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Old 09-09-2019, 11:10 AM
Nevynxxx Nevynxxx is offline
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Fleshing out a character

Hello! This question has two parts, the first is a bit of a ramble and I hope will spawn a fun discussion. The second is a specific bit of help with fleshing out a character for a game application on here. Skip to the fieldset at the bottom if you aren't interested in the rambley bit

Part 1 - a rambleMost of the games I've played in, I have GM'd. Most of the games I've GM'd have been pre-written modules, Paizo Adventure Path's or Organised play scenarios. Where I've been a player, and needed to create a character, I tend to keep them simple (my little brain can't handle keeping too much consistent). In most places a paragraph or two of back story that's pretty much eclipsed (I wont say ignored ) as the game starts out is all that's needed.

Now, play by posts are getting much more difficult to get into, especially here. There are lots of applications for each game, and that means a bit more detail is needed and a bit more thought. I think I also rush things.

So, the question: How do you go about fleshing out a character from a simple idea, to the multi-paragraph concepts that are usual for this board?


Part 2 - an exampleBelow is the application I have for the latest Starfinder game seeking players. It's 20 minutes of playing at work at lunchtime based on the idea that I don't often play the character that goes front and center in a fight. My problem is how do I flesh this out into something more nuanced and rounded? Help and advice much appreciated, what would you look at to change? Where would you add in detail?

Name: Matsu Soryn
Race: Korasha Lashunta
Class: Soldier
Theme: Mercenary
Age: 35
Alignment: LN
Home World: Castrovel

Description: Matsu Soryn is quite obviously male Lashunta. His short, squat frame stands at around 5ft, with his antenna adding another foot to that when fully erect. His sun-browned skin has three lines of raised markings, two flowing around his head from his cheeks. The third lines swirls up his temples and around where humans would have eye brows. Neon green markings form a geometric pattern over his bald head, mirroring the colour of his eyes and the tips of his antennae.

Armoured and strong, he carries enough weapons that it takes a minute to count them, but the most obvious is a reaction cannon, slung over one shoulder.

Matsu is quiet, determined. He is a forced to be reckoned with when riled. He pursues no goal other than perfection of his skills, and takes any work offered that will aid in that.

Background: Born and raised in Qabarat, Matsu was one of the minority of Lashunta not given the choice over his destiny. Through a mixture of telepathy and hormone secretion, his parents ensured he would end up Korasha. Unhappy that he was given no choice in this, irreversible, and highly personal decision, Matsu left his family home early and joined the military. Praised through his basic training for this determination (even for a Lashunta) and commitment to learning new skills he quickly progressed and after serving his first term has taken his leave in order to pursue a more lucrative career.
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Old 09-13-2019, 06:47 PM
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There are a lot of ways to flesh out a PC idea into an application. You can check out things like the advice here: https://www.rpgcrossing.com/forumdisplay.php?f=13680

or, this: http://www.5mwd.com/archives/455

Or, the old (and badly misnamed) 10 minute Character Creation process (which usually took me hours, and hours)... https://www.rpgcrossing.com/showthre...99#post5653899
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Old 09-14-2019, 04:52 AM
Nevynxxx Nevynxxx is offline
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Oh, cool. Thank you!
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Old 09-14-2019, 08:28 AM
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And as for more personal advice...

I like the "break the stereotype" method. Think of a common trope for your potential PC:

The confident, poetic bard. The raging Barbarian. The studious wizard. The old witch.

Then, I try to think of an opposite, or unusual, characteristic. Sometimes, it's a little too obvious or non-playable (the deaf mute TrueNamer), but often, it gives me a window into "how would this person have become that thing?"

For instance... what about a bard that is shy? Or that stutters? Or has trouble with public speaking? Or has stage fright? What would a PC be like, that had to over come those challenges? Perhaps they would focus on their instrument more. Perhaps they would have gone down the path of a warrior bard, or a trickster bard... Perhaps they would Speak well in Public, but be painfully shy in private.

Or take the witch: I did one once, and took a Ratfolk Witch, and thought about... what would that be like? An old, wizened Ratfolk, stooped over and cackling, hexing and cursing those who intruded on her little cottage.

Then, I switched up the stereotypes.. I have a very young Ratfolk witch, from a big, huge city, who is kind and gentle, and naive. She doesn't understand her powers very much, hasn't got a mean bone in her precocious body, and is everyone's sweet little sister. Not your typical witch! Building her with that trope in mind led to decisions in game that led to further development of her story, and fleshed her out more completely.


I have a shy sorcerer, who should be full of charisma, but instead, can barely look anyone in the eye, speaks in whispers, and honestly, is a bit of a coward and scaredy cat. Not your typical spell slinging, charismatic magic user. And now he reacts in game with those ideals, and although he does his bit during the adventures, it's more from a "I don't want to be here get me out of here" situation than from a "I love adventuring, and eat dragon eggs for breakfast".







You might give that a try, for some fun!
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:44 AM
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This is a great question.

I get inspiration from a few different ways, usually. Sometimes (rather rarely), I have an idea for a character archetype that I want to try out - some mechanic that I think is cool. Recently, I had the urge to play a bladesinger wizard who uses the spell sniper feat to fight from a distance with a whip. So I knew there would be magical powers with an aggressive, martial bent, and worked from there. That was for a pretty RP-light campaign, so I knew I didn't have to belabor it too much.

Other times, I'll get inspiration from the setting, theme, or plot. I discovered Eberron from a game ad, and I went and read a few of the books and knew I had to play a hobgoblin from Dhakaan. Then I used a little Google-fu and found a great blog by one of the creators of Eberron who had done a huge post on goblin/hobgoblin language and culture, and I wound up getting great conceptual ammo from that. I had a similar experience recently when I discovered Tal'dorei, and when I read a bit about the world a story just coalesced in my mind.

If I feel like I'm struggling for an idea, I'll look at pictures first. Pinterest is full of awesome character sketches, and if I see an image that I love, I'll often get some insights into the character.

And that leads me to my last suggestion - don't rush. I try to let ideas percolate in my mind for at least a couple of days before I put anything in writing. Often, the initial idea falls apart in some way, but the core of it or some tangent really opens up and turns into something cool.

I hope some of that is helpful.
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Old 10-11-2019, 02:20 PM
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I like to build from the inside out. I'll start with a few things that I think will be important to the character - honor, loyalty, a code of behavior, etc. Just 5 to seven values that will be important, then I decide what the character's ambitions are - things that they would like to accomplish in general terms (specifics come once the campaign is more defined). On top of that comes backstory, career and game mechanics.
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