How to plan a character

If you are starting out it may be difficult to come up with character ideas right off the bat, so here are some good starting points and steps to coming up with a character you want to play.

First, what does a character entail.
Characters are not simply stats on a page, nor are they simply the history of their lives before the game starts. Characters contain many parts, but here’s the big parts.
1. Name
2. What they do
3. How they do
4. Why they do it
5. Appearance*
6. Personality and Mannerisms*
7. Gameplay mechanics
8. History before the game (backstory/origins)

*Often I combine this into the question: Who would play them in a movie?

No one of those parts is any better than another as a starting point for building a character. I have personally started work on a character with only one or two of those pinned down and discovered the rest from what “makes sense.”

Now here are some more specific examples of how to get started.

Option A) Base them off someone you know:
Whether it is a friend, historical figure, or fictional character, take someone you like and start looking at what you like about them. Maybe its the way they talk. Maybe its the way they act. Maybe its what they stood for. Whatever it is take those elements and mold them into a complete character. While I don’t endorse changing a couple of minor details and calling it a day, if you are truly stuck for inspiration do it. Most of the time the character you plan is going to differ quite a bit from the character you play.

Option B) Base them off a mechanic.
Sometimes I find a mechanic in the game that is so interesting, I use it as a jumping off point for building a whole character. Maybe you are reading about animal companions and you know you must have a character with a dachsund companion named Mr. Fitzbottom because you just do. Well, great! From there think about what a person with a dog named Mr. Fitzbottom would be like. What would that kind of person dress like etc.

Option C) Base them off what people need.
Pathfinder is a team game most of the time, so sometimes filling the gaps in a party is the best way to make sure you are useful. This is fine. This is where most of my characters start, but only the worst characters end there. Just because you may be filling a roll that is not your favorite you can still work with all the other elements to make them into a character you enjoy.

Option D) Base them off art!
I have built many a character off of a picture that looks frikking sweet. The forum I frequent even has a thread devoted to pictures that inspire “our next characters.” But you can take your inspiration from songs. What kind of person would sing Brand New’s “Sowing Season” or Five Iron Frenzy’s “Cannonball” ? I guess I’m trying to get to the point that anything can be used as a jumping off point, so if you are stumped for inspiration just consume some media.

In regards to mechanics…

Pick something that you want your character to be able to do then go about meeting the criteria for that as you level up. If you can’t figure out how to get something done ask for help, but maybe start with google.

How to plan a character

Pathfinder Adventurer's Guild Chase_Brandstone JamesMDM