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Describing Your 5E D&D Character in Memorable Fashion

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Salutations, nerds! Today I’m writing about a moment many fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons players dread — when the Dungeon Master turns to you and says, “Introduce your character. Who are they and what do they look like?” Doesn’t it always kind of feel like there’s no good happy medium between too much detail and not enough? I aim to demystify this process and talk about three important things to remember when called upon to physically describe your 5E D&D character. The idea is to pin down things you’ll remember the next time you get caught unprepared. Fingers crossed this of some use to you but if not the first point is the most important.

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Remember your 5E D&D character identity

You came into 5E D&D with a person in mind so the next time you are asked to describe who the character you’re playing and nothing comes to mind straight away take a moment and remember who this person is when you first imagined them. Descriptions are a quick hack to getting people to draw conclusions about the character you’re playing. Think on the conclusions you want them to draw.

Even if all you have is, “I am a sneaky rogue,” there’s plenty you can use to give off this vibe. Soft soled leather shoes making no sound when you walk. Dark mottled colors good for hiding in the darkness. If you want to show your character is a master archer describe the bow they are carrying and the two fingered archery glove they always wear.

Quality over quantity details

Less is more. Once you have an idea of the conclusions you want your fellow 5E D&D players to draw about the character you’re playing then zero in on a handful of details about the character to inform them. You can tell me without description your character is a grizzled rogue who’s been through a lot of battles but no amount of promising me the truth of this is going to make me believe you as much as telling me about the long, pale, hooked scar drawn down the side of their face and bisecting their lips, and the missing first knuckles of the last two fingers on their right hand.

You can tell me your druid is beautiful — and honestly you can even describe this beauty — but a lot of people get tired of hearing about incandescent eyes around the third time they’ve heard this descriptor. Show me the evidence they work on their appearance. Tell me how their hair shines when the light catches it or their make up is applied elegantly and tastefully. Or tell me they’re not wearing any and they have a contagious smile.

If you haven’t been caught unaware take a moment to think about what you want the takeaway to be and make it a point to push your descriptions in this direction.

One unexpected thing

We all know rogues are generally sneaky and bards are typically charismatic. When you describe your 5E D&D character try to make it a point to include one unexpected detail for a character of your type. Rather than going all in on your sneaky rogue instead give one detail about the floral brocade on their vest. Now I’m thinking this is a criminal but with a touch of class in their ensemble giving them an almost dainty look.

The beautiful druid with the shiny hair might be carrying a ring of bone hewn keys. What do those keys open? They’ll have to find out late but there’s a break in the majesty of this character as a person for just a moment for this one macabre detail.

This unexpected detail goes against the grain of what the other players will remember your 5E D&D character for and it makes all of the other points feel more real because of this.

How do you go about describing your 5E D&D characters? Have I missed something important? Please let me know in the comments below or tweet me @Pyrosynthesis. And of course, don’t forget to stay nerdy!

*Featured image — A composite image showing some favorite 5E D&D characters who all make impressions on the other players and characters in the game where they found themselves thrust into adventure.

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Robin Miller

Speculative fiction writer and part-time Dungeon Master Robin Miller lives in southern Ohio where they keep mostly nocturnal hours and enjoys life’s quiet moments. They have a deep love for occult things, antiques, herbalism, big floppy hats and the wonders of the small world (such as insects and arachnids), and they are happy to be owned by the beloved ghost of a black cat. Their fiction, such as The Chronicles of Drasule and the Nimbus Mysteries, can be found on Amazon.

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