Earthdawn 4th LGG
Flesh out the Character
Now you know how your character fits into the game, but what kind of person is he? The following suggestions will help you flesh out your character and create a unique individual.
An individual’s personality defines how that person interacts with the world. Is he stubborn?
Cynical? Cunning? Spiteful? Trustworthy? Larcenous? Altruistic? Characters in Earthdawn can be defined the same way. The easiest way to define your character’s personality is to assign him some personality traits. Personality traits are descriptive labels for the way a character acts and interacts with the world.
Different personality traits (positive, neutral, and negative) can help players and gamemasters begin forming their characters’ personalities. Choose one or two traits or make up
one or two of your own. Make sure your gamemaster approves them. If you later find that you want to round your character out further by adding more traits, work with your gamemaster to determine what caused your character to change.
Personality and Discipline
Your character’s Discipline can be an important element in determining his personality. As mentioned earlier, a character’s Discipline provides a framework through which the character sees the world. For example, an Archer might interpret a particular event in a completely different way than a Nethermancer or a Swordmaster. The individual Discipline descriptions provide guidelines for how characters of each Discipline interact with the world.
One way to further strengthen the effect of your Discipline on your character is to select personality traits that fit with his Discipline. That is, the traits are as much a representation of the character’s Discipline as his personality.
Many of the Discipline descriptions use personality traits to create the “feel” of the Discipline. For example, Cavalrymen are described as “fierce mounted warriors,” many people consider Nethermancers “eerie,” and Sky Raiders are known to be “proud.” These simple examples demonstrate how personality traits can help define characters of a given Discipline. Select one or two traits that define your character’s behavior as an adept of his Discipline, using these examples as a guide.
Once you establish your character’s personality, decide what made him that way. An easy way to do that is by answering the sorts of questions authors and readers might ask about a character in a story. You may decide this information is not that important. That is certainly acceptable, but the more of these questions you answer, the better handle you will have on your character. Besides, this gives you a chance to answer these questions in ways you never would, or could, in real life.
What is your character’s gender? Whether your character is male or female can make a difference. T’skrang females hold most of the political power in their communities. In dwarf, human, ork, and elven lands, power is usually distributed fairly evenly between men and women. Trolls perpetuate a male-dominated society. Obsidimen and windlings tend to think most gender roles are pretty silly.
How large (or small) is your character? Are you of average size for your race? Stout? Tall? Skinny? Could anybody but another obsidiman tell a skinny obsidiman when he saw one?
What color is your characters hair, eyes, and skin? The typical options are described in the Namegiver Races chapter, but they should not limit your choices. Personal appearance and style is starting to be accepted again in Barsaive. During the Scourge, conformity was important—if everyone acted and dressed in a similar way, then people could be reasonably sure that the guy with the flame-red eyes wasn’t just making a fashion statement. Life is better now; personal freedom and freedom of expression are on the rise. Of course, some guys with flame-red eyes are not doing it just to match the rubies on their dagger handles.
What is your character’s general appearance? What would be someone’s first impression of your character? Does the character dress stylishly or conservatively? Does he have any distinctive marks or decorative tattoos? Does the character follow the dwarf modes of fashion or reject them for something different? Is your character attractive? Intimidating? Approachable? Does your character slouch, walk gracefully, or march as if always on patrol?
Where was your character born? Your character’s race can be the determining factor for where he was born. Troll clans tend to live in mountain ranges, while elves come from forests and jungles. T’skrang are native to lakes and rivers. Many dwarfs come from the Kingdom of Throal. Humans and orks grow up nearly anywhere, as do obsidimen. Is your elf from a village or town near Blood Wood, or from a forest in the southern part of Barsaive? Is your troll a Sky Raider from the Crystal Peaks or from another mountain range? Does your character even remember where he was born? Some ork tribes roam all over the land, never staying in one place for more than two or three months. How old is your character? The Scourge ended about a hundred years ago, though some kaers stayed sealed for decades after it ended. Are you young enough that the Scourge seems like ancient history? Are you old enough to remember living in a sealed kaer or citadel?
Does your character have a family? What are they like? Does he have any siblings? Are his mother and father still alive? What do they think of their child’s lifestyle? What about the rest of the family? Are they poor, middle-income, wealthy? Are they pillars of the community, or are they working to knock those pillars down? Has your character begun his own family? If not, does he want to start one? Does the rest of your character’s family want him to settle down?
What are your character’s spiritual beliefs? Your character could be an atheist, but in the world of Barsaive, where the Passions walk the earth, such an attitude would seem mighty strange. Does your character worship any of the Passions? Does your character lean more toward one Passion than the others? Are there one or more Passions your character wants nothing to do with?
What is your character’s moral code? Under what conditions will your character kill? Steal? Lie? Does he adhere to a personal code of ethics about violence? What about sex? Or the Horrors? Would your character ever make a deal with a Horror? Even if he was certain he could get away with it?
What special qualities does your character possess? Can your character put a deal together that even dwarfs would envy? Does he have a knack for spotting unusual jewelry? Does your character see the quest through, no matter what it takes? Does he get along with members of other races?
What is it your character simply cannot do? Does gold run through your character’s fingers? Does your character find it impossible to pass up a chance to get that really interesting magic item? Does your character freeze during the first moments of a romantic encounter? Does your character panic under stress? Does your character speak his mind at all the wrong times?
What does your character love? Throal? Living in the Caucavic Mountains? The smell of ginger tea? Ale and good tavern talk? The bustle of a busy market? Finding just the right way to finish off a spell? A clever comment? Another person?
What does your character hate? The Therans? Those stuck-up dwarfs? Nethermancers who do icky things to animals? Gate guards who ask personal questions? Kings who think they can order you around? Slow service? Assassins who just haven’t
got the sense to leave you alone?
What is your character’s Name? Your character’s Name is very important. In Earthdawn, the Names of people, places, and things have meaning and power. If your character often stares at others with a stern, cold look, he might be Named Ice-stare or Shiver-eyes. Was your character born with the same Name he uses now? Is his current Name a nickname? If so, who gave it to him?