Here’s my thesis: Not all tabletop roleplayers want to pretend to kill monsters and steal treasure. A lot of us enjoy playing characters. We want to be involved in the story that’s being told. Most of us aren’t writers or actors, though. We can maximize a build to get the most from our abilities, but we haven’t got a clue how to create a fictional character.
So I wrote about about it. The approach is similar to a lot of worldbuilding books designed for tabletop roleplaying. Decide who you want this person to be. You look over the various components of a characters, their background, their personality, what makes them tick. Then you decide on some traits to give them. When you play, you allow those traits to influence their decisions, including their interactions with other characters.
I used to be under the impression that in some kind of wanky, bullshit way, acting was like therapy: you get in and grapple with and exorcise all those demons inside of you. I don’t believe that anymore. It’s like a snow shaker. You shake the thing up, but it can’t escape the glass. It can’t get out. And it will settle until the next time you shake it up.
Gary Oldman, interview with Henri Béhar (May 8, 1997)
I Wrote a Thing: Building Characters
Building Characters is system-agnostic, meaning it works with any tabletop roleplaying system, in any setting. You can even use it when creating other types of fiction. A good character is a good character, regardless of the genre, mechanics, or medium.
I wrote a thing. Buy a copy. Tell your friends.