Advice for playing in a nonstandard setting

I’m running a game that takes place in a steampunk/sci-fi crossover setting which isn’t very well approximated by medieval Europe. A lot of City Dweller and Villager LPs will carry over with minimal changes (mostly adding/removing skills) but the setting allows (and the players will want to pursue) LPs which aren’t in the Character Burner (aristocratic LPs, a wealthier merchant class, etc.)

The two options open to me are either (1) Burn up all the extra LPs I’ll need before character creation, or (2), create LPs on the fly based on the character concept. My plan was to do (2), as it avoids a lot of unneccesary work, but I was wondering what people who have been in my situation before have done.

I haven’t done much of it, but I think option 1 is better in several ways.

  1. The setting is set up by the LPs, so you’re articulating the setting well by saying what exists in it.

  2. If you make LPs for particular character concepts you lose the whole fun and challenge of trying to make a character out of the pieces LPs represent and dealing with the oddball skills, traits, and bridging LPs.

  3. It’s easy to get overzealous and make new LPs that in fact represent small variations on existing LPs or combinations that should in fact be taken as two LPs.

I’d advise talking to players to get an idea of what they think they’d like to play, make multiple applicable but not perfect-fit LPs, make some more extra ones to see what sticks, and then let them make characters.

It sounds like you’re saying option 1 is better, but I should do some combination of both options. I think if I had a week or so of free time, I would do option 1. But given that I don’t have that much free time, its a better use of my time to better flesh out the types of LPs I want in my setting, and pick cultural traits, than to try to write down every LP available. But I will heed your advice, and be wary of making the LPs fit too much. I agree that doing it this way takes away some of the fun, but my players are really eager to play, and I would rather start earlier than make them wait just to make character creation a better experience.

I guess I’m suggesting something in the middle. Come up with a short list of relevant LPs, not all the LPs you could possibly need, and burn those. I would absolutely not do it on the fly, but you shouldn’t need more than two or three LPs per player if you do some targeted design. If you have to burn up an entirely new set of lifepaths, you’re probably playing the wrong game (at least for your time budget). But if you need just a few more, tweak existing ones to fit better and make up just a few.

We’ve just started a new campaign in a weird custom setting. The way our GM approached campaign setup was a bit different from what has been suggested thus far:

  1. First, we spent some time detailing the campaign world. We actually played a short game of Microscope for this.

  2. Second, we detailed all the different lifepath settings in our campaign world. (Did not create custom lifepaths at this point.)

  3. When we gathered to burn characters, we started from our born lp, and burned up from there all together, with the GM. We used obvious lps when possible, and if we needed a custom lp built, we did it like a trait vote: the player describes what lifepath he wants, and the other players decide what he gets. The important thing was to stick to the settings, not just the lifepaths. And to do it democratically. I say what I want, you say what I get. Every step of the way. Reverse and repeat.

In the end, worked out great. Yes, it’s not the same character burning experience as usual, but it’s a valid and fun method that I would recommend.

Thanks for the advice guys. I’m going to do a mix of all your suggestions. I’ll make the obvious new LPs that need to be made, and modify existing ones (in terms of skills), but then use a democratic method to bring in new LPs if the players need them.