Discussions/UsefulSparkQuestions

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Starting a new page to hold questions useful for sparking character creation in Exalted.

Many players and STs, in my experience, tend to focus too heavily on the character's backstory. And, while not a bad thing in and of itself, a character's backstory isn't terribly important in Exalted. Who you were is less than who you are, and asking questions of who someone is can be harder than formulaic 'Who were your parents? Where did you grow up?'

Actual questions to follow in a bit. Back to work! *sigh* -DariusSolluman


I think it's helpful to come up with two or three "interesting things" ("quirks" if you must) about a character. These should be things which are likely to come up in play, and/or are just very obvious. "Afraid of spiders" or "is left-handed" or "likes to whistle" or "keeps a daily journal" or "speaks with an accent" would be examples. The idea here is that having a hugely detailed backstory is great, but it's easy to get so wrapped up in what happened to the character when she was growing up that you forget to think about how she'll actually act in the game.\\ _Ikselam


See, I dunno about that. In my experience, quirks have the same basic effect on overall gameplay as a detailed backstory. They help with the initial character immersion, but usally just sit there. Some of the more active quirks (afraid of spiders) may be used in game, but most just sit there on the character sheet.

For my next game, I intend to ask my players to answer the following questions.

1) Who is someone your character actively likes, that is not in the Circle. Someone that they feel indebted to, and would go to great lengths for. They may be a love, an old mentor, or an entire community. How do they feel about the character?

2) Who is someone your character actively dislikes, that is not in the Circle. Someone that they feel the world would be better off without, who’s suffering brings a smug sense of justice to the character. It could be a Realm tax collector, an overly righteous monk, or a bandit king. How do they feel about the character?

3) Who is one member of the character’s family? Does the character like or dislike them? How do they feel about the character?

4) What is something the character always wanted to do, but felt they couldn’t- prior to being Exalted.

5) If the character could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

-DariusSolluman


I would ask Darius's questions 1 and 2 (weaker versions of them) regarding members of the Circle. More than that, I would ask, "How is it important that you are a member of the Circle? Why do the others need you? Why do you need them? What tensions are there between you?" -FourWillowsWeeping


6) What is the character's greatest strength? Greatest weakness?

7) What is the character's strongest desire? Greatest fear?

8) Does the character have a job? One he enjoys?

I suppose that quirk v. reams of backstory is a personal preference thing. I have personally found that (properly-done) quirks are more useful because they don't rely on ST collusion to become noticeable to other players, and (again, if done properly), can help paint out a character quickly by giving one or two identifying characteristics for people to latch on to. In my experience, detailed backstories tend to have very little impact on actual gameplay. In some cases, they can actually detract from a character, since the player has spent so much time thinking about the events which occurred in his character's past that he forgets to think about what really matters, i.e., how the character acts now. Probably the best approach to take, in my ever-so-humble opinion, is to fully flesh out one's character by asking the kind of questions presented here, and then going back and figuring out what led to the character having these personality traits.\\ _Ikselam


9) Where does your character fall in the basic Myers-Brigg Personality Evaluation? (That's the Introvert/Extrovert, Sensing/iNtuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judgement/Perception test- info can be found at http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/tt/t-articl/mb-simpl.htm)

Just another question I thought of :) - DariusSolluman


I usually create a rough skeleton of a character then play it... I find the character growing and getting fleshed out (though sometimes in a totally different direction than I had originally planned and wanted). Create major points in their life, and just see who they are. - haren


Interesting...in my groups, it's fairly obviously who's who. Everyone seems to believe in giving each character one or more areas all to him/herself, first off. We each have some traits that show up frequently, such as Fiametta's nearly grabbing antique or magical items out of people's hands so that she can figure out what they are and how they work. Some of us tend to do more inventive personalities than others, or characterize them more vividly, but telling the characters apart is the easy bit.

That part is not hard. Explaining where all those artifacts and manse came from tends to be harder. As a result, I always try to put together a page or so of backstory, explaining where you came from, why you left, what you did next, how you got any important backgrounds, what you're doing now, and why. (This has the side benefit of giving our ST -- who prefers spinning stories to running modules -- extra material to work with.) By the time that you have that much, you should have figured out some key quirks, habits, and motivations. Of course, if you begin with an actual character concept instead of an exercise in optimized mathematics, you will create a much better character, and most of the group has figured that out. However, they especially enjoy producing optimal mathematics for the concept in question....

--Arndis Asgeirsdattir


Your character background should be sufficiently detailed that the storyguide can hang you with it if she wants, and that you'll enjoy it while she does....

Who has power over you, whom do you care for, whom will you kill for, whom will you die for?

-- Senji



I like to write stories for my STs because 1) I like writing stories, and 2) they give my ST plot hooks. A lot of people hate taking backgrounds because STs screw them over. Well, if you would just give them something ELSE interesting, that you didn't spend any points on at all, maybe they'd screw that over instead!

I've never had an ST complain about my long windedness. Often they'll say "Cool" but never once have I had a ST complain about reading my character background. DnD DMs are like "Holy cow, why don't my other players write like that? Get writing!" (maybe those of you who are complaining about backgrounds had a ST say that and are now feeling bad?) And Rifts GMs are like "Woah, that's awsome, but rifts sucks so if do that your character will get killed by the CS." and my Exalted STs are like "Well, all the authors that write books right now suck and aren't realeasing any new books for a while so you need to write more about your character so that I have something to read and not die of boredom." And in general I happily oblige them and they are more than receptive to my fendish schemes to get bonus XP out of them.

Basically: Give your ST plot hooks. Let him know some interesting things about how your character got to be where she is today and then sit back and let the ST just mesh together ideas he likes and throw out the ones he doesn't instead of getting to stare at a character sheet that says "Likes playing with children" and "prefers red wine over white"

Maybe there's some hyperthetical super-ST out there that can make an awsome plot out of that, but it's certainly not me. ok, I'm getting a few ideas now but that's just because I rule.

-- GoldenH

Hmm... something to do with child assassins poisoning only the -red- wine, and sidereals altering everyone's tastes so they like white wine...
-- Darloth plots.

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