Good. Dave is an excellent character, and one a lot of people like. He’s easy to write for (quirk-wise), and emotionally easy on the surface. The combination makes him a prime target for up-and-coming RPers. However, there’s a lot of things Dave does NOT do. Below I’ll list, in no particular order, the essentials that go toward being the driving force behind him.
The Basics: Core Character Construction
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Dave Strider? Is it “cool kid”? Or maybe “hilarious Pesterlogs”? ”John’s husbando”?
All of these can be true, but it’s all in how you do it. What do we know, from the canon, about Dave?
- He was raised by his Bro, with whom he has a pretty good relationship (referencing when he built a fort out of cinder blocks and turntables. ”Bro would probably give you a fist bump for how sweet this thing is”, or some such).
- He was also raised to think that everything he did/would do is an ironic gesture. This means that Dave tries the hardest to be ironic and contradictory out of all the characters, which often makes him look less cool and more like a dork.
- He was nearly named “Insufferable Prick”. That’s because, at times, he is just that—a prick! He’s not always nice to everyone, and in fact spends a lot of time ripping on his pals, but largely in good fun (hence ironic interaction).
- Dave is a hipster.He listens to niche bands, he collects dead shit in jars, he wears shitty old aviators at all times. This is also part of his “Insufferable Prick” syndrome. What hipster isn’t a prick (see: Eridan, who is not an ACTUAL hipster and more of a psychotic fish hippy)?
- He has a self image of being cool at all times. Obviously this isn’t true. His calm breaks a few times in the canon, but he never admits to it, always handling these outbursts with what levity he can manage.
All of these things can be found in his introductory pages. They are the bare essentials of his character, so keep them in mind when you’re working out your muse.
Going Deeper: Personality Traits and Habits
This is for his personality, including the way he speaks and deals with the people important in his life.
- Dave thinks, perpetually and potentially pathologically (say THAT shit ten times fast, wow) that he is unspeakably cool. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Dave is an enormous dork. Keep in mind that he once stood in front of a coffee machine mumbling to himself about jack diddly as he waited for the coffee to pour.
- He rambles. Frequently. Included in these rambles are ridiculous metaphors and elaborate scenarios outlined via ridiculous circumstance. He’s one of the wordiest characters in the comic next to Karkat, who babbles on nearly as much.
- He is not flamboyant. Yes, he does have a couple of big emotional responses to some things (bursting out of the smuppet pile, finding Bro dead, etc.) but overall he forces himself to appear outwardly calm. Even when he was broken up over Bro all he did was lay on the ground and get snarky with Terezi. It was sad snark, but snark nontheless. He also became flustered when Rose winked at him, which implies a sense of naivete. None of these actions, however, were over the top or breaking his cool, at least in his eyes (remember: convinced of his own cool).
- He would sacrifice everything for those he cares about. Davesprite. Cascade. Dead Daves. Dave Strider is, ultimately, selfless. He fights for his friends more than himself, and while John was dorking around and Rose was planning out the session, he was behind the scenes establishing contact with the trolls and funneling Grist for the others to use. He’s not a Selfish prick, only an Insufferable prick.
- He loved Dirk. No, not like John and his daddy. Grow up. He was honestly in admiration of Dirk’s abilities and skills, and modeled himself after the man in many ways.
- He is an attention hound. Every Pesterlog is basically Dave hounding someone for attention—John is about to get crushed by a meteor, “hey bro check out this sweet rap”, so on and so forth.Going Deeper: Non-Personality Traits/Hobbies
This is where I outline his canon interests and hobbies, what he does in his spare time.
- He’s a photographer. Amateur, but nonetheless, he operates a dark room and owns at least one camera.
- He collects dead things in formaldehyde. I really don’t have an explanation for this, and outside of a couple of weird alchemizations it’s never really touched on in the canon. Regardless, it’s one of his interests.
- He creates music and writes his own raps, not to mention is into freestyle. It’s implied he’s fairly clever with it, especially since he had to freestyle battle Bro so frequently.
- He runs SBaHJ, as well as does shitty doodles.
- The boy is fairly into apple juice, too.
Expanding: Interactions With Other Characters
Dave is a pretty mellow dude, and it’s feasible to imagine him getting along with just about everyone in the comic. He’s a shipper’s wet dream.
- John: He’s best bros with John. They’re assumed to get along pretty awesomely with one another, especially since Dave placed enormous sentimental value on the shades John sent him. John also likes Dave, though he has little patience for his neediness.
- Rose: Rose has a fucking field day analyzing Dave’s latent habit to make sex jokes and phallic references. He’s unsettled by her more often than not, though he attributes it (largely jokingly) to her wanting him romantically. He snarks with her a lot, and they have a deep dynamic with one another.
- Jade: Dave clearly enjoys talking to her. She’s one of the one people who think Dave is legitimately cool, and even tries to imitate him in speech because he’s so cool to her. He has an overinflated ego when he talks to her, and in one notorious pesterlog even bombards her with his creations and gifts for her. There’s implications that he even indulges her in furry RP, though that might have just been his joking.
- Terezi: Dave got along famously with her. They exchanged shitty drawings, laughed at the same inane shit, and when she got him killed once she was in tears over it. Once on the meteor he hangs out with her almost exclusively, to hear it from Karkat’s POV.
- Karkat and the other trolls: Karkat and Dave do NOT get along. Kar can’t stand him because Karkat, and Dave considers him to be an obnoxious little fuck. His only notable interactions otherwise were pesterlogs with Gamzee and Tavros; he made Tavros block him, and turned Gamzee insane. It can be assumed neither would get along well with Dave, who really enjoys using his wit to turn trolls onto themselves.
End Notes: Roleplaying an AU/Non-Canon Dave
Something to really keep in mind no matter what is that canon Dave is only thirteen years old. If he’s aged up then think of yourself at 13 (or, if you’re not past 13, think of yourself at 6…? Dunno how to translate that). What were you into back then compared to now? Did anything survive from those days outside of core passions?
It’s easy to look at the things Dave likes and justify his keeping of any one of them, along with making up a whole new regiment of interests and hobbies. That being said, what he used to do is a large part of what defines him. You can’t get too far away from his core concepts and personality traits, or else you’re just RPing an OC with Dave’s lazy typing habit.
If you’re RPing a Non-Sburb Dave then consider his interactions with the trolls. Would he get along with Terezi at all if he wasn’t focused partly on saving his friends? How did SBURB color his interests/priorities? Where would 13-year-old Dave have gone if he hadn’t gotten sucked into Genesis?
It’s a lot to keep in mind, but if you can juggle the complexity of Dave’s character with your own color and influences then you’ll have a very excellent Dave.