Friday, October 12, 2007

10 Character Ideas


A villain successfully completed a ritual he found in an ancient tome; the ritual was meant to defend a long-lost civilization, but he instead intended to use it for his own fiendish ends. He interpreted the text as saying that the ritual would bestow upon him the powers and nature of a mighty warrior; this translation was technically correct, but lacked some important subtleties. Upon completing the ritual, the villain's mind was completely overtaken by that of a warrior who had agreed (out of patriotism) to have his spirit bound for use in the ritual's creation. The warrior was able to pick up enough from the villain's suppressed mind to determine the man's intentions and learn that his own civilization had long-since fallen (And get a decent idea of how to speak Common while he was at it). He could simply relinquish his control of the villain's body and move on to the afterlife, but that would be a bit of an anticlimax, not to mention it would mean unleashing a total bastard upon the world once more. No, he's going to stay in this body and live out the life he gave up when he was bound all those years ago.
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A psion who believes that she's dreaming and comes from another world, the details of which she can't quite recall "because I'm not awake". Almost certainly insane, yes, but it is odd that any efforts to figure out her past and where she came from produce nothing in terms of results. Still, in the end she's just a young woman with more psionic potential than her mind could cope with. That's why she occasionally uses words and then can't define them when asked what she means, words like "skyscraper" and "gun". All there is to the story, in the end.
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You wouldn't think it, but the common-born fellow in handwoven clothes before you is actually one of the greatest magical geniuses of his time. His defining character trait is humility; he's never sought recognition, never shows off his spells or prattled at length about the details of their casting. Nor has he ever gone out of his way to acquire magical knowledge or power. He casts spells in a minimalistic fashion without fanfare, and generally plays down any comments about his abilities as though he was just riding a horse or whittling a piece of wood. Perhaps he's even taken a vow of poverty (with GM-allowed exception for his spellbook, clothes and writing tools). His true genius is simply that his abilities match those of wizards who obsess over textbooks for years, with only his own occasional bits of research to fuel his development.
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A necromancer who has an outlook similar to that held by many doctors. He has great respect for the sanctity of life, but takes the long view with regards to his research. His ambition is discovering new, effective, non-evil way of prolonging one's life as a sentient being (whether or not this involves a living body). However, he's well aware that experimenting with life and death tends to attract mobs of torch-and-pitchfork wielding villagers. The solution: join a heroic adventuring party. You get a reputation for good deeds and powerful allies who'll stand by you if things go south. He's also found that adventuring tends to fuel his research nicely. So many adventurers tends to take for granted the extraordinary creatures, artifacts and enchantments they come across; but not this mage!
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A character who grew up poor and became involved in the criminal underworld, eventually working as a high-class enforcer for a powerful crime lord. At the same time, he had a better side in the form of his family- an elderly adopted grandfather and a younger sister, whom he always made sure were taken care of. Eventually, however, the crime boss decided to collect a bounty and send a message to his subordinate in one swoop; he forced the man to kill his grandfather by subtly holding his sister hostage. The enforcer made the hit, and did so mercifully and to the old man's face. He then trained himself rigorously and made a few other preparations over the course several months before sending his sister off to a far-off city and then immediately attacking and taking down his superior. Since then he has largely worked as a vigilante against the rest of the criminal underworld and others who similarly exploit the weak, playing them against one another using fear and intimidation as much as physical force.

They key for this character is that while good-aligned, he is not driven by righteous fury or empathy for innocent victims. Instead, he is simply sick and tired of dealing with those who oppress and seek to control all that is around them. He doesn't consider himself some grand hero, he just focuses on wiping out the next group of scumbags.
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A ranger/fighter/horizon walker-type character who's practically obsessed with cartography- the subtleties of surviving, navigating and fighting in a given type of terrain and the production of maps whose proportions are honestly accurate on a large scale. He's very intense about all this, giving it a great deal of thought and writing pages of notes in a tight, indecipherable scrawl. However, he also keeps to himself about it except to offer the occasional valuable suggestion (Max ranks in knowledge(geography) and (tactics), not to mention survival), so others tend to regard it as an impressively intellectual hobby.

The truth of the matter is that the character has grand ambitions- ambitions that involve leading armies to victory and conquering massive amounts of land. The notes he takes and books he reads tend to concern things like the logistics of supporting an army in a given environment and the specialized tactics available. He's always careful with his finances, building up gold for when the day comes to raise his forces...
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Once every ten years, a certain monastery selects one of their most promising members- one that has learned their teachings well but is still relatively young- and sends them out into the world. The purpose of this exercise is to test their disciplines and beliefs- not the mental strength of the disciple, but the worth of the teachings themselves. The monk sent out in this manner is afforded a unique status: he is free to do as he thinks best, though he is asked to return and report on an annual basis. After the space of a decade, he may return to the monastery once more if he wishes, and will be admitted regardless of how he has changed.

This is how the character came to leave his monastery a few weeks ago. Raised in the monastery for as long as he can remember, he marvels at the wonders of the world around him and, as is his duty, constantly reflects on how the lessons of his elders apply to his own experiences and strives to achieve new levels of understanding. (Said lessons can include buddhist doctrines, zen teachings, vows from the BoED, or whatever else you think might be interesting to try out. This is a case where the character is *expected* to evolve. Don't try to plan it out; have them keep an open mind and see where they go!)
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A fearsome swordfighter from the north with numerous wolflike tendencies- beyond the superficial things like a tendency to growl and a preference to hunt down his food, he also places great importance on supporting his "pack" (adventuring group) and working as a team. He is fully human; the animalistic nature is not genetic but mental, as his father was a werewolf. As a boy he wished that he was also a lycanthrope, but his father sharply reprimanded him for these wishes, instead urging him to recognize and emulate the values he admired in wolves without losing control over his own humanity. To this day he isn't sure he understands what his father was attempting to get across to him, but he has remained fully human in faith that the wisdom of his father's directions will become clear someday. Still, more and more he finds himself dreaming of discarding civilization and escaping to the wild.
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At a young age, the character (an only child) was taken by their dying parent across the country and into the desert, eventually reaching the lair of an ancient dragon. There, the parent identified the character as the dragon's great-great-great grandchild, and requested that the dragon take the character in rather than letting their own bloodline end with a helpless orphan dying in the street. The dragon accepted, his pride in his bloodline stirred more by his descendant's sheer chuptzah than anything else. Though perhaps statistically a normal member of their race (being 1/32nd dragon doesn't grant a ton of bonuses), the character has a very draconic set of views, including a tendency to hoard valuable items and speak in grand terms.
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In a medieval setting with a relatively realistic social structure, a soldier falls in love with a woman while on a foreign campaign, and she with him. Although relatively well-off, she leaves her household to return home with him and live a humble life with him as a farmer and her as a housewife. After some thirty years of happy marriage, the husband dies, and the children are all dead or gone. She sells the farm (or is forced to relinquish it if) and, approaching the age of 50, finds herself without a home or clear purpose. The role of a wandering hermit is one option, but she decides to try her hand as a low-key adventurer instead, drawing on her training as a warrior from her youth. It's an odd role in this culture, but she finds it enjoyable- the risk makes her feel more alive than she has in years.

5 comments:

Javier said...

Hi from /tg/

Nice stuff, the "dreaming psion" made me remember of Zoe Castillo from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (a vydia gaem)

Dagda said...

Interesting- I may have to look that up.

Nyat said...

I had to see someone else mention this blog on 4chan before I found out about it, for shame.

I like the ideas here, the psion one is my favorite.

Oh, I've agreed to start DMing here at college, so I might end up running something d20 related next summer break. If I do you are only invited if you never mention my previous attempts ever again. That is all.

Dagda said...

You leave out the chickens, and I'll behave.

Nyat said...

Deal