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View Full Version : How to get a self centered but good hearted character to fight for something?



MonkeySage
2015-04-07, 01:41 PM
Glenda is an intelligent magical creature. She was raised in the wild by animals, and for all intents and purposes thinks of herself as an animal. She has no goals, other than to learn how to be a person.

Like a dog, if you're nice to her even once, she'll consider you a friend.
She'll help a friend in need, but she doesn't understand concepts like "justice", "freedom", or "cause".

How might Glenda learn to strive for and believe in something greater than herself? For instance, what might motivate her to join an adventuring party long term, set on fighting against the evil empire? To believe in this goal?

Ralanr
2015-04-07, 01:45 PM
Glenda is an intelligent magical creature. She was raised in the wild by animals, and for all intents and purposes thinks of herself as an animal. She has no goals, other than to learn how to be a person.

Like a dog, if you're nice to her even once, she'll consider you a friend.
She'll help a friend in need, but she doesn't understand concepts like "justice", "freedom", or "cause".

How might Glenda learn to strive for and believe in something greater than herself? For instance, what might motivate her to join an adventuring party long term, set on fighting against the evil empire? To believe in this goal?

Have her experience loss of freedom maybe. Put perspective on her.

mephnick
2015-04-07, 02:09 PM
The world being destroyed tends to put a hiccup into your personal goals.

She can't learn to be a person if all the people are dead!

erikun
2015-04-07, 02:22 PM
Just because she has no goals now does not mean she cannot develop any goals in the future. After all, if she's spent her entire life living out of a cave and running through the woods, she probably would not have developed many complex achievements to strive for. But what happens when she goes into a large city, finds people being served and fed hot delicious food? Or warm and scented baths? Or just ends up initiating a conversation with people who have different ideas than hers, different perspectives than hers, and stories of different places than hers?

Can she be motivated to go somewhere, do something, or work towards something from these experiences?

And as Ralanr noted, sometimes the loss of something can motivate a person to protect it. Would being captured and sold be a motivation against slavery, or at least animal shelters? Would having her "pack" be captured motivate her to hunt them down? Would having a nearby friendly village pillaged and burnt to the ground motivate her to hunt down the killers?

Mr.Moron
2015-04-07, 02:45 PM
Perhaps you could introduce Vacuum Cleaners into the setting. A mighty scourge which must be defeated at all costs. Better yet, mailmen with Vacuum Cleaners such a threat is sure to stir the up the fire conviction of any canine heart.

Winter_Wolf
2015-04-07, 04:15 PM
You're saying "intelligent" so I'm going to assume smarter than most animals. It wouldn't be much of a stretch that as Glenda sees more of the world (and possibly other creatures that look similar to her) interacting in ways other than what she knew, she'd start to pick up on it. At the very least if she's part of a group she might stick around with them out of loyalty. I mean really, a basically good hearted person/creature can be perfectly aware of the concepts of "justice", "freedom", and "cause" and still not consider such abstract things to be worth fighting for. I'm assuming fighting in the literal sense, which is actually pretty dangerous if you think about it. "Family" (i.e. "my in-group") is a perfectly good reason to stick with the group and support them if they're fighting for those things.

MonkeySage
2015-04-07, 05:30 PM
Glenda's sort of a hypothetical representation for one of my PCs, who is at least of average human intelligence.

I don't wanna be too campaign specific, but I suppose it can't hurt to know how, in general, I might tackle situations like this in the future.

She was a recent addition to the group, and while she's friendly to the group, she hasn't yet been given a reason to stick to them.

While I was shelving books at work, a thought occurred to me; she has recently bonded with a 9 year old human girl, a shaman in training. The girl is in line to take charge of a hold in her country, but is currently in unfriendly territory. The locals do not trust shamans, do not trust this foreign country ruled by them, and on top of that were recently conquered by an empire that has banned the unlicensed use of magic(on pain of death).

One idea that I had was to use this relationship; the girl is currently on probation while they investigate the cause of a ghoul outbreak that she was originally believed to be behind.

The girl was actually sent by her sisters for a reason other than the ghouls; a druid grove in the vicinity of the town was destroyed by a horde of hobgoblins, displacing thousands of animals and nature spirits. As part of her training, she was to help bring the region back into balance. Obviously, she cannot do this by herself. The party dwarf is likewise bound to this task, since it was his grove that was destroyed.

Sorry this was a bit complicated, but I figured it might help.
Right here, the newest member of the group might have 3 reasons to take interest in the forest mission:
She's a creature of the wild
The dwarf was nice to her
She's taken a shine to the child

And if that were not enough, the child is always under threat while she remains in this country; the empire is not averse to using foul play to obtain more territory, and the child is pretty much a diplomat to a foreign country.



Perhaps you could introduce Vacuum Cleaners into the setting. A mighty scourge which must be defeated at all costs. Better yet, mailmen with Vacuum Cleaners such a threat is sure to stir the up the fire conviction of any canine heart.

HAH!

JAL_1138
2015-04-07, 05:32 PM
Make it personal. Have her make friends (merely in passing) with some NPC and have the empire's Legions of Terror kill them. Or have the party bail her out from being caught by a squad of troops while the Legions of Terror are occupying the first village she comes to. (Avoid having them kill her pack/family, though. That's done so often it's an eye-roller rather than a motivation.)

Edit: ninja'd. Or shadow monk'd, if 5e. Those are more for introductions.

Just make it personal somehow, rather than anything dealing with big concepts.

MonkeySage
2015-04-07, 05:42 PM
Sorry bout that. :P

If the girl is arrested and sentenced(due to imperials finding a reason), think that might be motive enough for "Glenda" to do something about it?

JAL_1138
2015-04-07, 05:47 PM
Sorry bout that. :P

If the girl is arrested and sentenced(due to imperials finding a reason), think that might be motive enough for "Glenda" to do something about it?

More than needed, if the girl is a PC too.

Even just having a squad of goons *try* and be fought off ought to do it.

Mark Hall
2015-04-09, 12:44 PM
1) Make it personal. Give her some personal stake in the success of things, whether it's "My friends are in danger" or "Something I want is going to be destroyed".
2) Offer a reward. It doesn't have to be a huge reward, but something that will help immediately motivate her, and provide a fig leaf for doing altruism.

Maglubiyet
2015-04-09, 02:18 PM
Kill her dog. That's motivation enough for any action movie hero to go on a 2-hour rampage of merciless bloodletting.

The typical comic book storyline is that the BBEG kills or kidnaps Glenda's friend/family member/pet. She is powerless or too naive to stop it. The BBEG leaves.

Then the PC's come along on the trail of the BBEG. This time she's ready for strangers in her forest, this time she strikes first, lest they catch her off guard again. They fight and during the fight they come to realize they are actually on the same side. Glenda joins the PC's on their quest to take down the BBEG.

Tengu_temp
2015-04-09, 10:14 PM
How might Glenda learn to strive for and believe in something greater than herself? For instance, what might motivate her to join an adventuring party long term, set on fighting against the evil empire? To believe in this goal?

One or more of the party members are her friends, obviously. Magical creature or not, you generally don't go on a dangerous long-term mission with people you don't know. You go with people you trust.

Ralanr
2015-04-09, 10:17 PM
One or more of the party members are her friends, obviously. Magical creature or not, you generally don't go on a dangerous long-term mission with people you don't know. You go with people you trust.

Or you're really really desperate. But that doesn't relate to this character since she lacks a reason to be desperate.

Ettina
2015-04-11, 08:42 PM
Glenda is an intelligent magical creature. She was raised in the wild by animals, and for all intents and purposes thinks of herself as an animal. She has no goals, other than to learn how to be a person.

Like a dog, if you're nice to her even once, she'll consider you a friend.
She'll help a friend in need, but she doesn't understand concepts like "justice", "freedom", or "cause".

How might Glenda learn to strive for and believe in something greater than herself? For instance, what might motivate her to join an adventuring party long term, set on fighting against the evil empire? To believe in this goal?

The answer's right there in her description. Get a fellow PC who actually cares about the plot to be nice to her and then ask for her help.

Cazero
2015-04-12, 06:05 AM
Kill her dog. That's motivation enough for any action movie hero to go on a 2-hour rampage of merciless bloodletting.
Steal her law gnomes, or make her forget that she sold them for charity. That was enough for Henderson.

More seriously, a good example is Han Solo. He's just in for the profit at first, but then he realise he's too good-hearted to let the rebellion down.

PrincessCupcake
2015-04-14, 12:49 AM
Actually, it's pretty easy.

If they have a PC that they consider a friend, do something to make that PC need help. Loyalty will take care of the rest. You could also do it by pulling on a good-hearted character's heartstrings.

I played a character that could not give a single **** what happened to the world, the kingdom, or even anyone else on the street. The multi-verse could burn for all he cared. (Unlike Glenda, there was no good nature to tug at. If the easiest solution was setting fire to peasants, he'd get the torch and kerosene.)

BUT he had a friend. This friend had goals, motivations, and a really good reason to go follow the plot. (and frequently this friend was going "OH GOD I NEED HELP" because the guy had no idea filter.) So his goal became "help my friend do this thing." Through the course of it, he gained other friends, and even his own motivations. he was still INCREDIBLY selfish, but it got him working with the others towards the plot goal.

It was a lot of fun.

Mark Hall
2015-04-14, 10:51 AM
Anyone else want to point to Han Solo? While his position in the universe is certainly different than the character described, he's definitely a "self-centered but good-hearted character" who comes back to save the day for his friends.

Red Fel
2015-04-14, 11:17 AM
More seriously, a good example is Han Solo. He's just in for the profit at first, but then he realise he's too good-hearted to let the rebellion down.

Anyone else want to point to Han Solo?

This. He's the classic, and his personal growth path describes how you get there.

Step one is joining the party. For Solo, that was being offered money to take two passengers on the Falcon, no questions asked. You've already gotten there - the PC has joined the party.

Step two is a lack of comprehension. For Solo, that was watching Luke and Ben discuss the rebellion and the plans, and explaining that he didn't understand that Force mumbo-jumbo or some ideals or whatever, but he understood money. For your PC, it's similar - she doesn't quite get what they're fighting for (yet), but she's with them and willing to try.

Step three is friendship. At the end of A New Hope, Han returns to help "blow this thing and go home." As of the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, Han is still with the rebels. It's no longer about the money, it's about friendship. He's not necessarily onboard with the rebellion, but he's there for his friends. He's getting all sentimental. (He's also still hiding from Jabba, but still.) You're getting there, too; she stays with the PCs because they are her friends.

Step four is comprehension. After dealing with Jabba in Return of the Jedi, Han signs on 100% - it's pure loyalty, devotion to the cause. By the end of his growth, Han has learned that the rebellion is important. It's not just his friendship with Luke, or his affection for Leia; it's about true freedom, something that the earlier, more selfish Han didn't understand at first. But by the end, he gets it. Your PC will get there, too. She'll learn from the other PCs' ideals and their example, she will see examples of good and bad. Just because she's a bit simple at first doesn't mean she won't grow over the course of an adventure. Maybe she'll learn love. Maybe she'll learn justice. Maybe she'll learn vengeance. Or maybe she just wants to protect the home she intends to return to.

The point is, that's how you grow the character. Let her learn. Let her develop. Don't worry about where she's starting, but instead worry about where she's going, and what she's doing and seeing as she goes.

zeek0
2015-04-14, 01:39 PM
One of the better examples of this is Han Solo. Han does not believe in anything at the beginning of episode IV. He is in it solely for himself. However, his interaction with Luck and Obi-Wan forced him to change his view on the world. Why he comes back to assist in the destruction of the Death Star is up for debate, but it could be because he was afraid for Luke, wanted to impress Leia, or actually decided that he wanted to be a hero in addition to being a scoundrel. All of these things are self-centered - they do not involve idealistic pursuits. But they are marked by an innate goodness.

Spojaz
2015-04-14, 03:01 PM
I have played one or two of these and I have come to the conclusion that it's kind of a party foul to play a character like this in a game. It makes the other players, and in most cases, the DM have to complete the mini-game of "convince or bribe me to play or I'm taking my ball and going home" before anything fun can happen.

heh, party foul :smallamused:

TheIronGolem
2015-04-14, 03:06 PM
I have played one or two of these and I have come to the conclusion that it's kind of a party foul to play a character like this in a game. It makes the other players, and in most cases, the DM have to complete the mini-game of "convince or bribe me to play or I'm taking my ball and going home" before anything fun can happen.

heh, party foul :smallamused:

It's not a problem as long as you realize that the onus is upon you to figure out a reason for the character to stick around, not on the other PC's to dangle carrots in front of you until the day your character's heart grows three sizes.

Mark Hall
2015-04-14, 05:20 PM
I have played one or two of these and I have come to the conclusion that it's kind of a party foul to play a character like this in a game. It makes the other players, and in most cases, the DM have to complete the mini-game of "convince or bribe me to play or I'm taking my ball and going home" before anything fun can happen.

heh, party foul :smallamused:

It can result in that mini-game, but it can also be an aspect of character development, or it can be your own mini-game.

So, let's say they don't convince you to come along, but you come along anyway. Why?

1) They're paying you. ("Twenty-five dollars a day, plus expenses.")
2) They're promising to pay you ("If you were to rescue her, the reward would be..." "What?" "More well than you could imagine!")
3) You've figured out a way to profit from this (it might be in money, it might be in experience, it might be "tag along with the heavily armed psychopaths so other people leave you alone")
4) You're attracted to one of the others (You don't care about their cause, but it is your duty to protect that booty).

goto124
2015-04-14, 07:55 PM
4) You're attracted to one of the others (You don't care about their cause, but it is your duty to protect that booty).

Which kind of booty? :P

But yea, being attached to the party (or even just one of the party members) is enough reason. Even if you played a character with a larger purpose, you have to stick with the party anyway right?

Mark Hall
2015-04-14, 08:26 PM
Which kind of booty? :P

A character with that motivation likely looks at booty (definition 1) as booty (definition 2)