From The B’omarr Punk
When I started emphasizing in-depth roleplaying in my games, some players didn’t want to play along. So, I instituted an incentive program that granted bonus xp, items, or ability points for giving characters depth.
The program has two phases: character creation and roleplaying rewards.
During character creation, players complete my character depth sheet (a simple one-page questionnaire, see below). Based on completeness, creativity and depth of answers, I give bonuses before the game starts (ability points for buying ability scores, xp for item creation, equipment).
I give players unlimited draft submissions to me before the first game session. I advise what I’m looking for and help players get the maximum bonus.
An unintended benefit of this is I get to see what these characters are all about well in advance of session one, and I can tailor adventures (or even campaigns) around them.
The most effective item in the questionnaire seems to be the influential NPCs entry. I require three, with name, age, race, alignment, class, level, and relationship to the character. I’ve seen mentors, friends, parents, idols, and even nemeses. I get to use these NPCs in my game, and the personal touch it brings to campaigns is amazing.
I rate players’ roleplaying quality after each session and grant bonus xp. The better they do (GM’s subjective assessment), the more xp.
My current formula is: [current level] x [number of hours played] x [rp quality factor between 1-10] x [extra multiplier] = bonus xp from session.
I give an extra multiplier for things like adventure journals in-character, providing food or drink, or cartography.
Character Depth Sheet
Here is my one-page questionnaire:
- Attach background:
- Personality (must work with deities, moral codes, background, player interaction, enemies, alignment):
- Patron Deity(s):
- 3 NPCs (at minimum provide name, race, age, class, levels, alignment and relationship with you):
- Quotes/parables/proverbs you live by:
- Your heroes:
- Goals (short and long term, for you as well as your PC):
- Why do you adventure?
- What irks you?
- What do you value?
- Do you work well with others?
- Where do you call home?
- What’s your approach to combat?
- When faced with a challenge, how do you tend to react?
- When you die, where will you go?
Try it in your next campaign and let me know how it works!