Plot Hooks in Random Character Generators

Syed Muzani
Jul 7 · 2 min read

Examples randomly generated plot hooks

First, let’s look at what other random generators are doing.

One generator has "speaks french" and born in South Africa, Jewish, graphic designer.

Another creates a chaotic good dark elf sorceror, who is old fashioned and rude, and has 2 siblings.

A third one says the character has witnessed a murder, wants to fit in, is helpful, obedient, ethical, and unemployed.

Mine generates a guy with strong leadership skills, cold exterior, but nice deep down, and highly rational.

So out of this, the third one has a bunch of plot hooks, while the others do nothing but introduce depth.

But the third one probably has too many hooks.

The ideal is a single plot hook that hits. If more than one hook hits, they should all pull the story in the same direction. Someone who witnesses a murder and then gets a job as a martial arts trainer is fine, but the story shouldn't talk about being a murder witness, and then the character's attempt to fit in at her new job as a bartender.

Generating plot hooks

One is to leave jagged edges. Someone with a "dark and disturbing past" does not have a hook. But a healer who once deserted her team to escape a monster has a strong hook.

Someone who 'has lost a loved one' does not have a hook. But someone who is in the same building as the person who murdered their loved one has a strong hook.

The other is for the generator to already leave plot hooks in.

A character who is planning to betray his boss has a hook, but it is weak. It is unbalanced. The boss's response is unknown, and it's unknown why he hasn't yet betrayed the boss.

Great hooks are stable, like a molecule, but breaking them will create a chain reaction.

Perhaps the boss is aware of the treachery but is currently fighting John. By killing his disloyal subordinate, he wouldn't have the firepower to defeat John. If the subordinate defeated his boss, he'd also inherit the problem of defeating John. John can play into these dynamics - maybe offering a truce so that the evil parties can declare civil war. Or he could strike a deal with the subordinate, or be taken by surprise when he deals with the boss, only to create a power vacuum replacing the old boss with a more cunning enemy.

One trick to do this is to fully generate character groups. Instead of one character, a generator can create a set, that plays upon an unstable equilibrium.

Syed Muzani

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