Character Questionnaires

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I’ve mentioned how useful character questionnaires are to me as a GM. I can draw reams of campaign ideas just from the questionnaires I receive. My questions run the gambit from “What does your character look like?” to “What gives your character’s life meaning?” I ask players to answer the questions in character, except for those specifically stated “as a player”. It’s a long list, but I require players to answer only what I call “The Basic Six” questions. These questions are:

  • What do you look like?
  • Everyone has a few mannerisms unique to them. Describe three of yours.
  • If you could accomplish one thing before you die, what would it be?
  • Name five things about you that would drive a college roommate nuts.
  • What do you, as a player, like best about your character?
  • What do you, as a player, like least about your characer?

I encourage players to answer as many questions as possible and, for the most part, my players seem to enjoy doing it. I do give player contributions (see my post Player Contributions for more info on that) for finished questionnaires. If a player’s answers are really detailed, I’ll often give extra contribution points.

Also, I allow player to go back and change their answers, as long as they don’t change anything already known to be true in the game. It sometimes takes several game sessions for a player to find their character’s “voice” and I don’t want a player stuck with an answer that no longer seems true for their character.

My questionnaires have changed over the years; I’ve added some questions, dropped or reworded others. I have one “master list” of questions that serves as the base questionnaire, but I usually rephrase the questions to fit the game system I’m currently running.

2 responses to “Character Questionnaires

  1. Hi – I spotted your comment on tenletter (I’m a contributing author there). Hope you have time to browse our archives, there are some great posts and some even better commentary among them.

    If I may, have a look at the character background for my current character, Tashee, I’m quite happy with the way she’s been growing and developing:

    http://tenletter.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/character-background-tashee/

    • Thanks for your comment. I’ve been browsing a little of your archives and making notes on which ones I want to go back to and read more thoroughly. It looks like you’ve got a great wealth of information and ideas there I’m happy to steal … ahem, borrowwhole cloth … for, umm, inspiration. Yeah, that’s it: inspiration! šŸ˜€

      I like your character background. It’s a great example I can refer players to if they’re stuck for how to write one. Thanks!

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