Role-Playing for Dummies
Chapter 3: Building My Character
Three word character sheets are something I've seen way too often and should be avoided. Lets learn how to make a character properly and see why it's important to put details into their development shall we?
Things to Remember
To start off there are things to remember when you create a character and you should always and yet again I say ALWAYS remind yourself of these things before, during and after you create your character.
- Make sure you decide what type of character you want to create.
- What type of personality it will have.
- Where it comes from.
- How it lived and how it lives now.
- Have a good background history to back up the way its personality is and maybe the way it dresses.
These things are what will reflect on who your character is over all and decide what kind of influence your character has on others amongst other things. They will also allow you to start off with a good base and figure out exactly how your character would react to every circumstance they encounter as long as you role-play correctly. If you take notice, everything goes in circles. Ask yourselves the following questions when you make your character.
- Why is he dressed this way?
- Why does he know those skills and not others?
- Why does he act this way and not that way?
- Why did this or that happen in his history instead of that or this?
One answers always comes back to another so make sure it holds itself together. Everything has a reason, and most things have a beginning and an end. Remember this and you'll do great. Don't just answer these questions with: "Because he likes it that way." or "Because that's how it was when he was born." Go for further than just the basics. If you need answers go get them.
Other things you should remember when you make your character.
- Make sure you will be able to play your role properly at all times. If have doubts on how well you will do with a certain concept, test play it with a friend before you jump in the game and if you don't like it, change it.
- Don't be afraid to give too much information on your character if it's only for OOC use. No player IC should know anything about your character unless it's been predetermined otherwise and consensual with all those involved or that your character has mentioned it before.
- Don't be afraid to give detail. DETAIL MY FRIENDS!! People lack it badly and that's why we end up with 3 line posts. As mentioned in the previous chapter, be careful what you describe. We don't want details about irrelevant things. If you want to describe how your dog died when you were 5, talk about it in character. No one cares to read about it for three paragraphs if their character isn't going to be aware of it and able to react.
- And lastly, make sure your character makes sense and is original! We all want an original character.
Note: Original doesn't necessarily mean tragedy. You don't need to be a victim to be original and creative.
The either/or rule
This rule has been taught to me by the one and only [Duredhel
]. It’s really simple for the ones that have some slight sense of logic. It allows you to balance things out and not make characters extremely powerful and have only pitiful weaknesses. This also relates to the fighting/god moding section covered in the last chapter Basically, it goes this way:
Either _______________ or ______________
And you fill in the blanks.
Either fire power or ice power
Either lots of armour or high speed
Either large weapons or fast attacks
Either powerful magic or high strength
Usually character sheets are pretty much all the same, demanding basic information on your character. The most common things are: age, gender, name, looks, race, history, skills, personality and other. Keep in mind that sheets do vary slightly from one role play to another.
Here's the model I usually use for basic characters.
Usually you should be able to fit one or two pages worth of descriptions and details with that sheet. Writing more than that may discourage people from wanting to read it.
A good way to fill a sheet is to start off by brainstorming and filling in each section of the sheet with the ideas you're considering using for your character. Once you have that down you can then apply the "either/or rule" to some of it and figure out where you're going from then. Once you've figured out exactly what you're going for, elaborate on each one of your final choices until you're satisfied with the final product.
I also find that after playing the same character for a few years, it's always a good idea to go back and read over the character sheet to edit it accordingly.
In terms of sheet models, there are several more complicated or simpler models you can use for your characters. I have a few examples I've managed to gather around in some role-playing games.
One in particular which is very elaborate but organized is the one used in Fantasma the following can be found at Fantasma Character: Blank Profile.
Character Sheet Examples
Equiping your character
Describing your character
Elements and Powers
Elements and powers, things we all love and want, I agree. But we can't have it all at once now, can we?
There are just a few things to remember about this yet some still seem to be unaware of them.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking super powers:
- Try to stick to one power. And if you want the powers Peter Petrelli from Heroes has, be mindful of others. People don't like playing with show-offs.
- Try to stick to one elemental power.
- Don't pick elemental powers that contradict each other.
- Don't pick too many powers. It gets boring when you play with someone that can do everything and is also considered as meta gaming.
Most role-playing games will have their own set of rules on selecting powers and how many of them you can have.
For more details on this you may want to read through What not to do with Powers.
Personalities, things seen too often and solutions on how to fix them
Some of the following content may have been said by me previously or can be said later on. That's probably because it's important no?
I've recived Captain Kiva's autorization to use her article for my tutorial. Go to Captain Kiva's Article for the complete version of it. On this page I will post the essential that I want to point out.
The following has been mainly quoted off things Mischeif Dragon has said.
Clichés - Hey, you're a monk exiled from India and the chosen one too? COOL!
Specifications on certain things people don't seem to understand even after being told over and over again.
Chosen ones: You're not the last savior of your race, people, planet, and kingdom. You are not the most powerful mage, bard, pumpkin in the universe. People too often claim to be the last and or only hope for their people. If you're original, this is fine and dandy but too many use it as an excuse to god mode instant revival from death.
Royalty: Princes, Princesses, Kings, and Queens. If I had a penny for each prince, princess or other royal type person I've seen I'd be richer than bill gates. Royalty is overdone, if we took the planet and assumed it was earth sized not smaller or larger. The amount of kingdoms that would have to exist for this many royalty would make each of them as small as New Jersey, and likely as prosperous with such small land mass and few people that would have to be there for farming food and self sufficiency.
The following has been quoted off from Captain Kiva's article.
Why do bad things happen to beautiful people?
Tragic Sue is the beautiful (I have yet to see an ugly Mary Sue, but there's always next week) woman with the hideously tragic past. You know her, you've met her. There's at least one Tragic Sue in every RPG I've ever seen.
The thing about Tragic Sue's problems is that none of them are her own fault. Tragic Sue is always the victim of her environment, be it family, classmates, an evil cult, whatever. There is always some outside group who, for no reason, are targeting Tragic Sue, and making her life very, very sad.
This is a classic escapist fantasy. For when people want to believe that something is NOT their fault. There are problems in your life which may or may not be out of your control, but exhibiting twisted visions of these problems, putting them on display for us, that's not something we want.
Having a little tragedy with your character ISN'T the problem here. We are not saying that your character shouldn't have a difficult past, or some serious problems. It's when your character is faultless. When your character is only a victim, and not an enabler, or perhaps even one of the very problem causers. None of us are faultless in real life. The sooner we accept this, the sooner I can stop seeing some Tragic Sue weeping about her tragic past in a tragic way at the drop of a TRAGIC FREAKING HAT.
Tragic pasts should be a main revolving point, if you choose to have them. You should NOT reveal them within the first five minutes of meeting someone. How boring is that? No building. It is, as one saying goes, "Without meaning, without climax, without conclusion."
Who is Angry Sue? Why, you see her everywhere you turn these days. Staring at you from web sites, fanfiction, and even popular media, Angry Sue is the beautiful, tough, no-nonsense chick who knows ten different martial arts, fires two guns at once, claims she wears the pants in the relationship, but often ends up crumbling and crying to the first bit of Manmeat that pays attention to her. Angry Sue is often just another part of Tragic Sue. She is jaded, tough, and wears her shit-kicking boots knee-high.
This doesn't sound like a problem, many of you are saying. We'll discuss this in more depth in Chapter Three, but I feel the need to point out some of the COPIOUS flaws that plague Angry Sue. Angry Sue is, often times, so obsessed with being a total badass, that it becomes outright Godmoding (discussed more with Gary Stu) and she fails to be realistic. None of us want to see ANYONE entirely capable of taking on an army by themselves. That isn't realistic at all, and usually bores us to tears.
Martha. Freaking. Stewart.
You know that girl you know who gets perfect grades, and is nice to everybody, and can sing beautifully, and has time to throw wicked-cool parties, and never has a hair out of place? You don't? Me neither.
Because she DOESN'T EXIST. Not outside of crazy freaking RPGs where she rules with an iron fist. Perfect Sue often has an angsty Stu boyfriend who she taught how to love. She is everyone's friend, and usually a princess in disguise or some crap. When the time comes, Perfect Sue might die a noble death, and then everyone can sit around weeping for their loss for a couple pages, and her sacrifice will never be forgotten or some crap.
Basically, Perfect Sue is that girl in high school who you wanted to beat the crap out of, but later you found out that she actually was addicted to cocaine and was obsessive compulsive and got knocked up by her boyfriend and dropped out of college. Only Perfect Sue doesn't do any of the bad things.
Once again: LACK OF REALISM.
That frisky Zeus!
1/4 Vampyre (bring me to life oh nooooo), 1/4 angel (might only have one wing), 1/4 elf (related to Legolas!), 1/4 demon (with photoshopped picture of Ryoko as their signature) and ALL ANGST. Her tragic parentage makes her the target of many people who don't understand her. Her tragic parentage also gives her a METRIC ASSLOAD of powers with NONE of the drawbacks of any of those races. Elvish grace, demon sturdiness, angelic beauty and holy powers, badass vampire who can go out into the sunlight?
Wow, you guys. I don't have a lot I can say about this Mary Sue that the full parentage doesn't say for itself. Let's just leave it at this: Don't play this character. In fact, try to stay away from half-breeds entirely until you are past the age of eighteen. While there's still a very high chance you might be an idiot who will play Mary Sues, there is that snowball-in-hell percentage that you will have grown out of it.
At least... I hope so.
Sex Me Up Sue
Just another facet brought to you by your local rampaging hormones.
Sex Me Up Sue is one who you rarely see alone. You usually see an Angry Sue with Sex Me Up tendencies, or a Tragic Sue. Sex Me Up Sue is just another way for me to complain about you people who don't want to RP as much as you want to hook up with someone else and have a happy wedding and four billion children after you're pregnant for about four weeks and then all the children are all grown up within another month. Jesus, what is this, ALIENS?!
Sex Me Up Sue also can't seem to resist prancing around with whatever flavor of the month she has hooked up with. (Or... two months, if you want to go with the cycle. Whatever.) She is beautiful, doesn't play by the rules, is usually strangely a virgin (no matter how many times she's been through this cycle) and is trained in the arts of LOOOOOOVE.
Wow, you guys. Just... wow.
Please stop role-playing if you play this Sue. You are beyond our help entirely, since the worst case we saw of this was played by a forty year old woman. In fact, you might want to destroy your computer and never darken the internet with your wicked presence ever again.
Character history commons and don'ts
Return to Role Playing for Dummies
On to Chapter 4. Building a free form RPG