Character concepts – Archetypical or Unique
The pirates campaign launches this evening! Anchors away! Avast ye mateys, and all that. Most of the party is coming to the table with character concepts in mind (if not character sheets!) which got me thinking; In this new campaign we are starting as members of a pirate crew, each there for our own reasons. I chose pretty much the D&D archetype of archetypes, the elven ranger. Who am I, Legolas? I know, but here is the thing – I *like* elven rangers. I was a boy scout growing up, I always liked woodcraft and archery, and can identify with knowing where I am in the woods and wanting to enjoy and defend nature. Statistically in D&D 4e, it makes *sense* to play as an elf because of their love of the natural world, and the handy bonuses to Dexterity, Wisdom, (optionally Intelligence) and skill bonuses to Nature and Perception. It just feels right. Experienced gamers may roll their eyes and say, “Oh, and I suppose you have a gruff dwarf in the party who doesn’t like boats?”
No. That would be silly for a pirate campaign.
As far as I can tell so far, my character is the only true archetype among us. The rest of the party are unique combinations that will bring a lot of flavor to the campaign. We’ve got a drow artificer, who fancies himself a “doctor” that has engineered clockwork spiders. He seems very keen on the study of anatomy, if only to enhance his own creations. Next, a Gnoll Monk who serves as the ship’s cook. Apparently his cooking is terrible, but who’s going to critique a 7′ Gnoll surrounded by deadly cooking implements? We will probably have a Dragonborn Warlord who maintains the heavy weapons on the ship; ballistae and such. Finally we have a water Genasi Ensnaring Swordmage with longsword fashioned from coral. We may end up with a wizard before the night’s end, but so far, the elf is looking like the normal kid in the bunch.
While my character may start like a fairly typical archetype that many who are familiar with D&D would readily recognize, who knows what will happen to him throughout the campaign? He could acquire a beast companion who becomes a life-long friend, or a nasty scar from a future nemesis. Its important to remember that characters evolve as we play them, and my elven ranger would be a lot different from anyone else’s if for nothing but the different experiences and companions that this elf is going to have. To me, character creation should be about what you want to play. If you want something that sets your guy apart from the crowd from day one, D&D certainly provides the opportunity to create someone truly original. Want something more familiar you can slip in to, like an old sweatshirt, worn, but comfortable? All your favorite archetypes are possible too. Which do you like when it comes to creating a new character for a campaign? Tried and true, or something off the wall?