A Conflict-Driven Character Creation Questionnaire


What is an RPG campaign if not a series of conflicts between player characters and the world, conflicts between player characters and non-player characters, or conflicts within and among the player characers themselves?

The following questions just popped into my head as a new way to facilitate character backstory generation–specifically by getting to the heart of the answers most useful to the GM in terms of crafting a story that engages the PCs. Can you think of any other questions I’m missing that will help generate conflict, i.e. story potential, in the characters’s backstory?

  1. What does your character want most in the world? Why?
  2. What character traits or talents will help them achieve their goals?
  3. What kinds of people or things might help the character achieve their goals?
  4. What character traits or flaws will get in the way of achieving their goals?
  5. What kinds of people or things might get in the way of achieving their goals?
  6. Who/what is your character afraid of? Why?
  7. Who/what does your character hate? Why?
  8. What is one thing your character regrets? Why?

3 Responses to “A Conflict-Driven Character Creation Questionnaire”

  1. Sean Holland says:

    Nice selection, very helpful for thinking about what drives a character, especially in relation to the other player characters.

  2. DanielC says:

    “What is your character afraid of?” is a great question that especially should be asked in any kind of horror game. (Jon Rook’s answer: large bodies of water.) But I think it also applies in heroic fantasy, or something like it, anyway, since it reminds us that our characters have flaws.

    What it boils down to is that a backstory needs to answer the question: “Why adventure?” or, to put it more broadly, “Why is this story about YOU, and not about someone else?”

  3. Chris Herrick says:

    I think my issue with these questions is they are too open-ended and deal in absolutes. So much of what guides a character is personal, close, and relative.

    The open-endedness of the questions can be addressed by giving context to the question, but the absolutism is nearly impossible to adjust into something more consumable (and still keep the absolutism).

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