It doesn’t matter which fantasy game you play: Pathfinder, D&D of any edition, 13th Age, Swords and Wizardry, or any other variation on the game, they all have someone that is easy to for a new person to play that generally involves swinging a sword. Some move onto more complex classes; others stay with their tried and true favorite. No matter how long you have been playing the classic fighter class. Just because the mechanics are not terribly complex does not mean that role playing such a character should be stunted. Fighters can be just as involved and complex characters as any other on the board. To help you get into your character and see the world through their eyes, here are five simple questions that can help you immerse yourself into your character even more.
1) Why Did You Start Fighting?
You didn’t pick up the sword yesterday. You have trained for this. You fought against something and you emerged victorious. What was it? Why did you fight? Did you grow up on the family farm and a spider the size of a dog start spitting its venom at your family nearby and you attacked it with your garden hoe? Did the king conscript you into some battle and you happened to survive? Where you sold into slavery and thrown into a pit with another slave and were told to kill the other before the other slave killed you while the crowd took bets on who survived? No matter how you answer that question it will provide you with a solid foundation for your character.
2) Why Do You Fight Now?
Sure, fighting may not have been your choice before, but why do you do it now? You could be sitting in a tavern drinking, in a mine swinging a pick axe, a local guard, someone in the regular military, someone that loads the cargo docks, or one of a hundred other jobs that will probably see you having a longer life expectancy than walking into a dark cave looking for trouble. Are you on the run from someone more powerful? Perhaps you are trying to avenge the death of someone you held dear. Maybe you already killed the person that murdered your loved one and are now just trying to earn enough money to have the dead person resurrected. Did you return home from the war having seen so much that no one you love wants to be around you anymore? Have you been fighting for so long that you no longer know who you are until you are wearing the armor and swinging your weapon? This will help you find out who this character is on a day to day basis.
3) When Will You Not Fight?
“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like the nail,” is an apt expression for the fighter. “Something is coming!” “I STAB IT!” Fighters are frequently accursed of being from the “Stab first, ask questions never,” school of thinking. But even they will sheath their swords if the right thing is put in front of them. The question is, what is it for your character. Is it an old war buddy that had your back? An old commander, mentor, teacher, or family member that helped you become what you are today? Perhaps it is a wounded bunny rabbit, even if it is sitting on top of a suspicious-looking tree stump with what could be a weird grin on its front? How about instead of it being something that obvious, you will stay your hand for something less expected, like when a member of a religious order appears, even if you do not appear religious at any other time. Perhaps you will not fight on the anniversary of your parent’s death, and you just won’t tell anyone why you are spending the day in a bar. This question is important because it introduces a source of internal conflict in your character, helping them go from an idea to a person.
4) What Are You Afraid Of?
Everyone is afraid of something. Some won’t admit it, but even they are. Are you a sensible person and are afraid of spiders? Did you see your dead buddies on a battle field being raised before your eyes and now have a terrifying fear of dead bodies just lying around? Is the sound of war drums or the way the ground shakes when cavalry is charging right at you? Is it the musty odor of a dungeon or the putrid smell of rotting corpses? Even worse, is the screams you hear every night as you try to fall asleep that can only be quieted by massive amounts of alcohol? Like the last question, having a fear is a source of internal conflict that provides depth to the character, but it also gives the person a way to grow. By standing up the fears, you can make a character that fights not only the demons on the battlefield but also the demons raging inside.
5) Why Do You Trust The Rest Of The Party?
Please note, I didn’t ask “do you trust the rest of the party?” The answer to that question must be a resounding “Yes.” As someone that has played his fair share of games that involved the rest of the party not trusting each other, it can go bad. Like ending friendships bad. Yes, I am speaking from experience on this. Many campaigns start with the group coming together and that is fine, but after a while you all need to have a talk where everyone finds reasons to trust each other beyond “they fought beside me.” Consider having a session where everyone stays in character the whole time around the fire and everyone gets to know the other characters. You’d be amazed at just how bonding that can be to a group.
What Other Questions Should A Fighter Be Able to Answer? Leave Your thoughts in the comments below.
Darlanrea, the elven fighter, is featured on the cover of our adventure Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin. Download this adventure today for Fifth Edition, Pathfinder RPG, 13th Age, and Swords and Wizardry.