There are some characters that just stick with you, be it from a book, movie, or show. But if you’re finding your characters to be a little flat without that extra spark, then here are some great ideas for you.
Have a fun quirk
Everyone has quirks, and building something odd into your character can help give them some extra personality. There’s no need to go overboard; instead, make it something small, like being fascinated by anything related to elves or maybe you like to use big words when explaining things to prove your intelligence. What if you collect hats or you’re obsessed with having clean clothes? Whatever it is, make sure it doesn’t detract from the character or the game, but don’t be afraid to be a little weird.
Keep a secret
There’s something fascinating about mysteries and having a character with a secret will open up some fantastic in-character roleplay opportunities. Whether you work to keep the secret to yourself or eventually decide to share it, having a secret creates a more compelling character.
As a note though: you don’t have to tell the other players but make sure that you confide in your DM and let them know what you’re wanting and expecting to happen with this secret. A good DM may even work it into a quest or keep it in mind as part of a plot!
Make connections to the world
Queen really said it best: we all just need somebody to love, and that means your D&D character too. Sure, it’s easy to create a fatherless urchin who really only cares about money… but unless you enjoy playing a sociopath, it’s not going to be enjoyable for very long.
This is, without a doubt, the biggest mistake I see new players making with their first characters. Remember that it isn’t a video game: it’s up to you to make your character have a personality and that includes giving them things that matter to them. So whether it’s a family member, friend, pet, cause, ideal, or location… make sure your character cares about something. From there, you can start asking questions like how far they would go for those connections and what they would do if the thing they care about was in danger.
Build in flaws and fears
It is tempting to make your character as perfect as possible, but in reality it is flaws and fears that really define characters. Let your character do things you know are stupid, or give them fears that they can overcome (or not). This will lead to a more natural, realistic, and fun character with plenty of moments where you can really dig into the roleplay aspect–especially when those flaws and fears inevitably interfere with goals and quests.
Create a goal
Your campaign will likely have some big overall goal to work towards, but a really memorable character will also have some kind of personal goal or personal motivation. If there isn’t anything in your background that works, then think of something for your character to wish for and make fulfilling that wish a personal goal. It doesn’t have to be anything large: maybe all they really want is to see the Dwarven capitol or perhaps they are searching for a recipe for the perfect stew. Whatever it is, build that desire into your character’s personality and let it drive them.
Role-play your character
It might seem kind of obvious, but taking the time to actually speak as your character can make a huge difference. It might feel weird at first, but it’s one of the best ways to make the character come alive. You don’t have to do a funny accent or act things out, but even something simple like talking directly to other characters can make a huge difference.
Once you’ve got a character created, the next step is to learn the basic rules and how to play the game. If you’re already familiar with the rules and want to dig into the roleplay aspect, then head back to the D&D Basics for more roleplay tips or visit the Archives for more articles.
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