Session Zero Part 7: Law Breaking, Love & Loss, and Life & Death

In Part 5, your players learned some bits about where and who you their characters are from.  They learned some of the habits and quirks they have picked up in your years in the realm.  In Part 6, they learned about what their characters feel about core beliefs, by asking tough questions.

This time, we explore your character’s interactions with the law, the people who are (or were) in close relationships , their path of morality, retirement prospects and death.

Adriaen Brouwer - Inn with Drunken Peasants

Section 11: Government and the Law

This section assumes the characters have broken at least one major law.  Players can pay 10 gold to not have that happen.  Otherwise, players can select their crime or roll a 1d30, then define what happened.  As an option, players can receive a 10 gold if another player explains the details of the crime.

11 - Government Church and the Law

Further, the following questions ask about their crime.  Then they were also a victim of a major crime.  Repeat the process for the crime committed against the character.  Finally, this section challenges if they have killed another person (or people) and how many.  If they really don’t want to have killed other people, they can pay 20 gold.

11 - Government Church and the Law Part 2

Section 12 digs into the personal relationships a character has had or may still have.  I always allow players to have a single pet, and they get to reasonably design it.  Just keep it simple.  I also remind players they need to decide how they are going to care for it and where it will be located, especially in combat.

We also discover the character’s love life, marriage, and children.  I don’t usually force players to have children, so this question is open ended.  If a player decides their character has children, follow-up questions may follow (race, age, location, alive/dead).  I tend to run games for older players, and the potential topic of child death is not desired.

12 - Relationships

I am not a fan of any rpg with a rigid alignment labeling system.  I am, however, a fan of presenting situations during character creation and players feeling out morality and lawfulness of their characters.  Please visit the great alignment articles at Easydamus for great breakdowns and analysis of D&D alignment categories and examples.

My players know I do not run explicitly evil player character campaigns, but players can occasionally do bad things for good reasons (yes the greater good trope).  Here are lawful, neutral, and chaotic tenets, balanced with good and neutral moralities.  The only difference between stand alignment labels and this approach is this allows for more granularity.  It also does not give you the label.  A player can also reference their particular deity’s alignment preference from Section 5 to assist in choosing an option.

The task in this section is to pick the best option in each grouping.  Then I have each player select one of the “commandments” as most important.  I then add that as another bond or ideal to their background.

13 - Your Commandments

Section 14 asks the question: what will you do when your adventuring days are over?  It is important for players to have character goals.  The methods of death chart is inspired/snipped from the wonderful publication by Ennead Games Background & Details Kit.

14 - Life and Death - Death Chart

8 - Family and Growing Up - Lifestyle

14 - Life and Death - Death Chart

Next time, we’ll be heading back into Backgrounds and Classes to find out why and when they chose what they chose.

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