Original characters, reiterations and the reasons therefore.

Crossposted to roleplayers.

I got thinking about this issue while I was working on a big post about the history of one of my own longstanding characters (which post was, in turn, inspired by a question somebody brought up in an earlier post of mine).

Now, most of the time when I make a character for a game, it’s an original character and I put a lot of work into distinguishing them, fleshing them out and so on.

Yet I also have a parallel history. No, I’m not talking about blatantly ripping off famous characters from literature or film. Bad you. Don’t think such things. I’m talking about taking a previous one of your own character concepts and taking another whack at it in a slightly different way. I’m not talking about such vague character concepts as “brick/meat-man” or “healer”: there are only so many of those, really, and we’re bound to repeat that sort of thing eventually. I’m talking about making a character that’s either deliberately inspired by or even directly based on being a different “version” of the same character. For my purposes, I’ll call this another “iteration” of the same character. No, you don’t need to correct my usage of the word, I’m just using it to approximate what I’m getting at. Maybe variation would be better. Anyhow, moving right along.

What I started thinking about was reasons why it is that sometimes I do this, and what reasons others might have for similar behaviors.

For myself, I found three major reasons, and came up with one other motive that I’ve seen inspire others to do it.

  • A) A desire to see how much the same basic character would deal with different sets of circumstances, surrounded by other archetypes and setting details. This does strike me as an interesting and valid reason for trying a variation on the same theme, IE reiterating the character.
  • B) A desire to see how certain smallish (or not so smallish) tweaks in the character him/herself would play out over the course of the character’s developement, and how different the character would ultimately be as a result. Again, this strikes me as a pretty interesting exercise.
  • C) Closure. Perhaps the prior campaign/chronicle/whatever the character was part of petered out or otherwise came to an end that didn’t provide any real closure to the player with regards to exploring that particular character and they want to take a shot at obtaining some closure, for good or ill. I know I’ve done this after games imploded or just trailed off to nothing in an unsatisfactory manner, and that having a game end on an exclamation point, whether the ending for that particular character was happy or not, seems to (for me) obviate any real desire to reiterate the character.
  • D) Sometimes people are just really, really really attached to a character and can’t move on. Given the fact that I so enthusiastically make and play a broad variety of different, completely unrelated characters and only occasionally reiterate a prior character, I don’t personally think that this a big reason for me.

That’s about all I came up with, though I’d love to hear other reasons that you might come up with.

Now, I can’t do polls, but I thought I’d set up a sort of informal poll and discussion because I’m a curious sort and want to see what you folks think about this.

When you’re making a character, do you ever reiterate a prior one? If the answer is yes, why? Is it for one or more of the reasons I offered above, or for an entirely different reason? If not, why not?

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