Posted: Dec 2 2016, 09:27 AM
Basic Character Creation & Development
By ryokomon of the RPG-Directory.
Name: Name can be a pretty important part of your character; it may even lend a hand making their personality (a guy with a really feminine name might’ve had a hard time growing up and begin bitter, for example, or he might be known by a nickname instead). You need to make sure that it fits with the setting, too. A character in a high school role play is not going to be called Xagroth the Destroyer, nor is a character in a medieval fantasy likely to be walking around with the name Ryan Smith or IG-108. If you can’t think of a good name on your own, try checking out a name generator or baby name sites.
Age: Age should also be relevant to the setting and also your character’s personality, though we’ll be deciding on that later. If you’re trying to create a character to fulfil a certain role for example, like a knight, the character wouldn’t be a 10 year old kid or a 90 year old. If the plot says that all of the children in the role play were killed in some way, you shouldn’t rp one then either unless you’ve clarified it with the role play’s creator. Age too can lend a hand to personality – a kid would be a lot more naive than a teenager, who might be more hot headed and reckless than an experienced adult.
Gender: Again, make sure gender is fitting of the setting and the role you want to fill and be mindful of the effects it may have on your character’s personality and background. If you’re role playing in an Amazon tribe, you wouldn’t be playing a guy, for example. This is pretty self explanatory though.
Got that out of the way? Great. Now we can move on to...
Getting that basic idea can be done in a number of different ways. You might just think of a few words or titles that would work well, for example:
Now that you’ve got that title, you can do the same as I just did and make a short sentence or a couple of sentences about them.
With that short personality under our belts, we can start to think about what might be an appropriate (or even appropriately inappropriate) physical appearance for them. We only need bits and bobs here, nothing fancy or detailed. You might decide that your ‘reckless rapscallion’ is a fairly tall, robust guy with scruffy brown hair and near constant 5 o’clock shadow. The scruffiness and stubble fits the initial idea, so it’s not a bad choice. Getting a brief idea of build and height, hair, initial looks (e.g. youthful, impish, handsome, fugly) is the best way to start yourself off on your appearance.
By now we should have a name, age, gender and the bare bones of a personality and physical appearance. Next we can work on fleshing out that personality a little more so that we can then work on our background. Some people prefer to do it the other way around, but hey, this is the way I’m used to so I’m sorry!
Here are some examples of things that could go in each list – some of them even apply to both.
Once we’ve figured this out, we can move onto the ‘whys’ and the character’s background and past.
The simple background formula I use is:
Life before/at conception (Were they planned? Rape? Happy families?)
Life at birth/as a baby. (How were they treated? What were their parents like? Any other siblings?)
Childhood. (Were they bullied? How were they raised? Were they in any accidents? Did they learn any important lessons?)
Teenage Years. (Similar to childhood. Did they have a first love? Were they enlisted into the army with or without their own choice?)
And so on depending on how old your character is. Significant events and insignificant events are both good in a background, though the ones significant to the character are likely to affect their personalities a lot. The things we do in our lives, even out own simple rl lives, can contribute to how we are now. Here are a few simple real life examples of just how much our own backgrounds can affect us:
Why is your character arrogant? He might’ve had a lot of praise from parents or succeed at almost everything he does.
Why does your character always do as he’s told? He might’ve been brought up under a strict household or served in the military.
Why is your character unnecessarily forgiving? Perhaps they themselves were forgiven for something terrible they’d done and feel they owe it to the world.
Why is your character so unpredictable and violent? He might’ve been brought up around fighting or even been raised that way.
These are all only examples, but you get the idea. More often than not, it’s the characters who’re angsty for the sake of it or the character who hates talking to people for no reason other than ‘because he doesn’t like people’ who are very uninteresting and underdeveloped characters. Everything has a reason, especially things like emotional problems (e.g. angst or seething hatreds). Not coming up with a reason for those emotional problems is practically branding you and your character as a classic attention-seeking emo kid.
One thing you should obviously be aware of when constructing a background is making it plausible. Role players who try too hard to make their character’s histories (and even appearances and personalities) unique, whether this is by making them a blood thirsty psychopath who burnt down an orphanage or by saying that they don’t trust people because they were sexually abused by their parents and brother and sister and aunt and uncle and boyfriend, will often lose all credibility in role plays. Things need to be believable, not so outrageous and whacked out that people think ‘... riiiight’ when they read it, but that doesn’t mean that you have to have a plain old boring background either. Find a happy medium!
I’m not saying that characters can’t be beautiful of course, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there is more to every single person than the way they look.
Anywho, we already have the basic idea of what we want our character to look like, but it’s time to begin fleshing it out similarly to how we did the personality and background. Head-to-toe descriptions aren’t the best way to write them, but it’s easier for a beginner or just for the ideas to analyse a character’s looks that way.
Head (What’s their hair like? Eyes? Face?)
Torso (Do they have broad shoulders? Deep chest? Big boobs? Are they really slim/chunky/fat?)
Waist (Wide hips?)
Legs (Long legs? Thick, powerful legs? Thin legs?)
There’s obviously more to it than what I wrote there in brackets, but you get the idea.
A very important thing to realise when thinking about your character’s appearance is that there is a lot more to the way someone looks than just their hair colour and all of those things. We can learn a lot from just studying a person’s outward appearance, for example:
Some things to consider are:
Posted: Dec 2 2016, 09:29 AM
5 Flawed Flaws: A Top Five Guide from an Overlord
Five poor flaws that commonly are used on applications
By Fate Overlord of the RPG-Directory
You’ve all seen the section before, maybe you’ve even dreaded it: Flaws. Seriously, you just got done writing up this magnificent specimen of a character, and now people expect you to tell them what’s wrong with him/her? Were they not paying attention? Did they not see the spectacle of magnificence outlined before them?
Well, in all honesty, these lists help admins, staff, and others recognize, at a glance, how balanced your character is. Because it’s really not that fun to have a bunch of little godlings running around. And really, flawed characters are just more fun to play. However, writing flaws can sometimes be a problem. Here are nine common flaws that appear on applications, mostly ones I’ve seen, that really are, well, flawed. They’re either not really flaws, unusable, or show up so often that it doesn’t matter.
1. The Min-Max Flaw
But Fate, that’s not a real flaw! You’re right, I’m overgeneralizing a little to make it easier for us. But flaws that are “min-max” flaws are the types of flaws we expect to see hap-hazardly thrown on characters. These flaws are the types of things that will never show up in an actual game, and therefore have no real meaning or detriment to your character.
This could be “bad at physical combat” for a character that will most likely never fight. Or “deathly afraid of flying Big Boys”, which a friend of mine once selected in order to fill up this position. The main idea here is that the flaw has to be detrimental to your character in this game.
2. “Too Trusting”
I hate to break it to you, but this is overdone and one of the first signs of a Sue character. “Too trusting” is very rarely ever played out in a way that actually hurts the character, and when it is, it often leads to “damsel in the distress” or “poor me” moments, neither of which are appealing to read. If you stop and think about it, you’ll be hard pressed to come up with a literary character that has this flaw. That’s because, and here’s a shocker: It’s not interesting.
3. “Too smart/pretty/strong/witty”
First, you’re probably not, despite what you might think. Second, this is another one of those Sue indicators. And third, very, very rarely does this actually wind up being a flaw for your character. It’s just not likely that your character being too strong is going to hurt him/her so horribly bad sometime in the near future. Unless they have a loved one made entirely of breakable glass. That, I’d like to see.
4. Obscurus Weakpointus
This goes hand in hand with the “never going to see in the RP” one.
Remember Superman? Remember how he’s pretty well only unique to this special green rock that comes only from his destroyed alien homeworld? While it makes for interesting ways of the writers actually getting a hold of enough Kryptonite, it also makes for nearly ridiculous situations, not to mention ones that, again, aren’t likely to happen.
So your animagus character with the secret allergy to garlic shaped like Abraham Lincoln… or that killer robot with a weakpoint behind his left ear…
5. Most of the Time This One Thing, but Sometimes Something else
Your character is either mean or nice. They are not “mean some times, but if you trust them or get to know them, blah, blah.” If your character is mean, but you want them to be able to open up, just say that they’re mean. We don’t need qualifying statements. We get that your character can change, or act differently around a specific person. It’s called development (or bad writing, but we’re assuming the good thing here).
As you can plainly see here, there is a running theme: flaws have to hurt your character. It has to be something that a person can easily turn against you, or something that would genuinely hurt your character in the setting you’re playing in. So stop and consider those flaws that you’re coming up with, that you’re writing down. Are they really things that are affecting your character in a negative way? Or are they just things that make your character seem more awesome? Bite the bullet, give your character some respectable flaws, and you’ll end up thanking yourself in the end.
Posted: Dec 2 2016, 09:29 AM
A rounded character has weaknesses/ flaws too. It makes good sense if the character’s dominant flaw is an extension of, or corollary to, his or her dominant strength. It makes it all the more believable.
Strength: Courage Corresponding flaw: He/she can be foolhardy.
Strength: Decisive Corresponding flaw: Often acts without thinking.
Strength: Warm heart Corresponding flaw: Can be manipulated.
Strength: Open and trusting. Corresponding flaw - trusts the wrong people.
Useful Internet resources for character development
- Strenghts and weaknesses
- List of character traits
- Character's personality
- Character types
- Flaws list