Tuesday, August 27, 2013


We're about to start a new campaign, with a new game system, and I was wondering:  How do you guys come up with a personality/idea for your characters?  Do you come up with an idea of what you're looking to make before you start rolling stats? Do you wait until you get the stats rolled up, choose a class, and get a name before you decide what the character is like?  Or do you just make up the character, and let the personality sort of create itself during game play?

Myself, I base most of my characters (and/or their names) on characters from movies, tv shows, and books.  I've run a bard named Jack Burton (from Big Trouble in Little China), a fighter named Madmartigan (from Willow), and a robot named Tom Servo (from MST3K). 

Occasionally I'd make a character based off of class/race/skill combinations, usually to a cartoonish extreme.  A fire priest named Friar Ash (my personal favorite...every fight we got into I would shout 'WE MUST PURIFY THEM WITH THE HOLY FLAME!' in a horrific warbly voice), my dwarf fighter Badaxe Jack, or Old Doc Spurlock from Traveler.

For ACKS, I read (and re-read) the books, checking out the various class/skill combinations.  A lot of what kind of character I make will be based on what kind of stats I roll up.  I've been watching Metalocalypse a lot lately, and I've been thinking about making a couple of characters with Dethklok band names.  Frankly, the idea of playing a dwarven Fury named Murderface makes me giggle a little, as does a magic-user named Nathan Explosion.  Of course I've also been reading a few Warhammer novels about this super-powerful, super-evil necromancer...and, well, I've never run a necromancer before.

So how do you guys do it?


  1. I guess I have two spirits that battle within me when I make my characters; The Heroic Spirit, and the Fun Spirit.

    If the Heroic spirit wins, I end up playing a fighter who is one of two sort of "Stock" characters. One is "The Captain", who is the guy who wants to lead, and does so by generosity and even-handedness. Athalric from 4e, and Grimbold from d20 Vikings were both versions of this guy, so was my Kings of Orion character Godfrey Nottingham. Maybe this guy is just "Good Dave".

    The other Heroic stock character is "The Angry Guy" he just wants to bust stuff up and take fanatastic risks, just to be awesome. My Castles and Crusades barbarian (Wulfstan???) and my Space Bastards guy (Jack Fury) were examples of these. Generally, if I roll a guy who's kind of stupid, then he's an Angry Guy.

    If, on the other hand. the Fun Spirit wins, I look to stat out a character who has a wide range of options--usually a spell caster or multi-class guy. I pick some quirky feature to focus on and then try to constantly to come up with innovations. Angus "Mr Fabulous" McNasty was one of these, so was Buford Culpepper.

    I don't know where Uncle Fargus came from.

    Whenever I try playing a guy who's more of a bad guy, I just fail. Godfrey Nottingham had this terroristic "Dark Secret", but he turned out to be the least "Dark" of anyone in the party by a huge country mile. "Bloody Turpin" my Conan character started out in my mind to be a sort of pyscho-killer, but ended up just a business-like thief whose goal was burying treasure and stealing the most valueable thing in town.

  2. This is a really good thread. It is fascinating to hear how others conceive their characters.

    I always make my characters try to find a narrative arc to play out. For Septimus it was a (mostly failed) journey to acceptance and adulthood. Ping was conceived as a foreigner trying to win status and honor in a new land. I suppose first officer McGintley also struggled with his demons of a failed marriage and alcoholism whereas Hollis DuPont reveled in those vices.

    Some characters were one note characters that were fun to play. "The Remedy" just kind of took on a personality of his own. The Asian wizard Zapzhkow was also super fun because of the accent.

    I suppose this arc is why I relish playing "civilized" or "religious" PCs. I like to find out what might make them "lose their religion".

  3. Religious characters were always an opportunity for me to just go overboard playing up the individual religion's aspects.

    Badaxe Jack started out as a character that was determined to be the best smith around, and to the rest of the world it remained so. But that all changed when a certain dishonest event happened during a game, and Badaxe spent almost all his energy focused on revenge against the perpetrator of that dishonest event. Dave was really the only one that actually knew the extent of my hideously contrived plots that saw me expending bunches of magic items, provoking far ranging conflicts, spending obscene amounts of coin on NPCs for minor behind the scenes actions, and occasionally arranging the murder of an NPCs.

  4. As an aside, Murderface Jack is an awesome name. The only thing more awesome would be if he comes from a long line of Murderfaces. Maybe he's Murder face Jack the Third.

  5. from savage worlds, didn't really know what i was doing for my first character and hearing some of the amusing names you guys had i thought back to turd ferguson from an episode of saturday night lives celebrity jeopardy

    the name jock johnson sort of popped into my head as a result of reading a facebook flyer from a scottish festival i used to take part in called clans on the coast, was originally going to call him jock mcjohnson

    as for the latest string of characters
    dave described the wonder worker to me as being part god, so i thought lets go with a celestialish name the beginning of which was astra or astro when i saw elementalism as a proficiency to take and specialising to a particular element i went with water and chose the second half of his name being dalto
    the dalto suffix coming from a list of spell suffix's from a game called wizardry in which spells were madalto and ladalto and they were frost spells

    the 2nd ACKS character a thrassian gladiator lizardman name was pretty easy
    back 12 years ago i used to play ultima online that was how i first met marlon, they had lizardmen in that game and had characters with lots of double S's and vowels inbetween

    the 3rd ACKS character a mage i followed on from one of jasons names being nathan explosion i went down a similar path and came up with kim kablooie, now that i think about it, could also be a prostitutes name