Being Multi-Dimensional

Last week, we had an interesting look at the different ways to use secondary characteristics to add dimension to your characters. It is not enough to read your background…”I am a fighter who is a butcher.” You have to actually play these attributes in order to improve your role playing. Say we’re playing Star Trek, for example. Let’s say you create an amazing engineer character. That’s great; you keep the ship running. However, by simply adding a high social attribute and some carousing skills, you get… Scotty! Not only can he give her all she’s got and a bit more, with perfect timing, he does it with a bottle of Andorian Brandy and a pretty lassie on his mind.

We know this not because we read his character sketch, but because the creators of the show present us with these multi-dimensional character aspects as often as possible. If you apply similar logic to the fighter butcher, you might decide that you use cleavers or axes in combat, because those are what you’re comfortable with. You may be desensitized to blood and death. Or you could go the other way and believe in the mercy of a one-shot kill. A good GM might even facilitate this with a new “one shot kill” ability.

Let’s try another one. A wizard who favors dexterity over wisdom will almost certainly take a different approach to magic than his cousin who goes the opposite way. The former might be more of a natural caster and prefer combat magic. The latter might be a collector of knowledge, or a creator of complex new spells.
Playing a secondary role should do more than simply show off different abilities. Your secondary role should create motives and possibilities beyond the current adventure.

While this might not be needed in a GM driven “railroad” adventure, it is super-important in a sandbox campaign. No one cares about having business skills if all they do is dungeon crawling. But in a sandbox campaign you are not always in a dungeon, and you need secondary skills to relate to the world beyond. And it’s easy to do: A third wizard (cousin of the other two) might run a caravan. The GM smiles. He has an adventure idea already… caravan attack! I hope you can see the importance of playing out these ideas.

Playing out your secondary attributes allows you create more immersive experiences. It gives you motives beyond mere murder-hoboing. A good GM will be able to develop more plot hooks from them. Last but certainly not least, they help create those unique characters that are truly memorable.

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