From WoD GothamCharacter Dossier. This article focuses on how to use the Character Dossier effectively. Rather than guide you through the mechanical process of creating and submitting a ticket or creating a Journal entry, it will focus on what types of information are used in each ticket type and how that all fits together to track your character's overall growth.
Character Development Overview
What is Character Development?
When we say Character Development in the WoDG context we refer to both mechanical and character growth as a role playing character. As your character inhabits the setting, he will become more experienced in it and in his own skin. His attitudes and perspectives will change and so might his goals and motivations as interaction with other characters, events, and experiences shape him. Growth and development don't end until the character is removed from the setting in one way or another. So Character Development is an ongoing process by which you as a player manage your character's growth and keep it compelling to role play and role play with. It's the process by which your character remains relevant within the Chronicle.
Consistency and Responsibility
How well or consistently a player keeps up with managing his character is entirely up to him. After all, in WoDG players are accountable for their characters and only they know how much they want to do with them. If you lack time, do not expect STs to manage your character on your behalf. We will process requests, not make them for you. So pick a character type and concept that you have time to play and manage effectively.
In the end in all things to do with your character we say this: "It's your character; it's your responsibility."
Strategy and Balance
Players should be aware that there is an art to character development and management. When spending EXP, requesting Equipment, and submitting Downtime you are in effect spending FINITE resources in the form of materials, personnel (if you have minions), time, and money. As a player responsible and accountable for their own character, its growth, and development, you have to take into consideration how to balance out your character's affairs.
For example, if your character takes on a large project in his spare time using all of his downtime to finish it on a more timely basis, he is not going to be able to investigate that dead body found in the alley during a scene because he's simply too busy with something else. Then you will be in a weak position during a storyline. So in essence how much effort and time you put into a given task is as important as what tasks your character undertakes in the first place.
Aspects of Character Development
There are some tangible aspects of character development in WoDG. They are manged as tickets and journal entries in the Character Dossier and are as follows:
- EXP Requests - These are requests put into the ticket system to request Experience be spent and a trait raise or perhaps a new trait purchased.
- Downtime Reports - These are tickets which report to STs what your character is doing with his time while not in play.
- Journals - This is a diary or record of your character's activities. The format it takes is up to you. You can make it a real diary told from an IC perspective, it can be an outline, a bulleted list, a mixture of formats depending on entry type, etc.
- Equipment Requests - These types of tickets focus on equipment to be added to your character's inventory. This covers purchased as well as created items - supernatural and mundane.
Note that tickets are ONLY available to ACTIVE players. Tickets handed in by INACTIVE players will be rejected.
An active player is someone that RPs 1 time a week for an extended period (4+hours) or 3 to 4 times a week for couple hours at a time. They actually play while they are in scene and give the scene their full attention. They do not do extended afks or reply every 20 minutes between their IRL chores or while playing video games, etc.
STs will only give players attention in tickets proportional to their activity level AND IC contribution to the game AND OOC contribution to the community.
Basic premise: This is a quid pro quo arrangement. If you don't contribute to the chat, you don't get ST attention. You're not ENTITLED to our time.
When players save up enough Experience, they typically want to spend it to raise their traits or buy new ones. We have a pretty intuitive form for that. It includes a field where players will have to explain their expenditure. This is where your Downtime Reports and Journal comes in handy, as you can reference their entries to STs so that they can see that your character has been attempting to learn something new. Note that some supernatural traits have extensive learning times or special requirements like Spheres, Disciplines, and Gifts. Arete and Gnosis may not be requested. See: Gnosis and Seekings.
Mundane traits like Attributes, Abilities, and Willpower typically require little time to learn or acquire at low levels, but increase significantly at higher levels. Unfortunately this really depends on the trait and it can be rather subjective. That is why there is no hard and fast rule set in a nifty chart for you. It is just too hard to measure learning times since no two abilities or attributes are alike. For example, one might be able to justify taking Finances 1 after attending a simple online personal investment seminar for a week. However, taking Linguistics 1 indicates that your character just learned a new language and that isn't going to be learned within a week unless your character already knows a language closely related to the new language they wish to learn - like knowing Spanish and wanting to purchase Italian. In the case of Willpower, much of that requires substantiation with much role play over time. The standard is pretty much how one would justify overcoming a flaw - with much role play and over time.
Increasing Backgrounds is possible, but requires a lot more justification which can include:
- ST Rewards as part of a storyline
- Downtime activities
- Any combination of the above.
DOCUMENTING ROLLS ON TICKETS
To make processing tickets easier on the staff, downtime tickets and other tickets which may contain rolls within them need to be documented in the following way:
WHAT WHERE WHEN HOW
Basic summary of the character's action. Include where they are at when doing the action, when the action is taking place, and how is your character carrying out the action. Wait for the ST to reply with any instructions.
DICE POOL USED
STs will call for rolls and assign difficulties. With respect to automatic or routine rolls like researching Thaumaturgical Paths and rituals, creating rotes, learning Gifts you can just go ahead and list the dice pool being used and note any adjustments to difficulty and dice pool and why. These types of rolls that can be done without prior ST input are very specifically codified and laid out in appropriate parts of the wiki and require no further ST involvement with respect to adjusting difficulty and pools.
LIST IN ORDER
List your rolls in order of your task list by putting the URL(s) in the ticket AND include a summary.
Summaries should include the number of successes, the action, if it was a failure or botch indicate that nest to the roll. Note difficulty adjustments after a failure if you attempt again.
SAMPLE TICKET FORMAT
My character is in Sanctum and wants to make a rote.
My character is using the supplies in his sanctum and contacting his mentor to conduct his research (Intelligence+Investigation) and experiments (Arete). Both at Difficulty 4.
Rote 1 Research 6 Successes needed
www.wodgotham.com/viewrolls.php?did (failed roll)
www.wodgotham.com/viewrolls.php?did (+1 Difficulty for second attempt)
Rote 1 Experiment 3 Successes needed
Botched first experiment so I spent a WP and upped the diff by 1 for the next rolls to continue
www.wodgotham.com/viewrolls.php?did (Botched Roll)
ATTENTION: Players who do not make an effort to follow this format will have their tickets rejected.
In these tickets players set their agendas up for a given period. The form is intuitive and works like any other ticket in the Character Dossier. In the message area of the ticket it's a good idea to give a clear and concise objective or plan for your downtime. A declarative statement works best like: "My character plans to study for his next dot in Forces, stick to his workout routine so he can buy Stamina later, and he's going to set up new security measures around his home. But I'm going to save a little downtime in case there's something that I need to do for the cabal." Also, whenever possible, try to group your tickets in chunks of time. For instance, structure downtime tickets and limit them to what you anticipate your character's strategy will be for the 2 weeks, months, etc. This way the system doesn't get clogged with tons of downtime tickets with extraneous requests. Players are given a max of 1 downtime ticket a month and are free to submit downtime tickets on a quarterly basis or however it works for them. If there is a SL development that requires immediate attention and you have downtime left to spare, then you can add a reply to your ticket and inform the ST that you have some spare downtime that you would like to use to address the matter.
Then you go on to the rest of the form where you can detail what it is that you're doing with your character and how. Each downtime activity MUST have its own line item. Grouping items together that are unrelated will be cause to reject the ticket. For instance if your character's plan was to go to the library and research airplanes and then go to his mentor's office to discuss the upcoming heart surgery they were both going to perform, you wouldn't have those two items on one activity line as they are entirely separate. However, if your downtime activity was to buy an airplane it's reasonable for you to put on one line, "Shopping for a jet airplane, doing industry research, price comparisons, looking at safety records, talking to airplane mechanics, asking pilots for some recommendations."
Now on the form there are some additional items of note. For instance, players will indicate the length of time that they are devoting to a given agenda. They will then set up their downtime tasks for that period which they can prioritize so that STs know what your character is really focusing on.
The percentage of available downtime a player allocates to a given task is required. This is relative to the amount of time that your downtime report spans as well as the amount of resources available to your character in terms of additional help from his individual traits as well as assistance from supporting NPCs. The idea here is to come up with an estimate of what you think is a realistic set of tasks for a given chunk of your character's time.
Therefore, players can also indicate if they are doing a task themselves or if they are assigning it to an underling.
STs will respond in the message area and indicate anything that needs clarification, indicate if an item is within the means that the character has at his disposal, and state what rolls need to be made. If applicable, players may need to adjust their downtime. STs may also adjust how much time it takes to do a particular task in the ETA as the expectation of the player and the reality of the setting, may not match.
The player will provide the results of any rolls required in the message response by linking to the roll results viewer page for that roll. You can get to that page by clicking on the red linked timestamp of your roll result in the dice roller's table. The rolls must be done in the order they are listed on the ticket. In the case of multiple rolls per line item, then you will do the rolls in the order the ST asked them to be done.
For complex tasks, STs may set a lengthy ETA for the downtime to be completed. Once the ETA has elapsed, the downtime is considered complete. STs will then report results where applicable.
All downtime must be submitted at the beginning of the month, quarter, or whatever other period it covers. STs will not process downtimes that reach back in time. That in game time that has passed is lost and there's no time traveling backwards to have downtime count for the present or future.
Jobs, careers, businesses all need upkeep and should be included in downtime activities. Mortals especially all have a portion of their downtime devoted to earning a living and so some of the downtime should be reserved for this. As it's impossible to codify how much time jobs and businesses eat up of available downtime, discuss it with your ST and set up a baseline of how much time needs to be devoted to such activities.
Note: It will always be taken as a given that your character is doing basic upkeep tasks like personal grooming, laundry, basic chores, etc. This will not eat up your downtime unless there are some unforeseen complications or by choice. For instance, a character may be pressed to complete a task in a certain amount of time to avoid some sort of dire consequence. Like cramming for an exam, it may be a case where the character opts to forget its basic needs in order to meet a deadline.
Journals are for you to take notes and place your character's thoughts and your thoughts about your character's direction. Its format is entirely up to you. STs will use it to look over when you've referenced a particular entry to substantiate a trait increase, an equipment request, downtime activity, and activity bonuses. STs may also peruse Journal entries looking for plot hooks and to get a general idea of what is going on with your character.
Some venues place more official importance on Journals than others. For example, in Mage a good record of character development is required in order for STs to have some method by which to gauge if a character is ready for a Seeking. Werewolf also makes use of Journals to gauge whether or not a character is ready to gain Gnosis.
In addition, writing in your journal does not directly net you any EXP. This is a tool for you to use to communicate with STs and grow your character. So ultimately, it is up to you how much you put into them (remember: your character; your responsibility). However, a journal is indirectly used to help you increase your traits and substantiate your monthly Activity Bonus Tickets. No matter the venue, they are a valuable resource and a means by which you can explore your character more fully.
We have several types of Equipment requests available to players. They include the following:
- Equipment Request
- Melee Weapon Request
- Ranged Weapon Request
- Armor Request
- Wonder Request
- Fetish Request
- Rote Request
All of them work in pretty much the same way. Some will require downtime to acquire, some will require Resources be spent, and some may need a mixture of the two. Like EXP tickets, EQ tickets need to have some justification. That's where both your Journals and Downtime come into play. It should go without saying but we'll say it anyway, if you want to create something and then put it on your sheet as an asset or piece of equipment, that's going to require downtime. Creation, invention, design and similar activities are covered under Dramatic Systems. Players should be well aware of the complexity and time it takes to undertake DIY activities. Other items that are harder to procure, will require downtime and perhaps some rolls to see how well a character leverages the appropriate traits to acquire a particular item.
In your EQ tickets, if it's applicable, a storyteller will make note of a Resources expenditure. All characters start out with a finite number of Resources. Some gain enough wealth over the course of play where money may no longer be an obstacle. Until then, you must take into account your character's Resource rating. Evil STs will put the hammer down on extravagant spending and place your character into debt.