A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default What makes a memorable character

    I have played since 77? Third grade
    And have gone through all editions. My examples are limited in scope due space but not limited in amount.
    A memorable character is one that you and your gaming friends will talk about throughout the years. Just like memorable adventures.
    What makes a memorable character
    One of or combonation of the following
    1. A great background story that can develop during game play
    2. Acting the character which is a lot harder than you think, to the enjoyment of everyone
    3. Doing something amazing that people will remember
    Examples
    A great story. Brief summary: my name is Frawd. I'm a human you see. Why do you keep saying I'm a dwarf. Do I have hair on my head and a beard. No! I'm a human, short in stature, that is all. Do not make me angry with your accusations! Frawd as in being a fraud and being dwarf spelled backwards. Was a dwarven miner who accidently exploded a magic node causing a giant explosion and the deaths if an entire dwarf clan. He survived bathed in wild magic and new powers wild sorcerer. He fled in shame, shaving his head and beard clean off and psychologically damaged believes he's human and his name is frawd. A deep mental acknowledgment of who he really is. He would pop up with miner knowledge and depth perception in caves etc but would end up making a story of why he knows. I trained with dwarves. But I'm human.

    2. I'll use an example a person posted on the forum as a great example and what I suggested. A wizard gnome who list his nose ina magic fight. I suggested he punched his nose whenever he talks in character. It will be hilarious and a memorable character
    3. I had a thief who during the final campaign vrs a lich and his body guards. Other players the DM asked to come and join abs pmayvtge villains vs us. In the 5th round I 20/20 autoki the lich with a holy water bottle ending the game early. 20/20 auto kill in effect in all our games. Many a hero has died that way.

    What are your views on how to have memorable characters.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Jul 2017

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    I find that characters become memorable in a few key ways.

    1. Breaking the mold - Big angry half-orc barbarian and bookish elvish wizards are a dime a dozen. But what about bookish elvish barbarians and big angry half-orc wizards? Defying stereotypes is an easy way to make characters stand out, especially in a vacuum.
    2. Behavioral Tics - I'm playing a halfling wizard right now that has an irrational fear of doorknobs and challenges every big bad he meets to play dragon chess. Giving your characters consistent triggered behaviors can both make them memorable and give your DM and other players the opportunity to come up with some great scenarios around them.
    3. Memorable Feats - These tend to come about naturally, but performing great feats always makes for a memorable experience. I still recall when, in our final battle, my first wizard managed to use a Battering Blast to knock a fiery demigod through a Prismatic Wall, exposing him to all 7 prismatic effects at once.
    Last edited by Reynard_777; 2017-07-23 at 07:31 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    1. Play something YOU want to play. The mechanics matter if playing the character is a chore for you you're never going to enjoy it.
    2. Keep it simple. Extensive multipage backgrounds are going to be read by 1 person, the DM, one time. Keep it under a page and build depth through playing the character. My favorite L5R character ended up being almost completely different than his background. Keeping things simple allows characters to evolve.
    3. Reuse characters. You're going to miss more than you hit as far as memorable characters go. Some will never even get a chance. Dont be afraid to make a character that's nearly identical to a previous one. It might fit better this game. If you're following rule 1 many if your characters should be similar anyway.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Laserlight's Avatar

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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Normal people are boring. Eccentric people are memorable. The more eccentric, the more memorable. Go big or go home.
    Junior, half orc paladin of the Order of St Dale the Intimidator: "Ah cain't abide no murderin' scoundrel."

    Tactical Precepts: 1) Cause chaos, then exploit it; 2) No plan survives contact with...(sigh)...my subordinates.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    where South is East

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Flaws.

    Anybody with a 16 and proficiency will do as well. You need a reason not to use it, or at least only after completing some "ritual".

    Fighting with your left hand, always telling the truth, helping a damsel in distress, those are ways to fail with style. Or to force you to the dark side of using your right hand.
    Trust but verify. There's usually a reason why I believe you can't do something.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Aug 2014

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    My advice:
    1. Pick a name that people can remember and pronounce. Or at least come up with a memorable 2-3 syllable nickname. Then actually use that name when roleplaying, often. That goes for your party members' names too. Remembering the name makes it a lot easier to remember the character it's attached to.

    2. Choose some personality traits that you aren't quite comfortable with and try to play them up where possible. You want the focus to be on the character you created, not you the player. If I can't tell the difference between what Bill would do and what Tordek would do then any story I tell is going to be about Bill, not Tordek.

    3. Try to incorporate your quirks into the game in a way that moves things forward. Instead of stopping the game for a 20 minute personal indulgence session with the DM try to use your quirks to force things ahead when the game is stalled or to change the direction a little. Don't be afraid to make things more difficult for your party sometimes, but be conscious of how they react.

    4. Let other characters have the spotlight when they deserve it. If one person hogs the spotlight too much then other players stop engaging and won't really care about anyone's character. Plus, working with other players for interesting character interaction is much more memorable.

    5. Don't feel the need to mechanically handicap yourself or play against type constantly. It CAN be interesting, sure, but an angry Half-Orc barbarian can be just as or more memorable than a parapalegic gnome barbarian if he's roleplayed well. Play an interesting CHARACTER not an interesting character SHEET.
    Last edited by CantigThimble; 2017-07-23 at 08:50 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kane0's Avatar

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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Never do the same thing twice.

    I don't mean change everything every time you roll up a character, I mean make absolutely sure you have not played that *exact* character before. Even if this is the 24th Level 1 Human fighter you have rolled, make sure there is something (anything!) about them that is different to the 23 others. Then play that up so you know without question that this individual is different to the rest and you know how they are different. It's the little things that matter.
    Roll for it
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Engaging fully in the story. I may never remember a characters stats, but the ones that had an npc lover that was killed in a raid on the town, or that died heroically getting that one last shot in on the BBEG, or that after all was said and done, succumbed to the darkness in their own soul, those go down in table history.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Aug 2014

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Quote Originally Posted by imanidiot View Post
    1. Play something YOU want to play. The mechanics matter if playing the character is a chore for you you're never going to enjoy it.
    2. Keep it simple. Extensive multipage backgrounds are going to be read by 1 person, the DM, one time. Keep it under a page and build depth through playing the character. My favorite L5R character ended up being almost completely different than his background. Keeping things simple allows characters to evolve.
    3. Reuse characters. You're going to miss more than you hit as far as memorable characters go. Some will never even get a chance. Dont be afraid to make a character that's nearly identical to a previous one. It might fit better this game. If you're following rule 1 many if your characters should be similar anyway.
    This strikes me as Most Correct.

    I think folks have already identified a lot of traits that good and memorable characters have, but I think it would be wrong to say that every character that meets any of the sets of given criteria here is necessarily going to be a good character. But maybe even my own criteria fall short. But, here's my take on it.

    I've seen people write up absolutely humongous and detailed backstories who were just ... awful. Sometimes, folks have a little gimmick or quirk of an unusual background, or a rare race / class combo, or whatever, just because they're trying to impress someone. It falls flat. It doesn't mean I can't appreciate the effort or willingness to try something different (far from it), but I think there is sometimes a certain lack of sincerity or awareness when making a character, that moreso contributes to lack of memorability, than length of backstory, or sheer quirkiness.

    In my experience as both a player and DM, the best characters aren't really remembered by what's on their sheet. And, it doesn't matter if you're playing something brilliant but off the wall, or consciously reproducing a tried-and-true archetype that has existed since the dawn of literature; think about it: the greatest heroes in books or movies have a lot of similar traits, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    I think if someone comes to the table not just wanting to enjoy their character, but wanting to play something they truly believe their friends will also enjoy playing alongside, I think that person is on the right track to making something memorable. And that's it. The rest just comes down to self-expression, whether you're Darkgrim Grimdark of House GrimGrim (with a really emo novella for a backstory), Blorbinfeltch the Half-Halfling Half-Beholder Dragon Potion Wizard, or a thinly-veiled Solaire of Astora reference.

    Edit: And absolutely, having room for growth can take your concept to places you never imagined, and be better for it.
    Last edited by LaserFace; 2017-07-24 at 08:06 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Sariel Vailo's Avatar

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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Hyperactive super suplex monk.
    Skully boyfriend's lead to skully wendigo weddings.
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    linklele you have brought a beautiful and favorite character of mine as well as fluffy to life i wanted to thank you. i may never again switch my avatar

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Aug 2014

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Quote Originally Posted by Sariel Vailo View Post
    Hyperactive super suplex monk.
    I take back everything I just said above to say that if you're a monk who can suplex a ghost train, you are automatically very memorable.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Pluto (EST)
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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Quote Originally Posted by imanidiot View Post
    1. Play something YOU want to play. The mechanics matter if playing the character is a chore for you you're never going to enjoy it.
    2. Keep it simple. Extensive multipage backgrounds are going to be read by 1 person, the DM, one time. Keep it under a page and build depth through playing the character. My favorite L5R character ended up being almost completely different than his background. Keeping things simple allows characters to evolve.
    3. Reuse characters. You're going to miss more than you hit as far as memorable characters go. Some will never even get a chance. Dont be afraid to make a character that's nearly identical to a previous one. It might fit better this game. If you're following rule 1 many if your characters should be similar anyway.
    I really like this. Having an idea of a person, and their skillsets and flaws that you enjoy, then giving them a simple Kickstart that will let them grow in an interesting way through your story.
    The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
    And the message of the yew tree is blackness - blackness and silence.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Aug 2014

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    taking your RP into combat heavily. Like for instance a recent game i played the DM told me i had a nightmare/vision right before the start of the campaign of a man stabbing me in the back who looked just like how one of the other players was dressed, so I was wary of him the whole session (ans was playing a somewhat cowardly guy anyway) and during the fight i always maneuvered myself so that i was facing him even if it put me in a bad spot tactically, and at one point he ran toward me (to help me because there was a goblin behind me) and i scrambled back screaming and shot a warning EB at him only to bowl right into the goblin and knock us both on the ground.

    thats just one example but stuff like that. dont play DnD like some munchkin overlord playing planescape torment, play it like an actual person in crazy circumstances.
    My Characters:

    Rai'un - Monk(8)/Warlock(2) :: The Westfold: Homebrew persistent open world campaign RIP
    Myrion Farcaster - Rogue (no levels) :: The Adventurers Code Vice: homebrew RP campaign RIP
    Pellanistra Tuin'tarl - Paladin (10), Rogue (1) :: Drow underdark campaign RIP

    all the campaigns....they are died....

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Jun 2015

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    What makes a memorable character is setting some goals for him/her and being proactive instead of reactive. Be the motivating force behind the story.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Jul 2017

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    I feel like this will get you different answers from person to person.

    I myself will remember characters through the story points. I will remember my try hard incompetent sorceress partially because she was fun to play as but also because she was cleaved practically in half. I'll remember my friends Firbolg Fuzzy climbing castle walls and pushing the guards off the wall. Also making the Lord pee his pants.

    Different things stick for different people

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    mephnick's Avatar

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    Dec 2012

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    As a forever DM I remember the characters that effect my world the most. The few I'm thinking of were definitely not the strongest characters, but they invested themselves in the world and strived to change it for better or worse.

    I've had amazingly well built and strong characters in various editions leave no lasting mark in my memory other than a vague idea that that player knows the mechanics well. There's nothing wrong with that, but they aren't the ones talked about by NPCs 5 years after those sessions ended.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfRogueGirl

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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Quote Originally Posted by Whit View Post
    What makes a memorable character?
    You do.

    (Additional characters, because the forum requires them.)
    I say we can go where we want to, a place where they will never find. And we can act like we come from out of this world, leave the real one far behind. We can dance.

    The Adventures of Amber Yarrowhill, IC and OOC

    In the Hands of an Angry God June 2017 - November 2018. RIP.

    My Player Registry Entry

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Memorable characters are those which have good interactions with other PCs.

    Two examples:

    1) Two friends had characters which had an off interaction. One was a wizard, the other a wizard hunter. The wizard hunter had a special ability where he could tell when a spell was cast. Couldn't tell who cast it, just when it was cast. Some percent chance, I don't remember the exact number.

    The wizard, knowing the other hated wizards, did what he could to avoid revealing his true nature. He still cast, but the only time the hunter detected the spell was on the battles that just happened to have an enemy caster with the group. The wizard would quickly run out of spell slots, then charge into battle with a long sword (with a -5 to hit). I've never seen so many Nat 20s rolled in any game since. Then, being a wizard with 4 HP, he'd drop quickly. And the wizard hunter would run over and stand above his body to save his "warrior brethren."

    Those two characters I still remember, and it's been almost twenty years.

    From that same game was a bard who would find lovers in every city. Each lover, he would remove his one earring, saying, "Take my earring, and may you always remember me by it." He carried a bag of earrings, and put a new one in as soon as we left town.

    These are memorable characters.

    2) A PC I'm playing in Adventurer's League right now has a tool proficiency for carving. Combine with his lizardfolk crafting, at the end of every game I carve up special items out of our enemies' bones and pass them out to the other PCs in the group. Always with artistic scrimshaw detailing that PC defeating an enemy.

    I've done it enough that when I show up to AL games, I get requests to play that character.

    The key for good memorable characters is good solid social interaction that is inclusive with other players.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Sep 2016

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Quote Originally Posted by mgshamster View Post
    Memorable characters are those which have good interactions with other PCs.

    Two examples:

    1) Two friends had characters which had an off interaction. One was a wizard, the other a wizard hunter. The wizard hunter had a special ability where he could tell when a spell was cast. Couldn't tell who cast it, just when it was cast. Some percent chance, I don't remember the exact number.

    The wizard, knowing the other hated wizards, did what he could to avoid revealing his true nature. He still cast, but the only time the hunter detected the spell was on the battles that just happened to have an enemy caster with the group. The wizard would quickly run out of spell slots, then charge into battle with a long sword (with a -5 to hit). I've never seen so many Nat 20s rolled in any game since. Then, being a wizard with 4 HP, he'd drop quickly. And the wizard hunter would run over and stand above his body to save his "warrior brethren."

    Those two characters I still remember, and it's been almost twenty years.

    From that same game was a bard who would find lovers in every city. Each lover, he would remove his one earring, saying, "Take my earring, and may you always remember me by it." He carried a bag of earrings, and put a new one in as soon as we left town.

    These are memorable characters.

    2) A PC I'm playing in Adventurer's League right now has a tool proficiency for carving. Combine with his lizardfolk crafting, at the end of every game I carve up special items out of our enemies' bones and pass them out to the other PCs in the group. Always with artistic scrimshaw detailing that PC defeating an enemy.

    I've done it enough that when I show up to AL games, I get requests to play that character.

    The key for good memorable characters is good solid social interaction that is inclusive with other players.
    If i could, could i have the name of said lizard folk? Love the idea and want to add it to my own campaign, with permission of course.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Quote Originally Posted by PloxBox View Post
    If i could, could i have the name of said lizard folk? Love the idea and want to add it to my own campaign, with permission of course.
    Of course! Here is his character sheet, including log sheet.

    His name is Rakish. Two weapon fighter champion who wields two battle axes.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Aug 2014

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Quote Originally Posted by mgshamster View Post
    From that same game was a bard who would find lovers in every city. Each lover, he would remove his one earring, saying, "Take my earring, and may you always remember me by it." He carried a bag of earrings, and put a new one in as soon as we left town.
    This made me laugh aloud, thanks for sharing it!

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Feb 2014

    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Own the character.

    Have it play to it's ideals and flaws without fail.

    Give it little quirks. Twitchy when they talk, superstitiously bury a bone under their pillow every night, won't drink if the beverage wasn't poured within their sight, they are easily startled and accidentally cast spells or trigger items out of reflex, they are addicted to jerky, would rather starve than eat rations, they can't tell the difference between a gnome, halfling, or dwarf, they can't use big words due to a language barrier, they have violent and deadly allergies, they try to speak like a nobleman despite having only 6 intelligence and make a mockery of Shakespearean lingo,etc.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Zanos's Avatar

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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Quote Originally Posted by Reynard_777 View Post
    I find that characters become memorable in a few key ways.

    1. Breaking the mold - Big angry half-orc barbarian and bookish elvish wizards are a dime a dozen. But what about bookish elvish barbarians and big angry half-orc wizards? Defying stereotypes is an easy way to make characters stand out, especially in a vacuum.
    2. Behavioral Tics - I'm playing a halfling wizard right now that has an irrational fear of doorknobs and challenges every big bad he meets to play dragon chess. Giving your characters consistent triggered behaviors can both make them memorable and give your DM and other players the opportunity to come up with some great scenarios around them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Laserlight View Post
    Normal people are boring. Eccentric people are memorable. The more eccentric, the more memorable. Go big or go home.
    This is good advice if you don't care how your character's are remembered, just that they are remembered. 90% of the characters I remember are because I tell horror stories about them. If your character is a gimmick or inspired by a joke that you read in a meme, it's only going to be really appreciated in the least serious of tables.

    Playing something non traditional like a raging wizard or hedonistic monk is fine, but that's not any more valuable than a character that does fit the stereotype. There's still a million ways to play a learned wizard or a grizzled veteran fighter.

    In my experience the best characters are, first and foremost, people. They do things for reasons. They might not be good reasons, but they're good reasons to the person. Pathological fear of doorknobs will get you remembered as a goofball, but you haven't really made an impression other than that. If you want people to have a lasting impression of how cool your character was, you have to do something beyond that.

    Secondly, the best characters are of a mindset you can get into. The better you can "sell" the character the better people are going to remember it.

    Characters that are eccentric and random for its own sake I certainly remember...I just don't generally invite those players again.
    If any idiot ever tells you that life would be meaningless without death, Hyperion recommends killing them!

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Aug 2014
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    Default Re: What makes a memorable character

    Most of the memorable PCs I've made are memorable for regularly making people laugh at the table. I perform stand-up and acted throughout college, so I'm usually pretty good at coming up with a neat character idea and making people laugh with my performance.

    As a DM, I've found that the most memorable character moments come when players let themselves feel on their character's behalf. When they get angry or sad or s j ocker for their PC, it's wonderful.

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