- DM RabidBadger
- Posts: 1225
- Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:45 pm
Everyday we're exposed to many different types of people, and in each of these people rests a fragment that could possibly provide interesting material for a new character. Observe the interactions of people- either verbal conversations or body language- and interpret that to your character. When does someone smile? Laugh? Get angry or scared? Many of these reactions you can apply to many characters- of course depending upon the personality of the reference person, of course.
While it may be fun to have a "perfect" character- they quickly grow old and become a general nuisance. Real people have flaws, and should our creations. No one is going to be completely fearless. Perhaps the tough, stone-faced fighter has a fear of heights or spiders. Or the evil scheming mage is extremely uncomfortable around priests of a certain deity.
These quirks are what make us different from each other, propelling us from cookie cutter molds. However, they must be believable and have a basis. The more silly a character flaw or quirk becomes, the more we lose a sense of the true meaning behind the character and lose focus on the roleplay.
Why, for instance, would a lich have a weakness for kittens? Maybe as a child his pet cat was his only companion. While far-fetched, it effectively provides interest to the character, and makes him different from any other lich we might come across.
Character flaws and quirks are essentially what set our characters, and ourselves, apart from each other and thus, are extremely important when fabricating a personality. These features are the essential different between "flat" 2-D characters, and "dynamic" 3-D ones.
Also, while our own personal feelings might guide the motivations of our characters, it is definitely important to remember that it is much better for you to become your character than your character to become you!
Allow the character to REACT!
Nearly every situation a character becomes involved in will effect him or her in some way, either almost insignificantly, or in a life changing way. Seeing another human killed for the first time might fill the character with a since of loss, or elation, depending on the personality once more.
Emotes are important. Never underestimate them. A character can reveal much about themselves through their emotes based on reactions to a particular scene or story. Even silent characters produce common signals via body language that tells us how they feel. Do they look away? Do they raise their eyebrows and look surprised? Do they grin maliciously?
Now would be a good time to introduce the use of adjectives. A particular part of speech that many of us fail to utilize effectively, leading to a certain stale feeling concerning emotes. An adjective is any word that further modifies a noun by describing, limiting, specifying, or distinguishing it from others.
The emote *smiles* or *grins* is often overused and grows old quickly. I think we can all agree on that fact. Throwing a simple word in front, or behind, it helps to describe the smile better, and further illustrate your characters chosen personality more effectively.
*Smiles broadly* gives us the sense that your character is extremely happy with the situation. *Offers a grim smile* produces a feeling of empathy. Simple words, big results. The use of adjectives is a wonderful thing, and a great tool in developing your character and showing off your proud creation to others!
Where does your character come from? Why does he or she worship this particular deity? How did they come to where they are now? How old are they? What languages do they speak? What did their parents do? Do they have any siblings? What is their sexual experience and orientation? Do they have an accent? Why are they their chosen class?
The questions are endless, and yet, each influences your character in some way or another. While it isn't necessary to have a fully fleshed out twenty-page short story for a background, it does help to answer a few basic questions and have a general idea when you start playing. Besides, if you don't know your character, how can you know what they'll do?
Consistency. Complexity. Change.
It is fairly simple being consistent with our characters, both physically and psychologically. Personalities, accents, height, weight and other static details do not change overnight. The details simply remain the same over extended periods of time, but they may possibly change.
Our characters are constantly changing through their deeds and interactions with others. Ironically, this contradicts the above paragraph. The changes you make to your character must also be consistent! If murdering a goblin one day does not effect him or her, two weeks from now it shouldn't either! In other words. Your character cannot do what they would not do, just as they cannot undergo changes they could not make. Think of it as a cause and effect relationship- though the causes must be believable to get the desired effect! Staying away from farfetched ideas will generally invalidate this.
Again, I shall touch on complexity of characters. While we all might fit certain types- many of us are not stereotypes. Flaws and quirks, as mentioned, are the key ways to introduce depth to your character. A perfect character is boring and has no where to go, no reasonable goals- nothing. Everything is going for him. He cannot grow. These complexities can also generate fun subplots with your character and others! Be creative and have fun with them, in a reasonable fashion.
Goals: Providing Something for your Character to Stand for.
What is meaningful to your character? Religion? Politics? Romance? Death? Nature?
What does your character want to accomplish in the next "tenday?" In the next month? Year? Their life goal?
Each and every character has a passion- something that they are willing to stand up and argue about. Perhaps these passions result from their quirks. These passions and goals can be used to interact with others and generate more subplots or "quests" between other players, not to mention the fact that they help provide depth to your character.
A Note on Names.
While it may be fun to have symbolic names, be sure that you don't over do it. If they become too artsy, too cutesy, or too meaningful your character begins to become less of an individual. Besides, how a name sounds is much more important to most people.
Be careful using words from another language. Any player base is going to have a wide variety of languages represented, so you need to be weary of choosing such a name.
Also, try and abbreviate extremely long names (especially Elven ones). They tend to look nothing more than a jumble of letters and are extremely difficult to pronounce, much less read and type. And chances are you shall never use the full name on a regular basis.
When choosing a name, also remember that many players tend to abbreviate names of even moderate length. It's generally a good idea to stick to the three/four letter rule. In other words, chances are you're going to be called by just the first few letters of your name, so make sure you like those best!
Concerning the Forgotten Realms Setting.
Most importantly, if you're not sure about something and want it clarified- don't be afraid to ask someone! Faerun and the Forgotten Realms have very few extremely strict rules, but there are some. References to these can be found in many places about the forums.
It is extremely important that ALL divine casters pick a patron deity. This includes clerics (whose domains and alignments MUST match those of the deity), paladins, rangers and druids. This needs to be decided on when you're making the character- not later!
A physical description applied during character creation is a wonderful tool and for many, might be the "first impression" of your character. Be sure to utilize this, even if it is in a simple format of:
This helps provide some in character information about the subject that would be obvious to us if we were real people.
The description does not need to include a background. Use the forums for that if at all possible. This is out of character information anyways, whereas the physical description should be completely in character.
The phrase "RP for info." should not go into a description. The same goes for fifteen pages of spaces and/or random symbols. Just don't do it. Use this space for what it is for. Either leave it blank or type up a brief one. Such physical information is not readily available to everyone unless you constantly emote that your "kind, blue eyes search the distance with much concern, wisps of her black hair blowing across her frail features," or something extremely complex to that effect.
- Slaanesh the Wicked
- Posts: 24
- Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:27 pm
First and foremost, everyone needs to have a certain attitude. I'm sure no one wants to play a golem, right? Well, the best way to shape your character's attitude is to ponder first... what sort of attitude do you want? Maniacal? Jokester? Depressed? The best way to shape this is by writing down your character's history. Everyone has 'events' in their lives that shaped them, beyond parental upbringings and cultural/religous influence. For example: A man has a typically sore attitude because his faith in people was shattered when he was younger. Now what was that event? The joy is you get to decide (so long as it's not ridiculous) like... an evil noble got away with committing heinous crimes he was obviously guilty of solely due to his statues and wealth. Or things even turned more rancid in life when his wife left him for some flashy adventurer who left her penniless in a nearby port a couple days later. Would this not be good threading for that sore, morose attitude? Nothing is black in white, not even in dnd. People aren't simple sheep you can copy and paste... which is important to remember when making your character (looking at you drow!).
Another thing you need to -seriously- consider is this. We're all playing adventurer classes, right? What got your character into this class (even something as simple as fighter) and why did they decide to leave home in the fashion they did? I see an ungodly amount of clerics who don't even roleplay their class appropriately simply because they do not fully understand the class they took (not giving any names). An example would be that cleric who's never trying to convert people *tsk tsk!*. Ask yourself if this is really a class that'll meld well with your character's attitude and background. Does a wizard from Icewind Dale make as much sense as, say, a sorcerer? Do your homework on your character's birthplace (even if it's Baldur's Gate) as it will give you a much better idea on how to properly rp cultural influence on your character (even if they resented it, that will still have an effect as to who they are).
Another important thing to consider; and there's no rule for this but I'll give you Khorne Flakes if you do this; how your character's stats have been moulded through their life. I know there's no rule to enforce this, for obvious reasons, but really consider it. Was your character poorly educated? Well educated? Middle Classed? What education was available to this person? Did your character pay attention in class or just go skirt chasing instead? Did your character have a wise teacher who tried to open your mind, or just some guy on a crap salary? Was your character's family wise enough to shed some wisdom on their husks? The COMMONER stats are all 10. Even if you have 11 int (which gives no bonus) it means you're a step above said commoners in the field... though you're no Einstein. Or perhaps education was everything to your character? 16 int will put a number of scholars to shame. 14 int? Hello scholar! Thirteen? You get the idea. In the end it's all about deciding how this and that affected your character's life. Perhaps he/she grew up in a stinking rat hole where diseases were so rampant, their bodies actually grew accustomed to it and the pain it brought? Fifteen to 16 on that one I say, though that's just another example. Even strength is all a matter of how their time was spent and what they did to improve themselves. Also consider negative stats like 9 or 8 charisma. Morose person, or did they just never spend much time socializing with others? 8 dex? Did they suffer an injury when they were young making it difficult for them to walk? You get the idea. Bottom line; consider how you can represent your flaws -and- strengths ic, and how you can best thread the fluff behind them.
Lastly alignment. Let's be honest; kids aren't born bad... they're made. Was the environment/upbringing of an abused child really one for a goodie goodie to go off of? Or is it more likely they'll be neutral or even evil from it? How about bullies; how'd your character handle them? Reason; flee; or beat the living f*ck out of them? What about the law? Did their parents set them straight; or was punishment non-existent? Did they even encourage it, perhaps? What about faith... assuming they have one. Did any religous influence make a difference? Again, all things that are entirely up to the player to decide. It really helps to do your homework on the lore of lands, assuming you're playing a foreign character. But ultimately, it all bubbles down to the history you provide (yes, you, the player!) on how your character turns out.
But remember, whatever comes after character creation isn't a solid stone to live by. It is simply your character's story being told again... written by new events and turns in their lives. That is to say... people change. Perhaps not form paladin to blackguard, but something simpler like a rowdy young lad to mellow middle aged sod who's seen his share. Consider character development; how would you like to go about it? Is your character still going to satiate his or her wanderlust; or has the life of adventure taken its toll and now he/she wishes to settle down and plant their roots? A simple example.
I hope these tips help players as they've done wonders for me during character creation. Remember, "Don't pick it you'll only make it worse!"
Btw radger, sorry for stealing some of your advice Just had to reword some of it.