Dimensions in Character Part 2

New game, new character, new ways of doing things. If you’re trying out a new system, why not play something completely opposite of your regular fare? Do something new while doing something new. Bend, twist, and try to explore character creation in new and fun ways.


One year ago I wrote an article about character backgrounds.

I think it’s important to revisit that topic since a lot of new characters are being made these days. Myself included, by the way. I’m popping out characters for all sorts of things I want to try. It’s a great way to get introduced to a new game.

As a GM, it also helps to make a few characters so you can help the players make characters during or after session zero. It also gives a chance to survey the core or players book in a little more depth. I don’t know about most GMs, but I hate getting blindsided when someone creates a completely broken character.

When I started with Pathfinder 2E a few short years ago, I went out of my way to come up with characters that would push the character creation rules to their breaking point. No, I don’t mean straight 18s and max hp.

Balanced characters aren’t always fun characters.

Some of my favorite characters have been the ones with quirky stats. Dungeon Crawl Classics is a perfect game for this because of the 0 Level funnel. The even funnier part is when a character with the dumpiest stats possible lives to become an epic adventurer. There are a lot of nice things to be said for random rolls. Bad dice rolls make a player explore things their character is terrible at as well as the one or two excellent ones,

For games with stat buy or points distributions, I don’t recommend min/maxing. I know a fair share of players probably do, Then again, my tried and true method of taking the average stat and then distributing the rest of the points evenly doesn’t appeal much after the first character. It helps really learn the system and character creation, though.

It can be a lot of fun to do weird things that the system doesn’t specifically recommend. I love moments of “It doesn’t say I ‘can’t’ do it so much as it just doesn’t recommend it.” Hi, I’m a werewolf with a high degree of acting skills on the character. It doesn’t exactly break the game, but people will ask why all around the table.

Likewise it’s also fun to distribute attributes and/or things that a “normal” character for that type would never logically do. My rogue in one game is a pro at flower arranging. It just sounded funny. I have a Champion character in Pathfinder 2E that hates heavy armor.

Strange bedfellows.

Think about how many movies or TV shows where the main characters wouldn’t have likely associated with one another had it not been for tragic and bizarre circumstances. It’s okay to play a heavily nuanced, square peg in a room full of round characters so long as there is a motivation to be with the group. Odd or dire circumstances make for strange bedfellows.

If you plan to play an oddball character, work it out with the GM and the group ahead of time. Cooperation goes a long way. It’s one of those cool things to bring up during Session Zero to avoid throwing a total curveball at the group.

I was once in a Star Wars game where our two newest players were a pacifist farmer and a civil engineer. How did they get lumped in with a bunch of fighter pilots, commandos, and gruff smugglers? We probably should have worked it out ahead of time. (Cringe.) Rebellions do make for strange teams, though.

Final thoughts.

One doesn’t have to make a statistically broken min/max character for every game. Sometimes having a strange, quirky character with a lot of personality and diverse skills is a lot of fun. As a GM, I love that kind of stuff over the maxed- out 300 lb combat gorilla. Sometimes freakishly random just makes for a more interesting role playing experience, especially in a game system that’s new to almost everyone at the table.

I encourage everyone making new characters to go out on a limb for a change. If you’re the shy, quiet character type- make the raging, muscle-headed barbarian for once. If you are a min-maxer, roll random or just drop skills the archetype wouldn’t normally use. If you’re used to playing totally freaky characters, make a normal-ish, well-rounded everyman character. Break out of your normal shell and experiment with new personalities and unusual character builds,.

Role playing is about experimenting with character types and personalities different from our own. If you can be anything, why not be a pixie ninja with a serious dislike of the un-dead? It’s okay to play weird characters. I dare say most GMs will love you for it.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Keep on gaming!

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: