Has your role-playing been falling a little flat lately? Perhaps it's your character that's flat. Does he exist for the sole purpose of looting dungeons? Does she live in a temporal void, with no past and no plans for the future? Is his response to most suggestions "Sure. Whatever."? Perhaps what your character needs is a little depth.
Now, a fully fleshed-out character takes alot of work, and there aren't really any shortcuts to doing it well. However, you can always fake it, and you might even learn something in the process. The key to a good character is emotional reaction, either good or bad. Apathy is character death (perhaps in real life, too, but that's a different subject). And I don't even mean just "regular" reactions, either. The more ridiculously driven your character is by his emotions the more he'll get himself into interesting situations, which is what you want in an RPG. Another trick is to make a character with flaws. I don't mean "bonus point flaws", but "real" flaws. Things about his past or personality that you probably really don't want for your character. Nobody wants to play a "hero" who beats his kids, or killed an innocent person in her youth, but that's the kind of messed up stuff that creates the drama you need.
I know that I for one am relatively "shallow" in real life, so pretending to have depth for a character totally rubs me the wrong way and to be honest I can't even think up anything most of the time. I certainly don't want to assign negative traits to my characters. Of course the secret is, I really DO want to give my character these flaws. It's just so "unnatural" for me that I get blocked thinking about it. So, with that in mind, I came up with what I hope is an "easy" system to give characters some "depth" or at least a framework for depth (or at the very least a cheap simulation of depth).
For this tool, there are three categories. I may add more later, but this is what I've got for now.
1) Friends and Enemies, also known as "Relationships", the character's view of people.
2) Pride and Shame, also known as "Self", the character's view of himself.
3) Loves and Hates, also known as "Attitude", the character's view of the world around him.
Now, for each of these categories, roll a d6. You can keep adding rolls until it feels right to stop, but as a default, I suggest three rolls for each category. The results are compared to the lists below:
1) You have an enemy that you absolutely despise and would like to see dead or ruined. You would likely do nearly anything to make this happen. This person may not know you exist, or may hate you in return, or might even love you despite your rancor.
2) You have an enemy that you dislike greatly. You will go out of your way to cause problems for the target. This person may not know you exist, or may dislike you in return, or might even love you despite your rancor.
5) You have a "friend" that you admire. A close friend or family member most likely for whom you would definitely go out of your way to help. You probably have a long history with this person or shared an intense experience, like a battle or a disaster.
6) You have a "hero" that you adore. A lover or close family member most likely for whom you would risk anything, even death. You probably have a long, possibly romantic, history with this person or shared an intense experience, like a battle or a disaster.
1) Something about your personality or history is despicable by the standards of most, perhaps even your own. Maybe you are of an "enemy" race or nation, or perhaps you murdered someone in your past or maybe you're just terribly short-tempered. You go to great lengths to hide this fact if possible, for the consequences may be extreme.
2) Something about your personality or history is unpleasant by the standards of most, perhaps even your own. Maybe you are of a "distrusted" race or nation, or perhaps you are a known criminal. You make an effort to hide this fact if possible, for the consequences may be inconvenient.
3-4) Nothing to see here.
5) You are proud of some achievement or association of yours and will regularly boat of it if the topic comes up. If given the opportunity, you will go out of your way to increase your status, real or percieved, with the associaton or that of the achievement.
6) You hold dear your achievement or association and will tout it proudly whenever the subject comes up. You actively seek ways to increase your status, real or percieved, with the association or that of the achievement.
1) You hate something with a passion and will stop at nothing to destroy or avoid it. It may be an ideology, a race, an intangible like "injustice", or something phobic like "spiders" or "heights".
2) You dislike something greatly and will go out of your way to harm, hinder or avoid it. It may be an ideology, a race, an intangible like "injustice", or something phobic like "spiders" or "heights".
3-4) No soup for you.
5) You enjoy something and will go out of your way to support, experience or obtain it. It may be an ideology, a race, an intangible like "justice", or something obsessive like "money" or "honor".
6) You enjoy something greatly and will make a great effort to support, experience or obtain it. It may be an ideology, a race, an intangible like "justice", or something obsessive like "money" or "honor".
Then it's just a matter of extrapolating why these facets of the character exist, and adding a little "color" or detail.
If you can, try tying one element to another. Maybe your lover (Relationship 1) is a member of the merchant family that you hate (Attitude 6). You may come up with a roll that seems "out of character". Maybe your peace-loving character has an enemy he wants to destroy. Well, the character doesn't have to be proud of the fact, and may even fight it, but that just means that the enemy must have done something really messed up to the character.
This is, of course, just a springboard for ideas, but I hope it will help. Let's see how it works in practice, though.