Last time we touched on fantasy fashion, I regaled you with the story of my wizard’s dating faux pas. I’ve since learned to appreciate the finer points of fashion. This was not intentional.

Generally you see, I try to avoid crossplaying. Props to you guys that can pull it off, but since I’m a socially inept white dude blessed with an amount of body hair that can only be described as a ‘gamer pelt,’ I’ve always felt like I’d fail to do the PC justice. Visions of myself doing the SPAM voice rose like specters before me, and I would inevitably check the “M” box next to my character’s gender. Recently however, I decided that enough was enough. I’m a good roleplayer dammit. It was high time for me to bite the bullet, stretch myself as a gamer, and try a female PC.

It was a 5e game. I rolled for random backgrounds. I got the following personality trait:

I take great pains to always look my best and follow the latest fashions. 

So there I was all set to try for super serious, non-stereotypical role-playing, and the dice tell me that my rich noblewoman PC likes shopping. MFW.

I’d rolled in the open like an idiot, the table erupted in laughter, and I resigned myself to a campaign full of “OMG there’s a sale” jokes. But a funny thing happened on the way to Castle Ravenloft. First my treacherous cousin and I traded barbs over interplanar style. Then I realized that high heel boots make for great thieves’ tools secret compartments. And then fancy dress meant that the mayor would see us now. And pretending to be a useless fop was a great way to set up a sneak attack. And by the time we finally got a little bit of spare coin I found myself asking if the shops had anything in the family colors, and insisting that I pay extra for the gold and whalebone buttons on my new frock coat.

What I learned is this: Playing a game that takes place in the imagination, it’s easy to overlook the details. I mean, who cares what you’re wearing? You still hit for 1d6+3, right? As it turns out though, having a strong mental image of your character is a huge help in portraying them. What kind of presence do they have when they walk into a room? What kind of social circles would accept them? I was afraid that I would be consigned to the role of “fashion-obsessed ditz,” but that random personality trait turned out to be the defining feature of my new favorite social rogue.

How about the rest of you guys? Have you ever turned “minor aesthetic detail” into a plot-relevant character trait? Let’s hear it in the comments!


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