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Ready Made What?

Posted on July 11, 2009 by Matt-M-McElroy

So, White Wolf has been releasing a series of “Ready-Made Player Characters” for each game line in the World of Darkness. Todd Cash already reviewed the Vampire: the Requiem set called Slaughterhouse Five here at Flames Rising and had some interesting things to say about why he likes the concept.

I’m going to do a little more of that, especially now that I’ve had the chance to check out a few more of them. It seems that some folks are wondering why anyone would buy such a thing. I’ve seen a couple of posts on the White Wolf Forums to this effect and had at least one IM conversation about it. To me the idea seems like an excellent one. Not all gaming groups have lots of free time to devote just to character creation. Some groups only get together once in a while and would much rather dive into playing the game, rather than working up a backstory and stating out individual characters. These products are exactly what they say, “Ready-Made” and are good to go out of the box (so to speak).

My gaming group is made of of busy adults that all have busy schedules. We have a ton of games we would like to try out sometime and more often than not are playing one-shot sessions rather than ongoing campaigns for this reason. Similar to a convention demo, we often use pre-generated characters for these one-shot games so we can have a full night of exploring the system and setting of whatever the game happens to be. These “Ready-Made” sets take that idea and offer it up in a tidy box. The characters are fleshed out, stated up twice and there is even some advice for the Storyteller on running the group.

Now, they are not perfect for every gaming group. Hell, even for the group looking to try Vampire or Mage for the first time they may not fit exactly perfect as-is. Someone might not like any of the characters presented or there may be too few female characters offered for the group (or simply not enough characters at all, I’ve had groups of 6 or 7 players and these only offer 5 options).

Thing is, these offer some good starting points for a group to dive into the game. Regardless of how detailed pre-generated characters may be (in any game) there is always room for customization. I never use a detailed character write-up, whether pre-gen or NPC, as-is in any game I’m running. They do, however, save me some time by getting things started. These groups of characters already have built-in ties to each other, some goals to pursue and two sets of stats (new and seasoned).

As a bonus for Storytellers they offer up an excellent set of antagonists that can use in an established game. Say you are running Vampire and want to spice things up by bringing some Hunters to town…you’ve got The Keepers ready to cause trouble with almost no prep work needed.

Now, my experiences may be far from the norm. Character Creation can be a lot of fun, but if I don’t have a lot of time in my schedule I mind using and modifying pre-gen characters to fit my games at all. Others may disagree. These PDF products are one way White Wolf is exploring these games and offering gamers a chance to explore the World of Darkness.

So, what do you think of the “Ready-Made Characters” currently available?

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3 Responses to “Ready Made What?”

  1. Michelle M Nguyen says:

    I know plenty of gamers out there that enjoy character creation but my group just isn’t among them. My group is a like yours — full of busy adults with either very short or one-shot stories. Also, we have made screwing around to an art form and trying to get everyone to concentrate while rolling up a character is, well, like herding cats. We just don’t have the attention span for it — we want to have fun, now. Problem is, we also appreciate a good story.

    Personally, I think the Ready Made Characters is a godsend. Great way to jump in without the time sink of rolling a good character with a back story. Seems to me to be a good way to get the best of both worlds.

  2. Fred Hicks says:

    I feel like a lot of RP is happening at conventions, in one-shot formats. These products seem tailor-made for that application, and that’s a good thing.

  3. I agree that these make great convention demo characters. The prep work is largely finished for the Storyteller and the characters already have ties to each other.

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