Characters can start to lose their unique shine, especially after playing for years over the course of many campaigns. I have come up with a way to create more nuanced, unique characters so that they don’t all start blurring together. The way that I used to create characters was to choose the race and go from there. With ever passing game it seems harder and harder to chose solely based on race.
- I start by thinking of a story I want to tell, to establish motivation. I ask myself if it will be a love story, tragedy, drama, comedy, etc. and I build from there. For example, our last one shot was about a necromancer spreading through the land converting anyone that crossed their path. Since I was playing with my husband, we decided that we would be a married couple with a missing daughter that they know has been taken by the necromancer. Once we established the motivation for our characters everything came much easier.
- Then I thought about the skills I wanted to bring to a fight. The opposite of death magic is life magic so I decided on being a Life Cleric of Malora. I settled on Malora because we had decided that we lived out in the wilderness and trained there to maintain peace. Kalashtar children start training at an early age which also explained why our daughter was missing, she had gone out on her first mission. Our plan was to rescue and release the soul of our daughter and eradicate the undead scourge.
- This was when I finally settled on Kalashtar as a species. My husband and I had bounced around a lot between different races that could work but in the end Kalashtar won. It is also important to note, if playing with a partner, that you don’t have to be the same race. My husband and I had been a Kalashtar couple but for the one shot he was a warforged. The story was that he died before we could exact our vengeance and that I had used, with the blessing of Malora, an organic suit to seal his spirit inside until we could complete our mission. Once done, he would be freed from the suit and able to move on, to wait with our daughter until I could join them.
- Have simple backgrounds, the more convoluted your story the less growth can happen in the actual campaign. We had a player who created this convoluted story of capture, enslavement and torture before we had even played a single session and when it came time to play he didn’t have much that he couldn’t live with because he had already suffered so much. Simplicity means that your DM has a lot more wiggle room to give you an awesome growth projection.
- Think about your mannerisms. If roleplaying is not big for you that’s okay, there are ways to convey how your character feels without acting. For example: I am playing a long term character with the Outlander background. She had no real concept of money or how that works. She is the complete opposite of my last character which was a money loving Vistani/Half Elf Bard name Aleera. Even my fellow players were taken aback when I said I would not be keeping track of the group money this time around. Being mindful of this characteristic helps me convey the personality of my character without doing much acting.
Overall, I would give the advice to make characters that you are excited to play not because of their racial abilities or their stats. That can get a little boring after a while, especially if you find a race that has all the stats you cherish. If you always play Elf, you can never know what another race can accomplish. Building the story first is the biggest step to creating unique characters with plenty of room to grow over a long campaign or even a short one-shot.
Have more advice or opinions? Comment below or find me @DnDWifeStories on Twitter and @dndwife on Instagram! I would love to hear from you.