[RPG] How to develop arcs for player characters


If you've got a vague idea for an overall plot arc, how do you go about developing individual plot arcs for player characters (if that's something you do)?

I'm running two Savage Worlds campaigns, The Flood, which has a plot point campaign, and The Kerberos Club, which is more of a setting.

Best Answer

Something I've found that helps generally is to ask for a little more information during character creation. Specifically I ask for...

  • 5 key things that have happened in your character's past
  • 2 secrets about your character (one they know and one they don't)
  • 3 established relationships (two friendly/neutral and one enemy)
  • A long term and a short term goal

With Savage Worlds specifically, it also helps if they can tie some of these things into the Hindrances they've chosen for their characters. Also, the Curious, Loyal and Heroic Hindrances are a godsend for this type of thing, as it makes it really, really easy to embroil those characters in whatever adventure is going on.

If you make it clear to your players that this information is going to be used to work out plot arcs then it will be easier to get their buy-in to what you are doing. When you have all the responses, you can see if there are possible connections between characters. Maybe two of them have a common enemy for example. The more you can interconnect these things, the more cohesive the whole thing will be. Another thing that can help is to ask each character to have an established connection with at least one other PC.

Some specific information on running The Flood, which is a plot point campaign...

Make sure you always end the session with a rough idea of where your characters are planning to go next. This will allow you to read up on any related Savage Tales you want to run, and tweak/change things to maybe incorporate aspects of the characters backgrounds, Hindrances etc. Maybe one of the places they have to go to get the McGuffin just happens to be buried in an abandoned mine in the one town where the wanted gun-slinger can never go back to.....that kind of thing.

The plot point provides a reason for a group to stay together near the start of the campaign, and the way plot points are designed to work is that it gives you freedom to throw personalised stuff at the characters in the gaps between each main story development. This structure should help keep things more coherent, as there will always be an overarching goal that all characters are interested in relating to the thrust of the big-bad story developments.

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