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Mad, Mad Libs!

The last, hugest piece I've been working on for Transylvanian Adventures was what my wife and I have affectionately called the "Mad-Libs" section of the character sheet. And, as it turns out, that has been the most asked-about section of the character sheet since it was introduced with the updated Winter Home pre-generated characters.

For those who still have not (warning: shameless plugpicked up a copy of the Winter Home Introductory Adventure yet, the Mad-Libs section (titled "My Story" on the character sheet) looks like this...

This section tells a player the pertinent facts about his character, while giving enough information for the player to roleplay that character immediately after reading it. Appearance, motivations, character flaws as well as what makes a character "heroic" are all represented in this section.

All generated through random tables.

It takes about 5 minutes and 4 dice to fill in that block. The tables deliver customized results based on a character's alignment and gender. So a Lawful-Male and a Chaotic-Female would roll on completely different tables. And "altruism" would mean different things to a Lawful character and a Neutral character -- while it wouldn't even be available to a Chaotic character.

It's an enjoyable process. I would compare it to creating a super-hero in the old TSR Classic Marvel Superheroes roleplaying game (a.k.a. FASERIP). You could sit down for an hour or so and make dozens of "mad libs" for characters. And with over 100 absolutes, over 80 principals, 80 appearance traits and over 60 Hobbies, you can get an idea of how many varied options are available for the characters of Transylvanian Adventures.

Here's another example (again from the pre-gens in The Winter Home):

There are also mechanical underpinnings to these items but they aren't heavy-handed. Take hobbies. Charlotte likes reading about ESP and Ulbrecht likes Sculpting. The mechanical underpinning for a Hobby is that it equates to one-half of a DCC RPG Occupation. So whatever bonus you'd give a character for an Occupation in DCC RPG, cut it in half and award it whenever a character can sensibly use a hobby. All the items you see in the "My Story" section have easy-to-remember, Tweet-sized rules like that.

Characters can also have more than one Hobby. Notice how Charlotte has more appearance traits than Ulbrecht? That's because her Personality score is that much higher than his. Everything from Height to Build to Fashion Sense to Absolutes and Hobbies ties back to a character's ability scores. This isn't some tacked-on system that you'll set aside and forget about once the game starts. 

The Character Story section has been designed so that it's useful at the start of a 0-Level Schoolteacher's career and equally useful when that character is a 10th level Valiant.

There's a method to my mad-libs.


  1. I was until now unfamiliar with said adventure .
    I must say you have sold me on it and I am head over to Drive thru rpg to pick up my copy shortly Cheers .


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