Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Questionnaire

Last year, my Q post was all about questions, and included a number of things I ask myself when creating non-player characters for my game. This year, my post is also about questions. However, this time I would like to focus on questions that might help my players build a better hero, and help me as a DM build a better game that caters to their vision of that hero.

One tactic that some DMs use to ensure that their game is everything their players want is to create a pre-campaign questionnaire. The players typically fill this out when creating their characters, or while the DM is planning the arc of the campaign. My noob self was not aware of such tactics, and so did not utilize a questionnaire when starting my current campaign three years ago. However, I like the thought and expect to give it a try in the future.

So, what kind of questions should you ask on these things? Well, that depends on what you hope to answer. Back in 2009, Newbie DM uploaded his pre-game questionnaire, which asks a lot of good questions aimed at determining the gaming styles of his players. What sort of things do they want or expect from a DM? How do they feel about certain game mechanics? that sort of thing.

The questionnaire I envision myself using is focuses more on drawing out details about the characters my players are putting together for the game. The questions are intended to give me hooks for drawing them into the storyline, for poking at their tender spots, and also for making them feel well rewarded. So, without further ado, here's what I'm thinking:

Player Name:

  1. Character Name:
  2. Who raised you?
  3. Where do you call home?
  4. Who is/was your best friend?
  5. Who is/was your worst enemy?
  6. Who taught you your skills?
  7. What did you do before you became an adventurer?
  8. Why do you adventure?
  9. What is your proudest moment?
  10. What is your darkest secret?
  11. What is your greatest fear?
  12. What do you value most in life?
  13. What do you despise most?
  14. List three things your character would like to achieve in life
  15. List three treasures (magic items or other unique goods) you would like your character to acquire at some point
The answers to these questions can be as simple as a single word, or as complex as a short story. Even stating, "I don't know" gives the DM something to work with. The questions are not intended to paint a comprehensive picture of the character, but to inspire a tighter collaboration between the DM and the player in order to make the character an integral part of the story.

Do any of you have questionnaires that you use when creating characters for a game, or even a book? What sort of questions do you ask?


  1. Love the Questionare, might adopt something similar for my games.

    LOVE the title your blog by the way.

    I am trying to read all the A to Z blogs, but coming back to the ones I really like.
    Looking forward to seeing what you do all month!

    The Other Side
    The Freedom of Nonbelief

  2. Awesome! Thanks for stopping by, Tim!

  3. Question about darkest secret, scared me. :-( what was that honey !

    Sample Questionnaire


  4. I love using Questionnaires. I always try to get my players to fill one out. I have specific ones depending on what game and what world I am playing in. I created one for a Dark Tower style game that I set up once that came out really well.

    1. Do you find your players are typically receptive to filling them out? I just know there is a fine line between "Yay! I'm playing a game!" and "Boo! I'm filling out a job application!"

  5. Hello. I am happy to have discovered your blog!

    I am just not sure the best way to go about it. I really like your survey questionnaire. All but about 3 are questions I would like to use. Thank you for sharing!!


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