One of the biggest draws to roleplaying games is the ability to be someone other than yourself. But that can also be one of the biggest challenges for some players. After all, you have tons of experience being yourself. Not many people get the opportunity to be someone else. One of the most helpful ways to ease into the shoes of someone different can be to think about it in advance and create a cheat sheet for yourself to help you more fully understand your character in depth.
Make a Cheat Sheet
Start your cheat sheet with your background and storyline. You can look at our blog post on giving your character a background for more information on how to do this. Then answer some of the following questions on the sheet to help you determine what they would do in any situation.
Top 5 Good Things
Make a list of the top five things your character thinks are good. They could have an extreme love for candy. Or it could be beer, wenches and rock and roll. Ask yourself what are the things that would motivate your character into action. What would they lay their life on the line for?
Top 5 Bad Things
Make a list of the top five things your character hates or thinks are bad. Do they hate flowers? Or maybe they have had horrible experiences with wine. The things they hate can also be motivators. Whether it be due to an experience in their past or just an extreme dislike, determining these things will also help you determine what they would go to lengths to stop or avoid.
Would your character rather rob a bank or bring down a dictatorship? When walking into a city, would they head to the pub or look for a weapon vendor? Are they motivated by saving a life or lining their pockets? These types of questions can help you determine what activities your character would jump at and what their driving forces are.
Would your character look down their nose at street musicians or beggars? Or would they jump in to stop a thief? What would disgrace them to the point of despair? They could possibly be motivated by hearing that someone is being repressed. Or they may be against corporations. These are the things they would never do and would go to great lengths to stop others from doing.
What Would Your Character Do?
A little “role playing” on your cheat sheet can give you a head start on how they would act in the game. So set up some scenarios in your head and think about how your character would react to them. Some sample scenarios could be:
Your character is walking down the street. They look up and see a woman being attacked by three muggers. What would your character do? Would they walk away, would they stand and watch curiously? Would they jump in to help the woman? Or the thieves?
Your character is in an empty room with easy loot. They could take it without anyone knowing. What would they do? Would they take the high road and not touch it? Would they take it but let their fellow questmates know? Would they pocket it and think finders keepers?
Your team has gotten all the information from a prisoner that they can. You have a choice, do you release them? Do you tell them to spread the word about what happens to those who mess with you? Do you leave them tied up? Do you kill them?
Setting the moral compass and reactions of your character to these kinds of scenes can help you in the transition to playing as someone else. They could be very similar to how you would react in real life. Many players find that easier. Or it could be your chance to play the completely evil character of your dreams. It could be a real stretch or feel as natural as being yourself. But it’s important to determine these factors before you even start.
For more help and discussion on building a good character, you can join us in our chat where we talk all things tabletop gaming. Or you can watch characters in action by watching the Scorched Dice twitch feed.