He’s Got a History…

Posted June 27th, 2013 by Tynan Sylvester

It used to be that a game of Eclipse Colony would start with the player spending skill points to build the skillsets of their starting characters. This didn’t work that well (and, in fact, was always a temporary solution). People didn’t really know what the skills did, and all the numbers were a bit overwhelming for the starting moments of a new game. It needed to change.

I’ve been inspired by how tabletop RPGs handle characterization. One of the ways some pen-and-paper RPGs do character creation is by having players create histories for their characters. You choose from a library of childhoods, a library of adolescences, and a library of adult experiences. Each one comes with a chunk of story, some skills learned, and perhaps some other effects. The finished product is a character who isn’t just a bundle of statistics, but is a story of the cause of those statistics.

Since Eclipse Colony is really about story generation, I thought this was a good path to take. This is the first version of the new character maker:


Currently you only choose a childhood and an adolescence, and the library of choices are quite small in each case. For now, this suffices. It hopefully won’t overwhelm playtesters with choices (as I suspect would happen with 3-5 life stages, each to be chosen over three characters). RPGs can get away with more complex systems because people expect to spend hours making characters, and you only have one to make. I’d like to keep it more lightweight to start with.

But there are obvious ways to expand. I’m considering special effects that history items can apply (physical disabilities, phobias, special abilities), additional history sections, auto-generated histories. As always, the endless possibilities are tantalizing and difficult to resist exploring.

But there are still lots of other parts of Eclipse Colony that need to get made.

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