If you’re a gamer (which I assume you are since you’re on Green Man Gaming), you’ll probably begin to think about the most exciting classes. This could be a fully-armored knight, a lithe archer, or even a wizard who can fire missiles at enemies. However, I recommend you first consider the character you wish to play. Too often, a race or class is chosen, and personality is subsequently created. This is a terrible mistake. You can take John Luther’s personality and make it your own if you like him from the BBC series Luther. This way, you won’t be mistaken for a fantasy trope, no matter what your profession is: bard, sorcerer, cleric, etc.
Do not ignore Tropes
You might look at the classes to help you think of your first character. Thinking of yourself first, you won’t be distracted by fantasy tropes. You can marry anyone of any class or race. Why should your half-orc barbarian be aggressive and fierce? Your elven bard should be charming and non-confrontational. What makes a character interesting? You can’t ignore tropes. Make John Luther a bard. Does that sound interesting? What about a wizard who doesn’t care much for school but loves a good sword and uses magic only in an emergency? You will not only be more interested in yourself, but the DM will also be eager to learn about your backstory and give you loot. Probably.
Think of the Party
There is something to balance a party. One group of magic users without armor can be horrible or even fantastic. Although a party of fighters might seem tedious, it could make for a more focused campaign. Perhaps you are all of the same race and grew up with each other. You might be different from each other and have to deal with cultural differences. My players love to read each other’s descriptions and create bonds. What do they think about each other? The fighter feels the bard is a waste, while the bard believes she can use fighters as an impromptu guard if persuaded. Roleplaying with one another will be more enjoyable, and the bard will have a clear focus.
To Act or Not to Act
You may not find the idea of ad-hoc speeches or flowery descriptions of how to impress damsels entertaining. It may even make you resentful and discourage you from D&D. It is perfectly acceptable to describe your character’s actions, words, and behavior. Robin D Laws’ Player Types List states that only one player finds this the most appealing part of the game. You can start slow if that’s what you prefer, and then you can add more as you become more familiar with your character. You’ll soon have in-character arguments, which is a great thing. Remember, it’s acting. Don’t get mad. Please.
The Social Contract
In my last post, I mentioned the social contract. It sounds intimidating and anti-fun. But it’s a mindset that everyone should have. That is, we’re here for fun. This is the most important thing. If it causes a rift within the party or is going to annoy another person, you will have trouble doing what your character would do. You can choose to follow that path or not, but there are other ways to express yourself using the world, not just your druid friend. You can be an evil character and be a total arse to everyone except the party. These are your tools, your servants, and your allies for the time. You can be the character you wish to play but allow for some friction at the party. It will benefit everyone.
Have a conversation
Here’s a tip to help you focus more and improve your characters outside the playroom. Have a conversation in your head with your personality. Talk to your character while walking, on the train, or in the shower. Imagine how they will react. You can also imagine them in different situations. What would they do if their foes defeated them? Would they ask for mercy? Or were they betrayed by a friend or insulted in a pub? Sometimes, you won’t have the time to roleplay your characters in the play. So make sure you do it in your head! You can also imagine John Luther’s thoughts.