Progression and the Quintessential Good Character…

2008 January 7
by Dante

On Friday, Vanir triumphantly returned and started an interesting discussion on player character morality and how it often plays out within a campaign. This got me thinking about some morality related issues of my own… but this time focusing on the progression of a good character.

Please note: these are only one man’s opinions and your mileage may vary. Be sure to tip your stewardess after the flight.

My character is good, and I mean all the way, see?

Oftentimes, overzealous players have this all consuming vision of their good aligned characters. They run the gamut from moral, peaceful folk to the insane Holy Avenger types but the tack is usually the same… people that play good aligned characters usually take one aspect of goodness that relates to their new character and turn the volume up to 11.

Now this is a very noble pursuit, usually born out of a Single Good Idea (heretoafter, SGI) that was developed during the creation of the characters backstory. For example, lets say a character decides to make an altruistic monk that believes in giving to the poor as a means of salvation with their deity. Lets say that this monk had someone help him out when he was in desperate need as a young man, which turned his Giving Knob up to 11.

This is a great thing, however how the player chooses to express this good trait can often become perplexing, annoying, or downright boring.

It’s called PROGRESSION, people!

If Mr. Monk expresses his desire to give in a flat, overzealous way and gives all of his starting gear (of which he would logically have none of anyway) to some random downtrodden person and all his gold goes to the local temple, Mr. Monk is a very good person. He is also a BURDEN to the rest of the adventuring party that he is supposed to be cooperating with for the common good.

To my mind, it is much better practice to take your character on a journey. At Level 1, your monk is at the beginning of his path. Have him start by giving what little of his adventuring gains that he receives to the needy, but not at the sacrifice of his viability as an adventurer. As his renown grows, and he gets to see more of the world and the suffering that is going on, THEN make him start to give more of his personal belongings as he gains other skills that will allow him to continue adventuring and doing even more good.

In short, as Vanir mentioned it is an excellent idea to not just select one random aspect of goodness and immediately do the absolute maximum possible activity in that space. You have nowhere to progress to, and after 20+ levels of adventuring your continuing acts of singular good will be grating. Providing, of course, that you live that long wearing the robe you set out in.

There are many other ways to salvation

As previously mentioned… these are just my opinions on the matter. If you can find a unique, sustainable way to take a single aspect of a character’s personality and crank it up by all means go right ahead.

I would love to hear some “in the trenches” stories of character building and progression to hear how others have realized the tricky task of roleplaying humanitarian goodness. Also, feel free to throw fruit if you don’t agree with the proceedings!

One Response leave one →
  1. Vanir permalink
    January 7, 2008

    <points vigorously in the direction of the smart things in this post>

    Growth is the hallmark of a good character. Well done, sir!

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