10 Character Concepts You Don’t See Every Day

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Generic PC: “So the orcs killed my parents and torched my village. Then I learned how to use a sword, and I’ve been adventuring ever since.”

Me: *yawn*

Rogue PC: “I’m an orphaned child who grew up on the streets of the big city. I became a thief to support myself.”

Me: Yeah, you and everyone else.

Drow PC: “I’m the only good-natured member of my evil race, exiled to live as a misunderstood loner.”

Me: Take your standard-issue scimitars and get out of my sight!!

All of these character concepts are viable. The problem with them is that they’re way too overdone. Ever wanted to play something *really* different? Here are 10 fun character concepts that are anything but boring.

What’s the most unusual character concept you’ve ever seen in play?

The Scavenger

Some people adventure for glory. Others adventure for wealth. You’re a first-rate pack rat who lives for all the random junk you find along the way. Even if you can’t use something right now, you know it’ll come in handy someday. Maybe you could even strip its parts and use them to put together a really awesome magic item of your own! Then again, you might blow up yourself and your friends, but you can live with that.

The 2-Legged Calamity

Speaking of blowing things up…

Nothing ever goes right for you. It’s like you were cursed – and maybe you were! Whatever the cause, you have trouble pulling off the simplest tasks. You always say the wrong thing, make the wrong decision, and trust the wrong people. Items break in your hands, you run into trees, and you’ve never met an animal that would tolerate you. Life sucks for the 2-Legged Calamity, but they can be great comic relief for a game.

The Indebted

You’ve finished mage school. Now what? You’re like a newly-licensed doctor without a clientele. Nobody trusts your abilities, and you don’t have a big inventory of magic items to sell. Worse, you owe the Academy. Big time. So, for lack of a better option, you set out to live the life of an adventurer. Or you could be an honest fighter obliged to support your elderly parents back home. Regardless of who you owe money to, you’re only adventuring to pay the bills.

Displaced Soul

Somehow, somewhere, you were reincarnated. You can’t prove it, of course, but you still remember your previous life. Maybe you were a dragon who soared above the landscape, sinking your talons into anyone who angered you. Or maybe you were a hero of legend, and you still remember how it felt to wade into battle and leave your enemies in anguish. But now you’re trapped in an inept and unskilled body. What do you do?

The Cannibal

This one’s best for evil PCs. Somewhere over the course of your life, you developed a taste for flesh. The flesh of your own kinsmen! Maybe you were forced to eat someone as part of a survival scenario, and now you crave the taste. Maybe you want to devour your enemies’ brains because you think you’ll absorb their powers that way. Cannibalism is the driving force in your life, and it’s downright disturbing.


Picture by Loup-Vert

The Doppleganger

You look exactly like someone else. No, really. The problem is, this person has a nasty reputation. You’re always getting yelled at, hassled by guards, and spurned by merchants because of the horrible things “you” did in the past. Who is your evil twin? Are they an unknown relative, or are they actually impersonating *you* for some reason?

Worst Hangover Ever

The last thing you remember was falling asleep with a buxom wench and a pocket full of jackpot coins. Then you awoke with a pounding headache, a missing fortune, and a summons from a local lord. What have you gotten yourself into now? You realize that you make really bad decisions when you’re drunk, but that doesn’t stop you from tipping a tankard every chance you get. It’s going to be an interesting life.

The Pensioner

You retired from the adventuring life, the army, or the city watch. You put down roots in a little town and maybe even founded your own inn. You got married, had kids, and bounced grandbabies on your knee. Now something sinister is threatening your town and everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Dust off the chainmail, Grandpa; it’s fightin’ time!

Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist

Nothing’s as it seems. You just know the king is in league with dark forces, and that’s the reason why life is so miserable in your neck of the woods. That guy that tried to hire you? He just wants to send all malcontents to their death. That caravan guard gig? You quit because you knew it was a front for weapon smuggling. People tend to look at you funny, but you’re convinced that something big and bad is going down, and all the powerful folks are in on it.

Yourself

It’s a cliché from 80’s movies, but it’s still a pretty fun premise. You were an average kid who got sucked into a fantasy world while playing everyone’s favorite evil game: D&D! What do you do now? How do you convince your new PC buddies that you come from another world? Will you ever find your way back, or would you rather cast off your former life and embrace the role of an adventurer?

What’s the most unusual character concept you’ve ever seen in play? Share your favorites in the comments section!

72 thoughts on “10 Character Concepts You Don’t See Every Day”

  1. The first group I played with were painful boring archetypes. Every. Single. Time. Worse? They all wanted to be the same archetype. The seductive, usually elven, rogue or magician with a devil-a-care attitude. We occasionally got a mad-scientist zany wizard, but that was about as spicy as we got. I always proposed more adventurous characters, but they would always get shafted/turned into walking swords. I ended up writing my own stories for my poor neglected boys…

  2. I have a character from the royalty who loves freedom and travelling, and hates to do with anything with the monarchy. He left the palace as a prince, but had to take up the throne when his country was in a total mess.
    After leading his kingdom through a world crisis, he gave up on the throne to travel the world.

    But his kingdom fell into a civil war some years later, and he accidentally ‘rallied’ his ex-subjects under his banner. The campaign is still ongoing, but he’s likely to be stuck with the throne again.

  3. I am about start playing a 5e Hobgoblin Barbarian/Druid tanky build with a stone Maul… who wants to break way from the standard LE Militant background… still working out his personality.

  4. I am reminded of a Shadar-Kai Shadowmancer I played once before. She was a fast learner in the dark arts, however, she was only 16 years old, never been out in the world, and did not know much about it either. She was able to escape from her escorts and came across a Goliath Fighter with the IQ of a sandwich and teamed up. She carries a small book where she makes notes of the things she sees and learns. She also has a temper, if the Goliath gets critically injured, by shadows be dammed!

  5. I have two different characters I’m gonna use in a friends setting.. The setting is that we are merchants, that have bought into a shipping company. We have a boat and stuff, and travel around the world to buy and sell stuff. It’s more of a free-form game then a regular game, but I’m looking forward to it.

    Anyway, my first character, that is the one I used when we one-shot this before it became a full campaign is:

    Durken Ironbeard.
    He is a Dwarven rogue that left the mountains and gathered a band of rag-tag crew and formed his own pirate crew. He got his own monkey, named Bartholomew “Black Bart”, and his reason for buying into this venture is because he got left behind by his crew after they took refuge in a town. While he drunkenly slept, the rest of his crew took the ship and skipped town, leaving him with what little he had on him, as well as his skills. He was never the one to intimidate or take to violence unless needed, because of his very skillful toung convincing people to see things his way.

    Nid
    This character is still in the works, I have to finish up the backstory and such. But she is a Changeling Half-Elf Wizard with specialties in Illusion and Transmutation, to hide the fact that she is a Changeling. She is pretty skill focused, with 17 int and 17 charisma, making her quite the good liar. Her interests in traveling and working with people is solely because she wants to learn about emotions and meet new people.

  6. So I came up with the idea for a drow Bard……..who is blind. I haven’t put him to use quite yet.
    His name is Braille Greyhaven, he was in the womb of his mother when his family had fallen out of favor with the goddess Lolth, and so his mother had made a deal with Lolth to sacrifice her newborn’s sight in return for favor. She agreed and so Braille was born. He was a very happy smiley child, which his mother and sisters despised and hatched a plan to kill him when his father grabbed him the night before they planned on sacrificing him to Lolth. Braille and his father ran out of the Underdark and escaped into the surface world where his father hid Braille in a bush after some of the drow had chased after him. Braille doesn’t know any of this and was raised by a barkeep in a town near the forest. He learned to sing and play the lute (which didn’t take him long) and became an extremely gifted Bard, somehow always getting his way

    This is honestly the best character ive come up with, Im saving him for a special occasion

    OH and I also made a necromancer zombie/fleshbag who had to talk through a raven

  7. Okay, so I love to come up with character ideas, and although I don’t generally get to play them out since I’m the best GM in my group, I spend a lot of time coming up with them. I hope you like them!

    Death
    This is one of my personal favorites, and this is the only one on this list I have played, it was epic. Basically, he’s a cleric of death, with some severe personality disorders. His god is Death itself, which is kind of metal. Every once in a while in-game, or whenever there’s a stressful situation, (Like an encounter or other confrontation) I would roll a d20. On a 1-14, I’m just a normal cleric of death. (“normal”) On a 15-17, I thought I was Death’s Chosen One to carry out a random quest the DM would give me via a paper so my fellow PCs would have no idea what was going on. 18 or 19, I think I’m Death’s Avatar on Earth sent to “bring down those whose time has come.” And a 20 means I think I’m Death itself. As for backstory, he was living in kind of a cliche high elf city in the forest, then his parents were killed by some Drow, but they left me.(yawn, I know but stay with me) Then I was sent to live with my Uncle who was a noble in a different part of town. He lived in a giant mansion filled with books and things, and he was gone a lot on “Noble business.” I found a book in his grand library (which was extremely ancient) that detailed some necromancy. I was instantly fascinated and began to read all that I could, thinking I could one day bring my parents back. But one day my Uncle found me doing it, and he had me cast out of the city. Then I found a Dwarven trading city and tried to live there, although the magic began to mess with my head. He went to adventuring since he couldn’t fit in and hopes to become powerful enough to resurrect his parents.

    The other characters aren’t going to be as detailed since I haven’t actually played them so there’s been no need for full backstory

    Your Friendly Neighborhood Necromancer
    This guy is a good-aligned necromancer who believes that necromancy is the noblest of all magics and loves to “show” it to others. Which will probably get him into a lot of trouble, and he’ll just be confused. In all actuality, he is actually a wonderful, caring person, though, and wants to help as many people as possible. Just with his necromantic puppets and life-draining energy.

    No cool name for this one :(
    This is one I’m really looking forward to playing. This is basically going to be a small girl (Like maybe 8-10 or so), who is imbued with divine power by a god and becomes a paladin. Yes, a paladin. Oath of Devotion to be specific. (The reason she makes an effective combatant is because of the divine power) She is kind, loving, and cares for everyone. And like most small children, she believes everyone is equal and deserves a chance for everything. As for flaws, she might get random items she likes, or pet small animals, get distracted easily, etc. She would also hold everyone else to the same standards, and get surprised when they don’t.

    The Superior Criminal
    This is a man who has spent most of his life as part of the city watch. Or whatever else in your campaign catches criminals. He was really good at it, and was renowned in his division for his skill. But all of those criminals were so dumb. So he decided he could do a better job, and quit his job and began to form a criminal empire. I’m not quite sure how that might affect the game-math, but it’s a pretty cool backstory.

    Reluctant Rogue
    Once a noble, there was a man who had everything. But not quite enough of it. He began to steal from places for the heck of it with his friends, starting with some random general stores, but they found they were good at it. Really good. So they worked upwards and upwards until they were planning a heist on one of the biggest banks in the city. But when they got there, they were grossly unprepared since they had no idea what was on the inside. Of the four of them, two were killed by traps/magic, and one was caught and hanged the next day. This guy was the only one who escaped, and ever since he’s been against using his rogue skills for things that are bad or morally grey.

    I hope you liked my ideas!

  8. Being a twin myself I will never play a doppelganger. to close to home. Cannibalism is always fun whether its silence of the lambs or for a survival situation. I find yourself is to meta but the displaced soul and scavenger ideas worth a try.

  9. In one of the games i’ve played, my friends’ ranger wanted to become a wizard but couldn’t do magic so he would throw jars of oil at enemies and then use a fire arrow to ignite them. Usually it ended in him setting himself/other party members on fire instead.

  10. A couple I have enjoyed playing:

    1) Started as boring Human Barbarian, finds Axe of Dwarvish Lords and therefore becomes a Dwarf Barbarian, finds cursed Gloves of Ogre Power that are that make him Ogre Sized….Ogre sized Dwarf Barbarian…

    2) A Bard Actor, who play’s the roll of ladies on stage (think Shakespeare)… but no-one is ever quite sure if he is a boy or a girl…

    3) A Wild Mage Gnome with Tourettes…

    4) Female Half-elf from a Union of an Female Elf captive and a Human slave trader … sells her soul to God of Trickery and Pain in exchange for access to power… Cleric/Mage Multi-class with an NE alignment … hates men and goes out of her way to double cross, trick, destroy men

    5) A Kender that got lost in the Tower of High Sorcery… this one did not end well…

    6) Centaur Ranger with a fear of heights/stairs

    7) A good aligned Necromancer with a withered leg and a name no could pronounce

    8) A Human Pirate Name Bones…owned a Glorious Rowing boat and never said anything truthful… arrr!

    9) A cleric who like plants… carried a pot plant named Eric around with him

    10) Many more that escape me now

  11. So this thread is quite old but I want to reply anyway. The most fun I have ever had was on my character Nyarinotar(Neeari-no-tar) a kobold rogue. who….. wait for it…. thought he was a dwarf.

    My group had started an all dwarf campaign and (yawn) we were all from the same clan. We played a few sessions before our characters entered, the worlds largest dungeon. One way in, one way out, 19 levels later. Day one in the WLD, my Dwarven ranger… died.Roll a new character. Problem? According to my DM, Dwarves arent in the dungeon. But, orcs or kobolds are.

    Having hated Half orcsall my DnD career i chose Kobold. Iwas looking forward to this character at all, and decided I would get him killed off early and beg for an exception and play a dwarf or human again.

    After being captured and suffering a head wound Nyarinotar entered the party.As a rather unwilling guide for the party. Realizing I had little in character potential I made a snap decision regarding Nyarinotar. He wasn’t very bright. To start off, he didnt realize he had been captured, but rather thought the Dwarves were being friendly. As more quirky choices came up I found myself laughing along with the group at my antics. Though the goal of offing myself had not been abandoned.

    I decided it was only fair that I die while still playing my character perfectly in character.(i.e not running off cliffs just to die.) I made several simple encounters…. quite difficult by just being me. And on one occasion leapt off of the shield of an ally to make up for the height difference on a called shot against a giants eyes with my rapier.(I was all out of bolts.)

    Turns out Nyarinotar was nigh invincible. His quirky antics often got us in trouble and once actually trapped us in a cave but despite everything the little bastard would not die. And by the end of it all I came to like him a lot.

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