Kathy's All-Purpose Blog

I guess some people have different blogs for different subjects, but this is it for me, baby. One blog to bring them all, or something.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Let Me Tell You About My Character: Grace

A good rule to follow among roleplaying gamers is this: whenever somebody starts a converstaion "Let me tell you about my character"--run. Abandon possessions, money, and family members. Flee immediately, or face the mind-numbing horror to come.

That's most gamers, who tend to prose on and on about the stuff their character has and the adventures their character has been on and other things you can't possibly be interested in. I'm going to try to be the exception to that rule, by talking about the origins and inspirations of a character who's been pretty successful in a couple of different games. And by "successful," I don't mean that she's killed a lot of things and garnered a lot of "kewl" gear; I mean she is an interesting character, and players and gamemasters seem to like having her in their games. And if it turns out to be boring...well, I did warn you.

I mentioned in an earlier post that it was my brother who first got me into gaming. My brother and I had different opinions, though, about what made for a really cool character. He kept trying to get me to play a dwarf fighter, feeling (as many did, I'm sure) that dwarf fighters were just the last word in ultimate.

I, however, was a girly-girl in many ways, and my idea of the perfect character had nothing to do with the (then) D&D ideal. My perfect character would be a beautiful young girl who was so sweet and nice that everybody wanted to help her, and she would ride a horse and wear long dresses and all the boys would want to marry her.

There was no room for such a character in D&D at the time.

I learned to cope with it. I played paladins, and clerics, and paladins, and wizards, and more paladins. I enjoyed myself, and gradually learned to put the "girly-girl" part of myself away in a little box whenever I had to game. For a number of reasons, I had a long haitus from roleplaying in the 90s, and only came back into it in 2000, when Wizards of the Coast released the 3rd edition of D&D.

To re-familiarize myself with the game, and to learn the new rules (and because, let's face it, it's fun), I began to create characters--just to see what I could do with this new system. I was delighted to find it so much more flexible. I approached the character-creation exercise from a number of angles, and finally hit upon the idea of asking myself how I would respond to the 17-year-old me. What would I tell somebody who wanted to make what I was now calling the Pretty Pretty Princess character?

To my utter delight, I realized it was now possible. The newly-redesigned Bard class put an emphasis on a high Charisma score, and on an ability to delight an audience. Moreover, the Bard is meant to be a "jack-of-all-trades," somebody who has some abilities in just about every aspect of the game. I quickly formed the idea of a wealthy young woman with indulgent parents, someone who had been allowed to study anything she wanted, but who had unfortunately lacked the discipline to learn to do anything really well.

I wasn't 17 anymore, though, and I knew this character couldn't just flounce through the make-believe world in her long dress and expect everybody to fall neatly into line. She had the potential to be incredibly obnoxious if I didn't give her a playable personality, so I gradually began to build one.

She would be well aware of her faults, I decided, and would laugh about them. She'd be charmingly self-depricating, and make jokes about what a useless creature she was. Once I realized I was drawing on Jane Austen's Emma for inspiration, the whole personality-building process went much more quickly.

When I was done, I had a workable character who would mesh pretty well into most adventuring groups. I've played versions of Grace in a couple of different games now, and I've found that players and GMs like having her at the table. She's a memorable and highly unusual fantasy game character, and I've had a lot of fun playing her.

Because you see, all these years, later, I've still got the girly-girl streak. I did opt for the pink Blog, after all. And I still get a kick out of playing Grace, who is the most beautifulest girl around and rides a horse and wears long dresses and all the boys want to marry her.


  • At February 3, 2005 at 10:51 PM, Blogger Beverly Marshall Saling said…

    We are so alike. I once had a character based on Marianne from "Sense and Sensibility": a cleric who worshiped the Goddess of Love and believed all the world's problems could be solved by poetry, and talking about feelings, and following your heart. I still think of her fondly.


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