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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

Roman Catholic, student of tabletop gaming, and someday soon I'll have my own designs in the field!

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Friday, June 25, 2010


Okay, so here goes nothing. There came into this mind a really bizarre thought. I'm trying to trace down exactly how it came about, but nothing's really popping into mind. Suffice it to say, it involves a very different take on character development. For those unfamiliar with Twitter, it's a microblogging website that lets users share their thoughts...in statuses limited to 140 characters. Those statuses can then be shared, edited, and reshared again and again. Most interesting, though, is the 140-character limit. This has led to phenomena like Twitter stories, in which contestants put an entire story into that tiny amount of text.

What Makes a Character?
It's here that we come to the biggest problem facing roleplaying, as far as I'm concerned: elaborate backstory that never gets acted upon in-game, and just sits there taking up paper. It makes sense, really. It's all good and well to craft together a brilliant mesh of character actions and motivation...but it's another thing to understand how that applies to real-life. To the everyday. Us geeks...I'd like to think we're good at that sort of thing. ;) Ah well.

There's ways to get around that, though. Learning about fiction, studying writers, and doing personal writing has all shed light on how characters are made and displayed. One of the biggest things that's become obvious is that characters are revealed bit by bit, in small moments. Just like people talk to one another, and find out about one another. Small bits...concise bits...is any of this looking familiar?

Bingo! Tweet Your Character!
That's the crazy idea here. What if, instead of having players write up backstories, they used "tweets" to convey different aspects of their character. They could write up a short blurb for each of a few character traits, and then write up blurbs during play to comment, and make character come out, as well as revealing backstory. Even if there's a backstory written, tweet-like blurbs can bring fresh looks at different aspects of it.

Let's take a look at a sample character. I'll pull something right out of my hat here...

Sasha Dreilan: Ranger extraordinary. You may have heard of me, I spread word of my deeds far and wide. Warrior in the woods.

"They say she's some sort of fay, she has to be, dazzling as the moonrays, deadly as the serpent's smile." That's what they say.

Don't trouble me about the past. It's not worth revisiting. I'd rather look at what's to come. You can do things about -that-.

It does two things, really. It forces you to be concise, but it also encourages you to expand simple trait statements into things with flavor, and also to speak in the character's voice. Try it, see how it works for you.

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