I just discovered CoG about a week ago, and have been testing out a lot of games. I’ve played five to completion, and started many more including some WIP, and hosted games. I’m planning on putting my own game together. I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on this question.
Most of the games i’ve played starting with C.o. Dragon, start you in the story and then sort of sneak in character building (selecting gender, name, etc.) as part of the early narrative. It is a little goofy in Dragon with the narrator who is telling you the story of your life asking for your name, description and so on, but at least that works with the comedic tone.
However, in all the examples i’ve seen it is at least somewhat awkward, inserting these questions in unnaturally, and often breaking the 4th wall.
In contrast most RPGs have you design your character before the story starts, as far as gender, name, appearance, origin without the complication of trying to work it into the narrative. Does no one do any of it this way? Is there some horrible failing with it that i’m not aware of?
My impulse at this point is to have those few personal details that can’t naturally emerge from choices (name, gender, place of origin, etc) straightforwardly filled in near the start, while any other character defining traits get included in the narrative. Things like “are you violent or peaceful”, or “lawful or chaotic”, IMHO are best defined by giving the player violent or peaceful choices to make as part of the main action of the story (or as flashback choices)
Of course this is complicated by the desire to have an exciting start to the story. I totally understand why most CoG stories start *in media res*, at some tense or exciting moment, and it is tricky making the players choices right from the start significant if he hasn’t yet defined who he is playing. Some games resolve this by making the first few choices “fake”, but that seems to me a rather bad way to introduce a CoG story, and isn’t trilling for replays.