10 Questions To Ask Your Characters

All my characters have awesome street cred.

All my characters have awesome street cred.

Alignment has always been an imperfect way to determine how a character in an RPG makes moral choices and reacts to various situations. Plus, we can’t all be expert improvisational actors. These ten questions will help give you some concrete ways to consider ahead of time how your character might react to common in-game events.

There are quite a few role-playing character questionnaires floating around, and a bunch more intended for fiction writers who are developing characters. Most of them seem to fall into two categories: the overly utilitarian (“what is your character’s monthly salary?”) and the obsessive/compulsive (“how did your character feel about her second grade teacher?”). This set of questions is intended to cover generic situations likely to occur in a role-playing game, regardless of setting or rules system. It isn’t something you fill out and hand in to the GM, it’s more of a means to get you thinking about your character’s motivations. The Robot Viking went ahead and wrote out his answers to all ten questions anyhow, but for all of them, he just wrote, “AXE.”

1). You are forced to flee your home in the middle of the night. What is the one item you absolutely will not leave without?

2). A civilian is trapped in a cave with an enraged beast that will surely kill him. There’s a chance you’ll be killed if you attempt a rescue. There’s no other reason for you to defeat this beast. Do you rescue the civilian? Does your answer change if the civilian is female? A child? Your little sister? The mayor (known to hand out generous rewards)? The man who killed your parents? A clone of yourself?

3). A close friend was caught stealing, and he admitted his guilt to you. The theft was purely for his own gain, not for some noble purpose. Do you plan a jailbreak? Try to get him acquitted using the legal system? Or leave him to face justice? Does your answer change if you happen to be in a place with harsh laws and capital punishment?

4). You walk into a tavern in a strange town. Do you find a quiet table in the corner? Strike up a conversation with a large group of locals? Hop onto a barrel and sing a song?

5). You’re meeting a contact on a street corner, but the contact is late. Do you wait inconspicuously? Read a book? Do some calisthenics? Meditate? Launch into a tirade about unjust taxation? Track down the contact yourself?

6). You’ve just returned to the capital city after a glorious victory. In the midst of the celebration, a ten-year-old boy appears at your side, eagerly offering to join you on your next adventure. He is persistent and very annoying. Do you humor him? Encourage him to train and practice until he’s older? Ignore him? Cuff his ear and send him off? Mock him? Take advantage of his hero worship by making him act as your servant? Take him on as your assistant (and if so, do you get his mother’s permission first)?

7). You acquire the Holy Circlet of Waaaaaaw. It will will grant you one of five incredible prizes: an enormous amount of gold; rulership of a mighty kingdom; fame so great that tales of your exploits will be told for 10,000 years; a modest, yet safe and comfortable life for you and your family; a library filled with the rarest books, holding knowledge once thought lost and secrets never before revealed. Which do you choose?

8). Given a free day in a major metropolitan area, how are you most likely to pass your time?

9). You go fishing and catch a fish that is eight inches long. How big is the fish when you tell the story later?

10). You’re facing certain death when a selfless stranger takes a risk and saves you, at great cost to himself. How do you react? How would you repay his heroism (if at all)?

7 Responses to 10 Questions To Ask Your Characters

  1. Ironic that you should show the corner of a character sheet for Shadowrun, which is cyberpunk, and have a set of questions that seem directed to a swords and sorcery style fantasy RPG.

  2. Actually, I went out of my way to use neutral terms. You can find a cave, a tavern, a capital city or a selfless stranger in any setting. The Holy Circlet is the only one that requires a bit of stretching to fit into a pure-sci-fi setting.

  3. Well, fishing is less likely in certain settings as well. How many people fish in the modern day?

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