Thursday, November 10, 2016

Make A Dating Profile For Your Character (Seriously, It Helps)

There are some players who have no trouble getting into character. All you need to do is ask, and they'll tell you everything of significance that happened to their PC from childhood, up to their introduction at the table. They know how the character looks, how they sound, their goals, their hopes, their dreams, and their fears. That isn't true for all players, though. Sometimes a player will just have a bare bones skeleton of class, race, and gender. Maybe you get a vague backstory out of them, but anything more can be like pulling teeth.

There's an easy way to get more info out of your players, though. Have them fill out a dating profile for their PCs.

Enjoys crushing his enemies, seeing them driven before him, and hearing the lamentations of the women.
This sounds like a joke, but I'm quite serious. If your players are having trouble giving you the detail you need as a DM, have them fill out a dating profile for the character in question. It asks all the right questions, and it will get players to talk about the mundane, average things, as well as the big, important details.

I Don't Want My Character Dating Anyone!

Don't get mixed up, this isn't about figuring out who your PCs are going to be shacking up with. I already covered that topic in Sexuality Matters in Roleplaying Games (And Here's Why). That isn't what we're talking about here. Because a dating profile isn't just about who you want to get romantic with. It's about giving a total stranger a snapshot of who you are. It shares your pertinent details (age, height, weight, ethnicity, gender, if you have kids, if you have pets, birth sign, etc.), and it allows you to tell people about yourself. Which is what a DM needs in order to understand the driving goals, history, and wants of the characters coming to the table.

5'10", enjoys long walks on the beach, and hopes to one day break the chains of oppression.
This idea can be altered, depending on the campaign in question, too. For example, if you're running a game like Spycraft, you could make up an agency dossier for each character instead of a dating profile. If you're playing a game like Vampire, then you could write up a history entry detailing the life and times of the bloodsucking immortals in question. Or, if you have certain things you personally want to know as a DM, then make up your own questionnaire to get your players thinking.

No matter what form it takes, though, the goal is always the same; get your players to fill in the details. Get them to think beyond race, class, height, weight, and weapon of choice. Ask what these characters do for fun, what their favorite food is, what their hobbies are, and if they're married, single, separate, or divorced. Were they raised by their parents, or by a sibling? Do they have an extended family? Do they smoke, or drink, and how often? How many tattoos and piercings do they have? What do they mean?

And, if you want to, describe what they're looking for in a partner. You know, just to round it out.

That's all for this week's Fluff topic. If you liked it, and you want to see more topics just like this one, why not drop a little change in my jar by becoming a patron? Just visit The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page, and donate at least $1 a month to get your free gift! Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter yet, what's stopping you?

1 comment:

  1. Doctor Ivan Redwood in addition to being a soldier aligned with the Enclave has a day job as a Surgeon, a Scientist and a Mechanic. he is married to a physically underdeveloped scholar that has a habit of pestering him with information about history and mythology while also working as a schoolteacher. he also adopted and reprogrammed a childlike synth incursior (essentially an android assassin) as a daughter and treats her well.

    he has a faint bit of greed and some potent curiosity, but he is honest enough to not backstab his buddies and also has a bit of a code of conduct he picked up from working at the enclave. he tries to act in a respectful manner when children are around and generally doesn't attack women first unless he sees that the woman is an immediate danger to the life of himself or those he is working with.

    while he would hold the door for a young lady, he is smart enough to not fall for a Geisha Ninja Assassin. he passed his old weaponry to his family when he got his gear upgraded to join the enclave. his wife recieved his old shotgun, and his daughter recieved his 10 millimeter pistol and combat knife.