Some players are happy to play characters who are just numbers. Characters defined by their exceptional ability scores, high defenses, big weapons and awesome damage potential. I’ll admit I’ve played a few of these characters myself. This type of PC is alright in the short-term, but for long-term campaigns you’re likely to want more. Put some thought into who your character is, beyond just the numbers.
This extra level of detail is certainly not mandatory, but does pay dividends over time. The enjoyment you get out of playing any character is directly related to the amount of work you put into creating and defining him. If you’re not interested in doing any more than the minimum requirements necessary to get your PC created and into the game, then that’s your call. But if you are interested in really trying to make your PC a unique individual, then we’ve got some resources to help you flesh out your PC.
We’ve explored the Dungeon’s Master archive for articles that will help you add depth to your PC and grouped them into five distinct categories. The more of these aspects you explore in your PC, the more real he’ll seem. And the better you know your PC the more fun you’ll have playing him.
Whether we’re talking about your physical appearance, the equipment you carry or the colours of your garments, a good description is the easiest way to bring your character to life. It’s important that you know what your PC looks like. Little details like a tattoo, an earring or a limp help you and the people at your gaming table better visualize your character. And don’t forget to describe your gear. Every long sword is unique, whether it’s magical or not.
Sure there are PCs who join adventuring companies because they like to fight monsters, but most PCs probably have a deeper and more personal motivation. The longer you keep adventuring, the more likely that those motivations will change over time. There are the things that motivate you year after year and then there are the things that motivate you from adventure to adventure.
Your class is not the same as your occupation. Most adventurers are freelancers or at best independent contractors, but in almost every case, your PC held many jobs before he became a hero. How has your previous work experience impacted your development?
When you’re just starting out all you want to do is get your name out there. After you’ve established yourself all you want to do is enjoy some anonymity. Reputation is a powerful force in the lives of all PCs. You have a lot of control over your own reputation. How much you let reputation impact your PC is very much in your own hands.
In a world of Humans all other fantasy races are foreign. How much you choose to play up cultural differences is up to you. You may be the stereotypical representative of your people or you may be an oddity that no one expects. Your perspective on life may be very different from that of your companions simply because you grew up in a distant land.
We don’t expect everyone to use all of these resources with every character they ever create (but there are probably some hard core gamers out there who will). Even if you only explore one or two of these areas during or after character creation you’ll be taking a big step towards making him your own and not just a series of numbers on a character sheet.