#2584, "Isildur's post on Roles" Edited on Sun 08-Jun-14 11:14 AM
Originally written: 07-Jun-06 01:06 PM by Isildur
I was thinking about roles yesterday, and some of the things people rarely explain about their characters. Things that really seem like they need explaining, assuming people in Thera act anything like people in the real world. One caveat: These are my particular pet peeves, and as such don't necessarily match up exactly with what the staff looks for in a role. They also apply mainly to the initial role entry, rather than to other event-driven content you may add later in a character's life.
This post could be titled, "Things about your character for which you should really provide an explanation."
1. Alignment. For races that lack a special predisposition towards a particular alignment (e.g. dark-elf, elf, etc.) it's probably safe to assume that most members of that race are "good" or "neutral". Suppose that humans in Thera are roughly equivalent to humans in the real world. You don't see a lot of psycho killers, relatively speaking, in the general population. While there are plenty of greedy or selfish people, there aren't many that are willing to hack someone to pieces to get what they want, and enjoy doing it. If your character is evil and there's no obvious racial predisposition, it behooves you to explain why he's so cruel, uncaring, sadistic, etc. There should probably be a reason this guy is so screwed in the head.
2. Class. Most people in Thera do not belong to an adventurer's guild. They're farmers, tailors, butchers, craftsmen, merchants, masons, etc. Not manipulators of magic, weapons masters, etc. If your character is a thief, how did he ever become associated with the thieve's guild in the first place? Why did he hook up with that guild in particular instead of, say, the assassin's guild? If your character is an invoker, how did he first discover his ability to manipulate the elements? Did he develop a magical inclination early in childhood and just draw "invoker" out of a hat?
3. Racial concerns. If you're a human whose hometown is Galadon then there's not much to explain. If you're an arial, elf, duergar, fire giant, etc. whose hometown is Galadon then you have a little explaining to do. Why is your fire giant currently living in Galadon instead of his ancestral home under Mt. Kiadana? Why is your drow not still in the Underdark? Why isn't your gnome in Hillcrest? Dwarf in Akan? You get the idea. Maybe you had to leave home because of some traumatic event. Maybe you left to seek your fortune. Maybe they kicked you out because you're an evil bastard. You get the picture.
4. Deity issues. If you're playing a priest class, why did you choose to worship one deity in particular? Did you just wake up in the morning and notice, "Hey, I'm sphere anger. Guess I'll worship Grurk?" Probably not. Especially considering your character should have no knowledge of "spheres". He's not "sphere anger", he's just a "really angry guy". While it makes sense that such a person might gravitate towards the deity that rules over "anger", how did he come to know that deity by name? Did a priest of that religion preach to him at some point in the past? Did he read about it in a book somewhere? Did he hear an audible voice from heaven? What about your character's personality (other than his sphere) makes this particular deity attractive and worthy of his worship? Why does your sphere knowledge character worship Qaledus instead of Yanoreth or Zulghinlour? Why is he religious at all, given that many characters are not?
5. Family matters. When you first roll a character, at least for humans, that character is 16 years old. That's pretty young. In other words, the vast majority of his life so far has been spent in the context of family. Or, in the lack of family, which would obviously constitute a special circumstance that might help explain other areas of his life. Why did he choose to leave home at the age of 16 (or at the age of "early adulthood" for non-human races) and go out killing kobolds or elves? Did his parents try to stop him? Did he murder them and flee in order to escape justice? Did he not know his parents at all and instead grow up on the street? Etc.
6. Psyche. Even if you've covered the above, i.e. you've explained why your character lives where he lives, why he does what he does, and why he's an evil bastard, you still may not have given much insight into what "makes him tick". What are his pet peeves? Is he insecure about anything in particular? Does he have any major life goals, conscious or subconscious? People or groups of people he especially hates? Remember that you the player write the role, not the character, so you are free to give insight into aspects of the character's personality that he or she may not even be aware of. Maybe his study of magic is all about compensating for some physical deficiency he feels particularly insecure about? The character might not realize this, but you can.