This expands one segment from the Article "Campaign Design the MoonHunter way" ( http://strolen.com/viewing/Starting_a_Campaign_the_MoonHunter_way ). When MoonHunter starts a campaign (or even a mini-campaign) it always has a "casting party". A casting party is when the group gets together with all their books and creates their characters. In complicated games, this can take four hours, but usually it takes about 2 hours of our 4 hour session time.
The Players need to be invested in the campaign. There needs to be player investment in the setting and the campaign. One of the best ways to do that is to follow the MoonHunter Way. This means there is a great deal of player input to expand upon the GM's initial campaign idea. These will be things the characters are intersted in, and they will be part of the setting.
The GM needs to create a world pack. This is the summary of the setting and includes any tweaks needed to create a character. Characters need to recieve this a week or so before the casting party (either soft copy or hard copy depending on your abilities and the group). Players need to invest a little time looking this over before the game. If they don't, they will be behind the big rolling hall when the casting party happens. Remind them the GM has invested a ton of time into the game, the least they could do is put a little in. Players should also be encouraged to talk with each other (these tend to be long email chains these days).
If this is a brand new game system, the GM and the players should budget some time to "screw around" with the rules and the game. Maybe play out some elements. The group should read through any confusing sessions and come to an agreement.
Most of the party is taken up with choosing mechanic elements and choosing traits. Those strong in their game system skills should be assigned to help those that are weaker. The GM needs to spend time with every player to ensure that eveyrthing runs smoothly.
Because you are building all the characters at the same time, your group can ensure that everyone can do something useful for the group (a primary job and a secondary job). The GMs and the Players working together to ensure the characters will meet their needs for the campaigns. The players also need to make sure their characters can work together.
0) If your system does not have a list of gifts and flaws, every character must take 1-3 weakenesses (mental issues, personal codes, nemesis, physical limitations). Perfect People (and characters) in stories are boring. Do you want your characters to be boring? If your game does have gift/ flaw system, make sure they are not just a cheap way to get more stuff, but that they define the character's important aspects.
1) Every character starts with three plotlines/ story arcs.
a) One is the GM's that parallel's the main story arc (the big campaign story arc). This is "the character's take" or "the character's reason" for being along the main plotline.
b) One is the Player's, a subplot that they are interested in.
c) The last one is the GM's choice. Usually it is something interesting about the character. Usually this revolves around a character's nemesis, but it could be anything interesting the character could be involved in. Occasionally it has nothing to immediately do with the character, but something that the character finds itself involved in.
2) Every character must have 1-3 links to the outside world (usually this includes the organizations and things the player wanted in setting creation. ). These links could be positive, such as mentors, patrons, sponsorships, or previous careers or training; or negative such as a hatred of, nemesis status, or some dark part of the characters past. These links connect the player to the world. They also provides elements to build upon.
3) Each character must have two links to the character group. One is a primary important link. One is a secondary, supporting link. This ensures the character has a real reason to stay in the group. Note these links are not always family, friends, or loved ones. Frenemies or friendly antagonism is also possible. Keep in mind this could be the relationship once they meet. So two characters that will like teasing each other once they meet.
4) We have always done a relationship link map since the late 80s. This means you state what your relationship is with every character and other important NPC/Organization. This defines what you think about everyone. (note this can change).
5) Sometimes GM's will hand out character seed cards, with little bits that will be useful in the campaign, to ensure that they are part of the group's skill/ability mix.
6) The GM needs to be deeply involved in the character creation process. There is an old GM's addage, "If you let it into your campaign, you get what you deserve." Everything needs to be in both the GM's and player's comfort zone. The GM needs to work with their players to make sure characters fit the setting, the campaign, and the group.
These come from Continnum/ Convergence Point... but Common Sense Rules are Universally Applicable
Interest Rule: What this interesting or unique? Just like everything in a game needs to add drama, everything should be interesting (and possibly unique, but that is overrated). What sets this character apart from just another set of mechanics in the game?
Maximum Game Fun: The character should be developed to provide as much fun as possible for the player and the rest of the troupe to the game. It should make things interesting without making them impossible or frustrating.
Best Dramatic Effect: The action should results in as much drama in the game as possible, adding to the tension or resolving existing tension dramatically. Players should choose the best dramatic effect and GM’s should have their actions result in.
MacBeth Rule: Perfect characters in an RPG or story can become boring. They can have goals and such, but very little gets in their way. For characters, it is best to bring your own drama and complications with you.
First, you know what will happen, so you can prepare for it.
Secondly, it is easier on the GM and he/ she will not feel compelled to be their most devious all the time.
It is a game rule: Just because a character is interesting, does not mean it will be fun to play. When making a character’s conception remember to ask yourself, what does your character do in the game and what does it add to the game. If your character does have a large enough or interesting enough role, rethink your character conception.
Teamsport rule: Every player needs to remember that they need to work with the other players so everyone can have fun. This may means they might have to cut back their fun some, but everyone will have more. .