Characters: Creation & Advancement

  • Creating a Character

    To create an interesting character, ignore the game and let your imagination create it for you. Don't pick a class, skills, and weapons, then try to build your character off of those. Imagine trying to build a house from the top down. First, you build a roof, and then the walls underneath it. Once the walls are done, you work on the floor. It's already easy to see there are some physical problems trying to build this way. Houses are built from the ground up. Characters are built much the same way. If you don't start with your own imagination, your character will have a weak foundation. He might be spectacular in combat, but lack any meaningful personality, and in the long run, you probably aren't going to have fun playing him.

  • Personality

    Identity is the key to your character's personality. To be fun to play, your character must be special. Think of him as an individual in the game, not one of many, and embrace this concept as you play him.

    If two characters are nearly indistinguishable, it will harm the identity of both. Make your character unique. If you wish to build him from scratch, there are at least two ways to do so. First, you can start with an unusual concept and flesh out the details. Unusual characters can be played in unusual ways, because most people do not know their strengths. In doing so, you teach the other players about his kind. Second, you can start with a more common idea (an elven warrior, perhaps) and make him unusual in the game's context.
    Consider how you might go about making a unique elf, if you were going to play one.

    What makes your character unusual? Perhaps his race exhibits certain mannerisms. Perhaps he has certain weaknesses. Take note of these, as trivial as they may be. Never take for granted another player knows something about your character you do. Once you've put a short list of these together, ask yourself a few questions about your character. How would you describe him if you sat down and talked to him? Does he stand out in a crowd? Is it something he does, something he wears, the way he looks, or something else? How does he communicate? Is he spontaneous, or careful to judge his actions? Does he judge the actions of others? Is he critical or carefree?

    How does your character act? Does he antagonize others? How does he embody his alignment? Some classes and races are epitomized in certain ways. For example, most dwarves are bold and quite willing to help a friend at considerable risk. In contrast, goblins are cowardly and feel no remorse about fleeing a confrontation, even if it means sacrificing their companions. Knights are forthright and courageous, while thieves are deceitful and craven. Heroic characters are fun to play because they take the extreme view, whatever
    extreme it may be. Can your character be an honorable thief? Sure he can. Should he be honorable if he is also greedy and self-interested? Probably not.

    Does this mean your character must be extreme? Certainly not. However, many players find it fun to play characters which are different from themselves. Furthermore, remember this: There is a significant danger in acting a role too similar to yourself. If your character is you, eventually you also become your character.

  • Weaknesses

    Characters, like real people, are not perfect. Part of the personality of a good hero or villain are his weaknesses. Often, this is one, grand weakness, such as a dwarf's distrust of magic, a queen's vanity, or a dragon's greed. Sometimes, it is a lesser imperfection, such as a wolf's lack of ability to use ranged weapons. Flaws such as these should affect how other players perceive your character, and how they play theirs. Consult mythology and fairy tales for some prime examples of character flaws. Remember, the perfect person is also the most miserable.

    Because combat is a central theme, you should take into consideration the need to introduce your character to combat with people he may or may not be familiar with. If he is cautious, or tolerant, you will likely find it hard to involve him in the fighting aspect of the game. It is much harder for pacifist characters, because you must rely on someone else to pick a fight for you. Try a character of truly polarized disposition before playing a well-rounded personality. This could take the form of a bloodthirsty vampire, an unintelligent orc, a religious zealot, or anything else you choose. In the process, you will learn the best way to use another character's associations (race, faction, class, beliefs) as a reason to like or dislike him. Then, armed with this experience, you can create a second character who is cautious, and
    evaluate the differences for yourself.

  • Race

    Race may act as a cornerstone for your character's traits. It can determine, for example, how he will interact with other races. Orcs tend to hate elves. Halflings tend to chafe at human discipline. Humans are the most common characters in roleplaying games. They are the easiest to play, for we know the most about them from first-hand experience. This can lead to well-developed characters, but it can also be used as an escape for a player unwilling to open his mind.

    If your character is the only goblin around, it's safe to play him as a stereotype. This helps educate the other players. He might be an 8' tall halfgoblin - an extraordinary physical difference in a roomful of goblins - but if everyone else is an elf or human, they will refer to him as "goblin." In contrast, if your character is one of a dozen goblin fighters, you must resort to heroic personality. Ideas can come from other games or books. With some care, even characters from a different genre can be successfully transported into this game.

    In order to use racial abilities found in other games, you must develop your character's skills. Some abilities you may find fit existing skills. Tough, natural hide or mystical defenses can be created using custom armor. Innate attack forms can be added to your character just as any weapon. Others may require you to create a unique skill for your character. However this may be, and whether or not you choose to mimic racial abilities, you are welcome to roleplay racial effects as you see fit. These can readily provide explanation for phenomena such as an opponent missing an attack (high agility or natural defense), or failing a spell (magical defense).

  • Background

    Create a brief history for your character. He'll need this background when associating with other characters in the game. For example, how old is he? From what kind of region does he hail? If he's a dwarf, perhaps he was born to a clan in the mountains. If he's an elf, perhaps his people live in an enchanted forest across the sea. Who brought him up, and what did they teach him? Has he been in battles? Did he encounter people that affected his life? How was he taught to fight or use magic? Use this background as a guide as you play your character, and develop it further as you play. The taming of a wild barbarian is a daunting task, but it can be done after you bring him into the game. In short, expect your character's background to evolve as you play him, but don't neglect an initial history.

  • Alignment

    The character's alignment is a composite of his ethical and moral standards, and usually the backbone of his personality. Though an elf may hate orcs as a rule, a good elf's solution to the orc problem may be quite different from an evil elf's solution. In fact, the story of two similar people solving the same problem different ways is a common, oft-fascinating theme to fantasy literature.

    It can be a difficult matter to determine what alignment your character should follow. More often still, you will find the alignment you choose isn't one you play well. Understand that character alignment has no bearing on your own preferences or beliefs. There is nothing wrong with playing an evil character better than a good one. Choose something that interests you; something you feel comfortable playing. The best thing to do, at first, is to make two characters of differing alignment, and play them on different days as you get tired of the other.

    Ethics (derived from ethos) are broadly defined in terms of order and chaos. Lawful characters believe that there is a fundamental structure to the universe, and that each thing has a function, a place, or a fate. Relationships are set in terms of rights and rules for the lawful character. They tend to place the needs of the many above those of the few, or the one. Neutral characters maintain that order and chaos exist in balance. For every action, there is an equal (but not necessarily opposite) reaction. Chaotic characters perceive the
    individual's power over his own destiny, that there is no essential order or balance of forces. They place their own needs above those of others, acting only when they might gain from it.

    Morality defines how a character sees rightness, or goodness, in his actions. Good characters are honest and just, seeking to correct the wrongs that have been committed, by themselves or others. Good characters value the actions of others on basis of intent, regardless of outcome. Neutral characters feel it is not possible to fairly judge another, viewing all individuals equally. Regardless of intent or outcome, being there and getting the job done is what counts. Evil characters seek their own ends, even if it means sacrificing others in the process. They care nothing about intentions, and tend to be unfairly harsh when expectations are not met. Not all evil characters are wicked, but all are self-centered.

    There are thus nine alignments: Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Good, Neutral, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, and Chaotic Evil. There is no "Neutral Neutral" alignment - this is simply referred to as Neutral, or True Neutral. True Neutral characters are primal, treating order and chaos, good and evil without judgment except to balance the whole.

    Don't attempt to play alignment to the letter. Use it as a guideline by which to play your character, and by which to interact with others. If in doubt, go with your first impression. Finally, on the subject of alignment, it is important to recognize that a good deed done in the employ of evil is still an act of good. The converse also applies.

    Many games are biased against evil. In particular, this includes games where monsters are "hunted" and played as NPC targets by a computer or the referee. In Borderlands, there is no such bias, except that between two PCs. In a head-to-head game, all alignments are needed. Before playing an evil character, however, you must be be able to distinguish IC from OOC, and not attempt to respond to one with another. If you can't, you may be putting your account on the line. Being rude to another character is acceptable in the correct circumstance, but being rude to another player is poor sportsmanship. If you feel your character is a poor influence on you, consider putting him on the shelf for a while. Make a new character of different alignment, and alternate them.

    Changing Alignment

    Once again, alignment is not absolute, but a general tendency. Just as a good character may not always act perfectly good, an evil character may not always act truly evil. In fact, some players find they play their character best between two similar alignments. Upon attaining a Heroic class, any player may choose to denote this alignment on his character sheet. For example, an egotistical
    cleric is Chaotic Evil. His player establishes the cleric is not truly sadistic, but misunderstood and driven by fear and desire. Once this cleric becomes a priest, his player chooses to show this tendency by altering the alignment to Chaotic Evil (Neutral).

    Choose alignment carefully. Though each of the nine alignments is available to the common classes, most of the ruling classes are restricted. For your fighter to eventually become a ranger, he must be good-aligned. Unless his class forbids it, it is difficult but possible to change your character's alignment. If a player seems to be having trouble playing his character by the designated alignment, the host may confer with him and make suggestions. If it persists for several weeks, the host may shift the character's alignment toward something more appropriate, regardless of the player's choice. Such changes occur incrementally, so that a Lawful Good character must be Lawful Neutral before he can get to Lawful Evil. Each time a change occurs, however, the character loses 40% of his accumulated reputation points! Players may shift their alignment voluntarily, with the same penalty, as long they do so rarely.

    Rarely, your character may encounter powerful magic that drastically alters his alignment. You won't be penalized immediately if this happens. However, if you don't change your style of play to match, the same penalties will apply as your alignment gradually reverts to the old one. If any shift of alignment violates your character's class restrictions, he may lose a significant part of his skills (host's discretion) until you can restore it.

  • Character Class

    Based on what you know about your character now, determine what kind of skills and abilities best fit him. Look through the classes and find one which best matches your character. Each common class can proceed to one or more heroic classes, which in turn advances to one of two ruling classes. Reaching ruling class is a process that might take many years of playing.

    Of course, this doesn't mean you can't roleplay the character in a way that befits the greater class, as a junior member or a candidate. He simply won't be renowned as such until he actually reaches the ruling class. Likewise, you may prefer to play your character as a lesser class in the hierarchy. Using a title on your character sheet typically establishes this fact for you. Both the squire named "Galahad the Paladin" or the archmage named "Strom, Magician for Hire" are acceptable. If this isn't enough, you can also customize your class

    Don't pick a class because it is strong. Pick it because it best fits your character's identity. Each class has strengths and weaknesses, and some cater only to characters of certain alignments or traits. Haste will result in boredom and frustration. The only way to switch your character to a different class progression is to forfeit all the hard work with the original. Stats cannot be transferred from one screen name to another!

    See about purchasing a weapon, armor, or other items at the Bazaar which complement your character. There will be many chances for you to gain unique skills and items to "flesh out" your character's race or special powers later on. Before you continue creating the character, it's best to take a few minutes and read the guidelines for playing.

  • Aging

    Of course, your character's age will increase as he grows older. Each year, on the anniversary of the month he was submitted to the game, your character's age will advance by a year. This is one of the few ties between game time and real time: a year equals a year in both. Some quests may also include unusual forms of aging or youth, which will show up on the character sheet afterward.


    Though most characters aren't immortal, the only way a character can die in this game is by the will of his player. Borderlands informally recognizes the character as the intellectual creation of the player, whether it is original or modeled from another story. For this reason, fights are always non-lethal, unless a player wishes it to be otherwise for his own character. If a player wants his character to be killed in a storyline, that is his choice to make. He does not need to inform others of his decision prior to the event.

    Lethal situations won't always result in a permanent end to the character. In any situation, a player can devise a way for his character to return. These include, but are not limited to: resurrection (returning of the character's spirit in the same body), reincarnation (revival of the spirit in a different body), or undeath (raising the spirit without the body, or vice-versa). However, any player willing to have his character die just to be returned in one of these ways should be willing to spend a good amount of time roleplaying it out. Death should never be taken lightly, even in a game, lest it send the wrong message to its players.

    Rarely, two players can agree to a death match, which is an official fight between the two characters, on any terms they choose. The defeated character(s) in a death match is slain with a killing blow. Though death matches don't carry special significance in the game, itself, they can be flashy, sometimes honorable ways for a character to depart. The best death matches are posted as a story afterward. Remember that the terms of these fights are held only on the honor of the two players.

  • Starting Out

    Each character starts with 15 hit points and no spell points, and has 36 free bonus points and 18 free reputation points to allocate as you choose. Putting some to hit points might be a good idea, especially if your character is a warrior. Hit points cost 4 bonus points each. If the character is a spellcaster, get some spell points and a few spells, instead, or you'll have a hard time winning. Spell points cost 2 bonus points each. Check your class for hit point and spell point maximums. It's recommended that a magician start with no less than 6 sp, and a cleric with no less than 4. Skills cost bonus and reputation points, so be sure to account for both. Since these points result from the character's apprenticeship, any points not spent will be forever lost (ie. they represent lessons failed or not taken). Try to use all of them!

    If you're playing a cleric or magician, you must be familiar with the process of learning spells before you begin. Initially, your character can learn only 1st level spells. He'll need to purchase a common spellbook and a quill and ink (see the General Store) before he can learn any spells.

    Purchase weapons with your character's initial funds. (This is found on the class profile.) If you don't buy a melee weapon, you'll wish you had. If it suits the character, get a missile weapon you can afford. Spend wisely. If your character already has some skill in armor or shield use, consider purchasing some light armor. Better weapons are easier to purchase later than better armor. Buy equipment, if needed - a spellbook is critical if the character casts spells. Because initial funds vary from class to class, any gold left at the end of this period must be donated to the Training Grounds, and is lost.

    Complete the Character Submission form, below, and submit via direct message to @izzion. If anything is unclear or unacceptable, you will receive a response with the nature of the problem and the steps that can be taken to remedy it. If anything is questionable, you may be asked to detail the subject in question. If any essential parts have been missed, you will be instructed to add them. If you don't have at least one weapon (fighter, cleric, rogue) or haven't allocated enough spell points (magician, cleric), you will be strongly urged to reconsider. Generally, you won't be able to create a character unless you create a full roleplaying profile, and briefly explain what interests you about the game (say, somewhere between 20 and 200 words). If you flake out on this part, or write something hostile or off-topic, your character may be fed to trolls.

  • Roleplaying Profiles

    For a roleplaying profile, you must submit a form describing your character's traits, personality, goals, history, or whatever else you feel is important. When making a profile, remember that a jumble of information tends to be confusing for others. Decide on a few main points which best describe the character, and focus on them. In addition, there are six standard abilities which can be used to describe your character. For each of these are listed several descriptive terms which correspond to the AD&D dice rolls (3-18 are typical human scores, 9-11 being average). These have no impact on the game, but help compare your character's traits to others.

    The sum of all six of these scores must not exceed 78, and should be no less than 24. This means you could have the equivalent of 13 in each, or you could have one 18 and five 12s, or any other combination you choose. It isn't necessary to max. out each stat, unless your character is exceptionally strong (dextrous, intelligent, etc.). When your character masters a class, you will be permitted to update these to better reflect his powers. Each time, 6 points will be added to the maximum, which you may put where you please or discard entirely. The master of a ruling class will have a sum no more than 96, the absolute maximum. Remember, even a feeble, loathsome creature can be wellplayed.

    • Strength: Atrophied (0-1), Decrepit (2-3), Feeble (4-5), Frail (6-7), Average (8-10), Tough (11-12), Strong (13-14), Imposing (15-16), Mighty (17-18), Colossal (19-22), Titanic (23-25)
    • Intelligence: None (0), Animal (1), Semi (2-4), Low (5-7), Average (8-10), Very (11-12), High (13-14), Exceptional (15-16), Genius (17-18), Supra-Genius (19-20), Godlike (21-25)
    • Wisdom: Nonsensical (0), Animal (1-2), Dim-Witted (3-5), Simple-Minded (6-8), Average (9-10), Shrewd (11-12), Sensible (13-15), Philosophical (16-18), Platonic (19-20), Godlike (21-25)
    • Dexterity: Immobile (0), Sluggish (1-5), Slack (6-8), Average (9-11), Prompt (12-13), Spry (14-15), Quick (16-17), Swift (18-19), Fleet (20-21), Godlike (22-25)
    • Constitution: Undead (0), Doddering (1-3), Shaky (4-5), Unstable (6-7), Average (8-10), Stable (11-12), Sturdy (13-14), Robust (15-16), Stalwart (17-18), Energetic (19-20), Vigorous (21-25)
    • Charisma: Nauseating (0), Loathsome (1-2), Degenerate (3-4), Inadequate (5-6), Insecure (7-8), Average (9-11), Confident (12-13), Prestigious (14-15), Charismatic (16-17), Inspirational (18-19), Commanding (20-21), Awe-Inspiring (22-23), Divine (24-25)

    Each time your character advances to a new class, or starts over, you may change the profile as you see fit. If you need to make a change at any other time, it will cost your character 2 reputation points.

  • Character Submission Form

    Copy and paste this to a text file and fill in the data for your character. Characters will be ready to play within a few days after they have been submitted and approved.

    Character Name:
    Screen Name:





    I will allocate 36 bp and 18 rp as follows:
    I will buy with my starting funds:

  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election


    How To Be A Good Player - D&December – 20:47
    — ProJared

    How to be a Good DM - D&December – 19:52
    — ProJared

    (Seems similar enough to D&D to be applicable. Mods, feel free to Jeff this to where it is more appropriate.)

  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

  • Regarding "True Neutral" alignment, I read elsewhere that rather than making balanced decision, they have somewhat unique/uncommon believe and choose to follow it instead. Therefore sometimes they seems to do things good or bad, and sometimes they choose to follow/break orders but their behaviour is not chaotic.

    Would that kind of interpretation also be used?

  • mod

    @izzion said in Characters: Creation & Advancement:

    Don't pick a class, skills, and weapons, then try to build your character off of those.

    Pfft. Lies and propaganda. I've found that most rules systems can't hold my imagination; it goes better for me if I pick my race and class first, then let my creativity work within those bounds, so that I'm sure I get a character that's compatible with the dice system.

    @izzion said in Characters: Creation & Advancement:

    To be fun to play, your character must be special

    Oh god, the worst newbie advice of all time. What is this, the game of :snowflake: s?

    @izzion said in Characters: Creation & Advancement:

    If your character is you, eventually you also become your character.

    But... but I am elfstar!

  • @Yamikuronue
    Hey, you know, I didn't make these rules up from scratch, I shamelessly stolerevived them :P

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