Building a decent character

These forums contain information to help you build your character, all nicely kept in one place. This includes list of pre-made professions, talents, skills, as well as character concept, archetypes, character sheet, and tips to help you get ideas and flesh out your character's personality and lifestyle.

Building a decent character

Postby ShadowsMyst on Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:33 pm

Building a good character, is part of not looking like a total douche in an online RP. Now I realize, this isn't an easy task, so I'm going to provide some resources in this section for avoiding all too common mistakes, both specific to the RP and in general character building.

Because this RP is story driven, I'm also going to do a little info dumping on what makes a good character in a story, and why people like or hate characters.

The first thing I'm going to give a little diatribe about is MarySue-sim. Or GaryStu-ism for the boys.

Some recommended reading:
Self Insertion and Mary Sue-ism
Mary-Sue
The Universal Mary Sue test

First, lets make it clear. No one but the creator likes a Mary Sue. Why? Because they are just bad characters. They are a sign of general immaturity and also usually insecurity or inexperience (not to mention lack of creativity )on behalf of the creator. Mary Sue's are generally idealized, super versions of the creator/player, not what I would consider a true character. While characters can have aspects of our personalities, ideals, goals, or strengths, the Mary Sue is this to an extreme, and then streamlined to be the best at everything with only superficial flaws.

Players, by nature, tend to want to make characters without serious character flaws. REAL gritty problems. People don't like to dwell on their failings or on the negative, but its often the flaws that define a character, not their strengths. Its what they can't do, and how they over come it, that makes for good story telling. It creates friction, tension, and makes the character vulnerable. Its how people act in weakness that defines them. Not in strength. And the key is OVERCOMING these flaws in interesting ways, not wallowing in some eternal pool of emo self pity or self torture. Sometimes players will think that just torturing their characters will make up for them never failing, always getting out of trouble, always saving the day, and never suffering any real consequences of their character's actions. Remember that people have a ratio of success and failure, and that always succeeding OR always failing is tedious and doesn't make for an interesting story, particularly if all the character does is sulk and mope, and be all depressive 99% of the time. Its just as infuriating to have someone all perky for the same.

The other thing players like to do is build characters who can do everything. Realistically, people can do a little of this, maybe a little of that, but they are a social creature who relies on others to get things done. Some things are more likely for one gender to know for example, A girl will be more likely to know how to cook well or find a good bargain for designer clothing at the store than a guy, and a guy will be more likely to know how to fix a car or plumbing or electrical outlets than a girl. A guy will be a lot more likely than a girl to have taken any sort of combat training or do weightlifting, while a girl is far more likely to have taken gymnastics or dance and do yoga. Mary Sues can do everything. A character will likely have an area of expertise, outside of this, they will need to seek the help of other players. This is a GOOD THING because Roleplaying is a social game. It gives you strong, real reasons to seek and obtain interactions with other players. It gives you the ability to get involved in storylines without having to stretch or do anything ridiculous to get into them. When people get into college, they pick a career, that carries with them their expertise. As an example, I'm a print designer. I don't do much in the way of web. If I want web stuff done, while I am a good designer, I need to seek out a designer or programmer to fill in the skills I lack to get stuff done. Think about yourself. What are you good at, and what sort of services would you have to pay for?
A corporate character isn't going to get their hands dirty with shooting people, they are going to hire a bodyguard. A bodyguard/fighter isn't going to have the technical skills to hack a database, they are going to find a hacker, etc.

A lot of Mary Sues/Gary Stus try to dictate how people should react to the character. While this works in things like fan fiction where the author controls all the characters, it doesn't work in roleplaying. Just saying a character is nice and everyone likes them doesn't mean the NPCs or PCs that are controlled by OTHER PEOPLE, will in fact like you. You, as a player, cannot dictate how people react to your PC. If you want people to react positively, you are going to have to roleplay in such a way that particular character is going to come to like you. And it won't be instantaneous. it can take weeks to build rapport with other players. There are also just some characters that aren't going to like you. You just aren't their sort of person. If you are all perky and 'nice' in a conventional sort of way, the broody goth girl might hate you, just for being perky. If you are all broody and anti-social and loner like, people won't like you because your an anti-social loner. They won't go out of their way to help you, just on account of you being a PC.

There are some things built in the Shifters RP specifically to avoid this sort of behavior. Part of the requirement of building histories, character sheets and using (eventually) templates, helps keep everyone on the same page regarding things like education/age/history consistency with the world's lore/power levels/skills, etc. Although some do still slip in, particularly in the male, Gary-stu combat monster variety. I will list some characters here we do tend to see again and again that we don't generally like to see and generally will not become approved and the reasons why.
User avatar
ShadowsMyst
Shifters Creator & Admin
Shifters Creator & Admin
 
Posts: 472
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:38 am


Re: Building a decent character

Postby ShadowsMyst on Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:41 pm

The "Humans First" Rule:
This rule is in place to make sure that new players understand the complexity of the world and how to make a proper character before they focus on all the power and goodies that come with being a metaphysical type. There are powered humans, and humans are the most numerous race in the game. Humans can also 'become' other races, be turned as a vampire or experience their first shift. All characters begin as humans anyway. You cannot make a non human race as your first character. You need to prove you understand the human world before you will be permitted to step behind the veil. As you earn experience, you can buy templates for your character to change them.


Characters that will get shot down at the approval sage:

Loner Combat Monster
This is a character who is normally geared specifically towards violent conflict with no apparent redeeming quality aside from shooting or blowing things up. They have little to no personality, and are almost always characterized as 'loners', have at least three to four different forms of combat training and a small arsenal at their back.They will attempt to have the biggest guns (with no regard as to how they actually perform), and most of their history will usually be violent, generally be orphans with no relationships to family, friends, or anything. They will often be smart, but never appear to have taken any sort of advantage of this. These characters are often young as well, often in their late teens. They are almost never affiliated with any sort of organization, and never seemed to have suffered any sort of horrific injury (or indeed injury of any sort) from their violent pasts.

How to avoid this sort of character:
While there are more combat oriented character types, there are generally certain career paths that put people into this sort of lifestyle. Almost all of them have certain hallmarks, that should be accounted for. Many people who have proper combat training these days are usually ex military, ex militia, ex cops, or some kind of ex private military or police. This means that really hardened combat characters are probably older. In their late 20s or 30s having seen the horrors of war and combat leaves scars. They've had training. They've seen horrific things. They've suffered trauma mental and physical. Often these people are discharged due to injury. They may have some basic cyberware as replacements for missing nerve bundles, missing limbs, reconstructed faces, etc. People who fight, who live violent lives, are usually not physically in the best of shape. They get hurt. They get limbs blown off, they get shot. They get organ replacements... and it doesn't always jive. They are prone to addiction to things like painkillers because of these long term injuries. Those who aren't discharged on account of injury or mental problems often become Cops or Bounty Hunters or corporate security/bodyguards. Which also implies older characters with extensive training periods.

Young characters who fall into a violent path are usually a part of the gang culture, or if they have specialized training, might be athletes of some kind, to whom their combat art is a huge focus of their lives. BUT they also will have school and other things in real live to contend with, such as parents, friends, money issues, etc. Depending on if they are poor or rich, their concerns will vary. If they were a part of a gang, they may have a criminal record, be known to police, wanted, hunted, by the law... or the other side.

The one thing combat monsters tend to forget is that there is a whole world outside of beating things up. In fact this game has always revolved more around subterfuge, subtlety, and manipulation than outright balls-to-the-walls fighting. Most combat monsters will find their skills very ill suited to the majority of the game. People, even people who can fight have families, friends, lovers, hobbies, often non violent ones to off set their more violent life. Sometimes being in a violent profession brings people a greater appreciation for the relationships they do have and they seek and defend these relationships vigorously. Remember, if your first thought is that you will need to fight, remember combat might only consist of 5% of your active time. What would your character do with his other 95%? What else does he have to offer besides muscle? What does he or she do in their off time? Hobbies? Relationships? What flaws/history/damage does he have to overcome to function day to day? What are his demons and what is he doing to over come them? These questions need the be answered, and more as a part of your history.

Mods/GMs feel free to add your own "characters to avoid and how to fix them"
User avatar
ShadowsMyst
Shifters Creator & Admin
Shifters Creator & Admin
 
Posts: 472
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:38 am


Re: Building a decent character

Postby Lupis on Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:34 pm

This is a quick one.

Related to the Loner Combat Monster is simply the Loner (and bear in mind, what I'm saying here applies to loners of all varieties, even, and perhaps especially, Combat Monster ones). A lone figure, fighting the good fight, mysterious, perhaps even enigma-esque...yeah, it all sounds cool, and a lot of movies make good use of the Loner, but it doesn't work so well in Shifters. As has been said before, Shifters is a social game. Playing the Loner means that you're going to have to stretch increasingly far to find ways to bring your character into play with other people, and after a while it's going to strain credibility, and frankly get annoying to other players who are trying to interact with the Loner character. Loners seem to habitually be either gritty or angsty for one reason or another. After all, the reason they go it alone is because other people just slow them down/all hate them/will eventually abandon them/will just betray them someday.

This can be avoided by branching out, finding other things for your character to do. Find hobbies, interests, eccentricities, or whatever for your character. Find reasons why they would be interacting with other characters, whether it's attending school/college, having a preference for hole-in-the-wall restaurants and dive bars, enjoying fine art, shopping for Star Trek memorabilia, or what have you. Find reasons that your character would be out in public, and for god's sake make your character likable. Nobody is going to want to play with you if your character is a growling, snarling, nasty person who gives them the gimlet eye from across the bar and exudes the "don't screw with me" vibe. As cool as it may seem to be the big, intimidating guy in the big black trench coat and mirrored sunglasses, they're not going to be very approachable, and sensible characters (I.E. those without Sims-like green diamonds hovering over their heads) are going to take the hint and stay away.
Until shade is gone, until water is dust, into the shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath to spit in Sightblinder's eye on the last day.

-RIP Robert Jordan
User avatar
Lupis
Shifter Shaman
Shifter Shaman
 
Posts: 306
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 7:31 am


Re: Building a decent character

Postby Gorble on Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:01 pm

Having trouble really defining a particular type that's cropped up. So here's a poor attempt on my part...

"He's the Best!" or "I'm Perfect"
This is a character that is either skilled in everything or just the person that defines whatever field they're in. This can be annoying if he's the ultimate Jack of all Trades. These characters also tend to be severely underage to be an expert in so many fields. If a problem is set forth they immediately step forward and claim to solve it even before another character has a chance to react. This can also make them a Loner type as they don't require any other character and have no reason to ask for help. Thus player interaction is limited by people searching them out, getting aid, and then leaving. Or worse the Perfect sticks around, solving all the issues that arise and not allowing for the growth or development of others. Another issue that can arise is based on the setting. The more supernatural aspect is secretive, this is a problem when the world renowned physicist starts being seen running about the Undercity and engaging in gun battles. The more famous your character is the more difficult it is to interact with the average joe char. Similarly the perfect also tends to have no area of growth left in their main field and believes that any issue that remotely involves there field can be solved with ease and always minimal time.

This can be easily avoided simply by scaling back the character. Having strengths isn't bad, just when they're overwhelming. If you're playing a jack of all trades then as the saying goes you are the master of none. Even if you need to play an expert in a field that doesn't mean your character needs to have redefined it (Though by all means let their egos say otherwise). Also just because you're skilled at something doesn't mean the character shouldn't make mistakes or outright fail at a problem. Failures and how the character deals with them can be quite interesting and developmental in defining them both in back story and the actual rp.
"Why do angels always look like that?"
-Room mate
"God isn't very inventive."
-Me
User avatar
Gorble
Queen of Darkness
Queen of Darkness
 
Posts: 474
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:05 pm
Location: In front of my computer


Re: Building a decent character

Postby Tsureai on Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:52 pm

Wow. Blast from my past here. I was cleaning up my library and I stumbled across a listing of my characters from the last forum, along with short interview style write ups of their origins.

Crazy.
Que miras, cuando la luz se va?
User avatar
Tsureai
Daughter of the DarkStar
Daughter of the DarkStar
 
Posts: 199
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:49 am
Location: Texas Yall


Re: Building a decent character

Postby artguy50 on Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:32 pm

is there any tips how not to end up making an anit-sue?
"There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance."--Socrates

The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.--ayn rand
User avatar
artguy50
Shifter Elite
Shifter Elite
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:43 pm



Return to Character Building Resources

Who is online

Registered users: No registered users

cron