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The Compleat Guide to Character Creation

Questions to Aid in Character Design a.k.a. Four Steps to Better Role-Playing By Paul Tiseo tiseo.paul@mayo.edu Reprinted without his permission as taken from rec.games.frp.dnd

Disclaimer: Use is made of the male pronoun only insofar as it minimizes my typing. I do not mean to offend any PC who is a member of the female sex. Heck, I don't even want to offend hermaphrodite races too!

This text was written in order to help anyone, DM or player, who is having difficulty fleshing a character get over any writer's block the might be experiencing. Also, it help more weathered RPGers flesh out their character in ways they might not have yet had addressed. Simply follow through the questions and write down short answers. Then take the answers and compose your history/ personality text for your PC/NPC sheet.

1a. Early History/Family Milieu/Childhood Environment: ------------------

  1. Exactly where and when was your character born? Under what circumstances? Was he wanted? Was he adopted?
  2. Who raised him? How did he live? What was his quality of living/standards?
  3. What was happening in the region while he was growing up? Any marking events?
  4. Does he have any immediate relatives? If so, how did he get along with them? What are they doing now? How many sisters or brothers does he have? What of their names? Where are they now? What are they doing?
  5. Any marking events in his family's history? Fortunes made or lost? Migrations? Lost members? Found members? Deaths? Births? Crimes? Great acts of philantropy?
  6. Is he well-educated? Where and under who did he study

1b. Recent History/Entry into Adulthood:----------------

  1. Where is he living now? Is he patriotic about his current locale? How is he living? What are his living conditions? How does it affect him?
  2. Who are his close friends? Why? How did they become close friends? Does he currently have a love or exclusive relation of some sort? Who is this special person?
  3. Who does he deal with on a frequent basis? Why?
  4. Does he have anyone who dislikes him? Is each person currently acting on it, or just passive about it? Why does he dislike him?
  5. Does he have any enemies with deep-seated hatreds? Blood feuds Vendettas? Why? How are they acting out this hatred in relation to him?
  6. Any marking events in his recent past? Did he commit a crime? Any acts of great philantropy/heroism?

2. Motivation: ----------

  1. What are your character's immediate goals in the next year? What does he want out of life at the moment?
  2. What are his long-term goals, in the next five, ten or twenty years? What does he want out of life in the long run? Fame? Fortune? Family? Land? Enemies crushed? Nothing?
  3. What type of person, briefly, would be his ideal mate?
  4. Who is his patron deity? Is he a devout worshiper?
  5. Is he a member of any nonreligious/secular cause? (i.e., is he a loyal servant of a king, baron, organization, etc.)
  6. Is there any race, creed, alignment, religion or the like which he cannot stand? Does he fight against it?
  7. What is his greatest fear?
  8. What is his greatest hope?
  9. What is the one task he absolutely refuses to do

3. Idiosyncrasies/Character: -------------

  1. What is your character's motto or favorite saying?
  2. What is his favorite color? Describe what he would wear if money were no object. What does he usually dress like?
  3. What is his favorite food? His favorite drink?
  4. What is his favorite animal?
  5. What habits of his friends annoy him most.
  6. What are his pet peeves, if any?
  7. Does he have any mannerisms?
  8. Does he have any distinguishing marks?

4. Personality Traits (a.k.a Virutes and Vices): -----------------

Use of the concept herein will thankfully make the alignment system useless. With personality traits well-defined, alignment becomes extraneous as a guide to role-playing your PC. Alignment was designed as a quick and dirty system for explaining a character's behavior, but inherent in the system are limits that do not make for very "realistic" and "3-dimensional" characters.

Pick traits that you see your character possesing and rank them in their tendency to dominate in the character's personality as indicated just below. For example, the most freqent traits in an Arthurian, Good-type character would be the Positive traits, with maybe a couple of negativ traits here and there. (hey, nobody's perfect!) It's up to you to "paint" your character with the traits, thus one should not necessarily impose a limit on the number of traits to use. Think about the following aspects of a character's personality: his outlook, his openess, his emotionality, his self-esteem, his sense of humor, his sociability, his mannersisms, his political inclinations, his sense of ambition, his attitudes, etc.

Hereafter are listed the list of traits and behaviors to pick from. Note, Negative, Neutral or Positive traits are not necessarily Evil, Neutral or Good, respectively, in the AD&D sense of the alignment system. For example, being obedient to an Evil lord would make you evil, in a sense, since you will execute his draconic orders which in turn forces you towards evil acts. Obedience is a neutral trait, but the character could still be considered LE in terms of "official" AD&D. Some of the negative traits are simply traits not desirable, while others are perhaps closer to what could pass as a common idea of Evil. Also, the classification is not hard and fast and is somewhat personally biased. Societal values, whether ours or in the game setting, would be a strong influence on whether something is negative or positive. For example, Adultery could be else than negative in some settings where marriage isn't an institution like in our world. Well, enough disclaimers.

Positive:

Neutral:

Negative: