How Well Do You Know These People?

Let’s say you’ve been in a long-running tabletop game for, well, a good portion of the time it’s been running. Year-long, maybe more, certainly a whole lot of staring at at least some of the same people over the campfire over and over (plus or minus deaths, player departures and additions, you get the idea), IC. Time breeds familiarity; familiarity breeds contempt.

But here’s a question for you. Think about these other PCs, these other faces around the campfire. Then start listing off what you actually know about them. Physical description, maybe. Skill set. Backstory. Ambitions. Fears (if applicable). Who they’re connected to and how; who they like, who they dislike, whether there’s anyone they love. What you think they’re hiding.

Don’t ask their players for help—or at least, not yet. Neither should you ask the GM. This is your thing: how much do you know? How much do you care?

You can also try this with the NPCs, or at least the ones that are in regular contact with the group itself. Same features, same list—just get down as much information as you can.

Got all that? Good. Now that it’s finalized, go talk to someone. Start with the GM, since she knows the NPCs inside out, and will probably be a good source of what’s either commonly known or meant to be commonly know about the PCs. Show her what you’ve got, ask if you’re missing anything. She’ll probably let you know if you’ve got inaccuracies, and might tell you whether those inaccuracies are omissions or false information. She might even tell you the general category of thing you’re missing an important detail in or have erroneous information in. But don’t expect her to tell you exactly what it is; where’s the fun in that?

For extra credit, look at this separately both IC and OOC. What do you know that your character doesn’t?

It often amazes me how much people don’t realize about the ones they’re gaming with, and how much more they don’t know what they don’t know. One of my players told me he’d seen his fellows from every angle—but I’m not sure he could tell me what the crafter’s greatest fear and greatest ambition were, or the diplomat’s backstory, or which of the PCs had gone and quietly fallen in love when he wasn’t looking (let alone whether this love was requited).

If you’re starting to think that familiarity is breeding contempt, consider giving this a shot for a character or two. After all, there’s a lot that we just don’t see because we’ve got a set idea how things work. People change, characters arc—sometimes even right under our noses. So give this a try; do you really know as much about the characters around yours as you think you do?

Leave a Reply