Character Biographies

Written By: Stephen Dove - Mar• 16•14

How do you get your players to write good character biographies? The tactic I used in the Jewelspider Chronicles; my recent Dragon Warriors game, was to ‘drag’ a three-line outline of their character from each of the group, let them play these characters for 2-3 sessions and then discuss it again with them in more detail. I then wrote these character biographies based upon what they told me.

Maelee

Malvol

Jasper

Sven

Carroe

Jewelspider was a breakthrough game for my group as a result; Connor once said that ‘Jasper feels so much realer to me than any of my other characters.’

I think that’s because these character bios are not grand sweeping epics, but small stories that illustrate how and why the characters got to where they are now emotionally.

That is the key to a good character bio; it is not just fodder for the GM to create plot arcs and character driven stuff around (though these particular bios gave me some excellent GM fodder, as I related here). A good character bio tells the player how their character thinks and feels and what their goals are. Once you know that, playing someone who is not yourself becomes easier and the role becomes more consistent.

This is the kind of stuff an actor creates around any script he is given; so that he understands and can ‘get inside’ his character. This immersion is largely the reason that most of my group role-plays and is certainly the reason I do.

Of course, like anything, it can go too far and you do need lighter games that are pure hack and slash or tension busters once in a while, to blow off steam; but these are the exception, not the rule for us.

Anyway; have fun in the Cobwebbed Forests this week!

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