show episodes
 
Characters Without Stories is a tabletop role playing game podcast about the roads not yet traveled. Every episode I bring in a friend to tell me about their unplayed character and their approach to creating characters. I cover all kinds of RPGs - from indies to D&D. I've had some fascinating conversations about how our characters intersect with and reveal our identities and how play is a gateway to understanding ourselves. I hope you'll give it a listen. Thank you and may all your character ...
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show series
 
Navaar Seik-Jackson brings Oba Manu to the table. Oba is a dad who wants nothing more than to live the simple life, but is pulled back into adventuring for "one last job." Navaar and I discuss having a family both at and away from the table, needing to protect your family while avoiding violence - and how scary that can be as a Black father, and po…
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Stephan Kelly brings Lancelot to the table. Lance is a blind martial artist in a coven of witches, doing his best to leave the world a little bit better than when he found it. Stephan and I discuss building a character while you're building the system, testing the limits of system mastery, and an unfortunate jousting accident. This character is bui…
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Grant brings Orco the Magnificent to the table. Orco is not a very good wizard, but he gives it his best shot. Grant and I discuss religious trauma, high school theater, and the opposite of min-maxing. This character is built for D&D5e. Grant Nordine is the titular game master of Game Master Monday and the guide for Bella's Comet. Grant is an award…
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Tori Fica brings Tendertwig to the table. Tendertwig is a Leshy Oracle who moves through life with the confidence of a child - because they are actually only 1 year old. Tori and I discuss the freedom of playing a character utterly devoid of imposter syndrome, how being cute is a special ability, and playing a literal baby. This character is built …
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Chriss brings Rhan Halvard to the table. Rhan was a wizard who became a revenant in the service of Istus when her attempt to change her fate had unexpectedly dire results. Chriss and I discuss death, grief, and catharsis, the role of fate in a fantasy story where gods are real, and how much backstory you truly need. This character is built for D&D5…
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Sam Dunnewold brings Exit to the table. Exit is a scavenger living on the edges of a dangerous psychic mist and a society that demands they conform. Sam and I discuss building a character within the context of a post apocalyptic world, being brave because you have to be, and transparency in gaming. This character is built for Apocalypse World by D.…
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Aetherius brings Riley Howard/Jean Pierre Baptiste to the table. Riley is a Ministry kindred masquerading as Jean-Pierre, a Toreador in the Camarilla. Aetherius and I discuss being your authentic self, being the only Black player at the table, and writing strong yet flawed Black women. This character is built for Vampire the Masquerade 5e published…
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Joseph brings Otto Von Kurtzel to the table. Otto is a family man who built a mech suit to help him live with a degenerative disease. Joseph and I discuss punching dragons, having people worth fighting for, and tinkering for good. This character is built for D&D5e. Joseph Byler, an aspiring TTRPG writer and nurse. They're also a proud redneck and l…
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Alex brings Nix to the table. Alex is a traveling magician who cheerfully becomes a hero. Alex and I discuss mad libs character creation, the nature of magic, and being inspired by a hat. This character is built for Quest. Alex, also known as Apples_n_Cinnamon, a ttrpg enthusiast and a blooming forever GM. They make TTRPG content somewhat sporadica…
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Rook brings Dale Dorries, AKA Alehat to the table. Alehat is a greedy, rotten scoundrel feeding his retirement fund with ill-gotten gains. Rook and I discuss filling a role in a party, using characters to try out game mechanics, and being out for yourself. This character is built for Blades in the Dark. Roger Peters, who also goes by Rook, is the o…
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Jeffrey Baker brings an unnamed soldier to the table. The unnamed soldier is a grizzled drill sergeant who motivates his party through tough love and (bardic) inspirational speeches. Jeffrey and I discuss playing older characters with life experience, roleplay bleed and after care, and being the party dad. This character is built for D&D5e. Jeffrey…
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Wes Ascolese brings Trypoxylus "Tryp" to the table. Tryp is a newborn hive mind formed from a group of Japanese stag beetles looking to learn about the world they are seeing with new eyes. Wes and I discuss how bugs think, trying to build a unified identity, and discovering yourself through your characters. This character is built for The Wildsea b…
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Nate (Beardic Inspiration) brings Ed'varay Fiero to the table. Ed'varay is a noble ranger, restlessly wandering in search of transcendental experiences. Nate and I discuss creating random characters for real people, being shaped by your environment, and the controversy surrounding Wizards of the Coast's attempt to withdraw the Open Gaming License (…
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In this very special episode, I interview my costars on DnDenial's The Moonstone Matriarchy actual play stream, an all-women D&D game set in the home brew world of Solandria. I Sneeze Stars is the DM GM of Reven is Anemone Juniper is Clover Mamaicailleach is Delphra Dungeon Mistress Katie is Rosalind Scxrlet is Syn These characters are built for D&…
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Jordan Peacock brings his tarot deck to the table. In this episode, Jordan and I collaborate to build three characters using tarot spreads. Dagamot, inspired by the Hermit card, is a reclusive healer with a painful past reevaluating his life on the road. Content warning: brief mention of suicide at 7:00. Jordan and I discuss going beyond tropes, bu…
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Owen Kerr brings Asher Novaak, aka Rhadamanthus Lehrer, to the table. Rhadamanthus is an inquisitor hiding in plain sight as his own throne agent, trying to find the small victories in a world full of insurmountable odds. Owen and I discuss pitting underdogs against empires, wrestling with angels, and finding joy in the struggle nevertheless. This …
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Natasha Ticotin brings Niko de Cielo to the table. Niko is an Oath of Conquest paladin who will soon find out he's not the main character he thinks he is. Natasha and I discuss "fixing" characters from pop culture, finding community in fandoms, and how characters' self-perceptions might not live up to their level 2 realities. This character is buil…
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It’s Pride Month! While we can and should joyfully celebrate LGBTQIA+ people every day of the year, we come together in June to devote special attention - to pay respects for those who have fought for liberation, and to continue the struggle in the face of increasing hostility and repression. This episode I’m honoring my trans, non-binary, and quee…
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Jack brings Shasta and Alistair to the table. Shasta is a young Aasimar monk traveling the world and Alistair is the god within the mask she wears. Jack and I discuss the masks we and our characters wear, player agency and GM input into characters, and what might make you put on a mysterious mask. This character is built for Pathfinder 2e. Jack is …
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Quinn brings Aya Bailey to the table. Aya has been called by the gods to serve, but chooses instead to serve the people through activism and direct action. Quinn and I discuss using TTRPGs as a way to learn about other cultures and identities including your own, growing beyond others' expectations of you, and decolonizing TTRPG spaces. This charact…
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Natalie Marley brings Dewey Aberforth to the table. Dewey is an accidental folk hero and a selfish jerk who happens to have a wonderful aquiline nose. Natalie and I discuss playing a selfish character without making your friends hate you IRL, how to play a man, and developing the confidence to take up space at the table and in the story. This chara…
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Simon brings Dex to the table. Dex is a gnome hacker slowly becoming a revolutionary. Simon and I discuss finding the bravery to be who you are, building characters that embody neurodiversity, and the intersection of masculinity and fantasy races. This character is built for Shadowrun. Simon is a queer, non-binary, autistic, and ADHD STEM educator …
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Morgan Nuncio brings Lucia “Luz” Guadalupe Lozano to the table. Luz is a young Latina wizard learning to control her magic and setting some fires in the process. Morgan and I discuss finding the comfort in community to play your own race, who's left out when we default to the old white man wizard tropes, and how sometimes you have to make a lot of …
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Ryan and Amelia bring Catalina and Esperanza to the table. Catalina and Esperanza are twins conniving to upstage one another. Ryan, Amelia, and I discuss how to create character drama and conflict at character creation, sex and romance in roleplaying games, and the tropes we return to again and again when creating characters. These characters are b…
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PlotDoc brings Dreams of a Light Reborn to the table. Dreams is a storyteller who seeks to end a bloody war. PlotDoc and I discuss growing yourself before growing a character, telling stories that change the world, and kicking gods in the nuts. This character is built for Exalted 2nd Edition. PlotDoc is a 34 year old stay-at-home dad and TTRPG TikT…
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Glenn Buettner brings Montgomery Whitlow to the table. Monty is a Vaesen hunter on a fool's errand to join his wife and daughter in the selkie world. Glenn and I discuss sending your character on a fool's errand, creating characters from your own writing, and making the table a safe space for exploring trauma. This character is built for Vaesen. Gl…
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Caroline Vahrenkamp brings Jurdgel Sharptooth to the table. Jurdgel is a goblin customs official who would like nothing more than staying home with a cup of tea and a romance novel. Caroline and I discuss the challenge of voicing a male character as a trans woman, discovering something about yourself playing TTRPGs, and what neutrality means. This …
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Once again, I’m mad at something I love – or rather, I’m mad at the company that owns it. Once again, it’s Dungeons and Dragons. About a week ago, a draft copy of the new D&D Open Game License was leaked. Much more restrictive than the Open Game License that currently stands, these changes would hurt the independent third-party creators that built …
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Joseph Speak brings Skips to the table. Skips is a sheltered monk who took a vow of silence thrust into a noisy world when dragon-induced tragedy strikes. He becomes a mime to find a way to honor his vow while exploring the world. Joseph and I discuss challenging yourself as a roleplayer, 'voicing' a nonverbal character, and the perfectly legitimat…
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Sophie Katz brings Ekra to the table. Ekra is a dad on a mission, a Kenku finding his own way to communicate in a world that considers him less than human. Sophie and I discuss how we create and learn language, the trauma of having to speak in your oppressor's language, and other ways that bards can inspire. This character is built for D&D5e. Sophi…
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Jim S brings Janie to the table. Janie became a chemically-inhanced super soldier to gain the strength to find her missing sister. Jim and I discuss what you have to give up to gain the power you need, what it means when your character's strengths become their weaknesses, and going out in a blaze of glory. This character is built for Savage Worlds …
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VJ Harris brings Varqoor to the table. Varqoor is a mind flayer losing their hold on their host and finding their own path away from the Elder Brain as a spore druid. VJ and I discuss how their supplement, An Elf and an Orc Had a Little Baby, takes on the problems with race in D&D, what it's like to play a monster, and what mind flayers sound like.…
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Abstract brings Torden Stormborn to the table. Torden is convinced he is the prophesied herald of the Everstorm, an apocalyptic maelstrom. Abstract and I discuss playing evil characters, the limitations of the alignment system in D&D, and what happens when a prophecy doesn't come true. This character is built for D&D 5e. Abstract is a forever DM an…
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Damian brings Malcolm Cain to the table. Malcolm was the muscle of an art-smuggling business who finds his brother slain, leading him to become wrapped up in a shadowy conspiracy. Damian and I discuss how facing the monstrous within the mundane can change you, how a character's skills can tell you a lot about a person, and what goes in a backstory.…
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Kurt Refling brings Altabella to the table. Altabella is a sea silk diver who is turned into a vampire, slowly losing her memory and becoming a predator in the process. Kurt and I discuss how a good prompt leads to creative storytelling, what it means to become a vampire, and why we tell sad stories in TTRPGs. This character is built for Thousand Y…
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This podcast is about characters. And when it comes to characters in Dungeons and Dragons, there have been problems with how the game defines race from the very beginning. You may have heard about the most recent example, and oh boy it’s a doozy. The latest Wizards of the Coast release, Spelljammer, contains a character race called the Hadozee. The…
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Characters without stories is a TTRPG podcast about the roads not yet traveled. If you play tabletop roleplaying games you probably have some back pocket characters, characters who are just waiting for the right story. Every episode, I’ll bring in a friend to tell me about their character and their approach to creating characters. Send us a Text Me…
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Rachel Voss brings Madame Azlu to the table. Madame Azlu sails across the Sea of Stars, chasing constellations in a crystal ship. Rachel and I discuss how our characters are influenced by our lives and the media we consume, including disabled characters in D&D, and how TTRPGs have given her the opportunity to confront the ableism she deals with in …
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Wesley Magee-Saxton brings Farthing to the table. Farthing is a disabled high elf who became an accidental stowaway and an accidental pirate. Wesley and I discuss finding inspiration in historical research, creating magical items that help bring disabled characters to life in D&D, and how characters who need mobility aids can still be badass. This …
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Stevie brings Requiem to the table. Requiem is a Tiefling Warlock who pledged her service to Asmodeus to save her girlfriend, losing everything in the process. Stevie and I discuss the unique origins of the tiefling race, finding inspiration in unusual places, living your authentic self in TTRPGs, and how the idea of found family is central both to…
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Jay brings Qurr to the table. Qurr is an Aarakocra Barbarian on a mission to prove herself to the goddess Syranita. Jay and I discuss how introducing randomness into character building can help bring characters to life, creating detailed backstories that leave room for growth, how an aarakocra might adjust to a city built for non-flying characters,…
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Andrew Rahman brings Bart Biggityburg to the table. Bart is a Tortle Drakewarden Ranger who has trained to be a championship marathon runner. Andrew and I discuss turning the tables on common misconceptions about what a character can do, finding inspiration in myth and fable, and using game mechanics to tell a story. This character is built for D&D…
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