Techniques for inspiring people?

edited March 2009 in Play Advice
So I am going to GM The Rustbelt with a new group I barely know. A post apocalyptic campaign under another GM is nearing the end for the usual reasons: bean counting, fear of making the setting our own (realistic tone in the game, all locations are RL places that somebody in the group knows, pretty cool to navigate the world with an actual road map) and lack of awe and inspiration.

Basically, I think we'll have a better time with The Rustbelt since the default setting is in America letting us play with the stereotypes we know from pop culture as well as fucking the logic behind things (The Rust isn't logical, just determined). Since the core of this game is about naming the weaknesses and priorities of the player characters and then having the GM or other players push those weaknesses so hard the player have to choose between laying down to die or puking blood and win. You shouldn't do too much prep for this game but I love writing up characters for it since it's basically about setting up a Psyche that either has an interesting sine curve or spiral down and then see if the character can break the trend by some drastic action in game. Problem is: how will I inspire the players to create really cool and easy to GM characters on the first shot when they're not comfortable with the system? Before I've seen a broad spectrum of characters, both those with well defined flags (much easier to throw stuff at) and those with well defined goals (much more PvP out of those guys) and finally people who are just dudes which never generate much and are doomed to be the supporting characters of the story.

Basically: how do I get people to create the Main Characters of the story? How do I invite them to take the setting and do exactly what they feel like and have it turn out cool? What I'm looking for is a small trick or anything to make them braver and more inspired.


  • Why don't you create a selection of example characters? This will inspire them, or at least they might adopt one or parts of one.
  • I thought of that but I think many people would react like I would in that situation: not adopt anything since ripping off someone else's character isn't fun. I could maybe put a bunch of character sheets on the table and tell them "these people live here, pick one to play or make your own" but then many cool concepts would be "taken".
  • How would the cool concepts be "taken"? They could still rearrange them as they see fit, or create new ones... I don't see how this is more limiting than not providing them with examples or lists of taits...
  • It's probably just me being neurotic, I'll try it out!
  • Here's my technique for MRG:

    You say, "Here's a bit about the setting. What kinds of characters would you expect to see in this setting?" Say, for example, your setting is a small suburban town where everyone's hair is big 'cause it's full of secrets.

    Pass around a piece of paper—this is important, make sure everyone touches it—and get everyone to write down character ideas.

    • The domineering PTA president
    • The widow
    • The parent selling drugs to make ends meet
    • The other dealer
    • The witness-relocation family
    • The pretty girl
    • The bad kid
    • The spoiled kid from money
    • The overzealous cop
    • &c.

    That's as far as you want to go with that step. Now you get people to pick from the list, and encourage them to combine and interrelate them—maybe the pretty girl's father is the dealer, and her boyfriend is the cop's kid, and so you ensure that they entangle.

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