Make Your Players Create Heroes!

The theory of the heroic compass that I’m putting forward here is a work in progress, and certainly not a holistic analysis of all fictional characters. However, if you disagree or have constructive contributions, please argue about it for engagement metrics! 

I’m sick of some of my players making Harengon monks and then being completely lost as to who their characters are, what they want, and how they’d respond to different situations. 

They skip over the Bonds, Flaws and Allies section on D&DBeyond and when it comes time to make a decision (i.e. play their role), they are stumped. 

This is fine really, if that’s how people want to play. But sometimes, when you want to run a campaign with less rails and easy decisions, you need some more oomph from your players. 

Sometimes, some guidance on roleplay and character creation is a relief to these types of players. 

So I send them this:

Then I define the areas that their characters should be in for the campaign:

Even the exercise of thinking about a character on these axes pushes people to make characters that have any morality. 

I’ve added some examples, and once we get past the debate on how proactive Superman is, and how moral The Punisher is, these examples start becoming helpful. It helps players base their character in some archetypes, and then helps us DMs understand what type of game the players are expecting. 

One thing my players have done is make sure they’re fairly spread out in the allocated zone. So everyone has diverse personalities, but are close enough on the compass to not have fundamental conflicts about how they approach the game. 

This has been especially helpful for running a sandbox, West-Marches style campaign that is player character driven. They have their character’s attitude and motivations plotted on this chart, and therefore they start to think about what their character wants to do. 

So when the players are deciding between the Sunless Citadel and Abominable Laboratory, the reactive moralist paladin wants to save the captured adventurers in the Citadel whereas the proactive antihero rogue wants to kill the bandits hiding in the Abominable Laboratory. The main point, they want to do something! 

“What would my character do” is something I genuinely see everyone thinking about! The holy grail for every dungeon master.

You can download the Google Drawing (the what?) files, and the image files from our discord server here


Some questions I'd like help answering include; how do different styles of play, and different TTRPGs encourage players to create characters in different areas? Are Old School characters more active and less moral? Also, can we map the core classes on to these axes? 

Let me know, and download these, and our monthly free adventures from our Discord

This month we’ve got Ynys Hwit mini-setting with two adventures; The Candlelighter’s Crypt and The Black Spring. Join us in the Discord for free monthly adventures and for discussions like these with our community!

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