This Is Your Life: Gwendolen (Part 1)

Since we're gearing up to start Tomb of Annihilation next month, I want to use Xanather's Guide to Everything to help me generate my new character. Here's a breakdown of my five-step process when making a new character.

1. Voice

My characters are based around their roleplaying voice — the actual accent I'd use at the table. When doing the dishes or working from home, I practised a few accents and landed on a soft, northern Scottish accent. It started out as Mrs. Doubtfire, but I managed to dial it back by mimicking some Youtube videos.

2. Hypotheticals

Once the voice felt natural, I planted my character in a few hypothetical situations. One I kept coming back to was a bar scene where some belligerent drunk tried to start my character. I flipped between a few punch-on and talk-down solutions, but ended up somewhere in the middle. My character's voice doesn't cross into aggressive very well, but it's still firm and calm rather than cowardly. In this scene, my character is the kind of person who would say anything to avoid the fight but king hit the aggressor a week later.

I realised my character was evil. I imagined a male dwarf rogue.

3. Key phrases

Using that scene as a framework, I wanted to feel out my character's values. I used my character voice to test some phrases aloud, fishing for something the felt natural. Here's what I ended up with:

"Nothing bring's me greater pleasure than to see a proud man brought low."
"I can't respect someone who doesn't respect themselves."
"I'm not afraid of any person, because people all people hold weakness in their hearts."
"Life isn't fair. It is what it is."
"The ends justify the means."

A weird thing happened here; the visual I'd been keeping in my head of a burly dwarf with quick hands and bells in his beard no longer fit my character's mould. Instead I imagined a young woman, proud and happy, but vindictive and unforgiving. In the end, I'm rolling a gnome war wizard named Gwendolen "Lenny" Greer with a criminal background.

4. This Is Your Life

Xanather's Guide to Everything is my favourite Dungeons & Dragons book. The best section is a set of random tables to help generate your character's history called This Is Your Life. It scratches the fluff and flavour itch and fits perfectly with my personal loosey-goosey style.

After rolling on the This Is Your Life tables, this is what I ended up with:

Parents: I know who my parents are.
Birthplace: I was born at home.
Siblings: I have no siblings.
Family: I was raised by my single mother.
Family lifestyle: My family had a modest lifestyle.
Childhood home: I grew up in a mansion.
Childhood memories: Others saw me as being different or strange, so I had few companions.
Criminal: I fell in with a group of rogues and learned my craft from them.
Life events: I had eight major life events.
LE 1: I fought in a battle. I suffered only minor injuries and the wounds healed without scars.
LE 2: I spent time working as a criminal and earned 5GP.
LE 3: I spent time working as a criminal and earned 9GP.
LE 4: I committed a crime (theft). I was caught and convicted, spending four years in prison.
LE 5: I made an enemy of an adventurer. They are responsible for the rift.
LE 6: I made an enemy of an adventurer. I am responsible for the rift.
LE 7: I gained a bit of good fortune. A friendly alchemist gifted me a flask of acid.
LE 8: I encountered something magical. I was affected by teleportation magic.

5. Why?

The cool thing about these tables is that your imagination immediately plots a path for the character. Every outcome is useful — you just have interrogate each result and find some context. This is where I'm up to for Lenny. I plan to write a short paragraph for each result and post it this week.