Character DesignRead Now
One of the things I'm most proud of that I've developed is my method of helping people design characters. Whenever someone tells me that they've played D&D and didn't enjoy it, I ask them about their characters, and more often than not, the issue lies in a lack of development. A big part of D&D is that you're part of a collaborative story being told, and if your character lacks dimensions, you're less likely to be invested in the outcome of the story. I always start the same way; if someone has no idea what to play, I describe a situation and ask them how they see themselves.
Ie: You and your companions push the large stone doors open, and a rush of green smoke billows out. As it clears, you see several animated skeletons turn to look at you with their hollow, empty eyes. They raise their rusted weapons and begin to shamble towards you. You know that you're going to need to respond to this with violence of your own. What's in your hands? Do you rush forward, or support your friends? The outcome of this conversation will determine what kind of class they're going to play.
Once we've decided on that, its time to build the character. As a DM / Character coach, I always start out with the same few questions, but the goal is to flesh out as much as possible, so these are my starting ones.
"Did your character grow up in a big city, or a small town?"
"Was your character wealthy, or poor? Middle class? This will determine economic standing"
"Tell me about your characters family. Do they have parents? Siblings? Do they have a relationship with any of them?"
You'll continue to flesh this out and build up the history of their character before they head into your adventure, but the final question is the most important. People don't just wake up one day, forsake their entire lives and become adventurers, and so you need whats called a "Cataclysmic Event." This is the event or action that forces them to leave the life they've known their entire lives, and set out on a journey of discovery. Usually, the cataclysmic event will be clear once you've fleshed out the rest.
This is valuable, because within the confines of the story you've told, you can begin to link in the threads of each characters narrative and tie their individual stories in. You need a warrior general to command a troop of soldiers, why not make it one of your characters fathers, who left his family behind to support his king and country? It can make a blank slate event feel much more personal and tie your characters into the story you're weaving.
Anyway, I wanted to touch on this a little bit cause it can really help people homebrew their own stories and worlds, and allow your player to make a personal touch to the story you are weaving. Often, the ideas your players have can make your own story MUCH more powerful, which is something you'll see in Path of the Raven, and its subsequent sequels.
If there is anything you want to know about how I world build, or character create, feel free to reach out in the email link on the site! And if you find the article valuable, give it the share and help me get this website a bit of traction in the interwebs.
Getting StartedRead Now
A blog! A novel idea, hopefully some people out there will be curious about the creation of the novel, and the characters, and whatnot. My D&D adventure started pretty humorously, having gone through a bad break up, a friend invited me to attend my first session. I remember telling him, "Look, I'm obviously a nerd, but THAT is some nerd stuff," and four to five hours later, I was hooked. After I moved back to Edmonton from Vancouver in the midst of Covid, I began writing my own campaign to put my siblings through, considering we were all stuck in the house together. I worked hand in hand with them to develop strong backstories, and to include several little individual character hooks, and it worked! They were invested in the story I was telling, and I had lots of opportunities to sprinkle little tidbits of their own back stories within.
At a certain point, my sister approached me after the session and said, "You should really consider writing this down, its pretty good." and it was a little out of character for her, and I started to take it seriously! I ended up going down to Mexico for 6 weeks, and I brought a pad of paper and a pen, and wrote the first 5 chapters of PotR longhand. When I returned home, I was galvanized to continue and kept on writing.
When it came to feedback, I looked to my dad. He's a reader, but not the kind of guy to ever pick up a fantasy novel on his own, so I figured if he wasn't interested in it, it could still be good, but if he was... well I might have something special. He ended up being so interested that he helped me fund the publication process, and my brother upped the ante to join in, and the whole process started!
Anyway, this is getting too long as is, but I'm going to try to update this regularily with information about the process, and about the story telling that was involved. Might be dungeon master tips, might be writing tips, but hopefully I can share some information that people find interesting!
Devon Manning is a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast who enjoys creating his own campaigns and sharing them with friends and family. He is also a singer-songwriter with his own solo act called Lionhearted, which showcases songs about mental health. When he’s not writing or playing music, Devon enjoys practicing archery, boxing, scuba diving, painting, and playing video games. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta.