Meri-Making: Character Creation
Way back in the day, when I first started playing RPGs, I was mostly playing hack-n-slash games like Wizardry, Bard’s Tale, and NetHack. These games were great, but I found something totally new the moment I played Ultima VI. This game was no longer primarily about min-maxing your way through combat (though it had that). Instead it offered the opportunity to explore and build an entire world and meet characters that inhabited it. It came with a cloth map to help immerse you in that world. It even included a shiny polished “moonstone” to help transport the player into the game world—the same device used in the game’s intro to literally transport the Avatar from the present day into Britannia. This is the style of storytelling we want to emphasize in Meriwether. This game is about the characters you play and meet and the world (and time) in which they live.
I’m sure Meriwether is influenced in many subtle ways by the Ultima series, but one very obvious and deliberate way is through our character creation system. Starting with Ultima IV, the game always began with an encounter with a gypsy who asked you a series of questions which ultimately determine the details of the character you will play. The gypsy would ask you questions like “A local bully pushes for a fight. Dost thou A) Valiantly trounce the rogue, or B) Decline, knowing in thy Spirit that no lasting good will come of it?” Your choice would reflect one of the 8 virtues that were so important in the game, and impact your character in several different ways.