I like having an online community for a particular game night and/or campaign (Oy, I miss G+). One of the things I’ve been doing is asking the players questions in the week before the game. If they answer it, GREAT, I have material to inspire the game. If they don’t answer the question because they’re busy or don’t spend as much time on social media platforms, GREAT (and legit), I can ask the question during the game and get inspiration and energy during the session.
Even if I don’t ask these questions in play and the player never answers it out loud, seeing the question gets the players thinking and daydreaming about the answers and more often than not, the idea comes out in play through the players’ actions. Asking good questions is a good tool for getting the vibe of the game across.
Jusko – Your family’s ancestral lands neighbored ancient Barovia. What was the Hajek family’s relationship to the cursed von Zarovich clan?
Jusko is a human fighter with a complicated family and a sense of honor about him that I enjoy. Clearly, his family knew Strahd’s family when he was mortal, back in the day. There have also been clear hints that the Mists are interested in Jusko as possible Darklord material.
Helewyn – How do you (or your Goddess) feel about lycanthropes who change shape with the full moon?
Helewyn is an Eladrin Barbarian who served a moon goddess. The player’s answer was awesome and gave me clear ties to lycanthropes and their relationship to the moon.
Kuru – What do you remember of the nomadic Vistani people who would stay for a season near the shire you where you were raised and trade with your family?
My question for Kuru, Halfling Rogue (but really, he’s an old school Thief all the way) brought out a great conversation about the depiction of the Vistani, racism against the Romany people and not wanting to punch down. It was a valuable conversation, not only for the real life implications but because it really tied Kuru to the Vistani people in a real way and allowed me to, as Apocalypse World would say, announce future badness (link to AP post about the previous session if you want to see the Future Badness in action).
Trundle – What was Trundle’s first brush with the darker parts of the forest, where sun never penetrates the canopy and fell beasts hunt the weak?
I didn’t get an answer to Trundle’s question, so I’ll save it for the game. I might ask during play or might ask before play when we’re just getting prepped and putting our dice in order in our pre-game.
Bugwump – What had you uncovered about the Demi-Plane of Dread when you were an Arch-Mage?
Bugwump’s character handed me a gift that I’ve written about before. The player treated Ravenloft with an appropriate amount of dread and foreboding in his answer. Even as an Arch-Mage, his character avoided the Demi-Plane of Dread. Cool stuff.
Failed Soldier – What does your religion’s parables say about the First Vampire, Strahd, a great warrior whose fell deeds drew the attention of fell powers?
Again, Failed Soldier’s player didn’t answer, which is great, I’ll ask later. Failed Soldier (whose name is derived from the first corpse the Corpseflea character was in when the game began) is a Grave Cleric. I can’t wait to get this character to Ravenloft. I think it is going to be fun.