Hack n' Slash
In which we give Chimpan-A a sword, a pen, and a bag of dice to see which is mightier
Getting the Character You Want
You know the biggest turn off most role players
have when starting up a game? Not getting the character they want. You know
what I'm talking about. You come into a game with a certain pre-conceived notion
of the type of character you want to play; fighter, wizard, prostitute, door-to-door
chicken wing salesmen. Some of you know what you're going to do with your skill
points three days before you put pen to paper. The problem is sometimes your
DM says 'no'. That's where I come in. Always here to help you out, here're some
good tips for getting that chicken wing salesman off the ground.
1. Know your DM. You've got to know what kind of DM you've got. If you've got the kind that stymies everything that isn't in a rulebook, you may be out of luck with some of the wackier character ideas. Some of the later tips I'll be giving depend on you to know your DM well enough to know how much abuse he can take. If your DM is pretty easy, you'll have a better time getting what you want. If he's a real scrooge about original characters we suggest either rufies or a heavy stick to the back of the head when he's not looking. Telling him there's a Victoria's Secret page at the bottom of his glass of Coke should give you plenty of opportunity for either.
2. Have your idea ready. A smart DM will pick up on vagueness in your character description and home in like a vulture- picking you apart until you finally admit you want to be able to destroy universes with a raised eyebrow. He will then promptly say no. Be specific about what you're doing and what you want. This doesn't mean you can't leave out certain things on occasion, like the +5 dagger you keep hidden in your sleeve. Generally though, have your idea ready to go and present to the DM in a clear way.
3. Keep an open mind. Your DM is not just a gold and XP giver, every once in a while he's got a good idea. If he comes to you with a good idea for a character to play, don't immediately turn him down because it's not the one you made. Consider it, you may find it to be a better idea. If not, turn him down gently, because it may have been a pet project of his. This may be the proper time to implement plan: "Make DM drunk", which usually goes a long way towards improving morale.
4. Don't annoy the DM. If he says no to your Tarrasque fighter/mage the first time, chances are good he's not going to say yes the 27th time. Be willing to compromise; maybe give up that deathslayer +18 if it will get your basic character idea through intact.
5. Arguing with the DM is a bad idea. When it comes right down to it, the one controlling your character's destiny is the person behind the screen. Arguing for twenty minutes with the DM will likely just bring the DM to bitterness. And the 'Bitter DM' is better known as the 'Insanely Hard Monster Generator'…and what a coincidence that all the monsters attack you first?
6. If you have to argue, do it carefully. Sometimes, DMs refuse to see reason, and that's when it becomes time to carefully argue a point. Make sure that you are arguing one point, and only that point. Avoid letting it get out of hand. Most importantly, in the heat of battle, don't insult the following things- His momma, his DMing style, his game idea, or his taste in wardrobe. Those are the things that stick with a DM and bring about 'Bitter DM'.
7. A good bribe never hurt anybody. Remember that gamers are particularly susceptible to junk food. The words, "Hey, let me get the pizza" will go a long way towards endearing you to your DM. Offering up the first slice is another good idea. Of course, gamers are also notoriously poor, so an extra fin in the pocket can make up for hours of arguing.
8. Present good choices. Ever heard that joke about the kid at college who writes home saying she's pregnant with a heroin addiction and missing a leg? Only not really, she just failed her midterm? This works on the same principle. Come up with a couple of really ludicrous ideas. Make them in descending order of silliness, and be accordingly excited about each one. That way, when you get down to your real choice your DM will be so relieved he'll gladly cave. Make sure that your ideas are properly strange, or this can backfire. Trust the guy who played the Halfling barbarian.
9. Blackmail is not above the average player. Know some dirt on your DM? He cheating on his girlfriend (or boyfriend, as the case may be)? Stealing office supplies? Wetting the bed? Anything that your DM doesn't want reveled can be used. When faced with such dire threats as being called "Willie Willie Wet Bed", that Minotaur barbarian will start to look pretty workable after all…
10. When all else fails, beg. Get down on your hands and knees. Offer up your first-born child, promise to pay for all the pizza for the next six weeks, promise to clean their apartment...anything to get your character in the game and playing. Once your character is in there and a part of the campaign, make sure to interact with everyone around you, building up quick relationships with people. Once you've done that it will be hard to flat out remove you from the campaign. The DM will be stuck with you and you'll have won. If you decide to go back on your promises, though, keep on your toes. You'll be a definite monster magnet. Not to mention trap magnet, local law enforcement magnet, nuclear missile launch magnet, accident magnet…well you get the point.
That's it people. Follow these simple tips and you'll be in there with your 10th level Barbarian Death Rager in no time! By the way, you have to be fairly subtle when executing these tactics. After all, if your DM has read the column (And given its incredible popularity, he likely has), he'll recognize these strategies a mile off. It's your job to make sure he doesn't see it coming until he's said 'yes'. All right, I'm off. I've got a Halfling Barbarian who's got to go rage on some shins…