Character and NPC inspiration sources

By Adam,

A fan of the blog and news letter, Adam writes in with a great source of inspiration for character and NPC backgrounds.

I had a small thought, something I’d like to share. I was listening to a song (Pistolero – by Juno Reactor), it had this great sound bite:

“I hate robbing banks”.

Now this thought stayed with me for quite some time, still does. The more I thought about, the more story I could come up with. The phrase was so laden with potential and weight of story untold. Why does this person still rob banks? How did they get into that situation? Why do they stay in the situation? Personally I’m using as a spring board for a character I’m playing in Star Wars (Saga Edition). But I was thinking it would be great for NPC generation and for general character generation.

It got me thinking, what other great statements, questions, phrases are out there that can succinctly put a great germ of a story out there?

Hemingway was once asked to write a 6 word story. Here was his response:

Baby crib for sale. Never used.

And in Ray Bradbury’s book about writing, he says the greatest asset an author has is his sense of curiosity and a penchant to keep asking Why? and What if?

What sources do you use for inspiration when creating backgrounds for characters and places in your games?