“Whew! That dungeon was rough. Time to get some much needed R&R” – Your Character
Everyone needs some time off once in a while, and your imaginary alter-ego is no different. Dungeoneering, exploring, and probably killing everything adventuring is hard work, and after a hard day’s work the characters have got to kick back and relax like everyone else.
But what does your character actually do when they relax? Of course they’re going to sleep for their 8 hours, and take that extended rest, but besides that. I mean no character is probably going to say “I’m going to bed guys, wake me up for the next battle.” No, people have hobbies, and so do your characters! The only problem is your characters, most likely, have bad hobbies. Let’s give them some hobbies that don’t suck!
“I’m going to bed guys, wake me up for the next battle.” – The party Barbarian, probably.
Okay, Let me clarify before I continue, I don’t think that these hobbies are actually bad. In fact, they’re not bad for characters to have in novels, stories, or RPG’s, but in games you need to think of those hobbies differently. These hobbies are meant to flesh out your characters, and make them more interesting. Usually this isn’t the case, however, and it’s because we, as people, like to think of these hobbies as if we were doing them, or how they are done practically. We don’t think about how to make them fun in game. And that’s our fault. Let’s fix it.
What makes a good Hobby
First, let’s define the aspects that make a good hobby. A good hobby should (almost always) have nothing to do with anything written on your character sheet. A lot of times, a job is a job, and what somebody does for fun is not related to their 9-5. Not only that, it’s more interesting for both you and the other PC’s.
The second thing a good hobby will have is that it is a social activity. It should always encourage your character to occasionally go forth and talk to other PC’s or NPC’s to create a narrative around it. You can say “My Character plays the lute by the fire”. It does create a nice little picture in your mind, but it doesn’t make your character feel any more complete, and it really isn’t that much fun for everyone. But, don’t fret, with just a small twist, we can give characters with boring hobbies a better one.
1. A good hobby should not be based off your character sheet.
2. Your hobby should encourage social interaction.
Here’s an example
Let’s take Bron the Barbarian. He is seriously lacking in a hobby, so let’s give him one outside of his normal skills: Painting. “Hey, wait! Painting isn’t a social activity, Bron will just skulk off somewhere and paint some scenery.” You have a valid point, my interruptive friend, so let’s give it that twist we were talking about. Bron isn’t interested in landscapes, nor abstract, not even still lifes. No, Bron only paints live models, and being the picky artist he his, he never paints the same subject twice. It won’t take long until he’s painted everyone in the party, which means he’ll need to go out to continue in his trend. Perfect!
How about a look at Beatrice the bard, a natural singer at heart. Surely in her downtime she sings to her heart’s content, however, this isn’t too much fun for the players. From everyone’s standpoint, we hear a player say “She sings a song”. Nothing to build on here. Now all we have to do is give it a twist by saying, she want to make a name for herself. She’s gotta start getting gigs, and if she isn’t the best with money, it’s time to bring in another one of the players as her manager. Primo!
John the squire is a PC that wants to start a sports ball team with his other PCs… wait, this is perfect. Gold Star! Not only is that interesting, it includes the other PC’s! (Not only that, your Game Master will be bowing down with a “I am not worthy” for all of the filler and extra stuff that they can now throw in any mod at any time)
The Final Example
Now, a look at Hammond the Paladin. Of course a lot of his time goes towards prayer, and upkeep of his equipment, but what does that man that gave up everything do for himself during his off time? That’s the question he asked himself as he wandered throughout the streets. Eventually finding himself in outside seating at an outdoor cafe. That’s when it happened, he tasted the most delicious thing he had in his entire life. Key. Lime. Pie. It was as if he took his oaths all over again! From this point, Hammond became an aficionado of key lime pie. Every town that they stopped in, he had to find and try their delicious limey-ness.
Now, that sounds a bit ridiculous right? Well, that actually happened with a character I ran. And something crazy happened from that point, another PC got business cards printed (because those exist in this medieval fantasy world for fun reasons), so the Paladin could hand them out to be proudly displayed at any restaurant he visited with the Pie. At one point or another, each other PC got involved with the Pie shenanigans at one point or another.
Even if you’re currently playing a character, have them try something that they always wanted to. Just make sure to involve more people at the table as well. That’s where the real fun of character downtime takes off. Now, go forth! You have a new hobby, of being a Player Character Hobby master! Oh, should I have created a business card letting everyone know that you’re the Hobby master?Now, go forth! You have a new hobby, of being a Player Character Hobby master!
What hobbies have your characters had that were fun to play? Agree or disagree, let me know by commenting below!