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An Analysis of Poorly-Conceived Characters in Roleplaying

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Sorry about the verbose title. In this thread, I will be attempting to write a huge, MoonHunter-style essay on the various types of poorly-conceived characters, and the things that make them the way they are. Bear in mind that I am not half as intelligent or good with words as the Great Swami of Roleplaying Himself (MoonHunter). And so, without further adieu, my essay.

This is a very simplistic and easily diagnosed character.

"Grob the Orcish Worrier:

Hee is a really strong Orc. He has armer made from magicul golden steal. He has   a giant axe that deestroyes anyting it touches. He can never dye and he is as powerful as a trandarg."

The issue to address is the fact that it looks like it was written by a third-grader. Spelling, punctuation, and syntax are all quite bad. It is not very detailed, and contains no hint of any sort of personality, or what this "Grob" looks like. Also, what is this armor of magical golden steel? And why does he have an axe that destroys anything it touches? The axe and the fact that he can never die make this character too powerful. Finally, we have no idea what a "trandarg" is, so we cannot say for sure just how powerful or not powerful "Grob" is.

That was quick and easy. Stay tuned for more complicated character critiques.

In this aspect, you might want to have a look at the gamewyrd site and there go over the very nicely done part where users can post the worst characters ever in the "cliched character concepts" area ( )

At any rate there are quite a few of these types of characters around, you are right.

Spelling may be an isue, but sometimes bas spelling is also caused by the fact that english is not the base language of the writer. Still you will see many characters in english, since "everybody" on the net "try to speak" a common language...

Personaly I like the part about the Trandarg, since it sounds exotic (and powerfull), but perhaps there is a goblin with that name...

But to give you another "nice" example...
Introducing your character:
"I am Hamlock the dwarven fighter who has been cast out of his clan."

"Where did you live?"
"What was your clan?" (Dwarven fighter 2)
"ehhrrr, Well I am planning on being a psion when I can."

This player managed to "run out of time" and to be honest, I did not mind to much that he never returned after the second session.



Yes, I am a bit unfair on the spelling bit. A pet peeve of mine.


"Kazigor the Barbarian:

Kazigor the Barbarian is 9 feet tall and weighs 400 pounds. He has rippling, powerful muscles and is covered in tatoos. He carries a longsword that can burst into flames and shoot fireballs at his command. He also knows how to cast magical spells and he can sail a boat. He has destroyed all his enemies, and he is noble and good."

First, 9 feet tall and 400 pounds? Is Kazigor a human being? Second, he carries the longsword that can burst into flames and shoot fireballs at his command. How did he get this powerful sword if he is a barbarian? "He also knows how to cast magical spells and he can sail a boat". How did he learn these skills as a barbarian? "He has destroyed all his enemies, and is noble and good." So he never loses? What are his defects? Nobody is perfect. Also, where does Kazigor come from? Why did he leave?

Just a thought, but a barbarian in my campaign actualy knows how to sail a boat...

His previous occupation is fisherman. (By the way HIS name is Sue.... Don't ask.....)

But a nine foot human....... hmmm he stands  about one and a half times the length of my average dutch students.... tooo .... long.

If any player would want to play this character, I would not mind much.... If he sleeps in a normal inn, the next day he is broken. (Middle age beds are just about six feet....) -2 effective str, dex, wis the next day.

Personaly I feel the description a person gives of their character may be the type you give, provided they have carefully thought it over and understand that it will not work this way in the "real" world.
(A level one character may say his longsword is covered in flames and shoots fireballs, but let him/her find the sword first. (no town where my adventures come from is so big a sword, that expensive would be available))

They are barbarians, they roam in tribes and raid and stuff. In my opinion, "barbarian" is not just a profession that one can switch to from being a fisherman, but hey, it's your game.


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