An Action Adventurer
Last time, we focused on my addiction to drama and making characters that try to fit into the genre. I also mentioned my interest in Korean action films, and I should add Chinese films, too. To me the film industries of these two countries lead the action movie genre, especially for gamers. If you want to get into this, listen to the Jianghu Hustle podcast.
You see, I am not just into dramatic play; I like a good action game too. Just as dramatic games require you to focus on the social aspects of the game, action games need you to be focused on combat, so you can hold your own from one encounter to another.
I was going to tell you that an adventure character should focus on fighting ability, but I think a more forgiving approach is needed. You need to be combat-efficient. If you make a non-fighter character—whether as a flawed character or a healer character, for instance—at least give them the ability to defend themselves. Adventuring is not a place for passive characters; not only can they get killed, they can get others killed, and this could anger your fellow Players. You don’t want to be that Player, do you?
But even if you're playing a tank, you should give your character secondary skills beyond fighting. This true even for specialist non-fighters like healers and scholars. Skills such as Drive, Swim, Detect Traps, or any number of adventure skills will act as force multipliers for the party, helping the whole group overcome those challenges that make up an adventure.
After picking up skills, its common to look at flaws and special abilities. Take a close look at these and pick them carefully to strengthen your character. Yes, this might feel like min-maxing, but you’re going up against terrible odds, not sitting around the throne room flirting with the King’s sons! As for flaws, these can be particularly dangerous in action adventures, so they should definitely be considered carefully. Do they hamper your primary and secondary abilities? If they do, you should seriously reconsider them. Most flaws should be role-playing and background related.
Speaking of backgrounds and role playing, I prescribe to the general theory that adventurers tend to be either outcasts or thrillseekers. This makes them rough-and-tumble people who don’t belong in civilized societies. Think about it: if your cleric was just an average person, they would be practicing their faith in a temple, not on the 4th floor of a dungeon preaching with a mace to bugbears.
The first question to ask is yourself is how or why your character chose to become an adventurer. Once you understand this you can start to write about how they got there, and what were the results of that path. Another thing to do is to think about the personalities of your characters. I strongly suggest looking at astrology and the Myers-Briggs personality test to create new personalities. If you want to avoid the cliché tavern get-together, work on forming meaningful links to the other Players and NPCs. Lastly, investigate your character's goals so you know where you're going. Of all these aspects, personality and links to other characters are the most important things to consider in an action adventure game. These will create dynamic character interactions that add another level of interest to the adventure.
Just like dramatic games, action adventures require you to put some thought into character creation. A successful character build takes into account the fact that you are an action adventurer, not a comedian or a dramatic character. These considerations will allow you to create a character that fits in with the game you all decided on during session 0, and with the group in general.