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jpatterson
02-08-2015, 11:38 PM
Hi there, I posit this as a possible character generation step for people to get a more well-rounded, three-dimensional character, working from a NY Times article. How could it be made better, if anyone is curious? Otherwise, maybe it will be helpful! I've linked to my blog post because the 36 questions is a long list and looks kinda sloppy in the forums.

36 QUESTIONS ARTICLE: http://abstrusedecapod.blogspot.com/…/36-questions-for-char… (http://abstrusedecapod.blogspot.com/2015/02/36-questions-for-character-development.html)

After you've read it...

I've also seen and tried some of the "question" lists from various RPG sources, and while I agree, just like this list, they could really do a TON to help develop REAL character, in games or fiction, I've rarely been in a group of people all interested in that level of detail or thought, to all have the patience to sit around together instead of jump into playing.



You CAN do them on your own to that extent, but really you're designing in a vacuum that way, especially if its a new game and there are no existing other characters and you don't really have even a feeling for the new game. It's a difficult proposition.



And I agree to a large part with some ***ertions that the more important, or at least more useful questions, tend to be about interactions, and interactions with current characters. It makes sense of course, since they're the most relevant, being present, but sometimes I find that having a certain vague framework can inform how the character WILL interact, in a way you might not normally have chosen, usually for the sake of the playing-group/character cohesion, which does make the gaming itself more fluid, but can be a bit less dynamic and possibly boring.



And again I want to make sure that I credit the NY Time article these are taken from (I changed a few slightly) - I did not write these, I just found most of them to be relevant to other gamers. Thanks for your reply!

DMMike
02-09-2015, 09:42 AM
Falling in love after 36 questions and 4 minutes of staring? I'll tell you this: 4 minutes is long enough to get a whiff of the other person's pheromones, which could work some magic. But what good are 36 answers from someone who is confused or untruthful?

After years of arguing over what alignment is (see AD&D 2nd ed), I've decided to use a pretty simple character system. Just answer five questions:
Who was your character?
Who is your character?
What will it become someday?
What are your character's goals?
What are your character's flaws?

After years of defending the alignment system, D&D has enhanced character development as well. In 5e, you also ask yourself 5 questions about your character.
What are your characters:
Flaws?
Alignment?
Ideals?
Traits?
Bonds?

Evidently, 36 was a few more questions than either of us were willing to ask.

jpatterson
02-10-2015, 07:29 AM
I can see over a period of time of playing a character, you can easily answer 36 questions and definitely all the ones you list above. But that's with a character that has grown and developed, and you've gotten a good feel for. I think to a large extent, that simply can't be asked for new characters, not of even the best player, and to be honest, I am leery of players that can and especially WANT to provide pages of backstory and answers for new characters.

Characters, to ME, in an RPG, are born and mature WITH other characters. Yes you can have a brief summary for history and description, but the actual experiences that drive THIS dynamic character that you're NOW playing - that's all part of your interaction with the group you're in, and how the adventures you embark on, change you (or don't).

I have always had problems, especially as I note with new characters, with being able to flesh out anything, especially things as vague as "what are your goals" and "who were you" - that's like throwing someone the middle of the ocean and saying "Swim!". There's no foundation, unless you have an extremely well established world and setting and campaign that the players can TRULY "see" in their mind's eye - that is persistent and consistent, among the different players' shared imagination spaces. These types of questions for new character, for me, are worse than useless, but actively intimidating and distracting.

I almost always come up with a quick movie character type concept, often with an actual actor or character from a movie, and just jump right into the game usually emulating him to a larger or smaller extent, until I get a feel for how to grow him, to build his history and his experiences - until he tells me who he is. My characters are almost always built in-game.

DMMike
02-10-2015, 08:13 AM
I have always had problems, especially as I note with new characters, with being able to flesh out anything, especially things as vague as "what are your goals" and "who were you" - that's like throwing someone the middle of the ocean and saying "Swim!". There's no foundation, unless you have an extremely well established world and setting and campaign that the players can TRULY "see" in their mind's eye - that is persistent and consistent, among the different players' shared imagination spaces. These types of questions for new character, for me, are worse than useless, but actively intimidating and distracting.

This is what I'll call the Blank Page Problem or as the sage once said, "there's nothing more intimidating than a blank page." When faced with a blank character background, your only option is really to start imagining stuff. Yeah, it gets a lot easier with a detailed setting to use as anchor points.

Sometimes I'll use a generic background to cover the blank page, and then add detail from there.