Tag Archives: ideas

“Who Would You Rather Be?”

6 Feb

As mentioned previously, I gave up being a DM, and now I’m merely a player. Which means creating a new character in D&D… which like blog posts, are a great way to exercise your creativity. It’s not always your idealized self–just a different shade of you.

When I went back to roleplaying, I really did it because I wanted my son to have the experience of playing with other people. So naturally, when my son wants to continue DM’ing, and needs another player, I’m along for the ride. So I created a lizardfolk monk–because let’s face it, non-human characters are far more interesting. So to make it seem more alien, the source book suggests not using “I” or pronouns in your speech, which I thought was pretty cool. So instead of “Let’s go to the store” you say, “Supplies are needed, store imperative.” However, lizardfolk are pretty rare, so I gave him a background of anthropologist, which I interpreted as “he was trained to kill humans, but instead, got fascinated by them and decided to join them.”

For those not conversant in 5th Edition, apart from your initial rolls for attribute scores, you get certain advantages for picking your character’s background, and once you hit third level, you get the choice to pick your class path… which is a way of customizing your character. So a monk can a traditional “I kick ass to promote peace” path, but can also be a monk who studied sword fighting, or a monk who does astral projection and other spell casting abilities. It allows the player to do what they want inside the class, instead of multi-classing, which means taking a level in another class (ranger, wizard, et al) to get to the goal you want.

So for my regular campaign, I thought about using the same character, but since the new DM wants the character on D&D Beyond, I didn’t have access to the “Anthropologist” background (because it’s in Tomb of Annihilation), and it loses a lot if I went with another. So I decided to go with an alternate monk character. [I really don’t like casting spells, so that cuts out a lot of character classes.] This time, I decided to go with the Drunken Master path, because a) I love the Drunken Master kung fu film series with Jackie Chan (1978, 1994) and b) because I thought having a drunken character might add to the fun of the character.

However, as I went through the background list, I found the Haunted One idea fascinating. Originally appearing in Curse of Strahd (which is the D&D vampire campaign–I didn’t like it much), I thought, “Maybe my character drinks to take away the pain.” Which then allowed me to write a great backstory that I love. Because we’re using a point buy system (instead of rolling for attributes), I decided to gain a couple points by lowering my intelligence to 6 (10 being average) but raising my wisdom. So this makes him street smart, but can’t learn complex concepts. He can do simple jobs, or complex ideas like martial art katas with a lot of repetition, and would probably talk in short sentences. I figured that he’d be a lot of like simpler Amos Burton in The Expanse, who is a streetwise tough guy, but doesn’t worry about… much at all.

What do you think? Have you had a really good character concept you’ve played with? Do you use RPG characters to generate story ideas? Let me know in the comments below.

Biography with Submission

12 Jan

Phrases you read over and over again sometimes strike me funny–like “Biography with Submission,” which sounded like an erotic novel where a librarian gives into her dark desires. So many things out of context!

I wasn’t surprised when I went on Amazon and found, not one, not two, but seven different erotica based around librarians. I imagine there are lots of sexually frustrated librarians in the world, and not all of them male. 🙂 Often times this happens to me, where I’ll read some boring phrase and think, “Gee, that sounds funny,” and my mind will go off on a brilliant tangent.

“Client Acquisition” – A corporate headhunter is tired of getting rejected for job offers with his company, and in order to make the quota, decides to take things into his own hands. Kidnapping the prospective client, there’s only one way out of this nightmare… take the job!

Hybrid Publishing” – A struggling publisher decides they want to grow the perfect author. However, their experiment gets out of control–can they still keep the money while keeping his perfect author in check?

This is a fun story generating exercise–in fact, my next story project is based off my wife misreading one of the titles on our bookshelf. She saw Death in the Age of Steam and read “Death in the Age of Seitan.” After a big laugh, the more I got into the idea. What if there was a future in which eating meat not only became unacceptable, but outlawed? So I have the vision of a police detective in some rural area whose on the beat of the deer murderers. I’m still in the world building stage, and I’m also apprehensive about writing two sci-fi mystery novels in a row, but the idea intrigues me.

By the way, Death in the Age of Steam is a short story compilation including a story by Editor Ed, one of my frequent blog contributors, which is really good. There’s also another good story at the end, but it’s cyberpunk not steampunk, but the others… eh, I can take or leave it. But I’d recommend reading Underneath the Holy City. If you want more of Editor Ed, check out Predatory Practices!

What do you do to generate story ideas? What helps you build up your imagination? Let me know in the comments below!

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