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The Best Unconventional D&D Character Ideas for New Players

Updated: May 6, 2023

Introduction




Introduction: D&D Character Ideas


At its core, D&D is a game about storytelling, where new players experience imagined worlds through their characters - pen and paper expressions of themselves.


One of the most important aspects of any D&D campaign is the creation of a new character. A player's character is their avatar in the game world, and serves as the lens through which they experience the story. Creating a unique and engaging character can be a daunting task, but it is also one of the most rewarding parts of the game.


The purpose of this blog is to provide players with inspiration and ideas for creating unique and unconventional character concepts in D&D. While there's certainly nothing wrong with playing a standard character archetype, such as a human fighter or an elven wizard, players who create more unique and unconventional characters can add an extra layer of depth and complexity to their game.


In this blog, we'll explore a variety of different character concepts, ranging from unusual race and class combinations, to non-standard backgrounds and alignments, to unique weapons and equipment. Each section will provide tips and ideas for players looking to create characters that stand out from the crowd, as well as examples of successful character concepts that other players have used in their games.


Ultimately, the goal of this blog is to encourage players to embrace their creativity and take risks when creating their characters. Whether you're a seasoned player looking to shake things up, or a new player just starting out, we hope that the ideas presented in this blog will inspire you to create characters that are unique, memorable, and most importantly, fun to play.


Race-based Concepts


Dungeons & Dragons offers a wide range of playable races, from humans and elves to orcs and gnomes. While these races can provide a solid foundation for a character concept, players who want to create a truly unique character may want to consider playing with the expectations and stereotypes associated with these races.


Example: Half-Orc Bard

  • The typical image of a half-orc is that of a brutish warrior, feared and shunned by society. But what if your half-orc was actually a talented musician, using their natural charisma to charm and entertain crowds? Playing a half-orc bard not only subverts the usual stereotypes associated with the race, but also allows for a fun and interesting character concept that can be developed through role-playing and creative use of bardic abilities.

Example: Gnome Barbarian

  • Gnomes are usually associated with tinkering, magic, and intellectual pursuits, but what if your gnome was a fierce and savage warrior? Playing a gnome barbarian not only subverts expectations, but can also provide a unique opportunity for role-playing and character development. How did this gnome become a barbarian, and what motivates them to fight?

B. Non-playable races


While not all races in the D&D universe are playable, that doesn't mean that they can't be used as a basis for a character concept. With a bit of creativity and role-playing, even non-playable races can be brought to life.


Example: Aarakocra Ranger

  • Aarakocra are a race of bird-like humanoids that are not playable by default in most D&D settings. However, with the approval of the DM, a player could play an Aarakocra ranger who has a deep connection to the natural world and uses their aerial abilities to track prey and navigate difficult terrain.

Example: Mind Flayer Warlock

  • Mind flayers, also known as Illithids, are a race of psychic beings that are often portrayed as villains in D&D campaigns. However, playing a Mind Flayer Warlock who has made a pact with an otherworldly entity can provide a unique and interesting character concept. How did this Mind Flayer come to make the pact, and what are the consequences of their actions?

C. Uncommon or unusual race choices


Finally, players may want to consider playing a race that is not commonly used or is considered unusual. This can add an extra layer of uniqueness and surprise to a character concept.


Example: Warforged Paladin

  • Warforged are a race of sentient, humanoid constructs made of metal and other materials. While they may seem like an unusual choice for a paladin, playing a Warforged Paladin can provide a unique perspective on the role of a paladin in society. How does the Warforged's mechanical nature affect their understanding of justice and righteousness?

Example: Tabaxi Sorcerer

  • Tabaxi are a race of humanoid felines that are known for their agility and grace. Playing a Tabaxi sorcerer can add a layer of mysticism and intrigue to a character, as the player explores the character's connection to magic and their feline nature.



D. Role-playing tips for unique races

Regardless of which race a player chooses, it's important to fully embrace and explore the unique traits and characteristics of that race. Role-playing tips can help bring a character to life and create a more immersive game experience.


Example: Dragonborn

  • Dragonborn are a race of humanoid dragons who are often portrayed as proud and honorable. To fully embrace the role of a dragonborn character, a player may want to incorporate traits such as a strong sense of justice, a deep respect for tradition and hierarchy, and a fierce loyalty to their clan or family. The player could also incorporate physical traits such as scales, horns, or a fiery breath weapon into their role-playing, using these characteristics to inform their interactions with other characters and the world around them.

Example: Tiefling

  • Tieflings are a race of humanoid beings with infernal ancestry, often portrayed as outcasts and misunderstood by society. To fully embrace the role of a tiefling character, a player may want to incorporate traits such as a quick wit, a tendency to be defensive or guarded, and a deep sense of longing for acceptance and belonging. The player could also use their tiefling's unique appearance, such as horns, a tail, or red eyes, to inform their role-playing and interactions with other characters.

Example: Aasimar

  • Aasimar are a race of celestial beings, often portrayed as noble and righteous. To fully embrace the role of an aasimar character, a player may want to incorporate traits such as a deep sense of purpose, a desire to do good and serve a higher power, and a strong moral compass. The player could also use their aasimar's celestial appearance, such as wings or a radiant aura, to inform their role-playing and interactions with other characters and the world around them.

In conclusion, playing with unique and unconventional character concepts can add a layer of depth and interest to any D&D campaign. By exploring the different traits and characteristics associated with various races, players can create characters that are not only memorable, but also provide new opportunities for role-playing and character development.

III. Class-based Concepts


A. Rare or unpopular classes

In D&D, there are some classes that are more popular than others (fighter, rogue), and some that are rarely chosen. However, playing an uncommon class can be a great way to make a character stand out and add some variety to a party. For example:


Example: Artificer

  • Artificers are a class that focus on magical technology and tinkering. They have unique abilities such as creating magical items and imbuing them with spells. Playing an artificer could involve embracing a love for technology and innovation, and having a keen mind for problem-solving and puzzles.

Example: Blood Hunter

  • Blood hunters are a class that specialize in tracking and hunting down creatures of the night, such as vampires and werewolves. They have unique abilities such as "Blood Maledict," which allows them to curse their enemies. Playing a blood hunter could involve embracing a darker, more mysterious character with a thirst for vengeance and justice.

Example: Rune Knight

  • Rune Knights are a class that focus on using magical runes to enhance their physical abilities and manipulate the battlefield. They have unique abilities such as "Giant's Might," which allows them to grow to enormous size. Playing a rune knight could involve embracing a warrior-like character with a connection to ancient magical traditions.

B. Multiclassing

Multiclassing involves taking levels in two or more classes, allowing a character to combine different sets of abilities and create a unique character build. Here are some examples of unusual multiclass combinations:


Example: Paladin/Warlock

  • Combining the holy powers of a paladin with the dark magic of a warlock can create a complex and interesting character. Playing a paladin/warlock could involve embracing a character torn between good and evil, trying to reconcile their faith with the temptations of power.

Example: Rogue/Bard

  • Combining the stealth and cunning of a rogue with the charisma and musical talents of a bard can create a versatile and charming character. Playing a rogue/bard could involve embracing a character who is equally comfortable in social situations as they are in sneaking around and stealing.

Example: Ranger/Sorcerer

  • Combining the wilderness survival skills of a ranger with the magical powers of a sorcerer can create a character with a deep connection to the natural world. Playing a ranger/sorcerer could involve embracing a character who is both attuned to nature and capable of unleashing devastating magical attacks.

C. Non-standard class abilities and skills

Every class in D&D comes with a set of standard abilities and skills, but there are many ways to customize and personalize a character's abilities. Here are some examples of non-standard class abilities and skills:


Example: Fighter with Unarmed Fighting style

  • The Fighter class has a variety of fighting styles to choose from, but one of the less popular choices is the Unarmed Fighting style. This style allows a fighter to use their fists and feet as weapons, making them a formidable opponent even without a weapon. Playing a fighter with the Unarmed Fighting style could involve embracing a character who is a master of hand-to-hand combat and is always ready for a fight

Example: Wizard with a focus on necromancy

  • While the wizard class has access to a wide variety of spells, choosing to specialize in necromancy can add a darker and more sinister flavor to a character. Playing a wizard with a focus on necromancy could involve embracing a character who is fascinated with death and the undead, using their powers to control and manipulate the forces of darkness.

Example: Druid with a focus on fire spells

  • Druids are known for their connection to nature and their ability to shapeshift, but focusing on fire spells can add a more aggressive and destructive aspect to a character. Playing a druid with a focus on fire spells could involve embracing a character who is passionate and fiery, using their powers to burn away their enemies and protect the natural world.


D. Unusual class combinations

Combining classes in unique ways can create characters with surprising and unpredictable abilities. Here are some examples of unusual class combinations:

Example: Cleric/Rogue

  • Combining the divine powers of a cleric with the stealth and cunning of a rogue can create a character who is both holy and sneaky. Playing a cleric/rogue could involve embracing a character who uses their powers of healing and holy magic to help others, but is also willing to use more underhanded tactics when necessary.

Example: Bard/Warlock

  • Combining the musical talents and charm of a bard with the dark magic of a warlock can create a character who is both alluring and dangerous. Playing a bard/warlock could involve embracing a character who uses their charisma to manipulate others, but is also willing to make deals with powerful otherworldly beings for more power.

Example: Monk/Sorcerer

  • Combining the martial arts mastery of a monk with the magical powers of a sorcerer can create a character who is both physically and magically powerful. Playing a monk/sorcerer could involve embracing a character who uses their inner discipline and focus to channel magical energy and strike with deadly precision.

Overall, there are many ways to create unique and unconventional characters in D&D by exploring race-based and class-based concepts. Whether it's playing an uncommon race, multiclassing in unusual ways, or customizing standard class abilities, the key is to embrace the creativity and freedom that D&D offers and create a character that is truly your own.

Part four IV. Background-based Concepts


Backgrounds are an important aspect of any D&D character, as they provide context and depth to their backstory and motivations. Here are some ideas for unique background-based concepts:

A. Lesser-known backgrounds

While many players may default to common backgrounds like criminal or noble or scholar, there are lesser-known options that can create more unique and interesting characters. Some examples of lesser-known backgrounds include:

Example: Far Traveler

  • The Far Traveler background represents a character who has traveled from a distant land, potentially with a different culture and worldview. Playing a Far Traveler could involve embracing a character who is unfamiliar with the customs and norms of the setting they find themselves in, but has unique insights and experiences to draw upon.

Example: Urban Bounty Hunter

  • The Urban Bounty Hunter background represents a character who has made a living capturing criminals in a city setting. Playing an Urban Bounty Hunter could involve embracing a character who is street-smart and resourceful, but may have a shady or morally ambiguous past.

Example: Guild Artisan

  • The Guild Artisan background represents a character who has honed a specific craft or trade, and is likely a member of a guild or organization. Playing a Guild Artisan could involve embracing a character who is passionate about their craft and seeks to perfect their skills, but may also be beholden to the demands and politics of their guild.

B. Homebrew backgrounds

For players who want to create their own unique backgrounds, homebrewing can be a fun and rewarding process. Homebrew backgrounds can be created by adapting existing backgrounds or by starting from scratch. Some examples of homebrew backgrounds include:


Example: Shipwreck Survivor

  • The Shipwreck Survivor background represents a character who has survived a shipwreck or similar disaster, and has had to rely on their wits and survival skills to stay alive. Playing a Shipwreck Survivor could involve embracing a character who is resourceful and adaptable, but may also be haunted by traumatic memories.

Example: Circus Performer

  • The Circus Performer background represents a character who has grown up in a traveling circus, and has developed skills in acrobatics, performance, or animal handling. Playing a Circus Performer could involve embracing a character who is charismatic and flamboyant, but may also struggle to adapt to more traditional societal norms.

Example: Cultist

  • The Cultist background represents a character who has been a member of a secretive cult, potentially with ties to dark or otherworldly forces. Playing a Cultist could involve embracing a character who is enigmatic and mysterious, but may also be prone to fanaticism or dangerous obsessions.

Part III. Background combinations

Combining different backgrounds can create characters with layered and complex histories. Some examples of background combinations include:

Example: Soldier/Noble


  • Combining the military training of a soldier with the privileges and responsibilities of a noble can create a character who is both disciplined and entitled. Playing a Soldier/Noble could involve embracing a character who is accustomed to both following orders and giving them, but may struggle to relate to those outside of their social class.


Example: Criminal/Entertainer

  • Combining the shady connections of a criminal with the performance skills of an entertainer can create a character who is both sneaky and charming. Playing a Criminal/Entertainer could involve embracing a character who is able to blend into different social circles and manipulate others for their own gain.


Example: Sage/Hermit

  • Combining the intellectual curiosity of a sage with the isolation and introspection of a hermit can create a character who is both knowledgeable and enigmatic. Playing a Sage/Hermit could involve embracing a character who is constantly seeking new knowledge and insights, but may struggle with social interaction and connecting with others.

IV. Role-playing tips for unique backgrounds

No matter which background you choose, role-playing your character's backstory and motivations can add depth and authenticity to their interactions with the world around them. Here are some tips for role-playing unique backgrounds:


Example: Embrace your character's quirks

  • Unique backgrounds often come with unique quirks or idiosyncrasies that can make your character more memorable and interesting. Whether it's a cultist's cryptic speech patterns or a shipwreck survivor's fear of drowning, embracing these quirks can help you bring your character to life.

Example: Explore your character's motivations

  • What drives your character to adventure? Are they seeking revenge, redemption, or simply a sense of purpose? Exploring your character's motivations can help you create a more compelling and authentic role-playing experience.

Example: Embody your character's values

  • Every background comes with a set of suggested personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws. Embodying these values can help you stay true to your character's backstory and create more meaningful interactions with other players and NPCs.

By embracing unique and unconventional character concepts in D&D, players can create memorable and engaging characters that stand out from the crowd. Whether it's playing an unusual race, rare class, or homebrew background, the possibilities for creating unique characters in D&D are endless. By role-playing these characters with authenticity and creativity, players can add depth and richness to their D&D experiences.

Part V. Alignment-based Concepts

A character's alignment represents their moral and ethical compass, and is an important aspect of their personality and decision-making. Here are some alignment-based concepts that players can use to create unique and unconventional characters in D&D:


A. Role-playing an alignment in a unique way

Every alignment comes with a set of suggested traits and behaviours, but players can take these in a unique direction by adding their own personal twist. For example, a lawful good character might interpret their code of ethics in a more rigid and uncompromising way, while a chaotic neutral character might have a strong sense of loyalty and honour. By exploring your character's alignment in a unique way, you can create a character that is more nuanced and interesting.


B. Choosing an unusual alignment

While some alignments are more common than others, players can create unique characters by choosing an alignment that is less frequently played. For example, a lawful evil character might be a scheming mastermind who uses their intelligence and charisma to manipulate others for personal gain, while a true neutral character might be a passive observer who refuses to take sides in conflicts. Choosing an unusual alignment can help you create a character that is more unpredictable and intriguing.


C. Uncommon alignment combinations

Players can also create unique characters by combining alignments that are not typically associated with each other. For example, a chaotic good character might be a rebellious freedom fighter who opposes oppressive laws and corrupt governments, while a lawful evil character might be a strict authoritarian who values order and discipline above all else. By combining alignments in unexpected ways, players can create characters with complex and conflicting motivations.

By exploring alignment-based concepts in D&D, players can create unique and unconventional characters that challenge traditional stereotypes and expectations. Whether it's role-playing an alignment in a unique way, choosing an unusual alignment, or combining alignments in unexpected ways, the possibilities for creating unique characters in D&D are endless.


Part VI. Equipment-based Concepts

A character's equipment can be just as important as their class or background, and can also be a great way to create unique and unconventional characters in D&D. Here are some equipment-based concepts that players can use to create memorable characters:


A. Unique weapons and armour

While most characters start with basic equipment, players can create unique characters by choosing weapons and armour that are unusual or unexpected. For example, a rogue might wield a set of throwing knives or a whip instead of a traditional dagger, while a paladin might wear a set of enchanted full plate armour that glows with divine energy. By choosing unique weapons and armour, players can make their characters stand out on the battlefield.


B. Non-standard adventuring gear

In addition to weapons and armour, characters also carry a variety of adventuring gear such as backpacks, grappling hooks, and torches. By choosing non-standard adventuring gear, players can create characters with unique abilities and skills. For example, a ranger might carry a set of animal traps or a net to capture prey, while a bard might carry a set of musical instruments to entertain or charm NPCs.


C. Unusual magical items

Magic items are a staple of any D&D campaign, but players can create unique characters by choosing magical items that are unusual or unexpected. For example, a wizard might carry a set of enchanted quills that can write their spells for them, while a cleric might wield a set of holy symbols that can heal allies or harm enemies. By choosing unusual magical items, players can create characters with unique abilities and powers.


D. Customized equipment for unique characters

Finally, players can also customize their equipment to fit their unique characters. For example, a blacksmith character might craft their own set of custom armour or weapons, while a druid might fashion a set of natural materials such as bark, leaves, and vines into a set of unique equipment. By customizing their equipment, players can create characters that feel more personal and unique.


By exploring equipment-based concepts in D&D, players can create unique and unconventional characters that stand out from the rest. Whether it's choosing unique weapons and armour, non-standard adventuring gear, unusual magical items, or customized equipment, the possibilities for creating unique characters in D&D are endless.

Conclusion


In conclusion, D&D is a game that encourages players to create unique and unconventional characters, and the possibilities for doing so are endless. By exploring race-based concepts, class-based concepts, background-based concepts, alignment-based concepts, and equipment-based concepts, players can create characters that are memorable, engaging, and fun to play. Whether it's playing a goblin bard, multiclassing as a rogue/warlock, choosing a non-standard background, or wielding a set of unusual magical items, the key is to be creative and have fun with the process. As always, remember that the most important aspect of any D&D character is their backstory and role-playing, so be sure to invest time and effort into developing your character's personality, motivations, and goals. With these tips and examples in mind, we hope that D&D players will feel inspired to create unique and unconventional characters that add depth and excitement to their campaigns.


Bonus Post: Unconventional Party Ideas

If you and your friends have let your imaginations run riot and have created an adventuring party of characters with with amazing race and class options, each with their own distinctive physical appearance and personality, then the next step is to create a party that is equally distinctive and unconventional. Ask yourselves, why has this party come together in the first place? What does this collection of misfits and heroes doe other than wander between dangerous situations?

Unconventional D&D Party Types

When you think of a Dungeons & Dragons party, you probably picture a group of adventurers consisting of a fighter, a cleric, a wizard, and a rogue. But there are many other types of parties that can be just as successful, if not more so.

Here are a few unconventional D&D party types that you might want to consider: