Adding Some Depth

Farm Boy

Breaking Down the 20

Very little of the twenty question background explicitly asks players to tell stories, these ones definitely do. No one cares that your character has a memory of baking bread or that they like to whittle. It does not matter one bit. What matters is why they do it. It is the only thing that matters. The best answers often have nothing to do with adventuring, fighting, or conjuring small rodents through magic. They describe a life before these things and outside of it. Boring answers reference a character’s main skill sets. Cartography isn’t a hobby for a scout, it’s part of their job.

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Hero Wrapup


That’s right, the last post on heroes for the time being. Next week we’ll move on to something else, maybe have a bit of fun with it. So far, I’ve discussed what a hero is, how heroes can be guided by values, and what some of those values are, as well as different types of heroes and how they fit in. Today I just want to close with some final thoughts on heroic characters.  Read more

Hero Types

Bilbo Baggins

Heroes choose what’s right over what’s practical. This is what gets them in trouble with the rest of the party, really. We talked about that. We talked about how heroes can be better understood by their values than by any abstract system of good and evil, and about six different heroic values. But this all assumes a certain kind of hero, the paragon of virtue, the knight in shining armor who acts on her value without fear or reservation. And not all heroes are like that. Today, I want to talk about some other kinds of heroes, and how they fit in with this mix. There are four other kinds of heroes that I can think of besides the paragon. If you can think of more, leave them in the comments, and we’ll talk about them!

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Credit: flickr/waltstoneburner

It’s almost a dirty word, isn’t it? It brings to mind memories of self-righteous douchery and stupidity in shining armor. The lawful good hero who insists that everyone abide by his code of honour, and comes with a standard issue stick up his butt. Almost everyone I’ve ever spoken to about it has a story like this. But let me tell you a secret.

I love paladins.

Playing the hero is one thing, but paladins have to. If they don’t, they’re punished. All their cool powers go bye-bye. This creates a really interesting kind of tension, but the code of honor can also put pressure  on players. There’s a tendency to overcompensate, which is where the self-righteousness and even fanaticism can come from. As a way of talking about heroism, today I’m going to teach you how to play a paladin without being a jerk. Feel free to share with your local paladins.  Read more


Han Solo

Heroes, despite being a common theme in most rpgs, are actually pretty hard to find. When you do find them, they tend to get a lot of grief. Paladins are a good example of this, a class hardwired to be a hero, and yet probably the worst at it. “The heroes” is a term that’s basically synonymous with “The PCs”, but how many PCs are actually heroic? Over the next month, I’m going to spend some time on this topic, but first I need to establish what it means to be a hero.  Read more