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Tips: Creating Rounded Characters

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Our CG is pretty daunting, I'll admit; I've also been doing some reading in preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in October, and have been finding some ideas for creating rounded characters. Here are some ideas I've found that I like; anyone else who has ideas/tricks that work, feel free to chime in, too!

  • Come up with goals. If you don't have goals, your character has nothing to strive for. I like to have short term, medium term, long term, and impossible. 2 or 3 of each means there's almost always an undercurrent for a character for their intent/attitude in a scene - "How can this help me achieve a goal"? Every scene has the possibility for characters to pursue a goal, no matter how large or small it may be, and a character without goals is often "just going through the motions".
  • Look at the idea of a character diamond : there are a variety of options out there, this is one from a writer-acquaintance of mine and is a pretty clear explanation.
  • Make sure your character has a flaw... and the less like a Mary Sue or Gary Stu, the better. Westeros does have some "oddities" compared to normal medieval settings (purple eyes, white hair, meek women who turn out to be stronger than expected, fierce protectors of their families, excellent equestrians, etc) - but absolutely perfect characters without a flaw make it hard to sympathise with the always-perfect one. If you want to play a Sansa-clone, just remember that Sansa's perfection and innocence turned into a rather large flaw... ;) So be prepared!
  • Make connections! Once you're in a character, you can +mail people for ties; whether friends, enemies, or a mixture, it ties you in even deeper to the game and the other players.
  • "Interesting characters don't just walk in." (a quote from Advanced Writing Techniques by Victoria Lynn Schmidt) - everyone has a backstory. If you decide to add a quirk for your character, go ahead -- just make sure there's a reason why your character has that quirk. It's rare to find someone who has no idea why they're cruel to servants, afraid of the dark, etc. It could be something they experienced as a child or something more recent that affected them.
  • "Actionable Traits" - parts of a personality that can be acted out (sickly, cranky, sarcastic, pretentious, pessimistic).
  • Show vs Tell - tricky in our type of RP setting, but through action and word choice, you can usually get a similar effect. When you're in a scene and posing, if your character is sulky - have word choice show that the character is sulky, rather than just "He sulked in the corner".
  • Make sure you look at the Tidings, Roleplay posts and game history. Maybe your PC's sister died - due to poisoning. Your brother just cancelled his betrothal. Your father gambled all the money away, or died in the Dornish conquest. Due to the living nature of the game, there are lots of events to play off of to give your character subtext, goals, and different ways to affect their life.
  • Have hooks! - just as you should always have in your RP (and as Syrax posted about on the MUSH bbs), hooks give people a reason to involve themselves with your character. Whether it's being Famous or Infamous, supremely skilled in something, or a newcomer... hooks, "standing rumors" (some characters have Notes with rumors/gossip!), hooks give people a reason to search out your character or to connect with them further in scenes.

Anyone else with tips, ideas, suggestions, etc? What works for you in developing a rounded, complete character?

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A character in ten adjectives - as a description. And an idea how your character is going to be like. If you rp for the first time, maybe it's worth sharing ties with a veteran character?

Check with other people who don't usually play roleplaying games - they may spot incoherences more easily as you can.

Don't read other people's minds unless your character is able to.

Keep intrigues at an IC level, not OOC. Don't take anything personal, even if your character is having a bad time.

Give your character hobbies. The more, the better.

IC knowledge =|= OOC knowledge

I am a storyteller myself - and I have a couple of characters in the games I play.

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