A friend and fellow gamer, Ed P, sent me an email asking if he could change his character in our regular Deadlands game. He is running a gun-toting Nun and he just isn’t getting into the character. I couldn’t deny him the chance to have fun, so I gave him the thumbs up. He also suggested that a player not enjoying their PC might make for an interesting RPNDA topic. Maybe it will make it onto the podcast, but I had some thoughts about it right now that I want to share with everyone.
Playing a character has to be interesting to you for the game to be fun. The Player Character is your tool to interact with the plot and what allows you to be that grandiose version of your psyche. When designing this character you should provide it with the aspects which you find interesting, warts and all. Figure out what do you want to spend hours doing in a game. I tend to make a mental image of the character in my head, and imagine a single scene of him or her doing something breathtaking. But that’s me. I want my characters to be larger than life.
But let’s say I do what Ed P. did with his character. Make an interesting concept, I’m sure the shotgun Nun sounded fun to him, but it just falls flat. What then? I’d say give it a few sessions. Maybe you just need to find your characters “voice.” You never know when you just might find your PC’s niche. If after a few games you aren’t feeling a connection to your PC then do what Ed did and talk to your GM/group about changing things up. No harm, no foul.
What about a convention or one-shot game where you just grab a character out of the pre-gen pile? This is tough one. Let’s face it, even if you grab a character that you find to be made of pure awesome and dolomite, you might find yourself in a game where that PC isn’t useful in the ways in which you imagined she would be. It’s time to find how that character can be interesting in the situations placed before you. This is your opportunity to flex those creative muscles and make that square peg fit into the pentagon shaped hole! If you are playing the tough guy and the game is more diplomatic, here is your chance to use intimidation as a diplomatic strategy. If you picked up Loki and the game is made for Thor, time to use your tricks to help others (even if it is the enemy) in combat. Have fun with it!
Here are some of my personal tips in making a character you will enjoy playing:
- Make someone who will interact with the group, for the positive or negative. This means you shouldn’t make the loner who doesn’t like to talk. Try to imagine how your character will be able to interact with a team of PCs. I get you want to be Batman and sulk over your glass of milk, but even Batman talked to the Green Lantern when the Justice League came together.
- Your character must make sense in the genre you are playing. If the GM says you are going to play a setting that involves a lot of political intrigue, don’t roll up the village idiot who has lots of points in blowing things up.
- Don’t play the angry loner.
- Challenge yourself to play different character types, but there is no shame in sticking close to what you know and understand.
- DON’T PLAY THE ANGRY LONER
- Talk to the game master and the rest of the group. Help figure out how your character will work best. If you have a concept you are in love with, communicate it with everyone to see how they might think it will work best.
- Never, ever, play the angry loner!
- Mix 4 parts awesome, 2 parts dolomite, and a pinch of cinnamon to make the perfect blend of character.
- By the way. The angry loner is the obstacle to the GM and table giving you the spotlight. Think twice before you play the foul-tempered soloist.
What tips do you have about making and running a great PC. Do you have any stories of running something that just fell flat? What did you do?