Continuing in my series of “What does your character look like?” posts (see: hats), today let’s think about beards. Classic fantasy settings imply a decent amount of scruff on its heroes and NPCs. When I build a character, I’m more likely to envision his physical traits: height, hair and skin color, etc rather than his clothes. Along with the physical traits I usually have a pretty good idea of what his facial hair will be. For humans and half-elves my characters are usually either clean-shaven or have a goatee + mustache. Generally I use the facial hair style to convey some stereotypical aspect of his character. Thankfully for us gamers, Matt McInerney of pixelspread has created a nice infographic (my other hobby) of beard types compared with how trustworthy the wearer is. This is a great resource for players and GMs alike. The beard-types are most applicable to humans but it’d be awesome to see a Warforged sporting “The Philosopher.”
These stereotypes are nice shorthands for both coming up with a character description and allowing players to grasp what another character may be about. Going against type should be used sparingly and to great effect.