What are dimensions of character?

Welcome all again to the Scrolls of the Studious Sage! This time let’s take on creating characters.

three-dimensional-cube-patternWhat are dimensions regarding character? Statistics can provide a base for character development but to get real depth or layers you need nuances, personality, mannerisms, and even flaws. All these things make a person unique and give characters dimension.  

But what do you need to get there? You and I have the benefit of conception, growth, mentors, ups, downs, time, history – living! A character needs to develop dimensions of character to come alive.

What are the dimensions?

Let’s start with the basics, a description of dimensions:  

  • 0D is a node or a point.  
  • 1D is a line.  
  • 2D is a square.  
  • 3D is a cube.  
  • 4D is described in the Classic D&D Immortals set as follows: “Draw lines perpendicular from the midpoint of each line to the midpoint of each of the other lines.”    
  • 5D was described in the same rules set in the exact same manner. Confusing to imagine!   

Normal mortals can see three but only imagine up to five. Immortal patrons can see four and imagine the fifth. Mind bending and interesting for description in how to explain the 4th and 5th dimensions.

What does this have to do with making characters? The relevance will become apparent soon enough.

Character Dimensions

Now let’s describe dimensions in regards to character:

  • A 0D character is the idea for a character that never made it to paper.
  • A 1D character would be similar to a character seen in a video game where you see what they look like and what tasks they can accomplish. These characters are distinctly lacking in free will.
  • A 2D character is a character made for an RPG with some stats: attributes, some sort of description but primarily these characters are made for “roll-playing.” Free will is still lacking as direction is given.
  • A 3D character comes about when you want a bit more for your character and yourself. Here you start to blur the lines a bit with roll-playing and role-playing from this point forward, making something more interesting. These characters have more than just stats; they have descriptions. This is where you start developing the concept of not just being a part of each story, but actually helping in the process of creating them.  
  • At 4D you really start to get things rolling as you are now speaking in character and are starting to develop character nuances. “Role”-playing is becoming prevalent, and you are making an effort to do more of it.  
  • A 5D character is fully realized because you are also bringing your fictional character into the real world by doing things like dressing in character. LARP’ers have this stage figured out very well if they have roleplayed beforehand or have a great teacher. Great GM’s also have this dimension figured out and try to get their players here as well.

A Few Examples…

Now for some examples of characters with “dimensions”:

  • Pacman-cutscene1D – Simple characters like Pac-man. Characters for more complex video games would still belong here.
  • 2D – A newbie might have a character like this. But in general, the actions available are heavily dictated by the rules of the game. Nothing breaks the rules and variants are rarely possible.  At this stage you are still passively bound to the rules!
  • 3D – Personalization starts to become an interesting concept here. What can I do to have my character be more interesting?  Thought starts getting put into the character. How can I do something to help the story with my character? The blue pill is not an option right away. Don’t get stuck here!
  • 4D – Now we are cooking with fire. We have not only the physical characteristics and the concepts of personality, but actual descriptions. We get a background, connections, objectives, catchphrases, mannerisms, bonds, and perhaps even flaws; all the great aspects that help us remember characters from books, plays, movies, or any other entertainment medium start to show up. You start to use descriptions for all your actions and keep in character. When you create a character you try to give something to the GM, and therefore the game, by helping to enhance the lore a bit. You can still be better yet!
  • 5D – You create a character that is conceptualized, has a spark and helps to move the story along. You can even derail, while still enhancing the story at the same time. You make an effort to have a character that fits into and expands the scope of the story. Roleplaying is paramount and you know that you are part of a bigger, much more interesting picture. You have an actual persona, talk, and use the mannerisms for your character. You allow the flaws to show up even and are even ok with your hero having flaws. You are an actor now and could even dress the part. You probably even look for items you can use to dress up in hopes the group would consider doing so as well. You use your imagination well at this juncture. Congratulations as you definitely took the red pill! Now you have something epic that you will remember – and so will your group.

Next article – What makes up a character with lots of dimension?

Keith R. Byers, A.Sc.T., Esq.

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