Feb 112012


This is the first in a series of articles about “Character” Creation?  What do I mean by that?  (Especially the part with “Character” inside quotation marks.)  I mean, all the parts that are not covered in the basic mechanics of a particular RPG’s character creation system.  I mean the creation and development “universal” aspects of an RPG character – personality, attitude, behavior, motivation, psychology, etc.  I mean those parts that are at the heart of the “Role-Playing” experience (as opposed to the “roll-playing” experience).

That said, I am not opposed to a min-maxing approach to character creation.  Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoy rolling lots of polyhedral chunks of plastic, filling in stat boxes, selecting powers, and deliberating over every choice.  Smashing monsters, overcoming challenges, defeating villains, rescuing princesses, saving the day – it’s all great!

But what keeps me coming back, more than anything else, is the fun and challenge of stepping into another role, of playing a character.  Trying to make that character an integral part of the RPG world, trying to make that character memorable to everyone around the table, trying to take this image/concept/idea/thing that is in my mind, and make it as real a person as possible – to me, that is the heart and soul of RPG’s.

It’s a lot of fun.  It is also very challenging.  But the rewards are beyond compare.

Therefore, I offer my humble advice, in the hopes that others may benefit.  Not because I think I do it best, or even better than anyone else.  I do it for my love of the game.  RPG’s are great, and I simply want to make the experience better for everyone.


Below is the list of Approaches I am most familiar with when it comes to the Personality aspect of Character Creation.  Certainly, there is no one “right” way to go about the task.  What I offer are simply a few ways to approach the process, some filters, or layers you can work through to bring your character to life.

  1. The Ethical/Alignment Approach
  2. The Psychological Approach
  3. The Historal/Background Approach

Each of those will be an article in their own right.  After that I’ll talk about combining the different Approaches as “Layers,” and sum it all up with some thoughts on how to treat your character like a real person.


RPG’s are my passionate hobby.  Teaching and writing are what I do for a living.  Having the opportunity to combine it all is simply amazing.  So stay tuned, because this is going to be a wild ride!

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