Maybe lots of people are aware of this but it blew my mind. Kids On Bikes has a system where at a certain point in the character creation process, during session 0, you decide the relationships between each player. This could be really great for campaigns where your characters start out by knowing each other. I feel like it worked really well and now all our characters have clear reasons to interact with each other and more fleshed out backstories.
Step 1: Describe the characters' personalities and background. A general overview like you would introducing characters in Session 1.
Step 2: Ask each player if they have a Positive or Negative relationship with the others. Eg. The Paladin says he has a positive relationship with the Barbarian, a negative one with the Rogue, and another negative with the Warlock.
Step 3: The player rolls on a table for each other player. Choose the positive or negative table depending on the relationship. Once rolled the players can collaborate to create this nuance in their relationship together. I was really happy with how quickly it establishes depth and cool little stories.
Cross out each one you use so it's not reused and feel free to roll again if the players don't like a choice.
For positive relationships:
- What did this character do for you that makes you owe them a debt you can’t repay?
- What do you admire about this character — but would never tell them?
- What great kindness did this character do for you that they don’t even remember but you do?
- What trait about this character that they despise do you genuinely appreciate?
- Why do you care about this character more than they care about you?
- What role did this character play in the best day of your life?
- What plan do you and this character have that most excites you?
- What is your private nickname for this character and why?
- What is the kindest thing this character has ever done for you?
- What is this character sacrificing to protect you?
- What lengths would you go to in order to defend this character?
- Why do you have a bond with this character that can never be broken?
- What about this character always makes you happy?
- What is the bravest thing you’ve ever seen this character do?
- What do you and this character have a mutual, weird love of?
- What would losing this character mean to you?
- What aspect of this character’s personality do you try to use as a model for your own?
- When did you first realize that you loved this character — either platonically or romantically?
- What’s your first memory of this character?
- What item did this character give you that you treasure?
For negative relationships:
- What did this character do in the past that you still resent them for?
- What secret are you keeping from this character that you would be devastated if they found out?
- What could make you betray this character?
- What are you sure this character is hiding from you?
- What does this character have that you want to take from them?
- What is this character doing, either knowingly or unknowingly, that hurts you?
- What do you need to take from this character for their own good?
- What role did this character play in the worst day of your life?
- What is the most dishonest thing you’ve seen this character do?
- What is this character doing that’s putting you both at risk?
- What does this character do that makes you immediately lose your temper?
- How far would you go to avoid being alone with this character?
- What part of this character’s personality scares you?
- What would this character have to do to get you to forgive them?
- What insanity has this character shown warning signs of?
- How far would you go to make this character suffer?
- Why do you dislike this character when all the other characters seem to love them?
- You hurt this character years ago. Why can’t you apologize?
- What do you do to intentionally annoy this character?
- How did this character betray you the last time you confided in them?
Hope this can be useful to somebody!
- Players want to RP in-character, out of session
- A counterpoint to characters not having their own free wills and not being “real” people
- How to Run an Impactful Session 0
More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "An Excellent Session 0 Character Creation System" specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
- Help balancing magical weapons for my party
- How to handle freedom in exploration and subsequent rewards
- Let’s Talk About Railroading And Worldbuilding
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