Following the first session of our Dark Sun game, I emailed my players the following email:
Since you’ve all now had a chance to experience your characters (great RP on everyone’s parts, by the way) and see what makes them tick and what their personality is, I’d like you to ruminate on some stuff over the next two weeks.
I’d like everyone to come up with a set of Beliefs, Instincts and Traits. Let me explain:
Your beliefs are a code, ethical stance, or motto you live by. It’s a snapshot view of how your character thinks. You must have at least one, and no more than three. These will help motivate your character. Here’s some examples: True justice must be served; You can never trust someone completely; The city corrupts people’s minds; Every debt must be paid.
If you’re having trouble coming up with any, just let me know.
Your Instincts are a gut reaction, habit or ingrained training. You can have one and only one. Your instinct is something you’ll want to remember for your character to do. Instinct examples: Always check food for poison; Always take note of people’s names and titles; Always have my weapon ready; Never trust a friendly stranger; Always cover my tracks; Always have an arrow on the string in dangerous or suspicious situations; Always check my equipment before travelling, or in the morning.
Traits are quirks, special qualities or words that describe you. You can have up to three. Some Traits examples are: Loner, Eagle-Eyed, Claustrophobic, Pragmatic, Determined, Mark of Privilege, Scheming.
You will be able to earn Hero Points through doing a few things with your Beliefs, Instincts or Traits, and are awarded at the end of each session: Acting on your belief, playing up an instinct, making your life difficult because of a belief or instinct, or using a trait to your advantage OR disadvantage.
You can spend Hero Points to: Add a +2 to any roll or to change a minor detail about the situation.
You can also invoke the use of one of your traits before you roll a d20 to gain an instant +1 to your roll.
If you guys have any questions, email me and let me know. When you come up with your BITs, email just me. The other players don’t need to know about your BITs until they are used in-game.
Now, I didn’t come up with BITs (as many of you may know). They’re from Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard, but they can really work anywhere. That’s the beauty of it.
I was able to see the players really getting into their characters in the first session, so it was easy to see them coming up with and using these new BITs to their advantage. It encourages RP and exploring their characters more closely. I’m thinking about employing it in every game I run from now on. Why not? It can really enhance the experience.
I’ve already gotten responses from most of the players, but since they read the blog, I won’t post them up here in case they want to keep them private from one another.