When you create a character for your tabletop RPG, what do you think about more? Do you think about who you want that character to be? Or do you think about where you want that character to go? There’s a subtle difference between the two approaches. Both approaches can make interesting characters–both approaches can result in good, worthwhile stories. But one approach is reactive, while the other is proactive. One focuses on the present, while the other looks to the future.
Let me give you examples of both.
The Reactive Character
Let’s say you take the first approach, “who do you want the character to be?” Well, you want her to be a dwarven wizard who serves Moradin. She wields an orb that belonged to her father before her. And as far as alignment goes, she is Lawful Good. When this character is presented with a problem to solve, how will she respond?
In an ideal world, wherein players are engrossed in their characters and truly play the role, this character will consider who she is and she will respond to the situation. “Well,” she thinks, “as a Moradin-follower who seeks to honor her father, how should I respond to this situation?” By focusing on who the character is, we set up our character to be primarily reactive.
The Proactive Character
But let’s say we take the second approach, “where do you want the character to go?” Well, regardless of the outer trappings of who our character is, you may want her to go down a path toward redemption or heroism. Perhaps you want him to develop a sense of self-sacrifice or conversely a sense of complete independence and self-sufficiency. When this character is presented with a problem to solve, how will he respond?
This character will also consider who he is, but then that thought process will go a step further to where he wants to go. He has a future that he wants to achieve–something toward which to move, which makes his character primarily proactive.
Which character are you?
I’ve touched on this briefly over on MadAdventurers.com, but where are you headed in your life? Do you have a vision of where you want to go? Or are you simply reacting to the situations in which you find yourself?
Last week, I spoke briefly of the lies that people say about gamers. Many of us have started assuming that those false beliefs are our future. You’ve allowed those people and their stereotypes to set your expectations. You are who you are and that’s who you’ll be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All it takes is a change in the way you think about yourself and your future.
Have you ever stopped and asked, “What would make my life worthwhile? What is the absolute highest thing that I want to accomplish with my life?” Maybe you’ve asked those questions about RPG characters, whose lifespan is sometimes only a few sessions. Have you asked that question about your own life?
Most of my life, I’ve had fleeting notions of where I wanted to go. I had some idea of the sort of job I wanted–of the quality of life I’d like to live. But I’ve never really set clear goals toward which I wanted to move. That has changed in the last few years. Just in the last few months, I stumbled upon a resource called Creating Your Personal Life Plan. If you’d like to start living more proactively, I’d encourage you to take a look at it. It will be well worth your time.
If you don’t have time to read that resource, let me give you a few questions to ask yourself:
- What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind when I’m gone? How do I want people to think of me?
- To whom do I want to leave that legacy?
- What is the first step I need to take toward that legacy?
I understand this may be a new way of thinking for you. I’ve been there too. But I’m convinced this is your first step into a much larger world.
(Photo Credit: Ade M-C)