Last week’s writing fantasy took a look at how to create characters with D&D in a general way. This time, however, we’re going to see an example with one character I created recently for a story. You don’t need to use all the character options that Dungeons and Dragons give you. The trick to having fun and creating a compelling character is to flex the imagination muscle. You can change things as you write, and can make your characters as close to the game or as distant as you wish.
We can use D&D sheets to create characters, but these are just guides. You can add, invent, or erase from the list as you see fit. The idea is to start creating a character that will fit the Universe we have created previously. Let’s take an example from my pool of characters. Let me introduce you to Saga.
Status: Saga is a geek teen high fairy (high elf in D&D) who is studying to be a Bard. Her target is to be a trickster and a story-teller. She loves magic, creating illusions, and using words in weird ways. She likes traveling, and she’s eager on taking quests. At the moment she’s a loner, but she’s open to finding a traveling companion.
Physical appearance: Although she’s supposed to be slender, she’s almost chubby. She has dark brown and blue-green hair. She likes to wear her hair short, one side longer than the other. She also wears spectacles. She has long and thin fingers and loves to play with her hands. She has a colorful tattoo on her right arm with magic words of protection. She loves colors and quirky fashion but is dressing in darker colors for hiding.
Her skin is pale but burns quickly under the sun acquiring a greenish tan. Although she is quite average, her looks are appealing, and her personality makes her stand out. And this is a problem because she is hiding from danger.
Alignment: she’s chaotic good. For the most part, she tends to do good, but when you never know with her. Plus, she tends to find weird solutions for very normal plans. In short, no one knows what to expect.
Personality traits:, for the most part, she seems aloof, but she isn’t. She’s listening, watching, and noticing everything. She has a warm heart, although people tend to see her as cold. She has a tendency for theatrics and flamboyancy. She likes to cosplay, play different characters, and collect other people’s weaknesses. She loves reading books, invent stories, and imagine new worlds. Although she is very self-centered, she has empathy for other people as well. Although, her ways of showing are pretty strange.
Ideals, morality, bonds, and flaws: her main problem is mischief. Whatever she does, in the end, she ends up plotting some mischief. She’s being bullied at school for standing out. Although she wants to hide, her true nature surfaces and the others are reminded of how little and stupid they are. Plus, she rejoices bullying the bullies. And that can put her in trouble. She’s a little bit lazy, and fears letting her true self out.
As you can see, creating a character entails describing a lot of things about her. I’ve only shared a little amount of information on Saga, but there’s more. By using D&D character sheets, you can go as deep as you need. For example, Saga can do acrobatics, knows a lot about history, is excellent investigating, but has zero abilities handling animals. She speaks many languages (Common, Elvish, Sylvan, Celestial, and Infernal), and is excellent with simple weapons.
You’ll notice that in the guide you are invited to create a character’s backstory. It’s a great idea to take time and write as much as you need to make your character real. In the case of Saga, I’ve gone as far as to explain a day at the Bard school. It’s not only essential to have an idea about how she became to be who she is, but also what she does on a daily basis.
I’ve also taken traits from other fictional characters that I like, like Rhysand from the ACOTAR series or Nikolai Lantsov from the Grisha Trilogy. Although D&D characters tend to dress in a certain way, Saga can be as funky as Luna Lovegood. So, as you can see, you can take inspiration from virtually anywhere, including yourself!
Tips to get things right. Consider creating a file on your computer, or buying a notebook to write down absolutely everything that comes to your mind about the character. The more information you have, the better.
Don’t be afraid to get crafty. Creating collages to see how your character will look like is a great idea. If you have no idea how to doodle, just take some magazines and cut and create new faces. If you prefer a digital approach, consider creating Pinterest boards for your character.
It’s also a good idea to have a notebook where to write all the thoughts that come to your mind about your character and the world she inhabits. Or, if you’re more digital, just take notes on your smartphone. Or record your voice if that works better for you. Do what fits you, but don’t lose the idea just because you had no means to keep records of it.
Dare to imagine your character in different sets, challenges, and quests. Write about a dull day in her life. Then write about what she would do if she had to face a dragon.
And if you feel like going a step further, why not using your character for more things than just your novel? If you like D&D, consider using her for that. Or, if you like to cosplay, us it to bring her to life. The more real the character feels to you, the easier it will be to write five hundred pages about her adventures.
The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Box [The Book Depository] [Waterstones] can help you crafting a brand new fantasy world. It has guides, dice, and character sheets that you can use to craft your characters. If you want to go a step further, you can try the Dungeon Master’s Guide [The Book Depository] [Waterstones] and the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook [The Book Depository] [Waterstones].
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Copyright: Top image on this post (C) depepi.com / Loki banner made by dePepi with an official (C) Marvel image / Character sheet (C) D&D / D&D image from Geek Reply.