June 25, 2015

Concept vs. Character: Creating Gillix Growley

Behold Growley.

It took a lot of effort to get my D&D logic into shape when creating this guy. Creating a grumpy, headstrong, lance-wielding rock gnome of awesome was an experience unlike any other I have had when creating a character. I learned not only how to play a gnome, but how to play as a character built on more than just fighting and surviving. So Gillix was born.

I owe Gillix "Leadfoot" Growley's existence to my friend Sparky. She's very busy and doesn't get a lot of time to stop by at the table, but when she's absent, she's writing backstories and creating characters. Today, we got together for fried chicken and Indonesian stir-fried bean sprouts, comparing our characters. Like we normally have, we brought our character sheets, dice, and miscellaneous D&D supplies like my 5th Edition PHB.

"Let's make a character, pass some time," Sparky suggested, flipping the book open as I nodded. "Alright, what should we do?"

I pointed out a few classes and races that I'd created or even played before, and she highlighted hers. What it boiled down to, among few other options, was that we'd never created either a gnome or a fighter. So we set off to work without haste, point-buying and laughing over different names and traits. It was my idea that he'd want to carry around a weapon much taller than he, so we allowed him a fighting style that would make it easier to fight with two-handed versatile weapons.

"Alright, but some weapons may be too heavy for the little guy," Sparky pointed out. "We'll need to buff up his strength and sacrifice a little bit of something else." I frowned. I didn't want to put aside intelligence or wisdom, since both were important to adventuring...but constitution and dexterity were major components of his class, so that couldn't be sacrificed. If we wanted Growley to exude confidence like we'd imagined, we'd want his charisma to stick around, too. It was all important to keeping him alive and well as the damage machine of the group.

Just as creating a character around rolled stats requires sacrifice, going the other way around - having a set character in mind and adjusting point-bought characteristics towards their attributes - requires diligence and the ability to stay true to one's character. In my opinion, both ways of going about it are natural and understandable. For those rolling, the fact of chance plays a large role in defining who a character is, while the ability to customize exactly which attributes get specific scores invites players to mold a personality and characteristic set along with them. Unfortunately, I was doing neither. I feel justified in my logic - I wanted to create a character that would survive and thrive in a dangerous campaign setting, and while I had characteristics in mind, they simply didn't transfer over. I realized this, however, before I ever played Gillix - and in fact, I haven't yet.

Shortly after, following a long twenty-minutes of careful adding, subtracting, prioritizing, and distraction, I tore down and completely re-did Gillix's layout. I left him with serious gaps in his stats, some attributes having a modifier of (-1) and others (+3) to correspond with what kind of character Gillix would end up as. Even though he was a fighter and knew how to be light on his feet, the fact that he preferred to stomp around anyways and make himself known detracted from both his charisma and dexterity. However, I could then add onto important things like Constitution and Strength. After having played a wizard for a few months, it was difficult but necessary to have intelligence and wisdom become the bottom two traits for him. Someone else would have to take care of the smarts.

When the next character turnover comes around, I'll be playing an unbalanced little gnome by the name of Gillix 'Leadfoot' Growley. He's not charismatic enough to get his way with anyone he wants, but his hotheadedness and inflated ego help him exert confidence on the battlefield as he hauls a lance potentially two or three times his height into the unsuspecting ribs of his opponents. He has a tendency to shout and stomp, but those things make him who he is. I learned over creating him that the second word in PC (in D&D context) is character, and not 'survival machine'. Characters die, and I'm planning from this point forward to create in terms of acknowledgement of this unavoidable fate...

...but for now, I've got some faces to (hopefully) lance.

Have you had difficulties creating a character? Which of your characters was your favorite to create and/or play? Want my opinion on tabletop cookie selection, or just a shoutout on Twitter for being awesome? Leave me a comment below! 

1 comment:

  1. I have never played but the whole process sure sounds fascinating and as critical in the creation part as answering the questions right in Pirates. :D I can't wait to hear of his adventures.


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