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Eyeless Blond
One thing I've had a real problem with in non-freeform RP games is that, as your character's skills, attributes, etc. must be finalized before the game starts you really have to get a handle on that character's personality quickly. In many cases I'll start playing a character for awhile, then after about three or four sessions realize that the character's personality does not line up with his attributes and abilities at all, or differs in such a large number of subtle ways that would in the end pretty much necessitate a huge change in the charsheet to bring the abilities in line with the character who embodies them.

I've been thinking of a way to speed up this character learning curve a bit, and I hit on the idea of a situation questionaire. Basically it'd be a number of questions setting up loaded scenarios that help bring the character's personality to the surface more quickly. I'm having trouble thinking of good scenarios, though, other than the most recent one that sparked this line of thought:

1) Your character is approached by someone he/she finds attractive, and uses a fairly lame pickup line on you. In detail, how would you respond?

Any other ideas? Does this sound completely off the wall?
Talia Invierno
So much of that would have to depend on the scenario though. Is there any way to word those questions that wouldn't ... or at least, not so much?

Anyway, here's a couple of suggestions:

2) Your character has discovered that a niece/nephew/cousin they never knew existed is in serious trouble. Said relative doesn't know about your character, let alone that they're related. What do you do?

3) Your character has a "free" night on a weekend -- one that's not required to be spent working on the job. How does your character spend it?

4) Commotion breaks out in the nightclub where your character's at, not on business. What does your character do?

5) On an average night, does your character cook, nuke, order in, take-out, fast-food, sit-down restaurant?
Krazy
would the character act to protect someone who they do not know? how far would they go to protect them (catch bullets/ call docwagon and run)

what are the characters buget priorities?

does the character have anything to live for other than revenge? (I hate those characters that don't)
Grinzwilly
* Your character is cruising along in a vehicle of choice when a squirrel runs across the road. Your character has plenty of time to avoid the animal without endangering him or herself. What does your character do?

* Later, your character plows into an old woman that runs out into the street after her yappy chihuahua. She falls to the concrete, obviously badly hurt. There are no cops around, and while there are a number of witnesses, you don't think any of them could identify your character positively. What do you do?

* Your character is chilling at home when there's a knock on the door unexpectedly. How does your character react?

* After whatever paranoid precautions your character decided to take, you determined that the person at the door is a pizza delivery man. He has a stack of 12 pizzas that he claims were ordered from this address. Your character checks the reciept, and it appears the pizza dude is on the up and up, but you definitely didn't order the pizzas. What do you do?
wagnern
A fellow runner that your charictor has performed many jobs with and each has saved the other on numerous occasions approached your charictor. A family member of his has been captured and is in serrous trouble. He ask for your help and says he can cover any expences of the run but cannot pay you, what do you do?
ElFenrir
-you have the possibility of doing a run that isn't terribly dangerous...AND has a massive, massive payoff...one that could even possibly lead to retirement. But, someone whom you care a lot for(girl/boyfriend, best friend, someone) insists you not take it...even though it checks out to be ok. What do you do?

-Character is in a barfight, and they accidently kill the opponent. What do you do?

-Character has a girl or boyfriend. However, some very important information that can be garnered...by 'persuading' another person to talk. This person is of the opposite sex...and they make it very obvious what they want your character to do to get them to talk. 'Yeah, I know a lot...but...' So, what do you do?(kind of an adult situation but shadowrun is an adult game...things like this CAN come up!)

-Family member that the character isn't particulary close to is in trouble. It's not total hatred...but a sort of lukewarm relationship at best. The character is already set up for another job. What do they do?

-would your character turn down a job because their favorite band/sports team/etc is playing a rare show/game/etc?

-your character has a certain weapon or piece of equipment that they have used their whole career/life, recieving said item when they were still a teen or so. Would they upgrade to a different piece when a much better variant comes out...or do they stick with their favorite, even if it's outdated and definately not 'SOTA'?
MrSandman666
Don't know if this is any good but adapted from a recent event I could propose this:

Your have had an affair with someone who is very sympathetic and attractive but with whom you are not in love. Just as the affair is about to end you notice that the more female one of you is pregnant (because of you). What do you do?

You could make it even stronger by saying:
You have just split up with your lover. The split up was very messy and lined by thrown plates and slammed doors. Just when you think it's over, you notice that the more female one of you is pregnant (because of you). What do you do?


Another one that is a good bit easier:
While breaking into a corp facility you are caught by a single patroling guard. As you aim at him he looses it and starts to cry, falling to his knees and begging you not to shoot him. Through his tears and his sobbing he tells you about his wife and his two children and his dog Brandy. His children are two girls, 7 and 9 years old. They are called Mandy and Sarah.
The guard has been in contact with you for a long enough time to give a pretty decent description and to identify you later. You are at point blank range.
What do you do?
Edward
I would break it down into a more general format. Specific questions ted to creat answers that confuse the GM.

For example my character I really want to play and have mentioned hear several times before, starry knight

Q: Your character has a "free" night on a weekend --. How does your character spend it?
A: at a party or club. it is significant that he would do the same thing on a weekday unless there where no parties and no clubs open in the town he was in (and then he would pack because he needs to leave that backwater hell hole)

Q: While breaking into a corp facility you are caught by a single patroling guard. As you aim at him he looses it and starts to cry, falling to his knees and begging you not to shoot him. Through his tears and his sobbing he tells you about his wife and his two children and his dog Brandy. His children are two girls, 7 and 9 years old. They are called Mandy and Sarah.
The guard has been in contact with you for a long enough time to give a pretty decent description and to identify you later. You are at point blank range.
What do you do?
A: shoot him very early in the begging procedure, it is significant that he only carries knockout rounds in his gun.

Questions I would prefer to see would be

Ďhow do you deal with ďinnocentĒ security personnelí with a addendum, Ďwhen confronted with the fact of there innocent dependantsí (even if the kid has to be 3 months old to qualify)

Describe a typical week of your characters life such as happens between runs.

Edward
winterhawk11
I posted a bunch of these on my website years ago; here's a link to them:

Twentysomethings I

Twentysomethings II
Dingus_McGee
Did anyone flash back to Harrison Ford giving Replicants the Voigt-Kampff test when they started reading some of these questions? Kind of an apt analogy, as you want your characters to seem as human as possible, versus disposable bullet bags. Unless your GM allowed you to play a cyberzombie.....biggrin.gif
Edward
Even a cyber zombie has a past.

Is the procedure really all that dehumanising if they didnít have human feelings and associations before the procedure?
Mr. Man
QUOTE (Dingus_McGee)
Did anyone flash back to Harrison Ford giving Replicants the Voigt-Kampff test when they started reading some of these questions?

I was going to post this yesterday afternoon but the forum died while I was composing it:

Q: You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down and you see a tortoise. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't -- not without your help, but you're not helping. Why not?

wink.gif Seriously, though:

Q: A level one Johnson contact who you have done many successful runs for offers to bring you out of the shadows, hiring you full time as a legitimate corporate asset in your field. The job pays as much as you are currently making and has advancement opportunities. Would you take it? Why or why not?
Demosthenes
Tell me about your mother.
toturi
QUOTE (MrSandman666)
The guard has been in contact with you for a long enough time to give a pretty decent description and to identify you later. You are at point blank range.
What do you do?

What kind of incompetent runner are you describing? If the guard can give a description better than a general "Guy with hood over head and mask over face" then please shoot yourself.
MrSandman666
You'd be surprised how many of my players don't even think of masquerading themselves, even though it's a pretty obvious choice. Even if you're not caught, think of all the surveilance cameras!
However, I think it would be possible to construct a few (not too common) situations around this example. Say you've been talking your way in, trying to blend into the environment as good as possible and somebody accitently stumbles into the room in wich you're just busy cracking a safe or whatnot. I know, I know, you should make sure that nobody stumbles into the room by blocking the door but accidents do happen and maybe our runner had strong reason to believe that nobody would disturb him.

Anywho... The question was how emtional a character gets when it comes to killing a real person. You can strike that identification part out if it bothers you too much, it was just in there to make the choice a good bit tougher.
nezumi
When I was running 'the other game', I had a questionaire which I think was pretty good. It included putting sins and virtues in order, from best to worst, describing their psychological make up, and describing one memorable incident which didn't involve their village getting invaded or their parents getting killed (I was surprised how many people saw that question and were upset that I put on that restriction. Maybe next time I'll have it twice, one with and one without the restriction, so they can feel good about themselves.)

In general though, I play with my stats for about a week, and my character develops as I play him or her. I like playing a few practice runs first to really get a sense for things, THEN fill out the 20 questions.
Talia Invierno
QUOTE
The guard has been in contact with you for a long enough time to give a pretty decent description and to identify you later. You are at point blank range.
What do you do?
- MrSandman666

What kind of incompetent runner are you describing? If the guard can give a description better than a general "Guy with hood over head and mask over face" then please shoot yourself.
- toturi

Even in the best constructed runs, it happens, toturi. Even where the runner planned everything of concealment perfectly, sooner or later there will be the reflexive clutch which removes said hood and mask from face. We don't intend to slip, but slips will happen -- and what we do then tells us more about ourselves than any number of optimally-fulfilled plans ever will. ... Of course, we might not want to know that much about ourselves.
QUOTE
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley
- To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough

ElFenrir
My one buddy used to have a play on the 20 questions...we fill 'em out before the game(always have....we always set up as much as we can pre game, that way we had the feel, AND the GM would have lots of plot hooks for us already)...but the way he had us do it was answer the questions in character.

I was suprised how fun it was. I havn't done that in awhile, but i wouldn't mind doing it again. It's fun cos A. You get the feel more, actually getting 'in character' before you play, maybe even developing their 'speech style'(cityspeak, the 'Queen's English', southern drawl, English as a second language interjecting bits of native language, etc.) and B. It's more fun to read after, be it the players, GM, or whatnot...it looks more 'human' than something that looks like an essay from English class.
SpasticTeapot
Question 1. (Lame pickup line):
Depends. Are they using the lame line because they're a dumb floozy (CHA 8 PC's tend to attract these like magnets) or just because they're awkward? If so, then buy her a drink and discuss problems with public schooling. My PC would date a troll if she was a nice person. (I'm not too far off from that in real life, I'm afraid.)

2.
If my PC finds he has a nephew who's in some trouble, he'd scope him out to see if he's a decent sort, and if so, hire him. Considering that shadowrunner safehouses tend to be, well, safe, he could likely be put to work; our team lacks an actual decker, and we need someone to catch rumors and read the tabloids for us. This job also entails sleeping in a room adjacent to those containing a walking slab of armor, a bunch of high-powered drones, and a guy who can kill you in one shot from a hundred yards with a pistol. We can then either A. help him pay off his enimies, or, if they are suitably evil, B. send them all to kingdom come, and make him work for us for a few months to pay us off. My PC has a habit of killing any humanis dumb enough to start bothering an innocent within his field of view, and he can see a darn long way.

3. My PC likes to do the following things:
1. Dancing. He's really good at it, too. (Breakdancing and Latin Dancing both at 6, and he's got a 6 in Capoeira, a martial art which serves as a complimentary skill.)
2. Random Acts of Extremely Violent Kindness. If he sees a bunch of gangers dragging some poor woman (or man, depending on orientation) into an alleyway for nefarious purposes, he likes to make a point of politely asking them to let her go, then promptly KO'ing their leader, and killing anyone dumb enough to draw a weapon.
He enjoys doing the same thing even more with Humanis; however, if he sees them bothering some poor orc and her children, he usually does'nt give them a chance to talk and proceeds to shoot them full of lead. He's an elf physad who has had his family killed by Humanis, so it's only fair that he returns the favor, right? (Yes, he's pretty scary, even as far as shadowrunners go. Partially because he likes sniping with a pistol...and no sight.)

4. My PC will usually try to see what's going on, and arbitrate. He's got a charisma of 8 and a negotiations and etiquette skill of 6, so he's pretty good at it.

5. My PC likes fresh food. He actually eats dandelions, but that's just because they're easy to grow and he's not much of a greenthumb. He eats at restaurants when he can afford them, which is pretty much never (at the time being.)

6.
It's Shootin' Time!

11.
No. To give you an idea, he's currently saving up to buy his next weapon, a Thompson/Center Encore .357 sniping pistol, from an antique store. In the SR universe, it would be over 60 years old; his trusty Glock is not likely to be replaced anytime soon either. (Lead slugs never go out of date.)

13. Hit him on the head very hard, then give him some Laes, just in case. Hitting people on the head makes memories go away, and you can't be accused of surrendering when you've got a bump the size of alaska on your forehead. It also shows a willingness to do one's job, which will likely get the poor schmo a raise. Everyone ends up happy.

#??.
On the issue of "killing people when they walk into a room when you're doing something illegal", my PC tends to prefer simply knocking them out. He's really, really fast, and he's no slouch at martial arts, either. He's also fond of spray pistols filled with a mixture of DMSO, a general anesthetic, and laes. The latter seems to be the most humane, as well as the most expensive.
Eyeless Blond
See, those are precisely the kinds of answers that I'm not satisfied with. All of those just seem so pat; you could have summed up all those answers in three sentences: 1) I play an elf physad who uses a pistol, 2) I don't like Humanis because a few of 'em killed my parents, and 3) I like to kill stuff. None of those answers really get at the core personality of the character, except for the dancing thing which seems jarringly different from the rest of the answers, so much so that I'd want to ask a follow-up question.

I'm beginning to wonder if what I'm looking for even makes sense. The problem I'm seeing with these questions is just as Talia described: without context the situation isn't defined well enough, but most of the context depends on your character so it's tough to add.

Hmm, here's an idea, instead of asking what a character would do in X situation, how about something more like how would you *get* to X situation? So stuff like:
  • Your character wakes up in an unfamiliar room, in an unfamiliar bed, completely naked with his clothes nowhere in sight. How did he get there?
  • Your character is speeding down the interstate. Where is he going, and why does he need to get there so fast?
  • Your character had a dead body at his feet. How did the body get there?
  • ou are bleeding from a minor wound. How did this happen?

Do those sound like they would get better responses?
toturi
QUOTE (Eyeless Blond)
  • Your character wakes up in an unfamiliar room, in an unfamiliar bed, completely naked with his clothes nowhere in sight. How did he get there?
  • Your character is speeding down the interstate. Where is he going, and why does he need to get there so fast?
  • Your character had a dead body at his feet. How did the body get there?
  • ou are bleeding from a minor wound. How did this happen?
Do those sound like they would get better responses?

Not significantly, no.

1) It is a flashback, one he had since he was rescued from Aztec prisoner camp.

2) He is chasing someone, the other guy is the one that needs to slow down.

3) He killed the guy. Simple enough?

4) He shot someone, the other guy shot him. My PC shot straighter, see 3).
Crimsondude 2.0
QUOTE (Eyeless Blond)

  • Your character wakes up in an unfamiliar room, in an unfamiliar bed, completely naked with his clothes nowhere in sight. How did he get there?
  • Your character is speeding down the interstate. Where is he going, and why does he need to get there so fast?
  • Your character had a dead body at his feet. How did the body get there?
  • ou are bleeding from a minor wound. How did this happen?

Do those sound like they would get better responses?

I agree with toturi:
  • "Cocaine's a hell of a drug"-- Rick James.
  • Anywhere. Speed limits are suggestions.
  • Echo toturi.
  • Shaving accident, with the guy in three's combat axe.
amadeus
I find what really helps to flesh out a character is providing a couple things:

a cohesive background, one that makes sense not just, his parents were killed and he was raised in an orphanange, thus he has no family.
This is not good enough, my one counter argument to this is that he would have a much bigger family, everyone in the orphanage.

the second thing is, why is he shadowrunning? the rush? the money? to survive? Some of these reasons eventually disappear because the character becomes successful.

But, providing or answering some questions of the form "you are in Situation X, what do you do, and why do you do it?" can provide a lot of information.

ALso how fleshed out a character is depends a lot on how much work the PC is willing to put into it.

my three contributions, smile.gif

amadeus
hyzmarca
QUOTE (Eyeless Blond)
  • Your character wakes up in an unfamiliar room, in an unfamiliar bed, completely naked with his clothes nowhere in sight. How did he get there?
  • Your character is speeding down the interstate. Where is he going, and why does he need to get there so fast?
  • Your character had a dead body at his feet. How did the body get there?
  • ou are bleeding from a minor wound. How did this happen?
Do those sound like they would get better responses?

Kidnaped by absurdly powerful and romanticly obsessed sadist blood mage

He's going anywhere he can to get away from a small army of blood spirits and magicly altered ex-metahumans.

Good friend and associate who was ritually disembowled and dismembered by obsessed sadistic blood mage.

A little foreplay before obsessed sadistic blood mage starts taking off limbs.

Nope. Doesn't provide enough information either. Although it does provide a decent framework to flesh out.
hermit
QUOTE
2. Random Acts of Extremely Violent Kindness. If he sees a bunch of gangers dragging some poor woman (or man, depending on orientation) into an alleyway for nefarious purposes, he likes to make a point of politely asking them to let her go, then promptly KO'ing their leader, and killing anyone dumb enough to draw a weapon.
He enjoys doing the same thing even more with Humanis; however, if he sees them bothering some poor orc and her children, he usually does'nt give them a chance to talk and proceeds to shoot them full of lead. He's an elf physad who has had his family killed by Humanis, so it's only fair that he returns the favor, right?

@Spastic:

Q: You character seees a gang of orcs beat up and drag a blonde, human woman and a teen girl who seems to be her daughter into an alleyway, clearly with nefarious intents. You recognise that woman as someone whom you have seen on TV, in a discussion show where she maintained a rather hard line in respect to metahuman integration and the drive of other nonhuman sentients to get human rights coverage. She wasn't hardcore humanis, but she certainly was racist. It's evident you're their nly hope for help, and you are certain you could take out the orcs fairly easily. What does your character do?
Edward
Just going by the responses just given I will reiterate my previous suggested question.

You have a week of, you have as much money as you usually do, you donít need to lie low you are not expecting any work, you donít have any special preparations to make (you donít do anything you wouldnít do at least every second week). What do you do?

Although for an average person how they react to a dangerous situation tells a lot, for somebody that deals with death and danger with ever job it is the time off that shows there true heart.

Examples of characters I play (or want to play)

Starry knight (shaman) party hard and long, visit friends skim shadow land with a hangover

Timothy carter (rigger), spend time with his wife and kids, maintain vehicles, read industry publications in deckchair with light beer

Seaker (wuyen), spend time with girlfriend, spend time with friends, ongoing magical research

Data miner (decker) scan and analyse trends in information flow on the matrix, inc shadow land, ongoing programming projects, some virtual time spent with friends, probably doesnít leave house.

Obviously alone it is not enough but it is a very significant part

Edward
Dog
A lot of the proposed questions seem to be excellent situations to put characters in during the game, I'd keep them off of any quiz, 'cause it'd be a waste of a good scenario.

Ever play that card game "scruples"? Try playing it in character, maybe. Or just refer to the questions for ideas on character development....
The White Dwarf
Theres a reason most real, in depth, personality tests, as well as psychological profiles and such are long, trying, repetative, and done in person. Filling out a breif form (in the sense that its not a 20 page packet or whathave you) for a character you have to play at being will never reach that depth.

Most people have some idea of their character in their mind, but when it gets right down to it they can only play so well, and wind up reacting as they would, or (and heres the key) *as they think their character, the shadowrunner, would*.

In otherwords, what you have is a person (human), playing at being another person (character), who is then supposed to be another person (shadowrunner).

By the point most characters become shadowrunners they would have already had serious changes in how they would answer these questions, were they real people. Which is why real people have a hard time actually answering those questions for a 3rd tier person. Which, incidently, is also why good actors make lots of money emoting feelings that arent their own... and most ppl playing shadowrun lack that training.

In short, I do realize what youre trying to do, but also dont think itll ever happen. Its much easier to write out these kind of things in like a story or book, than to have 5 different people each do 1 person, then play a game where they have to adhere to that individually. But I *DO* think you can probably reach some sort of compromise in this area to achieve something closer to the desired goal. Im just not sure how to really help it along, except by hopefully explaining some things to consider in its pursuit.

Maybe try to come up with questions that can be answered "pre shadowrunner" and "post shadowrunner" to force the people to think about that evolutionary step in their character. A course of change might be easier to follow mentally than simply starting at a point. And having people consider those 'two' people theyre really playing, and how one became the other, may help.

Hope it helps =/
MrSandman666
I, for my part find it most helpfull to write an in-character curiculum vitae of some sorts. Maybe a (very) short auto-biography. It usually makes you understand very well how a certain character works. I stuff those writings with personal comments, opinions, anecdotes and things like that, all made in character. It's a great tool for the GM as well since it tells him what the character wants. It also leaves many places open - all those places where your character says "I don't quite remember" or "I was never told why..." or "That's where our ways parted". When a person is at least half-way talented in writing (which I believe every roleplayer is) these things are great fun to read, too. I usually write one of those before I get down and dirty with the rules and character creation.
A good measure would be two or three pages, typed in a word processor (single spacing, standard font).

For those that would like an example, I'll post the auto-biography of my favorite character, Ohanzee, who is also featured in some old games here on the boards. I spoilered it in order to not clutter the thread, it's pretty long.
[ Spoiler ]
nezumi
White dwarf, I think it odd that your PCs feel like they're playing another character when they become shadowrunners. I don't play another character when I clock in in the morning and do IT work. With few exceptions, my characters expected to do illegal work most of their lives, so going into shadowrunning didn't require any spontaneous psychological shifts.

My goal with 20 questions isn't to get something I can hold the PC to. Rather, it's to get the player into the habit of thinking 'how would my character answer this'? I keep the papers to help remind them that they need to stick with their characters, but I oftentimes don't even bother reading what they wrote. It's for them, not me.
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