Player Character (PC) Gimmicks

Some optional rules that introduce more traditional PC like characters.

Control Traits

Submitted by Bob McNamee

Add a Trait to any Component you Created called “Controlled by _player name_” (as in “Controlled by Bob”).  This doesn’t prevent other players from Controlling Component’s that you’ve Created but it is a Fact that gives your Coins double value to Challenge for Control.

— I call this the PC-lite rule.  It is by far the simplest means of gaining a degree of traditional Player Character like authority over a particular character in the game.

— Note the possibility for a “hostile takeover” as other players attempt to remove and replace a “Control” Trait and this attempt is Challenged.


  • Allow this Gimmick to apply only to characters not other types of Components.
  • Allow each player to buy this Trait only once, limiting each player to a single controlled character.
  • Allow this Trait to be applied to a Component even if the purchasing player didn’t Create it.
  • Disallow “hostile takeovers” by ruling that Control Traits can never be eliminated or altered.

Player Character Gimmick

 Submitted by Mike Holmes

A player can, once during the game (across all sessions), spend 5 Coins, and permanently Take Over a single character. This character becomes the Player’s Character (PC).  Add a Trait to the character of “_Player Name’s_ Character” (as in “Mike’s Character”).

The PC can only thereafter be Controlled by that player.  Further Take Overs of that character are not allowed.  The PC can not be altered in any way (such as buying Traits for the character) by any player other than the owner, except through the use of Coins received from a Complication in which the PC was a participant.

This includes being Introduced into scenes.  The PC can only be Introduced to a scene with the agreement of the owning player (who still retains Control despite not having Introduced the character).  If a player wants to Introduce a PC against its owner’s will, he can frame a Mini-Scene in which the PC is involved in a relevant Complication and use Coins won in the Complication to Introduce the PC into the main scene.

The owning player is also solely responsible for all of the character’s dialog.

— This Add-on can really alter the game in subtle, but powerful ways.  Shifting the player’s emphasis from the story as a whole to a specific character, can lead to player myopia and disinterest in parts of the story not involving the PC.  It is suggested that not all player utilize this option at the same time.  It is perhaps best used to give the hero of the story to a particular player as a PC, and perhaps the major villain of the story to another player as a PC, but for the rest of the players to remain unattached to specific characters.

The PC Endowment Pool

Submitted by Mike Holmes

When a player adopts a PC he gets an Endowment of 25 Coins, which are kept in a separate pool. These Endowment Coins can only be used to give Traits to the PC, or to add to Complication Pools in the case of Complications in which the PC is involved.  These Coins are never Refreshed.  When they are spent they are gone.

Set the number of Endowment Coins at a different amount based on the character’s importance to the story and the level of realism in the game.

PC Plot Protection

Submitted by Mike Holmes

With this option it takes double the normal number of Coins to eliminate a PC by requiring 2 Coins to eliminate a Trait (or reduce Importance).


  • Allow this Add-on to be purchased individually for any important Component, not just PCs (even in a game that isn’t using the PC Add-on).
  • Alternatively players can make it illegal for any player except the owner to reduce a PC’s Importance.  Thus only the owner can decide if and when it’s time for the PC to be eliminated.

PC Descriptive Paragraph Gimmick

Submitted by Ralph Mazza

This is a special method of generating Player Characters which should be used in conjunction with the Endowment Add-on.   Players must write a paragraph (or several) describing who their character is and what he’s like. Game balance issues are not important here (they will come into play below) but players should strive to keep their description limited to 100 to 200 words. This will help ensure that the description is tightly worded, and focused on the most essential aspects of the character. Sentences that are merely lists of things the character can do are to be discouraged.

Key elements of a paragraph would be cultural and social background, occupation, personality, important possessions, friends or contacts, hobbies or things the character does exceptionally well. Take this paragraph and use it as a source to draw the character’s Traits from.  Pay for those Traits (or at least as many as possible) out of the character’s Endowment.

— This Add-on is inspired by several RPGs such as Hero Wars / Quest which use just such a descriptive paragraph to create their characters.

PC Story Drivers

Submitted byRalph Mazza

This Gimmick should be used in conjunction with the Endowment Gimmick.

The Story Driver is some compelling feature about the character’s personality or motivations that serves to provide interest. The Story Driver is the reason why the character is part of the story being told. It is the reason the character is a protagonist of the story and is the motivation that drives the character through the story. If the character does not have a Story Driver it probably isn’t compelling enough to be a player character and is best left as an NPC.

The Story Driver is that facet of a character that makes him of interest to the audience. It may be tied to the character’s role but this is not necessary. It answers the questions: “Why should we care what happens to this character?”, “What makes this character suitable as a protagonist?”, “What keeps the character moving forward through the story?”, and “Why is this character worth telling a story about in the first place?” It may be a quest to complete, a vendetta to pursue, a mystery to solve, a promise to keep, or a destiny to fulfill.   It may also simply be an interesting situation that the character is in that requires immediate action to respond to.  For supporting characters, it may be largely tangential to the main story line (which should be concerned with the Story Driver of the protagonist) but it should provide the opportunity for subplots, and exciting narrative in its own right.

The Story Driver should not just be a static tag line. It should be an ongoing theme in the character’s life which become more developed as the story progresses both from the character’s perspective and the audience’s. The player should make an effort to work elements of the Story Driver into his narrative where appropriate and keep in the back of his mind the potential for its ultimate resolution or fulfillment, if such is possible.

The Story Driver for a player character can be altered and changed during play as the character evolves and the details of the surrounding world and events get filled in.  In this way a character whose Story Driver includes following in the footsteps of his dead and heroic father, can, later in the story, latch on to the idea of making the main villain of the story his father, who is not dead after all.

The elements that make up a Story Driver write-up are not considered Facts for game purposes. They are merely the perceptions of the character whose actual veracity may vary. Elements of the Driver that the player wishes to be irrefutable can be purchased as Facts normally.

Whenever the player manages to focus attention on his Story Driver he can earn Coins from the Bank.  For each scene in the game that addresses some aspect of the character’s story driver, the owning player may draw 1 Coin from the Bank and add it to the character’s Endowment Pool.

Whenever the player manages to actually resolve his Story Driver (if such is possible) the owning player may draw a number of Coins from the Bank equal to the total number of game sessions that character has participated in with that Story Driver in place and add them to the character’s Endowment Pool.

–This Gimmick is inspired by features found in many games, such as Sorcerer’s Kickers.   Ralph

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