Dressing for Success

2008 January 15
by Dante

Looks can be very important, and they can also be quite deceiving. In my opinion, one of the areas that most good characters often overlook and poorly execute most often is that of appearance.

All that glitters is not gold

What a character wears and how they present themselves can do a lot to craft a unique personality or entirely reinforce a stereotype. Many people wishing to portray a good character often overdoes it with extremely shiny, grandiose, or otherwise over-the-top accouterments. Others use their attire to send a message to their enemies.

In measured portions, neither of these approaches are bad. However, if overdone your good character becomes a boorish stereotype, and that really isn’t something I wish on any of my characters. Just like people don’t like being reduced to the lowest common denominator in real life, so too should you treat your characters.

So how do I keep it unique?

As we mentioned a few days ago, you want to resist the urge to overdo a given aspect of your character’s persona, and this extends to their attire. Having gold armor is a cool thing, however once you add gold-dyed leather boots, a gold helm, and a gold cape and all of a sudden you don’t have an inspiring knight… you’ve got a pimp. Sorry.

I would rather have a good character more concerned with their actions and presenting themselves in a good way than I would all the shiny silver helms and flowing greatcloaks that the lands can offer. Pick a few elements to define your character’s style and let your actions fill in the rest of the blanks.

If you want your character to be a stereotypical looking knight or paladin, you have to temper that with a really deep and meaningful character personality because 90% of the commoners will treat the character just like they would a revered knight of the round. Dressing in this way also makes you a target for the agents of evil that wish to prove a point, so you can define your own destiny a bit through your attire.

Does it really matter that much?

When you’re playing with me it does. Your appearance defines how the world looks at you as much as your words or actions in some cases. If you enter a town wearing skulls and saying you’re a necromancer (or even if you just enter town proclaiming to be a necromancer) the people are going to treat you a certain way. If you come into town on a white horse in gleaming gold armor, they’re going to treat you a certain way.

In the end it is your choice how you choose to be seen by the world, and I think it is an important and relevant one to the development of your characters.

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