Hello fellow readers! Let’s take on the Darkside Personality Traits this time.
These are the traits usually embodied by the bad guys. However, they could also be used by other characters to indicate a “fall from grace” or brush with tragedy, especially considering that people are playing in darker settings like Ravenloft and adventures like The Curse of Strahd these days.
I have stated in the previous two articles about Lightside and Neutral traits that you should choose 5 so you have some traits that can be used for roleplaying in more situations. The idea is that you get a little help with roleplaying certain situations but not a particular response – that response is up to you. Using these traits during character building can help you ad lib more as you develop the character at the table.
Obviously, your character doesn’t embody all of these traits at all times. If you think 5 traits are too many, choose 3 and see how that works. The idea is to use them to help you get into character, not become something to avoid.
Traits marked with a (#) are not generally found in good characters.
- Pessimist: always sees the bad side of things
- Egoist: selfish concern for his own welfare
- Obstructive: acts to block the actions of others
- Cruel (#): cold-hearted and hurtful
- Careless: incautious in thought and deed
- Thoughtless: rarely thinks of others feelings
- Flippant: unable to be serious about anything
- Drunkard: constantly overindulges in alcohol
- Suspicious: trusts no one
- Violent: seeks out physical conflict
- Argumentative: starts arguments and fights
- Irreverent (#): mocks the Immortals
- Cheat (#): short-changes others of their due
- Hateful (#): strongly dislikes others
- Selfish: unwilling to share time and possessions
- Slovenly: messy, untidy, disorganized
- Filthy: knows nothing of hygiene
- Tardy: always late
- Self-doubting: unsure of self and abilities
- Cowardly: afraid to face adversity
Why explore Darkside traits?
What makes these interesting to take, even if your character is a better person, is that they add depth and allow for roleplaying in a different way than someone might normally play a Paladin or more noble character. You can go even deeper than that for any character though.
Think about the possibilities….
- Imagine you are a Paladin who used to be a drunken sot before you straightened out and devoted your life to a church.
- Or a leader of a battalion who was careless and got a lot of people killed by your very actions. Those behaviors might haunt you forever?
- What if you were a tax collector in your pre-adventuring life but you got greedy and almost killed someone? Perhaps you ran away from where you were and are afraid of meeting someone whose life you stole?
- What if you are a fighter but a lazy one, especially in the mornings. Any combat when you are trying to sleep does not really hold truck with you as you have not even had breakfast yet.
- What if you were a samurai whose master committed seppuku due to a perceived slight of their honor, though it was no fault of your own. Now you became a bushi (masterless warrior) who has to regain their honor?
- What if you are a thief type of rogue and you are a spendthrift, which upsets the current King of the Thieves Guild to no end?
- A tactless Mage can get himself into a lot of trouble and the roleplaying to get out of trouble would be hilarious or his friends trying to not have him talk around people of influence might be even funnier to think of.
These are just the ideas that popped out of my head as I was writing and I challenge you to think of something interesting by picking a Darkside trait for your character you are building.
I typically just GM and get my kicks playing a long list of NPCs that my players constantly check to see if I remember as I make all too many characters on the fly. They want to check to see if I remember the ticks and voices that make the NPCs interesting to meet and interact with in the first or twentieth place.
Lately though, I have been blessed with having the opportunity to do some roleplaying as a character while playtesting modules.
Right now I am playing a loud bard in a somber land. Most people would want to play quieter characters there. I decided that I am going to buck the trend and made a character that is extremely loud most of the time. Some people may suspect he even has hearing loss because he plays the bagpipes. These traits are not necessarily going to help me in the modules being successful or even just surviving, as I could get strung up. Hilariously enough, my character is very personable and it has helped me out a great deal because I am the one that NPCs have gravitated towards instead of running away.
Even my bagpipes have caused my character a bit of consternation, sounding like orchestral, classical, and organ music as well as the usual bagpipes due to some magical effects. They have been called heavenly or even “devil” music – sometimes in the same adventure.
But if I did not make something that was different. would I have made this kind of impact? Probably not! Even mentioning my bard gives some people the chuckles. I have brought him into other scenarios as an NPC and he has made people laugh because he is a funny character and I choose appropriate music to play with the bagpipes before doing spells.
Without the traits though, whether on the list or something completely different, these great background ideas likely would not have happened. The possibilities are endless!