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Micromanic

PC character questions

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Hey all! First time poster and all around newbie. Just started GM'ing an Edge of the Empire campaign for a bunch of friends and enjoyed our first session.

The group is currently coming up with their obligations and motivations to give me ammo in terms of plot points, but it got me thinking if anyone has tried asking background questions of their players to flesh out their characters a bit more or do you find the obligation/motivation usually helps enough?

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Only if they give you a couple of dense paragraphs per obligation and motivation... I always load my gm up with plenty of details in addition... My first pbp I'm gm-ing I had a session zero, basically going back and forth between players to find out who knows who and the whole setup before I even opened up with the first lead post.

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Through various systems, I've always encouraged players to come up with at least a brief background bio to mine for ideas. Some have provided information so rich that I've awarded a few extra XP or a cool piece of gear, or other reward for doing so.

A couple of years ago, I came across the form linked below and made good use of it. It's a nice balance between getting the players thinking about their characters' backgrounds and having them feel like they're being tasked with writing a novel.

http://journeymangm.com/2012/01/07/the-quick-and-easy-character-background/

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The Order 66 podcast turned me on to what they call, The Questions 3... three questions that if you answer them is all the GM needs to run things for your character... no background synopsis needed.  They are:

1) What does your character unconditionally love?  (What would your character risk their lives to save or protect?)

2) What does your character unconditionally hate? (What would your character attack or fight or resist every time?)

3) Why is your character in the party?

I have used these three questions and they work fantastic... as a GM I don't need more.

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46 minutes ago, scotter23 said:

3) Why is your character in the party?

This one is particularly crucial.  I hear all the time about campaigns that fizzled out or went badly because characters were created independent of the intended storyline; and then when the big plot-hook came along, one or more PC's had zero interest in getting involved (or refused to be around other members of the party)

Edited by Vorzakk

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Just now, Vorzakk said:

This one is particularly crucial.  I hear all the time about campaigns that fizzled out or went badly because characters were created independent of the intended storyline; and then went the big plot-hook came along, one or more PC's had zero interest in getting involved.  

Cannot emphasize this enough, the EotE Beginner Set sets a perfect example of how to integrate the PCs with each other, as every character had at some point contact with at least two of the others. I did the same for my current group, and fixed their storylines together.

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Thanks for all the replies. I luckily have two players who decided their backstories involved one another (the father of one character helped the second flee after Order 66) so that's come in handy. Definitely think I'll give the 3 Questions a go, although at this stage the general feel from my group is they are all very anti-Imperial, so got that to play with as well.

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On 5/20/2017 at 6:15 AM, Micromanic said:

if anyone has tried asking background questions of their players to flesh out their characters a bit more or do you find the obligation/motivation usually helps enough?

Absolutely - always. The more you can give the GM to work with, the more rewarding the game will be. I've got a list of 50 questions around here somewhere that I usually try and fill out as a player, and love to get from the others when GMing. 

- The Basics -
01 - What is your full name?
02 - List any and all aliases used. (How long in use? Why?)
03 - How old are you?
04 - Where were you born?
05 - Describe your parents, including current status.
06 - What was/is your families social status (Poor? Well-to-do? Wealthy?)
07 - Do you have any relatives and how close are you?
08 - Where are these relatives now?

- Background -
09 - What is your level of education?
10 - Where did you study?
11 - Do you hold any degrees?
12 - What jobs, positions, or titles have you held? (When? Where?)
13 - Did you ever serve in the military?
14 - Do you have a criminal record? (Why? Are you still wanted?)
15 - Where do you live now?
16 - Where did you spend most of your life?
17 - Name two notable places you've visited
18 - Are you or have you ever been married or romantically involved? (With who? Where are they now? What is the status of your relationship?)
19 - Describe a significant event from childhood and/or adolescence.
20 - Describe a significant event from adulthood.
21 - Did you know or know of other characters (either PCs or NPC) prior to beginning this campaign?
22 - How do you describe your lifestyle?
23 - Do you have any enemies (who?/why?)
24 - What conflicts might arise due to your past?
25 - Do you have any friends or contacts? (where are they now?)
26 - Do you have any dependents?
27 - Do you have any pets?
28 - What are your hobbies?
29 - What awards and honors have your received?
30 - List a couple of your favorite music/bands.
31 - List a couple of your favorite foods/drink.
32 - List a couple of your favorite equipment/vehicles/toys

- Personality -
33 - List three physical traits.
34 - List three positive (or 'good') mental traits.
35 - List three negative (or 'evil') mental traits.
36 - List three social traits.
37 - Any quirks and habits, both good and bad?

- Outlook on life -
38 - What are your short term goals?
39 - What are your long term goals?
40 - What are your companion's goals (both long and short term)
41 - What are your hopes and fears?
42 - What is it that drives you?
43 - Do you have a religion or believe in a mystical energy? (what are the disciplines of your faith?)
44 - What would you like to be doing in 5 years?
45 - Were do you see yourself in 10 years?
46 - How do you see yourself?
47 - How do other see you?
48 - In a short paragraph tell of your most vivid memory:

- Force Attuned -
50 - When did you first notice you were different or strong in the Force)?
51 - Who was your teacher or how did you learn the ways of the Force?
52 - How did you meet your teacher?
53 - What form do your abilities take? (Jedi, Mage, Guiled, Baadu, etc.)
54 - What do you hope to accomplish with your abilities?
55 - Describe in a short paragraph your belief in the Force.

 

Some folks find that list overkill, but I find it HUGELY helpful for developing a character!

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On 5/23/2017 at 1:34 PM, scotter23 said:

The Order 66 podcast turned me on to what they call, The Questions 3... three questions that if you answer them is all the GM needs to run things for your character... no background synopsis needed.  They are:

1) What does your character unconditionally love?  (What would your character risk their lives to save or protect?)

2) What does your character unconditionally hate? (What would your character attack or fight or resist every time?)

3) Why is your character in the party?

I have used these three questions and they work fantastic... as a GM I don't need more.

I started asking this of my players and got some very interesting results.

I also just listened to episode 97 of the Order 66 Podcast. great stuff.

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Here is a translation of the questionnaire the players had to answer, for what it's worth:

Origin and Upbringing

What is my species/subspecies? In what way am I a typical/atypical specimen?

Which is my planet of origin; what is it like; where does the system lie; what is the socio-political situation like? How am I influenced by those circumstances?

What social class/caste was I born into?

How have I been educated, what experiences have I had so far? How does that relate to my Career/Specialisation?

How did I end up at the edge of society?

What are my Obligation/s?

Wherefrom do I know the other PCs, what common experience do we share?

Personality

What is my opinion of the Empire?

What do I know of the Alliance, what is my opinion of them?

Do I have connections to/experience with organised crime? If so, what are those?

What do I know of the Force and the Jedi? What do I think of them?

What is the goal in my life?

What is mygeneral Motivation?

What do I fear? What do I dislike?

What do I like especially? What are my foibles/quirks?

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