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RPR Archive Tips/Advice Articles: Character Creation and Development

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource Archive' started by NaboosPrincess, Mar 12, 2006.

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  1. NaboosPrincess Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2001
    star 6
    Please use this thread to post information and tips on character creation and development. This is for general character creation only! For tips on creating specific characters (like Jedi, etc.) please see our other threads.
  2. NaboosPrincess Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2001
    star 6
    Here are some tips from the old "Training Grounds and Informational Thread" to start us off!
    CHARACTER CREATION/DEVELOPMENT
    • Character Creation 101: The Character Sheet

    • Character Creation 101: Personality

    • Some Suggestions for Character Development

    • How to Properly Compose and Further the Nature of an Evil or Villainous Character within a Fictious Work

    • Uber-Characters: Or Why Extremely Powerful Characters Are Bad

    Character Creation 101, by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo

    Lesson 1 - Character Sheet

    So you wish to create a good character but are not certain on how to do that? You previous characters seem bland and boring to you, as if they had been cut out of cardboard and thrown into the game. Well, hopefully my opinions and advice from my own experiance of seven years as an online Role Player will help you create that character you have been dreaming of and been wanting to show off to everyone else.

    Let us begin with one of the most important parts of a character's creation: the character sheet. You ask what is a character sheet? It is the blueprint of your character, the reference guide to help you play that character to the fullest. As you may have noticed all across the board in several games the Game Masters provide a list of things for you to fill out. This list will mainly include; Name, Age, Gender, Race, Personality, Weapons, and Bio and the most complicated ones will have more attributes for you to fill out.

    We will start out with a comparison of a simple character sheet to a complex one and as we further move along in the lesson, I will teach you the more complicated sheet.

    Example 1

    Name:
    Gender:
    Age:
    Race:
    Personality:
    Weapons:
    Bio:

    Example 2

    Name:
    Gender:
    Age:
    Species:
    Homeworld:
    Affiliation:
    Personality
    ---Traits:
    ---Likes:
    ---Dislikes:
    ---Habits:
    Appearance
    ---Skin Color:
    ---Hair Color:
    ---Eye Color:
    ---Clothing:
    ---Other Attributes:
    ---Other Details:
    Weapons:
    Starship
    ---Name:
    ---Class:
    ---Hyperdrive Class:
    ---Weapon(s):
    ---Shields:
    ---Sublight Speed:
    ---Crew:
    ---Passenger(s):
    ---Max Cargo (kg):
    ---Interior Description:
    ---Other Details:
    The Force
    ---Sensitivity:
    ---Religion:
    ---Lightsaber
    -----Crystal(s):
    -----Blade(s):
    -----Color(s):
    -----Handle Description(s):
    ---Force Abilities:
    ---Force Weakness:
    ---Other Force Object(s):
    Biography
    ---Personal History:
    ---Military History:
    ---Traumatic Experiances:

    Example one is considered the most simpliest sheet for a player to fill out and you will find these in just about every game all across the RPF, including the successful Integrated Balance of Power game. Example two is the most detailed and complex of sheets and these are uncommon to see in games, however this sheet is not just used for the game it can be for your personal use as well. For example: you have a character that you have developed in a game and like very much but the simple sheet just does not describe him very well. Example two would be used to give detail and life to your character on paper. Here is a prime example of a complex character sheet being used.

    The character sheet, no matter how complex, should not be used to create the character. The sheet is merely a guide to help remind you what the attributes of your character are. Believe me you can forget things about your character when you play, I have done it quite a few times myself. The character sheet is also a guide in what to think about when creating that character. The simple sheets will make it much harder for you if you have no clue on how to make your character.

    Does this make sense for everyone? If not, just ask what you do not understand and I will attempt to explain a little easier for you.
    Character Creation 101, by CmdrMitthrawn/>/>/>
  3. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Here's an older post, some examples of building "characters with character", details that flesh them out.

    I want to see characters with character. I want to see characters who...

    Have Hobbies or Passions
    Perhaps they whittle. Perhaps they love music, and would travel miles to hear a master play. Perhaps they would love to dance, but have two left feet, though they still try. Perhaps they collect souveniers, write memoirs, tell stories, listen to stories. What do they do because they like it?

    Have Goals
    Do they want to see a supernova? Slay a dragon? Buy a mansion? Find true love? Cross the world twice over? Live forever? Acumulate massive wealth? Write a masterpiece? Get laid? Save the universe? What are their plans beyond the storyline?

    Have Likes and Dislikes
    Maybe they love venison. Maybe they hate vegetables. Maybe they're bigots. Maybe they prefer to bathe as often as possible. Maybe they like cats, but find dogs to be mangy dirty creatures. Maybe they only eat their bread without the crust. What sort of minor, silly, human things let them know they're alive?

    Have Fears
    Maybe they don't like running water. Maybe they're afraid of giant spiders. Maybe you have to drag their unconcious body to get them on a boat. Maybe they never use fire magic. Maybe they don't like the feel of velvet. Maybe they're deathly afraid of porcelain. Maybe they don't like being hugged. Maybe they never want to be alone. Maybe they dislike thunder. Fear touches the hearts of all but a few. So what's in their's?

    Have Friends or Enemies
    Was there a special someone growing up? A friend who always was there? Was there a rival in every activity? Is there someone now who's willing to lend a hand when needed? Is there someone now who will go out of their way to inflict harm? Have they changed in time?

    Have a Family and Relations
    Love comes in many forms. So do family members. How many still live? What do they do? Maybe there are old rivalries, or maybe their are unbreakable bonds. Maybe there's a sense of disappointment, maybe they've failed the family. Maybe they send money to their family. Maybe they look for their family. And what of love? There is the love of friends, the bonds of brotherhood. There is romantic love. There is the passionate desire. How many do they love? How many love them in return?

    Have Quirks or Mannerisms
    How do they speak, what accents do they use? What sounds do they stress, what words do they like? Do they hiss, do they stammer? When do they speak politely? Do they like puns, alliteration, are they fond of hyperbole, metaphor, imagery, or any other rehtorical device? Do they twitch? Blink excessively? Stare straight? Slouch? Maybe they love to skip, jump, run, roll. Maybe they bounce, show off. Is their posture open or closed? How friendly are they with strangers?

    Have Cosmetic Details
    Maybe they have scars. Maybe birthmarks. Maybe they wear their hair a certain way. Maybe they limp. Maybe they have a large nose. Maybe they squint. Maybe their fingers are crooked. Maybe they're duck-footed, or pigeon-toed. Maybe they have beautiful flowing hair. Maybe they can't coordinate colors. Maybe they don't wear pants. What makes them stand out in a crowd?

    Have Strengths and Weaknesses
    It's more than just in the numbers. What's the most important thing in the world to them? What happens if it's taken? How far will they go? What code do they follow, how far can it be bent? What's the first solution to a problem? What are they insecure about? What's one thing they could work on? What's one thing they could teach others about? Anything secrets, grand or small?

    I don't know, maybe it's just me, but things like these always brought out characters in stories, made them more alive, in some distant corner of the cosmos.
  4. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    I have never really seen the point in having a long term goal.

    In my experience, there is no time to pursue long term goals while the game plot is going on, and even when a game doesn't close prematurely, most GMs don't keep it open at the end even to tie up loose ends.

    Nicest GM RPF winner Dubya_Scott is the rare exception to that rule.

    But in the main, very little point to the concept, as far as I can see.
  5. SephyCloneNo15 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2005
    star 5
    I disagree, Sithy. You should know from Podracer: Life in the Fast Line, specifically, how you helped my character. It was a long-term goal of his to get Pops out of harm's way, and we managed to take care of that between races pretty easily.
  6. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    I'd go even further to say that a goal of yours that you don't achieve during the RPG is just as good if not better than a long term goal you do achieve. It gives your character a sense of direction, and shows what they value. If you want to become a general or something, it might change how you interact with others, even if you never recieve a promotion in the RPG.
  7. Detonating-Rabbit Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2003
    star 5
    I agree; everyone has goals or ambitions, and if you can translate these into a character then it would give them a greater degree of depth.
  8. Winged_Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 28, 2003
    star 4
    While I certainly agree with Sith-I-5 that long term goals are rarely fulfilled in any game, I still think there is value in having them. As LightWarden notes, they give characters a sense of direction that they would not otherwise have. It certainly aids character development. Think about it this way: we all have long term ambitions, so it only makes sense for our characters to have them too, and for us to have goals for those characters. It's a natural part of character creation and development.
  9. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    Okay, I think I will have to cencede that point. :)

    I think my one of my character's constant desire to keep eating Sith may count, as it certainly something that is central to he behaviour throughout a game.
  10. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 6
    I think I remember reading on here that amnesiac characters aren't a good thing.

    Okay, so not all the time. Say, like me, you're more in-tune with the OT and PT trilogies, and know little of the NJO or Dark Nest stuff. I created a character who had been in suspended animation ever since the Battle Of Coruscant. He didn't know anything about his era, and was incredibly surprised upon meeting Luke Skywalker.

    My point is, if you're unfamiliar with stuff, amnesia is sometimes the way to go.
  11. Detonating-Rabbit Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2003
    star 5
    Amnesia's not a bad idea (maybe a slight cliche...although I can't say I've come across it too many times in the RPF), but I think it would depend if you want to overtly reference a lot of the things that have happened in both the films and the EU. I find that it's useful to have a background knowledge of the era the game is set in, sure, but it should be about the construction of a different storyline (in general) when you're roleplaying. Of course, this only aplies to some games... :p
  12. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 6
    I dunno, everything is relative.

    :p
  13. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    An interesting way of thinking about your character is to start asking hypothetical questions. They can range from things such as what your character would do in a given situation, to things like what kind of color they would be.

    One such hypothetical question I'd like to focus on is the idea of a leitmotif (or leitmotiv, either way). A leitmotif is a recurring musical theme associated with a particular person, place, or idea. Simply hearing it immediately calls to mind certain elements associated with the subject. One example of a leitmotif which I know you're all familiar with is the Imperial March. For your character, this would be his "theme song", the sort of thing they'd play if he were to walk onto the stage in an opera. What would it sound like? What elements does it contain, and why? What are the effects? It's perfectly fine if you choose an existing song that you think fits your character, since that's what most of us without serious composing skills do. If you choose an existing song, play it before or as you post, it helps you get into character, perhaps coloring your post appropriately. It also can be used to convey elements of your character to other players, offering insight and other such things.

    Just something to think about. If anyone has any examples, feel free.
  14. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    Well thanks to Lightwarden for linking me with this song, but for Mitch Nifesta in galaxy at War III, where there are lots of jedi going through trauma, that he too suffered, the Linkin Park NUMB song defintiely qualifies.
  15. Livi-Wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2002
    star 4
    My best tip for creating and playing as a character is; get perspective. Don't take yourself too seriously. I used to really get too caught up in what was going on and I lost the enjoyment of what I was doing. After all, in the end, it's only a game! (oh no, did I just spoil everything?! :p )

    So, to summarise- relax, man. Don't take it seriously.
  16. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    Harking back to a previous point, it just occurred to me. In some cases, why mention amnesia at all? Or at the least, a mention in the bio/ intro post?

    I have a several hundred year old character, who, in this century, got released from the mystical urn he got entrapped in.

    Neither he nor I know what the frag happened before the incident, or during the incident, and his Bio history to all intents and purposes starts from when he emerged.
  17. Detonating-Rabbit Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2003
    star 5
    Then surely if that is mentioned - the fact that he seems to not have a history, or that there exists some sort of lack - then it would be a given that the individual in question has amnesia (or something of a similar substitute...). [face_thinking]
  18. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    I dunno. For instance, if a family member is in a coma for several years, and remembers nothing that happened while she was in the coma, that is expected; it is only taken as amnesia when they cannot remember the stuff prior to the coma.
  19. Darth_Vaders_cousin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2004
    star 5
    The trick to creating a character is to not divulge too much of their past. Place of birth, Major accomplishments, Tramatic Events, all good and grand, but leave stuff for you to develop as you go along. I know I've come to the problem of giving too much history, and not leaving myself enough room to creat as I went.
  20. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    Shouldn't be an issue, DVC.

    Remember, the player and their character are two different things. What you put in your bio is divulged to the player, not the character, so you shouldn't think that you have stifled yourself.

    Actually, that is becoming a problem on Exiles, I feel, with new people coming in, the original characters are not passing their names onto other characters, so although we are supposed to be fighting side-by-side, we (the characters) have no idea who each other is.
  21. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    It is my experiance that if you make a C-S too long, and fill it with tons of facts about your characters past, no body will read it. I even catch myself skipping over long C-S's. I beleive there is a happy medium. It is possible to artisticly and creativly say where your character came from, and what events in his past had a profund effect on his life and personality, without writing an essay.
  22. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Comprimise. Send a full version to your GM and post a far shorter one. That's what I've been doing.
  23. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    That is a great idea L_W. A happy medium...
  24. The Great No One Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2005
    star 8
    and i think you meant profound prenn.

    agreed on the larger sheet, i made that mistake that's for sure...
  25. AngelusPlagueis Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Oct 21, 2005
    Great resources here, thanks for the help starting things off.
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