Tag: roleplaying-games

Tyson Fraleigh - May 6, 2021

Level Up: Building Your Back Story

So, you’ve got to come up with a PC for your next game. A lot of people can rush into building a back story, but by the end find that it wasn’t what they were hoping. Without some guidance, you might accidentally find yourself creating unintentional satire’s of your favourite characters, or just build something not very fun to play.

So, how do you build a satisfying back story for your characters? I’m so happy you asked.

Following Your Inspiration

A lot of people say that all characters fall into archetypes that can be translated across multiple stories, and you should build characters based on these archetypes. While I can understand this perspective, I find it can be very subjective and creativity killer. In my experience, it is way more fun to build a character back story off a story/character you admire, and then tinker.

What are you favourite stories? Who are you favourite characters from those stories? What do they have in common? Asking yourself these questions can lend to some interesting PCs. Don’t lean entirely on an already developed character – making a carbon copy of Thor will probably leave you more disappointed than satisfied. Instead, try and rebuild some of their characteristics to fit something new.

Do you like Tony Stark’s wit and arrogance? Maybe your character has the same arrogance from being in private school or as a way to fake their way into high society. Do you like Kvothe’s strong connection to music and his ability to translate experience into music? Instead of being out in the woods for years with a lute, perhaps your PC was locked in the attic of their evil stepmother, with only a lute to play. The options are endless.

Building a Stable House

With the inspiration there, now it’s time to cover your story bases. There are a few questions you should answer before giving the information to your game master:

  • Do you know your birth family? Who are/were they?
  • What town did you grow up in? What was your relationship with the community? Did you make any friends/notable allies while in that town?
  • Have you made any enemies? What did you do to them to piss them off? Alternatively, what did they do to you? How does this fit into you becoming an adventurer?
  • Did you have any special experiences before joining your adventuring party? Why are you deciding to go adventuring?

Consider all of these things when sending your DM your back story.

Letting Go

This part is key. This can make or break a back story arc for your character.

When building your back story, only add details that your character is aware of. Don’t tell the story from a third person perspective. The DM will be able to take those little nuggets of story you have provided and grow it into a full story.

This can also be one of the most difficult parts of a back story. You may want to enforce a story you have in your head. But, I promise you, if you have all the pieces to a story, it won’t be half as fun to play. You can note to your DM if there are any family/allies/enemies you want to keep alive for character reasons. However, let you DM play – you never know what you will find.

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Tyson Fraleigh - February 17, 2021

Vampire the Masquerade: The Villain’s Yearbook

Heard of Vampire the Masquerade, but you don’t know where to begin with it’s lore and story? Not sure how to roleplay some of the factions?

The villains of Vampire the Masquerade range in variety and tactics, from royal vampire families, to humans with big guns. The key is figuring how each enemy plays differently so you can make each game unique.

But, no matter how powerful these villains, how evil their intentions, there is one thing they cannot escape…

Me, making up a bunch of yearbook titles to make fun of them.

First up…

Most Likely to Complain About Tax Hikes on the Rich – The Camarilla

The Camarilla were the once leaders of the Vampire world. They hide in the shadows, drinking the blood of mortals, quietly spreading their thralls into the world…

And they are such babies about everything.

What happens when the vampire community asks for some changes in leadership? The Camarilla slaughter people. What happens when the vampire community notices that the higher ups are getting all the fame and fortune? The Camarilla slaughter people. They are all privileged snobs who literally live in an ivory tower.

I mean, come on. You can do something for the aesthetic, but once you unintentionally cause multiple vampire revolutions, maybe you should consider if you are the problem.

In short: how do you play Camarilla? Be obnoxious, snobby, and crazy influential in the world.

Most Likely to Be Spying On Your Phone Right Now – The Second Inquisition

Made up of the CIA, Interpol, and every other human led secret government organization in the world, the Second Inquisition is a secret network of agents out to destroy the vampire threat. They have already wiped out a huge section of the Tremere family in Vienna. With increased world surveillance, the Second Inquisition is everywhere, and ready to strike at any moment.

The best way to play as the Second Inquisition is sticking to the shadows, or hide in plain sight. The Second Inquisition lends itself a unique opportunity for an NPC to betray the party, secretly being an agent, ready to kill the party the moment they think they are safe. This could also help induce paranoia in the party to not trust mortals, or people outside of their coterie.

All to say: backstab, keep hidden, and them hit them where it hurts. Just make sure to use these tactics sparingly, or your party will quickly grow jaded from the game.

Most Likely to Have Anger Management Issues – Werewolves

This is where I am a little confused by the Vampire: The Masquerade lore. Vampires and werewolves are ancient enemies. They both hide in secret, lingering in darkness, out of sight of mortals.

The thing is – why are all vampires and werewolves enemies?

It mentions an ancient hate between each other, but nothing else. I can understand the Camarilla being the traditional, hateful little bastards they are, but the Anarch’s? You would they would be sympathetic to another group of people who cannot control or trust their instincts. Seems like a worthy ally to have, especially against the Camarillian’s.

I could see in this new time of Anarch government, a melding of the two factions. Then, two unlikely figures, one vampire, one werewolf, fall into a deep and passionate love, leading to…

Wait. I think I have read this fan fiction somewhere.

Any other books worth mentioning in this list? Tell us down below in the comments!

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Tyson Fraleigh - February 3, 2021

Cyberpunk: The Villain’s Yearbook

Throughout sci-fi and fantasy media, the villains have often been heralded as some of the cleverest explorations of evil in popular fiction. In Cyberpunk, we find ourselves an eerily familiar world of corporate greed, power, and corruption, and the villains follow suit. But with so many gangs and prominent figures, it can be hard to know how to play which ones, or what to do with certain factions.

Luckily for you, I have compiled the most iconic villains from the source material and categorized them in a way everyone can best understand them – as Yearbook Superlatives.

You know those right? The questions like Most Likely To Cure Cancer, or Most Likely to Get Famous, back when such dreams were thought possible instead of… well, whatever we’re living in now.

So, with this in mind, let’s dive into the world of Cyberpunk, and search through the darkest reaches of Night City to in search of pure evil…

Most Likely to Kill Your Family, Then Buy Your House – Arasaka

Arasaka is the rich-preppy kid to a tee. Born from family money, Arasaka is constantly dressed to the nines. Head of the debate team, student body president, honor roll – and you better bet your bottom dollar that Arasaka is going to be giving that Valedictorian speech come graduation day. Everyone always wonders – ‘How does Arasaka do it?’

Manipulation, mostly.

Arasaka may look like the golden child, but the trouble is that most rich kids are a seething ball of hate and fear on the inside, and will kill you and your whole family just for the thrill of it. Just to feel something again, because god damn it, having everything you could ever want leaves you needing to feel want again.

When playing Cyberpunk, cloak and dagger are the best methods when acting on the part of Arasaka. A great part of the Arasaka Corporation is that most things they do are technically legal. Arasaka can perform absolutely awful acts and get away with it by lack of association, legal technicalities, etc. Then, if the law is getting in the way, then just throw money at the issue. That usually fixes things.

This is all, of course, total fantasy. Major corporations in our world have never done any of this.

Not one.

Most Likely to Beat Up The Neighborhood Kids – Militech

Militech is the worst of the bullies. They walk around, looking for any kind of trouble to get involved in, and then throw themselves at it with all their might and fury. Most of the time, these kids would get some form of punishment from parents or teachers, and hopefully be led down a better path.

Trouble is – what happens when the kids can beat the teachers to death, then get paid for it?

Militech is a rich person’s dream. Need private security for a public event? Militech can do it. Need something handled that is less than legal? Someone in Militech can do it – for an extra price, of course. Arasaka loves Militech because it makes all the cloak and dagger stuff so much easier.

When playing as Militech, feel free to be have fun with the power dynamics both within and outside of Militech. Perhaps some security officers are more noble than others. Others could be working just for the money, so things like ‘morals’ are secondary to their other desires. Or just go guns blazing, with an entire Militech contingent willing to jump into a situation and kill anything in their way. Just have fun with it.

Most Likely To Be The Monster Hiding In Your Closet – Bozos

To be honest, I don’t have an introduction to these guys. Bozos are just terrifying. These are people who got cybernetic surgery INTENTIONALLY TO LOOK LIKE CLOWNS. Just to be able to prank people as a gang.

Well, I guess that depends on if you consider assault, murder, and mass chaos as ‘pranks’.

The Bozo gang is best played as… just absolute chaos. Most of the members of the Bozos gang have developed some level of cyberpsychosis, thus resulting in delusions and other forms of advanced madness. Be cautious when taking this genre of villain to any kind of game – mental illness can be a triggering subject for some players – but it can be an interesting look at the concept of destruction and chaos for chaos sake.

Not unlike another clown you may know…

Know anymore Cyberpunk gangs and enemies that deserve to be in this yearbook? Leave your notable mentions down below!

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