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Quick Character Creation for drop in games

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My local gaming club has a slight problem (at least at the moment) it's very much a 'show up and hope there's a game available' type of situation. This leads to players not always having games, or even worst GMs having no players (due to them no longer showing up due to risk of no game).

Player retention is another factor. I've ran one-shots and the one common feedback I receive is that the game went great but players really want to have their own characters, rather than pre-gens.

Through the Breach isn't known for its 15min char-gen, Tarot - Skills - Aspects - Talent - Pursuit - Loadout - Magic. It's a massive time sink if a new player sits down at the table for the first time.

My questions are this: What is the quickest way for a player to have their own character sheet in front of them and game ready in the shortest possible time? With the assumption that they can complete it to 100% later after that first session.

What is the minimum they need in order to play without me just throwing them a pre-gen?

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I wonder if a compromise would work:

  • Hand anyone who doesn't arrive early a pre-gen.  Especially if you can get it down to asking the player a few questions, and then giving them a character that fits.
  • At the of the session, give them the option of redoing that pre-gen as a new character, carrying over whatever advancements they got from the session.
  • (Don't tell them, but naturally reserve the right to circulate abandoned characters back into the pre-gen pile.  Adjusted back to starting levels, of course.)

Because the quickest way to get a player started in a game is to give them a pre-gen character after asking them a few questions about what sort of character they'd like to play  (Multiple choice questions, if you can manage it) and then let them make changes if they want to later.

You could try making up a few 'compromise' pre-gen characters that have most of their skills chosen, and let the player assign the rest during the game as they decide which skills they'd like to have.  But that might feel distracting, and either end up with characters that are good at the first thing they have to do in each game, or who complain about not committing to a skill earlier in the session.


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Can't you just have a few pregen tarrot outputs and know the allocatable points for aspects etc, then quickly allocate the points for them based on character descrition they give you taking into account your knowledge of the rules (giving rough guidance on surviving [toughness/evade/speed etc], asking what there chacters do in combat and socialising?). Then maybe let them tweak values a bit after they understand the rules.
For grimoires, give them something basic or fitting their desires and just let it magically re-config (or find there perfect replacement) once they understand the rules.

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Some further brainstorming on the matter. Let's assume I have the numbers, so that they can choose skills and aspects with them, then say hand them a default weapon (something cheap from each weapon class for example) and the same for armor. For magic users, okay here's your "starter" grimoire w/ the unique school (which can be changed later if desired).

Triggers shouldn't take long unless Johnny Powergamer has to evaluate each one separately.

The issue now becomes Twist Decks and Talents, all of the above + choosing a pursuit is going to take <15minutes on a good day. Twist Decks are tricky depending on if the player in question has a trigger they want to see every flip or not, should I just prepare 4per/deck of cards I own and have the player choose or make it random?

Talent wise, I need a MUCH shorter list if I'm going to keep things quick and would like to hear recommendations on what a good list of 8-12 starter Talents would look like (from all book sans Gremlins). Should I stick with simple stat-ups or have some more out-there options?

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For twist Decks you could let them change after first game - if they have spells or triggers that need a suit prioritise that for first game?

I think you could play a first game without talents and let them choose once they understand the basics of the game?

Alternatively choose some 10-15 talents you think are powerful or fun, and maybe think of 1-2 you would take for melee,range,magic,social focus character

Edited by diki
Fixed a spelling mistake! and improved flow maybe?
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  • 4 weeks later...

I don't have a lot of experience, I made several pre-generated characters in advance and the sole player that sat down at the table without one made had a choice of "shooty, punchy, or magic." They had never even heard of the game, chose the magic user, only used one spell (heal) twice. They still had fun and were as functional (read as used their shotgun a lot) as the other time-extensive characters that were there. I think if someone wants to dive in to a character fully then they should do so, but if someone is not committed enough to be more than a drop in, then they should be happy with what they get. I favour the idea of taking time to flesh out a character in advance of the day that play is going to happen. Last minute character building would likely go along with rules instruction, and a 15-20 minute build can easily take an hour.

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Ran the first session tonight with a modified house-ruled chargen (Set numbers for Aspects/Skills, 1 trigger, talent from a small list of 12, default list of weapons/magic, no twist decks, control hands are drawn from main deck).

Had one new player who played a bit of the miniwar game and was able to make a character within 10 minutes using this method and the game went very smoothly. Using the main Fate deck as the players control hands didn't make a noticeable impact and because the table had limited-yet-free-reign over their skills/trigger/talent, they made more invested decisions with their characters because they had a clearer idea of who they were.

2 hours ago, Hellomurse said:

but if someone is not committed enough to be more than a drop in, then they should be happy with what they get.

Drop-ins, who have a good experience at the table could well become fully fledged every-weekers. In my experience at least, this is more likely to happen if they have a character they have created themselves and become invested in seeing grow, rather than adding a name to a pre-gen. Treating a drop-in player as a chore or not committed enough to play in a weekly game does little to grow the player base of this hobby.

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