[RPG] How to help a player craft a backstory that gives me plot hooks


I have a new player joining my game soon who has taken the place of another player. Unfortunately, the character's backstory is lacking.

It doesn't tell me a lot about the character. Because I draw my games from my players and their backstories, I'd like to work with this player on creating a quality backstory with some meaty plot hooks, but I'd like to know the right questions to ask.

What questions can I ask this player to create a backstory that engages my new player and give me the plot hooks I need to mesh them into the plot and world?

Best Answer

When I have time to make a quality character with a player (rather than hashing out what will work for their first session because they just showed up ten minutes before start), I try to ask qualitative questions that players quite often forget.

  • Where are your parents (and don't tell me you're an orphan)
  • Siblings! Do you have them, what are they doing?
  • What does your character want (and don't say "to be the best warrior")
  • What do you do for a living (and don't say assassin or brute)
  • Name three things your character loves (and don't say killing, solitude, and money)
  • Name three things your character hates (and don't say everyone, everything, and orcs)

On a completely radical scale you can tell everyone to take a Personality Test as though they are their character but typically Pathfinder/D&D characters don't have this level of depth. However the answer can be a nice quick reference for both you and the player when a situation comes up.