The Stable of Character Ideas, Part II

I mentioned before that I would be working on a set of character archetypes that I knew I would enjoy at the game table. These are the character ideas that I will rotate through the next few times that I need a character. While some of these characters might lend themselves particularly well to a specific class or race, they are meant to be character concepts for roleplaying purposes, not for mechanical purposes. This way they can be used in different game systems, regardless of what RPG I happen to be playing at the moment. While my examples below focus on D&D specifically, they could easily be re-imagined for science fiction or a number of other genres.

The Mislabeled Hero

For whatever reason, this character is seen as something that he is not, and that identity crisis is a driving force in his life. He's on a quest either to prove that he is who he says he is, or to prove he isn't who he's accused of being.
Example Characters: Spider Man trying to disprove J. Jonah Jameson's headlines is the first example that comes to mind. My current character is also a good example. He's a warlock who is convinced that he's a wizard, and he wants everybody else to know just how great at wizardry he is. And those voices in his head telling him to do things? His muse, obviously. You don't have one, you say? Of course you do. He just hears his muse more clearly because he's a master wizard with a trained mind.

The Conspiracy Theorist

Paranoia personified, this character is always on the lookout for people being out to get him, and has at least one theory about what really happened that most of the population would think was ridiculous (even if it turns out to be true).
Example Characters: I loved the Lone Gunmen from the X-Files, and this character could easily join their crew. I've never gotten to play a character like this for long, but I wrote a background for a character who believed he was an integral part of Corellon Larethian's plan to restore the elves to their former days if glory. Anyone who didn't respect the "old ways" of the elves was obviously an agent of Gruumsh or Hextor or some other evil force, there to prevent him from restoring the world to its former glory.

The Trickster

This character is totally consumed with amusing himself. He's adventuring either because it's fun, or because he had too much fun at the expense of others and now he's on the run.
Example Characters: Loki is the most obvious example from comics, but I think he's actually a little too ruthless for me. I think I'd rather play something more akin to Supernatural's portrayal of Loki/Gabriel in the later episodes. Rogues and illusionists jump to mind as the most appropriate D&D classes, but this could be any character that appreciates the idea of a good prank.

The Rebellious Idealist

Young, bold, oppressed, and ready to stick it to the man. Whatever problem he has with authority is his motivation for taking up the adventuring life.
Example Characters: Name a teenage protagonist, and you'll probably find some aspects of this character archetype. Mikey from The Goonies is a fun example. He's eager to stand up to the people trying to push his family out of their home, but he's not so caught up in the moody teenage angst that is so common in more recent films.

The Bumbling Fool

Probably not an ideal teammate, this character needs a lot of guidance. He's not the brightest crayon in the box, but he does have skills that are useful. He's adventuring because his skills are useful enough to put up with his lack of intelligence, or he's not smart enough to realize how much danger he's really in (or both).
Example Characters: Jayne from Firefly might fit this category. A more extreme example might be Goofy. But hey, when in doubt, just play a gully dwarf. Am I right?

The Stable of Character Ideas

In the past, I have always taken the opportunity to create a brand new character every time I have the opportunity to do so. However, this can be extremely time consuming, and as I grow older, I find that I have less and less time to spend on games in between sessions. That's part of the reason I quit running games myself and assumed the player role exclusively for the first time since elementary school.

I've heard of players who play basically the same character every single time they play, and I've turned my nose up to the practice. There was a time, for example, that I actually got a little irritated with a player whose character died, and he chose to use the exact same character sheet for his new character rather than rolling up a new one. "I used point buy for stats, so nothing is random. I'm just going to make all the same choices. I'll redo starting equipment, I guess, but I want everything else to stay the same."

My mind was blown. I let him do it. It was his choice, after all, even if I did consider it poor taste... but I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Dude! Why would you pass up the opportunity to try something new?!?!"

Well, my opinion has changed over the years. I gave him a hard time about that decision, and in hindsight, I shouldn't have. I wasn't a jerk about it, but I tried to convince him not to, and I don't think I'd do that if the same thing happened today. I might still prompt a player to consider trying something new, but I wouldn't turn it into a big deal. The idea of sticking to the same character concept is one that I have grown to grudgingly respect as I've gotten older. Why?

Sometimes you just don't have the time or the brainpower to create something from scratch. Maybe the time you have for gaming is so scarce that you want to make sure you have a good time when you do, so you stick to something you know will be enjoyable. Perhaps you got really attached to a character, but an unfortunate combat encounter ended him, or a campaign ended prematurely because real life got in the way.

It happens. I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to play the same character twice in a row, but I get it now. Time is precious, and the creative juices aren't always as free flowing as the younger me believed they should be.

One new project that I might sink some thought into is the idea of developing a stable of character concepts that I can apply to various game systems. I think I would start with some of the character ideas that I keep coming back to for NPCs in my own games, throw in a pinch of TV Tropes, and add a dash of inspiration from various literary sources that have inspired me over the years. It actually sounds like a fun thought experiment, and would save me some brain power in the future.

My goal will be to have a stable of five to ten character ideas that I know I'll enjoy, and as campaigns come and go (or characters die off), I'll just cycle through them. They'll be familiar enough that they won't require a lot of mental power to make character-based decisions, but I will have set them aside long enough between uses that even if I stick with the same group of players for a while, I won't have a DM that rolls his eyes at me for playing the same thing yet again.

When I have time to put them together, I might even share.
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