Bonus Exp! 20 Questions
Compare that to Dungeons and Dragons. Many people create a set of powers first and a personality second when playing DnD, mostly because combat is such a major part of the game. There’s nothing wrong with this. The d20 system and the new 4th edition system both promote such thinking. But do me a favor, next time your make a character for Otep answer these 20 questions before you’re done. Maybe you’ll only answer 5, maybe you’ll make it the whole way through- but hopefully you’ll find something out about your character you didn’t know .
Not all of these questions have to be answered. Some of them might not even apply to you.
1) What is your name and what is its meaning?
a. Not every name has a meaning, but many do. Were you named after someone? Is your “name” really a nickname given to you in childhood? If you aren’t human does you name have a meaning in your native tongue?
2) Where are you from?
a. More than just “The underdark/the empire/the free nations.” Name a city, name a town (make one up if you feel like it), name a climate.
3) Who raised you?
a. Did you have loving parents? An abusive single parent? A grandfather or grandmother? An older sibling? Were you an orphan on the street raised by a guildmaster or adopted by a church? What was your relationship with the person/organization that made you who you are?
4) What is the most important thing you learned as a child?
a. Everyone learns vital lessons while they are young, moreso in a fantasy world. Did you learn that you really couldn’t trust strangers? Not to follow the lights in the woods? Did you learn that even the ugliest creature can just be misunderstood? Did you learn something hopeful that lifts you up or did this realization crush your spirits?
5) What was the moment that you grew up?
a. Everyone grows up sometime, and its not a matter of age. Was this your first heartbreak? The death of a loved one? A monster attack? Has it yet to happen and your character is still an innocent at heart?
6) Why are you an adventurer?
a. Why did you leave your home and enter the most dangerous profession in the world? What is your ultimate goal, and what does it mean to have accomplished that? Think hard on this one, it defines who you are becoming more than any other question.
7) How did you learn your class?
a. Did you learn archery from the man who raised your or spells from an old woman in the woods? Were you raised in a church looking forward to being ordained each day or did you practice stealing by sneaking into the chapel and taking donations for yourself? Saying “I went to wizard school” is lazy, picking a name for it is better- a favored teacher, a rival and a lost love is perfect.
8) Do you like what you do, or do you wish you had chosen a different path?
a. Do you ever wish you hadn’t sold off your first day of winter to that thing in the woods? Do you stand next to the Paladin and regret your life of mercenary work? How could anything be better than communing with your deity or throwing bolts of eldritch fire?
9) What is the best thing about your profession?
a. The rhythm of battle as soldiers follow your every order? The thrill of a perfect heist? The twang of a bow and the crunch of leaves? The anticipation as you walk the line between damnation and power?
10) What is the worst thing about your profession?
a. Failing to save a friend as they lie dying in your arms, the power of your faith not quite enough? An eldritch tome that has no answers, only more questions? Knowing that as good as you are, somewhere in the world a better swordsman is sharpening their skills? The looks of frustration when you walk bye as people think you’re judging them just because of the paladin’s crest upon your chest?
11) Who do you admire most in the world?
a. The woman who raised you? Your teacher at the academy? Your king? The father you never met? A long dead hero who you’ve based your life upon? A fallen friend you couldn’t save?
12) Who are you loyal to?
a. This doesn’t have to be a complete list of ideals, but instead the one faction/group/person you are most loyal to in the world.
13) Who do you hate most in this world and why do you feel that way?
a. With few exceptions everyone dislikes something or someone. Maybe the fey took your older sister away into the woods and now you carry a blade of cold iron. Perhaps a corrupt governor put your mentor in jail (or perhaps the governor threw your corrupt mentor in jail) and you still plot revenge. Maybe you hate an entire race, an entire faction, an entire city or an entire country- just make sure you know why.
14) What choices have you made that affected your alignment?
a. Sure your character sheet says you’re Lawful Good… but what have you ever done to back that up? What good things have you done in the past; remember it’s not enough to do nothing wrong and claim it as goodliness. If your character is evil explain why, just being a killer or an arrogant bastard isn’t nearly enough.
15) How do you feel about Magic?
a. Magic is a major part of the world… but it remains apart from the everyday. Do you view it as a tool, a weapon or both? Does it scare your or excite you? Do you love the art or have you hated it for taking up more of your mother’s time than you ever did.
16) Do the ends justify the means to you?
a. Can evil deeds be justified and is your character willing to take those actions? Everyone has to do things they don’t want to- that’s part of growing as a character. This is a question of How far will you go.
17) What would it take to buy your loyalty?
a. It’s said that every man has a price, what’s yours? You’re character may not know this but you as the player most certainly should. Is it the life of your family? Magical knowledge beyond your wildest dreams? Ascending in power and influence? Or is it simply the glitter of gold?
18) What is your shameful secret?
a. Maybe you don’t have one of these… but it’s a lot more fun if you do. This can be something fun like “My surly Dragonborn rogue loves to dance… but he’s terrible at it.” Something character building “I accidentally killed my pet with Dad’s wand and have sworn never to use magic again.” Or something tragic “My beloved teacher tried to sacrifice me to Orcus during his ascent to Lichdom.”
19) Why are you with these people (the party)?
a. You may not be able to answer this question yet, but think about it when you get the chance. Just because random fate has thrown you together on a quest isn’t usually enough to stick around for the longterm. Does the fey warlock remind you of your lost sister? Do these misguided souls need the influence of your deity to make sure they stay on the proper path? Has the fighter insulted your magic and now its time to show him how powerful you really are?
20) What is your favorite color?
a. Add a splash of color to your character description and background. Does your hardened warrior woman own a menagerie of pink dresses that she would never show anyone? Are you an elf that can’t stand getting yet another green cloak for his birthday? Are you a rogue that really loves wearing black even though it makes you even more conspicuous than you already are?
And now for a few bonus questions.
1) Are you open about your past?
a) Is he an open book, sharing uncomfortable details or stories that make no sense since the people involved are complete strangers to everyone else? Does she say as little as possible and divert the questions cleverly back, hording her secrets? Do you get angry when people ask those questions? Do you make it all up each time you’re asked (Want to know how I got these scars?).
2) Are you in a relationship?
a) Is your character married, widowed, engaged or dating someone back home (or in the party)? Do you chase after wenches and elf princesses despite having promised to be true or are you a proud man-eater leaving a trail of broken hearts and crushed hopes in your wake? Does chastity make up a party of your religion or do you engage in life to the fullest each night you make it back to the inn? Are you looking for the love of your life or have they already passed you by? Are women just a distraction from your true love (battle/magic/money) or are men just dimwitted pigs and you find better companionship among other women?
a) Are you courageous, loyal and true? Charitable and patient? Would you throw yourself into the mouth of Hell to save a friend? Nobodies asking you to be a saint, just a hero.
4) What is your greatest flaw?
a) Are you greedy or vain? Vengeful or murderous. Would you endanger your entire party to accomplish you’re goals or hold debts over their heads to get your way? You’re still a hero but all the best heroes have flaws that humanize them. (Its why nobody likes Superman, and everyone loves Batman)
5) Why do you keep going?
a) When things get rough, when your friends die all around you, when demons pour out of gates to the abyss and nameless horrors scream across the sky… what keeps you going? Is it love? Duty? Vengeance? When you take a sword to the gut what makes you stand up again despite the pain? When its you and 4 others against the world what really goes through your head?
That’s all for now folks. Other articles, a primer on setting changes, new fiction and game announcements for this year are all coming soon.
Also I want to give out huge props to Andrew on his excellent fiction.