I picked up a really fantastic trick from art school which has served me exceedingly well in crafting characters for tabletop campaigns: Mix tapes.
Well, playlists, since we're in the future now. I have made playlists for probably a good half dozen or more characters who I feel the driving need to bring to as much of a fulfilled realisation as I can manage. As I think I've mentioned before, when crafting a character, I cannot just sit idly by and allow them to be a vessel for stats. No, I craft my characters as extensions of myself, as fully-formed beings with loves, hates, desires, and deep histories whenever possible. Pretentious and over thinking? You bet, but that's my bag, baby.
When I am getting ready to sit down to roll some dice, I bust out that character's mix and listen to it. Sometimes just a quick spin through the list, sometimes I'll bring it to work and listen all day. I'll spend hours at my computer combing through my ever-growing collection of MP3s, sourcing anything I don't already have from M'Colleague or from reputable sellers of music, throwing everything and anything that has potential into one massive list, and then listening to each song to pare down a tight core of songs that evoke whatever it is about that character that I'm trying to maintain.
I find that the list length itself often speaks to the character as well. Ruby from the late great Deadlands game maybe had 6 songs and could be listened to just on my commute home/to game - though she had depth, her defining characteristic for me was Woman Scorned, and I could accomplish that in just a few pieces. Gareth's got an "album length" mix which takes me to and from work without repeats. I tell his story through his mix, and am often left a bit emotionally fragile once finished. Perfect for the dark game that our Story-Teller has given us.
Then there's Bosabrieln. Bosabrieln is this ridiculous Half-Elf Virtue of Cunning Bard character that I play in the 4E campaign that M'Colleague has been running for almost three years (having Grown-up Lives means we end up a few months at a time between sessions sometimes). Bosie, as he's known, was fashioned after Oscar Wilde's lover and famously awful person Alfred "Bosie" Douglas. He's vain, beautiful, talented as fuck, and Oh So Misunderstood. He's alarmingly androgynous (think Andrej Pejic or Anatoly Elgert) and not fickle at all about who shares his bed, or in what quantity. Bosabrieln's play list takes up two CDs when burned. Prick.
We're playing today! This has been one of those long hiatus breaks, as life was taken over by work insanity (all the PCs are my coworkers) and by wedding planning. Over the intervening months, I've discovered some "new" music for him and so I'm currently going through and switching out old songs for better ones. Most notable among the new selections are RHCP's "Blood Sugar Sex Magik", Britney's "Work Bitch" and, naturally, Lady Gaga's "Applause". To be honest, I could listen to "Applause" for hours on repeat and be ready to go with Bosie, but I like to try to keep what depth I can.
They say music soothes the savage beast, and they couldn't be more right. I started my morning in a bit of a downtrodden rut, but now I'm overcome by feeling overwhelmingly FIERCE. Bring it, Mr. DM, the bitch is back!