Let Me Tell You About My Character
(The crunchy and campaign issues are coming, I promise, but this 95% written draft is sitting there and irritating me, so I’m sending it out. It’s based on this tumblr post.)
Radovic is my character in Aidan’s game, a run-through of the Out of the Abyss module. Hitherto, he was a younger son in a surface-involved dwarven settlement, with some moderately socialist politics. Mostly he was a bit of a dilettante and dabbler, albeit in a very focused, dwarven way (in my head, all dwarves are at least a few steps along the autism spectrum). Class-wise, he’s a druid/wizard. And then one of his older cousins, one with a definite eye toward the stability of dwarven society and the continued lining of the aforesaid cousin’s pockets, arranged for him to be in the path of some Drow slavers, and thence into the module. As a reaction, Radovic is becoming very socialist, and his experiences of the Underdark are encouraging this.
(The image is by Veronika Kozlova - I had intended to run one up in Midjourney or some portrait builder, but found this, and felt it’s a perfect reflection of Radovic.)
It should be understood as I work through the following get-to-know-the-character questionnaire that Radovic speaks with a moderately strong stage-Russian accent.
What is the character’s go-to drink order? Beer is the drink of the proletariat. Much of Radovic’s political education took place in out-of-the-way slightly-illicit taverns, so it was probably cheap beer, followed by cheap whiskey and/or vodka. As with most dwarves, he has a very high alcohol tolerance, so he’s mostly not getting drunk, just a bit tipsy. And he likes coffee. Strong, black, frequently cold.
What is their grooming routine? Back home, I feel he visited some down-at-heel barbershop on a regular basis, and hung out there for some hours before and after getting whatever hairs needed trimming trimmed. Dwarves have complicated beards and things, so I reckon oils, combs, and such feature in his own daily routine, and that he doesn’t think of this as being unusual or remarkable. In the Underdark, he had a stretch of time where he didn’t have even his travelling pack, so he had to spend a chunk of time after that combing out the knots, and didn’t enjoy it. He doesn’t usually wear his beard long - from a dwarven point of view, it’s almost obscenely short - but I reckon it’s been growing out a bit wildly for a few weeks.
What was their most expensive purchase/where does their disposable income go? He spends most of his money - which is largely an allowance from his well-to-do family, augmented by some magical odd-jobbing here and there - on books. To begin with, these were about magic, and of late, they’ve been about politics. The Forgotten Realms’ economy is a very American capitalism-in-the-cod-Renaissance sort of un-thought-out mess, but it does feature banks, merchant houses, moneylenders, and loan sharks at one end, and chattel slavery at the other, so I reckon there’s plenty of economic and social/political writing to dig into. He also spends money on his more working-class friends and acquaintances, by way of getting his round in rather more often than would be a fair share, whether that’s in food or drink, and by passing coins to their kids. I suspect that when (if!) he gets back home, he’ll have some more urgent things to spend money on, with the possibility of one of those being Funding A Revolution.
Do they have any scars or tattoos? He has some tattoos. Some of those are are clan and family markers, rite-of-passage marks, and so on. Some are to do with his politics, but they’re a bit more of the posh kid having a gang jacket than anything real.
What was the last time they cried, and under what circumstances? I feel like semi-toxic masculinity is a way of life for dwarves, and Radovic’s politics do not include the concept of patriarchy, emotion, or any of that soft stuff. He’s also somewhat unemotional anyway. So crying hasn’t really occurred to him as a method of expressing anything about or dealing with his situation, although if he can’t find a decent barber and some books in Sloobludop, there may be some angry tears. (The chances of him finding either in a kuo-toa settlement are very low).
Are they an oldest, middle, youngest or only child? He is a younger child (out of 3-4, maybe more) and as such has no responsibilities and few expectations. I am pretty sure that his older siblings and any surviving parents regard him as a sort of entertaining house pet, rather than a fully realised individual. He has never had much of an issue with this.
Describe the shoes they’re wearing. The “mission” he was sent on by his cousin was to an old mine, so he acquired a set of good miner’s boots before he left. He has been very grateful for these since, and intends to give the cobbler in question a lot more money when he gets back. The cobbler almost certainly ripped him off to the tune of three or four times the normal price, but Radovic will not have noticed, and the idea of a dwarven cobbler letting sub-standard work out is silly, so they’re definitely good boots. They’re in a tough brown leather, with steel toecaps, strong cord laces, reinforced eyelets, and so forth.
Describe the place where they sleep. Radovic has a bedroom in the family home, which is more of a storage room for his books and other stuff than a place to live. There’s a bed, but he pays very little attention to it. There are bookshelves, somewhere behind the piles of books. His desk - an monster of a thing, easily the size of a dining table - is the actual focus of the room, and when he’s seated at it, he can reach all the stuff he needs for hours at a stretch. He misses the desk intensely.
What is their favorite holiday? Highharvestide seems like the most peasant-focused of the Realms’ calendar, and it’s the one Radovic likes best. He hasn’t spent it with family for years, possibly decades, because it’s one of the easiest ways for him to push some more money into the working-class communities he hangs around with - nobody objects to him buying a centrepiece roast or a few more barrels of beer, and nobody realises he’s doing so for five or six groups at once.
What objects do they always carry around with them? Hatred of the oppressor, sympathy for the common folks, and a growing intent for revenge on his cousin. Radovic is something of an innocent in the moment, but he’s smart enough to have worked out exactly what happened to him, and why, and when he gets back home, his cousin is not going to enjoy things at all. A few more instances of disillusionment (which are easy to come by in the Underdark) will probably push him a lot further toward violence. He also carries his spellbook everywhere, possibly chained to him by now.
Right, having cleared out that draft, I can get on with the actual stuff I intended to write. Coming soon, etc.