I’ve yet to hear a line uttered by any character that can beat this one:
"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
It’s perfection in 12 words. It tells you everything about the character you would ever need to know. It even gives you one of the themes of the film (you do know the film yeah?). First, you get the name. You get all of it, and its a name to savour. This character has to have a sword, it couldn’t be anything else. They’ll have a high dex and cha, clearly.
Second. There’s a story coming. The father was killed, and crucially, the character believes its the person in front of him that did it. Drama? Yes, but it could go anywhere at this point. The character could be pleased with the fact, or filled with anger. He could have carried this knowledge all his life, or just learned it.
Third, we find out the truth. Prepare to die. Note, he doesn’t simply launch an attack, or scream a challenge. It’s almost polite, and its full of confidence. Whatever happens next, it will be interesting.
These 12 words paint a portrait of a character you’re desperate to know more about (though by now you know a lot). It also manages to define a campaign, and even sets a tone to the setting. Brilliant.
Next character I build, I’m setting myself the challenge; 12 words to make the groups hearts beat a bit faster.