visual

Three physical traits my player characters (almost) never had

“Sokka, the real Fire Lord” by kyrio

Tabletop role-playing games are praised for teaching people creative skills and having them think in abstract ways. Trying to visualise ever-changing pictures in front of your mind’s eye certainly trains your fantasy, and it is exciting to pretend your someone else for a while. Of course, if you’re gonna slip into another skin for a while, that skin should obviously beautiful. It should be a muscular, intimidating orc who brings fear to his enemies without even lifting a finger, or a gracious elf, with beauty that is the stuff of legends. In a way, you want to compensate for the lack of perfection your own mortal coil holds. Such a being has no room for ugly warts, some nasty affliction or a strange hair colour, for that would ruin the Adonis your mind has chiseled from the stone of dreams. Why play something ugly, when for once, you can be the most attractive dude in the tavern?

While I understand that role-playing games offer a form of escapism that enables you to be more than you are in real life, it often saddens me when players describe their characters and they are just the most awesome example of their race. It seems like many players don’t want to take risks, and prefer to play the physical perfect character. Sadly, that means that many characters I have seen in my life (or that I have played, for I am guilty of this as well), can be summed up with the same clich├ęs: beautiful hair, enchanting eyes, broad shoulders yadda yadda. Such descriptions make me long for things I rarely see under the header “physical description” on a character sheet, and in this article I sum up the three physical traits player characters of my players (or myself) almost never possessed!

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