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.
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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.