I think the best way to do it is to have lots of very broad brush npcs, which get painted with finer strokes as the players get to know them.
So an npc might be
Bonce Slopford, Baker, bald/sweaty, nasal voice.
That’s a memorable character in 7 words. If he never plays a part in the story – win! If he does play a part in the story, say by baking silver pennies into tiny buns then using them as sling-stones to defeat the Werewolf of Vampiretown – win win! Go Bonce you sweaty legend!
One trouble with a huge long backstory is that unless you’re a master actor it’s just not going to come across except as (tedious) guarded ambiguity. And if you are a master actor, then you can convey the impression of a huge backstory with an inflection or an expression.
Another one is that you’re closing off elements of the future story based on what you’ve already decided for the character.
I know that making characters is an entertaining game in its own right, but even if that’s the way you roll I’d strongly recommend slapping a seven word description on top of that once you’re done, because that’s who your characters are going to meet.
Skip the boring, 3 hour long library sequence.
Instead just hand wave it away and say that it happened. Don’t specify exactly WHAT gear the party acquires based on the outcome of the research, just say that they acquired it already.
Cut to the actual encounter. At pivotal moments, have a flashback to the actual research time. Have the scholars make their rolls on the spot. The outcome of their roll (success OR failure) dictates waht the player characters pull to defeat the challenge.
The PCs have tracked the monster to its lair. They wish to set up an ambush using their newly acquired monster hunting gear. Flashback! Corbin rolls. Failure. Oh well, he thinks that making a ring of salt will defeat the monster! Cut back to the present. The party readies handfulls of salt packets.
The Vampire appears! Flashback. Miter’s character rolls History. Success! Fire will do the trick. Cut back to the present: all of the party’s weapons have the flammable quality.
The actual flashbacks don’t all have to be on the spot if it doesn’t make sense. If the monster of the week has a weakness to FIRETRUCKS, the party will obviously not pull one out of nowhere. Well, they COULD, that would be HILARIOUS: “suddenly, there’s a loud honking sound before the wall bursts in and a firetruck smashes into the monster! Everyone cheers!”
I would like to do a simple, streamlined conversion of Dark Heresy using the FATE CORE system along with a few bits from other FATE-based games.
For characters, here is the list of Aspects that I’m working with. They are borrowed from Strands of Fate and Spirit of the Century:
- High Concept
- Exceptional Skill
- Inferior Skill
- Movie (Character name vs./in/and/ Adventurous/Scary/Epic thing!)
- Guest Star (Choose a title from another character)
Granted, those are a lot of aspects, but since my primary goal is conversion of well developed pre-existing characters, I wanted a lot of flexibility.
- Eccentric Occult Investigator
- The unworthy shall kneel before my terrible might!
- Isolated child in the quiet darkness of space
- I am a living Saint of the God Emperor
- Too Strange to Live
- Frightening Puppeteer of Minds
- Inquisition rivals whisper heresy…
- The Black Mask of the Death Stalkers
- The Galactic Pilgrims of Saint Octia
- Octavian vs the cult of the Tyrant Star
Instead of a skill list, I’d like to introduce the Approaches from FATE Accelerated. They are:
Each character gets to choose one at +3, two at +2, two at +1 and one at +0
- Careful +3,
- Sneaky +2,
- Forceful +2,
- Clever +1,
- Flashy +1,
- Quick +0
We get 3. Possibly more, to represent added experience.
+2 when I Carefully sniff out psychic phenomena or individuals.