Illustration by Cliff Kurowski

As far as addictions go, it’s not a horrible one to have.

In fact, fashioning fully formed personas can be a healthy habit if you’re a fiction author who needs a plethora of people to populate page after page of plots. Anyone who has read my novels knows I don’t shy away from large casts of characters. The Renegade Chronicles alone features dozens of protagonists, antagonists, and other individuals—culminating in maybe one hundred names sprinkled throughout the series if you count historical figures and “off stage” operators.

Even The Soul Sleep Cycle, which boasts a significantly smaller number of players, demonstrates my character-creation compulsion, since many of the heroes and villains play dual parts: their real-world identities and their dreamscape alter-egos.

Little surprise, then, that my love of character creation has crept into one of my favorite hobbies, tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs).

While I’ve been “Dungeons & Dragons adjacent” for most of my life, I finally started playing the world’s most popular TTRPG back in 2018. It started with a single campaign starring one player character (PC)—and in short order spiraled into a rotating stable of heroes for various opt-in adventures, one-shots, and playtesting experiences. Not long ago, I found myself playing three different campaigns at once, each with its own PC for me to personify.

And all of that is outside of the six PCs, 10 nonplayer characters (NPCs) with unique stat blocks, and a smattering of supporting NPCs I created for The Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd

My approach to creating PCs is similar to that of fleshing out characters for my novels (which I’ve covered in such posts as “How to make a person” and “A fantasy author’s approach to D&D”). But unlike the heroes who star in my books, the PCs I craft for various and sundry D&D sessions are seldom seen beyond the gaming table. Sure, the gamemaster (GM) and other players get to know them, but other than a handful of my PCs who have appeared in livestreamed campaigns, many of these creations have been doomed to relative obscurity.

Until now.

Here are five of my favorite D&D characters. I’d love to hear about some of yours in the comments. (We can quit making new ones whenever we want to…right?!)

Painted miniature of a bald, muscular gnome wielding a sword and shield


  • Alignment: neutral good
  • Race: gnome
  • Class: barbarian (Path of the Zealot)
  • Background: folk hero


  • Lost Mine of Phandelver
  • Various one-shots
  • Also appeared as an NPC in two of my homebrewed one-shots: “Who is Jasper Cobbletrue?” and “The Order of Ozric”


Instead of min-maxing to produce a powerful warrior for my first D&D experience, I decided to explore an unlikely combination of race and class—taking one of the smallest playable creatures and pairing it with abilities typically associated with big, musclebound brutes. Ozric might suffer from “little dog syndrome,” but he was never a joke for me. There’s a really good reason why he distrusts the taller races and has cast off the trappings of civilization. His rage is justified.

Character development:

Ozric’s intolerance for bullies of any build took him to some dark places. For a while, he hung the heads of his enemies from his belt. He also drank a lot. It wasn’t until he was able to return to his homeland and free his fellow gnomes from their human oppressors that he found a purpose greater than revenge: working with his kinsmen to supplement the city-state’s brains with some good old-fashioned brawn to prevent future invasions.

Favorite in-game moment:

After learning a missing party member had been taken by dragon cultists, Ozric tried to fight past his own teammates to ascend the tower, eventually putting himself in great peril to rescue the halfling. After getting clawed by two wyrmlings—and looking into the eyes of an adult green dragon—I fully expected Ozric to die. In fact, it was the closest I’ve come to losing a D&D character to date. Fortunately, fate had other plans for my little berserker.

Illustration by Gwendolyn Williams


  • Alignment: chaotic neutral
  • Race: gnoll
  • Class: monk (Way of the Drunken Master)
  • Background: outlander


  • Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (opt-in session)
  • Seven Days of Set (Dark Tower) playtesting


While Hunch has a robust backstory about fleeing his bloodthirsty kin to be trained by monks who (much to their chagrin) have vowed to never turn away someone in need, his personality is basically that of my golden retriever Marv with a little bit of Ed from Lion King mixed in. He’s dopey and deadly but really just wants some friends.

Character development:

None—Hunch remains a good-natured and naïve warrior who wants to do what’s right and hopefully make some friends along the way. Maybe if I played him more, he would evolve beyond that…but not necessarily.

Favorite in-game moment:

During my very first community game with Twenty Sides to Every Story, an installment of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, my gnoll monk glommed onto a certain cleric. Hunch followed “Willy” around like a puppy dog for the entire session—until William fell prey to an intellect devourer, and Hunch had to help put down the usurped body of his fallen friend. Lasting friendships are so hard to find!

Illustration by PotatoLion


  • Alignment: lawful good
  • Race: plasmoid
  • Class: bard (College of Eloquence)
  • Background: sage


  • Spelljammer: Light of Xaryxis


I honestly couldn’t tell you why I decided to create a gentlemanly ooze who fancied himself an ambassador for all plasmoids, but it was a “new” playable race that interested both my sister and me, and we had decided to play siblings for the Spelljammer campaign. (She went with a pink-hued monk with a smiley-face mask named Placebo.) In the same, self-sabotaging spirit that prompted me to make a gnome barbarian, I decided to make a PC that specialized in speechcraft and absolutely sucked in combat—a risky gamble considering how many battles we faced in wildspace!

Character development:

Prior to leaving his home world, Ichabod was an idealist and a pacifist. As the adventure went on—and after seemingly endless betrayals—his skin (membrane?) thickened quite a bit, and he learned to embrace stern words and even violence as the situation demanded. Yet in the end, he proved to be a worthy diplomat, capable of coming up with pragmatic tactics when necessary. He was always a man of his word—only now his words packed a bit more of a punch!

Favorite in-game moment:

In the final battle, Ichabod risked his life to attempt a dangerous maneuver that could have cost him not only his life, but the lives of everyone on his doomed planet. Without spoiling too much from the climax of Light of Xyraxis, I can say that the last person to betray the party paid a huge price, thanks to a surprise finger of death spell—and the clever command that followed.

You can watch the entire campaign at Twenty Sides to Every Story.

Noel from The Renegade Chronicles

Illustration by Stephanie Williams


  • Alignment: chaotic good
  • Race: halfling midge!
  • Class: sorcerer
  • Background: far traveler


  • Curse of Strahd


Noel is the only character of mine to make the leap from my traditional works of fiction to the interactive storytelling medium of TTRPGs. Why? Because he’s one of my favorites! He also has a knack for jumping from world to world, including Altaerra (The Renegade Chronicles and “Reputation” from Ghost Mode & Other Strange Stories) and The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot, where the diminutive spellcaster is known by a different name. Initially, I questioned whether dropping the cheerful midge into the dark Ravenloft setting would somehow ruin the game, but the DM enthusiastically encouraged the idea. Many wild magic surges ensued!

Character development:

A lifelong adventurer, Noel has come to rely on his gut. Sometimes jumping to conclusions gets him into trouble. Other times, his intuition leads him to the right answer, albeit not always through a straightforward line of reasoning. In many of his other quests, Noel played a supporting role. Not in Bavovia. While not a true “party leader,” Noel fancied himself a mentor to some of the younger heroes and had no trouble voicing his opinion of what the troupe should do next—even if that meant running headlong into horrors. (But let the record show that he didn’t touch anything in Castle Ravenloft.)

Favorite in-game moment:

Noel is a battle mage through and through. His entire roster of spells focus on dealing massive damage. Yet the sorcerer was not beyond thinking outside the box in combat situations—especially when the party was on the verge of being overwhelmed by werewolves. Enter Pouncer, King of the Werepanthers…who was, in reality, a black panther conjured from the gray bag of tricks, balancing on his hind legs and voiced by an invisible Noel. The wacky intimidation tactic worked thanks to a DM who rewards creativity and an amazing dice roll!

Illustration by Cliff Kurowski


  • Alignment: neutral
  • Race: human
  • Class: rogue (thief)
  • Background: charlatan


  • Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen


After playing as Noel in Curse of Strahd, my sister joked that I should play as Klye (from The Renegade Chronicles) in my next campaign. I decided against it—and then unconsciously built a character very much like that Renegade Leader. Up until Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, I typically played characters who were genuinely good, cared little about loot, and had little compunction against putting themselves in harms way to help their allies. Cass is almost the opposite of that, and I’m grateful to the other players for letting me explore a more selfish, devious PC.

Character development:

Cass doesn’t wish to be a hero. They want only to survive the war that has engulfed the continent and maybe get rich along the way. However, the self-isolated thief has started to learn the value of companions—and not merely as allies after steel is drawn. The evolution has been gradual. Cass continues to deceive as a matter of course, though maybe someday they will admit to being a burglar, not a treasure-hunting scholar. Maybe.

Favorite in-game moment:

There have been so many laugh-out-loud moments throughout this campaign thanks to the other players’ roleplaying prowess. Since Cass is standoffish at best, many of those memorable interactions don’t necessarily involve my character. However, one of my favorite running gags is how unconditionally trusting the ranger in the party is, giving Cass the benefit of the doubt even when every player knows Cass is lying.

You can watch the ongoing campaign at Twenty Sides to Every Story.

Honorable mentions

If you’re thinking that creating five PCs in roughly five years isn’t exactly a problem, rest assured, my addiction has wrought a few more:

Josslyn Songweaver

  • chaotic neutral
  • dragonborn
  • bard (College of Glamour)
  • charlatan


  • lawful good
  • tiefling
  • monk (Way of Shadow)
  • hermit

Viscount Raymund Vraakis

  • chaotic neutral
  • human
  • warlock (Otherworldly Patron: Celestial)
  • sage


  • neutral
  • warforged
  • rogue (thief)
  • criminal/spy

Lord Sterling

  • lawful good
  • warforged
  • barbarian (Path of the Zealot) and paladin (Oath of Redemption)
  • soldier

Hobart the Hunter

  • chaotic neutral
  • human
  • ranger (hunter)
  • criminal/spy


  • lawful good
  • half-orc
  • fighter
  • folk hero


  • chaotic neutral
  • dark elf
  • druid (Circle of the Land: Forest)
  • outlander

And believe me, I have ideas for many, many more.

Sometimes I reflect, sadly, that none of these characters will ever meet one another, since players typically step into the role of a single PC per game. Then again, when magic is involved, anything is possible.

Besides, I’m a fantasy writer as well as a gamer. Who’s to say some otherworldly force called the Author won’t pull together a few of these wayward adventurers for a short story? More likely, a handful of them will crop up as NPCs in future homebrew adventures.

In the meantime, there’s nothing stopping me from imagining a variety of bizarre encounters involving my favorite alter-egos—in between inventing a bunch of new ones.