In a number of role-playing groups little to no attention is ever payed to the character’s family. Do they have any brothers or sisters? Are mom and dad still alive? What about grandparents? Aunts and Uncles? Are any of the characters married with or without kids?
Since little is usually done in this area it is a great item to use to not only bring about a role-playing encounter but it can also be used to add depth to your campaign and storyline. Have the party encounter someone that looks similar to someone in the party or comes from the same area of the world and have one of those “Ah-Ha!” moments where the NPC points to the character and say something similar to, “I thought I recognized you. Don’t remember me do you? I’m your uncle Baelin, your mother’s younger brother. I haven’t seen you since your father tossed me out of his house.”
You get the idea, put a tie to the character but have a plausible reason that the player and character wouldn’t remember them. Once you’ve introduced the NPC there are a number of things that they can be used for.
– Backstory. Want to fill in some information gaps about the world your campaign is set in? Here’s your opportunity as this relative was recently traveling there.
– Adventure hooks. This relative has been cursed and it can only be lifted by another member of the family, “Boy am I glad I ran into you!”
– Resource drain. Does the PC have more money than they know what to do with? A long lost cousin who has a number of outstanding gambling debts may be just the help you need to “relieve” the PC of that extra cash.
You could also combine this with The Ghost encounter idea I posted a couple of weeks ago. The ghost they run into is a long lost relative in need of the assistance of a blood realtive and the PC is the only one they have found still alive.
Got an idea that could be used with the long lost relative? Feel free to post it!
Be sure to check out these additional encounter ideas