View Full Version : A Call for Roleplaying Help

Realms of Chaos
2009-09-25, 06:50 AM
I hope that this is the right place to post this (or that a moderator can redirect it to a more appropriate spot otherwise).

I like DnD. I really do. I usually DM but I like the few occasions when I get to be a player.

I also like writing fantasy stories, something that I try not to show too much of when I DM (after all, the players are making the story. I'm just making the timeline of events).

One thing that I've known for awhile is that I have a hard time forcing myself into another person's head to know how they think. What I just realized recently is just how much this hurts me in both of my hobbies.

When I'm a player, I fall in love with a character concept rather than the player itself, giving them a personality that does not call attention to themselves and becoming bored once their fighting style becomes old hat to me.
When I DM, I have a hard time coming up with motivation for my villains and have a hard time characterizing NPCs. I normally just give them an odd accent and general personality, never letting my mind go beyond that even when the party has made it quite clear that they like this NPC and intend to deal with him/her in the future. Although my players have met some very interesting characters and the combat is unchanged, I think that something is missing from the games I run.
When I write a story, I always end up making the same 3 or 4 vaguely sarcastic anti-heroes. Although I know their pasts, I can't get into the head of my own characters! Like when I'm playing DnD, I fall in love with a storyline and pay the characters little heed until I get bored with the story and give up.

Once in the past, I saw someone post links to a few sites that had character development questions on them, lists of anywhere between 20 and 100 questions intended to help you realize what a character was like and was likely to do. I immediately favorited them but I have since replaced my computor and I now find myself an ocean away from my old one. If anyone knows of any such lists (either on the boards or elsewhere), please help me find them. I really think that it will help alot.

Thank you to all who can help me in my quest to make internally consistent characters.

Believe it or not, I'm actually a pretty good actor (though this is not my profession). Whatever stops me from making characters outside of myself doesn't seem to stop me from stepping into a character (if that makes any sense). I can't get this to work on other characters, though, and I refuse to learn about my characters via method acting (knowing me and the characters I make, I would be the next Heath Ledger).

Glass Mouse
2009-09-25, 09:11 AM
There's always the classic "What D&D character are you?" (http://www.zinious.com/dnd.php) (ignore the premise and just answer as if you were your character).

"Hero Builder's Guidebook" has an "What Alignment Are You?" quiz (can be found here (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dnd/20001222b)), good for the same thing.

This 100 questions (http://www.geocities.com/poetess47/100questions.html) is good for establishing personal history and details and stuff.

I hope this kind of thing is what you were looking for :smallsmile:

2009-09-25, 09:16 AM
Which setting do you typically run? If it's something like FR or Eberron, do you frequently use pre-established characters?

My advice is to take more time planning your sessions, so that you can get more in-depth information and get used to some of the characters before you have to play them.

2009-09-25, 09:31 AM
I find it helpful to, after I think of a character's backstory, imagine and act out in my head conversations between my character and people he commonly interacts with. I'm rather good at not consciously choosing the dialogue, so it almost becomes like I am listening to the characters talk and, as I do this, I learn the personality that I have crafted for my character.

For example, try to imagine your villians talking to one another as they set up camp or are shopping. How would they interact with a shopkeep or innkeeper? What would they do if a traveling merchant greeted them?

(To put in context, when playing a console RPG, I would try to 'get to know the characters' by imagining what they were saying to one another as they traveled. My friends call me moderately crazy for doing this, but it makes the story more interesting and helps one care about the characters involved.)

Edit: reread your "PS". If the above is method acting or something similiar, my apologies.

2009-09-25, 09:36 AM
Personally, I try to base my realistic character/villain concepts on real people, historical or ones I actually know. That one NPC could be my best friend from high school, or the king could be an old boss. That gives you a unique set of habits and mannerisms that is easy to remember.

For bad guys, in my experience very few people wake up and decide that today they want to hurt people. Not to say you have to have a sob story for every villain, but remember that they probably want things that everyone else does, be it money (they were born poor and hated it, so they decided to get as much as they can, and that it wasn't wrong because the world isn't a just place), power (pushed around as a kid and decided that manipulating people to do what he wanted was really fun), or just plain violence (raised in decadence, she has always had power and enjoys exercising it over underlings).

My $.02

2009-09-25, 09:57 AM
Hrm. Have you considered LARPing? Not the "lightning bolt lighting bolt lightning bolt" kind with the big foam weapons, but theater style. Those games are all about plot and character. I did several of them in college and my roleplaying ability improved tremendously from it.

Here's an idea. When you make a character, make the personality first and then figure out how to represent that character mechanically. I have a sneaking suspicion that you're creating boring people because you're picking feats and prestige classes and then slapping a name and face on them. Of course you're not going to get into that character's head. They're uninteresting. Come up with a character that is interesting, and try roleplaying him instead.

I also recommend free form roleplaying where you don't even bother with stats. It can be a little hard to get your group into something like this though.

2009-09-25, 02:41 PM
Highly ninja'ed in this thread but I will add to whatever one is saying by relating how I myself do it (acting is my profession). The fastest way to endear yourself to a character or a character to you is to relate.

Relating breeds empathy, empathy breeds understanding, understanding breeds knowing, knowing breeds teaching, and teaching breeds relation. At it's most basic level, all characters no matter what race will always endeavor under the 'human condition' a cure and blessing for all sentient beings -judges of course by our own limited knowledge as humans ourselves since we don't really have any other perception to go off of!- therefore the best way to relate to a character is to add small parts of yourself at first. An actor always finds thing they and the character share so they can at least know how to present that. The high art of acting is to be able to do so for things completely foreign to you. in which case you substitute that which you know for what you could know. Comparatives work because the emotional response is always genuine, or I should say, should be genuine. Because emotions are generally the same across the board, what sparks them is another matter.

I could go into more but then it would be a lecture on acting. Hope this helps!

2009-09-25, 02:50 PM
This is an adaptation of the Game of 20 Questions from Legend of the Five Rings. I consider it to be far and away the best character development tool from any role-playing game I've ever played. Just what the doctor ordered.


Glass Mouse
2009-09-25, 02:59 PM
I just remembered...

One thing that usually helps me get "into" a character's head is to pick a situation where the character felt very strongly. Just one situation. Go to the past (most characters have a "turning" point of some sort... to me, traumatic situations seem to work best, but I've had characters who've been easy to "find" in happy occasions as well), go to previous sessions, whatever. Just try to remember how it felt to the character in that particular situation.

I've found that this method helps me a lot in both RPing and writing (and drawing, for that matter). Not for creation, naturally, but for getting into the mood of an already established character.