In parts 1 and 2 of Breathing Life in Characters, we have talked about how characters gain depth by being part of their societies and traditional schools of thought. This part will examine individuality and the ways that characters can develop as single entities among their fellows while maintaining the ties to the world that make them feel lifelike.
In addition to existing as part of a society, characters should have a degree of individuality. Everyone has a certain personal history and will have their own experiences within the context of the world, and as with the social and philosophical elements of a character these elements can be painted first with broad brush strokes and then refined further into individual elements.
The last post in this series looked at the concepts of politics and opinion. Once you have the external elements of a character down, it’s a good idea to look at their worldview. You may not want to do this for minor characters, especially ones that the players are unlikely to interact heavily with, but characters who may need to make consistent decisions or who are going to be showpieces of a session need to get a little more fabric put into their design, and their self-concept and philosophy. Like with political beliefs, many characters from the same society will have similar religious and philosophical viewpoints, and you can create a sort of baseline that lets you direct actions in a believable manner without a lot of micromanagement.