Think of the most memorable characters that have made appearances at your gaming table over the years. Don’t let this trip down memory lane be restricted to just the characters you played. Think about all of the PCs that have made an impact to your D&D experience. Now assume that many years have past – enough that these characters have settled down and raised families. What is the next generation of heroes like?
I find that creating characters is one of the most exciting parts of D&D. However, creating a character from scratch presents the player with a lot of options. So many that the task can be overwhelming unless you have a good idea of what you want this character to be like before you open character builder. Once you have that initial idea or concept the rest of the process becomes a lot easier.
The next time you and your gaming group decide it’s time to build new characters why not create the next generation of D&D heroes? Think of all the characters that have graced your gaming table over the years. Now imagine what their children are like? You know the parents, how have they influenced and shaped who their kids became?
By establishing this background for the character before you even start, the choices become easier. This back-story will help guide your decision making when you look at training skills and choosing feats, powers and equipment.
You don’t have to limit yourself to the children of your own characters. In fact it’ll probably be more fun to play the child of someone else’s hero. I’m sure there were times when your friend’s character did something that really annoyed you. Draw on that annoyance when you’re creating that PC’s kids. But don’t just focus on the negative. They’re heroes for a reason. Be sure to include a healthy amount of hero-worship (or resentment) as you feel is appropriate. By playing the child of another PC you leave the door open for that other player to step into their old character if there ever needs to be a child-parent interaction.
As fun as this initial concept seems on the surface, there is a lot of great opportunity for character development and role-playing too. Ask yourself what the character’s motivations are. Have they become an adventurer because dad pushed them into it? Did they opt for a class their parents disapprove of as a form or rebellion? Maybe the child grew up hearing all the great stories and longs to experience them first hand. Perhaps the parents were killed and the child has vowed revenge upon the monster or assassin who killed them.
There are also a lot of great adventure hooks built right in to this idea. Here are just a few of the more obvious examples.
- Did the child steal or “borrow” dad’s magical sword before running off to be an adventurer? Is dad hot on his heels, forcing him to keep on the move? Or did the PC’s older sibling steal dad’s sword and the younger brother now feels obligated to retrieve it?
- Just how closely does the child resemble the parent? Will the parent’s former associates who are members of a race with a long lifespan mistakenly assume that the child is the parent? Will this be a more common mistake if the child has some of dad’s old adventuring gear?
- It’s likely that your parents had enemies. If they are still around and learn that the son of their mortal enemy is adventuring on his own, how will that impact your new PC?
- Maybe your new character is an illegitimate child and he needs to earn a reputation in order to prove himself worthy of the family name. Or maybe dad was unaware that you even exist and you’ve been worshiping him form afar all of your life, waiting for the right moment to introduce yourself.
Creating characters is a lot of fun. By using the “child of my previous character” concept, you invent a way to keep those old heroes alive. They remain in retirement but suddenly their adventures matter again. The children probably retell their parent’s stories to their adventuring comrades (with the appropriate amount of exaggeration). This is also a great way to let a new player feel like part of an established gaming group. The new guy hears about the previous adventures in-game through the next generation of heroes.
Have you ever played the child of another PC? How strongly did the established and well-known adventures of the parent influence the new game? Did the new PC begin the campaign with any magical items that belonged to their parent? Did this hurt the campaign or add an interesting wild card?