Thinking a bit this morning on gaining attachment to a character in an RPG. The thoughts were initially brought on by reading over the DCC rulebook while also looking back through the (newest) Gamma World books and how they seem to create attachment very quickly, yet use different methods (which may or may not be effective for some people).
In DCC the group creates a small horde of 0-level peasants and runs them through a meat-grinder; those that come out (mostly) intact go on to become 1st-level adventurers. The attachment is built through this major event in the character's lives where the players are, literally, forging their own adventurers. Just giving the module DCC #67 (for 0-level characters) a glance over you can tell this isn't about finding a basement full of rats and calling it an 'adventure' -- this is some serious action the peasants are going into. Any character that survived that I would have some respect for.
Gamma World's (GW from here on) attachment is, well, probably not completely intended as gaining such. It's also not nearly as deadly as DCC's form of attachment building. What I'm referring to is GW's character creation system which allows the player to create very wild and varied characters (especially if they have the expansions, too). As an example I just rolled up a Simian/Empath. That's an (possibly) intelligent gorilla that can feel the emotions of those around them.
So, that's fairly interesting, but it does get even better. The starting equipment in GW is generically stat'd and categorized. Each character gets a melee and a ranged weapon along with a choice of armor type and optional shield. Since every equipment choice is generic it's up to the players to describe what it is the character is using -- which is my favorite part. For instance, with the Gorilla, I've looked around my desk and noticed my phone -- so I decide it's equipment will be phone-based. Since it has a lot of Strength I'll give it the heavier gear, starting with a one handed melee weapon -- in this case, an old payphone wired to a pole like a flail -- and a shield -- a door to a telephone booth, used like a riot shield, sounds good.
By now I've got some ideas flowing as to why it's using this kind of equipment. Perhaps it's part of a gorilla tribe/clan that took up residence in an abandoned phone factory/company or some museum that's dedicated to telecommunications. Being a Simian/Empath it's also similar to a Paladin/Cleric so perhaps there is a religious aspect involved. Maybe there's a devotion to a deity that's phone-based -- like the Yellow Pages. That sounds good.
So, I now have a gorilla wielding an old payphone in honor of its God(dess) -- the Yellow Pages. I still haven't given it any armor, though, so I think it'll use heavy armor in the form of ancient telephone books (hardened over time by various chemicals and whatnot in the environment) that are wired together -- almost like banded mail. The armor could also denote a religious honor for the character as it is sacred to them. For one last touch I'll say they've covered the armor and their other equipment and fur in various yellow dyes and paint -- for other religious reasons.
And that's basically it (well, except for a ranged weapon, but that can be for another time). Certainly, it isn't necessary or enforced, which is why it could easily be passed over, but this character creation really builds an attachment for me. Even more so than coming up with back story for a 'regular' character.