‘My family was killed by a monster. It was really tragic.’ *sigh*
I understand that players want to add a bit of spice to their character, but when they kill off their family they are throwing out the spice cabinet for a bit of salt. A character’s family tree can be fleshed out to explain some of your character’s quirks and also provide the DM with useful NPCs to drop quests into the game.
If you are not convinced, let me break it down for you 🙂
You are an adventurer who gave up the posh life of civilization to delve into horrific places and fight things that want to dismember you. Something must have caused you to snap and leave the safe walls of the city behind. Why not have your motivation for adventure be your family.
Most families have their fair share of problems, there is no reason to harness some of those tropes to add a bit of flavor for your character. A family member could be abusive, and you just couldn’t handle it anymore so you left, but you still love the rest of the family and want them to escape as well. Maybe they wanted you to be part of the family business, but you took up the life of adventure instead causing your parents to work in their later years instead of retiring. Neglect, Pain, Regret, and Disgust are interesting enough emotions when tied to villains, but they take on a whole different vibe when stitched to loved ones. These facets can add a lot to how you personify your character.
Non-player characters are vital tools for DMs. Providing your DM with a handful of family members who have a built in connection with the player’s character makes their job just that much easier. If a DM is having trouble getting you back on the main quest, they can utilize one of your family members to make a request that nudges them back to the main story. In contrast, maybe the DM wants to present a moral challenge and forces them to choose between one choice, and aiding the family.
Not all NPCs are likable, and I’m sure you are not fond of EVERY member of your family either. What happens when THAT person from the family asks you for a favor? What if its a noble effort, but you know they’re a dick and just want to look good? Its fun having obnoxious NPCs that the player’s can’t kill (unless they’re murderhobos but those people generally kill their parents for the XP).
Most adventurer’s don’t really have a ‘home’ to go back to. They either have a favorite tavern or a base of operations that they sleep in, but that’s about as warm as it gets. When characters have a family, they get invited to celebrate the fictional holidays with them, have a warm bed to relax after a rough day, and NPCs that miss them when they’re absent. This little bit of magic can add a whole different palette to your game and is worth trying it out 🙂
Anyway, I hope some of you take a little consideration of your family when writing up your next character.
Thank you for reading.