What I Have Learned About Making Fun/Successful Characters

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about tabletop gaming lately. It has gotten me thinking about the things I’ve done that have been good or bad throughout my life as a gamer.

I’ve been gaming for about fifteen years, mostly as DM/GM, but I’ve played my share of characters, too.
Below are the things I have learned about making good characters:

#1 Think about the group. Ideally you will be doing character creation WITH your group, but if you are joining late, or replacing a dead or retired character the most important thing to do is to tie the new guy into the plot and the group. You can’t play a lone wolf in a roleplaying game with a group of players.

#2 Have a weakness! I can’t stress this one enough, the most interesting and fun characters I’ve ever GM’d for or played have all had crippling weaknesses. These can be anything from exceedingly low stats, to some kind of psychosis. Any kind of weakness, anything that makes your character harder to play also makes your character funner to play.

#3 Start with a solid concept. If you need to start with stats and build a character around them; this is not the post for you. You want to play stats in a probability game and that’s not what I’m talking about here at all. I’m talking about making a CHARACTER. For that you need to have an idea, and again, it doesn’t need to be complex. You could start with something as simple as “I want to play a healer.” Healer is your concept, now you can start working your stats around that.

#4 Avoid cliches. It might seem fun to play a powerful wizard named Merlin, but eventually you end up forgetting that you’re not playing THAT Merlin. You end up trying to force the game to fit your idea of who Merlin is rather than letting the game grow organically around your character.

#5 Tie yourself to someone else. The more deeply your character is rooted to the other characters in the group the more you’ll be able to play off their gaming and use them to guide your own actions and behaviors. You should have friends, family, or a love interest among the other characters for greatest mutual enjoyment.

The game is all about everybody’s enjoyment, so keep that in mind as you are playing your character, as well as while you are creating it. If someone’s not having fun with your character, you need to ask yourself “is it because of the character, or are they just having a bad day?” If it is the former, you should talk to your GM about changing something so everyone can enjoy your character as much as you do.