My role-playing group is going to be kicking off a new campaign soon, this time using The Dresden Files, based on the series of books by Jim Butcher. So it’s that equally exciting and terrifying time when I have to create a character. Exciting because all these possibilities are open to me, unknown roads to explore, untold histories to reveal. Terrifying for exactly the same reasons.
Because not only do I have to narrow down the dozen or so ideas floating around in my head (while taking into consideration how well they’ll play with others and whether they’ll actually be fun and workable in the system), I’m going to be stuck with one of them for the foreseeable future. I always have just the tiniest bit of buyer’s remorse when I start a new character, wondering what would have happened with some of the concepts I discarded. And if that character doesn’t quite hit its stride right out of the gate, well, it’s like running through quicksand, except you’re dragging the whole party down and not just yourself.
I know I shouldn’t be too worried about it. There’s only been one or two times when I out-thought myself and got too clever for my own good. One time in particular was for a teen super-heroes game where we were to be playing students at a boarding school whose mutant powers would manifest as the game went on. And I ended up creating this Afterschool Special of a character who was a deaf-mute who’d been emotionally abused by his father because of his disabilities. When his powers revealed themselves, he just hid in his room, afraid of being even more different. Perfectly keeping in line with the character as created. Perfectly awful in terms of an enjoyable RPG character, for all concerned.
For Dresden, my idea is the owner of an occult bookstore whose shop is a sort of neutral ground for the various supernatural beings and groups in our city. To the mundanes, it’s just the weird little shop you might visit on Halloween for a cheap thrill, but which most of the time is just the place all the goth kids and Ann Rice fans hang out. For the magically aware, though, it’s a safe haven, a place to hear the latest news, to leave and receive messages, to hang with friends and parlay with enemies. It’s a perfect fit for the world of the books. I’m just worried that this might be a better concept for a non-player character, since I’m not sure what I’d be bringing to the group outside of a place to meet and a well-stocked reference library. But the game has a pretty robust character creation system, so hopefully I can mold this into something workable.
Either that or I can get bit and turned into a vampire.