RPG Crossing Home Forums Create An Account! Site Rules & Help

RPG Crossing
twitter google facebook

Notices

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 07-07-2013, 12:51 AM
roninkelt's Avatar
roninkelt roninkelt is offline
Artist & Warrior
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 06-17-2019
RPXP: 4474
roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt
Posts: 2,917
Building Better Characters

For any game system I usually start with the Three P's - Physical, Persona and Purpose. Each of these are broken down into a couple of further areas. Physical is the easiest of the three, it's the stuff that other characters can see without having to talk. I usually include a character's name in this category, but it's mostly the appearance and traits of a character and what can be inferred from them. By traits I mean anything distinctive such as being particularly beautiful, large scar, limp, permanent sneer or other one to two word descriptors that one would be likely to notice about someone right away. Sometimes this also includes any peculiarities of dialog that I intend to carry out such as a speech defect or accent.

Next would be Persona and this is comprised of Backstory, Personality, Affectations and Worldview. Backstory is exactly what you would think - the events that made the character into who he is today. For starting characters I usually keep it to a couple of paragraphs and try to work in as many hooks to the rest of the campaign and characters as I can manage. Make a list of potential hooks on the side so you have some suggestions for the GM. Oftentimes, I'll put these in secret text for the GM right in my app. It makes things easier for them to know where you are coming from and what your interests are for this character. Personality I'll usually leave til the last thing since it's a result of all the other aspects of character, but when I do write it I keep in mind that the character has to be fun to play and interact with. Affectations are strong personality traits that will be immediately obvious to someone who interacts with the character. These are again one or two word descriptors like gruff, sleazy, smooth talker, etc. Worldview is one or two sentences about how the character looks at the world - a code of honor, cynical viewpoint, naivete or other lens thru which the character will interact with others.

Third and potentially most important is Purpose. Why the character would be involved and keep at it despite difficult and dangerous circumstances. Typically this is broken down into Goals, Motivations, Inner Demons, Conflicts and Character Arcs. Goals are fairly self evident - what does the character want to accomplish. I usually try to have at least one short, medium and long term goal. Motivations are why they want to accomplish those goals. Inner Demons and Conflicts are what is holding the character back from accomplishing the goals above, why they can't just walk out and get it done. These are the things that make us do the self destructive idiotic actions that you see every day in the world around you.Character arcs are the ways you see your character changing and growing over time. Once again, having more than one of these is a good thing. Think in terms of short medium and long time frame.

There is nothing that says that the various aspects of purpose and personality have to be congruent with each other, in fact reconciling the conflicts inherent in your writeup can be some of the most fun roleplay that you will have and can be quite entertaining to everyone involved.

I also have a few rules that I keep in mind when making a character for an rpg -
Rule 1: The character must work in a group
Rule 2: The character must be fun for the player and the rest of the party

Rule 3: The character must be trustworthy in the eyes of the other characters

Rule 4: The character must have a reason to get involved

Rule 5: The character must fit the campaign style

Rule 6: You must be able to actually play the character

Finally, think of building a character as if it were an iceberg - most everyone you play with will only see a small portion of the work you've put into it. However, the result will be a fully fleshed character that stands up and stands out on it's own merits.

So that is my approach to building a character. You will notice that nowhere in there did I mention anything about mechanics. Game mechanics will flow naturally if you allow the character to emerge first. Also keep in mind that this is an interactive process between the GM and Player - be willing to bend to the GM's requests so as to better fit into the events they have in mind. The GM also has to be willing to bend the story they intend to fit the characters they select.

(this was moved to a thread of it's own rather than in the character where I originally wrote it since it's generally applicable rather than character specific.)
__________________
Be a Community Supporter | Build Better Characters | Nominate a Post of the Month

Every time I close the door on reality, it comes in through the windows.
  #2  
Old 07-07-2013, 01:10 AM
Statutory Plum's Avatar
Statutory Plum Statutory Plum is offline
Why not Zoidberg?
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 08-06-2013
RPXP: 1384
Statutory Plum Statutory Plum Statutory Plum Statutory Plum Statutory Plum Statutory Plum Statutory Plum Statutory Plum Statutory Plum Statutory Plum
Posts: 1,963
It is fantastic, Thanks Ronin!
__________________
I took an impromptu vacation from technology the last few days. I am back, refreshed, and ready to get caught up. I may be delayed but I am still around.

Thank you so much for your support and patience everyone!!!
  #3  
Old 07-08-2013, 11:44 PM
Digorig's Avatar
Digorig Digorig is online now
Killing PC's Since 2005
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 06-20-2019
RPXP: 27653
Digorig Digorig Digorig Digorig Digorig Digorig Digorig Digorig Digorig Digorig Digorig
Posts: 23,760
AC: can this also get a sticky?
__________________
New Here? Try a New Player Solo Game Systems available are 3.5e, PF, 4e, 5e & 13th age.
Will you swear it? Take the Oath Here.
  #4  
Old 07-09-2013, 02:30 PM
Aeternis's Avatar
Aeternis Aeternis is offline
Ancient Azure Anathema
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 10-18-2018
RPXP: 22689
Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis
Posts: 10,488
If I may try to expand on some of those excellent points that roninkelt made.
Quote:
Originally Posted by roninkelt View Post
I also have a few rules that I keep in mind when making a character for an rpg -
Rule 1: The character must work in a group
Rule 2: The character must be fun for the player and the rest of the party

Rule 3: The character must be trustworthy in the eyes of the other characters

Rule 4: The character must have a reason to get involved

Rule 5: The character must fit the campaign style

Rule 6: You must be able to actually play the character
  • If you are making a character for a solo or competitive game, you don't need rule #1, but otherwise you do want it. Mind you that doesn't mean they all have to be team players - but they need to be capable of being motivated to work with others. For some games it's okay to have a character who doesn't like his compatriots one bit, but who feels their best interests are to continue with them for the moment. This is where rule 4 comes in. Rule 4, by the way, is one that I've screwed up several times in the past.
  • I would say that in some cases rule 3 is not a requirement, but venture here with caution. People expect the mercenary-minded rogue to lie to them once in a while, for example. Certainly in sandbox games I'd feel free to play characters who are not reliable, but only as rogues, bards, or something like that. I certainly wouldn't try to play a bruiser barbarian who was unpredictable or disloyal, because it would be difficult to rein in that character for the others, and if it did come to blows I'd worry about killing the other PCs rather than just getting smacked around a bit. In some games, interpersonal issues are exactly what the DM wants. Other times, not so much. In this, you should follow roninkelt's rule 5 (to say nothing of rule 6) to determine whether playing a liar or a cheat is worth a try.
  • I would humbly suggest two more rules of thumb for players.
    • Proposed Rule A: The character must be imperfect. Everyone has personality flaws of some sort.
    • Proposed Rule B: The character must be sufficiently divorced from my ego that I wouldn't take offense if the DM humiliated or killed them.
__________________
Adjusting to relocation and new job. I appreciate your patience.
--[ A Guide to Applications ]--
  #5  
Old 07-09-2013, 03:10 PM
roninkelt's Avatar
roninkelt roninkelt is offline
Artist & Warrior
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 06-17-2019
RPXP: 4474
roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt
Posts: 2,917
Re: rule 2 - I think perhaps trustworthy may have been the wrong word to use, but I wanted something succinct rather than the wordy "Someone you can count on to help pull your bacon out of the fire when the chips are down."

In a game that I currently play, there is another PC who is perfectly trustworthy for most everyday things, but refuses to commit when the chips are down and it's caused us some significant problems and at least one near TPK. I find it to be intolerable and don't count on him as an asset when doing tactical planning and assessment. IMO were there not ooc reasons to keep this character around he would have been banished long ago.

In that sense, rule three would be the last one I'd dispense with for a cooperative game.

I absolutely love your rule B, many of us players forget about that when things become difficult in game and it feels as if the GM is picking on us.
__________________
Be a Community Supporter | Build Better Characters | Nominate a Post of the Month

Every time I close the door on reality, it comes in through the windows.
  #6  
Old 07-09-2013, 03:19 PM
Aeternis's Avatar
Aeternis Aeternis is offline
Ancient Azure Anathema
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 10-18-2018
RPXP: 22689
Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis
Posts: 10,488
Quote:
Originally Posted by roninkelt View Post
Re: rule 2 - I think perhaps trustworthy may have been the wrong word to use, but I wanted something succinct rather than the wordy "Someone you can count on to help pull your bacon out of the fire when the chips are down."
That's rule 3, isn't it? But no, I would never do it for someone we'd need to rely on in a fight. If the social rogue or the bard don't commit in a knock-down drag-out, it probably won't be the end of the world. That's generally the situation in which I'd feel okay doing that. And then, only if there are other situations where the character proves very valuable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roninkelt View Post
I absolutely love your rule B, many of us players forget about that when things become difficult in game and it feels as if the GM is picking on us.
It's one commonly overlooked, sadly. I learned this one pretty early, both by screwing it up (one of my first characters was almost immediately dropped in sewage and I came really close to raging over it) and by bad examples of others.
__________________
Adjusting to relocation and new job. I appreciate your patience.
--[ A Guide to Applications ]--
  #7  
Old 07-09-2013, 04:36 PM
SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom is offline
Pretty cool Wyrm
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 05-21-2017
RPXP: 9876
SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom SpatulaOdoom
Posts: 8,900
untrustworthyAn Example of a trustworthy “untrustworthy” character that I often play is Nomad the spy. A masked harlequin master of disguise and semi-mythical figure. He freely admits he lies almost as often as he breaths and is a ruthless bastard. He'll manipulate, infiltrate, cut deals, and cut throats all without a second thought. His very existence is a lie because it's actually an assumed identity rather than a single person who's somehow survived for hundreds and hundreds of years.
What makes him trustworthy is that he'll always work in the best interest of country-X. As long as someone is a benefit to country-X they can feel assured that he will not work against their interests. If they're part of a team/party/whatever he'll be even more reliable. Because if he needs to work with them then he needs them to trust him and to be able to trust them to a degree. Even an evil character can be a team player if he understands that it's efficient and increases overall chances of success if everyone in the team can more or less trust each other.

Of course there's always going to be the vague suspicion that he's playing his own game, but that can be survivable/managed if you the player let everyone in on the whole thing. It's part of the whole player versus character thing. You can have character versus character conflicts without player versus player conflicts. The first can be fun, especially if it's intentional, the latter is never fun.

One good way to be able to get away with playing an untrustworthy character is to play it for comedy rather than being a d#ck about it. If you're being fun, actually fun, and not pissing anyone off you're far more likely to get away with it. This is the loveable rogue done properly.
Joke about impersonating the ailing king in order to receive the attention of the cute cleric. Make repeated comments about sponge baths.
Convince the court wizard's cat familiar to influence his master for you by bribing it with magical catnip and arranging a date with that cute persian familiar at the chymist's shop.
Rub your hands together and giggle and mutter about manipulation at odd times. When the knight decides to buy a new warhorse laugh and say “Yes, dance my puppet DANCE,” then refuse to explain or acknowledge you ever said that.
Two words: Blatant lies. “Cmon guys, if you don't help me frame the duke how are we going to save Christmas? Think of all those cold starving orphans just hoping to see Santa's sleigh. Now teleport in and plant that dagger, or they won't get a single present and you'll all be horrible monsters.”
More Blatant lies: After being found broken and bleeding lying in the castle moat after being caught sneaking in, stabbed, and pushed off the gatehouse roof by a particularly eagle eyed guard mutter something along the lines of “Yes, it's all coming together. Soon my plan will come to fruition. Oh hey guys, didn't see you there. Be a chum and push my liver back in? The rats are nibbling at it.”
A note on that last one: Be willing to be the butt of a joke or two. Insisting your character is always awesome all the time and everyone else sucks falls back to the whole “don't be a d#ck” thing mentioned earlier.
__________________
Illness abating. Now back to thanking great GM's like Birched and Makenshi.

Last edited by SpatulaOdoom; 07-09-2013 at 04:36 PM.
  #8  
Old 07-09-2013, 04:52 PM
Aeternis's Avatar
Aeternis Aeternis is offline
Ancient Azure Anathema
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 10-18-2018
RPXP: 22689
Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis
Posts: 10,488
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpatulaOdoom View Post
One good way to be able to get away with playing an untrustworthy character is to play it for comedy rather than being a d#ck about it. If you're being fun, actually fun, and not pissing anyone off you're far more likely to get away with it. This is the loveable rogue done properly.

...

Be willing to be the butt of a joke or two. Insisting your character is always awesome all the time and everyone else sucks falls back to the whole “don't be a d#ck” thing mentioned earlier.
Yep. It's almost like my advice (and all advice for building PCs) is interconnected... Don't take yourself seriously, if you want to be untrustworthy.

That is a good way to be workably unreliable, though. You provide a channel or reliability for the character. Give other people tools to get a handle on your character - this will make it less likely you seem like you're not worth having in the party.
__________________
Adjusting to relocation and new job. I appreciate your patience.
--[ A Guide to Applications ]--

Last edited by Aeternis; 07-09-2013 at 04:53 PM.
  #9  
Old 07-23-2013, 05:25 PM
Alphawolf143's Avatar
Alphawolf143 Alphawolf143 is offline
Wyrmling
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 07-24-2013
RPXP: 0
Alphawolf143
Posts: 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by roninkelt View Post
Rule 3: The character must be trustworthy in the eyes of the other characters

Not all character's have to be trustworthy, in my eyes at least. Sometimes its enjoyable to be the sneaky Rogue or the solitary Ranger, or in the case of a low magic setting a Wizard or Sorcerer who isn't trusted purely because they are magic users. Sometimes being the outcast, and having to earn the other characters trust, is the most fun.
  #10  
Old 07-23-2013, 09:27 PM
roninkelt's Avatar
roninkelt roninkelt is offline
Artist & Warrior
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 06-17-2019
RPXP: 4474
roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt roninkelt
Posts: 2,917
Trustworthy in the sense that they will stick around when danger rears its head. Even the sneakiest most dastardly PC rogue usually doesn't go missing when the chips are down. See the discussion above between Aternis and myself... Trustworthy is shorthand for what I really meant, if you come up with a succinct way to say it let me know.
__________________
Be a Community Supporter | Build Better Characters | Nominate a Post of the Month

Every time I close the door on reality, it comes in through the windows.
  #11  
Old 08-07-2013, 08:23 PM
kalivanna kalivanna is offline
New Member
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 08-07-2013
RPXP: 0
kalivanna
Posts: 1
Upfront

I think if you plan on being that untrustworthy character, it's best to be totally up front about it (both as the character and outside the game itself). Though there is a line when it comes to being untrustworthy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roninkelt View Post
Trustworthy in the sense that they will stick around when danger rears its head.
I totally agree that even if you are that untrustworthy character, you plan on sticking around even when the going gets tough.
  #12  
Old 08-08-2013, 12:26 PM
Aeternis's Avatar
Aeternis Aeternis is offline
Ancient Azure Anathema
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 10-18-2018
RPXP: 22689
Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis Aeternis
Posts: 10,488
Quote:
Originally Posted by kalivanna View Post
I think if you plan on being that untrustworthy character, it's best to be totally up front about it.
That's certainly a must. Your DM should not be caught by surprise by your character's untrustworthiness, or for that matter any aspect of your character's outward persona, when the game starts. You shouldn't keep such things secret from the DM at application time. You want the DM's impression of the character to match what you're building as closely as possible, that way everyone's satisfied with the character if they're accepted.
__________________
Adjusting to relocation and new job. I appreciate your patience.
--[ A Guide to Applications ]--
  #13  
Old 08-19-2013, 01:00 PM
Megiddo's Avatar
Megiddo Megiddo is offline
Ice Cream Cultist
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 10-28-2018
RPXP: 7907
Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo Megiddo
Posts: 5,536
It also highly depends on the group.

I've had groups that hate PvP, though my primary group of IRL gaming friends that I used to be with thrived on it. If you did something stupid there were consequences.

That might have had something to do with the party leader being a high level thieves guild operative, and eventually the guildmaster....

But it carried over into other games.
__________________
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~ Washington Irving
Custom Dice Bags
  #14  
Old 10-07-2013, 04:03 PM
Mr Morandal's Avatar
Mr Morandal Mr Morandal is offline
Juvenile Dragon
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 03-27-2014
RPXP: 0
Mr Morandal
Posts: 47
As someone who's coming back to this kind of gaming after years of not having time or people to play with, Thank you for this bit of advice. I'm hoping this will help me refine the ramshsackle ideas that tend to tumble out of my head.
  #15  
Old 10-21-2013, 11:34 AM
Moonwhisper's Avatar
Moonwhisper Moonwhisper is offline
Easy goings
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 01-12-2019
RPXP: 4866
Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper Moonwhisper
Posts: 2,137
I must admit I found it an interesting read myself, especially the discussion afterwards. When best to let your party drop and just let your PC flee in terror while the rest of your party fights that already hopeless fight with Mister Prime Evil himself.

Something to ponder upon....

;-)
Closed Thread

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:16 PM.
Skin by Birched, making use of original art by paiute.( 2009-2012)


RPG Crossing, Copyright ©2003 - 2019, RPG Crossing Inc; powered by vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. Template-Modifications by TMB