Reality is the playground of the unimaginative
Home Of Superheroes, Supernatural, and Star Stuff

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sunday Chin Scratcher: Player-Character Questionnaires, Yay Or Nay?


Even if I'm running a hack'n'slash dungeoncrawl I want to know the backstories of all the player-characters.

Coming from a comic book-reading, serial drama-watching, background I like to add a bit of a personal connection for the player-characters to the campaign they're enjoying.

But let's be honest, sometimes - especially with old school grognards - it can be like pulling teeth trying to extract some character details from players beyond "my fighter is called Bob, he hits things, his family are all dead, and he has no dependents or emotional attachment to anything except gold pieces".

For my next game - which uses a really, really simple rules system - I'm thinking of introducing a six question questionnaire for the players (the first question being "who would play your character in a film?", because I love to include stills and portraits in my game write-ups and campaign blogs).

Does anyone else hand out player-character questionnaires before the start of a campaign?

How many questions do you put to your players (I've seen some questionnaires with 30 or 40 questions, which seems a tad excessive)?

What do you want to know about player-characters beyond the stats and skills shown on their character sheets?

Or, conversely, do you just wing it and, as the campaign progresses, let players come up with these details retrospectively as the need arises?

9 comments:

  1. Nearly all my characters have some sort of backstory. I usually leave a lot of details open to be explored in game, but I like to know who these characters are and what motivates them. I tend to be the more "role-player"-er of the old school crowd and that is fine with me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love doing a good backstory for my characters but I tend to do it just for me...a lot of the people I've gamed with see it as an unnecessary chore.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The campaign mastercraft method is my go-to character generation method. Simple and effective, it succinctly lets a PC create a loose-but-can-be-settled-into backstory for their characters that gives both PCs and Gms things to work from.

    In simplest terms, it's about viewing the GM-Player relationship as collaborative rather than competitive, but that's a simple phrase describing a very big leap.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Unfortunately my players equate back story with unnecessary work. Why work when you can just show up at the table and react to what the GM presents. So Nay on the questionnaire although I would LOVE to change that!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Actually what has worked best for me in the past is to generate a bunch of backgrounds for my players, and have them pick one each.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I do this! Usually with some mild version of a myers-briggs test. I try to answer in character, and may particular attention to things that come automatically and ones that I debate for a while. I find it helps me find the character's voice.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I tend to run a session zero or discussions using email and social media to establish backgrounds prior to starting the game, I'm generally pretty lucky that (most) of my players seem to appreciate the value of a good character background. That said I quite like the idea of a survey, it would allow those people who maybe aren't so sure about what makes a good character background to be given some structure and guidance.

    ReplyDelete
  8. At most I ask 10 questions, but I usually try to boil it down to three or four that have an impact on the setting and party dynamics. Things like: "who in the party do you already know?", "why did your character choose the class they did?", and "who is someone they respect and would turn to for help or aid?"

    These days I mostly play games that already include such questions during character creation though, so I often don't need to ask them myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I know next-to-nothing about FATE games, one of the things I've always liked about Spirit Of The Century was its character-creation system that deals head-on with the "how do you know each other" question.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Tags

10th Doctor (188) 11th Doctor (210) 12 monkeys (3) 12th Doctor (70) 1st Doctor (74) 2000AD (56) 2nd Doctor (58) 3rd Doctor (63) 4e (43) 4th Doctor (97) 50th birthday (8) 5e (14) 5th Doctor (58) 6th Doctor (51) 7th Doctor (62) 7th Voyage (5) 7TV (21) 8th Doctor (39) 9th Doctor (48) A41 (15) Aaron Allston (10) abney park (18) academy of heroes (10) Acrobatic Flea (42) action figure archive (10) action figures (126) Adam Buxton (9) Adam West (19) addams family (19) adventure time (12) agent 47 (4) Agent Carter (64) AHS (11) airship 27 (1) alcatraz (4) alec (47) alice (94) all out war (1) almost human (5) alphas (18) amazon streaming (25) American Gods (3) Amy Dallen (22) Ancient Aliens (26) anime (54) anniversary hop (35) ant (1) ant-man (44) Anya Taylor-Joy (4) Apama (4) aquaman (36) arduin (42) arrival (1) arrow (150) arrowstorm (37) artist appreciation (62) assassin's creed (1) AT-43 (21) atlantis (22) atticus institute (1) audio (226) auton (9) Avengers (254) Aviator (12) Axanar (8) Babylon 5 (21) babymetal (16) baking (8) band maid (4) banshee (14) Barack Obama (16) barney (39) bates motel (13) batgirl (11) bathroom watch (8) batman (420) Battlefield Evolution (8) Battlestar Galactica (82) Beacon Point (4) bedlam (7) beowulf (6) bettany (10) big hero 6 (4) biggles (1) Bill Willingham (11) birthday (52) black guardian (3) black hood (3) black lightning (1) black panther (19) black sails (33) blackest night (28) Blackmoor (16) blade runner (23) Blair Witch (22) Blake's 7 (21) blood drive (2) Bloodshot (5) BMG (9) boardgame (66) BoL (5) book (823) book of the month (61) borgias (7) boston legal (5) bottom of the pile (24) bournemouth (27) brave (8) breaking bad (8) brothers barbarian (1) BtM (25) BTTF (5) BtW (13) Buck Rogers (17) buffy (208) buffy campaign notes (4) Bukowski (9) C and C (75) c and t (90) Caitz Lotz (2) Call Of Cthulhu (110) calvin and hobbes (11) Caper (10) Captain America (277) captain britain (20) captain marvel (5) cara (2) carcosa (9) card game (20) carnacki (1) Carnivàle (1) Caroline Munro (12) castle (13) cataracts (5) cathryn (4) cats (5) charity (2) Charlie's Angels (9) charmed (28) chin scratcher (27) China (86) chitty (1) Chris Hadfield (9) christmas (277) christmas village (2) Cidri (129) clangers (1) clare (218) Class (1) cloak and dagger (2) clone wars (48) clovenstone (16) cloverfield (9) clown (20) cody deal (3) CoE (12) Coggershall (15) colin (3) colliders (3) colour out of space (9) comics (1941) community table (13) competition (48) computer (78) Conan (124) constantine (48) cool website (3383) copper (4) Cortex (10) cosplay (432) cosplay goddess (8) creepypasta (7) Crime Nation (1) crimson peak (6) crossbones (1) Cyberman (55) D and D (720) da vinci (23) dad's army (3) dalek (156) damage control (1) damien (4) Dan Abnett (10) dan dare (5) daredevil (105) dark matter (2) dark tower (6) Darkseid (16) darna (1) David Bowie (18) DC Fancast (4) DCC (3) de strange (1) deadlands (13) deadpool (22) Deathstalker (17) Deathstalker Week (6) decorating (83) defenders (19) defiance (20) dejah thoris (8) demons (12) desolation (2) devo (2) Dexter (19) Dick Garrison (7) Dickensian (15) dilbert (3) dining room watch (5) dinosaur (69) disney (138) doc savage (26) doctor steel (1) Doctor Who Skirmish (3) dollhouse (17) dolls house (29) dominion (3) doom patrol (11) Dorian Gray (14) Dr Horrible (19) Dr Strange (74) Dr Who (1108) DR WHO RPG (143) draconians (8) Dracula (53) dragon age (6) dragon warriors (2) dragonlance (14) Dresden Files (58) dune (2) dungeon bastard (67) dvd (1151) dvd of the week (377) e-space (4) EAP (5) eBay (139) Egypt (35) Elementals (6) elm street (37) Elric (37) Elvis (8) enormous (2) episode VII (54) episode VIII (4) equipment (2) ercia (3) erica (40) eureka (7) eurovision (13) Evil Dead (37) EWDG (2) exorcist (26) Facebook (302) faction paradox (13) faith (6) FAL (1) falling skies (1) Fantastic Four (184) Fantazia (6) farscape (5) FCBD (27) FDTD (11) felicia day (21) FEMM (9) FFL (1) fiction (4) film (3312) film night (33) Firefly (73) firestorm (32) flash (274) Flash Gordon (39) flashback (798) fleamarket friday (561) fleapit (75) Flintloque (6) fmj (10) FoG (14) Formula De (24) foxy friday (5) France (32) Frankenstein (31) fringe (46) fu manchu (1) funky dice (15) funny (1154) GAFDOZ (37) GAH (1) gal gadot (17) galavant (1) game of thrones (304) gamesroom (123) garden watch (33) geek god (5) geek pin-up (135) Gen Con (46) generator (10) GFT (16) ghost (184) ghost in the shell (8) Ghost Rider (8) ghostbusters (61) Gillian Hills (3) glee (36) godzilla (16) googleplus (48) Gor (8) Gotham (57) Grant Morrison (45) green hornet (4) Green Inferno (17) green lantern (142) greywulf (9) grimm (19) grindhouse (10) growler (1) Guardians (151) Guardians RPG (9) gublin (16) guest post (11) gunther (2) hack slash (23) Hackmaster (31) halloween (155) hammer glamour week (8) hangman (1) Hannah Spearritt (7) hannibal (39) Harley Quinn (41) Harry Potter (53) harryhausen (42) Hattie Watson (6) Haunted Mansion (2) Hawk The Slayer (67) Hawkeye (46) Hawkgirl (15) hawkman (21) health (213) helix (8) hellboy (1) Hercules (27) hero kids (16) HeroClix (20) Heroes (62) HeroPress (667) Hertsmonceux Castle (8) Hever (9) HEX (108) HEX campaign notes (6) hey kids (4) HHGTTG (37) HIMYM (20) HMP (3) hobomancer (1) holiday (30) Hollyoaks (15) hollywood me (3) hook (3) hornets' nest (5) horror (1231) houdini & doyle (1) houserules (54) HOW (174) HOW spell (6) HOW treasure (4) howard the duck (12) hrumph (2) hulk (107) hunger games (12) Hunter S Thompson (6) ice warriors (12) ICONS (75) ID4 (15) IHMN (2) illuminati (3) ilyat (2) Immortal Iron Fist (32) immortals (1) indiana jones (67) ingrid pitt week (7) inhumans (48) interview (41) into the odd (5) IRBKM (74) iron man (202) Ironclad (7) irrepressible (1) iTunes (39) izombie (7) Jack Herman (57) james bond (77) James Purefoy (8) Jane Seymour (5) Japan (155) Jason Statham (4) Jason Voorhees (23) jason xmas (11) Jeff Dee (73) jekyll and hyde (12) jeni (10) jericho (1) Jessica Alba (4) jessica jones (45) JLC (25) jody mills (8) joe gilgun (5) John Carrigan (5) john carter (53) john carter RPG (5) John Wick (3) Josh Trank (10) Josie and The Pussycats (4) Joss Whedon (67) JSA (8) Judge Dredd (56) Judges Guild (9) judoon (21) jungle book (2) Jupiter Ascending (6) jupiter's moon (1) justice league (112) K9 (73) Kai (8) Karen Gillan (47) keira knightley (22) kevin (109) Kevin Bacon (15) key to time (7) KFC (3) Kickstarter (352) killjoys (2) king kong (12) kitchen watch (17) Klingon (15) Knight City (109) Knightmare (7) knights of badassdom (6) kom (11) KOTDT (56) Krampus (6) Kree (12) krod mandoon (6) krypton (1) labyrinth lord (49) Lady GaGa (7) larp (33) Lauren Cohan (4) Legends of Tomorrow (34) legion (2) LEGO (21) leverage (17) Life on Mars (13) light city (5) limitless (6) LoA (36) lodoss (8) Lois Lane (30) Lost (102) LotFP (29) LOTR (165) LoTS (23) lou (5) lounge watch (11) love and rockets (2) Lovecraft (289) LSH (51) lucy (5) luke cage (53) Lulu (41) mack bolan (6) mad max (22) Maelstrom (3) magazine (240) Maleficent (13) man in the high castle (1) mapamonday (101) Mars (109) Mars Attacks (15) Mars McCoy (1) marvel rpg (5) mary poppins (1) Matrix (25) matt (19) max neptune (12) megan fox (24) melin (1) meredith (93) merlin (193) Merlins Miscellany (15) MG (3) midale (12) mike the knight (1) Military Odyssey (8) mindprobe (9) miracleman (3) Misfits (26) miss peregrine (2) misty (1) mob city (1) Moby Dick (6) MoC (11) model train (28) model village (1) mojo (2) monkey (122) monster (574) monster mash (40) monty python (41) moorcock (37) morgan (1) Most Wanted (2) mr robot (3) ms marvel (5) MSP (13) MtG (2) mummy (31) muppets (43) murdoch (8) murmurs (1) music (513) musical monday (235) musketeers (4) mutant future (6) Mutants and Masterminds (40) MV (7) My Chemical Romance (7) my first (8) my life and roleplaying (34) Mythica (38) narnia (11) nashville (11) natalie dormer (11) natalie portman (18) Necronomicon (21) nemo (5) nerf (1) netflix (144) new spell (12) nick g (22) nick l (240) Night Blogger (7) nightwing (9) Ninjak (5) NOF (7) nosferatu (3) NPH (10) Oculus (6) odd thomas (2) officer downe (1) Olivia Cooke (10) Olympics (21) olympus (3) Once Upon A Time (20) one ring rpg (10) opinion poll (45) orange is the new black (9) Orin Rakatha (4) orphans (1) orville (1) ouija (9) outcast (2) outcasts (16) OVC (18) oz (22) ozombie (7) pacific rim (21) paranoia rpg (1) parks and recreation (14) Pathfinder (23) Patreon (18) paul (107) pembury (17) Pendragon RPG (10) penny dreadful (28) peri (21) period slang (5) pete (268) Philip Reeve (108) philosophy (42) pick of the pods (27) picture parade (68) pirates (108) Playboy (30) PMF (4) podcast (178) poldark (5) polly (5) Poltergeist (7) PotA (65) power rangers (2) powerless (4) preacher (10) Pride and Prejudice (23) Primeval (45) primeval RPG (19) Prince Valiant (14) Prisoner (4) prometheus (9) Pulp (218) Punisher (53) pushing daisies (2) PVF (10) QB (9) quantum and woody (1) quatermass (22) Quentin Tarantino (27) rachel (719) railhead (7) reading list (15) real life (2226) rebels (45) Red Dwarf (10) red sonja (18) rendel (5) Resident Evil (9) retro comic (98) Richard Sharpe (10) riddick (4) riese (4) rip hunter (12) Ripper Street (11) riverdale (113) roan (1) Robin Hood (27) robocop (13) robotech (3) rochester (4) rocket age (11) rocket raccoon (62) roger corman (14) rogue one (11) roleplaying review (38) rom (4) round-up (57) RPG (2410) runaways (1) Runequest (11) Russia (75) s and s (1) s w (77) sabrina (21) salem (1) Salute To The 40s (7) sara jean underwood (5) saturday morning matinee (375) savage worlds (100) SB (6) scooby-doo (23) scorpion king (5) Season 10 (5) Season 16 (6) Season 18 (6) Season 19 (6) Season 22 (5) Season 26 (4) serial thrillers (26) sevenoaks (13) seventh son (2) shadowrun (4) shakespeare (43) Shannara (3) shark (42) sharknado (32) shazam (31) Shedward (14) sheep (5) sherlock (41) shield (212) Shyamalan (8) sick (12) sick week (9) sidcup (1) silurians (14) simon (98) sinbad (54) sinbad week (7) SixoftheBest (61) SJA (106) slaine (20) sleepy hollow (10) sls (11) smallville (77) smurf (6) snake plissken (2) snoopy (11) snow (42) snow white (16) sns (2) soap box (58) sontaran (28) space 1889 (108) space 1889 library (3) space 1999 (3) spam tasting (5) spartacus (82) Spawn (2) spellfury (33) spelljammer (5) Spider-Man (250) sponsored post (2) sport (75) Squadron UK (3) st trinians (2) stacks (1) stacktastic (6) staghind (5) staircase watch (1) Stan Lee (78) Star Trek (325) star wars (703) Stargate (52) statistics (84) steampunk (117) steve (132) Steve Costigan (1) STO (1) STP (3) stranger things (11) stroke survivor (27) strontium dog (2) sucker punch (7) suicide squad (45) Sunday Funny (367) sunflower (5) Supergirl (123) Supergirl Sunday (28) superhero 2044 (3) superman (431) Supernatural (362) superteam (159) survivors (15) swing (11) t and t (11) t-shirts (29) tales from the loop (1) tales from the vault (3) tales of the gold monkey (9) tarzan (25) TBBT (60) Teen Titans (54) tekralh (201) tekralh reborn (17) tekumel (28) Terminator (40) terra nova (3) TFT (42) Thanos (12) the 100 (4) The 4400 (14) The Asylum (60) The Atom (33) the cape (8) the following (32) the gifted (3) The Guild (11) the hobbit (75) the hoff (7) the librarians (8) The Lurking Fear (3) The Mist (6) the quest (3) the river (2) The Shadow (7) this defiant earth (1) this is england (3) Thomas Jane (5) Thor (196) thrilling locations (11) throwback thursday (66) Thunderbirds (7) thundercats (2) Tick (3) Tim Peake (2) timeless (1) tintin (12) TMNT (14) tomorrow people (4) tomorrowland (2) Tonbridge (134) Toni Darling (4) top of the pile (182) Top Secret RPG (70) top shelf (11) Torchwood (137) torn from the headlines (177) trailer (2232) transformers (13) Traveller (40) treasure trove (38) Trial Of A Time Lord (5) trigan empire (1) trope tuesday (1) True Blood (42) True Detective (11) tuesday knights (416) tumblr (57) Tunbridge Wells (144) tv (2886) Twin Peaks (33) ubiquity (72) unisystem (41) Urban Exploring (8) urban knights (3) V (25) V and V (319) Valerian (9) valhalla (2) valiant (18) Valorie Curry (4) vampire (250) vampirella (19) van allen plexico (5) vandal savage (8) vault (1) venture bros (4) Venus (31) video (24) vikings (27) vixen (12) voltron (3) wales (5) warcraft (35) warehouse 13 (48) wargame (396) Watchmen (83) wayward pines (3) wedding (69) week in geek (111) week in TV (47) Weekly World News (21) weird wednesday (24) wentworth (6) werewolf (87) western (180) westworld (7) WGA (12) white canary (16) wii (6) wil wheaton (39) wild cards (10) wild dog (4) Wildthyme (14) william shatner (15) Winnie The Pooh (7) WoH (6) Wolverine (75) wonder girl (13) wonder woman (507) wonderland (33) World of Darkness (6) WRC (18) wuxia (45) www (348) wynonna earp (1) X-Files (52) x-men (168) x-o manowar (4) xena (39) yggdrasill (3) ZD (9) zelda (4) zenescope (19) zombie (425) zorcerer of zo (4) zorro (1) zot (1) zygon (17)