While I was googlechatting with my friend Matt at midnight:45 last month some time, he asked me for a treatise on character creation, something I suppose I am fairly decent at (what with doing it for a non-living and all). He was especially interested in ways to create a character that don't require starting from scratch. Well, far be it from me to say that every character has some sort of inspiration and that starting from scratch is a total misconception since it's not like you're planting and harvesting the metaphoric grain to make your characterloaf here.
(PS: Characterloaf here:
Other Acceptable Answers Include: Eddie from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Robert Paulson from Fight Club.)
So I said I'd have that treatise to him by weekend's-end... last month some time. I have an excuse: I got to Method 2 and didn't have an example that I was excited about. So I got side-tracked. Well, I figured out a way around my problem. It's so simple when I think about it...
How To Create A Table-Top Role-Playing Game (TTRPG) Character Without Really Trying...
Many people, when trying out that Nerd's Haven known as role-playing, get bored halfway through their first session, saying, "My character is boring or annoying or too short or too useless." This condition is not usually the fault of the game itself, but instead the fault of the character design.
Some people have characters hiding in the recesses of their minds that they can easily pluck out and use at a moment's notice; interesting, unique, in-depth fictional entities with 8-page backstories ready-made. These people are very lucky, and they probably make people around them feel jealous and/or uncomfortable.
For the rest of the world, the unlucky and uncomfortable majority, I present here the easiest methods to create a playable character that you will want to hold on to for longer than eight hours (in game). They are ranked by how they compare to bike-riding.
1) Straight From The Box (Tricycle)
You watch TV. You peruse cartoons. You read books. Or if you don't, you...probably...leer at people...? And support the President? Zing, okay, whatever. Anyway, you've been exposed to the most tried-and-true characters out there just by exposure to the ones other people have made. Did you know there are no more original ideas? It's true; my mother tells me so every time I say I want to be a writer. So if there are no original ideas, what do you want to bet that if you made a character, someone would say, "Hey, cool! That's like Kenshin meets Bride of Frankenstein meets Heathcliff!"
So if your really awesome and totally original idea...isn't, why not just reverse-engineer? Take a character you know really well.
EXAMPLE: Sam Malone, the bartender from Cheers
Now, think about the parts of his character that you would change if you were him/her.
EXAMPLE: that whole bartender thing's boring, baseball's not as cool as dagger-tossing, let's make him a priest
And voila! Your character builds itself! You use your character's existing backstory (adjusting for anachronisms), then change the parts you don't like to ones you do. It is important to change a decent amount of details. Otherwise, you won't feel like the character is your own (ahem).
EXAMPLE: Father Samuel Malronis was born in the Northeastern kingdom of the Northern continent. Raised by a single father, he grew up thinking of women as nothing more than cheap thrills and nightly entertainment. In his twenties, he became one of the kingdom's best mumbletypeg players, able to out-aim even the finest yeomen in neighboring Fra'zhyr. This earned him scores of fans and the love of women who fell into his embedded stereotypes. Then, after an injury knocked him out of an important tournament, he settled down to make his peace with god. He was accepted into the inner order of the Bastionian sect, who are the world's last defense against the dimension-spanning threat of devils and demons. He has kept his wry sense of humor and his unfortunate love/hate relationship with two priestesses in the order, but everyday he hopes he will finally find some way to return his friend, Sitting Holtinspear, to life from his current petrified state.
2) 1000 Words (Training Wheels)
TO BE CONTINUED...