On 2005-08-06, Vincent wrote:
Underwriting a Character
When you underwrite someone else’s chracter, you’re saying that you think the character’s cool and interesting, and that you want to see what she’s made of. It’s not simply that you’re a fan of the character; it’s that you’re committed to the character and you want to take an active hand in showing us just how cool she is.
(“Showing just how cool” is code. It’s code for “trying to break her in public.” You help show us how cool she is by challenging her past her endurance. This is not a happy love-fest kind of showing just how cool.)
As a character’s underwriter, you’re responsible for four things with regard to the character:
1. Framing scenes that center on the character. This is your responsibility alone; neither the creator nor the GM get to do this. (The GM gets to call upon you to do it; I’ll say more about that another time.)
2. Bringing the character into scenes in progress. You share this responsibility with the GM and the creator.
3. Creating (i.e. playing) the character’s relationships, if no one else already is; also helping to play any “extras” interacting with the character. Also, playing the character’s inverse magical resources in conflicts, if the character’s a wizard.
4. Suggesting to the GM and other players specific conflicts and character actions that’d engage the character.
Having no underwriter puts a character at a significant procedural disadvantage, what with the scene framing rule. Characters who have no underwriter are automatically supporting characters. They can go on to become principal characters in play - but that’s by someone deciding to underwrite them after all.