Is it bad to make a character that's deliberately based on yourself?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I would say it's good for newbies as it's a lot easier to "play yourself" than a character who's completely different. That said, if all of persons characters are like that, it's bad as it's kinda lazy.


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I try to avoid pulling a "Seth Rogen", as I like to call what you just described as lazy. Lol.

Plus, I am weak, and ugly, and kinda stupid, and have absolutely no magical talents whatsoever... why the hell would I want to be me in a fantasy game?

Yeah, me and my Charisma of like 7, has had difficult times roleplaying my dashing Noble Drow Bard with his Charisma of 22... sometimes I have to let the dice talk for me. But that is still better than having a character that is anything like me in real life.

I am a commoner with a few Fighter levels, once upon a time. My highest stat is probably a 14. I have Skill Focus in pulling my pud. I am the very reason I play fantasy games to not be me...


I'm really not sure what playing as myself would even be, if we're talking about crunch.

If you're talking about personality, then I try to make my characters more than just a stat stick. I usually try to give them one or two overriding personality characteristics to work from. Maybe they are obsessed with something. Maybe they are cowardly. Pick any of the seven deadly sins, and base a character from that. Greedy? Wrathful? Lusty? Pick one and go with it. Just don't go so far that it destroys other people's enjoyment of the game.


That would seem sort of boring, and I imagine you'd have a worse time of it if you're the sort to take in-game things personally. I wouldn't say it's "bad", but it comes with its own problems.

I'm too trusting, and patient to make a good adventurer, and my impulse control hasn't always been the best, so I wouldn't want me having any sort of power. I'm also a bit of a lightning rod for aggressively insecure people lashing out at the world. I'd make a great escort character if you wanted your party to end up having to deal with otherwise unnecessary problems.


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As long as they are playing the game with the rest of the group in a non detrimental to the table fashion, I couldn't care less if they're playing a self insert.

As a GM I am only concerned if the character is appropriate to the game I'm running and not going to be distracting. If a player wants to play the same Cleric/Rogue copy pasted with their own perceived alignment and personality that's their business, not mine.

In fact, as a GM, I like it. If James always plays Valeros, then I know what to expect from the player and its easier to plan around them and provide the player with the satisfaction they need to enjoy the experience.

A GM isn't the player's life coach nor their therapist. Its not the GMs job to make anyone 'broaden their horizons' or 'help them out'. Stay out of it unless its hurting the game.


VoodistMonk wrote:

I try to avoid pulling a "Seth Rogen", as I like to call what you just described as lazy. Lol.

Plus, I am weak, and ugly, and kinda stupid, and have absolutely no magical talents whatsoever... why the hell would I want to be me in a fantasy game?

Yeah, me and my Charisma of like 7, has had difficult times roleplaying my dashing Noble Drow Bard with his Charisma of 22... sometimes I have to let the dice talk for me. But that is still better than having a character that is anything like me in real life.

I am a commoner with a few Fighter levels, once upon a time. My highest stat is probably a 14. I have Skill Focus in pulling my pud. I am the very reason I play fantasy games to not be me...

I meant more personality/alignment wise, although your real "ability scores" could figure into it, such as a smart person being a wizard.


I played myself in a World of Darkness game once. Somehow I ended up the moral person of the party as a Mind focused Mage.

As for playing myself in Pathfinder? Probably pass unless I was desperate for a game and that was the only theme available. Some characters have some shard of my personality in them and some are just characters I want to portray.


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I try to avoid using too much of my personality in my character, although I am sure it is unavoidable.

My very first 3.5e Ranger was impulsive and aggreasive and was probably very similar to my ~12yo self, at the time. I honestly cannot remember too much of his personality... that was nearly 25 years ago, and it was my first attempt at making/playing such a character/game.

My 5e Paladin was the very definition of determination. Unwavering commitment. Willpower incarnate. I am not. I start lots of projects then get distracted. Hey look a squirrel! I honestly should go talk to someone about clinically being diagnosed with an attention disorder, and I almost did once... but there was this squirrel.

My Tengu cRogue, Izzek, was strong and patient... both things I am not. The kind of patience that comes from knowing, deep down, that you can personally handle it... whatever "it" may be, you got it handled. Like when you meet a black belt or someone in the special forces... they are kind and calm and patience and relaxed... because they KNOW that they can make it out of Hellview. Izzek was like that. I am not. I am anxious. I figit. I pace. I am aggressively reactive to my environment.

Hbob, my Kobold Cleric/UnMonk gestalt was, well, little. And he was used to looking at the world through the eyes of something that is physically small. I am not. I am by no means big, but I have always been relatively tall. And I have always been stupid fearless, refusing to live my life in fear. Hbob was timid, and quiet, and kind, and uber helpful... actually being completely focused on Aid Another. I try to be helpful, but I am loud and abbrasive. In my youth I was a legit bully, and today I have to keep myself in check otherwise I can be a real sarcastic @$$hole.

Variel was a Swashbuckler/Monk/Ranger/Magus and embodied a free spirit that I, myself, envy. He was carefree, yet reliable. He was actually willing to set off with no intentions of returning. I have always been impulsive, but the wayward son that returns. Like a cat that goes off to its other family, then comes home when it wants to eat or sleep. I up an joined the Army, but I was and am forever tethered to my friends/family. I don't have the ability to let them go, and Variel had something about him that showed that absolutely nothing could cage his imagination or quest for adventure. I am shackled to my loyalty, and Variel was married to the sea.


My Point Buy is somewhere in the range -3 to +6 (according to some "what's your D&D stats?" sites), and I'm a very badly optimized Modern Necromancer life sciences researcher (wrong primary sin to be good at Necromancy), so probably not a good idea to play myself.


For me, role playing is in part acting. I have done some theatre, but just like, enough to know that I have a somewhat narrow spread of roles in which I am good in.

Nobody would cast me as a righteous Paladin, goatee twirling affably evil villain I can do pretty well though.


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Are you talking about creating a character based on who you would like to be instead of who you really are? Picking a aspect of your personality that might be buried or undeveloped and using that as the Idea for a character can be an interesting mental exercise.

You might be physically weak so constantly bullied, but inside you see yourself as being brave even though you often let other push you around. Playing the fearless warrior allows you to express that suppressed aspect of yourself. Your character can do the things you wish you could do in real life.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

To some extent, every PC is based on the player playing them. No matter how many ways you make a character different from yourself, ultimately it is hard to do anything but resort to "If I were different in these ways, here is how I would think and what I would do." There are definitely limits to how much a character that you play can differ from yourself.


David knott 242 wrote:


To some extent, every PC is based on the player playing them. No matter how many ways you make a character different from yourself, ultimately it is hard to do anything but resort to "If I were different in these ways, here is how I would think and what I would do." There are definitely limits to how much a character that you play can differ from yourself.

I really agree with this and the Mysterious Stranger above. Melkiador also made a good point or two.

I like to build themes and unique traits or quirks into my characters. I definitely try to always play something new, or at least different from whatever I last played. But, unless doing a specifically evil campaign, my characters are always some type of "good guy" or "hero". I may be silly, sarcastic, brash, arrogant, innocent, naive, aggressive, or whatever. But, almost always, I am some type of good aligned. I'm willing to help when others ask or there's an obvious need. I believe in fairly dividing treasure, but also making allowances for role play and best party utility. These traits come through in almost any character I play. I would have to work very hard to play a neutral character only motivated by money for instance.

So, to the OP, no I don't think it's bad to play a character based on yourself. The only thing I think that might be "bad" is playing a character that is a poor fit for the story/setting, or an obvious or willful detriment to the fun and function of the group.

Afterthought: When you are aware of your own flaws and foibles as a person, either through self awareness or having it pointed out, it can be useful to try and play a character who differs from you on those points. For example, I'm a really detail oriented explorer/puzzle solver type player. If I'm playing with a group who likes a quicker pace, I might make a character who's more brash, impulsive, or just less curious, so that I have an on paper reminder not to bog the game down in questions or minutae.

Scarab Sages

I'm on the other side of things to most of the posters here. I generally try to play characters unlike me so when they die horribly (or in the case of a vampire game create an abomination that in the end they had to put down after it slaughtered all the babies in a hospital) I don't feel bad about it.

That said we are all to one extent or another indulging in fantasy when playing pathfinder. For some the fun is imagining themselves in a world of high fantasy. A world where they can master ancient magics/become a knight in shining armour or a cunning thief. Its not bad unless its obvious they're constantly playing themselves because they don't know how to be someone else and even its only bad if they aren't happy with it. However if they're playing themselves to indulge in a fantasy where they're the hero, the chosen one/s to defeat the dark lord and live in a mansion with adoring fans for their music because in real life they drag themseles out of bed at 1 am to commute to a hard job to try and pay off a bit more of their morgage well that's nothing wrong with that.


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Yqatuba wrote:
I would say it's good for newbies as it's a lot easier to "play yourself" than a character who's completely different. That said, if all of persons characters are like that, it's bad as it's kinda lazy.

Yeah, it's easy for new players, and it appearantly comes natural to them. Both my players and me started out PnP with fantasy versions of ourselves, especially when it comes to alignment.

The further you move from your own personality, the more effort is necessary to keep the RP consistent and believable. If you are content with randomly showing streaks of the intended personality, it's relatively easy. But it becomes much harder as soon as you really delve into the alien worldview of your PC (skewed perception, motivations, priorities etc.) and try to make all their behavior based on it.

Sticking to your own personality could be labeled as lazy, sure, but it's an individual choice and doesn't necessarily reduce someone's fun. What's more, pretty much every player and GM is lazy in the sense that they have some comfort zone they don't want to leave.


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Playing someone who is based on you but has notable differences to fit in with the game in question is different than trying to literally play yourself. The latter can by quite problematic if the player's perception of themselves differs greatly from the other players and GM.

I did play a brief game where we all played ourselves. The other players and GM all decided what ability scores a player had, and we all would have called b@@#%!#% if someone did something really out of character. We didn't need to and the the game went beyond what we could reasonably expect to know how we'd act, and we transitioned fairly smoothly from playing ourselves to playing someone based on ourselves.


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I've never been able to play "myself" as a PC in a fantasy game. At least, not to any degree where I liked the character. I played myself as a mutant speedster in Marvel Super Heroes for years, that was fun. I also had a "me" character in a Werewolf game in the 90's and a "me" character in Cyberpunk 2020. The "me" I played in RIFTs died quick, as did the "me" in a very brief Call of C'Thulu game.

I don't know what it is, but any time I play a D&D clone game I end up wanting to be someone or something as far removed from myself as possible, without going full-blown murderhobo. I've played grim and gritty clerics or divine casters, silly, Anime-inspired female spellcasters, wolf-riding halflings, and so on; chosen skillsets and personalities I have very little in common with in real life.

The only thing all of those fantasy RPG characters and me have in common is a moral line we won't cross. I've seen players at tables pretend to do... unspeakable things. Like, stuff that makes ME disturbed by IRL. I've never understood folks being able to play like that but more power to 'em I suppose. Most of the time my character ends up being the "Jimminy Cricket" of the party which, ironically, was apparently my role among my old high-school friends (I just was reminded of this at a reunion of sorts this weekend).


It really, really depends on the context and the extent to which it is done.


As an Xcom veteran, I know that doing this is just asking for that character to die a grizzly death.


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Albatoonoe wrote:
As an Xcom veteran, I know that doing this is just asking for that character to die a grizzly death.

That's why you name them after friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Eventually you run out of those and have to use people's forum handles, though.


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

The only thing all of those fantasy RPG characters and me have in common is a moral line we won't cross. I've seen players at tables pretend to do... unspeakable things. Like, stuff that makes ME disturbed by IRL. I've never understood folks being able to play like that but more power to 'em I suppose.

I had one LRP character who was that unspeakably evil PC. I played her about once a year with a very limited subset of other players, and it was both terrifying and exhilarating to do, as an exercise in just what nasty corners my psyche has. Something to try once, but having done it I do feel very uncomfortable playing RPGs with people who always want to be evil characters or neutral-but-worship-evil-gods characters.


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"In every first novel the hero is the author as Christ or Faust." - Oscar Wilde

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