I have to say I’m with Tom - with caveats.
Most of the questions that the Alexandrian posted in his article are HORRIBLE examples.
I play to explore and discover the mysteries of the world i’m playing in.
I want to find out what the mayors secret is and figure out a way to stop it - if I find his secret diary and the dm says - “ok - you tell me what you found in there” it takes me out of the game as a player.
It cuts the legs out from under the whole process.
The situation is can work is when a player is discussing his back story - Thongar the Mighty comes from the swamp town of Madison - I think the folowing are reasonable things for the DM to ask during play:
- What did you father do in Madison
- You grew up there - how do the townfolk you grew up with feel about <generic war of 10 years past>
- What was your uncles name & occupation
Questions that are “about” the player’s character are acceptable to me, I’d rather backstory came out in play rather than from an 8 page sheet.
“why did you chase down that goblin and stomp his body to a pulp?”
“Goblins burned my neighbors farm as a kid and killed my dog!!”
I’d rather that get made up on the spot - it’s personal to the character.
So Brent asking the players who grew up in a neighborhood to describe his perceived relationship an NPC to the other players is cool - but to actually define the NPC and co-create the world ehhhh.
We;re not co-writing a book, nor are the players DMing - we’re playing an RPG, my contribution is what my character does and says, same with the other players.
Frankly Brent - if I were at your table I’d rather you asked me for 10 NPC names / jobs via email BEFORE the game if it’s something you know you’re bad at.
Having it come up during the game would take me out of the game as surely as a discussion about who has seen the last episode of the Witcher, or whatever sports-ball team played last night.
My two cents - sorry for the late reply.