Character Creation in an RPG part 1 – The Basics

To start the off the roleplaying section of my blog, Character Creation seems a good a place to start as I will get! I will use Dungeons and Dragons 3.5rd edition and the Forgotten Realms for this blog, but this can be applied to any RPG system or setting!

So let’s get started!

The last thing Frank the orc ever saw

Character creation is way more than rolling picking a race, choosing a deity, and rolling a few dice to for your starting abilities and gold to buy equipment with! So it is no surprise many DMs want a brief synopsis of your character, but it is not always that easy for players to know where to start.

Players often have an idea of what they want to play, but not much beyond that, e.g. a valiant knight or a pyromaniac wizard. Coming up with a solid backstory takes time, and if you might not be entirely sure in what direction you want to take your knight, you are going to be apprehensive of penning his childhood memoirs at this point. Not describing all of your PC’s previous relationships and stories grants you and your DM much more leeway in adding in new characters from your past which can lead to fun storylines – especially when what you currently want to do is start the game and bring the flames of genocide crashing down upon the local kobold population in the name of Larethian!

Then one day, the kobolds fought back.

So to this end I tried figuring out a happy medium – Something that can be done quickly, but still gives you a solid idea of who the character is. You can work out what his favourite colour is and who his fave boyband was when growing up later!
Character concept:
Classes (or equivalent):
Player goal:
Character motivation:
Character personality:
Campaign tags:
Plot hooks:
The character concept is the character summed up in one or two sentences. Classes is what starting class he has and which ones you think you want him to take later. In other RPGs, like Fantasy Flight Games’ Dark Heresy, this can easily be changed to career. In nWoD this can be changed to what you feel would best describe the character’s skill-set.

Player goal is what you, the player, want to get out of the campaign. Character motivation is also self-explanatory, but it really helps GMs with giving your character a plausible reason for doing whatever he will be doing. If your character’s motivation is patriotism, maybe the GM will create a situation where you can choose between doing the “right” thing or aiding your town!

Character personality is important for being able to reference this will remind you how your character is supposed to be played so you can have a certain consistency in how you play him. Campaign tags is something I have included to show what campaign theme the character would be best suited for, like Evil campaigns, ECL adjusted, Nature, Fey, Exalted etc. Plot hooks are a way for the Player to give the GM ideas for potential adventures. Below is one I did for a Sun Elf Wizard in the Forgotten Realms.

Sulwynais
Character concept: Sun Elf wizard dedicated to redeeming Auril.
Classes: Wizard/Arcane Devotee/Archmage/High Mage
Player goal: Excessively powerful mage, create a demiplane, redeem Auril.
Character motivation: Redeem Auril, spreading the heresy, arcane knowledge, destroying evil in all its forms.
Character personality: Kind, generous, serene, tranquil.
Campaign tags: Good, Fey, Elf, Exalted.
Plot hooks: Retrieve the Codicil of White, Encounters with Fey, Ally with Aurilians against lycanthropes/People of the Black Blood
Just a wee note on some of the things here, Auril is an evil fey goddess who was turned to evil by Lolth, the Codicil of White is one of her holy scriptures, and the People of the Black Blood are vicious were-creatures who worship the evil beast-god Malar.

Ends N’ Means on personality

So now you know how to make a three-dimensional character with a personality and goals, and the character is now ready to play! In my next blog post on character creation I’ll write about characters not to play!

Thought of the day: Blue really wasn’t Guilliman’s colour.

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5 thoughts on “Character Creation in an RPG part 1 – The Basics

  1. Nice article! I’m interested in RPGs and would definitely like the opportunity to play one day, but alas, my community aren’t all RPG fanatics. But this is a very good introduction, and has definitely cleared up some misconceptions I had about RPGs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! If you’re really wanting to play it might be worth checking out your local gaming store and see if there’s any notices for groups looking for players! Out of curiosity, what misconceptions did it clear up? 🙂

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      1. Having never played a table-top RPG, I didn’t know that you could have more than one class on a character. The example character you’ve given in the post seems to have more than one class, which took me by surprise.

        Heck, I also didn’t know that the GM designs the game around a character – I thought the the character was designed separately from the gameworld and rather reacts to events created by the GM himself.

        As you can tell, I play more RPG games than I do table-top games!

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      2. As far as classes go, it depends very much on the system, e.g. they don’t even exist in White Wolf’s World of Darkness!
        And certainly characters will react to scenarios created by the DM, but these can be far more fulfilling if designed with the PC in mind! For example to aforementioned elf:)

        Liked by 1 person

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