What Makes a Character Memorable to You?


Just wondering what you think makes characters memorable: their “build,” or how you play them in game?

For myself, I think most of the time what a character does in game makes them far more memorable than their collection of feats, skills and abilities.


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3 Responses to “What Makes a Character Memorable to You?”

  1. Tiorn Says:

    Probably the most memorable character I ever ran was Oren Brownbear, a 2nd edition AD&D hill dwarven fighter who had been raised by kender. He knew he wasn’t a kender, but he still acted as if he had no fear of the consequences of his actions. Nothing great about the build… just kept it simple and to the raised-by-kender concept. But Oren was blessed to be part of a party in which every single character excelled at every they did, all of the time. This party was the Whup-ass crew. In every encounter, at least one party member (and usual a couple) would open up a major can of whup-ass. This party almost never critically missed, but critical hits were very common. The DM started building encounters that were almost guaranteed to kill a PC in the first round or two, unless we won initiative. That was never an issue: we always won it! At that point, the question wasn’t whether we would win the encounter or not, but how quickly we did it. The longer it took, the more likely someone might die. But it never came to that! LOL! The party got into a bar fight with the local thieves guild with both sides flipping over tables as shields for a shootout with bows. Oren’s action? Running over to grab ahold of the thieves shielding table and pulling it away from them, leaving them without any cover. The result: critical hits on bow shots from the other PCs against the thieves and the fight was over! Oren Brownbear was a character that was accidently extremely successful, along with the rest of the party. I’ll never forget it.

    Another memorable character was also from 2e AD&D. A drow fighter/mage who I named Clive Carpenter. His backstory was that he came from a family of carpenters in the underdark, but a new family of more skilled carpenters was making him expendable, especially since his chaotic good nature stuck out like a sore thumb in the drow community. We started out as zero-level characters and didn’t even really know what they would be when we started. Clive joined the major city’s constables and started dabbling in magic as well. Another player ran an evil psychopath thief and quickly got a 500gp bounty put on his head. In his attempted escape, the rest of the party pursued him and ended up being captured by a viking-raider type of ship crew. We were all forced into chains and rowing their galley along, when the psychopath thief kept insulting everyone around. That didn’t go well with the minotaur sitting next to him (who was also a member of our party), so the minotaur gored him in the head. As the raiders removed the dead body, Clive (expecting to escape and intent on collecting that bounty) asked if they would hang the thief’s head up for morale purposes. The raiders figured it would keep us in good spirits, knowing that the jerk was dead, and would put a smile on our faces every time we saw it. After the escape, that bounty money was well spent on new armor! LOL! Another encounter had our party encountering about 30 kobolds. As we were rolling initiative, the DM asked me “how’s it feel to know that they can only hurt us with a critical hit?” I must have turned extremely pale when he said that, because it was terrible timing! We used our own crit hit and misses charts that were based on the old Dragon magazine charts, except they were even harsher. The kobolds won initiative and all hell broke out. The very first kobold leapfrogged off the back of another kobold and hit the minotaur with the critical hit and the chart result was “00” – decapitation. The second kobold missed normally, but the third kobold critical missed, with the chart result of critical hit self: “00” – decapitation. After the shock wore off, the DM ruled that the third kobold went into a wild celebration after seeing the minotaurs head cut off, while losing control of his own attack. A couple more critical hits later and with the last kobold dying, the once powerful party had become demoralized and went back into shock. We buried the minotaur there, built a tomb around his grave, and founded a new city there in the wilderness around his tomb. But anyhow, this was kind of an accidental success for a memorable character as well. We had no plans for any of our characters when we started. Only the race was known with very few hit points. No build at all, the build came as we role-played along.

    Sorry for the length and run-on paragraphs. 🙂

    • EdOWar Says:

      No worries, those were some great stories! One of my most memorable characters was from 1E, a 1st level Paladin who managed to slay a baby dragon. Henceforth he was Sir Litton Dragonslayer. Of course, he never mentioned the dragon’s age or size….

      Another character was a mighty godling in a Pathfinder campaign (Godlings are a 3rd party product our GM was using). We’d been ejected from ‘heaven’ for misbehaving, and so had to make our way as a mortal until we learned our lesson. In our first session, we encountered a goblin who fled from us. Fearing he would summon reinforcements, Fahbian flung his greatsword at the goblin, scoring a natural 20. From a spontaneous decision on my part, Fahbian’s ‘thing’ become flinging greatswords, and usually hitting despite the penalties.

      Thanks for commenting. Cheers.

      • Tiorn Says:

        The Dragonslayer reminds me of the Acquisitions Incorporated game when Benwin finishes off the green dragon that was just barely hanging on to life. Just about everyone else did the damage, but he owned it. lol I love those games. I don’t get to play enough, but I feel like I’m at the table with them because I have been there! 😀

        But yeah, I think its the game play that trumps everything else on making characters and adventures memorable. Clive had no build at all at the beginning and was being developed to use 2 short swords with two-weapon fighting style and ambidexterity… but that build changed when he got ahold of a long sword of sharpness. But none of that mattered with the interaction with NPCs and other PCs over time. And that 500gp bounty helped a lot too. lol

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