One of the most useful tools that I derived from Brian Jamison’s “Gamemastering” was what I call the “4 Lists Character Sheet”.
Having rushed into creating characters for the Mystamyr campaign because they were originally conceived for a one-off session, it has taken me a while to get around to insisting the players fill out the 4 Lists… but, having done so last week, our session on Friday was massively improved.
I’ve updated my version of the 4 Lists for use with Mythras, tweaking the Rights and Wrongs from Jamieson’s original suggestions. Below you’ll find links to my totally unofficial copies of the sheets.
Using the 4 Lists
In Chapter Four of “Gamemastering“, Jamison outlines an approach to creating characters that I’d endorse as a valuable alternative to the traditional “go straight for the character sheet and dice” method. The 4 Lists come in BEFORE you go through the standard character creation process from Mythras (or Classic Fantasy).
Jamison recommends holding a “character interview” with each player before you start the mechanical process of character creation:
“Treat the interview as a really fun brainstorming session. It’s more than asking questions. It is a fun exchange where the player and GM play ideas off one another and stimulate each other’s creativity. As the interview proceeds always keep suggestions to the player general and open-ended.” (Jamison, p. 37)
A big part of this process is to work through four key areas of the character’s background, recording the outcomes as brief bullet points on the 4 Lists Character Sheet. The aim is to help the player create a hero they can commit to, imagine, roleplay, and bring to life in a simple way.
Step One: Rights & Wrongs
The purpose of the interview is to:
“…get a rough outline of who this character is going to be. We’re just shooting for one or two short paragraphs at this point. Get the ball rolling by asking the player general questions about the character. You’re aiming for generalities here that will be built on later.” (Jamieson, p. 41)
Once you’ve sorted out the Profession of the character (or their Class, if using Classic Fantasy) and what their role in the game will be, you’ll be ready to dive into the 4 Lists.
“During this part of the interview ask the player to write down what their character believes in.”
Just some notes on two or three things the character believes are morally Right, and a similar idea of what they consider to be morally Wrong is all you need.
Under the “Rights and Wrongs” is a table laying out the “Sins and Virtues”. Although Jamison bases his on the classical Seven Deadly Sins, I’ve modified my list to fit morality in my own setting.
Players are asked to distribute 15 points across the table, marking a rating from 1-3 on either side of the choices given. For example, on the “Obedience vs Disobedience” line, they rate their character from very Obedient (3 on the left) across to very Disobedient (3 on the right); no character can have a score of zero on either side of the scale.
Step Two: Friends & Foes
This is easy: ask the player to name at least one Friend and one Foe for their character. Jamison gives a lengthy set of ideas in the book (which is FREE to download, you know) if you need inspiration.
Step Three: Goals
Next ask the player to set at least two Short-term, one Medium-term, and one Long-term goal. There is space for more than this, but the list is also limited to help players focus.
Short-term means “within the next session or two”; Medium-term means “over several sessions”; Long-term means “over the course of the campaign”. Easy stuff.
Step Four: Quirks & Traits
As Jamison writes, “The last list focuses on the final details, the things that help to differentiate the character.” (p. 58)
This is simple stuff, such as listing:
- The character’s accent
- What’s their temperament?
- Do they have any mannerisms?
- What are their weaknesses?
- What do they wear that helps them stand out?
After you’ve done the 4 Lists, you can work with the player on building the character within the Mythras system as usual.
Where are the 4 List Sheets?
If you want to access my sheets you can find them here: