ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to make your best RPG characters

Updated on June 26, 2011

How to make your best RPG characters

There are some role players that know exactly what they want. They want to play a gnome barbarian in every game ever. For the rest of us, what follows are tips to creating great characters: the ones you remember and can tell stories about.

Finding a concept: all of my favorite characters have had a strong concept, an idea that made them fun even from the very beginning. I don’t always have a great concept when I make a character. But with persistence I sometimes hit something that clicks. The first rule of finding that concept has been:

Try Again Again. You’re not going to find character gems without trying something new. Starting a new game, whether it be as a new faction, new world, new gaming universe, or even a new gaming group, gives you the best time to sit down and work on making a character. Sometimes campaigns go on forever and the lethality is abysmally low. The game master might be unwilling to kill party members that are beloved by players. In such cases, retire characters or conspire with your game master to kill your current character. Anything that brings you back to the drawing board.

My favorite characters are one of a kind, and here are the concepts that brought them to fruition. (Note, as I've played a lot of games, you might not be familiar with the gaming systems I've played. Check my out http://hubpages.com/hub/Role-Playing-Systems for more information.)

 

Give characters some unique ability/unusual character flaw. One of my best characters (from Mage the Ascension) was Melanie Crow Dog. In Mage humans have avatars. When those avatars awake a person realizes reality can be melded and becomes a mage. The concept for Melanie was that she awoke so early that she had no memory of mundane (non magic) existence. This of course gave her all sorts of quirks and got her in a lot of trouble.

Take a stereotype and either mangle it or do it over the top. When players have characters that smoke, they tend to overuse prop cigarettes. So I got the idea for Mouse Trap as a chain smoker. Not the kind that constantly relied on a toy cigarette, but the kind that packed prop cigarette boxes. This behavior developed because she was a natural tweaker who only spent a few hours in bed and smoking was the only thing that calmed her down. Hence she became stubborn and brilliant.

Take a different outlook. Usually when a character’s concerns are getting drunk, killing people, and having sex, the player is usually immature. One of my favorite characters, Julius Serpentis, was an exception, a druid that looked at life and death were just part of a natural cycle. He had no problems with murder and actively sought sex (though he didn’t drink because alcohol is a poison). It was surprisingly pleasant to play someone who was a little sleazy and who often cared more about sex than the mission.

Try a radically different game. One of my favorite characters, Pond-R-EER, came from a role playing universe like any other, Paranoia. Paranoia does things almost the exact opposite of typical games. It encourages back stabbing, ignominious deaths, summary executions, etc. and it gives you multiple lives (clones) because the environment is so unfair and lethal (characters often die before even receiving mission instructions). In such an environment, I wanted to see what it would be like to play a completely incompetent character (the lost thing I’d do in any other game). It was fun to see just how dumb I could make Pond.

Try a new gaming group. This is the most dangerous of strategies but can yield fantastic results. People do not necessarily play role playing games for the same reasons you do. As a role player, I liking pretending I’m someone else who has problems of his own. Some people love the opportunity to enter a world where there are no consequences to their actions (getting drunk and laid usually). Others like combat and the anticipation that comes with a die roll. If you enter a group playing for an entirely different reason than your own, it can be agonizing, like the time I played in a “get drunk and kill people” party. On the other hand, things can be refreshingly different. One group I had great fun with had huge intraparty conflicts and character deaths were common. In other groups my party has all worked together on something. That’s certainly a change. The one thing I would suggest is that you not burn the bridges behind you. It helps to have your old group if different groups are unsuccessful.

In summary. Finding an interesting concept for a character is not always easy, especially if you like every character to be different. Persist, however. Think of some unusual personality characteristic, play with stereotypes, rethink your gaming style, try new games and if all that doesn’t do it for you, think about changing groups. A favorite character is well worth the effort.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • starvagrant profile imageAUTHOR

      starvagrant 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I find this a most interesting story about of your best RPG characters. I have a strong tendency to stay in character and act exactly as I think my character would. What I would agree with you there is that other player's reactions can have a huge effect on how fun/memorable a character is to play. Sometimes I choose to play characters that lack charisma of any sort. I'm good at this sort of thing. What I've learned about from my uncharismatic characters is that people also trust them to good the job done, and then never give you any credit for it.

      I once played a character in a d20 diablo style game (I think it was called Infernum). I played an uncharismatic survivalist. He was a quite practical character in a completely impractical party. The result was that I saw a good plan, then the other characters argued incessantly, came up with a plan that resembled mine, and I received no credit.

      Another character of mine was a 19 Ph.D. in Robotics, a tiny, dangerous woman ironically named "Mouse Trap". She was an uncharismatic genius, I played her that way, such as when no one in the party knew what to do, they always asked for her aid but never thanked her. I suppose there's a lesson to be learned from all this.

    • Porshadoxus profile image

      Porshadoxus 

      6 years ago from the straight and narrow way

      I've never had a GM assign a character type or personality to me. My ideas for characters have always been mine.

      Here's an example of development through play:

      Playing D&D 2E, I played two female 1/2Elf bards (sisters)- Pixxel and Pebble. Pebble had a fairly stable personality, but Pixxel was off her rocker, but not to my intention when I created her. One evening during play, I was feeling a bit ticked off at life, so when a party member challenged Pixxel to some item of loot, she (I) got annoyed and hit the other character with a Magic Missile. The DM asked if I was certain I wanted to do that.... I figured here's a chance for character development, so I went with it. Thereafter, the other party members kind of gave in to whatever Pixxel wanted, within reason. Not because they were afraid of her skills or power; they just weren't certain how she'd react to anything.

      She is one of my most memorable characters because of her instability, while her sister Pebble is not.

    • starvagrant profile imageAUTHOR

      starvagrant 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I can understand your point about a player becoming more fun through the evolution of their play. I've definitely had some characters grow on me a little. I can't help but wonder if our difference in RPG characters might be from different styles of play. I always play the RPG characters I want to play--whether they'd be useful to the party or not. If they outlived their usefulness they'd just die or leave the game. I've never been in extended campaigns where I picked a character the party needed and learned to like him/her (I've had some great cross-gender characters). I think that's why I may have discounted development over time.

    • starvagrant profile imageAUTHOR

      starvagrant 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I can understand your point about a player becoming more fun through the evolution of their play. I've definitely had some characters grow on me a little. I can't help but wonder if our difference in RPG characters might be from different styles of play. I always play the RPG characters I want to play--whether they'd be useful to the party or not. If they outlived their usefulness they'd just die or leave the game. I've never been in extended campaigns where I picked a character the party needed and learned to like him/her (I've had some great cross-gender characters). I think that's why I may have discounted development over time.

    • starvagrant profile imageAUTHOR

      starvagrant 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I can understand your point about a player becoming more fun through the evolution of their play. I've definitely had some characters grow on me a little. I can't help but wonder if our difference in RPG characters might be from different styles of play. I always play the RPG characters I want to play--whether they'd be useful to the party or not. If they outlived their usefulness they'd just die or leave the game. I've never been in extended campaigns where I picked a character the party needed and learned to like him/her (I've had some great cross-gender characters). I think that's why I may have discounted development over time.

    • Porshadoxus profile image

      Porshadoxus 

      6 years ago from the straight and narrow way

      Please don't discount the evolution of the character during play. Most of my memorable characters gained their memorable qualities well after character creation.

      Voted up.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)