Why are we playing this game?

  1. What do I need to do?
  2. Create Your Hero
  3. Numbers

The first thing you’ll want to do is talk with your friends and decide what the game will be about. You don’t need to get into details—your Adventure Guide will handle the details—but you’ll need to all be on the same page. For example, you might decide that this game will be about the quest for knowledge, small-town heroes make good, black sheep redeem themselves, or military squabbling among nations.

Your game can be about a plot, such as “city resists invasion” or about a style, such as “old-style dungeon crawl”.

It should take five to fifteen minutes to talk about this. Once you’ve got the basic idea for the game down, there are three things you’ll want to talk about as a group, and choose as a group: your motivation, your moral codes, and your archetypes.

Why are we playing this game?: Motivation

Take a sheet of paper. On the back, write “motivation”. Take a minute or two to think about your character’s motivation for adventuring. Your motivation helps to drive your character forward into the abandoned castle, ruined mansion, or underground dungeon.

Talk about your motivation with the other players. A written motivation helps to ensure that all players are on the same page, and helps to guide you as you create your character.

Even though ________________________________, I will explore the ruins because ____________________________________.

Something wants to keep you on the farm or in the family business. Whether it’s dad, responsibility, fear, or lack of confidence, something wants to keep you from standing out, to be normal. That goes in the “even though” section.

Your motivation overcomes that. It can be an abstract idea or a specific object that your character strives to own, possess, or somehow acquire. Your motivation might, for example, be some form of knowledge, power, heroism, wealth, contentment, family, revenge, war, glory, peace, fulfillment, love, solace, redemption, or adventure.

Your motivation must drive your character to adventure with the other characters. It should in some way drive the character to action, “even though” the average person would never do something so fraught with peril.

Even though my mother wants me to stay on the farm, I will explore the ruins because I want to see the world.

Even though I want to marry my childhood sweetheart, I will explore the ruins because we need money to build a home.

Even though there are safer ways to make a fortune, I will explore the ruins because I want it all now.

You can change your motivation at any time, but it must always provide a justification for adventuring in ruins.

Adventure Guide

If you haven’t yet done so, you’ll need to choose one member of the group to be the Adventure Guide. The Adventure Guide will not create a hero of their own. The Guide will create the adventures that challenge the heroes. The Guide will act the part of most of the non-player characters, and the fortunes and fates that the characters meet. They will represent the world in which the heroes find adventure. The player chosen as the Guide should read the Adventure Guide’s Handbook for more information about being an Adventure Guide.

The Guide may also wish to read the adventures that can be downloaded for Gods & Monsters at http://godsmonsters.com/Guide/. The other players should not read these adventures, as it spoils the surprises and contests that the adventures contain.

Moral codes

There is a lot more about moral code later in the book; it has its own section, and you’ll want to read it. A character’s moral code is their morality in the Gods & Monsters fantasy world. Good characters are honest, Evil characters are selfish, Chaotic characters value personal freedom, and Ordered characters value community well-being.

Player characters should almost always be Good if they have a moral code. They can be only good, or they can be Chaotic Good or Ordered Good. As a group, you may wish to decide whether you want Chaotic or Ordered characters, or a mix. This will depend on the goals of the game and what the game is about. Player characters can’t be evil.

Archetypes and specialties

It’s always a good idea to talk about the archetypes you’re going to want in your group, so that you know who wants to play which archetype and you know which of the mental archetypes (sorceror, prophet, and monk) are available.

If there are four players, one is the Adventure Guide, one will play a warrior, one will play a thief, and one will play a mental archetype.

If there are only three players, one player character must be a physical archetype, and one must be a mental archetype.

If there are five players, the fifth player can play a warrior, a thief, or one of the remaining mental archetypes (but not the same one already being played). If there are six or seven players, the extra players can choose any archetype that isn’t already being played by two players.

Some archetypes won’t be available in your game. The physical archetypes, warrior and thief, are always available. But of the mental archetypes, often only one or two will be available. You’ll want to discuss this as a group: what kind of magic do you want to encounter?

In some fantasy worlds, only one of the magical archetypes will be available. In others, two or three will be available, but some will be extremely rare. It’s up to you as a group what kind of world your characters live in.

Sometimes the world will dictate what magic is available. If you’re adventuring in a Burroughsian world, you’ll need monks so as to have psychic powers in the game. If you’re adventuring in ancient Greece, you’ll want prophets, and perhaps sorcerors.

  1. What do I need to do?
  2. Create Your Hero
  3. Numbers