Kanar is unique in what it’s able to offer to its players. The role play at Kanar is full immersion, which is to say that when on the field, a player is always “in character” or role playing their character. It’s important to keep this in mind when crafting a character! Instead of being part of the background, you become a living person within the game where it isn’t just about the skills on your character sheet, but where your character has come from and where they want to go. There are a few simple ways to form a character, and not just a stat machine.
1) Create a person, not just a character.
Think about the stories you've read and the movies you've watched. What characters drew you in and made you sympathize with them (or really hate them)? Chances are, those characters had depth to them; they were more than just some statistics on a sheet of paper or a one dimensional lump. You don't have to write a novel when creating your character, though. Try thinking of things that you know about yourself: who are your parents, what is your relationship with them (friendly? Do you hate them, etc.?) What about siblings? What's your favorite food? What phobias do you have? Keep in mind, anything you're afraid of, your character will be afraid of, too. If you are afraid of heights, your character will be afraid of heights as well.
"Make your character realistic! Everyone has flaws and strengths. For me, the best way to make a character you can play with is to find one strength and one weakness of yours and amplify it. Want everyone to get along and hate violence? Make friends with people/things you probably shouldn't! Like to fight? Amp up the bloodlust!" -- Kiri Brasseur
2) Give your character a goal.
Everyone has a goal in life, and you might not know it right away. Start with the basics: food, shelter, income. You might have even achieved some of these goals and are ready to look for loftier ones. Then expand to what can you do with your life. It might be wanting to become a great swordsman, or something more complex, such as finding the path to becoming a noble. It might even change as your character grows and develops to something you never expected when you started. Whatever it is, it helps give your character a direction to go in. Many characters keep a diary of some sort to track these goals (or what happened in-game) and what they are doing to achieve them. Write your goals on your checkout sheets to let the GM staff know and give them ideas for future plots.
3) Don't name your character after well-known fictional characters.
Most people you will be playing with have read a lot of fantasy books and watched a lot of fantasy movies. They know who Drizzt is. They know who Elminster is. They know Conan the Barbarian, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, all of the characters in Lord of the Rings (major and minor), etc. When you name your character after one of these characters, people will expect you to be that character and/or live up to that character's reputation. This is something that you cannot do, as it’s also copyright infringement.
4) Don't be pretentious or silly when naming your character.
While "Grok, Death Incarnate" may sound like a cool name, it really isn't. It actually sounds silly and pretentious. Avoid putting the words "-bane," "killer," "death," etc. in your name. If you wind up killing a lot of trolls during game play, other players might start calling you "Trollslayer," which is fine because you earned that name. Until then, don't use such things as a name.
Likewise, avoid using a silly name like Phil McKraken. While it's funny at first, the joke soon wears thin and you are stuck with a silly name. It also tells other players that you aren't serious about your character, so they won't take them seriously either.
"Dear, I know you've come to a new place to do heroic things and leave the past behind, but that's not the name your mama gave you." -- Margaret
5) Power is relative.
Don't worry about how powerful your character is as far as what skills you have. The new player can be as powerful as the veteran with the most points in the game. Your power and success is all in how you play your character.
6) Choosing Your Class and Skills.
Your class doesn't define you, it just guides you. If you are a cleric, that doesn't mean you are a kind healer. If you are a fighter, that doesn't make you a great warrior. If you are a mage, you don't need to be a smart and wise wizard. If you are a rogue, you don't have to steal or murder everyone and everything. Classes are just a subtle hand that can direct your character.
Think of your skills as something you as a person might have learned. Take, for example, the skill Pick Locks. Where did you, as a real person, learn this skill? What prompted this interest? How did you pick it up? What was the first thing you were able to successfully unlock? Were there any repercussions from doing this? What is your STORY for this skill? It won't often come up and you won't tell everyone this story, but you would be surprised when this knowledge becomes useful and interesting. Also, try to think of what skills your character would have from their history. If you’re playing a character who grew up on boats and around water, you should probably have the sailing skill.
Don't get terribly locked down by what skills you walk out on field with! There is a grace period to completely rewrite your character 1 time! More on this later.
Character History Writing
1) Little details make great characters.
While you shouldn't get stuck filling in every little thing in your character's life, adding a few little details can make the difference between a cardboard cutout and a real person. For example, you could say that when you were 8, goblins raided your village and killed your dog. Ever since then, you've trained to become the greatest goblin killer in the world. Imagine other players' reactions when you go berserk fighting goblins screaming, "'Allo! You killed my dog! Prepare to die!"
2) You are what you are.
If you're 5'4" tall, don't try to tell people your character is 6'7" tall. Likewise, if you can't fight, don't tell people that your character is a great swordsman, unless you're trying to bluff them (ala Gilderoy Lockheart) which is a whole other matter, especially when they find out otherwise.
Your character is you, physically. They might be able to cast spells or kill things or brew up a lethal toxin, but if you get winded running down the street, they're going to get winded running down the trail (especially if they're wearing armor!) You can play an older character or a younger character as well as characters of a different race (or gender) by using makeup, but your height, weight and build won't change.
3) Even though you cannot have had major adventures prior to starting, you will have had some adventures and experiences.
Don't write your story to be an epic. When people walk onto the field, they are just peasants, dirt farmers, bandits, mercenaries, traveling players, etc. They come to Ilveresh because opportunities present themselves there, and can make your life better or worse. There's a high risk that you might die, but there's a high risk you also might make a million and a half gold! Why did your character decide to leave wherever they were to risk their lives?
“Don't come out expecting to be a hero with a reputation; it's easier to make a character that's an underdog and work your way up to hero status.” -- Marilynn Marie
It's these experiences that shape who we are. It could be as traumatic as seeing your friends or family killed or enslaved by marauding barbarians, or you could have been forced to run from the bigger brothers of your sweetheart because they think you "besmirched" her honor. You could have spent your life growing up in the streets of Tarn learning to be "stealthy" like the Artful Dodger. Or it could be something as little as seeing the king and his retinue as they progressed through the countryside (and maybe getting a coin from him).
Besides fleshing out your character, these give the GM staff possible plot hooks for a personal plot. This isn't to say that you will have a personal plot run for you, but you increase your chances by putting some things into your history.
4) In-Game Economics
People are poor, and most of them have saved up their money to get to Ilveresh for a while. Starting gold is 5 for equipment and other supplies to get to the town in which we call home. How did your character scrounge together the money to get that sword and armor?
5) Create a 3 by 3 by 3 set of NPCs.
On a forum for the 7th Sea tabletop game, one poster said he made his players create a 3 by 3 by 3 set of NPCs: 3 friends, 3 contacts and 3 enemies. These aren't important people, nor are they game breaking. Think of your childhood sweetheart or best friend; the mayor of a tiny village or a bartender in a larger town; the town bully or a wandering traveler who you slighted and insulted (or thinks you did). For each one, give a name, a quick description, how they relate to you, what class they are (if appropriate), what happened the last time you met with them, and a quirk or trait by which you will recognize them.
Keep in mind, the GM can and will use these NPCs against you.
6) Give your character hobbies and things to do between battles.
You won't be fighting every single minute of every event. To keep boredom from setting in, have a hobby or profession of some sort. It can be something as simple as singing or playing a musical instrument, drawing, cooking, telling fortunes, or cataloging the local flora and/or fauna. During events, when nothing else is going on, do your hobby. You never know where it will take you.
7) Rerolling your character and/or having alternate character(s)
If you decide you want to change your character after coming to your first event, you can do a character reroll. This keeps the extra experience points (XP) you've earned, and applies it either to the character you have or a completely new character. Keep in mind you only get one reroll! To be eligible, your character must be under 3rd level and you can not have attended more than 3 events.
You can have 4 separate characters available to play at Kanar. These characters should not be connected to anything in your current game story without the express written permission of the GM staff. You may not play more than one of these characters per event without the express written permission from two of the current heads of staff.