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Inspiration…and Where to Find It! A Continuation of “To Clone”

First, I wanted to point out that yesterday’s article about clone characters was apparently a big hit.  I’m glad everyone enjoyed it, and I wanted to follow up a bit about it.  There was a really great discussion in the comments regarding different types of inspiration, and frankly I’m going to rip a lot of it off for my article today.  Thanks guys! 😉

Yesterday, greywulf mentioned how he’s done clones of staple characters, but in a different genre.  For example, he mentioned a Drizzt clone using two .38 revolvers instead of his staple scimitars.  Personally, I love this concept.  Taking a character out of the normal genre and into another is a great way to make something interesting.  At this point, I don’t really consider it a clone, but instead it’s strongly inspired by that original character.  The same is true of greywulf’s suggestion of James Bond as a D&D rogue.  I really like that one!  By taking that clone-like character and changing genre, you can create something very unique and it will go a long way to avoid

Mike Lemmer mentioned he had used a modified version of Don Quixote for a character.  Again, this is a great idea.  Characters from literature are staples of inspiration for role play characters.  However, Mike’s idea of using someone like Don Quixote is extremely cool in my mind because it’s not the typical character people base a PC on.  Aragorn, it ain’t after all.  In all the world of fiction, there are ample characters that are ripe for inspiration that no one has ever seen.

Reverend Mike (I assume it’s a different Mike anyways ;)) mentions his use of a more obscure character from a movie.  Again, this a huge source of inspiration that has been mined before.  The good Reverend’s idea, however, is very cool because the sidekick or minor character is never the subject of inspiration, but instead it’s usually the hero.

Of course, I don’t want to just rehash what these guys have said already.  I need to put a new spin on it.  I want to make you think of something new.  So where else can you look for inspiration?  Comic books?  Sure, but that’s to easy.  Cartoons/anime?  Again, to simple.  My take, and one that may surprise a lot of people is… <drum roll>…………………………….</drum roll>

Real life.

Audie Murphy, a little shrimp of a guy to look at, was the most decorated soldier of World War II before going into acting.  There’s a lot of inspiration to mine in regards to someone like him, isn’t there?  You could base a character off of him and no one would ever realize it.  And, he was a real person.

In fact, reality is full of brave people who do amazing things every day.  The United States has been at war for the last seven years.  Somewhere along the way, you’ve probably come across a veteran.  Maybe they are inspiring.  Maybe you were rescued by a fireman or a policeman.  Maybe you got conned out of some money by a smooth talker?  Maybe you just know some of these people.  Who knows.  My point is, you encounter people who can inspire your characters every day.  Why not take advantage of it?

August 13, 2008 - Posted by | RPG |


  1. A different Mike indeed…definitely not a lemur…

    While most of my characters are either original or inspired by fiction, I have used a few based on real life people…two stand out in particular…

    I’ve got a newspaper article from back in the day about my great uncle Bill…’Local Recruit Kills 13 Japs at Iwo Jima’…lesser known fact about the guy was that he had his camera on him when the flag got raised, and he took the famous picture from a different angle…he’s still around today…last time I visited him he mentioned that he wears a baseball cap all the time both to keep his head warm and just in case there’s a war…he’s made a few appearances as an NPC in some of my campaigns already…

    The other is a lot more simplistic…in a d20 modern campaign a friend ran, we play ourselves in the middle of a zombie attack…used one of those quizzes that give your ‘real life stats’ for that…we’ve already had 2 casualties and added new characters to the party…it’s a arseload of fun…

    Comment by Reverend Mike | August 13, 2008 | Reply

  2. I’ve had a blast playing myself before as well. I remember once the party pulled names of other party members out of a hat and made the name they pulled a White Wolf mortal character as true to life as possible, including equipment. Then that sheet had to be okayed by at least one other party member. It ended up a really cool game. Unfortunately, actual real life got in the way after the first or second session, so it dropped off.

    Comment by Liambic | August 13, 2008 | Reply

  3. At Dragonflight over the weekend, I talked with a retired Marine intel officer about his “play yourselves” game, set in a futuristic interplanetary spy agency. The players were all intel specialists with over a decade of experience in the Marines that worked with each other on real-life assignments. Saying their PCs meshed well & came up with creative solutions is an understatement…

    As for the Don Quixote cloning, I believe cloning a humorous character and tweaking him to be semi-serious works much better than taking a serious character and tweaking him to be semi-humorous.

    Comment by Mike Lemmer | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  4. Amen. I’m with you all the way on this one, Tom.

    Comment by greywulf | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  5. @Reverend: It sounds like your Great Uncle Bill would make a hell of an character for a RPG!

    @Liambic: I hate it I missed that one!

    @Mike: They’re intel specialists that play intel specialists? Well, to each their own ;). I wouldn’t want to role play my real job…of course, my real job isn’t interesting enough to role play. 😉

    @greywulf: Thanks for the support!

    Comment by Tom | August 14, 2008 | Reply

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