Everybody loves a good hero. What’s better is a good hero with a unique twist! From a sugar rush barbarian, to a wizard who throws books when enemies get too close, or even a warlock that plays cards with their patron to cast spells. “I got a full house! I’d like a counterspell please.” To be honest, I’m really liking that warlock myself, and I’m going to expend a bardic inspiration through this pre-written article, to help you find that character concept everybody will fall in love with!
How to do it
To start, you need a character. We have plenty of articles to guide you through that, but for now, you just need your class and race (you can even work in backstory). Once you have those, read them. If you have a subclass, read that too. However, don’t just read the features, be sure to read the flavor and descriptions as well, as those can give you even more ideas. Then take that idea, and fit in a different explanation, or tack something on.
Simple right? Yes. Simple, but challenging. Let me give you an example: A Divine Soul Sorcerer Aarakocra. Now I’m going off of their subclass specifically. Whenever they cast a spell, a bright silhouette of someone they care about (alive or dead), stands behind them, aiding with the action. Better yet, when they fly at low health, you can see these silhouettes lifting them up, refusing to let them down. Then when they cast their most powerful spells, a legion of these figures signifying everyone they know and love show up to lend their strength and support.
As you can see, you don’t need a traumatic backstory to make a character somebody would love to play. Because let’s be honest here, you and I already love the character, and we haven’t even interacted with them yet, or seen how they behave outside of combat. Who doesn’t want to say: ‘My friends aren’t my weakness, they’re my strength!’ In response to a villain’s taunt, with a legion of angels to back that up! Awesomeness to that!
Need another example? Let’s go with a Ranger Genasi (Water). I’m not even picking a subclass here, let’s start level 1. In their spare time, they run a tavern called “The Wolf Dancer’s Den” (which I used the format Creature, Descriptor, Residence). As a result, they typically mix up drinks and even cook up their tavern specials on a regular basis during their travels. Better yet, he uses what his patrons tell him about the terrain as his Ranger training.
Pretty cool huh? It gives the player a reason to still be level 1 when they start their journey, as well as a downtime activity they can do to make things happen between quests! And if you’ve noticed, backstory and personality don’t really matter that much with having a good concept! I mean… Sure, I added a tavern to the backstory, but if it makes your character that much more unique, then the DM can scale your earnings based on location and taxes. Even better, if you can’t reliably make it to sessions but can at least warn your DM, then that’s also a reason for your character to say: “Sorry guys, I got a delivery coming in, and I gotta oversee the process.” or, “I’m a little worried about my staff. They usually write letters, and I haven’t heard from them in a while.”
Ok, still not convinced? Fine. Let’s take the most generic of classes and races, and do something cool with them. Champion Fighter Human. Having found a passion for dance earlier in their life, they want to put on a performance worthy of more than just kings, queens, or even dragons, but worthy of attention from all deities. Because of this, they only wear leather and use a long spear which they twirl around their body, as they dance through the battlefield, to master every move that has held them from that perfect performance.
Maybe not as cool as the Aarakocra, or the genasi, but then again if you think about it, the need for perfection in this particular fighter makes sense, and is a driving force in adventuring. They need to travel in order to practice their craft and aim for the stars. At the very least, this gives you a goal AND a theme for flavoring your attacks. If you want to make something awesome, you just need to be creative.
Not that easy?
Now, what if you aren’t a creative person? How do you do something like what I’ve done? You can actually look at something you like and take inspiration from that. Such as a wizard who casts their spells as if they were writing a program, or even has a passion for one of their proficiencies. Then you can act on it. Proficient in cards? Can’t say no to a good card game! Proficient with drums? Anything is a drum if you’re brave enough. Proficient in cooking? What’s that glowing moss taste like?
Another thing you can do to help is watching others improvise. See how they take the first thing that comes to mind and they make it so incredibly wacky! If you need help finding inspiring stories, you can check out another article I’ve written that can help you find them. This article will still be here when you return. In fact, you can even use the ideas I came up with as a baseline.
Unfortunately, that is all I have that can be applied to a wide range of characters, people, campaigns, and so on. But with that, take this d12 and give your character some added flair! Good luck!