Character Proposal Guidelines - Examples

last update 21 Mar 02

1. Status

Good Examples

Sir John
An actual proposal.

Sir John: Social Distinction

Sir John is a (secular) knight of Allondell. He resides in the county of Carisbrooke, which (supposedly) lies on Allondell's southern border with Chardreau, near the largest fordable section of the Ludrois river. He is a younger son of a minor noble notable for his strategic holding and harsh character. Squired to a relative in Rood, he served his master in the Ennitarian War and later on the tournament circuit. John was recently knighted along with many other candidates, at the dubbing of the King's nephew in Tolbury. He has most recently been given the signal honor of taking Neville [another PC], the son of his Earl, as his squire to be prepared for the accolade himself.

He has made the beginnings of a name for himself in several areas:

a) His adherence to the ideals of chivalry, moreso than most.

b) Performing well recently on the tournament circuit. He hopes to do well in the upcoming "Champion of Love" and "Allondell Invitational" tournaments.

c) During recent troubles with Chardrois he led several small but successful raids and forays across the river, reportedly near some of the lands of Alex Remilard [another PC]. He has gone out of his way to be regarded there as a strong but honorable warrior.

An excellent proposal -- notice how the author jumps right into the salient details. He starts right off with saying what his Status-related concept is (a royal knight of Allondell) and then explains why his concept involves Status (knights have Status.) He ends with some character background, which helps give the GWC a better overall picture of the character. This latter part isn't strictly necessary, and for a straightforward concept (like a knight) isn't needed -- but for more oddball proposals this information can be crucial.

Bishop Jacques
An actual proposal, with names changed.

Jacques was born about 28 years ago, the fourth son of a minor noble family in Chardreau. As with many well-born younger children, he was sent to join the clergy. He was sent to the monastery of Gelovonne, a significant Chardrois monastery. But he was not meant to be a monk; with his family's wealth and influence, he was guaranteed an excellent career. He had attended the Cathedral School of Gelovonne as a child; although Gelovonne is not a particularly large village, as a town whose lord is the local Bishop, it has an excellent cathedral school. At the Cathedral School he learned Sturian, the stories, and studied the copious writings about his god. By the time he was 14, Jacques was well-educated. That was when his parents sent him to formally enter the Church. After a brief novitiate, he was ordained as a priest, his natural intelligence, inquisitiveness, and ambition already noted. He distinguished himself quickly; he has preached in the Cathedral of Gelovonne, and also shown a remarkable knack for understanding the temporal interests of the Church. The latter skill resulted in his appointment as Archdeacon when the previous Archdeacon died in a tragic accident; he viewed the accident as quite convenient, as it saved him the need of arranging one.

Recently (about 6 months ago) he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop. As the anointed heir of the Bishop of Gelovonne's position, he is chiefly interested in advancing his Church's interests. One of his major projects is attempting to find more lucrative ways of selling the wine the monastery produces. He doesn't yet think it's time to start praying that his diocesan bishop will suffer an accident like the previous Archdeacon's, as he is young. But if the old Bishop holds on too long, he may have to off him.

He is, in short, a slime. He's purely self-interested. Even his interest in knowledge is motivated only by the belief that knowledge is power and knowing that his god rewards knowledge with her blessings.

But he is also influential, powerful, and entitled to be treated with respect. Which is why he needs Status. He is not too powerful; since he is only a Coadjutor Bishop, his direct personal power is fairly limited right now. But he is a Prominent individual.

Bishop Jacques was played at [a particular game], with Prominence approved by the GM.

Jacques is a borderline example of a character with Prominence, falling just within the acceptable range.

The major issue with this character was concern that this character would sound too lofty, and it was suggested that the author either reduce him to an archdeacon (since an archdeacon of a major diocese would also have Prominence) or that he stress the "coadjutor" part of his title. All agreed that a diocesan bishop of a significant diocese with temporal holdings would be too powerful and influential a character.

However, the author assured all that he had no interest in having this character succeed to the diocesan position as a PC (if he became the diocesan bishop, the author would retire him to NPC status as too powerful) and that when played, he would be certain to stress that he was a coadjutor bishop (to avoid perceptions that he was too powerful). Given this, the proposal was deemed acceptable.

If Gelovonne were a more important see, Jacques probably would not have been acceptable (since a coadjutor bishop to an Archbishop in Chardreau would be too influential). But by stressing that he's mostly just an archdeacon who is the heir to a higher title, he was acceptable in the same way that heirs to barons are generally acceptable but barons are generally not. There might be exceptions; a bishop in exile from Delona might be okay. But diocesan bishops of major churches are generally over the line, which is why their heirs are just within the acceptable area.

Poor Examples

Duke Bob

My character, Duke Bob, is the illegitimate son of King Harold; he doesn't have a place in noble society (he's kinda a nineteenth-century style noble), but he's got LOTSA rank. I'm going to ask for Social Distinction, because I don't have the points for Prominence.

This isn't gonna fly. Laugh if you will, but Quest has gotten proposals not much better than this.

This person is asking:

  1. to be the son of a monarch
  2. to play a duke
  3. to play a certain type of Status based on available points, instead of based on what the character concept would demand
  4. to play a concept that's out-of-period

None of these four conditions are acceptable.

 

Baron Andrew

A PC wants to play Baron Andrew, a significant Allondine baron (not massively important, but he rules a prosperous midsized barony and is nationally influential). This proposal is likely to fail -- but narrowly. A character of this stature is a little over the top, but not outrageous like Duke Bob. A baron of an important kingdom is just over the line with what the GWC is normally comfortable with.

Andrew's son might pass (particularly if the son was well-established in game as heir apparent and then semi-retired and assuming the title). A less powerful baron might also pass (e.g. a dirt-poor Allondine baron newly created in the old Ennitaria and ruling a dinky little village.)

2. Honor

Good Examples

The Code of Zadi
An actual proposal.

Obeisance to the Gods

1. Above and beyond anything else in the Code it is necessary to obey always the Words of the Gods above the Words of Humankind. If your god has spoken to you, truly spoken to you, listen and obey.

Honor

2. Do not knowingly ask a person to betray his or her sworn Honor Code, even if the Code is alien to you.

3. If there is an unexpected conflict in the honor code, first look to the gods. If none can help you with your dilemma, only break one section of the Code if in favor of another. Do penance (whether in deeds, money, healing, magic, or vital information) for your misdeeds. If you break a section of the Code unwittingly, you must also do penance. Die before you willingly and wittingly would break a section of this code [see the Quest rules re: Honor Codes].

4. Always return a favor or an insult in kind. However, blood feuds are not to last more than three generations.

5. Never knowingly break your word.

Duty

6. Always obey the rules and orders of your Emir. While obeying the letter is important, it is more important to follow the spirit of the orders you have been given.

7. Family is everything. Always aid your family and protect them; they are your blood. The brother who raises a hand against his brother will be cursed by the gods.

Hospitality

8. Always gain permission from your host before entering his domicile.

9. When a guest, always aid and protect your host, unless he has acted truly dishonorably towards you (such as attacking you, stealing from you, etc.). Treat your host with the utmost courtesy and offer the best you have.

10. The rules of hospitality work both ways. When acting as a host, always aid and protect your guests unless they have acted truly dishonorably towards you (such as attacking you, stealing from you, etc.). Treat them with the utmost courtesy and offer them the best you have.

Social responsibility

11. Do not keep ins (which means "humans" to the Zadi, as they are unfamiliar with the other "made of clay" races aside from monsters) as slaves. This is an abhorrent practice. Keeping a djinn (immortal) is not slavery, but a gift from the gods.

12. To the best of your ability, you must heal the sick (and wounded) and feed the starving. [Heal the sick means that the character is honor-bound to heal wounded who are around her without any expectation of thanks or pay. Feed the starving is expanded in #13 below.]

13. Aid the poor whenever possible. The more wealth you have, the more responsibility you have towards the poor. [This is not the Charity disadvantage. What this means is that, at any one game, roughly 1/4-1/2 of the character's money/food/potions/assets should be given away, freely, without any expectation of reimbursement, to people in-game she feels are needy. The more money you have, the more and the greater percentage of what you have you will give away at any one game. However, if there are no poor or hungry or needy say, at a Court you might not end up spending money on anyone].

14. Do not drink alcohol. While good cheer is encouraged, loss of dignity is not. Public drunkenness is disgusting and should be treated as such.

 

Swashbuckler Code
An actual proposal.

1. Never abandon a friend or companion in need, even if it means risking your own life or safety.

2. Never attack a friend or companion except in a fair, open duel

3. Always accept the offer of fair combat

4. Always avenge an insult to your honor

5. Always come to the aid of a member of your preferred gender

 

CLARIFICATIONS

1. and 2. In order to avoid the philosophical discussion of "what is a friend", I'll only define "companion" which is a category that would include friends.

For the purposes of this honor code, a companion is:

  • a person with whom you are working and/or fighting (i.e on the same side. The metagame definition would be "a person in the same party or miniquest group as you")
  • a person who has done a favor for you (such as healing, defending, etc)

The bonds of friendship and companionship are indefinite, unless the friend or companion does something to negate the bond, such as:

  • attack you without provocation
  • refuse to heal you for no good reason
  • insult your honor
  • betray you

2. and 3. The definition of "fair" can also be a bit hazy. On the one occasion when this part of the honor code became an issue, I defined "fair" as "equal weaponry," and that's probably the definition I'll continue to use.

4. This doesn't necessarily mean killing, or even fighting.

5. When there were only male Swashbucklers, this point read "Always come to the aid of a lady," but I changed it for the sake of gender-neutrality.

Poor Examples

Let's pretend the Swashbuckler Code above didn't have any clarifications. In that form, it wouldn't pass. Let's see why. This would then be the code in full:

1. Never abandon a friend or companion in need, even if it means risking your own life or safety

2. Never attack a friend or companion except in a fair, open duel

3. Always accept the offer of fair combat

4. Always avenge an insult to your honor

5. Always come to the aid of a member of your preferred gender

An Honor code is a disadvantage, meaning it must in some way impede you. #1 doesn't do that. #1 says you "must help your friends". As it is, players always help their good friends anyway. And "companion" is vague enough that if you don't want to help someone outside your own party, you could just say they weren't actually a companion. (Note that the actual code clears this up by saying that a companion is someone working or fighting on your side.)

For #2, without "fair" defined as "equal weaponry", there would be too much room for cheesing.

For #4, "avenge" needs better definition. Does this mean you must duel and kill the offender?

Without the clarifications, the response to this proposal would be "you're working in the right direction, and the intent is clear, but there's too much room for people to cheese with it." Honor codes don't work with hard-set rules the way that spells do; they govern behavior, and there's always room for cheesing behavior. When you propose an Honor, try to be as precise as you can.

 

3. Innate Power

Good Examples

"Jack"
an actual proposal, with the name changed.

I'm proposing for one Mage spell, Stun Bolt (twice a day) for my character, "Jack". It was, in fact, the only Mage spell he was taught before his teacher was killed. The way he was taught was particular to his schooling (think of it like a convent taught by eccentric nuns) and when the school burnt down, that particular way of teaching magic was lost. Jack will not gain any other Mage spells from other practices. It was the first Mage spell he was taught, to defend himself, and before he learned another, it all went >poof<.

This is a good example of an IP proposal for an established race. Jack may be a human, but he's not deriving his "Innate Power" from some wacky force -- there's a reasonable explanation for his power, and in-game Jack might even call himself a "mage", since he did learn this spell via traditional magery. Moreover, any convenience that Jack's player might get from not having to buy all the Mage stuff is counterbalanced by the fact that the proposal specifically says Jack can't learn any more Mage spells (not without buying the Mage skill, anyway, which would then represent training in a traditional school.)

Poor Examples

"Jane"

I'm proposing for Stun Bolt, Protection 3', and Barkskin, each up to twice per day. These are powers that were taught to her by her order, the Knights of Stilton. They are secret rituals passed from person to person within the order. My character Jane learned them from the masters of the order.

There are several problems here.

1) There's no justified reason connecting the three particular spells. What idea or concept connects these three otherwise disparate spells? Why does the order teach these three spells? These are three very useful spells, and whether or not it was intended as such, it reads like an attempt to get a bunch of really good spells cheaply (without having to buy Initiation or Magic.)

2) "These are special powers taught to me" is a fairly weak justification for Innate Power. The standard races learn magic via the Magic and Mysticism skills, and Innate Power is intended for racial proposals and for very oddball cases indeed. The GWC is likely to respond that the character should pick up the Mysticism skill instead. (The usual response to this is "but that will cost more character points!", to which the GWC usually responds, "Yes, we know.")