Blog Carnival – Heroes Living and Dead
The theme for this month’s Blog Carnival is Heroes Living & Dead. For some, it will be an opportunity to tell you all about their favorite characters from campaigns new and old, but I’d like to focus on what gives a hero depth, and makes them worth remembering.
When designing a character (or Hero) focus first on that individuals strengths. Sometimes this is literal strength in the case of a barbarian or fighter, sometimes this is strength of mind (Wizard/Psion), faith (Cleric/Druid/Shaman), or skill (Bard/Rogue/Thief). Generally your character is going to be really good at something. This strong-suit can and should be character-defining, but in order to stand out from the crowd of potential heroes, one must add details to make a character unique.
A good character is going to have a weakness as well. This can be reflected in the numbers on the character sheet (Dump Stat!) but can also be revealed through character background, and role play. A particularly unwise character may charge headlong into battle despite very grim odds. Constitution not your strong suit? Your character may be suffering from a chronic ailment that plagues him, perhaps contracted in a gambit for more power (you guys have heard of Raistlin, right?).
Ok, its too tempting. I’m going to tell you about my character after all. In our pirate campaign, my elven ranger stood his ground, guarding a fallen comrade against a small undead horde while the rest of the party made somewhat of a tactical retreat. We’re first level, so my character went unconscious twice and failed two death saving throws, but survived by the skin of his teeth. In his background his village was ransacked by orcs, and he spent his life training to stand against evil now that he is of age. So when a host of undead pirates land on his beach, he wasn’t going anywhere. The rest of the party did the wise thing in retreating, then had to come swooping in to bail me out of the fire, but it all worked out in the end, and actually added to the story. Since its my turn to DM the pirates for next session, my ranger will be sullenly nursing his wounds now that he knows the breadth of valor of his companions! It should make for some fun interplay between the characters.
So remember, when making a hero its important to think about that individuals flaws or weaknesses as well as what their more heroic qualities. In that way you’ll have a mulch-dimensional protagonist that bards (or at least players) will tell tales of for years to come!