Gaming and Failed Character Arcs

We recently wrapped up our Monsters and Other Childish Things campaign over on Technical Difficulties, and I've been ruminating on my character(s) from the campaign. 

I like the initial concept I started with — a girl and her blink puppy — but that's about where the character stayed over 15 game sessions, at an initial concept. I am a reactive player. I typically have a sense of where my character is and who they are at start of play, then further define them and how they change in reaction to what's happening in game. Instead of having an idea of what they want and proactively making it happen in game. I can, and have, had interesting, fun characters with well-developed story arcs with this method. But I don't consider it a great way to go about these things — more of a bad habit I have yet to learn to recognize the early signs of and break out of.

For me in the Monsters and Other Childish Things campaign, my problem was that it became mostly combat focused. 

In a separate (currently on going) campaign, in the Better Angels system, this is really biting me in the butt character-wise. Character progression in this system happens through 'sin' and I'm not naturally choosing sin as a reactive move. Honestly this is helping  me a lot — since it's built into the system so deeply I've noticed the problem earlier and have a reward mechanism already in place for trying to break out of this habit.

I honestly think the solution is all on me. I need to do some planning before game night. I need to sit down and think through what my character wants and their plan to get it. Or what I as a player want to see happen and come up with ideas on how to make it happen. I need to preplan some ideas for scenes.

I suppose I could do this right after sessions while the story/plot/events are all still fresh in my mind, but I'm usually emotionally wiped at the end of a gaming session. A good one anyway. 

Dani & Jak-Jak : the second draft

Danielle waved to the bus driver as he closed the school bus doors. Squaring her shoulders, Dani shifted her backpack and started trudging down the sidewalk towards home. That booger-faced doodie-head boy from three rows back had thrown a blob of gum at her again. It was still stuck, tangled up tight in her wavy red hair. It wasn't fair. Nobody bothered her on the bus when Liz was there too, and Liz was two whole years younger. Sighing, started pulling it out, trying to leave as much of her hair in the ponytail as she could. She was focusing so much on the gum she almost tripped over the box on her front porch. Got the gum out through.

Dani flicked the gum off into the bushes by the porch, off the side with the empty planter that Mom kept promising to fill ‘next weekend.’ Then, Dani fished her key out of her backpack, scooped up the box, unlocked the door, and headed inside.

Looked like Aunt Fran (well, great-aunt really) had reused an Amazon box again. It was probably Liz’s ninth birthday present. If so, it was a week early this year. Last year, the Christmas presents hadn’t shown up until January.

Dani locked the front door behind her, ditched her shoes and backpack by the door, and headed into the kitchen. Mom and Daddy weren't home yet to tell her not to eat any toast, that she'd wreck her appetite for dinner. Toast was better than dinner anyway. It was Mom’s night to cook — rubbery chicken and mushy veggies. If she was real unlucky, it'd be lima beans. Maybe it was how Mom made them, but that dry, gritty texture was just gross. Daddy never made limas beans. Besides, Dani was really hungry. She'd been grabbing a snack after school, when Daddy came home, AND eating all of dinner all week. Mom hadn't even noticed yet. Stupid growth spurt.

Dani pulled the step-stool out of the broom closet, dragged it in front of the fridge, climbed up, and grabbed the squishy white bread from the bakery of breads on top the fridge. Nobody in the house particularly liked the squishy white bread, Daddy just kept it in the house for emergencies since it never seemed to go bad. So, nobody besides Dani was going to notice when she finished the loaf. Probably by the end of the week at this rate; Dani pulled a couple slices out of the bag and put the bag back in the basket.

Dani eyed the box where she'd put it on the counter as she dropped the bread in the toaster (set for just starting to brown — that'd take less time than how brown she really liked it. She was hungry.) Dani really wanted to know what was in that box. Aunt Fran sent neat stuff. But she should really be a good girl. This was Liz’s present. Grabbing the slices out of the toaster and starting to nibble, Dani walked over to the counter and stared at the brown box again.

Aunt Fran had gone practical this time. Or maybe lazy. The Christmas boxes had drawings and Aunt Fran’s fancy writing all over them. This one was very plain. Huh. Dani counted at least three layers of tape on this thing. There was the Amazon branded tape, a layer of clear stuff half of some letters were trapped under, AND another layer on top of that. Aunt Fran had written in Mom & Daddy’s names and the address in black sharpie.

If she got some packing tape, she could tape it back up, good as new.

Dani bit her lip. She should really be a good girl. Mom and Daddy let her stay home instead of going to those stupid after-school activities. She really should be good…

Dani grabbed the tape and a pair of scissors out of Daddy’s messy craft table and ran back to the kitchen. Grabbing Aunt Fran's box, she moved everything to the kitchen table and climbed into her usual spot on the wall bench seat.That wasn’t as far up anymore. Soon it wasn’t going to be a climb at all... Dani shoved the overly puffy pillows Mom and Liz liked out of the way and sat down. Carefully slicing open the box tape revealed a blue gift bag, with black tissue paper peeking out of the top, laid on its side. Ignoring the card attached to the bag, Dani stood it up, looked inside, and felt her heart melt.

Aunt Fran had gotten Liz a stuffed puppy. It was purple and soft and had floppy ears long enough to trip over. Its paws were the size of Dani’s fists and the stuffed tail was curled around and under its butt as it sat. The collar was fuzzy and black and had a circle hanging off the front that said ‘Jak-Jak.’ His muzzle was shaped like a mastiff's and he had a dopey, goofy, happy grin. Dani had never wanted anything so much in her life.

Dani wanted to cry. It wasn't fair. Liz didn't like dogs, she liked Disney. Dani loved dogs and Mom and Daddy wouldn't let her get one. And now Aunt Fran had given Liz a stuffed puppy, not her.

Grabbing the scissors and Jak-Jak, Dani dashed off, first back to Daddy’s crafting bench to return the scissors, then to her room. Depositing Jak-Jak on her bed, Dani scrubbed at the tears in her eyes with the heel of her palm. She hated being this moody. Everything always felt too big, and she ached, and her feet wouldn’t go where she put them; it was embarrassing. Stupid growth spurt. Dani scooped up her Tigger plushie and tried to brush off … well, everything. Turning him over in her hands, Dani bit her lip again. It was a fair trade… Liz loved Tigger, she was always stealing him from Dani’s room.

Dani dashed back to the kitchen and tried to gently stuff Tigger in the gift bag. Once he was more or less hidden in the bag, Dani laid the bag back in the box and taped it back up. Sloppily like Aunt Fran always did. Then off to hide the box in Mom and Daddy’s closet with the rest of the gifts for Liz’s party next week. In the same place they’d hidden Dani’s gifts two months ago. And the Christmas presents before that. They really needed to find a better hiding place.

Dani walked back to her room. She had maybe another half hour to play with Jak-Jak before Daddy and Liz would be home. She'd have to hide him in her backpack. Or Liz would definitely find him next time she snuck into Dani's room. The little sneak was thorough.

Dani stopped just inside her doorway. She stared, a little panicy. Jak-Jak wasn't on the bed where she'd left him. And he hadn’t fallen onto the floor. Where could he have gone? Dani felt tears coming back into her eyes.

A deep, reverberating, oddly high-pitched yip came from Dani’s left, from behind the open door. Right before a large something crashed into Dani and she hit the floor, with whatever it was on top of her.

Dani looked up at very large, purple-furred muzzle a couple inches in-front of her nose. The rest of the doggy head it was attached to was huge, bigger than Dani, bigger than her bed! As she started to get real scared though, all of the doggy started shrinking down. The huge feet, the enormous floppy ears, the barrel chest wider than Daddy, everything shrunk until the doggy was the size of a full grown mastiff. But still puppy shaped. Dani erupted in giggles as its floppy, slobbery tongue gave her puppy kisses and its tail wagged furiously. Ticklish!

Dani reached up and vigorously scratched behind the ears, before rolling the puppy over to wrestle. There wasn’t a collar or tag anymore, but the fur was exactly the same color as the stuffed puppy had been.  This one was much more muscular than a stuffed animal could look, but the feet were the same shape, the ears the same floppy length, and the expression was just as goofily happy. The puppy rolled over from where he and Dani were wrestle-petting and dropped its head and front paws dropped into a bouncy puppy bow.

“Play?!” yipped Jak-Jak.


286 words added to the second draft: feels like a reasonable addition of description. I could (probably should) add even more, but it's time to let this one sit. Both to clear my mind for an honest assessment the next time I look at it and to maybe pop it up on Scribophile for more feedback.

I am proud though of putting in a little bit of more characterization by having Dani consistently use a more informal term for her father and a more formal term for her mother. It's the little things that make me pleased, when I remember to write them in.

Dani & Jak-Jak : Critique

One of the goals I had for writing the Dani & Jak-Jak vignette (or at least a goal I set once I started writing) was to keep the language to a 5th grader's voice. I tend to write like I speak, which means a 30-something reader's vocabulary and sentence structure. So long, clause heavy sentences broken up by the occasional sentence fragment and frequent subject elisions. Also, lots of interesting spelling — thank goodness for spell checker and internet dictionaries. They're not all the best writing habits, but I'm at least aware of my habits. 

So, an eleven year old. Every time I reached for an adjective, I tried to find a shorter, boarder version of the same concept. I decided to try for shorter, more declarative sentences. That... worked better the longer I wrote. That it happens with first drafts for me, I get further into (or plain-old find) the actual voice for the piece as I go. Second drafts are for making the voice consistent through out.

And then, after I finished the first draft, I asked Partner to read through it for spelling bloopers and whatnot. I'd already decided to do this post walking through the first draft and mentioned that. So... I got a critique from him instead. 


Commentary

(1)Long sentence and I'm having trouble picturing this. Laura here in red - I agree with this and need to break it up. Although I am totally keeping the 11 year old insults.
(2)Wants more transition. Yes
(3)Sentence fragment. I think that's a style thing and partially about how I hear Dani speaking, but I need to think about it more
(4)Was the house locked? How did she get in? What color is the porch? What does Dani think about it? Does Daddy keep it in good repair? Does Mommy care about the bushes? Yup, need to add more description here
(5)Fragment see (3)
(6)Why is this negative? How does Dani feel about lima beans?see (4)
(7)Evocative fragment. :D :D
(8)Go through the process of an 11 year old making toast. Where is the bread? Does she use a toaster or a toaster oven? Does she like butter or jam or both or neither? What color is the toast? What color is the butter? How does it taste?
(9)Describe the box. How does it loom in Dani's mind? Was it plain before? Does Aunt Fran use decorations? Or is she very practical? What does Dani remember about the Christmas presents you mentioned earlier? I should also contrast the box with the bag/present inside, especially if the box is very plain and the bag very decorated.
(10)Maybe - walk through Dani planning her naughty deed more. Where does Daddy keep the supplies?
(11)DESCRIBE MORE
(12)Is the bench high for her to climb up on? Does she remember it being difficult to climb into her spot? Is it a hard bench? How does she feel about sitting at this spot and doing her homework? Is the bench hard or padded?for 8-12: yeah, I definitely need to describe more
(13)Don't forget - BIG emotions.
(14)Great-aunt Fran's appelation has changed a few times. Was that on purpose? Does Dani keep forgetting the right thing to call her? Does she actually know her very well? Who's aunt is she? Mom's father's sister or Dad's mother's sister? Does Dani know or does she have trouble remembering?Yeah, I need to figure that out and make it much more consistant... Aunt Fran it is, with one digression to indicate that Aunt Fran is a great-aunt.
(15)Describe Liz, Tigger, and or the last time she stole the plushie from Dani's room. Yup, I need to do this.


(I think by this point poor Partner has given up on noting all the places I NEED MORE DESCRIPTION...)























Danielle waved to the bus driver as he closed the school bus doors and pulled away from the curb. Squaring her shoulders, Dani shifted her backpack to settle again and started trudging down the sidewalk towards home. (1)Halfway to the end of the block, the blob of gum that booger-faced doodie-head boy from three rows back had thrown at her finally pulled some of her hair out of her ponytail enough that she could start trying to pull the gum out. It was stuck, tangled up pretty tight in her wavy red hair. It wasn't fair. Nobody bothered her on the bus when Liz was there too, and Liz she was two whole years (2)younger. Dani was focusing so much on the gum she almost tripped over the box on her front porch. (3)Got it out through.

(4)Dani flicked the gum off into the bushes by the porch, then scooped up the box and headed inside. Looked like Aunt Francesca (well, great-aunt really) had reused an Amazon box again. It was probably Liz’s ninth birthday present. (5)A week early this year. Last year, the Christmas presents hadn’t shown up until January.

Dani locked the front door behind her, ditched her shoes and backpack by the door, and headed into the kitchen. Mom and Dad weren't home yet to tell her not to eat any toast, that she'd wreck her appetite for dinner. Toast was better than dinner anyway. Besides, it was Mom’s night to cook — rubbery chicken and mushy veggies. If she was real unlucky, (6)it'd be lima beans. Besides, Dani was really hungry. She'd been grabbing a snack after school, when Dad came home, AND eating all of dinner all week. Mom hadn't even noticed yet. (7)Stupid growth spurt.

(8)Dani eyed the box where she'd dropped it on the counter and nibbled on her toast. She really wanted to know what was in there. Aunt Fran sent neat stuff. But she should really be a good girl. This was Liz’s present. Gulping down the last bite, Dani walked over to the counter and staredlooked over the (9)box again. Huh.

Huh.(10)If she got some packing tape, she could tape it back up. The addresses wouldn't be damaged. And Aunt Fran had clearly taped it up other times before.

Dani bit her lip. She should really be a good girl. Mom and Dad let her stay home instead of going to those stupid after-school activities. She really should be good…

Dani grabbed the tape and a pair of scissors out of (11)Dad’s craft table and ran back to the kitchen. Grabbing Liz's presentAunt Fran's box, she moved everything to the kitchen table and climbed into her usual spot on the (12)wall bench seat. Carefully slicing open the box tape revealed a blue gift bag, with black tissue paper peeking out of the top, laid on its side. Ignoring the card attached to the bag, Dani stood it up, looked inside, and felt her heart melt.

Aunt Fran had gotten Liz a stuffed puppy. It was purple and soft and had floppy ears long enough to trip over. Its paws were the size of Dani’s fists and the stuffed tail was curled around and under its butt as it sat. The collar was fuzzy and black and had a circle hanging off the front that said ‘Jak-Jak.’ His muzzle was shaped like a mastiff's and he had a dopey, goofy, happy grin. (13)Dani had never wanted anything so much in her life.

Dani wanted to cry. It wasn't fair. Liz didn't even like dogs, she liked Disney. Dani loved dogs and Mom and Dad wouldn't let her get one. And now (14)Aunty Fran had given Liz a stuffed puppy, not her.

Grabbing the scissors and Jak-Jak, Dani dashed off, first back to Dad’s crafting bench to return the scissors, then to her room. Depositing Jak-Jak on her bed, Dani scrubbed at the tears in her eyes with the heel of her palm. She hated being this moody. Everything alwayswas felt too big, and she ached, and her feet wouldn’t go where she put them; it was embarrassing. Stupid growth spurt. Dani scooped up her Tigger plushie and tried to brush off … well, everything. Turning him over in her hands, Dani bit her lip again. It was a fair trade… (15)Liz loved Tigger, she was always stealing him from Dani’s room.

Dani dashed back to the kitchen and tried to gently stuff Tigger in the gift bag. Once he was more or less hidden in the bag, Dani laid the bag back in the box and taped it back up. Sloppily like Aunt Fran always did. Then off to hide the box in Mom and Dad’s closet with the rest of the gifts for Liz’s party next week. In the same place they’d hidden Dani’s gifts two months ago. And the Christmas presents before that. They really needed to find a better hiding place.

Dani walked back to her room. She had maybe another half hour to play with Jak-Jak before Dad and Liz would be home. She'd have to hide him in her backpack. Or Liz would definitely find him next time she snuck into Dani's room. The little sneak was thorough.

Dani stopped just inside her doorway,. She startedshocked and maybe a little panic-y. Jak-Jak wasn't on the bed wherewhat she'd left him. And he hadn'thasn't fallen ontointo the floor. Where could he have gone? Dani felt tears coming back into her eyes.

A deep, reverberating, yet oddly high-pitched yip came from Dani’s left, from behind the open door. Right before a large something crashed into Dani and she hit the floor, with whatever it was on top of her.

Dani looked up at very large, purple-furred muzzle a couple inches in-front of her nose. The rest of the doggy head it was attached to was huge, bigger than Dani, bigger than her bed! As she started to get real scared though, all of the doggy started shrinking down. The huge feet, the enormous floppy ears, the barrel chest wider than Daddy, everything shrunk until the doggy was the size of a full grown mastiff. But still obviously puppy shaped. Dani erupted in giggles as its floppy, slobbery tongue gave her puppy kisses and its tail wagged furiously. Ticklish!

Dani reached up and vigorously scratched behind the ears, before rolling the puppy over to wrestle. There wasn’t a collar or tag anymore, but the fur was exactly the same color as the stuffed puppy had been. This one was much more muscular than a stuffed animal could look, but the feet were the same shape, the ears the same floppy length, and the expression was just as goofily happy. The puppy rolled over from where he and Dani were wrestle-petting and dropped its head and front paws dropped into a bouncy the universal puppy bow.

“Play?!” yipped Jak-Jak.


First, a big thank you to Partner — I love having someone who will critique my short-stories in house. Our conversations at every stage of writing so far have helped me improve my writing. Second, man, converting insertions and commentary from Google Docs to display on here is time-consuming. Writers: Google Docs work well for critiques and revisions (although only one at a time). The tool you want is to share a document and then your critiquer alters their editing mode (upper right corner of the tool bar) to 'Suggesting'. Or in the menu go to View -> Mode and select 'Suggesting'. So useful.

Third, yes, I still need to add all the description to my work. So that's something to keep working on. Or to retreat back to noir for a piece, let my ear drums heal from the cries of 'MORE DESCRIPTION!' You know, six of one, half dozen of the other. ;)

Dani & Jak-Jak

For anyone who's wondered what I sound like, Ross of Role Playing Public Radio has posted a panel I was on with him and Caleb back in August at Gen Con:

Red Markets is a game of economic horror that wrapped up on Kickstarter in June. Come listen to the creator answer questions about the book’s progress & tell us how your beta tests are going. Caleb and Ross recorded this panel at Gen Con 2016.

http://slangdesign.com/rppr/2016/09/panel-discussion/playing-red-markets-at-gen-con-2016/


Turns out creating characters for role-playing games are my writing prompts. So, first draft of a vignette, which if I've done this right, it doesn't matter which gaming system it's set in. So I'll hold off on saying which one until afterwards.

 

Danielle waved to the bus driver as he closed the school bus doors and pulled away from the curb. Squaring her shoulders, Dani shifted her backpack to settle again and started trudging down the sidewalk towards home. Halfway to the end of the block, the blob of gum that booger-faced doodie head from three rows back had thrown at her finally pulled some of her hair out of her ponytail enough that she could start trying to pull the gum out. It was stuck, tangled up pretty tight in her wavy red hair. It wasn't fair. Nobody bothered her on the bus when Liz was there too, and she was two whole years younger. Dani was focusing so much on the gum she almost tripped over the box on her front porch. Got it out through.  

Dani flicked the gum off into the bushes by the porch, then scooped up the box and headed inside. Looked like Aunt Francesca (well, great-aunt really) had reused an Amazon box again. It was probably Liz’s ninth birthday present. A week early this year. Last year, the Christmas presents hadn’t shown up until January. 

Dani locked the front door behind her, ditched her shoes and backpack by the door, and headed into the kitchen. Mom and Dad weren't home yet to tell her not to eat any toast, she'd wreck her appetite for dinner. Toast was better than dinner anyway, it was Mom’s night to cook — rubbery chicken and mushy veggies. If she was real unlucky, it'd be lima beans. Besides, Dani was really hungry. She'd been grabbing a snack after school, when Dad came home, AND eating all of dinner all week. Mom hadn't noticed yet. Stupid growth spurt.

Dani eyed the box where she'd dropped it on the counter and nibbled on her toast. She really wanted to know what was in there. Aunt Fran sent neat stuff. But she should really be a good girl. This was Liz’s present. Gulping down the last bite, Dani walked over to the counter and looked over the box again. Huh. 

If she got some packing tape, she could tape it back up. The addresses wouldn't be damaged. And Aunt Fran had clearly taped it up other times before.

Dani bit her lip. She should really be a good girl. Mom and Dad let her stay home instead of going to those stupid after-school activities. She really should be good… 

Dani grabbed the tape and a pair of scissors out of Dad’s craft table and ran back to the kitchen. Grabbing Aunt Fran's box, she moved everything to the kitchen table and climbed into her usual spot on the wall bench seat. Carefully slicing open the box tape revealed a blue gift bag, with black tissue paper peeking out of the top, laid on its side. Ignoring the card attached to the bag, Dani stood it up, looked inside, and felt her heart melt.

Aunt Fran had gotten Liz a stuffed puppy. It was purple and soft and had floppy ears long enough to trip over. Its paws were the size of Dani’s fists and the stuffed tail was curled around and under its butt as it sat. The collar was fuzzy and black and had a circle hanging off the front that said ‘Jak-Jak.’ His muzzle was shaped like a mastiff's and he had a dopey, goofy, happy grin. 

Dani wanted to cry. It wasn't fair. Liz didn't like dogs, she liked Disney. Dani loved dogs and Mom and Dad wouldn't let her get one. And now Aunty Fran had given Liz a stuffed puppy, not her.  

Grabbing the scissors and Jak-Jak, Dani dashed off, first back to Dad’s crafting bench to return the scissors, then to her room. Depositing Jak-Jak on her bed, Dani scrubbed at the tears in her eyes with the heel of her palm. She hated being this moody. Everything was felt too big, and she ached, and her feet wouldn’t go where she put them; it was embarrassing. Stupid growth spurt. Dani scooped up her Tigger plushie and tried to brush off … well, everything. Turning him over in her hands, Dani bit her lip again. It was a fair trade… Liz loved Tigger, she was always stealing him from Dani’s room.

Dani dashed back to the kitchen and tried to gently stuff Tigger in the gift bag. Once he was more or less hidden in the bag, Dani laid the bag back in the box and taped it back up. Sloppily like Aunt Fran always did. Then off to hide the box in Mom and Dad’s closet with the rest of the gifts for Liz’s party next week. In the same place they’d hidden Dani’s gifts two months ago. And the Christmas presents before that. They really needed to find a better hiding place. 

Dani walked back to her room. She had maybe another half hour to play with Jak-Jak before Dad and Liz would be home. She'd have to hide him in her backpack. Or Liz would definitely find him next time she snuck into Dani's room. The little sneak was thorough.  

Dani stopped just inside her doorway, shocked and maybe a little panic-y. Jak-Jak wasn't on the bed what she'd left him. And he hasn't fallen into the floor.

A deep, reverberating, yet oddly high-pitched yip came from Dani’s left, from behind the open door. Right before a large something crashed into Dani and she hit the floor, with whatever it was on top of her. 

Dani looked up at very large, purple-furred muzzle a couple inches in front of her nose. The rest of the doggy head it was attached to was huge, bigger than Dani, bigger than her bed! As she started to get real scared though, all of the doggy started shrinking down. The huge feet, the enormous floppy ears, the barrel chest wider than Daddy, everything shrunk until the doggy was the size of a full-grown mastiff. But still obviously puppy shaped. Dani erupted in giggles as its floppy, slobbery tongue gave her puppy kisses and its tail wagged furiously. Ticklish!

Dani reached up and vigorously scratched behind the ears, before rolling the puppy over to wrestle. There wasn’t a collar or tag anymore, but the fur was exactly the same color as the stuffed puppy had been.  This one was much more muscular than a stuffed animal could look, but the feet were the same shape, the ears the same floppy length, and the expression was just as goofily happy. The puppy rolled over from where he and Dani were wrestle-petting and dropped its head and front paws dropped into the universal puppy bow.

“Play?!” yipped Jak-Jak.

 

That is set in the Monsters and Other Childish Things setting, as background for my character Dani for the Road Trip Remix campaign I'm playing in with Technical Difficulties. Hopefully it works as a stand-alone story — tell me in the comments where I'm assuming background info and am wrong about that?

Comments/critique from my partner, my responses, and a second draft to come on Monday.

Monsters and Other Childish Things, Road Trip!

The Technical Difficulties crew is going to start a campaign in Monsters and Other Childish Things soon, playing a remix of Ross Payton's campaign Road Trip, so I thought I'd share my character.

This concept originally started as 'a girl and her beholder' with the idea that she'd be the Dungeon Master for the kids' Dungeon and Dragons game and her monster would hide as her copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide. But then I started reading through the Baby Bestiary and got to the Blink Puppy. It very quickly became 'a girl and her dog, who happens to be a teleporting horror from beyond time and space. Who just wants to play fetch.'

Not having to ask the rest of the gaming group to incorporate my driving idea into their characters was also a nice bonus. Because there's cool ideas, and then there's cool ideas that the group should agree on as the motivating idea behind the game when you start, not in the middle of stuff kicking around in your brain.

I'll be honest, I wasn't getting real excited about this character; I'd put too much of what I remember myself as like at age 11 into Danielle, so it didn't feel like a character you know? It was going to be fine, I'd have a good time that would get better as the campaign progressed because I was confident I'd give her room to turn into her own character. But then our GM (hi Greg!) asked us for 'the bad thing we've done', and I came up with one that made me very happy. I'm just going to quote the email I sent Greg:

Stole Jak-Jak.

The plushie that Jak-Jak hides as was supposed to be a birthday present for her younger sister Liz, but Danielle substituted one of her newer stuffed animals that Liz liked into the box her parents were going to use for Liz’s birthday present and then wrapped it up herself. She hides Jak-Jak’s plushie in her backpack at all times.

Gift to the GM that is :D

If I was rewriting that idea now, I'd make the gift giver be distant relatives who sent the stuffed animal in one of those open bags you shove tissue paper in and Danielle saw it in the mail and made the substitution before her parents ever saw it. Just for logistical reasons because right now I have to wonder what they were thinking when Liz opened her present and it wasn't the toy they'd bought. But other than that, I'm pleased by Danielle being sneaky but also making sure she gave her sister a toy Liz actually liked (in my mind it's the stuffed tiger Liz was always "borrowing" from Danielle's room).

Really looking forward to getting this campaign going.