Thought I'd share some old school goodies from my gaming library. The Central Casting series is something that has seen EXTENSIVE use at my gaming table. Whether it was fantasy, Sci-Fi or Modern, I love these books. They help players roll up really cool backgrounds, help a DM with "creator's block", they are really versatile tools. I remember using the Sci Fi one (Heroes for Tomorrow) for an old Gamma World Campaign of mine. The player wound up being a half blind, albino mutant cat with a cyber leg/stump on the run from a religious cult due to his miraculous healing powers. I told the player, sorry about the bad rolls, I'll let you start over, he said," are you nuts?! I love this character!"
The books are long out of print but if you can find them for a decent price grab them up! I need to get new copies mine are quite ragged looking. They are uber versatile, we used the Modern one to do backgrounds for our recent Mutants & Masterminds campaign, the guys loved it!
Another point of coolness, they even have conversion notes on how to do stuff for other games, nothing recent of course, but still helpful.
Aside from character backgrounds, they help the GM also. NPC's, businesses, wars! All kinds of cool stuff! I find these to be an essential part of any campaign/world building that I do. Can you tell I love these books!!!