Shreyas and I both came to GenCon with pretty character sheets but only vague ideas about how they supported the kind of play that we had in mind. This didn’t bother us. We’re both interested in designing game products that are actually the tools used, in real time, to create play, instead of having books and sheets simply be records of play information. So the tools came first, in this case, and then we decided to try and figure out what sort of play they led us too. (Kevin Allen Jr. was walking around at the time and asked what we were up to; that in turn led to the infamous and ongoing Reverse/Engineer design contest, but that’s beside the point…).
Hopefully Shreyas and Thomas will pitch in and help me retell how the session went. I still have all the character info and records from it, so I’m going to go ahead and post what I have:
Nation: Earth Kingdom
Major Personality Traits: Bored, Bitchy
Relationships: Hates Parents
Martial/Bending: “See” with Earthbending, Crush People With Very Small Rocks (added during play)
Major Possession: The Stick
Major Dharma: Escape Parents, Become Earthbending Master
Earth Path: Learn “Crush People with Rocks”
– This Guy’s an Idiot
– My Way Works (Sorta)
– Knocked Myself Out With a Rock
– Crush People With Very Small Rocks (END)
Fire Path: Change “Hates Parents” to “Likes Parents”
– I’m Not a Kid
– My Dad Got Me Into This
Air Path: Pretend to Be Nice
– I Can Hold My Tongue
– Wait ‘Til They’re Not Looking
Water Path: Make a Friend
Nation: Water (North)
Home: Northern Water Capitol
Major Personality Traits: Competative for No Reason
Relationships: Jealous of Katara
Martial/Bending: Waterbending Accidents
Major Possessions: Kayak
Major Dharma: Make Pakku Look Dumb
Water Path: Find New Teacher
– I’m Outta Here
– Caught in a Storm
– Try Again
Earth Path: Become a Pirate
– Bosun Overboard!
– Don’t Waste Grog
Air Path: Make a Friend
– Scrubbing with Kai
Fire Path: Take Charge of Life
– I’m the Lookout Now
Thomas decided he wanted to play Toph, a major character from the show who hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet. She’s a young blind girl who can “see” Daredevil-style by using her Earthbending powers to sense vibrations. She is known to have a bad relationship with her controlling and overprotective parents.
Shreyas decided to play a semi-new character. In one episode, Katara (a female Waterbender and one of the show’s protagonists) beats the crap out of a bunch of young male Waterbending students, to show that girls can be just as good as boys… or even better. Shreyas named one of these guys Kusa and decided that he was pissed off at Pakku, the Waterbending instructor.
I should probably explain that “Major Dharma” are supposed to be long term goals.
Also, let me explain the basic idea of “Dharma Paths.” Characters can have up to 4 different active Dharma Paths at each time, one for each element. And they basically record your progress as a character and enable you to change old traits or add new traits by completing a kind of “journey” as a character. You go through a series of events and they lead you to a new trait. But this trait CANNOT BE THE TRAIT YOU WANTED when you began the journey. It has to be at least a variation, but it’s often something completely different. You may think you know where the journey’s going to lead when you start, but life always surprises you.
Okay, so the characters didn’t start off with all those steps filled out on their Paths. They didn’t even start out with all those Paths. I think Thomas started with just his Earth and Fire paths determined, while Shreyas started with just Water (correct me if I’m wrong, guys).
One of the fabulous things was that Toph wanted to change “Hates Parents” to “Likes Parents,” but because of the way Paths work, we knew she’d never actually be able to do it, which is so fitting for her character. Thomas chose that goal for her KNOWING THAT SHE WOULD FAIL, which was just delicious. We all were on the edge of our seats waiting to see what her misdirected attempt at learning to love her parents would lead her to.
Okay, there’s me setting the stage. One of you guys wanna explain the Avatar Cycle dail and our thoughts about it? They kinda evolved over the course of play.