Character Driven Dungeons and Dragons

by Mike Shea on 5 March 2012

Recently DM to the superstars, Chris Perkins, wrote an excellent article, the Storytelling King, on his tips for building character-focused games using the ideas of Stephen King from his book On Writing.

This is a topic discussed often at Sly Flourish and I wanted to take the time to look back on some previous articles that discuss building your D&D game from the actions of characters instead of plots and story lines. Let's take a look:

Build Worlds Not Stories: Probably the prime Sly Flourish article on developing stories based on the actions of characters. Includes my favorite night-time saying "what is my villain doing right now?" For me, it's like counting sheep.

Three Acting Tips for D&D: Three tips on building stories from the point of view of the characters.

Fiasco Style Relationships: Here's a list of random relationships your can roll for. The results can end up building the story for you rather than you developing one yourself.

The 5x5 Method for Antagonists: A way to use Dave Chalker's 5x5 method to help you figure out what the bad guys are doing. Much better than simply plotting out a story.

Three D&D Tips from Breaking Bad: A look at how you can let your story develop based on the actions of characters like those in one of the best shows on television.

Quests for Villains: A look at how to develop quests for your villains so they're not simply sitting on a throne waiting for the PCs to show up and kill them.

Four Tips for Character Development: A look at developing characters based on archetypes, motivations, and secrets.

Three Motivations for your Villains: A look at three potential drivers for your villains, giving them reason for their actions.

You can find other ideas for building character-driven games in my books Sly Flourish's Dungeon Master Tips and Running Epic Tier D&D Games. Focus on the mind of your NPCs and leave the stats to excellent monster books like the Monster Vault, Monster Vault 2, and Monster Manual 3. Good NPCs need great miniatures. Take a look at the D&D Miniatures from Troll and Toad, an official Sly Flourish sponsor.

Send feedback to @slyflourish on Twitter or email mike@mikeshea.net.