Let's be honest. D&D is a game within which you can become an amalgamation of your fantasies: a bold, daring brute of a Fighter, a brilliant and savvy Sorcerer, or a clever and stealthy Rogue. You can be practically anything you like - your alter ego, your antithesis, your fantasy of how success would appear.
One of the most important things involved in character creation is choosing your character's name. Your character's name will be a reflection of persona and identity. A well-chosen name will be a source of pride, motivation, and visualization for long nights of gaming with this character.
We all have characters that we play in our weekly games, from D & D to Vampire. We also have active imaginations, or rather a mental picture of what our characters look like. But how many times have you found the right picture to encompass your character? Sure you have found a few pictures on the web that look "kewl" and are even close to representing your character, but are you willing to STEAL other peoples' artwork?
I came home the other day, for some R&R, and noticing my "home" (in contrast to my "away") group was ready for my (violent if anything) Gaming, I thought I might get some ideas from my past campaigns of AD&D. So, there I was, flipping away at the folder of memories, where I keep stored all my characters and evil ideas (both tried-out and new), and I noticed something that made me think.
If you've been spending any time at all at Gamegrene recently, you'd have to be blind not to notice the rather substantial discussion sparked by dwhoward's article "Roleplaying: Gig Or Game?" I have no desire to rehash the same old arguments yet again (nor do most of the participants have any desire to hear them again). What I really want to do here is use dwhoward's thought-provoking article as a jumping-off point to explore a related issue... the question of whether it is really possible to win a roleplaying game.
Read the rules, roam the boards, visit the games and it's all the same: Acting has replaced gaming in RPGs. Players are discouraged from studying the gamebooks; knowing about common monsters or enemies is disparaged under the derogatory term of "meta-gaming." Instead, characters should stare in wonder at the story and atmosphere that the Gamemaster creates, then blunder and stumble through the adventure. As long as they blunder and stumble using flowery language, Gamemasters reward them. I'm disgusted. I'm sick. How has it gotten this bad?
Lately, some of my fellow gamers and I have been discussing stereotypical characters - the kind you find yourself making over and over again whether you intend to or not. As I composed my post about "the typical Beth character"--female, stealthy and tricky, sarcastic, tragic, kind of like Janeane Garofalo with a broadsword and some unhealthy revenge fantasies--I noticed a rather interesting thing about my PCs' appearances. No matter the system, no matter the character class, I couldn't remember ever playing a character who was physically attractive in the traditional sense.
Most gamers got their start with D&D or one of the other classic fantasy RPGs, but for me that wasn't the case. The first games I played were modern-day games like Vampire: The Masquerade, with the occasional superhero game or Shadowrun session tossed in for good measure. I didn't pick up any epic fantasy games until later on in my gaming career, and even then I didn't play them very often.
Any roleplayer will tell you that character development is at the core of most roleplaying games. However, not many roleplaying systems cater for the final development of any character: their death. So I am going to put this question out there: should the roleplaying of character death be an integral part of the roleplay experience, or is the death of a character just bad luck?
Go ahead, admit it. In the very back of your gaming binder, in some dark corner of your closet, there hides a character sheet for a half-drow, half-dragon demilich fighter/mage/assassin who keeps the Tarrasque as a lap dog. Or if you're a WoD player, don't think you can just pretend no one ever saw that 5th-gen Awakened Cappadocian Abomination whose driving goal was to diablerize Caine. There's no use hiding the fact that you were, at one time, a total power gamer (I know that I was). It's kind of like the chicken pox - we all get the munchkinism disease at some point in childhood, but after that we're immune.