Casting Characters as a whole pt. 2

August 27, 2009

Coincidentally, as I’ve been thinking about it, other folks have been also reconsidering the issues of ensemble cast games.

I don’t know if it’s absolutely true, but I’m coming up with some informal rules of what things characters need to form interesting ensembles.

Ensemble cast characters need aspects that:

1. Lead to conflict
2. Are used to face conflict
3. Cause friction with the rest of the cast
4. Creates healthy/supportive interactions with the rest of the cast

You might notice that this basically boils down to the duality of “things that lead to trouble/things that get you out of trouble” split between dealing with the rest of the crew vs. dealing with the world at large, but that seems to be the common ground for good ensemble casts in fiction.

You’ll also notice characters that miss one of those four tend to fall into various states of non-protagonism.

Supporting/secondary characters tend to have no particular aspect leading to conflict, victim/hostage characters tend to lack aspects for dealing with conflicts, sidekicks, supporters, and faceless assistants tend to lack any aspects creating tension with other protagonists, and villains lack any aspects for healthy, supportive, sympathetic interaction with protagonists.

What’s interesting is that most rpgs have traditionally focused mostly or solely on how characters face conflict, and little on the rest.

For my mini-rpg, I’ve actually inverted that- the ways in which characters face conflict are mostly given the weakest mechanical effects, and the ways in which characters either generate conflict or build support/trust/comraderie is loaded favorably. Right now the biggest challenge is finding the clearest way of conveying those concepts to get the character concept across well.

More to come.

ETA: OH! This is probably what I was reaching for with the Extended Character Concept generator – there’s probably some way to refine both and mash them together like Voltron…

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