RPGs give a great opportunity to be something that you're not. It enables you to take on the role of someone with the convictions and will that perhaps you could only dream of. To make the choices, the hard choices, that perhaps you'd only dream of being able to make. Someone who can literally fight and die for their beliefs - or, even better, someone who can fight and make the other guy die for his beliefs. In short, RPGs let you be a hero and today I want to talk about that, and give some tips into playing a character that others - love or hate - will at least agree that they're someone to aspire to.
Class Is Not Important
The stereotypical image of a hero is a warrior with armor, shield, and sword. The shield may be optional, but they're almost always a fighter of some type. Heroes have to be strong enough to take on the burdens of those around them. Because of that, the imagery of a warrior works well, but it's not required. Nothing says you can't play a Hero that's a rogue, wizard, sorceror or anything else. Maybe Warlocks and blood mages are out for feel, but I bet the right person could still pull it off.
Hero not hero
Also, I want to be clear. When I say this is about being a Hero I mean it with a capital H. I mean someone who inspires trust and hope like Captain America or Superman. Someone who is good through and through. Someone that sometimes others doubt because no one is that good. No one is that honest. And don't let other people fool you, playing someone that good and nice is far from boring.
A Willingness To Trust
The first thing your character needs to be a Hero is a willingness to trust. They need to be able to trust someone when they come for help. This doesn't mean you have to be a naive fool, but it also means that you have to be willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Heroes trust that when someone comes to them needing help, that they need help. They trust that when that trust is betrayed it is done with a good reason.
A Desire To Help
The next thing, and perhaps the biggest, is your Hero has to have a desire to help. This doesn't mean they can't benefit on the side, but if all a farmer can offer in exchange for stopping goblins from taking his livestock is room and board, guess who is going to work for room and board? Why? Because your hero wants to help, and remember, they trust that the farmer isn't lying about what he/she can or can't pay.
The Ability To Forgive
Finally, but no less important, a Hero needs to be able to forgive. A Hero is the first person to accept that they received the last slight but be willing to bury the hatchet to move forward and stop the violence. More to the point, even when slighted the Hero is still willing to help if the need for help is there. Maybe they'll be more reluctant. Maybe they'll be more cautious. But when someone who has betrayed a Hero before shows up looking for help because otherwise they're going to be killed, the Hero still helps.
A Bit of Caution
This isn't for the character, but for the player. Being someone who trusts, who helps, and who forgives may come across as boring or lacking the "dangerous dark side" other players get to enjoy. And while, yeah, you don't get to explore the dark you'll have your own fun and problems. Someone who truly wants to help has a tendency to get involved in a lot of things. Your side-quest tracker may overflow. Also, you're going to end up in a lot of dangerous situations as you try to shield the innocent from whatever problems are hunting them. There's a reason heroes are often fighters, they can take the blows.
The point is, you're going to end up the target quite often as your "do gooder" attitude has you putting your nose in where it doesn't belong. Be ready for it, and have fun.