Over the years, I’ve had a lot of trouble getting players to write backgrounds for their characters. Out of any four gamers, usually one will write something substantial, one will write something short, one will intend to but never get around to it, and one will be intimidated by the entire idea. And, even if everyone writes a background, there’s no guarantee that these will be consistently useful when running the game: a well written 20-page backstory could be an intimate summation of why the character is dead inside, has no ties to the world, and has no real reason to go on adventures. Thus, I’m wondering if a list of questions like those listed in the old White Wolf prelude suggestions would be helpful. However, those seemed largely designed to help the player get a grip on the character, where I’m more interested in having the player think up ways it’d be easy to tie the character into the game. Thus:

High Concept

  • What is the coolest thing about your character?
  • What is distinctive/memorable about your character’s appearance?
  • What is your character’s greatest triumph thus far?
  • What is something your character still feels guilty about doing?
  • What drives your character to adventure rather than taking up a safer career?

Goals

  • If your character died today, what would he or she regret not doing?
  • What does your character hope to earn quickly from this lifestyle?
  • Does your character have a core quest that must be accomplished? If so, what?
  • How does your character envision his or her life after retiring from adventure?
  • What is important enough for your character to be tempted to betray friends and morality to attain?

Connections

  • Who is the most important person in your character’s life other than the other PCs?
  • How does your character’s family feel about his or her adventurous lifestyle?
  • Is there anyone dead or missing that your character longs to see again? Who?
  • Who does your character hate the most? Why?
  • Is there anyone upon whom your character models his or her behavior (a personal hero)? Who and why?
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