Welcome to the second installment of our first ever reader input series; MK From Concept to Creation! Last week we covered the six pillars of Character and how they relate to the person you are creating in Character Building. Our reader input voted for two pillars as strengths and two as "flaws". The results are in!
Voted to be the two pillars of strength (most popular first): Trustworthiness and Caring
Voted to be the two flawed pillars (most popular last): Responsibility and Citizenship
Already I can see the shape this character is taking!
Knowing the key elements of their pillars, we now move on to our current blog.
MK From Concept to Creation: Finding Ones Place in the World
(Voted #4) Citizenship is the lowest rated pillar of character. This person is a thug, a criminal, or perhaps the local government is corrupt/tyrannical and this character stands defiant. No matter how you look at it, being a citizen of their country is something that clashes with their personal lifestyle.
What is the local city like? Are we looking at a mecca of law, order and justice? Is this the highest form of honorable leadership in action? Or is this a den of corruption? Is this a seedy city where the local authorities are just figureheads being controlled by the underground crime bosses? The city or location in which you will spend the majority of your time during your adventures has an impact on the person you will play.
Something to keep in mind: just because you have a flawed citizenship pillar and live in a city of just and noble rulers does not mean your character has to be a criminal. You can instead look to a neighboring city or nation that is a kind of polar opposite on the political scale and use this as your shameful origin. Maybe you try to hide your past because of it. If so, why? Did you commit a crime? Did you hold an office and get run out of it? I like the idea of the foreigner who has fled. We will run with that.
In the citizenship pillar we decided to go with a foreign person who has fled their country. Let's ask why is your character hiding? Were they supposed to be holding a title or position of great power or importance, but fled to shirk the duty? Maybe they lead an army into a battle of horrible defeat. This little detail could cause one to flee the country. Perhaps while being the direct cause of the deaths, your character feels no responsibility for them. Let's say their group was sent into an ambush. This character was the target of the hit. They do not feel responsible for the deaths because someone else ordered the strike.
So far we have a character who comes from a neighboring nation, has fled their country in shame, shirking the responsibility for their actions that got their group killed. This is just from the flawed pillars! This is only to give your character depth. Anyone can change. Over time everyone should. Life is full of experiences that alter your views. This is only the beginning of your characters path. This is the prologue. This gives you reasons to go on a quest, seek adventure, or be out in the world doing whatever it is you are about to do. With the story that unfolds between you and your gaming group your character will find their own path.
They are most likely haunted by fear of being found and having to deal with what they have run away from. But they still care. We are running with the "lead people to their deaths" scenario. We can play on the care this person had for the people who died, their role in the deaths and how this character deals with it. Are they drinking themselves into oblivion to avoid sleepless nights? Or do they seek a level of atonement? Perhaps they aim to even the score? If only they can do more good than they have done harm ...can they be saved? I like the atonement path. This gives hope of redemption for the character, yet another reason to be adventuring. I would definitely speak with your GM and clarify the best groups/individuals to hold responsible for the actions against your character. This will help them weave the story with ease.
(Voted #1) This person holds trust in the highest regard. Is it more important to trust, or be trusted? Regardless, trust holds huge importance for this character.
The group died due to a betrayal. Maybe the corrupt government being fled purposely sent the character into a situation they could not win. Maybe they were being a bit too effective in their position and the crime lords decided to "handle the problem" by paying their superiors to send them into an ambush. This means they might have some trust issues. They have a hard time trusting people in power. This could explain not only why the character holds trust so high but also why they care so little for citizenship.
This character will judge a person by the ability to trust them. If they travel with someone who is a great liar, there may be an understanding of the usefulness of their talent, but they will most likely never truly trust them, and therefore not be all to willing to allow the deceitful party member too much control of group decisions, and might always want to pair up with them to keep an eye on them.
What we have so far
Our current character is a foreigner. Betrayed by their Superiors, they have left their country in fear of death. They feel no guilt over the loss of life in their past, but do aim to hold accountable those responsible. They are either out to prove themselves free of guilt and to even a score. They have trust issues mainly aimed at people in power, but still judge everyone by their trustworthiness.
One of the reasons I like this approach so much is the focus on character before abilities. Your Race, Class and all the rest of the technical stuff can be applied to the character you build. These details only and add depth as more decisions are made. This current concept might seem obvious for a fighter, but it could just as easily be a Cleric. Instead of fleeing the government, they are running from their local religious chapter. Maybe they are a Wizard. Their mentor has turned on them jealous of their innate skill. Corruption isn't just for politicians! As before mentioned, this could go any number of ways! It is now time to vote on these details.
Reader Input Options
It is time to start adding some technical bits. As I am most familiar with Fantasy realm races and classes, we will choose this as our base theme.
1) What race do you think our character is? (Human/Elf, etc)
2) What gender? (Male/Female)
3) What base class is this person? (Cleric/Ranger, etc)
4) What Alignment? (Good/Neutral, etc)
I look forward to tallying your votes! Just drop a comment on the blog, post or tweet and again, most popular answers will be the direction we choose. Next week we will drop some detail work into our character to show how even the "cookie cutter" parts such as class and race can add to or even enhance our characters backstory.
Until next time ...Game On!