I know I promised that we would get into the action on this post, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take this entry to talk about something that has grown to be super important to me as a GM since I learned of them. Something known as the Three Questions.
GM Chris, host of the Order 66 Podcast came up with these questions, believing that a good answer to these three simple questions can be more important than any amount of back story when looking at a game from a GM’s perspective, because they immediately provide hooks he can use to draw the character, and by extension the player, into the game.
So what are these three magical questions? Well, I’m no bridge keeper, but I’ll ask you anyway.
1. What does you character Love? With a capital L. Even the most reviled, evil despot has something, somewhere they care about a great deal, and would give of themselves to protect – perhaps even sacrificing their life to protect and care for. This could be a friend, family member, or lover. Perhaps a homeworld, a group of people, or a village that once sheltered you. Maybe you have a soft-spot for kittens.
2. What does you character Hate? With a capital H. Even the most benevolent and well-meaning character has something, somewhere they hate, would go out of their way to harm, or would irrationally distrust. This could be an individual in the character’s past, or a group of people. Even a planet. Perhaps the character has a prejudice against Trandoshans, or has sworn to destroy the bounty hunter clan that destroyed his village as a child.
3. Why is your character willingly (and eagerly) working for the [rebellion/empire/guild/organization/order/etc./whatever-group-the-PCs-are-actively-working-with]? Why is your character an active participant in what this group does, and willing to work with the rest of the party? Are they devoted to the cause? Do they have a simple love of credits? Are they devoted to stamping out a threat?
They are three short questions, but there is a lot there a skilled GM can work with and build off of, providing hours and hours of drama and entertainment that the players are going to care about, because their characters are directly involved somehow. But I would go so far as to add in a fourth question just to round it out.
4. Your character has a connection with one of the other characters. What is it? Were they childhood friends (or rivals)? Were they sweethearts growing up? Are they related? Did one help another out of a jam (by saving them from slavers or Imperial troops)? Are they mentoring another character?
This kicks the entire notion of “you meet in a tavern” right in the teeth, something that I am happy to do. Yes, it’s a sacred cow in the world of RPGs, but it’s fatted to the point where it’s well past time for slaughter. This begins the game with the PCs already knowing at least one of the other party members in some way, and already begins building relationships before the first session and gives the players something to work off of. In fact, this idea is so important, that the wildly popular Spirit of the Century has it as a built-in mechanic during character creation.
I tried the three questions in a campaign, and I haven’t gone back since.
So, to finish rounding out the cast, and to make help make sense of things that are going to be put in motion later, I’d like to present to you the abridged versions of my players answers to the questions three.
Directly related to events in his past, Skai has been on his own, and has grown to love the freedom that comes from never knowing where your next job is going to come from. For this reason, he hates those that would prey on others and take away that freedom, be they pirates or slavers, believing them to be the worst kind of coward. His lifestyle has led him to the less regulated Outer Rim where he took a job on the growing colony world of Haalthor.
Holovids have always been an escape for Kiri, and have become his one true constant companion and love through a life of constant upheaval. Kiri also maintains a strict code of honor and has a strong distaste for those who don’t play “fair,” which granted, sounds a little strange coming from someone with criminal tendencies. If you’re going to lie, cheat, and steal, then at least be elegant about it. Unfortunately for Kiri, the law finally caught up with him, and he was forced to sell his ship to get enough bribe money to get the charges dropped. This has effectively stranded him on the colony of Haalthor.
Rann still carries a torch for his first love, Seela, a Twi’lek dancing girl. When he left Corellia, they drifted apart, but the peace officer still cares deeply for the spirited young woman. Coming from a long line of decorated CorSec officers, the thing he hates above all is dirty cops and the politics that follow in their wake, catching everyone else in the waves. In fact, this sort of led to him losing his position in CorSec. “Pressure from upstairs” for busting an Imperial loyalists son on a drug charge lost him his job and he drifted away from Corellian space, taking his particular set of skills and knowledge to work on a security detail on a small Outer Rim colony.
If Jasem could choose one word to define perfection for himself it would be this. Harmony. His time with the Revwien and his time studying the way of the Tyia Adepts have taught him that nothing is more important in this world, and the peace-loving ways of his species play to that particularly well. Because of this, he hates being required to perform a violent act. He will do so if the act is necessary, but it tends to push him into a cycle of self-loathing and hatred that tends to lead to further destructive actions and hatred of the person who necessitated the action. After being exiled from his homeworld and being trained as a Tyia Adept, he traveled the Outer Rim, seeking to bring harmony back to those that had suffered at the hands of this new war, moving from planet to planet, eventually leading him to Haalthor.
Niera has always loved droids, more so than even a normal droid technician would. She has always been surrounded by droids and has even gone so far as to take steps to make herself more droid like, putting her at odds with her own people and other organics in general. This has led to a hatred of disrespect, stemming from the disrespect she got from her own people as well as from seeing so many people use and abuse droids as nothing more than simple tools. She was sent to the colony of Haalthor by her company to act as a technician for the colony.
Next time – The First Session.