2) 1000 Words (Training Wheels)
Ready for the next rung? Good. You've stolen someone else's ready-made character and made some aesthetic changes. Now, why not steal something more tangible and less defined? Why not steal a picture of your character? Now, there are those who will now be asking, "But how do I find a picture of a character I haven't made yet?" Simple: Find any picture that you think is awesome.
(Taken without permission from this deviantART page - Beloved-Creature, the artist, is on hiatus from the interblag. That is my excuse. Moving on.)
My suggestion is a drawing/painting as opposed to a photo, simply because photos tend to lead to one of two pitfalls:
1) a celebrity parody, which last, maybe, an hour before they stop being funny
2) You, Like Cliff Yablonski, Will Hate Them
So use a drawing. You're much more likely to genuinely appreciate drawings. Good. Now that you've stolen the picture, what's done is done, so stop feeling guilty or nervous of reprisal and just make a character out of it. First off, take your first impression of the picture...
Creepy, evil snowman stalking its lessers, who are only an inch tall.
...and set that in stone as a base for your character. The reason for making this step is that you picked this particular picture for a reason. If you don't want to lose interest in your character, you should stay true to what attracted you to the drawing/photo in the first place.
Now, pick out details about that person/creature/chaaaaaaaraaaaacteeeer? by listing things you see in the portrait.
evil looking snowman
giant bad-ass wooden claws
glowing yellow eyes - magical?
tiny snowmen, some scared of him, some happy, some falling down
top hat that looks like warped metal
dark and spooky woods with light fog
claws hovering over tiny snowman
Those details, paired with your first impression and the picture itself, make the three-legged barstool that your character will sit on (where they'll most likely be served by Father Samuel Malronus). Now, flesh it out. Combine some details, insert some observations, and trust that your intuition will not lead you astray.
Once a wizard of incredible power, the creature now known as Cusp is a man's soul inhabiting the shell of a Winter Solstice (enhanced version of an ice elemental). It hates its own kind, as it was tricked into its current state by one. The wizard, years ago, summoned a Solstice and tried to dominate its mind to bend the creature to his own will. The Solstice submitted...but only as a trick. With a wrench, the Solstice gave the wizard control of its body, but in return it took control of his. The wizard lost all of his magical powers and he --or rather, it, as the wizard's sense of self stayed with his body-- it had to spend years learning how to use the Solstice's supernatural abilities. Now it (going by the name of Cusp) is able to create homunculus-like creatures in its own image and direct them to do its bidding. It has learned how to wield a Solstice's natural ironwood claws with brutal efficiency, and it has but one goal: finding and killing its former body. Cusp no longer even knows why it hates the wizard so much, and it is unaware that killing the man would forever trap it in this icy shell.
There. A wizard's mind trapped in an elemental's body. Sort of a Glen Or Rushy Glenda situation. It is important to note at this point that this treatise is not going to concern itself with stat blocks and class features. Those are limiting factors so that the people you play with can feel less insecure in the face of your kickass character concept. When creating a character, it is crucial that you not build it primarily around a rule system; once you start doing that, you lose sight of the character you want to play and start focusing fully on what game mechanics do you want to employ.
Boring. God, game mechanics are soulless and intractable and oftentimes just dumb. Seriously, why is D&D about to go to its 5th edition (called 4th Edition, but there was a Version 3.5 with all new books, so I stand by my assertion) if not because people found previous editions just dumb enough to stop being excited about?
Anyway. All I'm trying to say here is that you should build stats off of your character concept, not the other way around. Sure, let your Gamemaster/Dungeonmaster/Quartermaster have his power trip, let him rein in your creative concept to fit his overarching plot ideas, but don't make the assumption that he'll do it before he does. I promise you, if your character concept is cool enough, you'll be allowed to play it.
DISCLAIMER ONE: If your GM/DM/QM is a jealous dick, all bets are off.
DISCLAIMER TWO: "Overinflated munchkin" is not the same as "Badass character concept," so don't be a dick yourself.
With all that said, I reiterate: this treatise will not be covering any of that topic. Now, let's move on to the real meat of the matter, the average man's method of character creation:
3) Cover Letter Attached (biking through the neighborhood)
TO BE CONTINUED...