A Game of Thrones • A Song of Ice and Fire NWN2 Persistent World • Low Magic Role Play

The Role-Player's Guide - Background & Personality

Resources - Manuals and Guides
Wednesday, 19 November 2008 14:10
Article Index
The Role-Player's Guide
Character Development
Background & Personality
Character Creation
Refining your Character
Speaking & Emoting
Moving in the Game
Role-Playing Out of Game
Common Conventions
Pushing the Limits
Advanced Role Playing
Tricks of the Trade
Additional Resources
All Pages

Character Background and Personality

Perhaps the most important idea around character creation is: Develop your characters before you create them in the game.

Occasionally players start by bringing up the character generation screen in NWN. This can cause people to be a slave to the desirable skills or ability bonuses that result from selecting certain options on-screen.

Try to write a paragraph or two about your character first. It is important to note that we are not talking about the character description you will type into NWN at this point! We are just generating ideas for your character. Some of the questions you can try to answer include:

  • Where did your character come from?
  • Why have you chosen the adventurer’s life?
  • Why have you chosen your profession/skills?
  • What are your character’s hopes, desires, and goals in life? Why?
  • What are the physical characteristics of your character?
  • What are some of the personality traits of your character?
  • What significant “turning point” events occurred in your character’s life until now? What were they?

Another good idea during character creation is to create detail. Quite frequently, the smallest details about a character are the things that make a character really stand out. And remember, flaws can be just as important as assets when creating an interesting character. Many famous characters from movies have these critical flaws.

In the movie, “The Princess Bride,” Inigo Montoya has scars on each cheek. Count Rugen has six fingers. Luke Skywalker loses a hand. Stephen Donaldson’s “Thomas Covenant” has leprosy, and so on. Those are physical flaws, but other non-physical flaws can be great too. Captain Kirk was too much of a cowboy, Han Solo was a greedy rogue, and so on.

Consider some of these sample backgrounds for a NWN character:

Example 1:
Weeltin is a strong fighter. He grew up in a military family learning swordplay. He is anxious to prove himself and become rich and famous.

It’s a start, but we really haven’t learned a whole lot about him. In fact, he could be any of a thousand fighter-types.

Example 2
Weeltin is a very strong young man. Tall, even for a human, Weeltin is quite muscular. As the son of the local Captain of the Guard, Weeltin grew up around swords, armor, and military personnel. As a result, he is quite familiar with most weaponry, and he is anxious to prove himself to his father.

As you can see, we have learned a lot more about Weeltin. Now we know that he is taller than most humans, is related to the Captain of the Guard, and has a need to prove himself. Let’s take this one step further:

Example 3:
Weeltin is a very strong young man, with blond hair and blue eyes. Tall, even for a human, Weeltin is quite muscular. As the son of the local Captain of the Guard, Weeltin grew up around swords, armor, and military personnel. As a teenager, he was injured badly when he was roughhousing with some friends in the barracks. As they wrestled, they knocked over a rack of armor, which fell on top of Weeltin, crushing one leg. The leg never quite healed properly, and as a result Weeltin is ponderously slow and walks with a pronounced limp. During the time he was laid up with the injury, Weeltin spent much time reading texts on military strategy. As a result, he is quite learned, and probably a good deal smarter than most of the other military conscripts. But, his father never forgave him for his irresponsible act. As a result, Weeltin is still desperately seeking his father’s approval. Perhaps if he accomplishes something great as an adventurer, his father will finally approve.

As you can see, we now have a very good understanding of Weeltin. He has physical characteristics, including a noticeable flaw. He has a reason for adventuring, a reason for being a fighter, and he has at least one notable personality trait – that of needing approval. This is a great start for a character that has some depth and will be memorable to other players. Yet, Weeltin still has plenty of room to grow.

You don’t need to detail every last thing about your character. You want to have room to evolve fluidly depending on how your adventure proceeds. If your personality or background is too stifling, it may make role-playing difficult or ruin your enjoyment of the game. Similarly, DMs and other gamers expect other characters to be at least of moderate value to the party, so don’t go so far overboard on the flaws that your character is helpless.

There are several links in the section on Additional Resources that can help generate ideas for character traits.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2008 15:07

Add comment

Security code