Roleplaying for Beginners: Bringing Your D&D Character to Life
Congratulations on taking the first steps into the world of Dungeons & Dragons! If you're just joining in for this new series on Dungeon's & Dragons for Beginners, be sure to check out our last post about what D&D is and how to get started playing if you are a newbie!
As you continue on this adventure of learning more about what D&D entails, you'll quickly find that the game is much more than rolling dice and fighting monsters. One of the most rewarding and immersive aspects of D&D is roleplaying - taking on the persona of your character.
If you're new to roleplaying or feeling a bit nervous about getting into character, don't worry! In this guide, we'll go through some tips and tricks to help you embrace the roleplaying side of D&D and have a blast doing it.
By the way...my name is Kasey, and not only am I the creator of Firelight Fables Candles, but I am also a D&D player, as well as a Dungeon Master! Roleplaying was an aspect of D&D that always caused me some anxiety starting out, and still does sometimes as I play the roles of all NPC's (non-player characters) in our games! But I've found that it truly is the backbone of what creates a memorable characters and immersive stories.
I hope sharing my experience with learning to roleplay will give you some tips and ease your nerves as you try it out!
Building Your Character
The first step to great roleplaying is creating a character you can really sink your teeth into. Your character is kind of like your alter ego in the game, and the choices you make in character creation will influence your roleplaying experience. From the type of race and class you pick during character creation to their ideals, flaws, bonds, and personality, each aspect of your character can help you unlock your inner role-player.
Think about the kind of hero you want to play - are they brave and bold like Aragorn, or quick-witted and clever like Hermione Granger? Consider their backstory, their personality traits, their ideals, flaws, and bonds. The more you can flesh out your character, the easier it will be to inhabit their skin and make choices that feel true to who they are.
Here are some examples of characters you might create to roleplay:
A human fighter with a heart of gold who fights for justice and freedom.
A halfling rogue who is always looking for a good score but has a soft spot for animals.
A dwarf cleric who is devoted to their god and seeks to spread their faith throughout the land.
A gnome wizard who is always inventing new contraptions but is terrible at remembering peoples names.
A half-elf bard who was once a sailor and now travels the world singing songs of their adventures on the sea.
A human paladin who was once a thief and is now on a quest for redemption.
And speaking from personal experience...
If you don't like the character you've created, you will likely have a hard time roleplaying them, as well as enjoying playing them. Create a character that you LOVE and want to develop a story around, otherwise playing the game could feel like a drag.
Also, if you are nervous about playing a character with a personality totally different from yours as a person, you can always create one with similar personality traits to you!
Are you a quiet, bookish type? Create a reserved, scholarly wizard!
Are you a crazy pet person with an outgoing personality? Create a ranger who is not the best at hiding or sneaking because they always have something to say to their animal companion, even in delicate situations!
Are you a natural flirt that is always getting themselves into trouble? Play a charming bard that likes to sweet talk their way in and out of things.
Maybe you lack in stature and your friends always (lovingly) make fun of you for being short? Try playing a halfling or a gnome!
Pick something that you feel more comfortable with starting out so it doesn't feel intimidating. Once you have your character, it's time to bring them to life!
Embracing Your Character
Once you've created your character, it's time to really get into their head. Imagine yourself in their shoes - how would they react in a given situation?
What kind of things are important to them?
What kind of voice would they have, or how would they move and gesture?
Don't worry if you're not an actor or improv expert - the beauty of D&D is that you can take things at your own pace and find your own comfort level. As you become more comfortable with your character, you may find yourself naturally slipping into their mannerisms and way of speaking.
Roleplaying can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. You don't need to do accents or dress up in costumes (although some people find that helps them get into character!). When you're playing, think about what your character would say and do in each situation.
For example, if your group is exploring a dark dungeon and you come across a locked door, your rogue might suggest picking the lock, while your cleric might want to pray for guidance.
It's also important to think about your character's personality and how they would interact with the other characters in the group. Would they be friendly and outgoing, or reserved and introspective?
Here are some examples of how you might roleplay your character:
If you're playing a dwarf cleric, you might speak in a deep, booming voice and use religious language when you pray or cast spells.
If you're playing a halfling rogue, you might be quick-witted and sarcastic, always looking for an opportunity to make a quick quip.
If you're playing a human fighter, you might be brave and honorable, always willing to put yourself in harm's way to protect others.
Not sure where to start when it comes to developing a character and their personality? Here are some helpful questions to consider!
What motivates my character? Are they seeking power, riches, revenge, or something else entirely?
How does my character interact with others? Are they outgoing and friendly, or more reserved and introspective?
What are my character's likes and dislikes? Do they have any hobbies or interests that they are passionate about?
What are my character's strengths and weaknesses? Do they have any notable talents or flaws that set them apart?
What is my character's moral code? Do they have a strong sense of justice, or are they more likely to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals?
What are my character's fears and insecurities?
How does my character feel about magic and other supernatural elements in the world? Are they fascinated by it, or fearful of it?
What is my character's overall attitude towards life? Are they optimistic or pessimistic?
How does my character dress? Do they wear noble, elegant clothing or well-worn armor? Do they have any notable accessories, such as runic markings on their robe or a locket with a picture of a loved one inside?
By considering these questions and others like them, you can begin to build a fully-formed and interesting character that you can roleplay during your D&D sessions.
Creating a Character Backstory
Now that you have an idea of your character's personality, it's helpful to create their backstory. This is not a necessary part of creating a character, but if you are new to roleplaying, it can be an additional tool to help you get into your character's brain a little more. Sometimes, a Dungeon Master will ask you to develop one so they can incorporate aspects of it into the world and adventure they create for you.
Your backstory is the story of your character's life up until the point that your game starts. It explains who they are, where they come from, and what motivates them.
The beauty of creating a backstory is that it's entirely up to you! A helpful tool for developing a backstory can be found in the Player's Handbook. During character creation, you will choose one of many background options (Noble, Hermit, Entertainer, Criminal, Merchant, etc.). These can give you a great starting point for developing your backstory.
You can make it as detailed or as broad as you want. Here are some questions to ask yourself when creating your character's backstory:
What was your character's childhood like? Were they raised in a loving family, or were they an orphan who had to fend for themselves?
What was your character's profession before becoming an adventurer? Were they a blacksmith, a farmer, a merchant, or something else entirely?
Does your character have any siblings? If so, what is their relationship like?
Does your character have any significant others or close friends? What happened to them?
Has your character experienced any significant events that shaped who they are today? This could be anything from a tragedy to a major accomplishment.
What are some secrets your character is hiding? Is there something about themselves or something that they've done that they are ashamed of?
Answering these questions can help you create a backstory that is both interesting and meaningful. It can also help you figure out how your character will interact with other characters in the game.
Interacting with Other Player Characters
The other players at your table are just as important to your roleplaying experience as your own character.
When interacting with other player characters (PCs), really listen to what they're saying and respond in character. Have your character ask their character questions, share your own stories, and look for opportunities to work together to achieve common goals or to bond to create a more immersive and memorable story. Some may have secrets or hidden parts of their backstory that you may only discover by adventuring with them or asking them about it!
Lastly, in my experience, the more comfortable you are with the people you are playing with, the easier it is to try out role-playing! If it is a totally new group of people that have never met before or have never tried roleplaying, it may take some time for everyone to warm up to it. Be patient with each other as you learn together!
It's Easier Than You Think!
Roleplaying can seem intimidating at first, but it's an incredibly rewarding aspect of Dungeons & Dragons. By building a rich and complex character, embracing their persona, coming up with a backstory, and interacting with other players, you can have a truly unforgettable experience.
So go forth, adventurer, and embrace the roleplaying side of D&D!
Stay tuned for next weeks post on how to become a Dungeon Master if you are a beginner but want to try out running the game!
And don't forget to check out our D&D setting inspired candles to help set the scent for your games and other fantasy storytelling experiences.
For now, Happy Adventuring! ⚔️