The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Character

I've been NPCing, and really enjoying it! But I've also been thinking about possible PCs I could play. I found this list that I found online in 2007 and saved. I don't remember who wrote it (it wasn't me), but regardless, I think this is a great list for any player with a PC to have in any roleplaying game. Some of the questions are not relevant to Alliance (we don't have religion in game), and some of the questions are geared more towards adults (character's sex life), but I thought I would share it anyway. I hope it helps both new and experienced players and that you all enjoy it! :D

The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Character

*Part 1: The Basics

1. What is your full name?
2. Where and when were you born?
3. Who are/were your parents? (Know their names, occupations, personalities, etc.)
4. Do you have any siblings? What are/were they like?
5. Where do you live now, and with whom? Describe the place and the person/people.
6. What is your occupation?
7. Write a full physical description of yourself. You might want to consider factors such as: height, weight, race, hair and eye color, style of dress, and any tattoos, scars, or distinguishing marks.
8. To which social class do you belong?
9. Do you have any allergies, diseases, or other physical weaknesses?
10. Are you right- or left-handed?
11. What does your voice sound like?
12. What words and/or phrases do you use very frequently?
13. What do you have in your pockets?
14. Do you have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?

*Part 2: Growing Up

15. How would you describe your childhood in general?
16. What is your earliest memory?
17. How much schooling have you had?
18. Did you enjoy school?
19. Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities?
20. While growing up, did you have any role models? If so, describe them.
21. While growing up, how did you get along with the other members of your family?
22. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
23. As a child, what were your favorite activities?
24. As a child, what kinds of personality traits did you display?
25. As a child, were you popular? Who were your friends, and what were they like?
26. When and with whom was your first kiss?
27. Are you a virgin? If not, when and with whom did you lose your virginity?
28. If you are a supernatural being (i.e. mage, werewolf, vampire), tell the story of how you became what you are or first learned of your own abilities. If you are just a normal human, describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today.

*Part 3: Past Influences

29. What do you consider the most important event of your life so far?
30. Who has had the most influence on you?
31. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
32. What is your greatest regret?
33. What is the most evil thing you have ever done?
34. Do you have a criminal record of any kind?
35. When was the time you were the most frightened?
36. What is the most embarrassing thing ever to happen to you?
37. If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be, and why?
38. What is your best memory?
39. What is your worst memory?

*Part 4: Beliefs And Opinions

40. Are you basically optimistic or pessimistic?
41. What is your greatest fear?
42. What are your religious views?
43. What are your political views?
44. What are your views on sex?
45. Are you able to kill? Under what circumstances do you find killing to be acceptable or unacceptable?
46. In your opinion, what is the most evil thing any human being could do?
47. Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?
48. What do you believe makes a successful life?
49. How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings (i.e. do you hide your true self from others, and in what way)?
50. Do you have any biases or prejudices?
51. Is there anything you absolutely refuse to do under any circumstances? Why do you refuse to do it?
52. Who or what, if anything, would you die for (or otherwise go to extremes for)?

*Part 5: Relationships With Others

53. In general, how do you treat others (politely, rudely, by keeping them at a distance, etc.)? Does your treatment of them change depending on how well you know them, and if so, how?
54. Who is the most important person in your life, and why?
55. Who is the person you respect the most, and why?
56. Who are your friends? Do you have a best friend? Describe these people.
57. Do you have a spouse or significant other? If so, describe this person.
58. Have you ever been in love? If so, describe what happened.
59. What do you look for in a potential lover?
60. How close are you to your family?
61. Have you started your own family? If so, describe them. If not, do you want to? Why or why not?
62. Who would you turn to if you were in desperate need of help?
63. Do you trust anyone to protect you? Who, and why?
64. If you died or went missing, who would miss you?
65. Who is the person you despise the most, and why?
66. Do you tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict?
67. Do you tend to take on leadership roles in social situations?
68. Do you like interacting with large groups of people? Why or why not?
69. Do you care what others think of you?

*Part 6: Likes And Dislikes

70. What is/are your favorite hobbies and pastimes?
71. What is your most treasured possession?
72. What is your favorite color?
73. What is your favorite food?
74. What, if anything, do you like to read?
75. What is your idea of good entertainment (consider music, movies, art, etc.)?
76. Do you smoke, drink, or use drugs? If so, why? Do you want to quit?
77. How do you spend a typical Saturday night?
78. What makes you laugh?
79. What, if anything, shocks or offends you?
80. What would you do if you had insomnia and had to find something to do to amuse yourself?
81. How do you deal with stress?
82. Are you spontaneous, or do you always need to have a plan?
83. What are your pet peeves?

*Part 7: Self Images And Etc.

84. Describe the routine of a normal day for you. How do you feel when this routine is disrupted?
85. What is your greatest strength as a person?
86. What is your greatest weakness?
87. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
88. Are you generally introverted or extroverted?
89. Are you generally organized or messy?
90. Name three things you consider yourself to be very good at, and three things you consider yourself to be very bad at.
91. Do you like yourself?
92. What are your reasons for being an adventurer (or doing the strange and heroic things that RPG characters do)? Are your real reasons for doing this different than the ones you tell people in public? (If so, detail both sets of reasons...)
93. What goal do you most want to accomplish in your lifetime?
94. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
95. If you could choose, how would you want to die?
96. If you knew you were going to die in 24 hours, name three things you would do in the time you had left.
97. What is the one thing for which you would most like to be remembered after your death?
98. What three words best describe your personality?
99. What three words would others probably use to describe you?
100. If you could, what advice would you, the player, give to your character? (You might even want to speak as if he or she were sitting right here in front of you, and use proper tone so he or she might heed your advice...)


Re: The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Charact

This is fantastic. My only advice would be, leave some room for your character to adapt and grow IG. Thank you!
Re: The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Charact

evi1r0n said:
This is fantastic. My only advice would be, leave some room for your character to adapt and grow IG. Thank you!
That's great advice! I'm glad you like this. You're welcome, and thanks! :D


Charlottesville Staff
Re: The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Charact

Wow, that's an incredible detailed list which gives you great depth when working on your PC or a recurring NPC that is essential to a plot line. I've found that small NPC roles sometimes need a bit quicker cycle of character development, however. Here are two different methods for quickly developing a personality base upon which to act out your NPC.

The first comes from the guys on LARPcast, a podcast all about LARPing:

The method described at the beginning of LARPcast #25: NPC Questions uses the acronym, LAHD, or Likes, Aspirations, Hates, and Dislikes. By quickly defining each of these categories, you can then start asking yourself questions about these character traits or making them up as you go along...maybe you dislike swimming because your sister pushed you in the lake when you were growing you know you have a sister! What was her name? Was she older or younger? Did you have the same parents? Were they the same Race as your character (in the case of mixed-Race families or odd magic Effects in the world)? This line of questioning can be as brief or as lengthy as time allows. All the while, your basic character premise is already set by your LAHDs and that framework allows you to react in-character to many unexpected events. They also make it clear that if you don't have some kind of baseline for your character's reactions, then you will react as YOU and not your character.

The second comes from C.S. Lakin, and her blog, Live Write Thrive:
The Three Most Important Things!

I write down my list of main characters on a page. Or sometimes I’ll do this on the first page of my character sketches (not actual drawings but thoughts and ideas on them—more on that later). Then I spend some time thinking about these things:
  • Their core need (and what they would do if they couldn’t get that need met)
  • Their greatest fear
  • The incident(s) that wounded them early in life that got them believing a lie

These three points are so helpful and powerful that it’s just possible they are all you need to create each character. If you learn only one thing from my year-long course on Writing the Heart of Your Story, then make it this tip. Tape these three points to your wall if you need to remember them! The last point is the most crucial and the one I spend the most time with.

Each of us has been hurt in the past. Because of that hurt, two things resulted:

  • One: we created a false front to protect our heart. Like the girl who was abandoned by her father when she was young and now can’t get close to men or stay in a relationship long. If you look at yourself, you will find something in there like this (Okay, one reader told me I was quite presumptuous to state we all believe some lie. He apparently was perfect and never had a bad thing happen to him in his entire life.) Somewhere in your past you got hurt, and so you’ve formed a persona to survive in the world.
  • Two: that hurt makes us believe a lie about ourselves and the world. In this example, the lie this girl believes is that all men walk out and always will. That she can’t trust men or give her heart to them. And that’s why her whole life she’s kept her distance. That’s the outward lie. The other side to that lie turns inward (and you need to look at both parts–they are two sides of the same coin). That part says something about yourself. With this example, the girl believes a lie about herself—that she’s not worthy of being loved.
Re: The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Charact

Thanks for the input, Luke! Those are more great ways of figuring out your character. That's especially useful to NPCs who might only have 5 or 10 minutes to figure out their character. :thumbsup:


Re: The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Charact

I've been a fan of the ten minute background for a while now. All of these others are great as well.

The Ten-Minute Background said:
In an attempt to get all the information I need to create stuff from character backgrounds without having to continually push for information, I am asking that you create backgrounds the following way:

Step 1: write five things about your character’s concept and background, five things that you think are the most essential parts of your character. You don’t have to stop at five, if you like…this is just a minimum.

Step 2: List two goals for the character that you, as a player, think would be cool to see accomplished in-game. During any session in which you take positive action to achieve that goal, I will award you an action point that can only be used in scenes furthering that goal. These Action Points are separate from the action points you gain by resting and reaching milestones. You can change goals later, though you lose all the accumulated Action Points for the goal you abandoned.

Step 3: List two secrets about your character. One is a secret the character knows, one is a secret that involves him but that he is not actually aware of yet. This will help me in creating plots that center around your character. I will also be creating a third secret which you as a player will not be aware of, so expect some surprises!

Step 4: Describe three people that are tied to the character though blood, romance or honor. Two of them are friendly to the character, one is hostile. All can do something useful for you, if you can get the situations to line up. If you like, you can include an enemy of yours here as well, so I have an instant NPC nemesis to throw at you.

Step 5: Describe three memories that your character has. They don't have to be elaborate, but they should provide some context and flavor.