Character Basics – Nitty Gritty

There are a lot of things that make you… you. Things that make you different or special. When building a character to play in an RPG, it is just as important to think of those little things to also to help bring that character to life. Your character is more than stats on a page. When stepping into a role, put some thought into what makes that character real. Don’t just worry about the basics.

Think about if you met this character on the street, in a bar, or a shop. Are they friendly? Are they snarky? Would they hold the door for someone? Thinking of things like this could help you make the decisions about what they would do in a situation during the game. Would they stay behind so their fellow players could escape? Or would they throw them to the wolves and sneak away.

Asking yourself some questions about their favorite color or favorite food can help fill in the blanks on a character. What kind of drink do they like? Are they all about wine or would a good stout fit the bill? Would they go out of their way to find a chunk of meat or are they into salads? Figuring out their favorite color could determine what kinds of clothes they wear or how they appear to others. A fighter who loves hot pink would be viewed much differently than a character that wears all black.

What special quirks do they have? Do they always throw a pinch of salt over their shoulder and avoid black cats? Or maybe they always sneeze three times. Give your character some interesting quirks to help bring out their personality. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make things interesting. Think about your character as a real person rather than a sheet of paper.

Give them a history. Figure out where they come from and what kind of life they had growing up. Then give them some “aha!” moments. Those moments that define a person. Maybe seeing a parent killed, or the day they met a special someone. The day they picked up a sword for the first time. Or the first time they killed someone. Any of those moments that define who we are as a person. Those moments can set the moral compass for your character or guide them on their path.

Put some thought into how they dress, what’s their style, or what they would never wear. How they appear to others can have a big impact on how the game goes. Walking up to a guard in full armor would have a way different outcome than if you slunk up to the guard wearing a low cut shirt and swirling skirts. It can also impact gameplay in the way you maintain it. If you are wearing full plate mail, the weather can be an issue. Compare that to if you are wearing next to nothing and in a frozen cave. Think about the consequences of what you are wearing if you fall into a river. Would you sink or could you swim? All of this can come into play, so put some thought into it beforehand.

Opinions are something everyone has. The type of music they like, how they voted in the last election, what god is the best god. Put some opinions into your character. Round them out with things they think about when they aren’t out adventuring. Do they have a favorite author? Do they even read? Do they think people who read are stupid? Whatever you think they would think.

In the end, when you finish creating a character, they should be a complete person. Much like in a book when the author describes a character. You get to know them, understand them. In this case – you get to be them. Bring them to life as best you can as a complete person. Having this all drawn out before you even play them can help you as well as your party members and game master. If you know who your character is, what they would do, and how they think – when it comes time to actually play you won’t have to hesitate. You would know what they would do, what they would say, how they would act. This really helps you and others get into the game. After all, isn’t it the idea of an RPG to be someone else? Don’t you want that someone else to be a complete person?

If you would like to discuss character development and other gaming topics as well as chat with fun people, join us on our Discord channel. You can see our gaming stream on Twitch. Or catch us on Facebook or Twitter for all things tabletop gaming.

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