A game that provides an emphasis on role-playing allow things like freedom of action, seemingly unlimited choices, and an open-ended world or story. Since we’re playing to get immersed in the world, your character’s entire existence can be story based; the more you play your character for the story, the more you are going to get out of the story. On the other hand, you certainly can play a character that constantly changes their desires, has no real fears, and always shares mutual objectives with the party, but I promise you’ll get more out of the game if you don’t.
Think about elements of your character when figuring out their personality. What drove them to become the class they are? What might their stats reveal about their personality? For example, with a low wisdom score they could be fearless, impulsive, or easily influenced. Being fearless might have caused others to look up to you as a brave adventurer your whole life. Maybe you’re used to receiving preferential treatment. Similarly, how do their past experiences manifest? A character with a history involving orcs killing their family doesn’t instantly mean they hate orcs and want to kill them all the time, they could just as well be utterly terrified of orcs and can’t stand being in the same tavern as one.
Ultimately you should have a character you think is interesting to play and will have fun playing. If writing a psychological profile for your character helps you get into the game, great! If you just want a simple smash-and-beat-em-up barbarian to kill things with, great!
Some examples for heightening the role-playing aspects in your game:
- Don’t forget to share or shine the spotlight on other players
- The story doesn’t, and really shouldn’t, revolve around your character, it is supposed to revolve around the party together. There might be an aspect if your character that takes a focus in the story, but that can just as easily impact the other characters too.
- Sometimes your character’s intricate history doesn’t become relevant – it happens and it’s okay.
- Show more than just tell about your character
- A 10 minute long monologue or side text chat explaining to everyone that your character really hates dwarves is infinitely less interesting than your character mocking or even attacking a dwarf in the tavern and the group having to deal with the consequences.
- Build relationships with PCs and NPCs, other beings in the world can be more useful to you alive than dead.
- Consider allowing the bandits that ambushed you on the road to live, they might spread word of you around town or come to join you on your adventure. As for the dragon that has been terrorizing the kingdom that you have finally hunted down, try striking a deal instead killing it – what can it give you?
- Making friends in different places can be invaluable if you need a favor or help later.
- Play your character, especially when it matters
- It’s good fun to have a low intelligence character to play as an idiot around town. But what about during combat when they need to make a split-second decision?
- Remember your character’s flaw(s).
- Putting your character into dangerous and deadly situations is cool
- Some of the most memorable parts in our favorite stories is when a character sacrifices themselves for the greater good. If a battle means something to your character, they might push their own personal safety aside to take their revenge against the bandit king or to ensure the rest of their party escapes the collapsing dungeon exit.