Each player will need a character. There are two different ways of creating characters, either creating them together as a group, or individually.
Collaborative character generation
In this method, the players create their characters as a group. Rather than the old cliché of “You meet up in a bar”, this establishes connections between the characters before play starts. It’s a good idea to throw around a few ideas before character generation starts in earnest, especially if some players have a clear idea what sort of characters they want to play.
There are four phases to character generation. Each one should establish something important about each character.
Where You Came From
This establishes the character’s background and childhood experiences, and answers some important questions. Are you kandar, human, or something else? Did you grow up in the city, out in the sticks, in poverty, or in wealth. You will want a name at this point. Look though the first few templates to give you an idea of the sort of backgrounds that make sense in the setting.
This stage sees the characters setting out upon life’s road, and the experiences of adolescence and the early years of a career. Look at the rest of the templates to see the sort of careers a character might embark upon. Not all careers are logical progressions from all backgrounds; if you want to choose a very strange and unlikely combination you’re need a pretty good explanation in the story.
At some point, their lives comes to a point of crisis, which makes them what they are today. What sort of crisis? Was it a terrible tragedy, or the seizing of some golden opportunity? Or something else entirely?
Where You Are Now
This describes what the characters are up to at the point at which play starts. What are you doing? What are your goals? What do you expecy to happen next?
In each phase each player posts a paragraph on two detailing that phase in the character’s life story. Since the players aren’t sitting round a physical table, and may well be in completely different time zones, players don’t have to post in any set order. In each phase, you must reference at least one other character, either as a friend, foe, mentor, or whatever. This may be another character you introduce, who will become an NPC (a supporting character) in the game. Or it may be another player’s character, or an NPC another player has introduced. You may not introduce more than two NPCs over the course of the four phases, which means you’ll be forced to reference at least two other characters introduced by other people. This will result in a web of connections biding all the characters together.
When all the players have posted in each phase, the phase ends, and we move on to the next one. When all phases are complete, we should have a solid idea of who the characters are.
Individual character generation
This is the more traditional method of character generation for PBeMs. Each player creates their characters in isolation, and it’s up to the GM to weave connections between them. Players can still use the four phases, although it only needs to be followed as a guideline. All that’s really needed is a few hundred words of narrative that paint a clear picture of the character. If the GM is in a position where there are more applicants than there is room for in them game, the narratives can be used to select the most suitable players. They ought to give the GM a feel for how well the player can write, and whether or not they’re in tune with the GM’s vision of the setting.
Once we have back stories and connections for each character, we can move on to filling the nuts and bolts of game stats.