Below is a guide, especially for those new to creative RP, on how to make a compelling character that will not only provide you with exciting RP but will thrill others to RP with you. It is my hopes that this guide will help those newer to RP or are looking for tips and tricks on to how to flesh their character out. I hope you enjoy reading .
How To Create A Great Character: An RP Guide
So you want a character that you will not only enjoy playing, but others will enjoy playing around. There is a certain art to molding a character from concept to reality. Characters start with a simple idea or goal in mind. When famous writers first designed their characters, they initially placed themselves in the situation they are writing to ask themselves how they would react. It is this practice that makes a character feel real, because their actions reflect those the writer would do. The more 'real' your character feels, the more compelling they are and can become.
It is very easy to make a character that is good at everything. You can easily make a character that can climb mountains with their bare hands with no harness equipment as if they were just running up a slightly inclined hill or make ones that can fell armies by simply glaring at them. Not only is this unrealistic, but it is not fun to RP around this character, at least not for me. Sure, your character may be awesome in your eyes and have all the right answers to every situation, but that doesn't make them special. That makes them hollow and uncreative, no matter how much effort you think you put into them. A good RP world doesn't want Supermans or He-Mans. These are cliches and they should be avoided.
How to make a character feel real
Flaws: Have them!
A character is the extension of a person. It is the persona of an individual in a fictional setting. A good character has strengths that define who they are and a backstory fleshed out. Great characters have flaws, weaknesses, fears, and most of all make mistakes.
"If there is one thing the people love more than a hero, it is to see a hero fail. Fall. Die trying" - The Green Goblin, Spiderman.
Why is Spiderman more popular than Superman?
Answer:Because Spiderman is flawed.
Don't try to dig into it too much. Think inside the box on this and try not to justify anything. We all know Superman has his kryptonite that provides him with some weakness, but otherwise he is portrayed as invincible. That is the perception.
Flaws give a character a sense of vulnerability, that they are not invincible, immortal, or have all the answers. A flaw makes a character more unique, more realistic. Flaws can range from physical weaknesses to psychological ones. Hot-headed, shy, lazy, reluctant: all flaws. Blind, deaf, physically weak, sickly: also all flaws. What's your character's personality or physical flaw?
A great character can be fearless, or put on the visage that he or she is, but deep down he has them. He has a deep, dark secret somewhere, or he's afraid of something simple. We all know Indiana Jones is this great hero who dives fearlessly into archeological ruins, but he's also afraid of snakes! So give your character a fear, whether a minor one or something absurd. Be creative about it and consistent.
We don't care that your character is the descendent of Ao that's come down onto this earth to bless all mortals with your divine presence and smite the world of all evils so we can all live a peaceful and happy existence. Please for the love of fiction do not blight the fantasy genre with your abomination!
A character does not need to have an epic backstory to make them great. They don't need to be Luke Skywalkers with an epic past but a modest upbringing. I'm not saying these can't be great characters but I am saying that you don't need that type of backstory. If you look at Frodo Baggins, you realize that there is nothing special about him. He is the smallest, least experienced fighter of a fellowship of skilled combatants, yet he carries the greatest burden of them all. Despite his upbringing, he is a great character.
When writing backstories, beat back those persisting tendencies that make your character seem the center of the universe. These characters take more than they give and other players will find themselves rolling their eyes everytime your character approaches theirs. Try something subtle with an interesting twist that flung your character into where they are today. It is the present time you build on, not the backstory, that develops them into great characters. Are they the victim of losing their family to war? Are they searching the lands to find some way to remove a curse that was struck onto them? Or are they the ambitious adventurer setting out to explore the world? There are infinite possibilites, so use them!
Accept That There Will be Comparisons
Fiction has been around for centuries. Every character you come up with will have someone else similar to them, whether obscure or obvious. Accept that. Instead of stressing out that "Oh my character is just like X," do something that makes him different from X. That makes you not only striving to be original despite the comparisons, but shows your willingness to be creative. Players may sit there and think your character is like someone else's character or that they are just like a famous character, but do they know the details? What are you doing that sets that character apart from those comparisons? If you can answer that thoughtfully, then your character is NOT like Character X.
Now, this isn't saying it's okay to make a drow ranger with a panther companion and have them follow Mielikki, and wield dual scimitars. That's not only TOO obvious but there is less thought in that than what my left bicep could come up with. This isn't to say it can't be a great character, but you're not giving yourself the best start and people will likely more often than not block themselves from interacting with you because they will not be able to stop thinking that your character is "just like Drizzt".
Use Lore To Your Advantage
Forgotten Realms is a rich setting filled with backstories and pre-made settings. Not everyone can write creatively enough and to many that is a detriment. Use Lore! It's right there for the taking. In moments you could make a character from a setting anywhere within the Realms and already have rich amounts of backstory. It doesn't take a loremaster to be able to close your eyes, pick a spot on the map, and research the area your finger landed on. Use lore to help in writing your character's origin, fleshing out their goals, and connecting things along their travels.
Role Play Your Dogma
If your character is a barbarian/frenzied berserker of Eldath, you're doing it wrong. Know the dogma of your deity, especially if you are a divine spellcasting class. While a fighter of Lathandar would not necessarily get penalized for not following his deity's dogma exactly, a cleric might. Divine Spellcasters are a beast of their own as you are held to a special code. When RPing following a deity, know about the deity.
Likes, Dislikes: The Whole Nine Yards
What does your character like to eat? What is their favorite food? Favorite color? The more you know about your character, the more real they feel. Write up a list of things they like and what they don't like. The difference between a good character and a great character is not one defining detail, but a thousand little ones!
Stop Showing Off
"Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound". Don't care. Stop showing off, please. Any character can do that if they want to. Emotes are easy like that. If it is not backed up by stats, don't do. Wizards are not acrobats, so stop trying to do somersaults unless you have a good Tumble check. Even if it is, less is more. Unless your character is an absolute show off that constitutes this sort of behavior, don't do it. Even if they are, players might find themselves thinking that your character is tiring and annoying. Realism once again comes into play on this one.
Know Your Alignment
Knowing your alignment can help fill in the gaps of your character's morality. You don't always have to follow it to the exact letter, because characters, as well as people, often shift back and forth from one thing to another. However, knowing your alignment and how to play it can be very helpful. If you're a lawful good character that tends to ignore the commands of your rightful superior because you personally don't like them, that is not a lawful action. That is a chaotic action. So know your alignment and what Lawful, Chaos, Good, and Evil are. They have definitions, so know the differences.
Be Forgiving On First Impressions
They say "first impressions are everything". Sure, if you are applying for a job. It is not so much the case when doing things like roleplaying. As stated above, there will be times where people will compare your character to another, especially on first impressions. We as humans tend to generalize and categorize immediately so that we can associate one thing to another. We do so to evaluate what is in front of us so we can familarize. With that said, some players will see a drow on the surface and immediately think "Oh, look! It's Drizzt." *rolls eyes*. If they think that, they're being extermely rude and inconsiderate. Sorry guys, but that's pretty unfair to have that mentality towards another player on a first impression just because they chose a popular race. I am not meaning to sound offensive, but how can you justify yourself judging another player's character choice when you've not even RPed with them yet? You may think that your RP is "superior" to theirs because you play a human fighter, but you don't take into account of the possible thought that's placed into that drow in front of you. Stop judging on sight. Get to know the character and learn about them before deciding if their RP is not for you.
Adapt and Conquer!
Your character is supposed to learn and adapt as any intelligent being would do. They change their views, opinions, and generally at times question themseleves. Everyone does that. So should your character! Don't be afraid to have your character to grow and learn as they go. They could change their views on one thing whether for good or for worse.
Endless Personal Struggles
We all like characters who have inner conflicts, like the reluctant hero or even the brooding one. These characters carry their own weight whilst trying to support others despite whatever personally feelings or struggles they may be suffering through.
However, a character who is mentality impaired for the horrors of the world can take away from RP. This isn't referring to the new adventurer that's heading out into the world for the first time. The world, after all, is a scary place. This is referring to characters with social disorders that can never fully function well with others and tend to eat up a lot of time complaining to another character, venting frustrations, or seeking guidance counseling.
This may be In Character for you, but it can cause a lot of Out of Character stress for the affected party. Players will more often than not get frustrated and give up trying to help your character's social needs because OOCly they will be too tired to do so. This leads to a next important topic: Insanity RP.
Insanity RP - Be Very Careful
"My character is partially insane, but there is a way they can be turned around but it is very very hard and very unlikely to happen, but not to say it is impossible."
Translation: My character is insane. You can't help them, period, unless I say otherwise because I feel it's time to move on.
Be very, very careful with this type of character. Insanity RP can be fun because it gives players the oppourtunity to help a horrid mess of a character. HOWEVER keep in mind that players are more often than not unable to do so with serious cases. While you may enjoy constantly engaging in circular arguments and debate or showing absolutely no progress, egging the player on to keep trying, the player affected may not think so. More often than not they will tire because they are not psychiatrists in real life and are not OOCly equipped to deal with your kind of character. Give them hints on how to help if it's possible. Don't leave them out to dry and try to figure it out. That's when a character goes from fun to irritating and the game is all about fun. If you leave them high and dry on trying to figure out how to help lift your character free of insanity, push them through hours of pointless RP that gets seemingly nowhere, and have them constantly revert back into their insane personas, players will get tired of RPing with your character. So, be very careful on how you do Insanity RP.
It is my hope that this guide will help those new to RP create an interesting and compelling character that will bring forth great RP to those they interact with. Remember that this is a guide and not a requirement to follow. You may find yourself against some or all of the points of this guide. If so, then that is your style, so do what you feel is right for you and your character. I hope that this helps those who read learn something from it that can improve their character's development. Get creative, fall in love with your character's growth, and most importantly: have fun!
Author: DM Breaknova
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