Playing Arrogant without being Evil or a Jerk


Advice

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I'm working on a character background for a Rise of the Runelords character, and I'm trying to get a bead on her personality.

Basically: She's a dwarf whose parents work in the Gas Forges of Riddleport. Instead of following her parents' wishes for her career, she went to the cyphermages to become a wizard. She wants to learn about Thassilon and stuff. She has a Charisma of 8.

I've got some basic ideas of her personality: She worships Torag because she's a dwarf, and that causes her to view magic with a tactical mindset. Suggestions I've received for role-playing her low Charisma is that she's brash and pig-headed. I like this idea, but I have no idea how to play this as a LG character and without making the character unlikable. A lot of characters in APs that I've read who are arrogant tend to be the insufferable kind that I really worry about other PCs reacting to because the most likely reaction will be "F@CK YOU!" followed by either attacking them or refusing to have anything to do with them ever again (which is a problem when the NPC is someone the PCs are supposed to befriend).

How do you play an arrogant character who can be Lawful Good, and who has likable qualities instead of repulsing people immediately.


I would do it by being sure of yourself about things you have skills for :
Knowledge history : Everyone knows what happened in Magnimar the 7 april 998
But when you do not have the knowledge , just don't say anything .

In short be arrogant not about yourself but about what you know .
When someone contracdict you,(it will happen), cite your sources (even if as a player you have to invent them on the spot) and offer to lend the book to the players next time you all are in riddleport .


Generally, being arrogant is a big part of being an, as you put it, @55hole (not sure if it´s not allowed to use the term here as long as we are not offending one another). I´d say be a bit more subdued, not going out of her way to trashtalk people but quietly and assuredly acting as if she knows best.


Arrogance and confidence are not nearly as admired in society as they should be. You will unlikely to find players react to a character who is arrogant or confident in a friendly manner. Most people seem not to like that. So I think your best hope is to counter it -- with more arrogance and confidence. Such as: "Why are you yelling at me? Does it upset you that I understand this better than you? I'm trying to help you. If THAT upsets you, it says more about you than it does about me."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Brash and pig-headed is a better description than arrogant, in the original text. Make the character impulsive - the first option is the right one - and a little stubborn about being right. Not completely stubborn, though. Just enough to question people who disagree her ideas, but that she's willing to concede to group decisions. Don't insult other characters, there's no need to be rude.

"We must defend the children!"
"Wouldn't it be better to send someone out to scout, instead of locking us all in one place?"
"Defending the orphanage is the only thing we should focus on!"
"Well, yes, but if we don't know what's coming, we can't effectively defend."
"Huh. I see your point. Alright, that makes sense. I'm going to be defending the orphanage, though!"


I'm currently playing a monk with a 7 charisma. I totally get what you are saying, particularly since I don't buy in with the philosophy of a low Cha means you must be ugly.

The way I am playing him is that he is completely honest. Often brutally so. "Why do I care what this self important blowhard tells us to do? Its not like he's our king, we're from [insert nation here]."

"Sure lad, ye could try to fight us, but you'll die. Painfully."

"What? She IS ugly."

Then you can layer it with the subtle pomposity that Robin explains. "Obviously he's part of the Cartographer's Guild. Everyone knows that only they wear that particular fedora."

So you get a character that is self-sure, honest (even if not always right -- the fight example above is a good example), and often socially awkward. The character doesn't care that the NPC is a member of the aristocracy of another nation because that nation doesn't have authority over the character. What the character doesn't get though is that even though said noble doesn't really have any authority over the party, the noble still expects to be treated like a noble. Etc., etc.

It will at times come off as being a bit of an *$$ but you don't have to overdo it either. Furthermore, as the character progresses, particularly if she has a good Wisdom, she can start to learn from her mistakes. While she might not ever be a diplomat, she can learn that when dealing with nobles its probably best if she just studies her spellbook, etc.


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What is a bit weird here is that normally the Charisma score also reflects the confidence of the character, and yet here is a character with below average charisma who has also to come off as arrogant.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Looking for arrogant but not evil or a jerk... Ever watched Doctor Who?


"Holier Than Thou"

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
The Shaman wrote:

What is a bit weird here is that normally the Charisma score also reflects the confidence of the character, and yet here is a character with below average charisma who has also to come off as arrogant.

I'm trying to find a way to roleplay the Charisma penalty without resorting to stock character traits like shyness (Oh, look another shy scholar who's more comfortable among books than people. Haven't seen THAT wizard stereotype a million times before! Why not just throw on a pair of huge coke-bottle glasses to complete the ensemble?!), hideous appearances or offensive body odor and hygienic habits.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The Shaman wrote:

What is a bit weird here is that normally the Charisma score also reflects the confidence of the character, and yet here is a character with below average charisma who has also to come off as arrogant.

I'm trying to find a way to roleplay the Charisma penalty without resorting to stock character traits like shyness (I don't know how to roleplay this right), hideous appearances or offensive body odor and hygienic habits.

Well, a CHA of 8 is pretty middle-of-the-road for a dwarf, which the CRB describes as "a bit gruff".

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

And how exactly does one be "gruff?" What does gruff even mean? All I really know about it relates to goats!


Be a friend to your friends and an enemy to your enemies.

To your fellow PCs, you respect them, after all they're elite enough to be running around with you aren't they? You are the most important cog in a well oiled killing machine. The word here is Espirit de Corps. You are the leader of fantasy Seal Team 6.

Sure you've got an overinflated opinion of yourself and your capabilities, you're a bit of an order giver/shouter in combat, and out of it, you probably offer a bit too much unsolicited advice. But its all so the others can keep up with you.

To your enemies, cut the frack loose! Insult their weakness, belittle their strengths. Make snide put-downs or even just sigh in disappointed resignation when you have the upper hand, as if this scum wasn't worth your very valuable time.

When you face the big boss, act as if he is your nemesis, and the other PCs are just backing you up (which is as it should be).

"I am not one of the little people." Should be the foremost and most frequent thought in your head.

prototype00


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
How do you play an arrogant character who can be Lawful Good, and who has likable qualities instead of repulsing people immediately.

Dr Sheldon Cooper off "The Big Bang Theory"

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
And how exactly does one be "gruff?" What does gruff even mean?
Two-second Googling wrote:

abrupt or taciturn in manner.

"penetrate a gruff exterior and you will find him affable"
synonyms: abrupt, brusque, curt, short, blunt, bluff, no-nonsense

I think simply not cracking jokes and always cutting to the chase (skipping small talk) would cover an 8 just fine. That seems to fit "a bit gruff, abrupt, brusque, curt, short, blunt, bluff, no-nonsense". Sort of like an on-duty police officer: not being mean to anyone, but makes you feel like you should just stick to the topic at hand and not get chatty.

At least, that's an option. :)


"Do these pants make me look fat?"

"No, you ARE fat."

There ya go.


How about the Cliff Clavin route?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You want someone who's arrogant without being an Alein?

Try Jean-Luc Piccard or Prof. Xavier as a personality template. Their general benevolence is matched only by their arrogance.


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Dabbler wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
How do you play an arrogant character who can be Lawful Good, and who has likable qualities instead of repulsing people immediately.
Dr Sheldon Cooper off "The Big Bang Theory"

Except he comes off more as a pompous so-and-so, and kinda defines arrogant.

Arrogant is a negative personality trait. It is pride taken too far. Yes, there are some people who are arrogant who are also likable, but it is not generally the trait people like. Playing arrogant with a lower than average charisma score is...well...it strikes me as playing exactly the kind of character you are trying not to.

On the other hand, a friend of mine started playing an orc for the first time, and had a terrible charisma. Instead of playing the shy type (another trait you are trying to avoid) he went a different route. Below area few of him more memorable quotes:

"Greetings! It pleases me to see you have not contracted any pus dripping diseases!"

"This is your wife? You have excellent taste in brood stock; she will bear many fine children before you have to replace her with a younger one."

"I will not hold your small stature and obvious feminine stature against you. Your parents are the ones who should have killed you at birth, and their sins should not be held- oh, you are a woman. In that case your face must be a great aid when frightening ogres."


You can try being overly correct. Like an interlektual left winger. We can be both arrogant and LG.:)

The Exchange

I suppose the movie version of Tony Stark qualifies. He's self-centered, a show-off, and has no patience for fools (which in his mind qualifies about 95 percent of everybody he meets) but he has charm and tries to do good and kind things (when it occurs to him.)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Dabbler wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
How do you play an arrogant character who can be Lawful Good, and who has likable qualities instead of repulsing people immediately.
Dr Sheldon Cooper off "The Big Bang Theory"

God, do I ever HATE that character. He gives everyone on the Autism spectrum a bad name! >:(


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
And how exactly does one be "gruff?" What does gruff even mean? All I really know about it relates to goats!

NPC: "My fair lady, what a truly glorious day it must be for the gods to have bestowed upon me the honor of making the acquaintance of wizardess of your remarkable prowess. It is a blessing upon me and my kin to have the honor of hosting you for an evening."

Gruff PC: "Hmmpphh." Walks off.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
How do you play an arrogant character who can be Lawful Good, and who has likable qualities instead of repulsing people immediately.
Dr Sheldon Cooper off "The Big Bang Theory"
God, do I ever HATE that character. He gives everyone on the Autism spectrum a bad name! >:(

I AM on the Autism spectrum, and I find him a perfect explanation to people who don't get what it is.

Another example, is "House"...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The problem is when people expect all people on the spectrum to act like that. I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when I was seven and I've worked very hard all my life to socially integrate with my peers. To see a character like Sheldon behaving blatantly socially inappropriate to people and get a pass on it feels insulting, and reinforces a very serious neurological condition as a cause for mockery rather than understanding. Rain Man causes similar problems. The neurological disorder is trivialized and quickly becomes a caricature that obscures the people who actually have it into caricatures.

I still don't understand why my parents find the show funny when it's mocking their own demographics (those interested in science and technology and people with neurological disorders respectively).


House is a good example, as would be Tony Stark--generally my arrogant people are hyper-competent at whatever they're arrogant about. also, complete honesty can be MEAN when given easily. if youre going for the gruff route, dont preen under compliments or ego-stroking, give them an "i know" and carry on, or ask why it's only taken them until then to realize how awesome you are. on the party side you shouldnt be actually mean or cutting to your team-mates, though the occasional snark and ribbing is fine. save your venom for the opponent.

that said, for all your bluster, take your losses and failures seriously (generally in private if you can help it) and learn from them in character.


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Thor in the first movie pretty much up until he sacrifices himself against The Destroyer.

"Why shouldn't I fight through these hoards and hoards of Frost Giants? I'm WINNING!"


"generally my arrogant people are hyper-competent at whatever they're arrogant about"

Doesn't arrogance sort of imply that your ego outstrips your capabilities, like in the old "mouth writing checks your ass can't cash" joke?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The Shaman wrote:

"generally my arrogant people are hyper-competent at whatever they're arrogant about"

Doesn't arrogance sort of imply that your ego outstrips your capabilities, like in the old "mouth writing checks your ass can't cash" joke?

Couple of things:

One, being hyper-competent doesn't mean your arrogance can't outstrip your ability. For instance, an olympic gold medalist calling himself the greatest athlete of all time and/or claiming to be capable of near-superhuman feats. Definitely hyper-competent, but still bragging beyond his capabilities.

Two, no, arrogance is independent of ability. Arrogant claims can be factually correct and still be arrogant.

The Exchange

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
...To see a character like Sheldon behaving blatantly socially inappropriate to people and get a pass on it feels insulting, and reinforces a very serious neurological condition as a cause for mockery rather than understanding...

Opinions will certainly differ, but I always got the impression that if Sheldon's (supposed) Asperger's and OCD and other neuroses were magically to disappear, he'd still be a conceited jerk. And it's TV convention to laugh when a conceited jerk gets his comeuppance... even if he's a conceited jerk with a syndrome.

Sorry to prolong the derailment.


Alright, good points.

In this case I would really suggest a quieter "I know what I am doing" arrogance. It is a flaw that very often gets on people's nerves, and the original poster did suggest he does not what this character to come out as an unlikable jerk.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The problem is when people expect all people on the spectrum to act like that. I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when I was seven and I've worked very hard all my life to socially integrate with my peers. To see a character like Sheldon behaving blatantly socially inappropriate to people and get a pass on it feels insulting, and reinforces a very serious neurological condition as a cause for mockery rather than understanding. Rain Man causes similar problems. The neurological disorder is trivialized and quickly becomes a caricature that obscures the people who actually have it into caricatures.

You were lucky, when I was a kid nobody had discovered Aspergers and I went through half my life being told I was smart enough to know what I was doing was unacceptable when I wasn't even sure what I'd done.

As for the show, on the one side yes, it shows how unacceptable ALL the characters except Leonard and Penny are, with Leonard being just socially aware enough to know how inept he is and trying to guide his friends through the pitfalls they cannot see. At the same time, it also shows Sheldon and the others with their issues to be human, often altruistic, and in their own strange world likeable.

I don't see it as trivialised because the watcher becomes aware that Sheldon's arrogance is grounded in his freakish excess of talent (in which light it is justified), and that he really does have a disability even if he doesn't see it that way. In fact it's obvious that Sheldon's dismissive attitude to his own shortcomings is down to his awareness of them and the amount of pain they cause him to have to admit to them.

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
I still don't understand why my parents find the show funny when it's mocking their own demographics (those interested in science and technology and people with neurological disorders respectively).

I went to university with people like that (hell I WAS one of the people like that) and trust me, the show is more true to life than you could imagine. That's why it's funny; these people are not caricatures, they are "real" save in that they are made a little larger than life because it IS TV.


Best way to play a lawful Good with a little bit of arrogance.
Go watch some old movies that have the stereotypical British officer from the 30's to the 50's


Riggler wrote:
Arrogance and confidence are not nearly as admired in society as they should be.

No, it's worshiped in our society, just people don't want to encounter it because somehow folks don't like feeling small.

For examples of it, look to the Sherlock/House/whatever show/series going on.

One trick to make them a little more likable is to have them cheerfully admit when they're wrong if proved wrong. It works because they now have shown that they can change yet leaves them in the default position of using "prove me wrong" as a club instead of a learning tool.

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