Tsi_Smith

Converting the Spouse: An Ongoing Quest – Part 2

Tsi SmithI was really, really surprised and excited to see the great response behind my first post in this series.  I’m really happy to see everyone chiming in to comment and relate.  It’s good to see that I’m not entirely alone on this issue; I am however going to continue in my conversion endeavor and for that reason, I have come back again to relate my never ending journey of turning my wife into a gamer.

Last time, I talked about my plans for using L5R as our game system of choice, due to its relatively easy rules and also thematically easy to relate to premise.  I also decided that we are going to be going a bit away from a purely murder, death, kill, loot style of gaming.  But, when last we parted, I wasn’t exactly sure about what I would be doing with the game; this week, the game type gets narrowed down, and we move into the realm of character creation.  Good stuff.

One of the things my wife made very, very clear when we first started was that she was not interested in reading any rule books in order to play with me.  First of all, her native language isn’t English so reading anything in my native language proves to be a pain for her, but a rule book, which uses plenty of special game-specific vernacular is nearly an impossible task.  So, I was a bit troubled, to start, with how we would go through character creation.  I didn’t want to simply make a character and risk that character being unfit for my wife’s desired play style.

What I decided to do was go through the 20 questions that every player should answer about their character (you can find those questions in L5R Core rulebook in the Book of Fire chapter).  I sat down on the couch with her; I rattled the questions off and she answered them.  But, a few questions in, she started to get a bit frustrated.  Some of the questions in there are pretty obscure and game specific.  I decided at that point, the best idea would be to skip some of the more difficult questions, and also answer the questions myself about an unknown and possibly unimportant NPC.  That really helped a lot.  One of the things she was concerned about was that she wasn’t answering the questions in the right way.  I may think that the questions are pretty simple, but a lot gets lost in the translation, so by both of us going through these questions, and answering them at the same time, we really got down to the core of what her character’s personality and character type were going to be.

So, what did we come up with, you might ask?  Well, my wife immediately decided that she didn’t like any of the Clans as represented in the book, mainly because she didn’t like the animals that represented them.  She was especially creeped out by the Scorpion and the Mantis clans (we won’t be having any bugs here… no, no, no!). However, when I asked her if she had a chance to play in a clan, what clan animal would she like?  She likes the rabbit.  Oh! Wait!! There is a hare minor clan!  CHECK!!

As far as what kind of character she was going to play (job-wise), she didn’t really show any interest in magic of any sort, nor was she very interested in playing something weird like a monk or a ninja.  She also didn’t show so much interest in playing a courtier.  That kind of sounds like a big problem to me actually.  That doesn’t really leave us with many other types of characters to play with.  However, there is one type of courtier in the core rule book which was still leftover and it works out perfectly with her character’s motivation.  When I asked her what she was driven by, her answer was pretty simple: MONEY!  So, a character motivated by money, in a Samurai-esq setting… sounds kind of hard to pull off, especially considering that most Samurai don’t ever really have any need for cash.  But, there were some clans in the game that liked money more than others, the Oriole clan, as a minor clan, featured a group that was famous for their craftsman, especially their Smiths.  The clan also happens to be pretty rich.  Do you see this character coming together now?

What we finally ended up with was a Hare Clan Bushi, who was trained as a smith by the Oriole Clan.  The character is horribly afraid of bugs and has a fascination with sweets (disadvantage/disadvantage).  Once we had those major decisions down, I was able to form a pretty good idea of the kind of game we were going to be playing.  I took about half an hour, filled in some of the relatively basic numbers (made her a bit stronger than the typical Rank 1 samurai, but who cares) and then we were all done.  She was one of the oddest characters I have ever seen for L5R, and I may need to make the world revolve around her a little bit (for example, I will probably play down the fact that the Hare clan has been so horribly decimated in the past, and I might even make them into a major clan, just so she doesn’t feel lonely), but in the end, I think having our “legendary swordsmith” as the center of our game is going to be a really great opportunity for us both to have a fun time.  She was excited to see her character complete and I was excited to finally get out the dice and get rolling.

Stay tuned until next time; I’ll be talking about our first session and how the Smith actually came across on the game table.

4 thoughts on “Converting the Spouse: An Ongoing Quest – Part 2”

  1. “I may need to make the world revolve around her a little bit”

    You should make the world revolve around her a little bit — not just because you want to make it easy for her, but because ultimately the game is about the PCs. The world doesn’t need to bend to her whim, but the campaign should focus on things important to the PCs.

    I’ve had this conversation with a few people regarding things like the Favored Enemy class ability — if you take FE:Giants, you can reasonably expect giants to show up fairly frequently. If I don’t have giants in the campaign, it’s on me to tell you that first. Having characters take abilities that can’t be used because the DM doesn’t provide the opportunity is flat DM dickery.

    In this case it sounds like making the Hare clan more ascendant is appropriate, and having her on the edge of the actual politics (for instance, while she might not go to court courtiers may come to her for her craftsmanship — which may lead to adventures to get the materials or circumstances or techniques needed to forge the items they desire, and could lead back to court eventually if she becomes interested) is appropriate, and so on. That this other stuff happens isn’t of interest to her, so keep it in the background.

  2. My wife plays the classic gamer board games with me and I would like to play RPGs with her. I am curious about this questionnaire. It might help peek her interest more. All I am comfortable running is D&D 4e and we all know it is rules heavy.

    1. The questionnaire is pretty basic really, it asks questions like: “Who does your character respect the most?” “Who does your character trust?” “What is your character afraid of?” “What is your characters relationship like with family/friends?” It is a pretty nifty little survey really. You could make pretty good use of it for pretty much any game (if you got rid of the system/setting specific questions, of which there are few). There is another 20 or so question survey in there as well, but we didn’t go through that one.

      Good luck though Mike. I feel you on the D&D 4e thing. Making things really rules light has seemed to make playing a lot easier for us. I’ll be talking about that more in part 3 or the series.

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