JP On Gaming

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

[Old Pro Tricks] Character Backgrounds: A fourth question!

If you watch D&D Youtubers or even many other bloggers, they tell GMs to have players write them extensive backgrounds. That sounds awesome but when I am given a four-page novella, I often go, "Huh... that's not quite how I figured things would go."

Katharan al-ZawreeSo you end up stimying the players' creativity with characters who know nothing of their background, have no family, and no love affairs. Other than ladies of ill-repute they don't care about.

If you have been around this blog long enough, you will notice I changed my mind multiple times. Like when I thought about a good background length (where I recommended keeping it short), and especially the One Person, One Place, One Event technique. Both of those emphasize simplicity and brevity. They serve to get both player and GM to discuss.

The 1P1P1E technique in particular makes for simple obvious hooks. Effectively, the player gives the GM three hooks and reason for your character to adventure.

As a forever GM, I like to have as few notes as possible. No (just) because I'm lazy, but especially so I can easily and quickly find this information when my players are in front of my without having to point to one players and go "Who's that NPCs of yours? Oh yeah, your dad!".

The fourth question, is Tell me one mystery/questions you'd like to see in the game.

Fine, fine, it's not a question.

Jim HawkinsIt's a thread I can weave into the narrative. This could be a monster, a magic item, or a mystery about the setting or the character's background. This allows me to weave or use some of these into the different adventures. Give the player a simple nod during the game.

So 2p1e1q (or Spleeq) is the new style of character backstory I use from here on.

The great thing about it is that it can be used with any game system and any type of game without difficulty. It's a simple, highly portable way to create ways to have your character tied into the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment