PDA

View Full Version : How does my character's motivation sound?



RPGaddict28
2013-12-04, 08:18 PM
My CN wizard, Nu, is currently out of the game, because I wanted to temporarily try a new build. When Nu comes back, I want to start rollplaying a lot heavier with him. I just want to stay away from a Mary Sue type character, and instead want someone who has a real story. Also, quick background.

Nu is an elf, who was born royal. His father was a wizard, and he learned directly from him. He excelled at magic under the tutelage of his father, however, his father slowly went crazy. He stopped using and teaching magic. When he finally killed himself, Nu took it as his cue to leave, and despite being young, he went out into the cruel world.

This next part, his actual reasoning and ambition, is going to be in character, and in response to some asking why he's the way he is.

"I'm like this because I see the way the world works. The world is filled with corruption. All the humans, dwarves, gnomes, and even the elves, all corrupt. And honestly, I'm no different. However, there's one thing that sets me apart from all the others. I have an ambition. I'm not content to wallow around in the filth of this world. I will make a change to this world, or die trying. That's why its no-holds-barred from me and the rest of the world. That's why I can kill or steal with no remorse. All because no one else will change this world. That's why I'll become a god of this world."

I've always played Nu as a cocky elf, because of his aptitude for the arcane he views himself as better than most others. He also believes that magic is the way to true power. While he can't do everything, he thinks he can, even to the point of going toe-to-toe with a boss, with an AC of 15, and -1 strength mod.

Ultimately, how does it sound?

Makeitstop
2013-12-04, 09:08 PM
I can see that attitude, it could work. However, it feels incomplete without knowing something about how he wants to change the world. What is it that is so important that he can so easily justify killing people to accomplish it?

RPGaddict28
2013-12-04, 09:19 PM
I can see that attitude, it could work. However, it feels incomplete without knowing something about how he wants to change the world. What is it that is so important that he can so easily justify killing people to accomplish it?

It was more so meant that I don't feel bad for being cruel, or killing people to gain more power.

Findpathfencer
2013-12-04, 09:46 PM
You don't want to make Him a heartless bastard. make him have some good things about him like being loyalty to the party and the other players or THEY WILL HATE YOU AND LEAVE YOU TO DIE FIRST. Like dont be NE or there will be trouble with the party maybe.or maybe that's what you want? Make him like able in some ways but.but maybe that's the point to be evil or near evil? You need to make him seem like he is better them or people or have a right to be the way he is by being smart not attacking someone that he really can't beat atleased not being dum about it like having a plan and the plan may be cheating or yousing poison or other not fair and dark things but smart things and make a interesting story plot hook for why your dad went insane.

Slipperychicken
2013-12-04, 11:22 PM
You don't want to make Him a heartless bastard hostile to other PCs.

FTFY. textminimums

Findpathfencer
2013-12-04, 11:41 PM
FTFY. textminimums

You win this round slippery chicken but other points still stands

aldeayeah
2013-12-05, 04:47 AM
As he is, I don't see any motivation for him to join a team.

SethoMarkus
2013-12-05, 09:05 AM
How are all the races corrupt?

How does he play on fixing this? Or does he plan on using the corruption to his own advantage?

What is his view on the gods? Does he want to overthrow them? Does he believe they are powerless? Does he believe in them at all?

What is this ambition that he speaks of? A lot of people have ambitions; that farmer has the ambition to earn enough money for his daughter's wedding dress; the merchant has the ambition to establish a trade route with the next settlement over; the Dwarf Prince has the ambition to avenge his father's death and re-establish a stronghold for the Dwarves in the rocky peaks.

Does he link magic to his father's insanity and death? If so, why does he still see magic as great? Does he wish to surpass his father and control that which destroyed him? Does he see magic as a dangerous tool to be feared and respected, but also as the ultimate weapon, too powerful and useful to let slip away?

Basically, this sounds more like a monologue than a backstory or motivation. It is justification for committing evil, not a reason for committing evil (or any action).

Airk
2013-12-05, 09:52 AM
Yeah; My #1 concern is that this doesn't sound like a character who plays well with others. At all. That's sortof important in most games. In fact, at first reading, this character sounds Evil. Capital E style. Like "This guy should be the villain in a campaign, not a PC" kind of Evil.

My #2 concern, which is pretty fiddly by comparison but still relevant if you value internal consistency, is that the idea that the only thing that sets him apart is "ambition" is pretty ridiculous, since thirty seconds of looking at most worlds will show you TONS of people with ambition. Of course, this could just be a sign that this guy is out of his gourd (Following in Dad's footsteps, perhaps), but then, that's still another reason you don't actually want to play this guy as a PC.

Now, it all comes down to what kind of game you're playing, but in MOST games, it's important that characters A) Play well with others (which implies NOT being sociopaths) and B) Have some sort of redeeming qualities. If this guy has any, they're not present in your description.

P.S. To be truthful though, F$%^$ Chaotic Neutral. It's an alignment that shouldn't exist. It's basically an excuse for players to act like random asshats because their characters have no connection to anything.

RustyArmor
2013-12-05, 10:02 AM
You had me till.

That's why its no-holds-barred from me and the rest of the world. That's why I can kill or steal with no remorse.




P.S. To be truthful though, F$%^$ Chaotic Neutral. It's an alignment that shouldn't exist. It's basically an excuse for players to act like random asshats because their characters have no connection to anything.

Just about that. Every time I see this on someones char sheet I know other PCs and going to get screwed over,hobos gonna get murdered, and taverns burnt to ground, so on and so on.

Angel Bob
2013-12-05, 10:23 AM
This isn't Chaotic Neutral, it's Chaotic Evil. The alarms went off at "ambition" and intensified at "that's why I can kill and steal with no remorse". As a general rule, if your character's philosophy advocates freely harming other people, that character is Evil.

Of course, that doesn't mean the character can't be a productive member of an adventuring group, so long as the other characters are excluded from his "I can kill whoever I want" philosophy. The best way to do that is to have him be a sincere friend to the other characters. Even Evil sociopaths can make exceptions for their close friends, and even be comparably nice to them. (Nale and his relationship with the Linear Guild is a good example.) You can make your character's philosophy whatever you like, but the imperative is to avoid lethal party conflict. Squabbles and disagreements are acceptable, but actual PvP is a no-no unless that's the point of the campaign.

As an aside, Chaotic Neutral is a valid alignment -- it's just that most people play it as Chaotic Evil. Neutral means you look out for yourself, but not that you leave wanton pain and suffering in your wake; you generally only fight people/monsters if they're threatening you directly. Chaotic means you don't have much respect for rules, and if you're strongly Chaotic, you're opposed to laws in general and would rather they be minimized. Basically, a libertarian. But Chaotic doesn't mean moronic -- it doesn't mean you're going to go around breaking the rules willy-nilly, because you still understand that transgressions have consequences. Basically, a Chaotic Neutral character will readily break the rules if it's convenient for them and they think they can get away with it -- but not for the puerile purpose of causing harm to others.

Scow2
2013-12-05, 10:50 AM
Yeah... Your character is a straight-up Neutra/Chaotic Evil Ubermensch-type. Not chaotic Neutral.

I love and rarely have problems with chaotic neutral. "I don't feel bound by laws, they're just artificial constructs to prop up one or two other guys. I'm not gonna play that game." Instead, keep either "Good" outlook that you struggle/can't maintain/can rationalize the hell out of failing to maintain while trying to do better, or an "Evil" one that your character doesn't have the (lack of) heart to follow through on.

Airk
2013-12-05, 12:50 PM
This isn't Chaotic Neutral, it's Chaotic Evil. The alarms went off at "ambition" and intensified at "that's why I can kill and steal with no remorse". As a general rule, if your character's philosophy advocates freely harming other people, that character is Evil.

Correct!



As an aside, Chaotic Neutral is a valid alignment -- it's just that most people play it as Chaotic Evil.

I sortof disagree, in that I feel that most people rather play it as "chaotic bats$%^" rather than "evil" precisely. Evil implies some sort of malice. :P My problem with the alignment is that it's basically an excuse for players to do stupid crap.


Neutral means you look out for yourself, but not that you leave wanton pain and suffering in your wake;

But how are you to show disregard for the law without setting the tavern on fire? ;)


Basically, a Chaotic Neutral character will readily break the rules if it's convenient for them and they think they can get away with it -- but not for the puerile purpose of causing harm to others.

If and when I EVER see a character with this alignment played this way, I will believe it is a valid alignment. ;)

Joe the Rat
2013-12-05, 02:02 PM
But how are you to show disregard for the law without setting the tavern on fire? ;)Ignoring curfew, carrying concealed weapons, dealing in banned-but-not-necessarily dangerous goods, cheating at games, starting a fight with the local constabulary... but probably nothing to directly and overtly harm an establishment you like. And if you're an adherent to Discord Chaos, a place where a socially mixed crowd of people gather in large numbers to consume mind-affecting substances is a Good Thing. You don't burn that, you help advertise.

Burning down buildings is reserved for not-so-petty revenge against insults and "injustices" perpetrated by the proprietor. Or if someone pays you.



If and when I EVER see a character with this alignment played this way, I will believe it is a valid alignment. ;)Yeah, I used to feel the same way about Paladins. In my experience, it's the Favored Class for Trolls.

I hope you do get at least one Classical Anarchist in a game. Done well, they can be as fun (but not quite as awesome) as Paladins Done Right.

Angel Bob
2013-12-05, 02:58 PM
If and when I EVER see a character with this alignment played this way, I will believe it is a valid alignment. ;)

Well, I'll readily admit that Chaotic Neutral works better in theory than in practice. Some alignments are harder to play than others, and I would posit that Chaotic Good and Chaotic Neutral are the hardest. Why? Well, most people interpret "Chaotic" as "willingly breaks the law at every opportunity" or "erratic and batsh*t insane" -- both of which will give you Chaotic Evil. It's hard to balance the Chaotic distrust of the establishment with Good's drive to help other people and Neutral's drive to keep oneself alive.

The above poster gives some good examples of CN actions, though.

Airk
2013-12-05, 03:06 PM
Ignoring curfew, carrying concealed weapons, dealing in banned-but-not-necessarily dangerous goods, cheating at games, starting a fight with the local constabulary... but probably nothing to directly and overtly harm an establishment you like

But what if you DON'T like the tavern? ;)

Okay okay, I think we're all actually mostly in agreement here, and waaaay off topic.

OP: Your original character sounds chaotic evil and will need serious work of some sort to function in a group. Probably not recommended, but we can't stop you. ;)

Scow2
2013-12-05, 04:14 PM
But... burning the Tavern down is the Lawful and proper thing to do, as it is the final 'preparatory' stage of becoming an adventurer.

Burning down the tavern your party starts is the equivalent to signing a charter, but for Adventuring instead of Incorporation.

Honest Tiefling
2013-12-05, 04:20 PM
Honestly? A tad boring. So he sees his father go insane, and assume that's true of everyone? Seems to be a bit of a leap of logic there. Especially for a royal child, who would be surrounded by more then sane adults nearly 24/7. Needs some elaboration on how he got from point A (father going nuts) to point B (everything is messed up).

Also, wouldn't a royal prince have responsibilities to attend to? If I was the DM I would like to see those be addressed.

RPGaddict28
2013-12-05, 04:52 PM
I've got two things to bring up.

1. Nu respects or cares about all the members of the party. Respect is big for him, like if he respects you, it means you've earned it, and he's willing to help them no matter what.

2. I edited my speech thingy.

"I'm like this because I see the way the world works. The world is filled with corruption. All the humans, dwarves, gnomes, and even the elves, all corrupt. Willing to do whatever they need to make their life easy. Willing to embrace the corruption surrounding them. And honestly, I'm no different. However, there's one thing that sets me apart from all the others. I have ambition. Ambition to change this world for the better, not content to wallow around in the filth of this world. Itís why I donít value the laws of society. Itís why I put myself first. All because no one else will change this world. That's I want to become a god of this world. No, thatís why I need to become a god of this world.Ē

I tried to make it less evil, and more detailed.


Honestly? A tad boring. So he sees his father go insane, and assume that's true of everyone? Seems to be a bit of a leap of logic there. Especially for a royal child, who would be surrounded by more then sane adults nearly 24/7. Needs some elaboration on how he got from point A (father going nuts) to point B (everything is messed up).

Also, wouldn't a royal prince have responsibilities to attend to? If I was the DM I would like to see those be addressed.

And for that, he doesn't think everyone is evil, and his view on the world is a recent discovery. He saw it after being around humans after running away, then returning to his homelands to attend royal business(It's why he isn't in the campaign right now.) And for his responsibilities, that's what's going on now.

Scow2
2013-12-05, 05:16 PM
Ah... so "I don't like the term World Conquest. I prefer World Optimization" type?

Still a world-conquering megalomaniac.

Angel Bob
2013-12-05, 06:02 PM
...I suppose I could see him as Neutral now, although I'd say he's still leaning towards Evil if he sees himself as the only thing special in this world.

SethoMarkus
2013-12-05, 09:39 PM
Ok, so he still has this ambition but no clues as to how he's going to go about changing the world. I mean, I can think of two specific real-world historical examples of people that tried to change the world for the better because they saw it as corrupt; one saw the good in people and tried to lead by positive, peaceful protest, while the other example deemed those "corrupt" ones as inferior and was, shall I say, less peaceful. The kicker, they were friends (or at least kept in touch and were friendly).

I still think the monologue sounds more like what the BBEG would say before the PCs tried to defeat them. Instead of focusing on a line to spout out at people when they ask why you do what you do, instead maybe try to think of ways that his actions would actually be justified. "The end justifies the means", so to speak, but what is the end to which this elf prince seeks? Eradicating the world and healing the world both remove the corruption, so which is it that he wants to do? Is there some mystical cure for this metaphorical disease he sees corrupting everyone? If so, is he merely doing whatever it takes to gain this cure; a utilitarian ideology that killing a few now will benefit vastly more later? Or, has he given up on fixing the world and instead wishes to be atop it or destroy it? If so, does he plan on recreating everything in his own ideology, or does he plan on ruling in a Machiavellian society of "whatever it takes to attain and hold onto power"?

Really, nothing is setting this monologue/motivation apart from someone who is saying "I like power, I want power; I have an ambition for power. I will gain power, you are in the way of power; it's okay to kill you because I'll get power."

NickChaisson
2013-12-07, 12:45 AM
I think any backstory could really work. From what you've posted he kind of reminds me of Light from Death Note. That could work great as a character concept as long as the other players are fine with it. If you are unfamiliar with the work, you should look it up and see if you can get any inspiration from it for your character. (read the Tvtropes page maybe) Other than that, I can't really think of any other comments.

Mastikator
2013-12-07, 08:39 PM
To be honest it sounds vague.

How did it affect him to see his own father slowly go crazy? That ought to give some nuance to how he perceives people, especially people with power (like his dad).
What exactly does he mean by corruption? Political corruption or what? Deceitfulness? What?
How does he want to change the world, specifically what is it that he wants to change? Does he want people to be more honest, or take charge over their own lives or trust authority or WHAT? Or does he just want to change it to become famous?

Also, what about his mother? Does he have any siblings? What about friends?
How was his education? While he excelled did he also enjoy it? Does he want to be a wizard or was he forced into it? Did his fathers strictness spoil the fun or did he make him respect him more? Or if he wasn't strict, did it come easily to him or was he just extremely ambitious on his own? Was he always ambitious?

The motivation and story is a good start, and it needs a lot of exploration.

Edit-
Added bold to the question I think deserve priority.

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-12-07, 08:52 PM
It honestly seems a bit long for a motivation. I think that a good core motivation should max out at 15-20 words. That's enough for a simple two-part idea with some embellishment. By cutting out the flowery stuff, it helps you get to the core of the motivation, which should really be a specific application of a primal impulse.

"The whole world is corrupt, but I can change it by becoming its god."

You can flesh the nuances out through roleplaying; what you write down should be the spark and the start of your character--the true development of your character happens during the game, not before it.

Passive Pete
2013-12-07, 09:06 PM
Yeah, as mentioned many times above, what Nu has to say himself about "corruption" and "fixing things" seems like the kind of evil warlord who's trying to "fix the world". I'd try to make his motives seem a little more for the good side, even if he is CN.

Rhynn
2013-12-07, 09:14 PM
"The whole world is corrupt, but I can change it by becoming its god."

This is why writers have editors. Also, the teen angst was cut by about 85%.

What's with all the CN hate, though? :smallfrown: That alignment has pretty much the best ur-characters ever: Conan, Fafhrd, and the Grey Mouser.

RPGaddict28
2013-12-07, 10:23 PM
To be honest it sounds vague.

How did it affect him to see his own father slowly go crazy? That ought to give some nuance to how he perceives people, especially people with power (like his dad).
What exactly does he mean by corruption? Political corruption or what? Deceitfulness? What?
How does he want to change the world, specifically what is it that he wants to change? Does he want people to be more honest, or take charge over their own lives or trust authority or WHAT? Or does he just want to change it to become famous?

Also, what about his mother? Does he have any siblings? What about friends?
How was his education? While he excelled did he also enjoy it? Does he want to be a wizard or was he forced into it? Did his fathers strictness spoil the fun or did he make him respect him more? Or if he wasn't strict, did it come easily to him or was he just extremely ambitious on his own? Was he always ambitious?

The motivation and story is a good start, and it needs a lot of exploration.

Edit-
Added bold to the question I think deserve priority.

Gonna answer the bolded questions.

1.It made him angsty, and generally a less trusting person
2.No clue yet
3.His mother is dead, no siblings, and he considers the rest of the PC's his friend, with two of them being really close with him.

Honest Tiefling
2013-12-07, 10:59 PM
This is why writers have editors. Also, the teen angst was cut by about 85%.

What's with all the CN hate, though? :smallfrown: That alignment has pretty much the best ur-characters ever: Conan, Fafhrd, and the Grey Mouser.

Because a lot of people assume that chaotic neutral means either random or insanity. Which means a lot of people write it down on their sheets and do just that.

As for the OP, I am curious what his relationship was with his father to the point that his death would have such an impact on him.

RPGaddict28
2013-12-07, 11:59 PM
Because a lot of people assume that chaotic neutral means either random or insanity. Which means a lot of people write it down on their sheets and do just that.

As for the OP, I am curious what his relationship was with his father to the point that his death would have such an impact on him.

Only other family member, magic teacher, one of the few people he trusted, etc. Also, forgot to mention this, but Nu running was 67 years before the start of the campaign, this wasn't recent.

Honest Tiefling
2013-12-08, 02:57 AM
Uh, how do elves age in this campaign? According to some books, he'd probably still be a teenager.

RPGaddict28
2013-12-08, 03:24 PM
Uh, how do elves age in this campaign? According to some books, he'd probably still be a teenager.

Nu's 117, and in this campaign, he just became an adult.

Raine_Sage
2013-12-08, 07:26 PM
Figuring out the how and why of your character will probably go more towards figuring out his alignment than just the introductory statement.

For example: Motivation = Beings are corrupt and I want to fix that by becoming a god.

Possible Methods:

"I plan to fix it by wiping out everyone and rebuilding from scratch" (evil)

"I plan to fix it by changing human nature on the fundamental level, so that everyone thinks and acts the way I want them to because I know my way is right." (neutral)

"I plan to fix it by eliminating societal ills and inequalities and doing my best to make sure everyone has the ability to live happily and healthily in peace." (good).

As you can see the desired outcome is the same, but the ways of reaching it throw the character into vastly different lights. Also method of ascension comes in to play. But I'm not entirely sure what counts as a neutral ascension aside from something that neither harms nor helps a significant number of people. (it would be impossible for him to stay neutral for example, if he ascended to godhood using a massive blood sacrifice).

MonochromeTiger
2013-12-08, 07:41 PM
"I plan to fix it by changing human nature on the fundamental level, so that everyone thinks and acts the way I want them to because I know my way is right." (neutral)

removing all individual thought and instituting what is essentially universal mind control is neutral? I personally see it as evil to, without full consent from absolutely everyone effected, rewrite their brains to act like you even if you are a "good" character it's still frying someone's personality and thoughts so they fit your specific standards of "right".

Raine_Sage
2013-12-08, 08:01 PM
removing all individual thought and instituting what is essentially universal mind control is neutral? I personally see it as evil to, without full consent from absolutely everyone effected, rewrite their brains to act like you even if you are a "good" character it's still frying someone's personality and thoughts so they fit your specific standards of "right".

Ah, I didn't mean removing free will persay but I'm not sure how to phrase it without it sounding like... well removing free will.

Basically I mean removing the desire to do harm? Like, not disallowing the possibility but generally just making it seem unnatractive. Like how an asexual person is perfectly capable of of having physical relations with someone but generally lacks the desire to do so. I wouldn't say asexual people lack free will when it comes to romance, that's kind of what I mean when I say making it so mortals don't desire certain things for themselves anymore.

Still morally grey as hell and definitely leaning towards evil, but not exactly making everyone a robot either. Of course this again hinges on what the character considers corrupt.

Joe the Rat
2013-12-08, 08:08 PM
Wanting to change the world, with grand schemes and ideals, but no clue how to go about doing it.

Man, I miss college sometimes.

Age-wise, he's basically the elf equivalent of a college sophomore. Not having a plan is not only a good place to start, but totally character appropriate. You want to fix the world, you are gathering the power to do so, but you have no idea how you will actually go about doing it. This leaves open some potential hooks and twists on character growth - coming up with ways and means, staying on task vs. making little changes where he can as he goes, drifting towards Good or Evil modes. There's a wonderful potential for character growth here.

Caring about his friends (the party), but being generally indifferent to outsiders - not actively helpful or malevolent - is a very solid Neutral. Having a "Fix the world" manifesto, but forgetting the big picture when presented with an immediate opportunity (saving a village rather than pursuing that element of power. Murdering your enemies rather than taking up their offers of partnership for power) would suit the Chaotic well.

Ultimately, think about what his Ideal World is like - this needs to be the thing he's hanging his hat on. Develop a good enough Utopia, and others may rally to your banner (an important thing to have when contemplating godhood).

Jakodee
2013-12-08, 09:42 PM
CN characters are often motivated by stimulation, greed, or owing someone. Conan is a perfect example. CN is actually often motivated by the things normal people are just with a little anarchist thrown in.