Memorable Characters

Tuesday, 8. June 2010

Typically when building characters something is wanted to make the beings personality stand out amongst their peers. It makes the persona easier to keep track of by both the storyteller and the GM, gives beginning players something to act up to, helps keep the character separate from the player and adds general depths to the game. Most systems have some sort of an “alignment” model of how a someone would act, but this is hardly complete in itself. Fortunately designing memorable characters can take a little work however it’s not as difficult as one might imagine.

Usually, characters have at least one thing that make them stand out. We’ll call this this the characters “hook” for lack of a better term. Perhaps the character walks with a limp, has a bad eye or just has excellent (or terrible) luck. They might be frisky, shifty, loud, brash, quiet, skeevy or anything in between. This hook gives a basis of how the persona needs to be played, and will essentially be the one word that describes them in a pinch. It’s important to not over do it however; as it can become a crutch and annoyance if used improperly.

Afterwords, one needs to start looking at the additional traits which define a character. Some can be physical, but most of these should be behavorial. They can either tie in with the characters “hook” or be antithetical to them, but should do so in a defining or fun fashion. For example, if your characters hook was “Brash” then also making them loud or boisterous would tie in well. As a contrary point, making them silent around nobility, women or clergy would also be interesting without defeating the character original hook.

Its said that we can also be defined by our vices. Well, characters are people and it would be completely unfair to leave them without some vices as well. I would suggest picking a few to start with and then one can easily build on from there. Again, the idea is to enhance the persona and not completely destroy them. However secret vices always provide great sources of intrigue and drama. (Be wary players, storytellers love to get into this stuff, particularly if you’re into politics or courtly manners.) For our brash character “Gambling” would fit in quite well for a vice, or maybe drinking.

By building off of these 3 points, one should have a good framework to begin establishing a truly in-depth personality. However your game systems alignment works; the “hook”, traits and vices give a good model of how one might behave and act and are easy to build off of for other behaviors. In doing so, we produce memorable characters that are easier to play consistently.

This is simply a framework to get started with, so remember to have fun!

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