For example, when creating a cleric, I once turned to Sigmund Freud and his 'talking cure' to create that game's first psychotherapist. And he charged for his services too. I recently tried to revisit this idea, but the character quickly diverged from this root and took on a life of its own...and that's how it should be. It's good to have a template for your character's personality, but eventually the PC should grow into its own identity. Afterall, the life it experiences can't mirror the life that shaped the figure who first inspired you. But when it comes to getting started, it's nice to have a springboard to inject some life into the character.
Right now, I'd love to play (or see played) the ever-observant Sherlock Holmes as a rogue. Who better to solve the always-present mysterious plotline or navigate a trap-filled dungeon? A gentleman's rogue if ever there was one!
Some other ideas that came quickly to mind:
- Alexandre Dumas' D'Artagnan as an overzealous, young fighter (actually, all of the musketeers are great characters)
- A ranger, druid, or eco-friendly cleric who plants trees where ever he goes so people will remember his example
- Davey Crocket as a ranger or fighter with a penchant for exploring the wilds
- a gnome mage modeled after one of our country's most brilliant men, Benjamin Franklin
Edit: Something I forgot to say the first time through...this idea only really works if you do a little research on the historical/literary figure's personality and personal motivations. The whole point is that you know how the person would act in a given situation. But then, you probably already understood that that was my point.
Playing on XM: The Great Divide