WISH 85 :: Character Inspirations

WISH 85: Character Inspirations
What inspires you to create characters? Do you have partially-developed characters in mind for use when you get into a new campaign? Do you shop characters around, or do you come up with new characters when you get into a campaign? Why? If you GM, are you bothered by receiving a solicitation for a “generic” character, or does it enthuse you to get a solid proposal even if it’s not closely tailored to your game?

Alas, I am more a GM than a Player—and my answer slants that way.
And I am reminded of the “Heart Character” question I answered here.

As a GM, I want to think I’m getting a character written in response to the game I’m proposing. At worst, I hope that you’ve made divergent changes to a PC you want to try in my game that you’ve tried before in another game.
At cons, I don’t think the above may apply—-unless you bring along a PC who carries so much history that the PC doesn’t make sense unless the GM buys into all the baggage. That’s usually not fair.
Then again, a ‘solid character’ is solid regardless and that’s why they’re “solid” right? Heh.
No, I don’t have a head full of partially created characters ready to go.
No, I really haven’t shopped characters around.
Even if a PC gets cut off in a short play life—I always assume that to drag them into another game is to twist them out of shape.
I have twisted some familiar characters out of shape for con one-shots. No sweat.
What inspires? Jeez.
Normal process: I do new characters for each campaign I�m invited to. I certainly might have a reputation for Particular Kinds of characters—even though this is unlikely since I don’t do a lot of campaigns. That would be interesting news. I’d like to hear from folks who are willing to conjure a pattern from the PCs I’ve done over time.
I know what my wife would say about my NPC creations—but I’ll let her chime in if she cares to.
I get inspired by Characters that know themselves better than not. They may learn more, but they know themselves enough to make competant choices. I am often willing to play characters that “round out” a genre or game. So I might play roles that others don’t feel comfy with. I might even play a stinker, so to speak, if the GM has a purpose in including one.
Actually, that’s an important part of the answer. I am inspired by the GM. By the direct connect to the creative force vibrating in the game. By the GM’s willingness to spin a tale, and include a gestalt design with Players. I really like to feel my PC is rooted in the game in a special connection.
And where to the ideas come from?
Human Mystery.



  1. Hmm. Shopping characters around.
    You got pretty lucky with the three Charles Argent children that are now Corwin Fenneval grandkids.
    Colette, Rene and Simone have a sibling releationship established in another campaign, and they come into the con game with that dynamic existing.
    The trick, as you astutely point out, is to twist them enough to fit the new world.
    I was really glad to get an in-game connection with my older and oh-so-eccentric sister Chloe. Thank you for that!
    “Azure!” *sob*
    Liz and I were wish-talking of another sort last night, and the topic came up of traveling to Paris. I said that I would want to get a grasp of French before traveling there, and she said, yeah, but the best way to learn is by immersion.
    Well, I said, we could certainly do that by using French with our two characters… both in FtF or phone conversations, and in text via email. Talk about giving life to your studies, eh?

  2. Wow. What a concept that would be. Immersive telephone.
    The first year for Argent Rose, I told folks “please, I don’t speak French, and this isn’t about French jokes either!”
    Luckily, everyone has been swell. No politics except, “there is no King of France!”
    on topic:
    Yes, I was thinking about how:
    “You got pretty lucky with the three Charles Argent children that are now Corwin Fenneval grandkids.”
    Even as I realize they have more history ties than the GM even might guess.

  3. Funny that game should be mentioned — I’ve been itching all day to use my character in it as an example for this post. 🙂
    So — my usual inspiration for creating characters is to combine interesting people from real life or fiction with a couple of good solid hooks into a game world and run with that.
    For instance, when I sat down to create a character for Argent Rose, I read over Arref’s background for the world. What caught my fancy was the notion of artists in the extra-long Argent night. And then I thought of Sligo fiddle/flute player Peter Horan, age 74 when I met him. Every night for an entire week he stayed up until 5am playing music, then five hours later was in a classroom teaching. Amazing.
    What would he be like if the night’s were five times longer? Well, true grandkid-of-Corwin Endurance would be a plus. He’s got to be a lot younger to fit in the timeline. He would have come of age during the Irish Civil War — that has to make a difference. He is an artist with his music, but more rough hewn than most of the characters hanging around Paris. His personality spills out from this. There isn’t much left of the Peter Horan inspiration other than a deep, abiding love of making music, a geographic location, and half a name.
    But that’s how I work. Ideas grabbed from everywhere, and then a couple of good hooks to hold it together.
    Incidentally, I think this is why I tend to stay away from Elders games at cons. If the universe is generic, I don’t know where to sink the hooks in, how to make the character mine. And I end up being uncomfortable during the game because of it.

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