For Wild Things, we use Life Modules for character creation. This is a special chargen method that the Fifth Edition introduced.
Normal character creation, both Priority and Build Points, can be roughly summarized as ‘here are a bunch of points, go use them any way you want’. With Priority you get different amounts of freebie points for different categories and a few ‘build points’ (karma) to round them off. Build Points is simply a load of karma without subdivision into categories.
Life Modules is Build Points with a twist: You start by buying several life modules, each with their own karma costs. Nationality, Formative Years, Teen Years, possible Further Education, then 1+ Real Life Modules. These Modules give you attribute bonuses, skills, knowledges and languages, and even positive and negative qualities. You add up their bonuses into the big picture, then you have as much karma as you didn’t yet spend to round things off.
There’s a decent bit of flexibility in the modules, usually in the knowledges but sometimes even in the active skills. And submodules give more detailed bonuses depending on what kind of person you are. For example College lets you pick a major, whereas a Tour Of Duty could have you in the Rigger Corps, or as Special Forces.
Now with normal chargen methods, you completely pick whatever you want and combine it into a story. With Life Modules, part of the story is already in the modules. The details you still fill in yourself, but the broad lines are already there. This helps give more depth to a character. I personally consider Life Modules perfect for a short campaign, and especially for sample characters. It gives flavour to the characters, so that they’re not just a combat mage, they’re a Siouan combat mage that turned mercenary just to get their thrill.
The biggest challenge was avoiding too much overlap, because when you design characters for a specific kind of campaign, it’s far too easy to end up with very similar characters. Part of what made Smedley hard to make was avoiding overlap with the Face for one of the regular players, who has a custom character.
The first sample character post already showed the history of two in detail, but to put it into quick text, here’s a few sample characters their modules:
Will. I. Am. (Survival Expert): Race: Human. Nationality: Canadian. Formative Years: Isolated Rural Upbringing. Teen Years: Isolated Rural Upbringing. No further education. Real Life Modules: Drifter, Tour Of Duty (UCAS, Special Forces), Tour Of Duty (Mercenary, Special Forces), Covert Ops.
Eiger (Bodyguard): Race: Troll. Nationality: UCAS (Seattle). Formative Years: Military Brat. Teen Years: Military School. No further education. Real Life Modules: Ganger, Bounty Hunter, Shadow Work (Street Samurai), Personal Investigator.