Questions to spur character development and plot hooks

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Does anyone have pre-campaign questions that can be asked of players to help them develop characters?

I think that most people (myself included) tend to think about the basics, geography, where a character was raised, maybe immediate family (often not).  This is a good outline, but I thought of some specific questions that would help give characters specific development points to help throw into the game or add to plot hooks:

1. Does your character have any fears, phobias or extreme dislikes? Is there an event that caused this, or is it just because?

2. Has your character experienced any significant loss? how did he or she cope?

3. Who is your character closest to in the world? How did this relationship develop?

4. Is there any historical or famous figure who your character admires but has not met?  Like a main character from fables, or someone they read about.

5. Are there any geographical places that your character feels attached to, or has always wanted to visit?

6. What is  your character's favorite food? is there a particular reason?

I would emphasize that these questions don't need to be huge plot points.  Sure, a character can have a fear of the ocean because he watched his father drown at sea at the age of 7.  But, I think these questions are interesting because they might add small points that we often don't give PCs, such as being afraid of snakes, because they just give you the willies, or loving a good pot of cabbage and beef stew more than anything else.

Anyone have questions like these they think about when building a character?

When you have the group together ask everyone to tell you about one or two positive relationship between their character and another in the party.

This builds not only a character history, but a shared party history. Have them make up littles stories that support it.  I think having relationships does more to make the character feel real and not just some stats on a piece of paper. 

You could also ask about a negative relationships or something that one party member did(or said, or maybe a jealosy) that bother the character in the past.  

The relationships/history of the party members gives some real reasons why this differing group of persons would be together as well as fleshing out who the character are.  If you do this at the table as a prelude it can help foster roleplay and cooperative storytelling.


You could ask how the PC's view members of their own and other races. 

What weapon/implement does a character use and why?

What motivates your character, fear, loss, a desire for vengance etc.?
How does this motivation tie into the current quest or campaign arc?

These questions should help you establish a character's indentity as well as decide on classes/themes etc. 
A d4 connection to a prominent character in the story or to the other party members in general. Now these can be connections based upon actions/relationships/event/place/bloodline/etc... whatever you deem as the DM.


You roll a 1
Player A and I are brothers.

[Player A]--1) Brother

You roll a 2
I was the Master of arms for his father.

[NPC]-- 1)Father of NPC 2)Master of Arms

You roll a 3.
I was the son of the bandit leader that killed NPC father in front of him during a caravan raid. 

[NPC]--1) Fathers Death 2) Bandit Leader 3) Son

You roll a 4
I heard a story from a waitress that served beer to the guy that killed Player A while at a bar. (Maybe Player A is a revenant)

[Player A]-- 1)Players Death 2)Guy that killed Player A 3) Waitress 4)Guy/girl that heard story

This gives a bit of randomness and you will be quite supprised at the level of detail some people go into when they describe how they know someone. Also, its easy to ask simple questions on how they found themselves in their current situation after they give you a one or two line sentence about themselves. 

I found characters have the most fun if you tell them to be connected to in a circle to each other. You get stories like [You roll a 4] story where Player B knows about Player A but really they have no idea about each other...but are still connected and in that instance Player B actually gave background on Player A that he now has to roll with (his death accured by some guy in a bar).
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