Think outside the box...

Author: Andrew /

One of the things about D&D that has so well defined it (and one of the things that some people have gripes about) is the system of classes. You see, there are some games out there (other pen-and-paper RPGs) that have point based systems where you simply start as a blank slate character and buy, using a set number of points you have to start with, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, etc and build a custom character from the ground up in that way. While these systems are very neat and can also be fun, D&D is built to give a certain feel and to really offer a large, robust system for playing certain classic archetypes. This post is, if anything, a bit of a role-play post in which I'll site certain examples and how to take your character ideas and bring them to life through D&D just as much as any other system.

The main thing that we need to talk about is what we call flavor text. Flavor text is anything in the game that is descriptive and doesn't affect the mechanics of the game. A power may say "You sweep your sword under your opponent's legs and trip him." And the power may also say that it does 6 points of damage and makes the opponent fall down. There are two parts to that; the flavor text describing what it looks like and the mechanics that tell you how the power functions. The key is to know that the flavor text can be whatever you want it to be! Only the numbers need to remain un-messed-with. So, you could say "You thrust with your sword, hitting your opponent in the chest, then knocking him over." or "You cut your opponent sharply, then kick them away." It can be whatever you want, you probably just want to have it somewhat in sync with what the power actually does (deals damage and knocks enemy over).

So, this theory can be applied to other aspects of the game as well, namely, your character. A rogue, for example, is generally thought of as a small, skinny, sneaky fellow dressed all in black who robs people and stabs them in the back. That doesn't mean that you have to appear that way. You can be a 6 ft tall, 280 lb brute who might have a sneaky side to him but prefer's the brute method generally. You could have a wizard who, instead of a frail old man, he could be a lithe young fellow who's 21 years old and in the prime of his life.

The key to all of this is to bring to light the fact that this is a game about imagination. If you envision your character looking and being a certain way, have them be that way. If you want him to be a fighter, thug type but be able to do a little holy magic, maybe make him a paladin instead and just play him as a fighter who, perhaps, was divinely empowered at some point in his life. Perhaps that could be a part of his interesting backstory!

Always think outside the box and look to be interesting. Try not to play cliches or, if you're going to, put your own twist on it. Use your imagination and think big. Some things that help too, are watching movies, reading books and exposing yourself to new ideas and other characters who could act as inspiration for new characters.

Well, thanks again for reading and as always, I hope this was enlightening! Comment away and look for new posts soon. Feel free to leave me ideas for new posts in the comment sections too! Until next time.

Andrew

4 comments:

Paul said...

I was drawn in by your style making it fun to read every post. I'm jealous of you color. Roll playing doesn't come easy for many and you make it inviting to take on the challenge. Thank you.

Andrew said...

Yup =], no problem. Thanks for the comment!

Magus Stragus said...

I have a problem with flavour with some of my players. They believe a character is only the numbers, and disregard the flavour. Wish they could see the greatness of flavour and role-playing...

Andrew said...

Well, a lot of players can be hack 'n' slash style players. What I'm guessing is that most of them see fighting as action and talking being no action. What I would advise doing is using flavor and skill challenges to make RP situations more "combat-like" and give them incentive to want to role play. I'm also guessing that there's more immediate reward to combat than RP, and if that's the case, perhaps offer bonus exp if characters role play well. Good role play is important in a role playing game. If they just want to kill scores of monsters they can go play any video game. The unique thing about D&D is the story experience and the fact that they can influence the world around them. Help them see that and make it clear to them that you'd like to see more RP, I know they'll understand. Thanks for the comment, Magus. Always a pleasure =]

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