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Old 09-05-2002, 05:19 PM   #1
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We just talked about guiding new RPers into a certain role and such, I thought I may try to bring another part into that (this should be seperate discussionwise, that being the reason I just don't add this stuff in that thread.)

The simple version of the question is this, just how do you evolve your character(s)?

What I mean by this is is there a certain way, when you look at it, that helps flesh out a character beyond what you do at character creation?

I'll add my personal thoughts in a bit, but I'm curious as to what others will say first.

Please let this be a coherant question
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Old 09-05-2002, 07:40 PM   #2
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How I do it is create my char with a simple idea of what kind of person they are. Then I figure out how they got to the city where you start out in. (One of my chars had stolen a teleportation item - which doesn't actually exist in the game - to get away from where she grew up.) Half the time I don't know what their history is until someone asks me and I think of more embellishments on the spot.

As things happen to them, depending on the event and the personality, I either have important events change them, or prove that they're unwilling to change that easily. It's hard for me to do really serious chars though...even when all their family has died and such, they end up being the type of people who keep their emotions secret except from people they really trust, or they're just so desensitized that they can still joke around even if it hurts. I guess I like cracking dirty jokes too much, and it's just hard to do that with a weepy tragic orphan. (One char is rather unusual in that she has a sentimental streak a mile wide, but reveals it in ways that most people won't even notice. She's not the weepy tragic orphan, she's the orphan who writes an inscription in memory of her family on a piece of jewelry, and then if she shows it to anyone she threatens to kick their butts if they tell anyone.)

I'm not sure if my chars ever evolve as much as they should in terms of personality, but they generally evolve in their opinions of other people and groups quite fine. Most of them are pretty opinionated folks, even if they keep their mouths shut.

What I hate more than anything are the nice-guy-who-has-no-personality chars. They always smile and nod and talk, but you never get a sense that anything would shake them out of their complacency and make them think about stuff. It's ok to play a nice guy, but he should have things that annoy him and some events that make him a little bit less nice, if not downright mad. Even if you don't create all of his personality at once, eventually flaws should become apparent as he experiences new things. Maybe he brags too much, maybe he's not very tactful sometimes, maybe he develops a distaste for elves because somehow they keep screwing him around. But he shouldn't be 100% nice and boring from beginning to end, and even if he acts like a saint he should at least have opinions.

I think opinions are the key to having a good char, and a char who can develop and change throughout its lifespan. Even if he says he agrees with everyone, he shouldn't *really* agree with everyone. I mean that's boring, not to mention impossible on a socially complex mud. Maybe he doesn't say "Mages suck", but if you know he's *thinking* it, he's going to act a lot more realistic. Especially when he has to choose between having a mage help him and dying. And it's things like that which, in my opinion, create the biggest potential for character development and change.
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Old 09-06-2002, 04:48 AM   #3
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Well, I know that one of my characters started out with a simple background story, and I began adding more and more to it, creating more details for his past, until he finally began to look like an actual developed character. With this, certain traits of his personality were brought out, as well as reasons why he acts or thinks the way he does. Not many people are aware of these, but it does help me to get into that character better.

Personality-wise, I absolutely loved seeing my very first character evolve. She began with absolutely no background to fall back on, as I was brand new to the game and mudding in general at the time. I eventually weaved her a little history, nothing special, and probably a bit too cliche-y. The more I played her, the more she developed, and by the end she was an entirely different character, with amazing depth. She had accomplished things that I had never even planned for her, and I could feel things as she felt them because she actually seemed "real" to me.

My advice, I suppose, would be to think about your character's history, and develop those little details about their past. Bring their personality to life, and try hard to get into character each time you play them. Make them unique, and think of them as an actual person, imagining how they would react to different situations. Don't force something on your character if it's not something your character would do. Just try and imagine things from their perspective, and everything should fall into place.
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Old 09-06-2002, 05:49 AM   #4
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I prefer to keep my character concept kind of vague to begin with. I'll just give him the bones of his personality e.g. being from the slums he's rough and unpolished, doesn't like nobles, etc. I'll also give him a little history - generally I don't go in for big detailed history or some super-tragic story as I prefer him to have had a reasonably mundane, everyday sort of life until the actual creation. I'll then give him a couple of loose goals e.g. wants to make enough money to survive, wants to join some nefarious organisation to get stronger / protection. After that I'll let the events that happen to him shape him. His character will flesh out once you react to events in a realistic IC way imo.

One thing I always try to avoid is the 'masterplan' for my character. I've seen a good few people plan out their character's entire future and then get frustrated when it doesn't work out like they had planned or their character meets a blade unexpectedly and *slit* there goes the masterplan. For me, the greatest feeling is when you move realistically through the events that occur to your character and something comes along which allows your character to make a little ripple in the world, just enough to make your mark and leave an impression. I guess that as I normally play fairly average characters with talents and faults this counts as a success for me =)
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Old 09-06-2002, 07:25 AM   #5
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I hadn't up until recently (within the past year) attempted to develop any deeper characteristics for my character. I think it is because I never really interacted much and have never really been involved as much as some.

The way I've gone about creating depth is picking up on how others perceive my character when he interacts with them and then using it as a guide to see where I might like to go from there. Though, I try to keep the same demeanor (playful with the ladies that he knows well and very polite to the ones he is not familiar with - nonchalant with the male characters), but consistency is important I think. It wouldn't be any fun if you wind up becoming what your environment has molded you into...then you find you're not very happy with your character anymore.
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Old 09-06-2002, 10:11 AM   #6
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95% of the time, I begin with a history that is a minimum of 2 pages or so in a word document. It is almost never “exceptional” in that the character has lead a fairly normal life. However, even normal lives have important moments, memories, and people, so I try to figure out all those for my character. It provides her a frame of reference, things to speak about that slip into conversation and remain consistent. It also lets me understand why her personality is what it is when I start her out. By keeping tragedy out of her background, I give her tons of room to grow and develop as she lives in the world of the game.

From there, my characters always change. I give them a goal, or a few goals, when they arrive in game. But those are my -characters- goals. As a player, I love watching my characters fail in goals or find new goals as they change in response to events around them. I try not to have too many player driven goals (and they tend to revolve around wanting to master skills), as those can be harder to get rid of when they are no longer appropriate for the character.

Finally, as I stated earlier, my character will change in response to what happens to her in game. Which doesn’t always mean I, the player, like who she becomes. Sometimes I dump characters after I’ve played them a long time, not because it isn’t a great character, but because the events of her life have led her to become someone who is interesting, but just not who I want to play.

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Old 09-06-2002, 03:46 PM   #7
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My thoughts on histories: The place I'm at has them mandatory for approval, so I am biased in that respect, but I have found them to be really helpful. Even if some of them are vague. Come to think of it, all but 1 of my characters I've played has had relatively 'normal' backgrounds for their species. In other words, not insanely rich, no 'family got all killed' scenarios.

The quote I think that fits 'master plans' for a character goes to some military related phrase (sorry if I get this wrong, please correct me on it if it is): No battle plan survives first contact with the enemly. In other words, if there is a plan for a character, I do not expect it to come out like I plan. Instead, one of my favorite development and RP things to do is have goals for my characters and reach them.

I notice several have answered that their characters have been developed some more... but how do you do it? Myself it happens to be influenced by those other characters about, the first ones having the most effect normally.
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Old 09-06-2002, 05:10 PM   #8
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I actually try to be fairly careful with letting the first characters my character starts up rp with become the major influences in her development. Often, those folks who are newbie magnets are not always the best representation of rp stories. Not to be blunt, but characters who fail to fit into the world due to their players difficulties are often the first ones to catch a hold of a newbie character in hopes that it is a newbie player they can win over as their buddy. IC, not having those first few folks be the biggest influence is usually fairly justifiable. Depending on your characters goals, a random person who is friendly and helps out, or who is chatty, may mean pretty little in the long run.

Now, folks who you meet early on who are rude, harsh, snide, controlling, or enslave you are an entirely different matter.

Most rp societies have heiarchies set up. It seems to work pretty well for me to have my characters learn from and be heavily influenced by those who are higher ranked in the specific occupations/guilds/noblility, etc, that the character, based on her background, would have the most respect for.

Everything said above is specific to non-traumatic rp influences. Obviously more serious events happen in most rp games and those have to leave some sort of imprint.
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Old 09-06-2002, 07:49 PM   #9
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*digs up her mp3 of Only Happy When It Rains*

Oo!  I love me some traumatic RP!  That's a lot of what developed my first and favorite character, as a matter of fact.  I've actually had OOC conversations about how best to abuse the alt that I don't like, to either develop her or kill her off (I hesitate to kill her, because I'm afraid I'll learn to like her as she dies, but that's a little off-topic).  Anyhow, I like seeing how the character responds to a problem, and the effect on her perspective and/or personality.

("I feel good when things are goin' wrong...")

On a less masochistic note , I also give my characters certain mannerisms, which I think gives them a little more personality... and that has another benefit, which is that it keeps characters from starting to sound similar.

Hmm.  I think that's all for now.
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Old 09-06-2002, 09:20 PM   #10
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I make my character so I can have an interesting RP expierence. One of my current ones was born in a certain Nation, yet he never lived there and neither of his parents were from the same nation. His parents were both murdered and he was sent to train as a soldier and yadda yadda yadda. I try to sent it up to be interesting.
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Old 09-10-2002, 04:05 PM   #11
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Perhaps I should clarify the first characters one meets thing.

My point is that a character has a past, it doesn't just pop into existance one day. However, a good variety of people at first can give you a 'feel' for a character, guiding it along within the theme, even if it doesn't continue to RP with that single person.

About the 'newbie magnet' theory: I will agree some people are something of newbie magnets and such as said earlier, however, there are also some good RPers that try to take time to help newbies out as well... and quite honestly, I try to think they are some of the best RPers out there. Newbies are a game's lifeblood, and if they are bored/discouraged/frustrated/etc. They will more likely quit. Perhaps my point isn't quite clear on this, but the general version is that I do not see all first influences like that.
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Old 09-10-2002, 05:41 PM   #12
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Cool first char on SW: ROE...(only char to be honest, but that's a bit besides the point)...Well, most know her as Ix or Phoenix.

She has a background. I just never got around to really writing it down asides from when IC situations give the need for that. But...pretty much she's been an orphan for the past 8 years of her life. IC'ly, there's info that can be found if one can look through the proper channels: her dad was off'd by a bounty hunter and her mother taken by Jabba as a slave. No one knows for sure if mom is still alive.

She met an Imperial, thought about going to the courses they offered people who could survive as well as she has. Then she met up with a biker-chick, giving the woman some info wanted and promising to tell anything she found out. Ix got a hot meal and the biker got vital info. The same thing happened a few days later.

Then...Fate decided that Ix had had enough good breaks and delt her a harsh hand. Or something like that. Anyways, the Imp found out that she was slipping info to someone, although he probably didn't know who. He said this was treason.

The penalty for treason is death. far as anyone knows IC'ly, that's what happened to Phoenix: She was shot at point-blank range and killed.

But...she wasn't named Phoenix for nothing. The Imp missed on purpose, making it seem like he'd hit her. She played dead and he took her to the dewback stalls, giving her a cloak, some water to wash in and a thousand credits as well as orders to get out of Mos Eisley. She didn't right away, waiting around to talk to the biker-chick again. But eventually, she did a vanishing act, leaving on the first ship with a pilot who was willing to take her off-planet with him. :O

And..pretty much that's Ix in a nut-shell for the moment. Along with that history has come mannerisims and habits. She's willing to kill if she has to..and she's had to before, IC'ly. And she's a streetrat;no, not the Aladdin-kind. The kind you hear of in stories and movies that aren't by Disney or other people who try and make the street life seem a lot softer and gentler then it really is. She's thinner then a 14 year old should be, capable of picking locks and pockets and she's willing and able to swipe anything if it'll bring her a few credits or if she just plain likes the way it looks. :/

All in all...Ix isn't an Orphan Annie. Far from it--for starters...wasn't Annie a picky eater? Ix is willing to eat anything (I mean anything. I RP'ed her eating blue womprat meat) as long as it won't make her ill and it's edible. Besides that...there's no Daddy Warbucks to come scoop Ix off the streets and take her into his home. The closest Ix's gotten to such a thing is an Imp offering to send her to a creche home.
She's come to distrust pretty much everyone asides from herself. And now she's a fugitive..she trusts people less. If that's possible anyways. Did I mention that she only bathes when she's got enough water to spare for such a thing? Hey...she does live on Tatooine.

I'll just go back to the corner I came from now and stop bothering you all.
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Old 09-10-2002, 08:14 PM   #13
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Yev: You're saying that you flesh out your char's personality/history based on the kind of development other chars appear to have, especially the first chars you happen to meet?

It's kinda hard for me to remember when I was a newbie on the mud I currently play...and deeply involved pre-game histories aren't really the norm there anyway. My first 2 chars who lived for any length of time had pretty much no history to speak of. I had this one really nifty char who spoke in a nice nifty (i.e. not annoying or common) dialect but I didn't have time to develop her much because someone killed her after the first day.

By the time I got done with all that, I'd been playing there long enough to do pretty much whatever I wanted to do, and still be within the theme, so I didn't really hafta watch other people and see what they were doing. One char I gave a nice history of having relatives who did stupid stuff and got into trouble or died (she was a halfling), and she made up stories about stuff like her uncle who accidentally beat the crap out of a bear while he was chopping trees. Of course now I've forgotten half the stories she told, and in any case no one ever dug deep enough to find out if they were true or not.

The simple fact is, I'm not used to the level of RP you guys are talking about. On the mud I play, everyone has their own personality (or lack thereof), however most don't bother with detailed pre-mud histories, and most of the RP involves politics. We don't write novels or perform plays or have some guy standing on a street corner proclaiming his philosophy (mainly because if he did such, someone would kill him ). There's also RP involved in who hangs out with who, and who happens to notice and comment on it. And who got too much teaching from who, and who got their 3 month old char stuck on a throne and why no one's killed them yet. I think sometimes we get lazy...just because there's a combat system, and we have to eat and drink to survive, and there's so many skills to work on, we tend to concentrate on practicing and money and politics and forget about making really detailed histories and RP'ing out stuff that doesn't really benefit us in a material sense. People are still generally consistent in that the whiny mage stays a whiny mage unless something happens to make him do otherwise, but backstory is practically unknown.

Ok, there's my rant for the day.
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Old 09-10-2002, 10:41 PM   #14
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In general, most players make up histories that annoy me.

It's unavoidable, in muds, even by myself, but everyone has a Hero complex in these games.  After all, a fantasy story has a  hero and a villain, and Every player is one or the other.  Every character history has great tragedy in it sooner or later, since only great events and tragedies shape people into heros or bend them into the life of the bad guy.  The loss of parents is used by a good 75% of the mud population.  For others, its the lost of someone else loved and close.  Or personal loss, such as power or limbs or nobility or something.

Which is why, for several of my latest characters, I have roleplayed a janitor, a bad, unpopular bard, and cannon fodder.  After all, in the books, there are plenty of nameless soldiers that die; otherwise, the Hero/Villain wouldn't be dangerous in appearance.  So I namelessly died, and stayed dead, in a battle, rather than maxxing the char out.

That's just a peeve of mine.  I tend to not write my character's history; I make it up and stick to those facts, as they are drawn from me.
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Old 09-11-2002, 09:55 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by (Miyamoto @ Sep. 10 2002,8:41 pm)
In general, most players make up histories that annoy me. . . After all, a fantasy story has a  hero and a villain, and Every player is one or the other.  Every character history has great tragedy in it sooner or later, since only great events and tragedies shape people into heros or bend them into the life of the bad guy. . . Which is why, for several of my latest characters, I have roleplayed a janitor, a bad, unpopular bard, and cannon fodder. . . That's just a peeve of mine.  I tend to not write my character's history; I make it up and stick to those facts, as they are drawn from me.
I agree, too many character histories include great tragedies or amnesia (the other most common one I've found). I disagree 100% with the idea that to avoid this, you should go absolutely 180 degrees in the opposite direction. You don't have to be a janitor or another character who is planned by you to not rise in the society in order to portray someone who is not a hero or villian.

My characters have simple, untragic backgrounds, they never come into the game as hero or villian. That is not to say they don't have important people in their lives (a mam who loved to tell stories that my character repeats, a Priest who taught her how to read, a childhood sweatheart who she is uses as the standard for all the PCs who court her down the line, etc.) They also all have backgrounds like being farmgirls who wish to serve their god more directly so they come to the city. Being the child of traveling merchants and hating being on the road, so settling down in one city. Growing up in a neighboring village and wanting to be the first of her village to serve in such and such guild. Even my thief character has a non-dramatic background. As a teenager in a poor family (a common thing in the era of the game), she started taking little things from folks around her, it grew into a habit. She was a typical teen who rebelled against her parents, she just never grew up and got a real profession after her teenage years. Those types of backgrounds are not "hero" or "villian" backgrounds. They leave the door open for the roleplay to continue down the path of mundane or rise to a more prestigious position over time.

No matter how simple or uneventful a background, I think it should always be writen out ahead of time. You should know who those important people in your characters life was when he/she was a child. You should know what goal drove them to be in the city they are in or the profession. You should know what events in their life are meaningful to them. You should know these things in detail enough to return to them months or years after you created the character and have them be consistent. Do not make the mistake of thinking events have to be traumatic. Think about your own life and which memories stick out to get a feel for what types of things your character could remember.

Okay, I'm stepping down off my soapbox now. *wink*

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Old 09-11-2002, 03:39 PM   #16
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In response to the first influence bit, once again. I do not let /only/ the first ones met do any influence, however, I will not deny that they have both an IC and OOC influence.

IC: Some people one may run into may be important figures. They do not have to talk or anything. I do believe in keeping some sense of realism, but I also believe that some OOC communication helps quite a bit (please don't hurt me.) This can help make some situations much easier to deal with, and can justify how an employer may be one of the first characters I meet and may well influence my character. There are other cases, but in RPing, it's also nice to meet people OOCly, RP is about interaction, isn't it?

OOC: There are only so many PCs around, and perhaps millions to billions of NPCs. This means a few things, but one of the more important ones is that there will be a slight IC bending for RP. Do I have a problem with this? Not really. While I do object to serious character bending and such, I can live with someone making an excuse to visit a tavern in the name of RP.
Thoughts on biographies. (Part 2 of this post.)

I like the character creation system the place I'm at has that requires a bio in most cases, first of all.

As I have said before, I have five characters, and normal backgrounds in most cases were good. The IC family in existance is really good for some RP, especially starting out. I know someone that when they started would say that they need to call their parents or something since they were new to that city... I liked that, and it gave them the ability to come back 30 minutes later or so.

However, while I like IC pasts and knowing every detail of them, I make a bit up as I go. (I have been getting more and more specific as I get better with the theme.) The general thoughts of my character I know rather well. For example, I play an alien character that looks like a floating jellyfish with eight tentacles that treats humans and other 'bipeds' as unintelligent, anti-social, and incompetent... it's about the character, personality versus history, which would I want more? The personality... though both are preferred.
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Old 09-12-2002, 09:56 AM   #17
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The only problem I have with MU*s that require bio's is that how are you supposed to know what kind of bio to write if you don't know how the game works? Unless of course it's set in a well-known universe such as WoT. I imagine it's pretty hard for a newbie to come up with a bio that doesn't sound like a piece of crap, if the world is original and doesn't have an extremely developed website or somesuch for them to learn about it before they play.
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Old 09-12-2002, 11:52 AM   #18
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It's not that hard - provided the game has plenty of information available on its website or in its news files. How can you write a bio for a Wheel of Time game without reading the Wheel of Time books? Basically, with an original theme, it merely requires a lesser - but similar - investment of effort.
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