Character generation involves the following steps:
1. Come up with a character concept. Please feel free to ask a staff member for help.
2. Begin character generation by writing your background.
3. Get your background approved. A staff member will look it over and suggest adjustments, if need be.
4. Represent your concept in the RPG system. Again, a staff member will be happy to help you with this.
5. Get approved for play. A staff member will look your sheet over and suggest adjustments, if need be.
(By the way, we use the pronoun "he" a lot, for convenience. Obviously, everything we say applies to both male and female players and characters, and we intend to imply nothing other than gender neutrality.)
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You can expect that staff will be actively involved in discussing your character with you throughout the character generation process. We're interested in making sure that your character has a place to fit in — that they've got a reason to get involved, a reason to care about what's happening, and hooks for their own stories that will draw other people into what they're doing.
Also, due to the breadth of the concepts and character abilities that we support, character generation is the place where we ensure that the elements that you introduce fit into the genre and theme, that what you're introducing is consistent with whatever setting elements other players have already defined, that your character has their own unique schtick and therefore niche in the game, and that your abilities are playable, balanced, and fair to others.
Background Approval Process
As a new character without an approved background, you will automatically see, at the bottom of your background, a section that tells you what people and props you've mentioned. If it's a prop, you will see the list of its propcos (prop coordinators, i.e., the possible people you can talk to about that prop). That will hopefully make it easy to see who it is you ought to talk to about those hooks.
When you submit your background for approval, a +mail notification is automatically sent to every player mentioned in your background, as well as to every propco of any props mentioned in that background. It will let those people know that they need to read and sign off on the background. The GMs can also add additional sign-off needs, in case the automation doesn't fully catch everything.
Those people will be able to read your background (with +sheet/bg player), and indicate their approval of it with +signoff/bg player. They don't need to bother with incidental mentions; i.e., if you write something like "X doesn't like Karm", but don't mention any specific incidences, there's no need for Karm propco sign-off.
The GMs will not approve a background until the appropriate sign-offs have been done. You can ask people to sign off before you submit for approval, too; you're encouraged to do this, so you save yourself some waiting and get people to sign off when you have your discussion. The GMs will usually prod people for sign-offs if an unduly long amount of time passes. It usually takes most active players no more than a day to read and sign off on a background, and the GMs typically approve such backgrounds near-immediately after seeing the sign-offs have been completed, so most people are able to get approved within a day or two, and even faster if they've already gotten the necessary player sign-offs.
Sheet Approval Process
The sheet approval process is a relatively cursory one. It exists to ensure that you haven't done anything entirely illogical, and that your sheet reasonably reflects the background that you submitted. When the GMs approve your sheet, they will also set Lores for your character.
Playing While Unapproved
Player names, in the contents list of rooms, are shown in reverse color if that character does not have a background approved for play. (So, for instance, an unapproved character whose name would normally show in green for not-idle, would show as black text on a green background instead.) This makes it immediately, clearly apparent if an unapproved character is on the IC grid.
Characters without an approved background have no sheets or powers, should claim neither stats nor abilities, and automatically lose all conflicts. Indeed, their desired backgrounds may, in some cases, be actively disallowed by the staff once we read it. If you are playing with an unapproved character, and they are not explicitly in the scene as an NPC for a plot or the like, be aware that your scene is potentially subject to retcon.
Characters with approved backgrounds, but without an approved sheet, can roleplay, as long as they do not claim any abilities (and they automatically lose any +compare, +challenge, etc.). These character names show up normally.