30 Questions to ask your players
Too often when you ask somebody to describe their character, they tell you a class and a race. "I'm a Dwarvin Paladin" tells you nothing about what makes a character interesting. You MIGHT get a backstory even. But a real character is more than that. What makes a good character interesting are the small details, and hidden motives. These are questions that make players dig a bit deeper, and create somebody truly interesting and unique.
Adventuring is dangerous. Really dangerous. It's like being in the special forces, and sneaking across enemy lines in an active war, so that you can take out squads of enemy troops in their home territory. For ten years.
Friends are few. Comrades are fewer. Those who become adventurers are either crazy, desperate, or both.
Adventurers are an eccentric bunch. What makes a good character interesting are the small details, and hidden motives. To flesh out a character, here are some questions you should consider as you build yours. These are not mandatory. Many of these should only come up rarely in game. Some of them never. The purpose is not to rigidly answer every question, but to encourage players to ask deeper questions, and fill out the things that make their character interesting and robust, instead of just another Mary Sue.
1) Why are you adventuring? What drives you forward? What makes you crazy or desperate enough to do this to yourself?
2) What is something that you absolutely won't do, no matter what, even if it would cost you everything?
3) What is something that makes you feel truly alive? Something that you long for. Something that you would drop everything for?
4) What are two things about yourself (one good, one bad) that you are sure of, that nobody could convince you of otherwise?
5) What are two things about the world (one good, one bad) that you are sure of, that nobody could convince you of otherwise?
6) What are two things that you secretly believe (one good, one bad) that nobody could convince you of otherwise, but that you aren't even consciously aware of?
7) What is a situation that triggers you. A sore point that sets you off?
8) What is something that pacifies you, or makes you pause, even in extreme situations?
9) What is the first thing that people notice about you?
10) What is something admirable about you?
11) What is something contemptible about you?
12) What is something that you find aesthetically pleasing?
13) What is something that you find aesthetically disgusting?
14) What is something that you are irrationally afraid of?
15) What is something that you are irrationally fascinated by?
16) What is a hobby that you have?
17) What do you do when you are bored?
18) What do you do when you are nervous?
19) What is your favorite activity or game with others?
20) What is your favorite kind of humor/joke?
21) What kind of joke or comment would offend you?
22) Are you messy or neat?
23) Are you picky about your food?
24) Are you uneducated or well read?
25) How much attention do you put into your appearance and grooming?
26) What kind of slang do you use?
27) Do you have gaps in your knowledge, that would surprise somebody?
28) Are you more pragmatic, or superstitious?
29) Do you like to gossip? Do you brag a lot? Do you like to tell a good story?
30) How much do you lie or exaggerate to get your point across, or make something sound better, or make yourself sound more knowledgeable?
Community Contributions (1)
1) Appearance, posture attitude presence.
2) Response to people (what kind of interaction or relationship does the character prefer to have with people) and how does this effect the above topic?
3) What does your character admire in other people?
4) Does your character possess these qualities?
5) How does your character want to present himself to others and what is your character default view of others?
1) What are your characters strengths of personality?
2) What are your character weaknesses?
3) Does your character feel like a completed person?
4) Do you forsee or wish to explore any major changes in the character’s personality?
5) What is your characters primary ambition or vision of him or herself in the future? What is your ambition for this character?.
1) Who have been the major influences in your character’s life?
2) Who does your character love?
3) Who does your character hate?
4) What does your character enjoy?
5) What does you character detest?
1) How does the character feel about violence?
2) What is the character afraid of?
3) What is your characters opinion of other forms of life?
4) What is your character opinion about killing?
5) How will your character react when confronted with his or her own death, does your character know they will react that way and what contributes to that reaction.
What is your character alignment?
What is your character’s name?
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this is interesting. my players HATE to give me any backstory because they know I'll turn it against them or work it into the story. these will be fun to ask them.
Excellent list. Great for exactly what you say its for. Good stuff!
Great list! I loved doing this with my players back in the day!
These are great for roleplaying!
Back in the day!
I always did the same thing, slightly different list, but was part of my Gamemasting since I bought the shadowrun manual when I was 15