What Are Your World Figure’s Relationships Like?


When creating a world figure, their relationships may not be that important to us if we’ll do little more than have a character name-drop their hero. This can be an area to skimp on until later, if ever, but should we decide to invent their relationships, this section may help. Some people are famous for who they kept company with, including who their enemies were.


Parents, siblings, lovers, and children (and extended family) all provide benefit or add risk to heroes and villains alike, so decide who is in our character’s life. Or what happened to those people if gone. Did family die first, breaking our character’s spirit, or did family outlive him and mourn our dead character, possibly wanting revenge on a killer or responsible party? One of those mourners might be even more interesting than the person we started creating. A family of evildoers can be a lot of fun. A family of heroes can make us root for the lot of them. A family with both is even better.

If they have children, do they know about all of them? It’s a cliché to have an unknown child turn up, so you might want to avoid that. Television shows, especially soap operas, desperate for a surprise twist, have ruined that. The unknown sibling is equally cheesy, so if we’re going that route, make it good, interesting, and plausible. After all, it actually does (italics) happen, but we might want to only do that once in an entire writing career. If we need to introduce someone later, it’s better to admit our character knew that the person existed and it just didn’t come up in a story due to irrelevance (before now). Try to avoid playing the unknown relative card.

Has our villain been disavowed by relatives? This might be some or all of them. Some relatives might offer safe harbor at the risk of being cast out by the rest, or punished by society. What’s in it for them to risk this? Perhaps they truly love our villain and feel they can save him one day. A mother who can’t give up on her baby, now an adult, is overdone but understandable. Less common is a mother who has turned on their child. Potent emotions can be the reason our villain went bad in the first place.

Then there’s our hero, who might wish to make family proud but whose actions have put family members in harm’s way. Heroes have powerful enemies and there’s no telling what some will do to family. Has our hero hidden children or a lover to protect them? Do the protected ones chafe at this? What kind of stress has arisen between hero and family due to this? Has anyone died despite our hero’s attempt to protect them, and what effect did this have on them? Are they guilt ridden? Did they quit and let the evil they swore to stop go unchallenged, letting it win, and if so, what did it do to our hero? Destroy him? Is he a drunk now, unable to take all the guilt? Will he be redeemed one day? Are the children old enough to have a life of their own and cause trouble for their hero parent in other ways, as only teenagers can?

This raises a final point that is often overlooked—there are descendants of this person. Maybe one of our story’s characters is that descendant, whether one generation later or dozens. If other characters know that, it can be something they want to downplay. These relatives may have changed their name or done something to hide their association, and this may have worked for most people but not fooled everyone, possibly with consequences down the road. A common idea is of a deceased relative coming back from the grave to inhabit the body of a relative, so be clever if going that familiar route.

The Species

Since our character is famous, he’s likely famous outside of his own species. With each species having a different world view, each might view this person differently. A hero to some will be a villain to others. Be sure to think about this to give your character added dimension. While elves and dwarves might view the character positively, each might have gripes about it. By contrast, ogres and goblins might view the individual as evil but again have slightly different issues with them.

While creating deeds for our character, keep in mind that they may have run into conflict with one or more species while undertaking a mission. This can range from obvious encounters with ogres, for example, to enthusiastic help from elves and grudging aid from dwarves. Or the latter could’ve been openly hostile to what they wanted to do, not allowing our character to enter their lands, forcing him to take the long way around, for example. Make sure everything wasn’t easy for them or there wouldn’t be a reason they’re famous.