Writing a Player Character Part 3: Reconcepting and Goals

Posted on March 7, 2012

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Now that we’ve finished our character sheet and writing out the character’s past you may think that we’re done and ready to play – but not quite! In fact, we’ve yet to do the most important part. All that we’ve done was merely preparation for this portion. Fortunately, since you’ve alraedy done all the work this part is very easy!

Think of one of your favorite movie characters, for example we’ll use Han Solo. Han has an interesting background story, but when you see him on the screen you don’t know his background. It meerly shaped who he is today (or, rather, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away). The important parts, the meat of his character, are how he acts and the choices he makes during the movie. Everything Han does boils down to his *concept* and *goals* – his concept, being a good hearted but self interested outlaw, his goals being to repay Jabba the Hutt and get the girl.

Now that you’ve written a backstory, so long as you left open hooks your goals should be fairly clear. You already had an idea of your concepts prior to writing as well, so you can read through your story and think about how the events of your past have affected your outlook and personality. We’ll look at my example character, Alesia Huntcrown. First, re-read the original concepts.

  • First, I want her to be nobility by blood, but with the attitude and lifestyle of a commoner
  • As determined by my GM she needed to be a part of the purple dragons, so I decided that she would be serious about this assignment
  • This is because she’s always looking out for the weak, a feeling of noblesse oblige – having seen the wealth her family had and then not living with it makes her angry at the wealthy
  • She’s a capable fighter in dire straights, but prefers to solve problems with words when she can

Now, reading through my background, lets look at how that evolved:

  • She is good hearted, but rambunctious. A life of living with prostitutes and pirates has given her a less than modest demeanor.
  • She understands her noble heritage but makes no claim to it. She has already let go of her love for her family as she hasn’t seen them in nearly 20 years.
  • She doesn’t know whether her crew-mates were ultimately executed or not. She does bear a hatred towards the commander who sentenced them to execution, believing the punishment was too harsh.
  • She is not yet accustomed to being in a leadership role, and her learning to deal with this will be part of role-playing her.
  • She does not know, nor care, what deal her father worked out with the commander to spare her life. She did not ask for his help and has no intention of repaying it.
  • She tries to be very independent of her family, and gets irritated when something “is expected of a Huntcrown”

As you can see, I accomplished the original goals in my backstory (though the last one was more accomplished through my character sheet), and now have a solid personality for her. That is the re-concepting – its merely a refining of your original concept, reconciling it with your backstory and ensuring everything was fulfilled. If they weren’t, you can go back and modify your backstory some to compensate (unless you like the new results better!)

Finally, her goals have been revealed through your writing:

  • She takes her duty to the Purple Dragons seriously. She knows that as a whole they are there to help people and she has nothing against that.
  • She never discovered the origins or meanings of the other coin her mother carried. It is a mild

curiosity to her, something that’s always been at the back of her mind but never at the front.

That is enough goals for now – your GM will introduce opportunities for new ones later as well. In my case, the duty to the purple dragons will be her primary motivator for the campaign. It’s important to have a far reach goal such as that, one that takes a long time to complete. This will make it possible to tie your character into the party and the campaign for the GM.

And that’s all there is to it! Give all of this to your GM and it will enable him to make the campaign engaging to you. You’ll be drawn deeper into the game and get more enjoyment from it.

In the future, there will be articles to help the GMs make use of this info, but for now just enjoy a well made character.

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Posted in: Character