For those looking for a captivating character entrance onto the tabletop gaming stage, look no further than the character intro template by Hook and Chance! In this podcast episode, Beth sits down with the podcast hosts to discuss character creation and flash fiction for your fantasy PCs.
I had the pleasure of chatting with our friends Travis and Jordan on the Hook and Chance Podcast about an exciting way to introduce friends at the table to your character with a character intro.
Especially for those of you who enjoy fiction, the character intro is a chance for you to play around in your character’s backstory and set the mood for their entrance onto the tabletop stage.
Travis and Jordan have put together a 13-sentence template for the character intro. By following the guide, you weave together a brief scene of an NPC encountering the character for the first time.
Here’s an example character intro for Evelyne Genvair, my Circle of Wildfire Eladrin druid for our upcoming Descent into Avernus duet campaign.
A drowsy tavern keeper polished glasses behind the worn oak bar. Patrons spoke in hushed tones, careful to keep their eyes to themselves so as not to provoke any of the burly Guild members dotted around the pub. Bertrand polished off his crisp ale, slamming the tankard down on the table, and signaled another round for him and his companions without a glance at the silent barkeep. A bell tinkled as the tavern door flew open and warm afternoon light splashed across the dingy environs.
The backlit elf reflexively curled her fingers around the rowan branch that crossed the center of her palm. Bertrand leaned forward, scowling at the newcomer. The emblem of a phoenix clasped bands of reinforced leather around her waist. So this was the one he’d heard tale of before, some sort of misplaced vigilante from the Brightlands eager to meddle in others’ affairs. She rolled her shoulders back and surveyed the downturned heads scattered around the bar.
“I’m looking for Bertrand Thorne, the Guild’s lieutenant commander in this region.” She smirked as their eyes met. Bertrand’s chair squealed as he pushed it back and rose, scimitar in hand. Brilliant orange light flashed against her golden skin, and a ball of fire roared into life in her upturned hand.
Why use character intros?
Internal vs External
One of my favorite parts of writing Evelyne’s intro was capturing this moment in her past through the eyes of someone else. I know how she feels at this moment, but the intro allowed me to tease out how she comes across to others.
This external persona is of course very deliberate on her part, and it’s something we want to be aware of at the gaming table. Perhaps your character is terrified in their present circumstance, but they’re feigning confidence.
Your partner will probably be aware of this conflict in the character, especially after you’ve been playing for a while, but this balance of internal and external state and their representation in your RP can be enhanced by your greater understanding of the multiple levels of emotion coursing through your character in the story world.
Focus on Actions
This version of a character reveal lets your duet partner, or larger party, know a lot more about your character than you saying their class, equipment, and stats.
Beyond that, you’re getting deeper into the essence of the character, into who they are and what they do. It allows you to emphasize their actions, which is how your partner will experience them at the table, and the key element you need to know in order to portray them.
When to use character intros?
At the beginning of a campaign
I’m excited to see, building into our Avernus campaign, how incorporating a character interview will add a pinch of backstory and set the tone and mood for our characters.
Session zeros are challenging in many respects, and it can feel like there’s a lot riding on them. You’ve spent all this time thinking about your character, and now is the time to introduce them to your duet partner! What if you mess up the voice? What if you accidentally give them a weird mannerism that they’ll have to carry through the entire campaign?
Instead, for those of us who like to have a foundation to work from until we get comfortable in our new character’s skin, the character intro provides that for us.
Before a session
Travis and Jordan also suggested reading your character intro before you start the session to help you transition into character. It’s a way of immersing yourself in their psyche at the beginning of a session to help quickly conjure some of their emotions and motivation.
Check out this post for player prep before a session. It is looking at online play specifically, but the internal character work you’re doing as a player applies in either case.
Introducing a new character
Try writing out a character intro for a new NPC or for a villain in your campaign to help yourself flesh out some of their past experiences. One of my concerns with Lulu, the golden flying miniature elephant in Descent into Avernus was that it would be hard for me to switch in and out of a character who is somewhat silly (Lulu), and one who is dark, complex, and tricksy (any number of the fiends we’ll encounter).
But with the character intros, you’ll have flash fiction on hand for your dastardly NPCs and those desperate for the party’s aid.
Further Reading (and Listening)
Novel based on our duet
I’ve been working on a high fantasy series, Age of Azuria, based on our duet. The first novel, Buried Heroes, is available for preorder now and will release on May 12th! (Slight delay from April 30th as announced in the episode.)
For the writers
Share with us!
We’d love to know if you try out the character intro and how it goes! Please share with us in the comments below!
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