|And when we got rid of THaCO? Woo, all bets were off!|
There is a great DM tool that I discovered some time ago that I'd like to pass onto you that both helps players create deeper characters, and helps you weave them more organically into the game. I've been on both ends of it, and it can be a lifesaver.
The Character Creation Document
I first came across the idea of the character creation document when I joined an organized LARP in Chicago. The short version is that it was a questionnaire that asked you all about your character. It asked what you did for a living, where you lived, who you were related to, what supernatural powers you had, and how you kept them secret (or didn't). It asked about your allies and your enemies, and about your character's goals, fears, hopes, and experiences.
It was, in short, a quick way for the storytellers to get a snapshot of who this character was, and how they would react to certain situations.
|Ah... my PC's crippling fear of water...|
Now, a character creation document is not a stone tablet that is meant to totally lock in your character's attributes. They can still grow and change as you play them. However, the document allows your DM to ask you questions they deem important to the campaign, and to your character.
For example, if your DM is running a game where there are important NPCs to act as mentors, friends, and family members, then they might ask you what qualities your PC admires in others, and what qualities others tend to admire in them? If your DM wants to run a more psychological game, then he might ask about your character's fears, what motivates them, and what enrages them? What do they care about? What would they sacrifice themselves, or others, for?
These sorts of questions don't typically have spots on a character sheet, but they can be invaluable both to DMs, and to players. Because the answers can help a DM shape the game around the characters, and the questions can help players fill out and develop PCs in ways they may not have been asked to in the past. After all, a player may not think all that much about what hobbies their PC has when not slaying dragons, or ask whether they've been married in the past (or want to be in the future). A character creation document gets all of that information, and puts it squarely into the DM's hands.
And, if your DM is generous, you might even get a special reward for completion. More starting gold, more XP (even though I personally recommend against using XP whenever possible), or even social benefits derived from your answers to your questions. I personally recommend putting a carrot out there, though, because when you dangle a reward players will give you much more complete information than they otherwise might.
That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post. Hopefully it stirs some thoughts for all the DMs out there looking for a way to get a better glimpse into the PC's heads. If you're interested in more gaming content by yours truly, check out my archive over at Gamers. It's small now, but should be growing soon. If you want to stay up-to-date on all my releases, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you want to help support Improved Initiative, then head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today. All it takes is $1 to make a difference, and to get yourself some sweet swag.