Sizing Your Shoes (or Making Sure the Character is Right for You)

While I sometimes talk about playing against type and breaking out of your safe space, there is a lot to be said for playing in your comfort zone. Certainly, you should not dismiss a different type of role out of turn (such as a thinker when you usually play a brute). Allow yourself the opportunity to break in the new role, just like you might a new pair of shoes. Like shoes, however, you can be relatively certain when you slip one on your foot if it’s way too big or way too tight, other times, you might try a pair on and they may feel alright until you start walking or running in them. At such a point, they may blister you up or fly off into the fields. You never know.

There is a lot to be said, after all, for buying a pair of shoes like the ones you already owned. There are ways to try out a new role which you can discuss with your GM. I’ll get to those after I briefly mention how good modern gamers have things.

Back in the olden days, once you had a character, you were stuck with him. FOREVER. Even if he was bad. Escapism was sacrificed on the altar of realism (though it gets sticky to talk about said altar) just enough for you to possibly have a truly lame character or one lame decision by you causes your character to be forever stuck in the wrong role. Like if you were a complete noob and no one helped you and you made a wizard even though your Int was 9 (or something like that).

Nowadays, there are kinder and gentler players and GMs and you can often take a character out for a test spin before settling into the role. The best thing to do is talk it over with everyone to make sure everyone’s on the same page. It’s not about min-maxing either. As a matter of fact, it should be far from it, in my estimation. There are some characters which don’t fit into a group or the direction the GM may want to take the game, but that’s really a discussion for another day. Remember: don’t suffer. Make sure your shoes fit.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!

4 Notes on, Sizing Your Shoes (or Making Sure the Character is Right for You)

  1. I’ve often been at odds with some players because they want to own a closet of shoes and not stick to one pair. What do you say to players who look for that “perfect” character? I have one who is an awesome player, but feels unhappy with a strong concept character if said character isn’t useful in all situations.

  2. We have a standing rule in our campaign home games. You get three sessions to decide on if you like a character or you may make changes to the character anytime until three sessions are complete. After that you are stuck.


    • Certainly, it can be abused. I know folks who want mechanical utility in all situations, but that’s unreasonable (especially starting out). If your group is sizable enough, you should explain the importance of spotlight moments for all characters.

      You can also explain mechanical utility should not inhibit role playing. Just as in real life, there are those who can do things and others who direct or come up with ideas/concepts. Utility is a matter of perspective.

      Typically, I think characters should be settled by the end of the second session, or, at least, prior to the third or it feels a bit like cheating.

  3. I should note, we generally allow changes between sessions or with an open dialogue between player and GM.

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