I’ve had some recent discussions with a friend that centered around why I wasn’t as thrilled with his PC regularly using Polymorph effects as he was. I realized that, after a youth spent on comic books, I have a hard time identifying with a character if I can’t easily visualize it. Frequent shapechanging meant not having the iconographic cues that are otherwise so common to fantasy characters. I suspect a lot of others are like me, and would have an easier time playing in general, and caring about particular PCs in specific, if it was easier to insert them into the little mental movie that’s accompanying the tabletop game. So today’s post is a short exercise that players can do for their PCs to make them more iconic: easier to visualize, and with these visual elements tied to important character personality and background the player wants to get across.

Decide on the following elements for your PC:

Feature

Visual

Meaning

Significant Feature: What is the first thing about your personal features that someone would notice? Do you have an interesting hairstyle, uniquely colored eyes, a prominent scar or tattoo, some kind of deformity, etc.? If it’s genetic, what does it mean about your family? If it’s a scar, how did you get it? If it’s hair or tattoo, what personal meaning drove you to choose something so distinctive?
Unique Apparel: What item of clothing, jewelry, etc. do you always have and is rare and unusual, easily remembered? Is it a heavily-customized jacket, a necklace, a hat, a medal, a weapon, etc.? Where did you get the item, and what personal significance does it hold for you? Is it a gift from a lost loved one you’re trying to honor or live up to? A symbol of your accomplishment or birth? A trophy you took from a victory? Or just something that means something personal and speaks to your style?
Sigil/Heraldry/Totem: What specific symbol or class of iconography does your character wear and respond to? Do you wear a rendering of a particular animal or beast, favor a particular abstract symbol/glyph of some kind of group, or write in and adorn yourself with a particular type of runes? What does this mean for your personality? Do you identify with the animal or think it protects you? Does the glyph belong to your culture/order, or a group you aspire to join? If it’s a type of rune, why did you choose those over other writing systems, and why incorporate them into your iconography beyond simply writing with them?
Colors: What one or two colors does your character wear and favor in general use? When picking an outfit, all other considerations aside, what color clothing would you pick? What do the colors say about your life and beliefs? Are they just utilitarian colors to hide and blend in, or do even choices of brown and black say something specific about you? If it’s a brighter color, what emotions and feelings do you associate with the color?

These should be relatively simple questions to answer and immediately give your GM (and the other players) a much easier time figuring out what’s interesting about your character. They should also be a quick way to generate plot hooks, from a simple knowledge of what kinds of iconography and colors your character would gravitate to in order to find Macguffins, to useful insights about your character background.

(Also see this post for ideas on how to quickly give your GM ideas for cool things about your character.)

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