The Hidden Door team recently met up in-person for our quarterly IRL retreat – meeting new team members, product planning, brand conversations, cake (!) and games were all on the agenda. One of the big treats of the week was our Game Director, Chris Foster, leading us through a one shot using the Fate Accelerated RPG system.
Evil Hat Games, publishers of the Fate RPG, describe it as “a flexible system that can support whatever worlds you dream up.” Our current development preview takes place in the land of Oz, so it was natural for Chris to lead us through an adventure in the same setting. Our prompt was to create a turn-of-the-20th-century character visiting Oz for the first time.
I knew I wanted to play an old lady, because old ladies rule and I liked the idea of knitting needle weapons. I wrote a few bullet points about her, named her Granny Smith, and then did the same thing I do every time I need to fill out a new character sheet – got overwhelmed figuring out stats. Lucky for me, I was sitting next to Hidden Door’s co-founder, Matt, who showed me how he was using ChatGPT to help build his character. My jaw dropped – I’d never considered that AI could help with something like that. This is the lesson I’ve been learning, and relearning, since joining Hidden Door last month.
ChatGPT can help players come up with unique and interesting character concepts that they may not have thought of on their own. Or if you already have a concept, It can save time by generating a character sheet with all the necessary information. Many random character generators exist for roleplaying games, but the majority of them focus on D&D because it holds so much market share. Building digital character sheet tools for small press and indie games often requires more investment than is practical. Unfortunately, the lack of onboarding tools can also make it harder to try out new game systems, for GMs and players alike – using ChatGPT in this way was a revelation. Here are the prompts I used:
Are you familiar with the Fate RPG?
Can you help me complete a character sheet for Fate RPG for my character idea?
I want to create a character named Granny Smith. She's a wise older lady who is quiet but clever and carries knitting needles which she can use as a weapon.
While ChatGPT didn’t get all the details of the Fate system right, it got pretty close, and took a lot of guesswork and research out of my prep. It let me quickly populate my character sheet, focusing on making Granny Smith suit the way I wanted to play with my group, and then I was off to our team one shot in just a few minutes rather than searching for info on how to craft stunts and quantify skills.
I’ve always loved random character generators or avatar or name generators, but this goes way beyond that – the ability to plug in the pieces I want, and get assistance prepping for a game without burdening my GM or spending time sifting through materials, really minimized the barrier to entry for me, especially with new systems and settings.
I do wonder if lesser-known systems will get picked up more easily. At a time when RPGs are growing to reach more casual players, I think this could open up independent exploration of different mechanical systems, where the focus can be on the experience and social connection between the players rather than poring over materials in hopes you might find friends interested in making the same time investment.