The Seer Vitz

Introductions and a Prelude

Background information greatly enhances the enjoyment and playability of a role playing game. Whether the information comes from novels, accessories, or the players’ minds, it makes no difference. Each extra bit of information that the GM has increases his ability to create and run a smooth adventure.

The information that I am going to focus on deals with the character. The more that the GM knows about a character, the more he/she can cater to each player. But by this, however, I do not mean the physical or mental aspects that are to be found on a character sheet. No, instead I mean the character’s history and background information.

Some might claim that both are equally important, but I would tend to disagree. The information on the character sheet is only useful to get an idea of a "flat" lifeless character. Though it is better that nothing, it does not compare to a "round" highly developed character. And the history helps both the GM and the player immensely compared to just stats and equipment.

For the GM, histories and background information can help him/her develop some interesting plots and adventures based on past experiences and encounters. With only stats and equipment, the GM is forced to create an adventure without any regards to the personalities of the characters.

The player benefits even more from histories and background information. When he thinks it up, he has to "get into character" and decide what has occurred before the present. He has to think of why and how his character knows the skills he does or why he belongs to the group that he does. The items on the character sheet only give the player the motivation to think as his character would, the history and background information forces him to.

Now for the prelude: Over the next three or four weeks, I am going to be discussing the purposes and the responsibilities of the GM. As a GM, I have over time shifted my motives from one type to another and back again. Coming soon, I will be discussing such purposes as "player foiler" and "reward bestower." Until then, may your adventures be fun and informative!

James A. Vitz
RPG Columnist