In Role-Playing Games your character sheet and stats are usually the most tangible part of your character, especially at level one. For many new players, all they know about their character is on that sheet.
Iíve seen new players, upset at the lack of bonuses associated with rolling low Attributes, be concerned only that they cannot add a bonus to dice rolls, completely overlooking how the stat will effect their role-play. In truth, a score of 10 in any Attribute translates into average human aptitude, which should make it easier to role-play for most people. When it comes to Attribute bonuses, itís true that having higher Strength means you add more to your mÍlťe damage when you roll your dice, but how do you portray numbers like that with your role-playing?
Itís easy for a new player to get hung up on the numbers (there are so many, and they seem so important!) Better armor class, more hit points, good saving throws, but thatís not all there is to a character: skill selection can be tricky, too. During character creation, one is directed to a set of class-appropriate skills to select, but I believe itís important to keep your character in mind during this step, too. For example, I recently created a gnome bard. She had spent her entire life as the indentured servant of a captain on a galleon. I would have loved to train her in Dungeoneering, a class skill for bards. Realistically, though, her backstory precluded any opportunity for her to acquire such knowledge in her lifetime. Down the road, once sheís been through a few dungeons, it will be a skill I can both acquire and justify. At level one, though, it didnít make sense from a role-playing perspective.
Itís too easy to fall into the trap of re-creating the same character over and over by filling in the same skills, feats, and stats because you like them as a player, but itís important to remember that not every character is cut out to carry that high-damage weapon, or can believably be super stealthy while wearing scale-mail. The numbers you generate for your sheet should inform and assist in the creation of your character. They should not just be ďfilled in,Ē especially if theyíre in conflict with the personality youíre creating.
If youíre having trouble devising a character to play, ask your Game Master to suggest three questions that present you with character choices to help you ease into your character and the world he or she will be adventuring in. For example, the scenario is that your character is a crew member of a merchant vessel sailing between Freeport and other points of trade. Question one: your character is actually the Captainís cousin -- do you two get along? Question two: Is this your first time on a boat? Question three: do you have something special stowed under your bed? If youíre having difficulty imagining a personality to portray, why not borrow one from the Zodiac? Or take the time to come up with a full name and birthdate for your Character and discover their personality and foibles with a numerology work-up, which is more in-depth. When you focus on your characterís personality points more than skill points, youíll find yourself well on the way to a less stat-oriented ďroll-playĒ style of game, and a more genuine ďrole-playĒ experience.