranger... Not all of them are shadowrun characters (Rifts, Vampire, Mage etc...) I don't see the point anymore. If the GM wants to screw around with my character he is going to, I don't need to help him do it. In fact, I would rather him come up with some background twist so I don't feel I am being jerked around for having a backstory when some joker with a grudge comes crawling out of the woodwork.

Now that is not saying I don't like to know whatís going on with my character (where he got his skills, why he runs, etc...) I just don't write it down anymore.

I know some GM's don't like that line of thinking. The only thing I can say to that is "I guess I will find a different game."
Godwyn
QUOTE (xsansara @ Feb 25 2010, 03:55 PM) *
Wait. You force players to play characters they find boring? Isn't the goal of the game that everybody has fun?


Some people get bored of characters within 2 or 3 sessions. When this happens, trying to keep a group somewhat cohesive, and do any long term planning involving specific characters can become very difficult. While I personally would never force someone to continue playing a character, I admit I have felt the urge on occasion.

It is nice if they will at least finish the run they are in the middle of before switching out.

And where are these 20 questions everyone keeps referring to?
Shinobi Killfist
QUOTE (Godwyn @ Feb 25 2010, 12:37 PM) *
Some people get bored of characters within 2 or 3 sessions. When this happens, trying to keep a group somewhat cohesive, and do any long term planning involving specific characters can become very difficult. While I personally would never force someone to continue playing a character, I admit I have felt the urge on occasion.

It is nice if they will at least finish the run they are in the middle of before switching out.

And where are these 20 questions everyone keeps referring to?


1e and 2e had them in the main book, I think they went like this, but its what I found off the intraweb so I am not sure. I don't feel like digging up my books.

1: What is the Characters Gender and Race?
2. What size is the character?
3. What hair, skin, eye color?
4. what is general appearance of character?
5. Where was the character born?
6. When was the character born?
7. What was the family of the character like?
8. Has the character started his own family?
9. Where has the character been trained?
10. How has the character earned his living?
11. What are the characters political & religious opinions?
12. What is the characters moral code? .
13. Has the character any goals? .
14. Why does the character run the shadows?
15. What is the characters personality?
16. What special qualities does the character have?
17. Is there something the character wont do?
18. What does the character hate?
19. What does the character love?
20. What is the name of the character?
Penta
We've seen a nice sampling, so In figure I may as well pitch in my reasons for requiring backgrounds.

As I noted, I play online. The exclusivity of that isn't by choice, but it guides how I do things.

Hence, it's a text-based medium, whether it be PbP, PBEM, MUSH, or MOO. Before I commit to playing with someone, I fully admit to being a bit of a snob: I want to make sure the person can write. That they have at least a vague sense of "A leads to B leads to C". (I should note that while I dabble in other systems, SR is where I do most of my non-MUSH/MOO RP.)

Now, before my latest game, I was pretty doctrinnaire: Background, then stats, an order followed as inexorably as the rising and setting of the sun.

My players this time around have pretty well wrenched me from that - I still prefer it, but will go with a stats-first manner of building. Background first is just easier on me, as I fully admit having a weak grasp of the crunch of SR, the rules mechanics and all their subtleties. I can ask competent questions and help the two sync up if the background comes first.

And in return for doing backgrounds, for breathing life into the character, I as a GM make a commitment to a somewhat rigorously thought-out world. SR is based upon the real world? Well, I'm the kind of person who'll never claim mastery in much, but who knows enough to be dangerous about a lot of things. My latest campaign, Blood in the Water, was inspired by glancing at something in NAGNA, looking at an underappreciated clause in the US (now UCAS) constitution, and basically going "Oooh, that could be cool."

My ideal is this: Well-thought-out characters on both sides become more than stat vehicles, but become as real as is possible for text creations. My ideal with my characters as a player is that they become real enough that I dream about them, or from their perspective.

My ideal as a GM is that characters and NPCs, setting, and so forth come together enough that you could dream (or have nightmares) in the world we create together.
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