Information Breathing Life into a Character, by FlukeAirwalker - RPG Crossing
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Old Feb 7th, 2015, 06:14 PM
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Breathing Life into a Character, by FlukeAirwalker

Originally posted by FlukeAirWalkerAn hour later, Fluke Airwalker returned to the grotto, this time dressed in the more traditional robes of the Jedi Order. His trusty Remington revolver and lightsaber remained at his side, however, and his hair was neatly combed back in place of the stetson. Walking into the grotto, the students stood up and bowed respectfully toward the Jedi Master. Fluke returned the bow and looked at the garden once over. The student had done well. In a short time he had managed to completely rake the lawn of all debris, set up a concession table with drinks and assorted snacks, and even brought enough pillows for everyone to sit comfortably.

The student shuffled over to Fluke. “The grotto is ready,” he said with a ring of pride.

Ready, yes. But not perfect,” the instructor corrected. He made his way to the ash tree that stood tall in the center of the garden. Fluke rubbed his hands together and muttered what the student assumed to be a prayer. With a forceful shout, the Jedi struck the tree trunk with his palm, sending a shock wave up the tree that sent leaves and flowers raining down on the once debris free grass and everyone in attendance as well.

Now it is perfect,” Fluke declared. “There are certain things that are intended to be a part of the garden. Trees drop leaves, seeds, and flowers. Surely the artist of this garden intended the tree to decorate the grass below with its debris. Thank you, my young Padawan, for helping me illustrate the lesson I hope to teach today. Everyone gather ‘round and I’ll tell you how a garden is like a character sheet.” He took a pillow, dropped it on the ground, and sat down in the center of the semicircle, being sure to tuck his feet under his robes. He then removed his lightsaber and pistol from his belt and placed them on his right side, just barely within reach. Custom dictated that weapons be placed on the weak hand side so that they would be harder to draw. Since the majority of sentients were right handed (the galaxy’s greatest coincidence), it was taken for granted that weapons would be placed on the left side. This was an advantage the left handed Jedi gunslinger had been able to exploit many times before. In this case however, sensing no one allied to the dark side, Fluke correctly followed the custom.

Now,” he continued, “as I was explaining before, a garden is given certain characteristics depending on what inhabits it. Gardens might have flowers, trees, vegetables, or even fountains. There are rock gardens, tea gardens, rose gardens, pretty much any kind of garden you can imagine. Why, if you have ever been to the Sarlacc Gardens of Felucia, you would know what I mean!” Fluke gave a loud chuckle, but stopped and sighed when he realized he was alone. “Good times. You had to have been there.

But I digress. When you create a garden, you must first know what garden you want. You could conceivably try to create a garden without a concept, but ultimately, this will fail. A garden without a plan will bring you no peace or aesthetic pleasure. The Force will not flow through this garden. You must have a plan. You are cultivating Nature, helping to direct its growth to its healthiest and most fruitful state. You must decide on the separate elements that will compose your garden and how they will come together to produce the greatest beauty. You cannot put a fish pond in a rock garden, for example. You must use elements that naturally compliment each other. Only in this way can you hope to be become a successful gardener.

Look around you. What do you see? There is the ash tree behind me, the focus point of this garden. The Norse believed man was formed from the ash tree. It also secretes a sweet sap known as manna. Originally mead was made of this sugary substance instead of the honey mead we are familiar with today. They believed the fermented beverage had the ability to stimulate the mind for poetry and song, calling it the ‘mead of inspiration’. How wonderful it is to have the tree of inspiration in our meditation grotto!

Fluke Airwalker looked to his audience. Some were furiously taking notes, many wore confused expressions, no doubt wondering what gardening and ash trees had to do with creating characters. He decided it would be wise to move on from his comparison. “Creating a character should be the same act as growing a garden. Imagine that the character sheet is your garden, and the character profile is how you tend to your garden. As you take care of what you grow, new possibilities become apparent, and you can make your garden more beautiful. It all comes together. The profile must come from the character sheet or else your character will not grow properly.

My Master once taught me told me about Echani and their martial arts culture. They believe combat is the only time when we truly know ourselves. It is a pure form of expression where words are swept away, allowing for action to reveal our true nature. A character sheet, for the most part, details statistics that represent how your character behaves in combat. Thus we may conclude that by reading a character sheet we are reading into the true nature of the character.

For example, are you familiar with Regdar the Fighter? You’ll find his limited profile on page thirty nine of the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Player’s Handbook. Look at his equipment. His primary weapon is a greatsword and he also carries a shortbow and wears scale mail armor. He is focused with the greatsword, and has the Power Attack and Blind Fight feats. This tells me that he is primarily an offensive fighter and that he is very strong. When in combat he prefers to get in the thick of the fighting and recklessly kill as many bad guys as fast as possible. This is probably his philosophy in life too. When faced with a problem, he will tackle it in the most direct manner possible. He always takes into account his surroundings, and is especially suspicious of anyone he can’t see. He may even go so far as to always want to occupy the most tactically advantageous location in the room. He’s loyal to his friends because they fight with him, and he approaches challenges with loud enthusiasm. All these things are pure speculation of course. You may see the same character sheet and come to a completely different conclusion. The point, however, is to come to a conclusion based on what you see on the character sheet, and as long as you come up with something, you will find harmony.

Let’s move on to an example that I have prepared.” Fluke motioned to his student who passed out a Fourth Edition character sheet to all those in attendance. “This is a character sheet of a man I met on a mission not too long ago. He has existed in many worlds, and this is but one of his many manifestations. Let’s examine his character sheet and see what kind of a man he might be.

Starting from the top, I see he is a young human of seemingly average height and weight. We know he is a professor, a star pact warlock, and a follower of Sehanine, the moon goddess. He has average strength, so we know he won’t engage anyone physically. He is, however, uncommonly agile and hardy. Perhaps as a professor he has to duck out of the way of lab experiments gone wrong? He seems to be a pretty smart guy and is uncommonly charismatic. He must be a good conversationalist, and his classes must be entertaining to sit through. Notice though that his wisdom is just barely above average. He may be have great knowledge about his chosen subject, but may not be aware of his surroundings. We can assume from all this evidence that he is a thinker and a talker, and when that fails, he is prepared to get out of the way. See how his personality already began to show once we compared these few facts with his ability scores?

Let’s examine his skill set next. He seems to be well versed in history, religion, and the arcane. As a professor, he would have extensive knowledge about his chosen specialty. As a star pact warlock, we might guess he is an astrologer or an astronomer. Maybe he is a diviner? Could that be how he made a pact, by searching for the power to more accurately read the future in the stars? Ah hah!” The Jedi Master raised his eyebrows in astonishment. “It seems we’re starting to make a breakthrough here. Do you see how the pieces come together to build a history? Let us continue.

These last two skill choices tell us a lot about the man. Notice his skill in deceit and his ability to read others. Now we know he is good at telling lies and getting out of sticky situations. What secret is the professor hiding? Also, despite an average wisdom, he is trained to be insightful. I find it interesting that he can read people but doesn’t know how to perceive the world around him. You would think as a man of science he would know how to observe his surroundings. Then perhaps he is more philosopher than scientist. It would make sense. Philosophers tend to talk and debate a lot. A charismatic person could get far in his field.

As Fluke spoke he examined his students' auras through the Force. As the lecture progressed he could see their auras progressively turn blue with understanding. The Jedi was glad to see that he was reaching them with the lesson, and that none of their auras flickered with any frustration or darkness, which he took to be a good sign. Not one of the students seems to be thinking of a way to exploit these lessons. I'm thankful for that. I wouldn't want to be hunting former students who turned to the Dark Side because of a lesson I had taught. Fluke had spent too long posing as a bounty hunter and Jedi Sentinel searching the galaxy for potential Force abusers and rogue Jedi to see one of this school's own turn to the Dark Side.

As you can see, reading this man’s character sheet has given us great insight into his history and personality. We discovered that he is a man who can get himself out of situations, though he may not always know how to stay out of them. He is most likely a philosopher and an astrologer, perhaps getting in over his head when he delved too deep into divination. This gives us a great start for when we start writing his character profile. Already half his story is written for us because we have done a little research. When your character sheet and profile agree, you will find that wearing your character feels natural.

Just as there are many Force traditions in the galaxy, there is more than one way to construct your character. There is no wrong way to read a character sheet, and there is no wrong way to create a character. Opinion will differ just as much as when two people discuss the meaning of a poem. Whether you start writing a character sheet first, profile first, or even point-of-view posts first, is all up to you. When players disagree, the character is in accord with itself. Find a way that is comfortable with you and suits your writing style. As long as you finish with a living, playable character you will be successful in your role playing experiences."

Fluke was glad to see everyone was still awake and attentive. The lesson was long, but he felt that everyone walked away having learned something new. It was time to bring the lecture to a close. "That's all I have for you. I understand some of you have classes to get to, so you are released. I'll remain here for a while to answer any questions. May the Force be with you.
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