D&D Character Development – Writing the Next Chapter…

It’s almost hard to believe that I’ve been playing my current campaign character for 7 months already. We’re actually just about at the threshold where we’ll pass the length at which our previous campaign ran, and so at this point it’s kind of interesting to look back and see what kind of growing the character has done over that time, not to mention review if there are new sections of his back story that deserve a little more attention…

The latter actually came up in a discussion after our game Friday night, somewhat out of frustration that another player had about understanding my characters motives, particularly with regards to combat. It raised a lot of good questions that I think I’ve just been avoiding for the last couple of months – in a nutshell, how is my character adapting to this new world that he’s currently exploring?

Specifically, Adran is a hunter who grew up in a fairly small and isolated tribal society, sheltered from all of the political conflict of “the civilized world.” He eventually left his homeland to act as a short-term guide for one of the tribe’s visitors and ended up in the middle of a ginormous political conflict in which men were trying to decide their next king after their current one died, which afterwards erupted into a downright civil war! A lot of our adventuring since has been doing favors for the new king as he tries to save his country from war – we escorted his daughter safely to another town, went and found his son to notify him of his father’s ascent to the throne, and as of this last session we just finished tracking down the rogue duke who had started this whole thing and (attempted) to bring him to justice.

Anyways, so the actual internal conflict that I’ve been going back and forth on with my character lately has really been how he feels about this civil war that he finds himself wrapped up in, and with the main story line (presumably) now coming to a close, I think his actions over the next few sessions are really going to help refine his role as an adventurer, but I want to make sure that I don’t completely hobble the party while I’m at it! You see, I guess when it comes down to it I’m having a hard time seeing him proactively attacking other humanoid creatures. I don’t necessarily have any problems with animals because I can see him hunting those, and most that we would fight would be attacking us in the first place anyways; as for other people who resemble him, though, it’s one thing for him to strike back with a vengeance when the other guy struck first and his actions are thus in self defense, but what about when the tables have turned and we’re the ones with the opportunity to strike first???

The player who brought up the concern explained it as – “You’re a hunter – the only difference is, humans are your prey now…” but I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around that, especially considering that I designed their tribal society with the idea that they specifically split off from another race of elves due to seeing them get caught up in interracial and cultural disputes … and then now that he’s come to visit this land as an adventurer, it’s almost like he’s just confirming every reason that his people had for leaving in the first place! Of course, I don’t want to just stop playing the character because the storyline “goes against his core values,” but it does mean that it’s probably time that I take a step back and give some thought to how these events over the last 6-8 months of adventuring around the world may have altered some of his original direction from when he first left his homeland at the beginning of the year…

Mind you, I don’t really have the answer yet, but here are some of the questions I’ve managed to come up with that are probably worth addressing:

  • What are Adran’s thoughts on the civil war? Especially considering that despite not wanting to get caught up in the troubles of society, he does feel some allegiance to the royal family after sacrificing his own life to save the king’s daughter and doesn’t necessarily question the side that he’s chosen.
  • Does he now have a slightly bigger picture of the world after having traveled to many corners of the continent in the name of what he decided to be “good”?
  • What does he want to do as far as adventuring is concerned once the party’s current task has been resolved?
  • Can his reluctance to draw his spear on someone who hasn’t directly threatened him first be summed up as a conflict between his instincts as a hunter and his naivety with societies outside of his own?

I think that last one is the key, with the supplemental question of “Can/will he eventually adapt enough to grow beyond that conflict … or do I even want him to?” I can really see this one both ways because sure, from a strategic standpoint when we enter combat, it only makes sense to take whatever hits you can just as a hunter would advantageously advance on his prey. But at the same time, I also have a tendency in campaign games to want to explore avenues that aren’t typically viable in a module setting like LFR … in this case, avoiding combat altogether rather than just going in guns blazing because my character carries a big stick! 🙂

For what it’s worth, I do enjoy the simple fact that I even have to think about this kind of thing just because it’s an interesting level of depth that normally you never even tread close to in playing LFR, so it’s neat not only to have to determine where exactly your character stands on the proactive/reactive scale of combat, but also even to consider that this type of thing is going to change throughout the character’s life as he grows and evolves. Maybe at one point he takes some words of his companions to heart and more formally aligns himself with the king’s forces to stand against evil, or he could even become more ingrained in his raised ways of thinking by affirming that he only attacks others when he (or someone nearby) feels in danger himself.

Also, just for context’s sake – I should probably mention that this whole thing came about from our advancing on a once-friendly keep that had been taken over by the enemy. Only a few guards were present, and upon overhearing during a shift change two grumbling about not liking the job, I made the suggestion that possibly we could pass with minimal confrontation. Granted, I also misunderstood what was apparently a key hint about why this keep in particular was important to the enemy, but regardless, this post was mostly about that isolated element and in general just wondering if maybe I’m a bit too interested in trying to avoid combat when I’m playing the striker… 😮

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