Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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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