Core Memories Instead of BG?



  • So, I'm rewatching Inside Out, and I had an idea.

    I know that nWoD2.0 has Aspirations, and Conditions, and Breaking Points.

    But what if, instead of a bg, or just Breaking Points, there was a little section for 'Core Memories'? Little snippets of events that helped shape who that character is?

    For example: Sally was bullied a lot, and one of her most remarkable memories, small as it is, was when Johnny stood up for her and saved the day, giving her a much needed break from the bullying but also a self-esteem and self-worth boost that helped her get through the bullying.

    Thoughts?



  • I like this. I like this a lot, actually. Maybe call it 'defining moments'?


  • Pitcrew

    If its at my place, I'd approve a list of core memories. I have approved snippet style backgrounds. I'd approve bullet style points lists too.


  • Pitcrew

    I too like this idea. After all the purpose of backgrounds is to show the player has a clear idea of the character and that the character fits the game.
    I think the concept of core memories/defining moments does that just as well as a story form bg would, and likely in less writing which makes the process quicker for both the player and the staff doing the approvals.


  • Admin

    @ThatGuyThere said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    After all the purpose of backgrounds is to show the player has a clear idea of the character and that the character fits the game.

    This is anecdotal of course but when I roll a new character I have very little idea of what he is about. I don't get a handle on a fresh PC until several sessions in, and there hasn't been a time I thought "hey, writing his background really helped me get some insights into this one".

    If anything the only times I've had lightbulbs was, strangely enough, writing justifications for XP expenditures - something about delving into the character's downtime, the stuff I don't usually get to roleplay about (since much of it involves his 'alone' hours, the boring procedural things) has been quite helpful now and then.

    But backgrounds? I write them because they won't let me out of CGen if I don't. :) Obviously YMMV.



  • I am pretty similar, actually, in that playing helps me unlock a character.

    Along that train of thought, what if the idea of the Defining Moments or Core Memories was one that could be added to?

    Post-Approval Cliff's Notes of things that have happened that helped define the pc? Sort of like a bulletpoint journal to help staff and the player remember key events in a pc's life?

    Also: bingbongbingbong. Why do I do this myself? Damn you, Pixar!



  • This seems like a more interesting variation on the bullet-points style BG I've seen some places. Sometimes I find this much easier in terms of building a character. I don't always feel it works (and there are some cases where really important stuff isn't something I decide on until I get into play), but it's at least a cool twist on the existing formula.

    I'd do something like this enthusiastically as a post-approval character-building exercise (I do a stupid amount of those) on my own steam.



  • One of the reasons I like this idea as opposed to backgrounds is that it leaves space for people to fill in connections later. The more defined and specific a background is, the harder that can sometimes be to do. Leaving some wiggle room there strikes me as a good thing for people to use to make connections with other characters coming into the game later -- whether they seize on an existing defining moment to, say, ask, "Hey, could I be that dude that stuck up for your character that time long ago?" or "Maybe my character is someone who was one of the people who bullied your character when they were a kid?"/etc. in ways that give new characters a foot in the door in some respects.


  • Pitcrew

    @Taika said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    I am pretty similar, actually, in that playing helps me unlock a character.

    Along that train of thought, what if the idea of the Defining Moments or Core Memories was one that could be added to?

    Post-Approval Cliff's Notes of things that have happened that helped define the pc? Sort of like a bulletpoint journal to help staff and the player remember key events in a pc's life?

    Also: bingbongbingbong. Why do I do this myself? Damn you, Pixar!

    I use wiki for this if a place has one. If I unleash a new memory, I try to add it somewhere on the wiki as I remember.

    Every few weeks, I try to include a new snippet of BG in a char I'm playing. I admit some may be slightly meta, but enough to touch at a reason to some sour face he has, or some other reaction that is uncharacteristic of how he might normally react. If someone bites, I can develop the core memory and defining moment as we play it out.



  • @Lotherio - If there was an in-game mechanic so that not every Important Thing was visible to all and sundry, would you use it? It probably wouldn't be hard to figure out or put together (it might already exist) some kind of staff accessible code. Maybe just modify existing bg code to allow addition post-approval...


  • Pitcrew

    @Taika said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    @Lotherio - If there was an in-game mechanic so that not every Important Thing was visible to all and sundry, would you use it? It probably wouldn't be hard to figure out or put together (it might already exist) some kind of staff accessible code. Maybe just modify existing bg code to allow addition post-approval...

    Yes. Most places could probably finger code it as an adjustable attribute easily added in, on any place.

    Or just mock up the system of +finger and call it +memory ... or just use +bg.

    A few places still have the potential to add BG slots and stuff, they note approved or unapproved. FS3 has this potential, lots of WoD places use notes.

    I would use it yes.


  • Admin

    @surreality said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    The more defined and specific a background is, the harder that can sometimes be to do. Leaving some wiggle room there strikes me as a good thing for people to use to make connections with other characters coming into the game later

    I agree. One of the mistakes people make is generate characters who've already done all the cool things in their lives before they ever step foot on the grid - so everything from that point on is bound to be a disappointment. You go from having rescued princesses and led armies to doing bar scenes or looking for a date to go to that birthday party +event on Wednesday.



  • I haven't written a bg that's longer than 1.5 pages in Word in years. I try to keep it to three-ish paragraphs if I can, and flesh the rest out in play.

    If staff objects to this, that's a sign this game ain't for me.



  • I like it a lot. I think some players might need to be nudged to explain how they got from Point A to Point B, but shit that happens in regular BGs anyways.


  • Admin

    @Three-Eyed-Crow Oh, I hate writing backgrounds... but I write some extensive ones. It's not that I can't do it, it's just aren't very useful for what they're supposed to do.

    To me they are a hybrid relic that's still A Thing partly because it's tradition ('every other MU* does it, we'll do it too') and partly because RPG systems include them in their books for new roleplayers to get a basic understanding of what a character is. It's the same crutch as alignments in D&D.



  • I don't plan on mandatory bg's. I think they can turn into a lot of 'looks at sheet Okay, now I have to mention some pickpocketing to justify Larceny 3'.

    I think Aspirations and Breaking Points can get a pc started pretty solidly, get someone thinking about what motivates the character - why add stat justification drudgery to it?

    But if there's a simple way to help keep track of important events with a bit of timestamped bullet point journaling that can aid staff in customizing a bit of plot (it could be as simple as adding in a line to a plot emit about a certain shade of flower!) to make it have more meaning to a pc?

    I'm all about trying to think of tools to help enrich the story.


  • Pitcrew

    As an approval staffer I use the bg for two things. One in particular is important here, and core memories instead would be just fine for both, I think.

    Do they understand/demonstrate understanding of both the setting AND their character as they have them sheeted? I staff somewhere with a pretty obscure theme, and it is really important to make sure particular concepts get particular aspects of it. Otherwise shit goes to pieces.

    I do also use it to gatekeep on stats -- does the history match the sheet? That's also part of understanding what the character is as presented.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    I agree. One of the mistakes people make is generate characters who've already done all the cool things in their lives before they ever step foot on the grid

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. If I see another BG filled to the brim with awesome events of awesomeness that the player just wants to brag about... I'm going to scream (I'm going to be screaming a lot). Get your accomplishments ON SCREEN, so that others know about them, you get to actually experience them, and others are involved in them, so -they- have reasons to bring them up.

    On a more pertinent note, I love the idea of using Core Memories, and wish I had thought of it in time to use it on The 100 MUSH. But yes, I use BGs for the same purposes that @Sunny does: demonstrate an understanding of theme, match the story to the stats... and for one more: To prevent the AwesomeBGers from slipping onto the grid.


  • Pitcrew

    @Seraphim73 said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    @Arkandel said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    I agree. One of the mistakes people make is generate characters who've already done all the cool things in their lives before they ever step foot on the grid

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. If I see another BG filled to the brim with awesome events of awesomeness that the player just wants to brag about... I'm going to scream (I'm going to be screaming a lot). Get your accomplishments ON SCREEN, so that others know about them, you get to actually experience them, and others are involved in them, so -they- have reasons to bring them up.

    On a more pertinent note, I love the idea of using Core Memories, and wish I had thought of it in time to use it on The 100 MUSH. But yes, I use BGs for the same purposes that @Sunny does: demonstrate an understanding of theme, match the story to the stats... and for one more: To prevent the AwesomeBGers from slipping onto the grid.

    I third this. I just want to yell 'Don't App Bruce Lee, App the person who will become Bruce Lee! Especially if you only have starting stats, or close to it.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel
    Our mileage defiantly varies in this case, at least with regard to xp justifications, unless the justification was a synopsis of something on screen mine have never been more then a sentence of PC has been practicing x and then if necessary adding by doing y then be likely forgetting what why is by the time the spend is approved.



  • @Seraphim73

    @Seraphim73 said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    @Arkandel said in Core Memories Instead of BG?:

    I agree. One of the mistakes people make is generate characters who've already done all the cool things in their lives before they ever step foot on the grid

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. If I see another BG filled to the brim with awesome events of awesomeness that the player just wants to brag about... I'm going to scream (I'm going to be screaming a lot). Get your accomplishments ON SCREEN, so that others know about them, you get to actually experience them, and others are involved in them, so -they- have reasons to bring them up.

    If someone wants to play the farm boy that becomes the hero, that's fine! And the rate of XP growth in many games supports this, as in one year your character has had all these adventures and also learned five languages and three styles of martial arts.

    But a person with a past can be a fun character type. You might not want to play the 18 year old hero's journey, you might want to play the grizzled veteran hero in retirement who gets involved to help the kids, or the lunch lady who used to be a princess of an unnamed generic Eastern European principality.

    This could be my experience in games that use 1-to-1 time, or close. If time is handled differently, that would be more reasonable but, as is, if you want to play a character with an eventful past of a certain type, you pretty much have to start them out that way.


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