What makes a “memorable character” – one that you want to play after you play it for the first time? I have a few rules I try to keep in mind when developing a character that isn’t made for the garbage heap.
- Above all things, your character needs a quirk. Be sure this quirk is something you will remember to do (and note it for gameplay), suits the PC, and is fun (not too annoying). The quirk gives your PC a “hook” to live up to. Often, the quirk may develop into a story-related feature. For example: My Sorceress Elf had an intelligent item familiar, a mop.
- Keep it smart. Playing an intellectually deficient PC usually doesn’t do anyone any favors, since they’re often portrayed as “too dull” to follow PC Party concepts or plans. While these PCs often become “idiot savants,” they are probably not good characters to use. They become (and embody) stereotypes. For example: Rather than play a PC with below-10 INT, play one with a dull personality (doesn’t “get” jokes, no Ranks in diplomacy); maybe the PC has less WIS than INT, so rushes into battle like a moron rather than survey the encounter first.
- Expand your class ideal. Just because I primarily enjoy Fighter characters does not mean they are boneheads who beat everybody over the head with the pommel of their longsword. For example: My Fighters might be Rogue-oriented, with DEX features (a lot of ranks in sleight of hand, maybe), or mage-related (Sorcerer preference since they are not tied to books, maybe an interest in alchemy).
- Include equipment history. For every item you have (especially your weapons and armor), figure out where it came from. Is your sword heirloom? Was your mithril chain a gift from your adoptive Dwarf guardians? Your equipment, like the clothes you wear out of character (OOC), can really say a lot about your likes and dislikes. For example: My Rogues like dark gray-and-blue color blends to blend in with shadows; that same Halfling PC also had a pipe with a mermaid figurehead at the end that she loved to puff around the camp fire.
A couple of these suggestions may sound like Background work, but thinking through these things will really round out your PC. These few things in particular, in my experience, are a few of the most useful brainstorm requirements.