November 19, 2011

How I Make A Character, Something I Probably Do Wrong.

A friend of mine has started up an Ironclaw campaign that he wants me in on. I’d love to, though my schedule is shitty! He’s working things out to have me there, though, so I am ALL IN. Or something like that.

The system seems fine enough, as far as RPGs go. The rolling doesn’t seem too stupid, which is always a plus. What really caught my imagination, though, was some of the potential careers for player characters. I could make a Functionary, who is basically a bureaucrat in charge of running a household or business. So my special powers would be involved in being literate and knowing math. This appealed to me. Like, for serious. How ridiculous for someone like that to be in an adventuring party! How completely awesome for that to be the case! Of course I made one immediately, drawing up an interesting deer lady good at math and business and talking.

Tonight, my friend asked me to help him with some more background for my character. My character has the noble blood perk, and he just kind of asked me a simple question: what noble house did I belong to?
I, of course, had no answer, because the way I build characters is just… well, it’s very me.

In general, I create a character, by which I mean I start fitting together a list of rules and feelings this character has in order to be able to make decisions. This is “character building” to me, and even as I was filling out stats in this game, that’s what I was doing. Coming up with this person’s values and ideals. I would then, normally, just let this character loose, let them bump up against stereotypes and eventually non-stereotypes to build up how they react and who they are. They tell me by making decisions. This also ends up building the world, because they tell me what’s going on in the world and why things are important to them. They bring the world into reality.

This is why I rarely work in established universes like the one in Ironclaw. Because I don’t have simple answers to simple things when the character is made. Those are created as I go along, organically. Sure, in editing I make it all work out better, but I just feel like this makes more… real people, you know? I get the person to the state where I can talk to them and have a conversation with them before I do things like decide who their mother is and so on and so forth.

I know this isn’t the only way to do it. Armadox (the previously-mentioned friend) walked me through some stuff in the universe and we came up with some in-world answers to these simple questions that set up more potential interesting character interactions, which I’m all for. He also put up with me as I made sure these in-world things didn’t interfere with the voice I had built in my head for the character, which must have been frustrating, but we got it done. Certainly, sometimes I wish I could make characters like that, where everything just fits in like a glove. As handy as it would be, though, it really isn’t me. I can fake it, but I don’t put enough heart into it.

This, though, we worked out in an awesome way, and I am excited to run the character on Sunday. I am going to math the shit out of things.

Stop fiend! I have an abacus!

Comment by Cris — November 19, 2011 @ 1:28 am

Ironclaw is cool! I still have my book.. Yet I’ve never played it. :P

I think you’re doing it right, though. Is coming up with the house important, mechanically gameplay-wise? If it’s not then just leave it blank and fill it in when you decide. Stuff like life goals is a lot more important.

Comment by Belabor — November 19, 2011 @ 2:38 am

I still regret never playing IronClaw :-(

Comment by Kale — November 19, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

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