What makes for a good character?
I have strong opinions about what makes a good character, probably strong enough that I can’t do them justice in a post this small. Instead of a series of essays, I’m just going to put some requirements in bullet point format. Maybe in a while I’ll expand on them:
- A good character needs to grow given sufficient time. If the only things that change between L1 and L20 are numbers, you don’t have a character, you have a build.
- Every part of a good character works together. The character should feel like you say they feel, and their build should support that feeling, and you should play them with that feeling in mind.
- A good character works with the group. Lone wolves are for novels, not cooperative tabletop gaming, and a grimdark ranger will not gel with a table of jokers.
- A good character works with the setting and the campaign. They shouldn’t bring you out of the game by their mere existence, and they shouldn’t exist primarily to usurp or frustrate the DM.
- A good character should be unique. They shouldn’t be the same build, personality, name, or miniature you use in every campaign, and they shouldn’t be an obvious bootleg of a pre-existing character.
- A good character is fun. This is the most important part. You can have a one-note samurai Iron Man who constantly undermines the rest of the party, but if everybody thinks he’s hilarious they’ll probably remember that character more fondly than the inoffensive but boring cleric struggling with the family she left behind on her journey to retrieve the artifact her mentor stole. If you’re enjoying yourself and you’re helping everybody else enjoy themselves, that’s the point of the game.
This isn’t some scale I use to measure characters; I don’t compare each build to this list and decide a character who meets five points is better than a character who only meets three. If I did, I’d have several characters of my own who don’t qualify. But if I see a character and I don’t think they’re good, it’s probably because they’re missing more of these than I’d like.