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Note: This is adapted from the adventure writing primer as a means of being able to directly link to this section.

Custom Character Gen

Tailoring your Character Generation is the first aspect I would recommend if you are aiming for a specific genre/theme in your adventure module.

The most straightforward adaptation you can do is to create custom backgrounds, getting to know your character questions, and starting gear that specifically aligns with your module. This can help give an extra level of immersion in the composition of the party.

Below are three different, specific examples of approaches you can take. They have varying degrees of restructuring from the core text.

From Funnels

For the Appendix introducing Funnel Rules I simplified the character generation procedure by cutting down the amount of questions, and having each background include two items related to the background.

Journalist (Audio Recorder, Camera)

Store Clerk (Lighter, d6 Mini-baseball bat )

One option you could do is choose a specific set of thematic backgrounds with accompanying starting equipment. 6 options should suffice for most tables and give you a range. The more options you provide also help by informing the Facilitator and players the types of characters that would be in this setting. What you include in a table is an act of lore/worldbuilding. 12

From The Bureau

For The Bureau Josh Domanski and I tailored the character gen (renamed Personally Identifiable Information (PPI) Policy - p. 5) to be a streamlined version of the process in the core text. We included references to Liminal Horror’s questions as an option but embedded a majority of the flavor in the Operational Experience (renamed backgrounds).

Each Operational Experience (The Bureau p. 6-7) had a short description of the background (2-3 sentences) that hinted at why they were in the Monolith. They also alluded to potential complications and goals for the character. Each OE also included 2-3 items as starting equipment.

FINALLY FOUND YOU: You’ve spent years searching for answers. But this is it, you finally know where to find them. Take: Leather Jacket (1 armor), old photograph (The Bureau p. 6)

GHOST HUNTER: Ever since your show was canceled, you’ve been trying to go legit. They haven’t returned your calls, but there’s no harm in showing up in person. Take: Spirit box, thermal camera, EVP wrist recorder. (The Bureau p. 6)

COMPLIANCE OFFICER: Records show that the Bureau has missed the last 51 annual safety inspections. This oversight simply cannot stand. Take: Inspection form,flashlight (d6), all-in-one measurement/testing tool. (The Bureau p. 7)

This option expands on the custom background/equipment combo by baking in more implied world building and characterization with the short prompt. Creating backgrounds that have a blurb and equipment can be a way for you to reinforce the setup and give players a starting point that has some built-in stakes.

  • You could take it a step further and add some more in depth characterizations to the prompts to give a tailored setup.
  • You could give (either to each of them or have a roll table) each character a hidden goal/drive.

From The Mall:

For The Mall I rewrote the entire character generation for Liminal Horror from the ground up. A web-based version can be found on the Liminal Horror website.

I started by having players add to the mall (setting) as a means of building shared vision for the space. They then dove deeper into their characters, specifically answering:

Why Are You At The Mall?

How Does Your Character Feel About The Mall?

The starting gear was rewritten to be mall themed, with little notes to reinforce the setting (like what uniform they wear if they are an employee, etc).

Creating a custom procedure for creating a character can be a great way to modify character gen to produce a specific style of starting character. It puts not only the characters into the space of being a part of the setting but helps prime players. A simple framework could be:

  • Step 1: Adding to the setting (mall, town, organization)
  • Step 2: Ability Scores & HP (standard core rules)
  • Step 3: Investigator Details (use this section to ask guiding questions that establish the characters’ connection to the setting)
  • Step 4: Starting Gear (write a starting gear table that aligns to the tone and theme of the scenario)
  • Step 5: General Info (age, look, name, final touches)
  • Step 6: Entanglements
  1. Vi Huntsman did a great video on table entries and how they can act as way of understanding the world: The Good, The Bad and the Aleatory - Roll Tables Part 1 - YouTube 

  2. John Battle does a great dive into how bits and pieces presented in a text (like table entries) help build an understanding of the world - which then can lead to roleplay: The Descent into Roleplaying - YouTube 


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