WISH 54: Background Hooks

Perverse Access Memory: WISH 54: Background Hooks

Do you like to have bits and pieces from your characters’ backgrounds appear in the game? Do you write hooks into your character background for the GM to use in the campaign for your character? Do you like it when the GM gives you a background hook into an adventure or scenario with a previously unknown hook, such as creating an old friend of your character’s who is somehow involved? What are some examples of cases where hooks have worked or not worked for you?

I love background hooks; they make a campaign more interesting, more integrated. We’re not just a random bunch of adventurers going dungeon crawling; we’re part of, and integrated with, the whole campaign setting. I’ve played straight hack’n‘slash campaigns, and integrated campaigns, and I much prefer the latter.

My friend Gerry is particularly good at this. In our ongoing 2300AD campaign, every PC had interesting, complicated hooks into the world at large, usually more than one. For the first year or so, I had a secret so good I didn’t know what it was (brainwashing for fun and profit). We had a spy from a competing corporation; an alien; a british secret agent; a brain transplant victim (she used to be my grandfather, IIRC); and others that I never learned. These backgrounds may sound strange, but they worked in our universe, and we managed to work quite well together as a team (except, of course, for those times when it was more fun to do otherwise :-).

Our current GM likes background hooks too. All of us have some sort of connection with an umbrella organisation. For many, it is the church (the campaign is set in a religious world; see Adanflaen Nights for details). I’m employed by a powerful guild. We’re also a family, which gives us all spaces for “how we met” stories in the future.

I’m certainly open to having background stories added whenever necessary; long lost friends or relatives, for example, make a game more interesting (Oh no! Do I take the treasure, or rescue my mother’s cousin?).

I’ve seen this go to far, though. In our previous campaign, our characters were thrown together by outside forces, and our backgrounds were diverse enough that we were never a cohesive team. Character motives were being decided by background and temperament, not by the adventure or any group goals. Eventually, we gave up and rolled up our current characters (in the same world; in fact I think one of us is related to one of our old characters).

posted at 11:59 am on Thursday, July 03, 2003 in WISH | Comments (1)

1 Comment

  1. WISH 54: Background Hooks
    On character background and plot hocks.

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