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WISH 54: Background Hooks

WISH 54 is about one of my favorite character generation issues, 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?

Yes! I love background hooks, I’m big on background hooks, background hooks make me squirm in glee. I don’t write big complex backstory for my characters before starting play, but I do sketch out loose backgrounds, and I invariably put some hooks in. Usually it’s something that would cause the PC problems if it came out.

I also tend to include a couple of strong attitudes. Paul was a devout Catholic, Reese is a bit jingoistic, and Amelia/Andy hates weak women. I’m not sure that’s the sort of hook Ginger had in mind, but I think it provides the same function.

Since I like hooks a lot, I like it when a GM pulls on ‘em. I’m also OK with it not happening. After all, sometimes people go through their lives without their little quirks ever causing serious issues.

Now, an interesting thing about hooks: they’re one of the ways in which you can buy spotlight time during character generation without spending any points or getting high rolls on the attribute dice. Spotlight time is one of the most important currencies in roleplaying. If the GM takes advantage of your hooks, you’re getting spotlight time for free — which touches on Scott’s point about overdoing hooks. Interesting.

Finally, I’m stealing Kynn’s PC requirements for my next game. Cool stuff.

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