Welcome back, fellow travellers! It’s Natalie again, here to talk about some wacky and wild ways to have more fun creating a character for this week’s By Any Means Necessary. Last time we chatted, it was all about being random. This week, we’re going to look at different ways to be inspired and, for the DMs out there, how to help inspire your characters. Let’s dive in!
You’re the Inspiration
I won’t lie, I have based MANY a character on another fictional character before. There’s nothing wrong with that! Because no matter what, at the end of the day – you’re going to make them you’re own. If you’ve ever played Dragon Age it’s an amazing way to get you into D&D already, as the classes and races port over into tabletop quite nicely. In Origins, you also get used to assigning points to your stats as you level up (although you don’t do that all the time in D&D, it’s still a good thing to be looking at. There are plenty of video games out there to draw on for inspiration – so maybe take your PC from there, or combine some of your favourite NPCs to get someone new! Full honesty – I have created a character named Hawke who was the child of Cullen and my PC from Inquisition. She regarded Varric as her uncle. I was really obsessed at the time, okay? And even this campaign, I sought a lot of inspiration from Critical Role’s Vox Machina campaign (because, again, very obsessed at the time – you always know what I’ve be interested in based on my character at the time). But just because you find inspiration in a character does not mean you play that character – you just take bits and pieces of them that you like and infuse it with your own self. You’re always going to put your own spin on things – that’s the nature of us all being different humans. Finding inspiration from pop culture is perfectly acceptable – even one of my random characters from last article was based on Robin Hood! There’s plenty of fun and exciting characters out in the world – build your own by merging a few of them yourself.
Another way to find inspiration is image boards. They say a picture says a thousand words, and I think those thousand words can help you build your RPG character. Find a picture and build from that. Pinterest and Imgur are great sources for that. Find an image that speaks to you, and go from there. There’s no wrong answer – beauty is in the eye of the beholder and whatever you see in that image can become your character. It’s a fun exercise for people to try, even to just build NPCs. So as a fun exercise, I picked out an image off Pinterest so I could play up this tactic. Let’s try it out!
Alright here we have a female – could be human or elven in nature, hard to say. But she’s covered up – feels pretty rogue like, if you ask me. She has a sword, but it does look more like a rapier, so she could be a fighter on top of it, or maybe that’s just a finesse weapon (if anyone decides to correct me on the type of weapon she’s holding, you’re ignoring my suggestion above of THERE ARE NO WRONG ANSWERS – I’m seeing what I want to see in this, so let me). There’s a crow in the background – maybe she’s actually a magic user and that’s her familiar. Beyond that, she’s alone, so probably prefers it that way. The gems on her head piece and neck suggest she likes the finer things in life, and maybe those came for free. Maybe not. Personally – I think I’d make her a rogue arcane trickster, and she definitely has the find familiar spell, which is always a crow. More of a thief/assassin background, who is very much a loner and is out to fend for herself. She adores her crow friend but otherwise, shuns most of humanity as she feels betrayed by them. Yep, I got all that out of a picture! How would you describe her? What character would you make for this one?
Lastly, when you’re really running out of options – use a pre-generated character as your inspiration! You can either find ones made for characters that exist in pop culture, such as Sailor Moon or Harry Potter, or you can use the internet to help source you some pre-gens – you just need to choose the class! The possibilities are endless. Just search the internet and explore until you find one that speaks to you.
Storytelling as a Tactic
So maybe you don’t have problems coming up with a race or a class, but it’s really your background that you’re struggling with. A tactic I like to use to help my characters get to know each other is to stick them all in a bar and have them come up with stories about themselves. This is more of a DM tactic than a player one, but if you know people are struggling, find ways/reasons to have them answer some leading questions that will help them figure out who they are. They might struggle at first, but help them along. Here’s some thoughts on questions you could ask:
- Where are you from? Tell me about your home town.
- Do you have any siblings? Who is your best friend? Who is your nemesis?
- What is your relationship with your parents like?
- When you were little, were you a bully, a victim, or the person who would try to stop the bully?
- What is your one vice?
- What are you a sucker for?
- What is your proudest moment growing up?
- How do you feel about religion?
- What is something you’re trying to achieve in life?
And I could go on for ever. But you get the picture. There’s so many ways you can help your players find out who they are, so that it helps make for a richer role playing experience once you get into the adventure. Some people won’t be into that, but it’s always worth trying, in my opinion.
Tweet at us with how you get inspiration for your characters! We love to hear about your tactics, and might even share them! Until next time – keep having more fun!
By Any Means Necessary (BAMN!) is a weekly blog where we try our very best to bring more fun to your Dungeons & Dragons games #ByAnyMeansNecessary!