Random drifty bits

What I’m running:
Star Wars “Prince of Alderaan” campaign.
DnD campaign
Oriental Adventures campaign
Pulp Adventures
What I’m playing:
Cry Havoc
Living Greyhawk*
Living Force*
Living Jungle*
Living Arcanis*
* Truly, the living campaigns let me play in a bunch of stuff I’d never have a chance at normally.
What I’d like to be running:
Oriental Adventures more regularly.
Spycraft as a very small home game. (One, two, maybe three players).
Star Wars campaign
Living Arcanis as a monthly home game (while somehow continuing to play my character).
More Pulp Adventures (which necessitates writing more modules for it).
What I’d like to be playing:
Living Arcanis (mostly because of my character, although the plotting is strong*)
Living Force (mostly because of my character*)
Living Greyhawk (mostly because of the storyline)
Living Jungle (largely because of the storyline and setting)
I think one of the great strengths of a Living campaign — playing them at a con, at any rate — is that the players can enjoy the setting/storyline/character without being ‘stuck’ with a GM they aren’t entirely happy with… every table is a different GM, so if you get one that isn’t all that, at least you know that the next table should be … well, better hopefully, but at the very least different.
* – I wonder, since I don’t play very much, how many players continue playing in a campaign they don’t find that interesting largely because of their character. I see a lot of players whom I know to be very creative people recreating/reusing characters from old campaigns — I have to think that the reason they want to revisit that character concept is because they don’t feel they fully ‘played it out’ in whatever previous game the character was in. In that vein, these observations:
I don’t think I’ll ever need to play a Gwydion or Bob again (more definately for Bob), although I might use Gwydion simply because I’m lazy and it’s simple for me to portray him.
I keep recreating Kethos – he’s been an NPC in… something like 3 games and now he’s a PC for another game… I know it’s at least partly because I never got a chance to really make him a main character.
Conversely, Seebor (whom I’m playing in Living Jungle) is basically a throw-away character — I couldn’t tell you two things about his history, although I think I have his portrayal down well — in that case, I’m not playing Living Jungle to play the character, I’m playing to participate in the storyline and setting. I know how Seebor acts, but I don’t have any idea why.
So… I know people who have a generic character template they fall back on to fulfill a specific role that allows them to interact with the storyline (I did that in Living Jungle by making a ‘generic strong hunter’), and I know players who are playing the game mostly as a vehicle towards playing a particular character (Amber players do this a lot — I did that with Gwydion and Bob, who were both conceived without close regard for the actualstoryline of the setting — Dave G does that with his string of “monks with a name that starts with A”, although arguably, that might actually be his ‘template’ character).
Getting Depth
With luck, your preconceived, fully-realized character might begin to reflect parts of the storyline as they grow, thus becoming more a part of the whole setting, but as they came into the world with a lot of detail already (so to speak), they might not ever entirely ‘fit’. They might never feel quite ‘done’. This is happening successfully with Gwydion, unsuccessfully with Bob.
For me, the best possible combination is a ‘character template’ character who, in interacting with the campaign, gains depth retroactively by interacting with the setting and/or by discovering/revealing history. I say this only because that’s generally the way I write my characters in stories; I only know how they act — I find out WHY they act that way as I go. (Or I never do, and that’s alright as well, because people are complicated and not even they themselves know why they do everything, or remember their entire history perfectly.)