Plug And Play Character Improvements

Sometimes when you’re finishing a game (or editing an old one) you come across a character that’s a bit weak and you want to give them a bit more to do without making large changes to the rest of the game. Here are a few ideas for doing that without creating too much re-writing.

  • Give them a problem that, in order to solve, requires interacting with the other players. (Depending on the freeform, this may end up being a big rewrite, however.)
  • Make them friends with a second character - preferably one with lots of material. Give the weak character a goal to help the second character, and make sure that character knows that the first character is a friend. That way the second, stronger character should help draw the first into their game.
  • They could help another character (perhaps as a mentor or adviser). Or perhaps that other character has approached them asking for help.
  • Give them a reason to join (or find more about, or consider joining) some kind of group or society.
  • Take something from an over-busy character, such as a goal, or a small piece of plot. This will require a bit more rewriting as obviously the over-busy character will need amending.
  • Give them a resource (a skill, an item, knowledge, money) that is scarce in the game.
  • Give them a “character” goal – something that suits their character that doesn’t affect too many other things. Some examples (which obviously won’t apply to all games!):
    • They are an amateur hypnotist, with a useful ability to hypnotise people (and gives them a benefit).
    • They want to take photos with all the famous people present. Or want their photo taken with all the famous people present.
    • Commission a painting.
    • Get your book published.
    • Gamble.
    • Preach, or take confession.
    • A doctor or healer.
    • Dance with all the eligible young men at the ball.

Sometimes you don’t need to add something to the character – you just need to give other characters reason to interact with them. An easy way to do this is to provide a hint that they might be helpful in some way to the other characters.

Article by Steve Hatherley.

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