Today we finish the #7Questions series, looking at the final question you should ask when building a character. While we've looked at the goals, heart, and interpersonal sides of the character, we end with a final question on the teleology of the character and what would make for a good end to their tale.
Question 7: What Is a Good Death?
What would be the ideal death for your character? Your character won't always die in a campaign, but they might, and knowing what you would find satisfying is helpful to both you in the moment and to your GM when planning for the session.
We don't have full control over when/how we die, but as a game master I appreciate hearing what a "good death" looks like for each of my players. For some it's going out in a blaze of glory, and there's plenty of room for that. For some it's dying to save the others from a grizzly fate, and that's possible to work into a combat encounter but it may require some forethought to make it happen.
For some it's having accomplished their goal (making X amount of credits or gold, establishing a company of X size, destroying X secret organization, etc.). For some it's dying old and full of years surrounded by friends, and for some it's being united with the Force (or the supernatural component of your world). So find what it is for your character.
This will also help you discern how to act in a given moment: if there's a chance your character will die, at what point will you flee? People tend to forget that fleeing an encounter is an option: not all encounters should be fought to the bitter end. So use this to help determine when you flee: is it a good day to die?
Character Building with the 7 Questions
So now that we have laid out the seven questions, we will take a quick moment to weave them all together with an example. First, ask yourself what the character wants and where they are headed. Does your character want recognition and fame, with an eye of becoming the local hero when they return home? Okay - we now know where the character is headed.
Next we turn introspective: what will the character not do, and what can they not do without? As you think on it, you land on "my character will never tell a lie, even if it leads to her death," and adds that she cannot do without her integrity. Very well - so now we know that the biggest challenges she will face will be battles of the mind and soul, not necessarily battles of the body.
Now we look interpersonally at the group: she requires honesty of the group, and a bond of friendship that is built on trust and mutual respect. She brings security and dependability to the group (which is also how she intends to foster honesty and mutual trust with them), and you begin to envision her being more of a high-armor character, proving her faithfulness to the party through the wounds she sustains.
And then finally you wonder what a good death for her would look like. You land on it being a death from old age, never conquered on the field of battle, but perhaps more important for her, with a conscience that is still intact and whole, even if her body is broken. Though her armor and her ribs could be crushed, her integrity to the group could not be. And thus, in the moment, she has a grounding for how she will act: she will not go along with a ruse, she will not misrepresent a matter to save her own skin, and she can retreat from a fight if need be (because who will look after the group if I am dead, she reasons).
And now that we have this, we can start to build out her armor, weaponry, abilities, racial selection - everything that is required to finish the mechanical elements of the character creation process. What this process does (and, as you notice, it doesn't have to take that long) is it streamlines the rest of the process because we know what we are aiming at as we build the character. More than that, the character has both direction and grounding, a sense of history/motivations and a future/purpose. And that is pretty exciting.
We hope that you have enjoyed this series! We've got a new series coming out presently on traps, puzzles, and dungeon design, so stay tuned for more!
Until next time,