Winning Characters in Dungeons and Dragons

There is no formula for creating a “winning” character in Dungeons & Dragons. After all there is no real winner at the game table; uUnless you are playing in an organized play tournament, but even then, points are awarded based on the performance of the player, not the character.

The point of a role-playing game is to have fun. I measure the success or failure of the amount of fun at the game table by the amount of laughter; and even more so by how often a certain character, or event, or situation is mentioned in normal conversations years later by your gaming group. So perhaps a better goal than creating a “winning” character is creating a “memorable” character.

First, design your basic character, but be willing to think outside the norm. For example, if you are thinking of making a sneaky, ninja-type character most people would look at an elf or halfling. But wouldn’t a sneaky, half-orc ninja be much more memorable? When you are equipping your huge brute of a ninja, instead of a small, bladed weapon for assassinating sentries how about if he sneaks into an enemy encampment and sneak attacks guards with a great two-handed mace instead?

Sometimes though, outside the norm is the norm for the campaign. With so many different books flooding the market creating literally tens of thousands of class-race combinations, and every player wanting to make his character unique, you may have a half-giant, a kobold, a pixie, a dragonborn, and a beacon of celestial light in humanoid form as party members. In that line-up, it could be fun just to play a young, human fighter; Probably one that doesn’t know what the heck the other characters are.

Once you have your basic concept and your race/class combination decided on, the real spark of life in the character comes from developing her personality. It helps to have a few personality quirks decided on ahead of time (my half-orc ninja is always sneaking around his companions and asking them, “Can you see me now?”). But a lot of quirks and habits of your character will probably develop during game play; usually as a result of rolling a “1” on an important skill check. For example, my half-orc ninja may roll a “1” while attempting to disarm a fire trap and develop a nasty fear of fire. I think you’ll find that your most memorable moments come from your most spectacular failures.

So to sum up, just relax and have fun. You’re not trying to create the perfect character with numbers and formulas and extra books. You’re trying to create a character that’s fun to play, interesting, and develops a unique personality. Then years later, you and your gamer buddies will reminisce about the time your half-orc ninja lost his temper and head-butted the princess you just saved.