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Normolomue
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Character Advice

Post by Normolomue » Mon Dec 06, 2021 1:34 am

Hello Arelith Folks,

I am thinking of making a character that goes through a devolution in his mental state as time goes on due to PTSD from the sheer volume of killing and always seeming to need to fight for his life. When you think of the sheer amount of times an adventurer need to engage in a literal fight for his life ending in the death of whatever xart, bear, orc, undead, etc etc... It is a lot for someone to deal with.

I would plan to have him be fairly normal and stable in the begining, and as his PTSD grows and grows he evolves into a coping mechanism to accept that this is his life, go numb and if things get severe enough go totally whacked and start thinking that his is some angel of deal sent by some god with the sole purpose to kill. Not sure how either psycho he will go or how calculating he will be in his way to cope.

A few questions.
1. What do you think of the general idea?
2. Should I start his alignment as evil and roleplay the shift seeing as he would end up as evil, or start with his alignment as good and shift as necessary later?
3. What kinds of classes/builds do you think may suit the concept and give me as many options as possible to drive his RP?
4. Is anyone open to starting off and playing together?

Thanks for the help and for the insight.

- Norm

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Hazard
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Re: Character Advice

Post by Hazard » Mon Dec 06, 2021 1:54 am

Sounds like an interesting idea!

I think if he isn't evil when he starts he should start as not evil, and you can ask a DM to change your alignment later down the track when you decide he has changed enough and done enough to warrant being evil, unless of course, he is evil deep down inside even at the beginning.

The class is a tricky one because all of them would be killing as a norm, in DnD, except maybe commoner, but commoner might not make for a great "angel of death". Because of his mental instability maybe steer away from high wis/high will save characters so that you can RP your stat sheet as well. Something like a classic WM with low will maybe?

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Re: Character Advice

Post by Void » Mon Dec 06, 2021 4:38 am

Normolomue wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 1:34 am
1. What do you think of the general idea?
Why the heck not.
Normolomue wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 1:34 am
2. Should I start his alignment as evil and roleplay the shift seeing as he would end up as evil, or start with his alignment as good and shift as necessary later?
If you intend to end up as evil, I'd start as evil, becuase shifting is trouble:
http://wiki.nwnarelith.com/Alignment
Though alignments are not set in stone, the alignment shifts on Arelith are not a common practice. They require assistance and supervision from DMs over longer time.
---
If character starts to significantly shift in alignment due to roleplay, it is possible to attempt to contact DMs while in game. They might watch the roleplay for a bit and make change to alignment as they see necessary.
Normolomue wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 1:34 am
3. What kinds of classes/builds do you think may suit the concept and give me as many options as possible to drive his RP?
Any class/build, pretty much, although you'll probably want to pick something that does not have high will saves. As strong willed characters would heave easier time resisting PTSD. Meaning low-magic or non-magic character would fit the concept more.
Another forum ban, here we go again.

Normolomue
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Re: Character Advice

Post by Normolomue » Mon Dec 06, 2021 4:48 am

Thanks to you both.
I never thought of the will save aspect, and thats a great point! Helps narrow down the class more. I was leaning towards melee anyways since the up close and personal nature of it lends to the PTSD aspect more.

Thanks for the tips

Wethrinea
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Re: Character Advice

Post by Wethrinea » Mon Dec 06, 2021 8:09 am

In a world and setting where killing monsters and (evil) humanoids is not only normalized but also applauded by society at large, the PTSD angle might be harder to pull off. Or rather, why would your character, unlike all the other mass murdering heroes out there, develop PTSD from killing sentient creatures?

PTSD is also a complex diagnosis that can stem from wildly different sources, and at least in RL it is as often the result of various form for abuse rather than participation in combat.

That said, I think a Ranger that starts to seriously think about, and play out, the horrific concept that the Favoured Enemy feature really is might fit your bill. As an endgame, they might embrace the more savage side of Malar.
Ivar Ferdamann - Mercenary turned Marshall

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--Cardz--
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Re: Character Advice

Post by --Cardz-- » Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:00 pm

This to me would be a great combination of Fighter into Barbarian as the character leans more and more into the fight-or-flight response of PTSD. The Rage mechanic can really be flavoured as a sort of "Wild, I have to survive, at all costs" type of swinging, similar to the sort of feral response that people undergo when adrenaline is high and their lives are in danger: unable to see reason beyond wild swinging and fighting. Perhaps that develops into a more Harbinger-Of-Death type character that you've hinted at later on, and with EDR feats you really could become an engine of destruction with a single minded focus to kill, seemingly shrugging off all sorts of wounds as you murderise left, right and centre,

Interesting concept and looking forward to seeing what you do with it :)

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Re: Character Advice

Post by charmcaster » Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:02 pm

Chaotic Neutral Barbarian who gets worse with each Rage feat you pick up. In what ways? Just read their names and go from there.

Normolomue
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Re: Character Advice

Post by Normolomue » Mon Dec 06, 2021 10:23 pm

Thanks Wethrinea, this is where the mental state of the character can really shine though. Kind of like "Why DOESN'T everyone else feel trauma from all this killing? They must all be crazy, and I am the only sane one." It could even evolve into "You are all insane and if I MUST be a killer, then I will start with all these crazy people.

I will look into the Malar thing too as I dont know too much about it.


Cardz and Charmcaster, great idea with the fighter into barbarian thing! It does make a lot of sense to incorporate rage into his fight or flight response. And Ive never played a barbarian, so could be fun. I also like that the Barbarian side doesnt stem from anything tribal, more reflecting his diminishing stability.

Thanks everyone.

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Re: Character Advice

Post by Void » Tue Dec 07, 2021 4:30 am

Wethrinea wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 8:09 am
the horrific concept that the Favoured Enemy feature
"This one has been hurt by many things. Each time, this one fought back. Then sought and killed a hundred of that thing's kind, to learn how to kill it better.

This one has slain sixteen hundred things this way. Then this one stopped keeping count"

-------
Or

"The creatures I killed, sire? I remember every single one of them, like yesterday. Their lair, the place, how I tracked them, how I killed them. Where my blade landed, how I fought and their final words or scream. I count my kills, sire. There are notches on my bow and blades, one for each of my kills. Behind each notch is a story, one I can remember and tell. Do you perhaps wish to listen to one, sire?

I never forget a kill, sire. For when I go to sleep, I see them all again in my dreams. And then I kill them all, once more. One at a time, again and again. And again."
Another forum ban, here we go again.

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Re: Character Advice

Post by garrbear758 » Tue Dec 07, 2021 8:13 pm

As someone who has ptsd and knows plenty of others with it, it took me awhile to want to respond to this, but I want to speak a bit about it and portraying it accurately. It could definitely make for an interesting and very well done character if properly portrayed, but please don't treat it just as something that makes your character unstable or completely consumes their personality, i.e., make a character not a caricature.

PTSD isn't always a result of one big traumatic event. My experience comes from the military, where you are used to working in an extremely high stress environment for so long, that when that stress is gone your body doesn't know how to function without it. Some people shut down and become depressed, and some people respond by putting themselves in stressful situations, such as becoming adrenaline junkies to a reckless and dangerous extreme, or anywhere in between. It's definitely a spectrum and can manifest very differently for everyone.

Another thing to note, many people who suffer from PTSD don't notice the signs of it until they are out of that stressful situation. If you want to portray an adventurer in that manner who is aware of it, they're probably going to have to retire at some point and have the downtime to reflect on all they've been through, rather than just being constantly fighting. If you don't intend for them to have self -awareness, then it really shouldn't be something your character knows about, but let others see the cracks start to form through your rp, and honestly, that might be the better way to do it on arelith.

What I think would work really with this (or really any other mental illness) would be to develop your characters personality without it, then add the ptsd elements and see how that changes them. It's something that could make for an incredibly nuanced and interesting character if done well, but nuance is definitely a hard thing to portray when other players can't see you characters thoughts, so keep that in mind.

Lastly, please for the love of bhaal don't use the term ptsd in character.

TLDR: Make it a facet of your character but not their entire personality.
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Normolomue
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Re: Character Advice

Post by Normolomue » Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:10 am

Thanks for posting this Garrbear.

First, I hope that I didnt offend you. I used the term, albeit ignorantly, in a general way. One of the main reasons why I fell in love with DnD all those years ago, was because it was a chance for me to try to put myself in someone else's shoes and try to understand why they are the way they are or make the decisions that they make. its a chance to learn and to empathize with a situation where you as the player doesnt have any actual experience.

I do intend to play the character as not having awareness to what is happening to him, or why. Also, dont worry, I do not intend to use "ptsd" in character.

Thanks for commenting. Its interesting how you said that sometimes when the high amount of stress goes away, people can have a behavior that seeks out those situations. That can be something I draw on later in his life. Thank you for that.

Please feel free to comment more, or in PMs, any insight you may have, and I will do my best to represent the character with genuine empathy, and through any insight you could offer, as accurately as possible (with a bit of fantasy from a fantasy setting mixed in)


Thank you!

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Re: Character Advice

Post by fading » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:35 am

I'd highly recommend seeking more information on the matter, if you want to create a more complex character. Trauma and mental illnesses are no joke, and playing them light-heartedly is an odd angle to be sure.. There are a variety of good youtube channels that focus on psychiatry, and medical articles on the internet that are worth a look. Studying some basic therapy to understand how a person with mental illnesses might function in everyday life could work as well, but I understand it could be too much effort. For example, in IFS therapy, the one I'm most familiar with, your psyche is said to be divided into parts, some who carry trauma and some who try and divert from that trauma, either through violent distraction or numbing. This is often why people self-harm, for instance, to forcefully distract oneself from the trauma. At worst, your mind might even suggest suicide to avoid the trauma.

I can attest to what garrbear said, I don't suffer from PTSD (afaik), but I do have severe sexual trauma, and very often I find myself seeking triggers that send me down a painful spiral for the rest of the day. I couldn't tell you exactly why, maybe that part that's been exiled into a farther corner of the psyche, because it's too painful to endure, wants to come to the surface and be seen and heard.

I don't personally understand the alignment shift. It's okay if you wish to play an evil character, but don't make them evil /because/ they're mentally ill. There's nothing evil about having PTSD, obviously.

I think it's very reasonable to assume that the mass killings adventurers engage in could lead to trauma, with a bit of introspection. Sometimes you're outright killing humans after all. I don't see a problem with that at all.

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Re: Character Advice

Post by MRFTW » Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:08 am

fading wrote:
Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:35 am
Sometimes you're outright killing humans after all. I don't see a problem with that at all.
One for the out of context quote people! 😊

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Re: Character Advice

Post by Marsi » Wed Dec 08, 2021 4:07 am

I would be cautious about playing a character with "issues".

No-one wants to be drawn into someone else's melodrama. Arelith requires subtlety when it comes to outward expressions of "inner turmoil", unlike other roleplaying environments where passive, interpersonal encounters are encouraged. The truth is, getting people to care about your character's backstory or baggage is rare. It's a feat of character writing and emotional intelligence, and not something to feel entitled to. People are drawn to roleplayers who make things happen.

I've had bad experiences with "I have issues" roleplay. I find that players do it badly, and then get frustrated when no-one is invested. What's particularly annoying for other players is when the personal story appears detached from the environment, or railroaded. That nothing one can do will actually change the outcome, because the player has already scripted it in their head, or perhaps they just don't want the attention gravy train to end. A character who is traumatised by an IG war that actually happened? That's cool. There's something real there, that other players can sink their teeth into. A character traumatised by an off-stage war in their past? That's not that fun for other people. It's a story backed by fiat.

This isn't to say it can't be done. You just need to ask yourself every step of the way - how is this fun for the other player? How does this create active roleplay?
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Re: Character Advice

Post by Void » Wed Dec 08, 2021 4:33 am

Marsi wrote:
Wed Dec 08, 2021 4:07 am
I would be cautious about playing a character with "issues".
It can be a fun character. For example, take a look at Nilboggins.

THe thing is, that a character with a quirk can be interesting to interact with, but if there's a reason behind that quirk (that could possibly lead to resolution of the quirk), then said reason likely will never come into play within the game. Backstories rarely manifest in interaction, and rarely attract player attention for long enough to be resolved.
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Re: Character Advice

Post by The GrumpyCat » Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:19 pm

I think the concept is interesting, and if you want to go for it, do it! But to give some thoughts (and to coalate what others have said too, really)

1) Don't 'railroad' your plot, at least not beyond a point. That was one red flag I did notice:
I would plan to have him be fairly normal and stable in the begining, and as his PTSD grows and grows he evolves into a coping mechanism to accept that this is his life, go numb and if things get severe enough go totally whacked and start thinking that his is some angel of deal sent by some god with the sole purpose to kill. Not sure how either psycho he will go or how calculating he will be in his way to cope.
Perhaps instead start off with the concept of an adventurer who will get PTSD... then see how things go from there? Let the story be molded (at least in part) by other people. Maybe other characters won't 'cure' it, but they can lessen it, or push it into certain directions? That doesn't mean the issue can be fixed with the first 'Mindblank' spell that's thrown your way, but I think people don't mind so much, so long as they see their actions are having SOME effect, even if it's not an immedate cure. I think anyway.
For this I think Chaotic Neutral is a great alignment to start with, and the barbarian idea is really cool.

2) Have Something More Going On: This kinda touches on what Garrbear said, about making the character a... well character. But beyond just the respect of concept part - not everyone is going to want to interact with that aspect of your story, and people are going to be frustrated if that IS all there is to interact with. So find some other aspect of the character. In fact for myself I like these sorts of things to be discovered later on, as people get to know your pc. Like, to most people you're just 'Bob who's good in a fight.' but when people get to know your pc, they go 'oh wow, and he's got THIS going on too!' and people are more likely to be involved in 'This' because they're involved in 'Bob', if that makes sense.

3) Garrbear also touched on this but, with PTSD being a very real thing, a bit of research, to check you're doing this respectuflly, is a good idea if you can.
This too shall pass.

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Re: Character Advice

Post by Waldo52 » Wed Dec 08, 2021 8:07 pm

I play a pretty crazy character, Willham Pigsbane. He started off largely insane but as he got worse his speech has really deteriorated.

He started speaking normal-ish common but now just sort of makes sounds:

"Hoggin' a sow aht git, I say a city boy done git! Dang ol' boyaht do-come a screeeeeeeeeamin' an' hollerin', done pigs come home ta roost I tell you what".

My example is fairly extreme but some kind of deterioration in speech can be a fun RP angle. It's very hard to role play with people you can't understand, but that's kind of the point. Most will shun you but some will try to help you and you'll be talked about a lot.

Rangers and rogues fit the concept very well, as they're very stealthy and Rambo-like.

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