As a GM, I enjoy working with my players as much on the character creation as on the story itself. Often being there to encourage them towards a character that is as much a utility to the team, as a character with a strong background. I sit with each player for hours talking with them about how their character got to the point he or she is at. Finally, at the end of everything, I ask the following Questions which I've discovered have quite often had the players completely changing their character in an effort to match the answers they give.
In the following questions, you are character and storyteller, no need to ask if something is possible, it's just so you get a feel for how your character will react to a situation, and insure that you don't feel completely hopeless in rough situations.
You awaken to find you are trapped in a tower. There is no visible door, and only one window, too narrow for a man to squeeze through, about 10 feet above your head providing the only light source in the room.
Travelling to a nearby village, you are ambushed. Behind you, you see 2 men come out of the woods with huge viscious wardogs on leashes, and ahead of you 2 men who look more like Ogres than anything, perhaps they even are. They don't look happy.
Speed is of the essence, as you travel towards a friend to warn them of an impending danger. Breaking through the edge of the woodlands, you find yourself on the brink of a very deep chasm, far too wide to jump over, with walls of loose rock that would surely cause any climber to plummet to his death.
You have been imprisoned for a crime you didn't commit. Shackled to a pole that is in the middle of the dungeon floor, that reaches from floor to ceiling. You hear the guards laughing and commenting that come morning, your head will be feeding the crows as it rests on a pike. Knowing the ruler of this town, you know they are not just trying to scare you, they're being quite honest.
Something you want very much is residing in the top of the tower before you. The tower is an old relic, with no legal inhabitants. You do know though, that the previous legal tenant wasa very fond of traps and other dangers, including possible paranormal animals as guards.
My querie, and the reason I'm posting this, is to find out what other people do that is 'unique' for the character creation process. My colleagues are getting a bit use to the questions, and usually have answers figured out way before hand (which isn't a bad thing), and I'd like to surprise them with something other than 'How do you handle' type questions.
I'm pretty sure nearly everyone does the usual, "How did you become....", "Where are your parents/siblings now..." type background questions, I'm looking for stuff unique that would actually make my players stop, surprised and think. Similarly to when I started asking the posted questions.