Ever wanted to really simulate the growth and development of a budding super hero or adventurer? I know I have. I particularly enjoy taking a character from humble origins and working their way up. The idea of a character slowly developing abilities is great, but what if you’re not using a level based game system? Well, what if even the player doesn’t know what their character can do? Certainly that requires more effort on the part of the GM, but the players love it.
So, here are the facts:
- I laid this out first using Fudge with dice and then later using Fudge Diceless
- I pre-generated characters with hidden Gifts and Skills, even hidden Flaws
Four kids from mundane backgrounds get tested and discover they have magical powers. This results in them getting sent to Nightshade Academy for training, but first we have to find out what these kids can do. Each player in the one-shot got a character sheet with some blanks and some ???’s. The blanks were for them to make the character their own and the ???’s were their hidden abilities. Players could try to activate their powers, or in certain situations where their powers were likely to manifest, they could make the same roll. Assuming a success on the roll, they would be able to fill in the spot on the sheet with the pre-written power. This led to some great moments like one character getting angry and suddenly turning into a wolf, never having known she was a werewolf.
The mechanic was pretty simple. Fudge uses 4 dice with +,- and a blank side. If the player or I wanted to see if the character could make their powers work, they just rolled the dice to see if it worked. Assuming a positive net result, the character would discover their powers which may or may not have been useful in the situation. This game actually later turned into my current diceless game and several of the pre-gens from this encounter became full characters.
In my current game, Nightshade Academy: World at War, the players are a group of school kids living in 1940s Britain trying to get their hands on the holy relics of the gods before the Germans can. I offered them a chance before the game started that one person could play a special character, a pre-gen with amnesia. I wrote up a full character sheet. I can’t say too, too much since the full truth of the character hasn’t been revealed yet and the game is on-going. So far they’ve found out that she’s originally from Germany and was wearing a military uniform when they found her.
The mechanic for this was even easier. The system is Fudge Diceless so any time she tries to do something, I just tell her how it goes based on her skill and if she’s trained in the skill, I reveal that to her. She also had one of her Gifts hidden from her. This went a bit faster than I would have liked, resulting in the character currently being completely separated from the rest of the party because she realized she’s a danger to her friends.
The mechanic of hiding skills works out pretty well, but you have to make sure you have players who are down for it and make sure you don’t create a character that your player isn’t going to want to play. You really have to know your players and still leave room for them to make the character their own. Don’t expect them to play your vision, just give them a skeleton and let them flesh it out.