How “Your One Unique Thing” is really what it’s always been about for me.
13th Age’s “One Unique Thing” is everything role-playing should be about first. The story.
For me, it’s how I’ve always approached role-playing in all its forms. It’s been about a name and a story. If you are like me and started playing as a teen, you were heavily influenced by pop culture or fiction. In my case, it was the Lord of the Rings. I read the trilogy for the first time when I was 13 and that was it, I was obsessed with Tolkien’s world and truly, since then it’s been a constant search to recapture that feeling of wonder ever since. It was shortly after that I discovered D&D and boy was I thrilled! Here was a way to experience a world similar to Middle-Earth all over again and I could be a part of it myself!
My first real character was based on the character Glorfindel from the trilogy. I was always drawn to this mysterious elf-lord and so I rolled up an elf Fighter/Magic-User and named him, of course, Glorfindel. I even made a back story for him. He was the son of the elven deity, Corellon Larethian, marked with a blue crescent moon upon his chest. You never forget your first.
This brings me back to “Your One Unique Thing”, I took out my 1st edition Player’s Handbook and searched for anything that might have directed me to create a back story for Glorfindel in there. On page 34 there is a heading titled, Establishing The Character, reading through its three paragraphs, it says the following. “Next you must name him or her, and possibly give some family background to personify your character.”
I can’t connect with my characters at all if I don’t give them some kind of story. I may be an exception here but certainly I’m not alone in feeling this way. The best characters always have a story, a unique quality that colors them and brings them to life. This is why I love 13th Age’s “Your One Unique Thing”, it pushes you to be creative, even just a little bit. It encourages story, and that’s why we play.