The Game of 20 Questions.
To better understand your Hero’s personality, take a moment to look through and answer the questions below. By the time you are finished, you should have a much clearer idea of the Hero you want to play.
1. What country is your Hero from?
This question gives you a foundation upon which to build. When you understand your Hero’s culture, you will begin to understand your Hero. Imagine how his environment helped shape his personality. Your homeland stays with you no matter where you go.
2. How would you physically describe your Hero?
First off, is your Hero male or female? Théah doesn’t have as many prejudices as Europe did in the 17th century, but women can expect raised eyebrows when accepting challenges on their own behalf and performing other such “manly deeds.”
Aside from sex, how does your Hero look? Start at the top of his head and work your way down to his feet. Focus on the things that reflect his personality and the way he is treated by others. Which is more interesting – the fact that your Hero is blond, or that he wears his hair in a single braid and scents it with contraband Crescent lotions?
Build and height are also important in determining how others see your Hero. The average height in modern Théah is about 5' 6?, although certain nationalities are a bit taller or shorter.
3. Does your Hero have recurring mannerisms?
An accent, a nervous habit, or a peculiar expression of speech can serve as shortcuts to developing a personality.
Too many can turn a character into a clown, so pick one or two and run with them.
4. What is your Hero’s main motivation?
What keeps your Hero going when his ship has been sunk and he’s marooned on an island? Is it greed, love, or revenge? Perhaps the Hero dreams of freeing his homeland from foreign occupation or hopes to find a younger sister who was carried off by pirates.
5. What is your Hero’s greatest strength? Greatest weakness?
Is your Hero really good at one particular thing? Maybe he’s a master navigator and can guide a ship through the blackest night with only his wits to work from. On the other hand, does your Hero have something he’s terrible at? Maybe animals don’t like him, or he’s nervous around ladies and blurts out less than intelligent comments. A Hero with no strengths is difficult to keep alive; one with no weaknesses is difficult to sympathize with. A Hero with both strengths and weaknesses has a more balanced personality and will develop into a richer roleplaying experience.
6. What are your Hero’s most and least favorite things?
The secret of the soup is in the details. Does your Hero hate eggs? Perhaps the glistening sickly yellow of the yolk disgusts him. Maybe he has a favorite breakfast that he eats every morning, such as a cup of tea and a slice of toast spread with apple butter. Maybe it’s not a food that your Hero loves or hates but a particular sight or smell? Some people find great solace in the sight of the stars above them, while others aren’t happy unless they can smell the salt spray of the sea. This is a grand opportunity to add a touch of poetry to your Hero’s soul.
7. What about your Hero’s psychology?
Is it hard for him to restrain his anger or hatred? Does his passion always get the better of him? Maybe he thrives on the rush of adrenaline that battle brings with it and disturbs his comrades with his laughter during a fight. Does a particular song bring him to his feet stomping and clapping? What song or play brings tears to his eyes?
8. What is your Hero’s single greatest fear?
It is a rare person that fears nothing at all. Even the greatest warriors may have a fear of heights or dread growing old. If your Hero is terrified of dying of old age and hears a rumor about a fountain that brings eternal youth, might he not search the world for it, even if the rumor came from an unreliable source? Sometimes a man’s fears propel him to his greatest achievements.
Of course, many people fear simpler, more physical things than old age. Some have a dread of snakes or spiders, others have a horror of worms and slimy things, and a number of people experience panic attacks in dark, narrow places.
9. What are your Hero’s highest ambitions? His greatest love?
When your Hero dies, what does he want people to say about him? Does he want to be remembered forever for his poetry? Maybe he hopes that tales of his battle exploits will outlive him. Maybe he just wants a small house and a loving wife, but ridiculous fortune keeps obligating him to go on one adventure after another. Perhaps he dreams of glory and a kingdom of his own, or a country reunited by his hands.
If he could live forever, what would he want to spend eternity doing? Sailing? Wooing beautiful women? Cataloging the artifacts left behind by the Syrneth? Whatever his greatest love is, your Hero will take every opportunity to indulge in it.
10. What is your Hero’s opinion of his country?
Is your Hero a die-hard patriot, blind to the flaws of his countrymen, or is he a man without a country, having grown tired of his homeland’s foolishness long ago? Most people are somewhere in between, neither hating their country nor believing it can do no wrong.
11. Does your Hero have any prejudices?
Is there a group of people that your Hero immediately turns up his nose at? Perhaps he can’t stand the smell of “those filthy peasants”, or maybe a Vodacce Fate Witch killed his brother. There may be no reason for the Hero to hate this group, but he believes there’s one. Traumatic childhood incidents can lead to a lifetime of hatred and prejudice that the Hero may never get over. For the sake of party unity, it’s a good idea to hate a group that you know none of the
other players want as characters.
12. Where do your Hero’s loyalties lie?
Does your Hero loyally serve a certain noble? Maybe his loyalties lie with his family or his spouse. Perhaps his first concern is looking out for himself, or maybe he serves a greater cause.
13. Is your Hero in love? Is he married or betrothed?
Is there someone who makes your Hero’s heart beat faster? Perhaps he is already married to the love of his life. If so, do they have any children? How old are the children? Maybe he’s just betrothed to be married sometime soon, and the happy (or unhappy) event has yet to take place.
14. What about your Hero’s family?
Decide on a family name. Then talk about your Hero’s early childhood. List events that would have occurred before your Hero would even be able to remember them. Some of these events may be influencing your Hero’s life without him knowing it. Also, consider the family’s social standing. A Hero from a rich family will certainly have a different outlook than a Hero from a poorer family.
15. How would your Hero’s parents describe him?
This question reveals much about both your Hero and his relationship to his parents. Answer this one in the voice of your Hero’s mother, then go back and answer it again for your Hero’s father. You may come up with two very different answers.
16. Is your Hero a gentleman or gentlewoman?
Being a gentleman or gentlewoman means that your Hero attempts to follow the code of chivalry. Your Hero’s word is his bond. Of course, there are those who see you as foolishly old-fashioned, but there’s always the possibility of having a moon-eyed damsel or handsome young poet fall in love with you.
17. How religious is your Hero? What sect of the Church does he follow?
Religion is, for many people of Théah, their deepest passion. The Church of the Prophets has been the greatest power on the planet for over a thousand years, and for all the bureaucracy it has a number of redeeming qualities. It fosters learning and education, provides hospitals for the poor and needy, and is a great source of comfort for many people in their hour of need. True and honest men are often attracted to the Church for this reason, and they are more than willing to help it perform its good works.
Of course, there are many who see the Church’s actions as evil. They look at the Inquisition and the Crusade as prime examples. They hate the things the Church stands for and would love to see it fall. Then there are those people in the middle, who either don’t worry about the Church since it doesn’t affect their daily lives or believe in a religion that is a variant of what the Church preaches (such as Objectionism or the Ussuran Orthodox Church). These men try to live out their lives with as little official contact with the Church as possible, either out of fear, or lack of interest.
18. Is your Hero a member of a guild, gentleman’s club, or secret society?
Contacts are important, and they can be made through these organizations. They are a source of adventures and information. From a roleplaying perspective, many tangible benefits come from being a member of these organizations. Perhaps your gentleman’s club buys a communal copy of the latest archæology journals, or serves tea and biscuits every morning to members. The clubs your Hero joins also influence the type of people he meets. You find a very different crowd of people in the Rose and Cross than you do in Madame Josette’s Gentlewoman’s Society.
19. What does your Hero think of Sorcery?
Not all people with Sorcery like it, and not all people without Sorcery hate it. It sometimes alienates people, and the Church preaches against it; some people will dislike you for no other reason if you possess it. On the other hand, some who lack Sorcery look at the power it brings its bearer and long desperately for magic of their own. They tend to purchase any runic items they can get their hands on, and sift through Syrneth ruins seeking mystic secrets lost to the
20. If you could, what advice would you give your Hero?
Take a good, long look at the other questions before you answer this one. Speak to your Hero as if he were sitting right in front of you, and remember to use the proper tone. You’ll want to make certain your Hero actually listens to you when you give him this free advice.