There are 5 phases, each of which tells us something about the character’s life, as well as adding setting detail and giving the GM some NPC concepts to work with. The phases are:
- Phase 1: Origin: This phase covers the character’s background and early life. The player writes down a brief summary of the events of the phase — details of family, education, early work, etc., which shaped the character. The player creates a setting location for this phase, and this setting is added to the campaign world (thus, each campaign setting will be unique to the playing group). The player then describes an NPC who was important during the events of this phase. The player then creates two aspects for his or her character that are in some way tied to the events or details of this phase.
- Phase 2: Master:This phase covers the character’s training as a warrior. The player writes down a brief summary of the events of the phase — did the character learn at the feet of a wandering Master, or was the character a member of a Clan or School? At this point, the player can choose one of the example groups provided in the rules — The Knights of the Far West (the former lawmen of the defeated side in the Secession Wars, who are now outlawed) or The Imperial Army (the military force of the governing power) for example. The player then describes an NPC who was important during the events of this phase (this can be the character’s Master, but does not have to be). The player then creates two aspects for his or her character that are in some way tied to the events or details of this phase.
- Phase 3: Virtues: This phase does not neccessarily reflect a particular time in the character’s life, but instead covers the virtues which all heroes in Far West have in common. In the wuxia genre, these are known as the Xia Virtues, although I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll be using that name here. The virtues are: Altruism, Justice, Individualism, Loyalty, Courage, Truthfulness, Disregard for Wealth, and Desire for Glory. During this phase, the player chooses one virtue which the character exhibits positively, and creates an aspect which reflects that virtue. However, the player also chooses one virtue in which the character is lacking, and creates an aspect which reflects that shortcoming. Over the course of play, the character will also earn positive or negative aspects for the other Xia Virtues.
- Phase 4: The Wars: In the world of Far West, the world has been shaped by The Secession Wars (as you can tell from the name, this is our Civil War analogue for the setting). The specifics of these conflicts depend a great deal on the setting information created by the players in Phase 1. There will be a chapter on the Secession Wars giving some ideas for consideration. Regardless, two facts are concrete: One, the wars ended with the Empire as the victor; and Two: Warriors from both sides (including the characters), scarred by war and unsuited for the new peace, headed into the far frontier to make a life for themselves. The player writes down a brief summary of the events of the phase –which side they served, some of the critical experiences they had during the Wars, etc., and then creates two aspects for his or her character that are in some way tied to the events or details of this phase. They player also describes an NPC who was important during the events of this phase.
- Phase 5: Nemesis: The worth of a hero is often measured by the quality of his enemies. In this phase, the player creates an arch-villain for the character — a nemesis with whom the character has previously fought (giving details of these encounters), and who will be encountered again (as the gamemaster rubs his hands in glee…). In addition, the player creates two aspects for his or her character that are tied to their experiences with this enemy.
At the end of this process, the character should have 10 Aspects, and will have handed the GM several bits of campaign setting detail, including 4 NPCs — one of which is a major villain.
More on character creation in our next episode.
Starting with this entry, I’ll sign off by leaving you with some bits of musical inspirado — tracks from the playlist that I’m using as my soundtrack for writing and playtesting Far West.
See you next time.