The ultimate trait of Role-Playing for me is Player Agency and Infinite Resolution. It's why I dislike railroads so much, I'm playing to auger the reality of another world.
Of course the flip side to that is that's it's difficult to generate an entire world in real time. When called on to improvise, we frequently fall back to the same responses over and over. Random tables and organization helps some. We also have a wealth of tools available to help make the experience better, more interesting and more significant for our players.
Enter, Alex Schroeder's Face Generator.
In order for a character to matter for a player, there has to be something for him to hang his hat on. I've attempted to address this in my work "On the Non-Player Character", but even so that still leaves the players always looking at your face.
But there's so much brilliance in the gaming community. Look at what Alex has done. He's created a free, infinitely expandable resource to randomly generate faces at the click of a button. Faces that can be generated, saved, printed off and used to give personality to henchmen, hirelings, town guards, passerby's, shopkeepers, and anyone else you might need at a moments notice.
It gives you an entirely new axis to subvert player expectation with. What's more, the world becomes more real around the players, because once a face is generated, it represents a real, living, breathing, person in your fantasy realm.
So if you've headed over to the site, you see that there's already several different artists, allowing you to pick from male or female, human, elven, or dwarven heads. And this is only after a few weeks of this project. What's more, is that it's super simple to add to the selection available or just use what's there yourself.
Getting Your Feet WetInstructions for Creating Faces
Human face sheet
Dwarf face sheet
Elf face sheet
If you'd like to help out and create faces for the project, the links are above. I know I sure do!
It's super simple. There's a template for humans, or dwarves, or elves. You print it out, making sure that it isn't resized by your helpful computer programs. Then you draw facial features on each sheet. Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, Hair, and Chin.
You can start with something as small as five each! 30 short sketches later, you're on your way. You scan and run the software yourself, but if you're willing to put the images in the public domain, Alex has offered to handle the input for you, if you can get them scanned to him. Then your name can be listed as one of the artists.
I think this is a pretty sweet example of what's possible in our little community, and look forward to adding it as a resource that I use for my games, as well as contributing to the project.