Motivation and Goals are two of the most important aspects of creating a Dynamic PC (Player Character). Goals and Motivation keep the driving force on your character, guiding your decisions and allowing for growth of your character. Goals are incredibly important to your Game Master, who has the ability to create plot hooks based on your character, such as The Common Enemy. This will allow them to better include you and your character into the fabric of the story, instead of being on the sidelines. In fact, goals and motivation are not limited to Player Characters but should be included in NPC’s and even Villians. Motivations are the driving force of a character, and answers why they are adventuring, and what they hope to achieve by adventuring.
What’s my Motivation?
The best motivations will have multiple goals over the course of the campaign, and will often lead up to something. Trying to solve a mystery, or find a loved one are two easy ways of creating a driving force behind a character. A Game Master would be able to leave clues, hints, and information in cases like these will be just as rewarding for the player in question as it does for the Game Master, and other characters that are invested in this story arc.
There are some tricks when creating Motivations to make them more appealing to your Game Master to make hooks from. Sharing goals or motivations with other characters can entice a GM, because it will involve not one, but two characters at the same time. Another interesting aspect is when two characters are working towards opposite goals as well. If your motivations include others, such as NPC’s to flesh out the story, include them. Your GM will enjoy having some of the work done for them.
However, not all motivations are created equal.
Cardboard Cutouts: Boring Motivations
Although any motivation that can be given to a character is good, there are definitely motivations that can drive a character further than others. In most cases, however, the motivation of “to be the best” in some respect becomes boring. This usually flattens a character into “I spend my free-time training”, and creates little opportunity for actual character growth. Likewise, revenge can also be a powerful motivation, however, it loses impact when the character is created with a revenge-quest as all players will not be nearly as invested as if it was created during the course of a campaign.
PC Growth and Sidequesting
In many cases, immediate goals or motivations of characters can be hard to come up with on the spot. (Personally, I have a hard time creating Motivations for characters until I play them a session). However, you should be fluid in your motivations. If you start off without motivations, one of the most important things to do is to Start looking for motivation. This can create incredibly interesting goals and outcomes just by actively searching for a motivation. In this case, your motivation is to find motivation! Whoa!
Time for a example: Alfred B. Clark A low-level street thug with a criminal history. After being banished from his hometown, he is without a goal and follows the party to stop him from aimlessly wandering. After some time, the party acquires a ship, and Alfred goes to work creating a cohesive crew for his captain. He learns to manage the crew, and how to make tattoos to increase morale and create a more Family dynamic. In this case, his motivations even changed how the character was played. As time passed on, he eventually became a Paladin due to the influence of another character, entirely changing the character!
Completion of Goals isn’t the real Goal.
Really, character motivation is used to most intrigue The Player, not the Game Master or other players. When you set goals and motivations for your character, being able to work towards those goals, and playing with your motivation is an extra reward in itself. It allows players to help shape the story, and give their character another reason to shine.